After a not so great experience of Ipoh Lou Wong ngah choy kai (老黄芽菜雞), I was looking for a place where my appetite for ngah choy kai could be sated. I remember the Jalan Gasing place where I used to go for good pak cham kai (白切雞), taugeh, and chicken rice. I was pretty sure that the ngah choy kai (芽菜雞) there would be better than that of Ipoh Lou Wong. With my wife in tow, we headed for Jalan Gasing.
The makan joint is named New Restaurant Ipoh Chicken Rice. It is located along Jalan Gasing in PJ, across the road and not too far from the EPF building. The row of shops is on an inner road of Jalan Gasing and you enter the inner road near an Esso station next to the St. Francis Xavier catholic church. I have known this place since my early days in PJ more than 30 years ago. But it has also been a long long time since I last ate there.
The place was totally different from what I remembered of it. It had a complete make-over, fully air-conditioned downstairs and upstairs. There was a partitioned kitchen where professionally attired cooks prepared the food. The menu was much more comprehensive and they now serve a whole lot more than chicken, bean-sprouts, noodles and rice. Smartly uniformed waiters took orders with high tech hand-held devices that were wirelessly connected to the kitchen and cashier.
I was totally impressed. The place I remembered was rather messy and disorganized. Now it was like comparing heaven and earth. The place was as packed as it was that I remembered. I guess it is this popularity that brought them up to this level.
We ordered a plate of ayam kampung or free-range chicken (菜园鸡). Unlike Ipoh Lou Wong, they served free-range chicken. But free-range or otherwise, we could not tell the difference. The chicken did not have the firm texture of the ayam kampung. It was rather soft and ordinary. It might as well be ordinary chicken. At least I would not have to pay for the label.
The taugeh was not too bad. They were fat and stumpy, like how taugeh should be. The preparation was good, but the serving was rather small.
We had a plate of roast pork (烧肉). It was salty and quite ordinary.
The fish balls were a waste of time. These fish balls were stuffed with some pork meat and served in a soup. They were not nice. I did not enjoy them at all.
Finally, the sar hor fun (沙河粉) was mediocre. The noodles were a bit soggy. The soup was average - not tasty. I refrain from comparing it to Ipoh Lou Wong's because you really cannot compare any sar hor fun with Ipoh's. They are one class above the rest.
At the end of it, we had to make a judgement. How did Jalan Gasing measure up to Ipoh Lou Wong? Was it better? My wife and I were unanimous in our decisions. Ipoh Lou Wong won hands down. I was rather disappointed with Jalan Gasing. I used to enjoy the chicken there. I guess over the years, our taste and expectations changed. It really was not good. I now have to look elsewhere to justify what I had written about Ipoh Lou Wong.