Monday, 25 July 2016

JB Beggar Chicken is Moving - Ban Heong Seng Bungalow goes into History JK1557

Beggar-Chicken-Ban-Heong-Seng Bungalow

This was the final dinner party served at the Ban Heong Seng 万香城 bungalow at Jalan Tahar on 24 Jul 2016. After 30 years here, the famous JB beggar chicken 叫化鸡 is moving to a shop lot (address to be announced).

万香城叫化鸡于7月25日已经停止在住家用餐. 现在还有外卖. 老板正在找适合的店面重新招待顾客.

Beggar-Chicken-Ban-Heong-Seng Bungalow

Ban Heong Seng's famed beggar chicken is baked in a bed of charcoal the authentic way. There are only two such charcoal beds that I have visited so far - one here in JB and the other in Ijok, Selangor (45 minutes drive from KL). I would love to visit all of them in Malaysia as they are very rare.


The chicken, duck, trotter, or rice are encased in clay pots and baked in the charcoal bed for 6 hours.


When cooked, the clay pot with chicken, duck, trotter or rice inside is broken open with a hammer.


Inside the pot, the chicken, duck, trotter or rice is wrapped in layers of paper and plastic (not aluminium foil).


Ta-da! The legendary beggar chicken.

You know the legend of beggar chicken.

Long time ago in China, a beggar stole a chicken from a farmer. In order to hide his loot, the beggar dug a hole and buried the chicken in the mud.

Source: Public domain photo

The next day, the beggar took out the chicken still encased in mud and tossed it into a pile of twigs and branches. He set the heap on fire to cook his chicken.

When the beggar broke open the baked mud pot, the aroma of baked chicken escaped into the air.

Luck have it that the Emperor was passing near the same spot and caught a whiff of the chicken's aroma. He was so attracted to the aroma that he sent his guards to find out what it was.

After eating the chicken with the beggar, the Emperor loved it so much that he ordered the palace chef to make the same chicken.


The ancient recipe is passed down to this day and Ban Heong Seng still uses mud dug right there from the house's garden to encase the chicken. (Some places use flour dough to encase the chicken which, of course, disqualifies it for authenticity.) 


Ban Heong Seng's beggar chicken is tender, smooth and juicy. The chicken is stuffed with herbs like wolf berries and dang gui, and marinated with soya sauce. The flavour is mildly sweet, savoury, herbal.


Besides beggar chicken, there is also beggar duck cooked the same way with herbs and soya sauce. I actually prefer the duck over the chicken because I like the flavour and texture of duck meat more.


I used to like Ban Heong Seng's pork trotter 猪手 a lot but less so nowadays. It used to be cooked whole in one piece but it is chopped up nowadays.


The tender skin, fat and meat are still delicious but the magic is not quite there anymore for me.


Ban Heong Seng's signature "country fish" 家乡鱼. It's actually fish cake. The flesh is scrapped from the fish, deboned, made into a paste, mixed with a blend of condiments, stuffed back into the sleeve of fish skin and fried to a golden brown crisp outside.

I wasn't a big fan of this dish as I felt it's overly salty but today the flavours were milder and well balanced savoury sweet with nice fish taste.


I like Ban Heong Seng's winter melon soup 冬瓜汤. It's natural chicken and winter melon sweetness with herbal hints. It's made with bits of chicken, herbs, fungus and steamed in a hollowed out winter melon.


This scene of dinner parties at Ban Heong Seng is now part of Johor's culinary history.

Ban Heong Seng will be serving their beggar chicken and other dishes at a new location to be announced soon. Call +6016 757 1887 for reservations and details.


Meanwhile, Ban Heong Seng still accepts takeaway orders at the bungalow at Jalan Tahar.

^ Click for a larger view

👍 Ban Heong Seng is one of very few places in the whole of Malaysia that still serves authentic beggar chicken. The food is delicious and reasonably priced.

Restaurant name: Ban Heong Seng 万香城 (call 016-757-1887 or 07-237-5194 to book 1 day in advance as the dishes need to be prepared hours ahead of serving) 
Address: 34-B, Jalan Skudai, Batu 3¼, off Jalan Tahar, Johor Bahru 
GPS: 1.483683,103.721548 / 1°29'01.3"N 103°43'17.6"E
Tel: Call 016-757-1887 or 07-237-5194 for takeaway only

^ click for details

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  1. You not correct to say there are only two charcoals beds in the whole of Malaysia. The original beggars chicken is still around in Ampang. That proceeds ijok n jb.

    1. Thank you for pointing out. Where in Ampang are they? I love to visit them.

    2. OK I found it online. I shall visit them. Thanks so much.

    3. Have you found the new address? Tks

  2. Dear Tony,

    Correction there is another famous Beggar Chicken at Banting. It's a misnomer as it is actually located at Jugra , a wee bit far off from banting.

    1. Thank you VM :-D Now I am inspired to do a story of all the beggar chicken places in Malaysia.

  3. I have been to all three in Selangor. Amazingly the sister branch of New Heong Kee at Jalan Ulu Klang is not as famous as the other two at Ijok and Banting. Over at the other two one sometimes see busloads of guests converging to their village restaurant. All these restaurant as if by common telepathy serve the same menu; ie beggar chicken, trotters, duck, winter melon soup, fish with fishcake body, curried prawns etc Amazingly my mum's house is at Taman Tasik next to Bang Heong Seng, a stone throw away and I have never been to the JB branch :-(


I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is the same as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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