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2011.03.08

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Yvette

We would love to help out....but we're in Sydney. We were in KL once for about 4 days and ate at Yut Kee 4 times (incl roast pork!). It felt like we were in someone's home. If there is a petition we could perhaps sign, count us in.

Robyn

Hi Yvette, thanks for your expression of support. Of course, that suggestion is addressed only to folks physically able to do so (don't expect you to fly back from Sydney for it!).

Emerson

In my travels around SEA, my dining experience at Yut Kee has been most memorable: the food (roast pork, noodles, kaya, iced coffee and cake), the Burmese staff, Jack, and Mervyn. I even brought kaya and butter cake for my Nepali friends in Kathmandu. I've recommended this restaurant to a good number of Filipino travelers to KL. I'm hoping many would come on the date. Please post pictures of the crowd. How I would love to be there too!

Lydia

Hi Robyn, how do you plan on doing this? facebook?

Michaela

It's the same everywhere. The old places get shut down or moved on, only to be replaced with yet more generic 'developments'.

Sad to hear about this if it's true. We'll be in KL next month and will definitely look for Yut Kee. Your photos make it look so appealing :)

GlobalAsianista

Robyn, this was a great blog post. I was especially moved by your description of Jack. His treatment of his staff is really telling, we definitely need more Jacks in this era of increased globalization.

borneoboy

Hi Robyn. What a great write-up. It's like a love note ! I've enjoyed Yut Kee's comfort food many times when in KL. It really is an institution. Count me in you you are signing a petition.

minchow

Will be there! I'm not a KL native and abhorred the city in the beginning when I had to move here for work. It took me a number of years before I found Yut Kee, which I will always remember as the turning point for me to begin seeing the city's charms and its offerings as remotely palatable.

Teri Y.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I hear ya-- it's sad to see an establishment rich in identity and history give way to something else that could possibly be another establishment that lacks character or personality. Actually this is exactly how I feel about KL/PJ development in general.

C. K. Cheong


I'm in Vancouver Canada now. Jack, his 3 mother's and 2 sisters, me and a group of us we called "the gang" consists of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Sikhs,Euraisian have been friends since early 60's. and still in constant contact. "Yut Kee" is our HQ. and always share the front table with Jack whenever we are in KL.

We are there for friendship and the food. Actually the food. Simple reason Jack treats us the same as any newcomer. Now Mervyn is doing the same as Jack. You'd think we'd get some priviledges.

eelin loo

this place is an institution...the food speaks for itself and uncle jack is such a character! :) His son is definitely doing a great job at making sure the ship runs smoothly...
It will be such a loss to our food heritage if they have to move.
Will definitely be there for a show of support, if not for the great food!!!
Time and date pls...

Colin Fredericks

I live in Wellington, Ontario (great wineries)Canada and concour with everything that CK has stated. I was part of the "group' .

Had a great number of good meals and I would have to attribute my cooking skills, to Jack,watching him prepare the meals for the lunch crowd.

Great times and memories. Should be designated a heritage site.

thang@noodlies

gosh the roti babi look delish!

rokh

let me know the date and time and i will try my best to be there!

i love yut kee which is an epitome of malaysia kopitiam

Ming

What?! It's moving??

I used to go there as a kid with my grandparents 25 years ago...

If I go back to Malaysia later this year I think it's time to pay YK a long overdue visit.

su sian

Am one (of many it seems) who believes that Yut Kee is a tourist- trappy travesty of when it used to be an honest Hainanese kopitiam. Had been fine to register in the past that you have a different view but you obviously don't feel your readers deserve the same courtesy when you summarise and dismiss their responses to your concern about Yut Kee's move. Have thought your blog pretty special, but unfortunately this is probably the last time I'm going to be looking at it.

Robyn

I knew when I posted this it might raise some hackles. So let me address those first.

