Visitors often stop and buy home the famous Ayam Garam at one of the 4 Tastiest Salt Baked Chicken 盐焗鸡 Yim Kook Kai in Ipoh.
Ipoh’s famous salt baked chicken is a brand sought after by visitors after they had their fill of ‘Tauge Ayam’ of “Nga Choi Kai” and “Tau foo fah” a delicate Chinese soya bean dessert.
First timers to Ipoh will be curious to try this chicken dish and want to taste it but they can’t as the shops only make the salt-baked chicken for takeaways. Some are openly curious and think that the chickens are salty like salted fish.
The Cooking Process
Actually the name, salt baked chicken is derived from the cooking process. The chicken is marinated with ginger, rice wine, and Chinese herbs tang kuei or Chinese Angelica, ginseng and wolfberries, then it is wrapped in paper packets ate baked with rock salt is used externally.
If you prefer organic kampung chickens, you need to request at the shops when you purchase.
Normally there aren’t any chili sauces to go with the birds.
Not all the Ayam Garam is so prominently displayed. I’ve visited the top shops in Ipoh for the best-salted chicken but don’t have all the photos as sometimes, it’s just too delicious to eat and we just forget to take a shot.
What’s in the box?
All the chickens are cooked in a fetal position. Some chickens are plumper than others but generally, most of the birds are about 1 to 1.2kg each.
What’s the taste?
Due to the cooking process, the white meat is normally a little dry and the dark meat is tender. Taste wise, the birds are salty overall and full of the fragrance of Chinese herbs.
How to eat Salt Baked Chicken?
You can’t really eat the chicken on its own as it may be a tad salty for delicate palates. Generally, I like to take it with some plain rice porridge or congee salted eggs and pickled vegetables work best to balance the taste. Or you can have it as a dish with rice and stir-fried veggies at home.
How to up the heat up the Salt Baked Chicken?
You can steam the chicken in its wrapper or if you prefer, take the bird out and pour over a bottle of Brands’ chicken essence and for relish and color some sliced carrots and some wolfberries.
I find the chickens flavourful and satisfying enough to have it on its own, without having to add on other ingredients. But if you like, why not? You’re the boss of your Ayam Garam!
What to do with leftover Yim Kook Kai?
I find that the bones make a delicious stock for soups, porridge, even casseroles, and gravy. The bits of leftover flesh, a great filling for a Chinese herb-infused chicken sandwich.
Where to buy?
A quick check with Google Map will generate some cool result as the shops are labeled clearly. If you’re in the heart of Ipoh, just a few turns and you’ll reach the shop with the shortest queues of the longest. All depending on the time you reach of course. Don’t worry, the bird is ready cooked and you buy a chilled bird to take home.
You can’t miss the Ayam Garam Outlets!
Three of the top Yim Kook Kai is within a stone’s throw from each other; they are located at Jalan Theatre. It’s so convenient to just swing the car around, run to the shop, place your order and head back to the car with your precious purchases. Don’t worry upon reaching the counter, you’ll find a multitude of chicken ready packed in boxes, all lined up and ready to go.
So here’s the list of the shops I’ve tried.
This brand has two outlets. The older shop simply called Tat Seng and the newer shop is across from Funny Mountain’s soya products, called Ayam Garam Sin Tat Seng.
The salted whole chicken from Tat Seng is packaged in a yellow or brown and white box sold at RM19. Other items of interest include boneless roast duck (RM32), the smoked duck (RM38), and a range of pork dishes.
Ayam Garam Sin Tat Seng
48, Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakry, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh
Happy Delicious Salted Chicken started from a stall in the Kafe Zun Seng Fatt on Jalan Bandar Timah. The new outlet is painted a painted bright red on Jalan Theatre. The difference in taste is the eight treasures salted chicken (RM22), aside from the regular version (RM19). They also offer smoked duck (half, RM19; whole, RM37) and even drumstick versions at only RM7 (chicken) and RM8 (duck).
The birds are stronger in taste and salted to the core with the ‘eight treasures’ herbal taste securely retained within the cavity. The breast portion may be a little dry, but the herbal taste in strong and unbeatable.
Happy Delicious Salted Chicken (福禄寿盐焗鸡)
54, Jalan Theatre, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh
Business Hours: Daily 9.30am – 9.30pm
This lesser-known salt baked chicken in Ipoh holds its own against with the big brands and sells a variety of food gifts to bring home apart from their salted baked chicken prepared in three ways; normal salted chicken (RM19), vacuum packed (RM19), and a special full moon package (RM22).
Ayam Garam See Heong
51, Jalan Theatre, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh
Business Hours: Daily 10 am – 6.30pm
The most famous Salt Baked Chicken 盐焗鸡 Yim Kook Kai in Ipoh
Save the best for last, Aun Kheng Lim is by far the most famous salt-baked chicken shop in. Loyal customers swear that it’s the best salt-baked chicken in Ipoh since the shop opened for business in 1987.
The shop which is painted bright red with white accents stands at the corner of Jalan Theatre. It is almost impossible to miss it.
Aun Kheng Lim’s kampung chicken or free-range chicken is stuffed with herbs like female ginseng and goji berries. Baked wrapped in a parchment paper parcel under a mound of rock salt, the chicken’s meat is juicy and practically falls off the bone. So much so that even the leftover chicken bones, with flavors, infused heavily with salt and herbs, make great stock. I like to make chicken porridge with the leftovers.
Each box costs RM19, and you can also purchase a vacuum-packed version for freezing.
The best way to enjoy is the best way to enjoy this is to pull the meltingly tender flesh straight of the bone with the delicious clear juice dripping!
Aun Kheng Lim Salted Chicken 宴琼林盐焗鸡
24, Jalan Theatre, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh
Business Hours: Daily 9 am – 6.30pm
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