Wangchao

Special thanks to Wangchao for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

In celebration of the successful conclusion of 2014 Wang Chao Cooking Class (酒楼富贵年菜传授班), Chef Kevin (曾子峰老师) has graciously invited me over to his flagship restaurant in Pekaka Square for a celebration dinner (庆功宴).
Chef Kevin is renowned for Cantonese-style (粤式) cooking, but his recipe also includes a number of localized dishes especially spicy ones. Wangchao is a pork-free restaurant since it is in process of obtaining halal-certification. This is particularly important in effort to expand its catering business.
The first highlight is Teow Chew Style Steam Red Snapper (潮蒸海洋红狮鱼). The red snapper (红狮鱼) is famed for its flavorful flesh which requires little seasoning. While it does not have the smoothest flesh in the ocean, the red snapper is the right fish for this dish. The fish is served with pickled cabbage (酸菜) and bean curd (豆腐).
As for Wangchao's Clay Pot Indocurry Prawn (沙煲印尼咖喱虾), it is difficult not to compare with the one at Double Good Restaurant (好好冷气餐厅). Since it is impossible for fresh prawns to be any fresher, key to this dish is the curry itself.
Wangchao's version is slightly on the spicy side. The use of coconut milk makes the curry rather richly flavored. As to the question which restaurant's cooking is better, it is ultimately up to individual's taste buds.
Another personal favorite tonight is Golden Crab Meat Beancurd With Broccoli (碧绿蟹皇烩金砖, RM19.00). The gravy used to flavor the bean curd is made from crab meat, eggs, roe and other ingredients which I speculate is Wangchao's trade secret. Along the sides are broccoli to absorb some flavor.
The Braised Water Spinach With Chili (马来风光) is obviously within the pages of local cookbooks. Water spinach plays its role well here because it has the right silky texture and hollow stem which retains juiciness. The amount of chili gravy is modest without being overwhelming.
A Cantonese-style meal is characterized with its mandatory inclusion of soup. Tonight's soup is the Chicken Stomach Soup (鸡肚汤), which is quite heavy with black pepper seeds. Some people may be turned away by its pungency, but I find this rather appetizing.
When the main meal is finally over, Chef Kevin brings out his secret weapon: Half-Cooked Whole Chicken With Stuffing (乾坤半熟鸡). This dish is 2.5 kilograms of chicken, partially baked with various stuffing inside. Served alongside are three types of sauces: black pepper sauce (黑胡椒酱), coriander sauce (芫茜酱) and soybean sauce (金黄酱).
The chicken is deliberately baked partially, so that deeper flesh remains uncooked. Using a cleaver, tender outer layers are cut off into thin slices, leaving the pink underlying flesh exposed.
The outer flesh retains its juicy goodness, which is the reason why the chicken is not baked entirely. The chicken is quite flavorful to be eaten alone, with dipping sauces, or with sweet stuffing inside the chicken. The stuffing ingredients are carrots (红萝卜), Chinese radishes (白萝卜), shiitake mushrooms (香菇), wood ear fungus (黑木耳), fish maw (鱼鳔), female ginseng (当归) and wolfberry (枸杞).
As for the uncooked chicken, it is chopped up and deep-fried to golden perfection. This time, the flesh becomes crispier and drier. I personally prefer the first serving of tender chicken flesh.
Due to its tedious preparation, the Half-Cooked Whole Chicken With Stuffing is not available in Wangchao's regular menu. I am truly privileged to enjoy Chef Kevin's special dinner preparation tonight.
Here is a toast to Wangchao for the successful execution of 2014 cooking classes. Considering the overwhelming response, I look forward to seeing more upcoming classes after Chinese New Year.
Name: Wangchao Restaurant & Buffet Catering (旺朝广式冷气饭店)
Address: 2-G-2, Pekaka Square, Lebuh Pekaka 1, 11700 Sungai Dua, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-444-3268, 016-445-7268
Business hours: 11:00am-3:00pm. 6:00pm-10:00pm, closed on Wednesdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/WANG-CHAO-chinese-cuisine/358067843125
Coordinates: 5.34889 N, 100.29564 E
Directions: From Jalan Pekaka 1, turn to Lebuh Pekaka 1 which is directly opposite of Tesco Extra. Drive to the end of this road, then turn left again. Wangchao is one of the last shops on the right, at the ground level of Pekaka Square. There is street parking in front of Pekaka Square and basement parking which is accessible from the back of the building.

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