Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Lai Foong Beef Noodles near KL Chinatown 丽丰海南牛腩面

For beef noodles, I like mine with chunky meaty cuts of beef - it's like eating a mini steak with noodles and beef stock 😄 In Kuala Lumpur, one good place to get this type of beefy noodles is Lai Foong Restaurant.

Lai Foong Restaurant, at the intersection of Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Jalan Tun HS Lee, is an old coffee shop just across the street from KL's Chinatown at Petaling Street. (Driving and parking here is nightmarish, so the best way to get here is by MRT or LRT - Pasar Seni station is just 10 minutes slow walk away.)

There are several hawker stalls inside Lai Foong Restaurant - there's char kway teow, a stall famous for their la la (clam) noodles, chicken rice, Hong Kong roasts, fish noodle soup and the beef noodle stall. All have their loyal following, so Lai Foong is often fully packed.

A couple of large mirrors hung on the coffee shop wall. In the old days, well wishers gift mirrors with their names engraved on it, to celebrate the opening of new coffee shops. Lai Foong opened in the 1950s.

The walls and floor were laid with 1960s vintage mosaic. There were several well weathered round marble top tables with straight iron rod pedestals - their original elegant wooden legs didn't survive the decades.

Sitting inside, we were shielded from the scorching sun and road grime but not completely. Large fans hanging from the ceiling and around the shop helped cooled the inside down. The coffee shop was gritty from decades of road grime and we can hear the constant honking, roar and rumble of buses and cars outside. The small motorcycles were the loudest.

The sound of banter and clanging wok from the char kway teow stall competed with the outside noise. We can smell chicken rice and beef stock but the dominant aroma came from caramelized sauce from the char kway teow stall. Sitting just next to it, I got slightly worried about the smell clinging to my hair and clothes.

To me, Lai Foong coffee shop is like a museum of life in 1950s KL, and we the customers are the live exhibits 😄

This is the type of KL kopitiam experience I keep returning to KL for. It is not noise, smell and grime, but the music, aroma and energy of a lively Asian city.

Lai Foong Beef Noodle stall has been at this coffee shop since 1956.

Today, Lai Foong Beef Noodle is run by brothers William and Thomas in two shifts. This is Thomas, the younger brother.

William, the elder brother. Thomas and William's dad who founded the beef noodle stall in the 1930s hailed from Hainan.

Customers can specify the types of cut they like. There's tripe, beef belly, intestines, tendons, and beef balls. I had a RM10 bowl of kway teow (rice noodles) with beef belly 牛腩 and tendons 牛筋, my favourite parts.

The relatively clear broth was savoury from stock bone with a sourish salty layer from salted Chinese mustard (kiam chai). There was also an underlying beefiness which I like in my beef soup. It is Thomas and William's grand dad's 90 year old recipe with 10 types of herbs in the broth (but, the herbalness was hardly detectable).

There were several meaty chunks of beef belly. I love it that the lean meat was interlaced with visceral fat. The beef was cooked to a tender, juicy doneness.

Every piece of beef was like a small sponge - when we bite into it, squirts of juice burst from the meat, bathing our taste buds with beefy sweet flavours.

I enjoyed this a lot.

There were several big pieces of beef tendons. The tendons themselves don't have much flavour but I love the jelly like soft springy feel when I bite into the tendons.

The obligatory crabs were cooked to a slurpy smooth tender doneness. Perfect with the beefy broth and meaty morsels in the bowl.

The bowl of beef noodles was spiked with bits of chopped salted Chinese mustard which were well washed, so they punctuate the dish with their crunch and mild sourish saltiness.

I enjoyed my beef noodles so much that I followed it up with a bowl of beef balls (price RM8).

I was a bit overboard and struggled a little to finish all the food (I have a habit of finishing all my food on the table - an attitude ingrained from childhood).

The beef balls were firm and had a nice spring to the bite. There was a slight beefiness (and taste of savoury seasoning?).

Next time, if I am alone, I shall just ask for a couple of beef balls in my bowl of noodles rather than a separate order of beef balls.

The chili dip was spicy, sour and salty with a sharp sting from chili and vinegar.

👉 Lai Foong is one of KL folks' favourite old school Hainanese beef noodles. I like it that Lai Foong's version is full of beefy goodness from the soup to the big chunks of belly meat. I enjoyed the old coffee shop feel at Lai Foong too.

Restaurant name: Lai Foong Beef Noodles
Address138, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur (intersection with Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock)
GPS3°08'42.9"N 101°41'48.0"E | 3.145237, 101.696666
Waze: Lai Foong
Tel03 2072 8123
Hours: 7:00am - 4:00pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 8 Jun 2018

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