Our Kluang buddy Jit Pang brought us to Restoran Tan Ching Hing in Kluang for dinner.
Restoran Tan Ching Hing is actually a hawker centre with around 15 food stalls - it is one of the most popular dinner and supper hangouts of Kluang townsfolk.
Locals usually call this place Ah Fu Satay as the owner of this hawker centre Tan Ching Hing started out in 1991 running Ah Fu Satay stall.
Ah Fu Satay is still the anchor stall here at Restoran Tan Ching Hing.
Our host Lim Jit Pang is the grandson of the founder of legendary Kluang Rail Coffee. Tan Ching Hing is Jit Pang's uncle. If you like a Jalan2, Makan2, Masak2 trip to Kluang, you can contact Evonne Lyn Lee on Facebook messenger.
There were 10 of us, so we tried a bit of most things served at Restoran Tan Ching Hing (and we were continuing to Fendy Burger and Hai Kee roast pork right after this 😂).
We had pork satay.
Satay pork intestines, something I've not seen in Singapore or JB.
We had moonlight hor fun, KL Hokkien mee, and simple fried bee hoon.
Fried oyster omelette.
Crispy fried pork and chicken feet. Encased in batter blended with nam yue (fermented bean curd), the crispy outside had a nice savoury flavour and subtle fermented bean curd aroma.
The fried chicken wings won over all of us - crispy outside, tender and juicy inside. Savoury nam yue marination at just the right level of intensity for most of us. We can also taste a bit of natural chicky sweetness in the tender, juicy meat.
The food's all quite nice but I found myself drawn to the ikan bakar at the front, left hand side, corner stall 良记海鲜铁板烧. Uncle Liang 良 is a study in focus, concentrating deeply when he grills his fish, squid or vegetables on a banana leaf with pungent hot spices.
When trying out ikan bakar stalls, I would check out the freshness of the fish first. I like it that Uncle Liang's stingrays are fresh and he strips off the skin (which is not often done at other ikan bakar stalls).
Next, I would take a look at the sambal chili sauce. Uniquely, Uncle Liang uses a blend of curry powders and sauces from squeeze bottles.
Again, uniquely, instead of grilling the fish on both sides by flipping it over, Uncle Liang skilfully wraps the fish with banana leaves.
The fish and spices are grilled and baked in a bundle with folded banana leaves. This reminds me of the Portuguese style of grilled fish e.g. at Malacca's Portuguese village except that the fish are wrapped in aluminium foil there.
Uncle Liang working quietly and earnestly behind the grill gave me the first impression that he might be a little annoyed at the uninvited inquisitiveness of this out of town stranger. But, once he had done cooking, Uncle Liang was very warm and chatty. He's is a very friendly professional 😄
The unwrapped grilled and baked fish came out warm and blanketed with drippy spicy looking sauce. We dressed it with the calamansi provided.
Let's dig in. With the skin removed, the stingray was oh.... so soft and juicy. It was well infused with the tangy spicy savoury sauce as the flavours can penetrate the white flesh (without the skin). I was able to taste the natural sweetness of the fresh fish meat.
We also had grilled squid.
Restaurant name: Restoran Tan Ching Hing 阿福沙爹
Address: 18, Jalan Raja Omar, Kampung Masjid Lama, Kluang, Johor (intersection with Jalan Sekolah Chong Hwa)
GPS: 2°01'31.5"N 103°19'24.9"E 🌐 2.025427, 103.323588
Hours: 6:00pm - 12:00 midnight (Monday off)
Date visited: 3 Aug 2019