Su Sian - I have emailed you. Your comment on the blog for all the world to see, so you can hardly accuse us of 'dismissing' you or any other Yut Kee detractors. We don't agree. Doesn't mean you're wrong, or that we're right. But the rudeness isn't called for.
So you are not going to read the blog anymore. What am I supposed to do with a comment like that? We've never written or photographed here for readers, but only for ourselves. This is our creative space. We make no money off of EatingAsia, and in fact it costs money to support the site. We were blogging for years with only a few hundred readers, simply because we enjoy the process. Once we start worrying about what readers will or will not like, or what will drive up numbers or decrease them, maintaining EatingAsia will become a job. We both have enough "have to do" work. We don't need anymore.
Sorry to see you go, and thanks for your readership to date. But EatingAsia will go on, with no changes.

Ming - yes, you best visit this year.

rokh,eelin, borneoboy,Lydia, Yvette - thanks for your expressions of support. But look at our numbers. Sad, eh? Won't be much of a crowd I guess. Maybe the best show of support is stopping in at Yut Kee to say "thanks". Those of you living away from KL may want to drop Yut Kee a line (yes, snail mail!). I'd be happy to provide an address.

Colin, CK - Thanks so much for sharing those memories. The place has many stories to tell, I'm sure!

Teri - me too. It's one reason we're spending more and more time in Penang. KL is losing its sense of place, even in the relatively short time we've been here.
Ain't no cultural history in shopping malls.

Emerson - you obviously "get" places like Yut Kee. Glad you were able to visit.

GlobalAsianista - thanks so much for the kind words?

Michaela - I really hope you do stop in. Closed Mondays and last Sunday of the month.

Gina Bentley

Oh Robyn! I did not know this. I was taken there by my gang of friends last year. They got up early so they could stop at Yut Kee for brekkie before a meeting nearby. They insisted I come along for the last remainig kopitiam experience. Being a small eater but wanting to try the various dishes I've not had since childhood, I ended up not finishing a couple although I did order 3 watermelon juices after one kopi susu. Must've been Uncle Jack who you refer to came by and asked me,"Why, girl, not hungry ahh?! But very thirsty, huh!" So sweet!
Thank you for writing about them. It is indeed sad and a shame Malaysia is losing such precious heritage which reminds us and others who we really are. I will definitely make it a mission to go have the roti babi etc when I am in KL next month!! I shall be there with my gang and have my fill of Uncle Jack's kopitiam.

Preeta

I meant to post a comment here when I first saw this post, but I had to put it off at the time, so I hope you'll still see this, Robyn. I love Yut Kee; I don't know what it was like 20 years ago and I don't particularly care to know, because they do so much right there and it's an oasis in what is, frankly, an awful city. Do we really need to look for faults in the few things about KL that are actually pretty great? I also don't get people who think being rude on other people's blogs is an inalienable right. A blog is *always* somebody else's creative/personal space. Just the same way you don't really have a "right" to march into someone else's house and call them names -- you can do it, of course, but then your host has the right to ask you to leave -- you don't have the "right" to do it in an online space either. What is it about the Internet that brings out the worst in human beings? The same simple manners you should've learned in primary school apply here too. Enough said.

I am curious to know if, now that you are spending so much more time in Penang, you think that Penang has a better chance of preserving its sense of place. I certainly hope so, but I wonder what you think about it. KL very much makes me feel like the Malaysia I love is disappearing fast -- there are a few tiny gems like Yut Kee, but they are marooned in seas of worthless commercialism. I'm eager to be proven wrong about the rest of Malaysia.

cherylg

Hi Robyn
Stumbled upon your site while googling "Yut Kee review". I am impressed with how well versed you are with the culture, background, and if I may point out - how you appreciate the good food in KL, something which many Malaysians take for granted. It seems that complaining has now become a favourite past time - whether it is about the standards of local food, politics, economy, etc. The list goes on.

So thank you for the heartwarming post. It is definitely a breath of fresh air. I am now more than convinced to drop by this place while I still can - and will be frequenting your site from now on too! Cheers.

