388 Chicken Recipe

Special thanks to 388 Chicken Recipe for extending this food review invitation.

Kafe Hing Long (兴隆饮食中心) is a coffee shop right next to the mostly-deserted Gembira Parade. Besides Will Western Delight, another stall is 388 Chicken Recipe (388胡须鸡), a hidden gem with an interesting fusion menu of Chinese, Japanese, Western, Indonesian and Thai recipes.
The man behind 388 Chicken Recipe is a friendly Mr. Lee, who used to operate a stall at Jalan Hutton many years ago, took a year-long hiatus, then moved to this location in 2012.
388 Chicken Recipe specializes in chicken rice, but not the regular chicken used in most stalls. The chicken used here is called "bearded chicken" (胡须鸡). This fowl breed has brownish feathers (as opposed to white), yellowish flesh, and sports a bushy neck which resembles fully-grown beard.
Originating from Huiyang District of Guangdong Province in China, bearded chicken are raised at cool highlands and fed with corn. Pound for pound, bearded chicken is 50% more expensive than regular poultry. This is because the former is not subjected to growth hormones and takes a full 120-days duration to mature.

Besides chicken, 388 Chicken Recipe also offers a several innovative side dishes which are slowly introduced after rigorous perfection. I am fortunate that smoked duck is recently made available. Mr. Lee recommended that I also sample several slices of duck for good measure.
The serving of CR Pouch Hu Xu Chicken Rice (密制水煮胡须鸡饭, RM6.80) usually excludes smoked duck. The duck is specially added for the purpose of this review.
How does bearded chicken taste compare to its cage-farmed counterpart? First, the meat is firmer and feels more "solid". This is logical since bearded chicken are farmed in free range, giving the birds more muscular built. Next and most importantly, the taste is superior compared to regular chicken. Its meaty savoriness is clearly pronounced as delightful juice when my teeth sinks into the yellowish flesh.
Next up, the Black Pepper Smoked Duck (黑胡椒烟熏鸭) is served in fine slices. Like most stalls, smoked duck is typically sourced from suppliers as hawker businesses usually do not have the economies of scale to produce it cheaply. What differentiates 388 Chicken Recipe's smoked duck from competitors' is the subsequent grilling with olive oil and black pepper. This gives the duck an aromatic appeal which is not too greasy, yet rich in duck essence and spicy goodness.
Typical chicken rice stalls only provide a couple of cucumber slices as sides. Not at 388 Chicken Recipe. In line with creating value-for-money, the chicken rice here includes a salad of grilled cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, chopped spring onions and shredded cabbage over a lettuce leaf. Where else can you find such many types of vegetables on a single plate of chicken rice?
In terms of condiments, the house special is the mountain coriander dipping sauce (山芫荽蘸酱), an infusion of chili peppers (辣椒), parsley (香菜), onions (葱), lemon leaves (柠檬叶), soy sauce (酱油), lime juice (青柠). This sauce is refreshing in terms scent and flavor. Also traditionally included with chicken rice is garlic chili sauce, which has decent pungency and works well with the chicken.
The dollar is stretched even further with complimentary soup: choice of either herbal soup (药材汤) or miso soup (味噌汤). I picked the former, which turns out to be a good choice; I reckon that I will not be disappointed if I selected the other anyway. The herbal soup has strong flavors to expand my appetite several times over.
388 Chicken Recipe has several side dishes which I have not been able to try yet. An example is the Spicy Fried Egg (黄金炸蛋), essentially boiled eggs flavored with Indonesian sambal (shrimp and chili paste).
Also recommended is the Tofu (豆干) which has been specially sourced. Other choices are Japanese Teriyaki Chicken Rice (日式照烧鸡饭) and Vegetarian Goose (素鹅). Furthermore, Mr. Lee has several experimental dishes up his sleeves which he will reveal in due time.
At the first glance, the menu at 388 Chicken Recipe looks pricey. But one needs to consider the quality ingredients and painstaking effort to perfect the flavor. Despite general price hikes in the F&B industry, 388 Chicken Recipe has been resisting such trends since it opened for business.

Name: 388 Chicken Recipe
Address: 3K, Lorong Delima 1, Taman Island Glades, 11600 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-407-3838 (Mr. Lee)
Business hours: 9:00am-6:00pm, closed on Mondays
Coordinates: 5.38610 N, 100.30394 E
Directions: Driving northbound on From Jalan Masjid Negeri, turn left to the small alley just before the pedestrian bridge at Shell petrol station. At the end of the alley, turn right to Lorong Delima 1. Keep driving and you will see a row of shops before Gembira Parade. Kafe Hing Long is the last shop before the mall. There are plenty of parking spaces in front and along the side of Kafe Hing Long. 388 Chicken Recipe is one of the stalls at Kafe Hing Long.

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