Many people go to Kluang for mooncakes and also sio bak (siew yok or roast pork). I've tried a few roast pork places in Kluang but had always wanted to visit the famous Hai Kee meat merchant 海记肉商 which opens only at night till early morning.
I finally got the chance, thanks to Evonne and Jit Pang who host Jalan2 Makan2 Masak2 trips to Kluang. Jit Pang is the grandson of the founder of the legendary Kluang Rail Coffee. Evonne also a Kluangite is the co-author (with Sarah Lee) of award winning book Asian Pies. If you like an eating and cooking tour of Kluang like ours, contact Evonne Lyn Lee via Facebook private message.
Hai Kee meat merchant is a butchery processing pigs from nearby farms. The animals come in small open trucks, fresh, still warm and in rigor mortis, never chilled.
Hai Kee butcher shop is located at the intersection of Jalan Tan Kim Sek and Jalan Haji Manap Nordin. Finding Hai Kee is easy - just set your WAZE App to Yuan Fatt Bakery. The famous "Shanghai" mooncake shop is just across Jalan Haji Manap Nordin from Hai Kee.
The uber fresh pork are processed, prepared and roasted right there at the large shop.
We were here at 9pm when pigs were still arriving and the first batches of roast pork were already ready for sale.
The freshly roasted golden brown slabs of sio bak and reddish ropes of char siew are chopped and sold on order by weight.
Jit Pang bought a pack each of char siew and sio bak for us to taste.
We took the char siew and sio bak to the kopitiam (coffee shop) across the street to eat it with beer. The kopitiam has no food stalls and serves only drinks, so they warmly welcome us to eat our roast meats there 😄
Smart lah. We ended up spending more on beers than on char siew and sio bak together 😃
Jit Pang bought a mix of roasted pork jowl and pork belly. The default is to chop the roasts into small pieces (pork belly) and strips like fries (pork jowl).
The meat was tender and the fats juicy. I especially like the crackly crispness of the freshly roasted pork skin. I also like it that the sio bak tasted just mildly savoury so that we can taste the fresh pork's natural sweetness. (All the other sio bak in Kluang that I have tasted were more savoury/ salty than here at Hai Kee. In fact, slightly too salty for my taste buds.)
(I came back on my own a second time and double confirmed that the default cut is small pieces. If you are like me who prefer your sio bak in large chunks, please tell the butcher.)
Though I am not a big fan of reddish char siew, I actually enjoyed Hai Kee's rendition as the tender meat had well balanced savoury sweet flavours. Not as deep and intense in savoury sweetness as my favourite KL version though.
Recommended for hard core sio bak lovers 👈 click The scene of freshly slaughtered animals at the butchery is not for everyone. But, if you can take that, the butchery is an interesting place for sio bak lovers. Hai Kee's sio bak is nice as its savoury sweet flavours are mild, allowing us to taste the natural porcine sweetness in the tender juicy pork belly. The crackly skin has a nice crispy crunch. Ask for the jowl to get greater skin to meat and fat ratio. If you are having pork belly, ask for big chunky cuts.
More tasty places for your Kluang food trail 👈 click
Restaurant name: Hai Kee Meat Merchants 海记肉商
Address: Jalan Haji Manap Nordin, Kluang Baru, Kluang, Johor
GPS: 2°02'31.9"N 103°19'59.4"E 🌐 2.042201, 103.333163
Hours: Evening till dawn
Date visited: 3 Aug 2019