Robyn

Hi Cheryl -- thanks so much for the kind words! Complaining, I think, sometimes is the justification for inaction. In our opinion (and it's just an opinion, after all), Yut Kee is a treasure. Jack and Mervyn will reopen nearby but something will be lost when the original shop closes. Go while you can.
Glad you found us.

Hi Preeta, late response and I don't know if you'll see it but ... the jury is out on Penang -- well, George Town at least -- but so far so good. There are alot of people in GT who care about not only its architectural heritage but its cultural heritage as well, and who are working to protect it. Strangely enough a national govt-funded org and arm of Kazanah called Think City is behind much of the good that is going on in GTown. Malacca is pretty much gone. We'll see what happens to GTown over the next decade. Of course many outsiders (like ourselves!) are moving in, some tenants are being kicked out. Not good. But many previously abandoned buildings are being rehabilitated, a little homegrown art scene seems to be springing up. Come up to GTown next time you're in Malaysia. I think you'd like it. The rest of Penang well .... it's in developers' grips. I'd be surprised if there was much in the way of green left by 2025.

Account Deleted

Another institution threatened by development. I just went there yesterday. It took me 3 buses to get there (not very long lah, I just got onto the wrong buses) but I got my Yut Kee fix. Another place I shall mourn when or if it goes is Hock Lee's mini market at Jalan Batai. Read why in Support Your Neighbourhood Store at justfollowtherecipe.wordpress.com

Eva

Hi! From wat I know yut kee hv been move to some where else...but I'm not sure had it move to.
May anyone who know tell me? Thank you

ML Saw

I am the fourth generation of my family who goes to Yut Kee. Yeap, since my great-grandfather’s time. When I was young, Uncle Jack used to carry me to the counter where he will treat me with Sugus and other sweets.

Hailam mee is a signature dish which we order without fail every time we're there. I've tried it elsewhere before, but never once liked them. Now the workers are behind the wok and I must say the hailam mee turns out a little too wet compared to Uncle Jack’s. My mum thinks the sambal is a must to go along with the hailam mee.

Difference compared to the past? The portion of the chicken chop and pork chop shrunk a little, but the gravy is still as good as ever. Instead of having toast with kaya, we love getting the plain toast to dip in the gravy. The roasted pork roll is the latest addition, as of few years ago. And while some people are pondering on the price, they vanish really quickly to the pleasure of others.

We always end up with the marble cake and Swiss rolls packed in boxes to take home for tea time because our tummies are too full. People often give us evil glances as my family gets a seat within 10 minutes no matter how many people are queuing outside as the kopitiam is fully packed. Not to mention, our fellow “tablemates” will stare at us like we’ve starved for months as we place our order and when the food comes, we often have a problem with space to place the food! That only lasted for a couple of minutes. :P The shy “tablemates” then whisper among themselves about our gluttony impression while the curious newcomers ask for our suggestions.

There used to be an old aunty who does the drinks last time and a few workers to serve the food which are now replaced with Burmese workers. Uncle Jack used to be in the kitchen and comes out once in awhile to check on things or chat with old friends as Aunty Margaret, his wife sits behind the counter. Now Mervyn handles the counter most of the time. The layout didn’t change for what I could remember since forever, the white refrigerator at the back and the cake cabinet next to the counter.

No matter how busy we are, my dad always crave for Yut Kee and drive us there even if the traffic is bad during weekends. Talk about determination when it comes to food, lol. When I’m busy preparing for exams or just too tired to follow my parents, they will take home a nice variety for me. The only problem was which to start on first!

Oh my, what I thought would be a few words of nostalgia almost turned out a short essay. Happened to be craving for Uncle Jack's hailam mee at 2.30 am and found this blog post. Glad that there are people still striving for the food four generations of my family enjoyed. Good job! :)

Robyn

ML, thank you for taking the time to write such lovely reminiscences of Yut Kee. We love the place as you do.

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