Wok hei is a term I use so often that I only paused to think what it was, when a friend visiting from Melbourne asked us what the heck we were talking about! Wok hei is a common term used to describe a Chinese style cooked meal, especially to say if it was well cooked or not. Wok hei is the qi of the wok which is the flavour, tastes, and “essence” imparted by a hot wok on food during stir frying.
If you look up qi it says “air,” “breath,” or “spirit”. How cool is that? The wok, gives the wok hei and therefore, mighty is the hand that wields the wok!
Hot plate JapaneseTofu
One of the great places for Chinese Style cooking or, known to the locals as “dai chow” is Fatty Chong at Taman Sri Sentosa. Here in KL, if you drive by a place that is packed to the rafters, chances are the food is either (a) really good , (b) very cheap or (c) both cheap and good! One week, me and Cumi drove past Fatty Chong and noticed that it was bustling with activity. We already had dinner but we made a mental note to come back with more hungry “monkeys” in tow as any place that is jam packed at night is a place we want to eat at!
Chili, Garlic, Black bean Sauce Fish
Oh I forgot to mention, there is another important component to imparting good Wok hei. The fire.
The food must be cooked in a wok over a huge searing hot flame, while being stirred vigorously and flipped often, for that perfect aroma to come through. If you use Charcoal, ..even better. If you use an electric stove , ..fail! This is particularly important for Chinese dishes requiring high heat for fragrance like fish, meat and noodles. The secret is cooking it fast, over high heat so that the flavour and juices are sealed into the food.
You will notice that in most Chinese dai-chow kitchens, men work the wok because of the nature of the job being so labour and muscle intensive. I have however spotted a woman or two behind the wok, and man, do they look strong!
Mayonnaise fried spare ribs
Garlic Fried Sweet Potato Leaves (Fan Shee Yip)
Here at Fatty Chong they do awesome Chili, Garlic, Black bean Sauce Fish, Mayonnaise fried spare ribs, Tofu and Vegetables. Not only that but the prices are cheap too. The only set back is that you have to be prepared to wait. Having steamed or fried fish here is highly recommended because the fish is still swimming in the tank minutes before they cook it. The texture of the fish is taut and succulent with no traces of muddy taste. Really good!
If you are not in a hurry, a late dinner would be a great idea so that the first and second wave of diners have dispersed. In Malaysia, the Chinese folk eat rather early starting at around 6pm onwards. If you want to miss the crowd , eat at 8 or 9pm.
Fatty Chong Restaurant,
41, Jalan Seri Sentosa 11,
Taman Sri Sentosa, Jalan Klang Lama,
58000 Kuala Lumpur. Google Maps