My friend Puan Chong who lives around Kulai / Senai often suggests to me nice places to eat there, which she has tried with her family. Last night, she invited me to join her family at Kulai Wengyaoji 古來甕窯雞.
If you are like me who is a fan of Taiwanese food shows, you would have seen episodes about 甕窯雞 wengyaoji which is marinated chicken baked in wood fired clay or brick ovens. The hub of wengyaoji in Taiwan is in 宜蘭 Yilan County about 1 hour drive from Taipei City - there are dozens of wengyaoji restaurants in Yilan. Taipei City folks like to take the scenic leisurely drive to rural Yilan for the famous baked chicken - it's a popular day trip / excursion for city folks.
I am excited to visit Kulai Wengyaoji as now we can be just like fortunate Taipei folks by taking the 1 to 1.5 hour drive from Singapore / Johor Bahru to rural Kulai for chicken baked in wood fired brick ovens.
Kulai Wengyaoji is run by Mr. Liew 刘浚发 and his family. Mr. Liew's family makes clay / cement / brick kitchen stoves for village homes around Kulai / Senai - a business started by his father. Mr. Liew who worked outstation for decades, retired at age 56 and returned to his family home to look after his elderly mother. Mr. Liew loves to cook for family and friends. Inspired by the wengyaoji restaurants he saw in Taiwan, Mr. Liew built his own brick oven at his family home in Kulai.
At first, Mr. Liew only invited his family and friends to enjoy the chicken, pork ribs, pork knuckles baked in his wood fired brick oven. Soon, word got around about the baked chicken and Mr. Liew's special brick oven. Many townsfolk in Kulai and Senai want a chance to taste it.
So, Mr. Liew opened his home based restaurant to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. To this day, eating at Kulai Wengyaoji is by reservation only by calling ☎ 016 777 7760.
Over twenty tables, all full. It looked like the whole town came down for dinner this Saturday night.
First dish to arrive was salted baked red tilapia. The fish came encased in a pod of salt. Meryl did the honours to break open the salt pod to reveal the plump tilapia fish inside.
The tilapia fish was meaty and soft. Its subtle natural sweetness was complemented by gentle savoury saltiness from the salt. There was no fishy taste or smell from the fresh tilapia.
Next, the signature wengyaoji or baked chicken (price RM48). The baked chicken had a slight crisp outside. The inside was tender. Most of the savoury sweet flavour was on the skin, while the inside had a bit of natural chicken sweetness.
During my visit, Mr. Liew's younger brother 刘振发 did most of the cooking with the brick oven.
Nearly three foot long baked pork ribs (price RM68 - top value for money).
I like the savoury sweet BBQ sauce which enveloped the outside and infused the fibres of the rib. I could taste a bit of smokey flavour outside and the natural porky sweetness in the meat which I like. This BBQ ribs would be perfect if there was a little more fat and moistness in the ribs.
There were also several non baked dishes like this battered fried sea bass (price RM55).
Nice crispy fried battered fish meat and skin. The mild savoury sweet batter allows us to take a bit of the natural fish sweetness. Eat with the savoury sourish spicy dip.
I like this Ikan Patin stewed in soy sauce with julienned ginger, chili pepper and chives (price RM50).
I always love Ikan Patin dishes and this one by wengyaoji was really good. The meaty white flesh's natural sweetness was complemented by slight savouriness of the soy sauce. The ginger and chili pepper added a bit of mild heat. We especially enjoyed the silky smooth fat found around the belly. There was no earthly taste in the fish.
Large prawns in asam pedas (price RM90).
Simple steamed ladies' finger (price RM15).
Herbal mutton soup (RM60). The mutton was quite stiff from prolong double boiling but the herbal soup was quite tasty as the herbal flavours and aroma masked most of the mutton's gaminess.
Menu with prices.
Puan Chong kindly translated the menu into English (same serial numbers).
1. KILN ROASTED CHICKEN
2. KILN ROASTED DUCK
3. KILN ROASTED PIG’S TROTTER
4. SALT BAKED RED TILAPIA
5. HERBAL KAMPUNG CHICKEN SOUP
6. HERBAL RADISH MUTTON SOUP
7. HERBAL THREADFIN SOUP
8. PINEAPPLE & BITTER GOURD CHICKEN SOUP
9. CURRY TIGER PRAWNS
10. FRAGRANT HONG KONG STYLE PAN-FRIED PRAWNS
11. ASAM PEDAS PRAWNS
12. KILN BAKED GINGER RED SNAPPER
13. PATIN BRAISED IN PREMIUM SOY SAUCE
14. CRISPY THAI STYLE SQUIDS
15. CRISPY DEEP-FRIED SIAKAP (SEA BASS)
16. HONG KONG STYLE STEAMED LADIES FINGERS
17. STIR FRIED FRENCH BEANS
18. TAIWANESE 3-CUP (SAN BEI) STYLE BRINJAL
19. STIR FRIED LONG BEANS WITH DRIED PRAWNS
20. VEGETARIAN DISH OF CABBAGE, CARROT & BLACK FUNGUS
21. THAI STYLE CRISPY BEANCURD
22. PIG’S TRIPE (STOMACH) PEPPER SOUP
23. KILN ROASTED PORK RIBS SLAB
24. FRAGRANT OIL RICE
25. PEPPERMINT LEMON DRINK
26. CHINESE TEA: JASMINE/ PU ER/ TIE GUAN YIN/ CHA WANG
27. CANNED SOFT DRINKS
Recommended for you 👍 The food is nice. Prices are reasonable. But, it is the kampung ambiance and wood fired brick oven that makes Kulai Wengyaoji special. If you are going to Kulai for a food trail, this is a great dinner spot to round up your itinerary.
Thank you Puan Chong for your recommendation and dinner with your family.
More tasty places for your Kulai food trail 👈 click
Restaurant name: Kulai Wengyaoji 古來甕窯雞
Address: C48, Jalan Air Bemban 5, Kulai, Johor
GPS: 1°42'00.6"N 103°29'02.9"E 🌐 1.700157, 103.484142
Tel: 016 777 7760 ☎ 016 766 6362 ☎ 012 760 6620 (strictly by appointment only)
Hours: 6:00pm - 10:30pm (Fri, Sat & Sun only)
Date visited: 17 Aug 2019