Friday, December 16, 2005

Food trip to Banting

On Saturday, my friends and I went to Banting to celebrate KY’s birthday. We went all the way there to try the famous hak yi kai (beggar chicken). Why it is called as such is because it is cooked in a pile of charcoal.

How did it get its name? I didn’t know there is a story (come to think of it, everything has a origins story!) behind it until my brother told me.

Back in the olden days, there was a beggar who stole a chicken. The townspeople gave chase and managed to trap him inside a house. The beggar, not knowing what to do, decided to wrap that chicken in cloth and buried it under the house.

Somehow, he managed to escape from the house without being detected by the mob gathered outside demanding the release of the chicken.

The townspeople must be crazy over chickens, because they decided that if they couldn’t have their chicken, then no one can have it.

Or maybe they were just being selfish. So they decided to burn the house down.

For goodness sakes, it was only a goddamned chicken! Burn down a house for a chicken – I really can’t see the sense in that.

Anyway, the house was burned down and the mob left. The beggar returned later and dug through the debris (and soil) to recover his chicken.

Lo and behold, the chicken was found and it tasted absolutely delicious and heavenly! Word of mouth spread about this new way of cooking chicken and it caught on. And became famous.

Of course, no one would burn down a house just to cook a chicken. Hence, the next best thing is to simulate a burning house or a very hot environment – cover the cock in hot charcoal.

We took pictures of the food. These are the other four dishes we had.

And this is the main attraction – beggar chicken.

It is actually herbal chicken. But cooked ala beggar style. Yummy!

The other dishes were good as well. Not spectacular, but they were full of flavour. We over-ordered, as we had difficulty finishing the food. But we managed to finally.

Price was a tad expensive. The chicken was RM43.

But OK-lar.

My friends and I had been talking about trying it since three years ago. Now I can finally say that I have!


Legolas said...

My colleagues have been saying to try the beggar chicken out too. Well, maybe we'll need to wait for 3 years before the opportunity strikes, that is if I'm still in the same company. ;-p

lost in the gay woods (LTGW) said...

ooo... thats beggar chicken. ate that many times edi... well, im not familiar wt those names. hehee

Kyle said...

Oh yes, that one, very popular it seems and even needs booking for the extremely long cooking time.. very nice in the end.. worth all the patience.. lol

MrBunnyBan said...

Huh? This was your first time eating beggar's chicken? Mmmm, used to love eating it when young. Hard to get nowadays.

Anyway, there's many versions of the story - legends are like that. The one I know is pretty simple- beggar steals a chicken, wraps it in clay and tosses it in a fire to hide it. When he retrieves it once people stop searching for the theif, out comes yummy yummy beggar's chicken. Nothing about burning down a freakin house.

Jay said...

Mmmm definitely one of those things that taste better than they look! Now stoppit - I can't get stuff like that in London unless I hak yi myself, so stop tempting me.

Derek said...

legolas: You should go try it. The waiting time and the drive there (about an hour and a half from KL) will convince you that it would be your first and last time there. LOL

ltgw: Had that many times? You must really like it then.

kyle: Yes, have to book first. In a weird kind of way, it does make it worthwhile in the end.

mrbunnyban: Heh, as you said, there are many versions to the story. I think I prefer the burning house one - more dramatic ma.

jay: No, but you can get the most expensive soup in the world in London at what .. 168 pounds per bowl? ;P