Story and photos by CHARLES FERNANDEZ
MENTION chicken rice balls and the first place that comes to this writer's mind is Malacca, because it was at an outlet in Jalan Jonker in the old part of Malacca town that I had my first taste of that dish one Christmas holiday years ago.
And, over the years, the Nam Wah Chicken Rice Ball restaurant and Famosa Chicken Rice Ball outlets that churn out rice balls with specially designed machines were added to the list.
It has been operating for more than a year and the JR Rice Bowl halal restaurant, as the outlet is known, has been faithfully serving a circle of loyal customers.
“They are rice balls made with a difference because we use the best quality Kangaroo brand rice grains from Australia. And, I must say they are slightly more expensive than your regular chicken rice,” said Danny Chew, who co-owns the restaurant with a Malay partner.
“That is another difference. The rice balls are steamed with ginger and garlic and served with chicken prepared according to 'home-made' recipes. The chicken servings come deep-fried, roasted or steamed,” he added.
He added that the soup served with the chicken rice was not the type in which monosodium glutamate (MSG) was added to enhance the taste.
“Here, the chicken soup is made with groundnuts and cabbage which complement the garlic and ginger in the rice balls,” Chew said, adding that his customers loved its unique taste and many had complemented him on the recipe.
The rice balls, which are slightly bigger than ping-pong balls, are sold at 50 sen each.
The outlet also offers a variety of dishes that go well with the rice balls.
There are vegetable dishes like Sayur Taugeh, Sayur Cendawan Oyster Sauce and Sayur Pakchoy with oyster sauce, as well as Udang Wanton Goreng.
And, of course, there is also the usual variety of noodles – Kantonis Kuey Teow, Char Kuey Teow, Nasi Goreng Yong Cheow and Ying Yong Kong Fu.
For dessert, diners can try the fruit jelly custard, Scottish fudge cake or the American fruit cake, all in-house specialties.
The restaurant is usually packed at lunchtime on weekdays and those who cannot find seats are usually happy to tapau their favourite dish.
“I have regular customers who sometimes call me on my hand phone to tell me that they are coming for lunch or want their order packed,” said Chew, who added that most of his regular customers had his hand phone number and he liked the arrangement as it made things easier.