Posted: 30 Sep 2011 04:32 AM PDT
Canning Garden Chee Cheong Fun uncle, now pleasantly serving you at Ipoh Central Cafe on Cowan Street-Leong Sin Nam Street.
After a good 3+ years of writing stories on the good eats from Ipoh, you'd be hard-pressed not to get the impression that I have eaten everything Ipoh had to offer, and then some. The 'some' in this case, might bluntly refer to cafes/bistros piloting the resurgence of interest in kopitiams (albeit modernized), hawker stalls that left in a hurried manner reflecting the speed of how they sprouted out of nowhere, and one-hit wonders aka eateries that capitalize on the latest trend, then faded off into oblivion.
Ipoh style of Chee Cheong Fun with a mix of chili and sweet sauce; sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, and garnished with fried shallots.
The Cha Time/Gong Cha craze has hit an all-time high throughout the country, with a Cha Time outlet opening its doors in Greentown of Ipoh recently. Needless to say, the queue extended to no foreseeable ends, partly helped by the massive marketing ploy spreading like wildfire. And the fact that you need to line up, order and wait for your beverage to be prepared (a good 10 minutes, at least), added up to the already overwhelming hype.
Just when the doughnut and cupcake fiascos have died down considerably, the food connoisseurs (okay, fanatics may suit this scenario more) are betting their bottom dollars on Taiwanese bubble milk tea instead.
Geez, since when has the flavoured milk tea with popping pearls (actually tapioca balls, or whatever they're made of) became a hit?! To me, the bubble milk tea fad was ignited when 'pasar malam' (night markets) started housing stalls making the artificially-flavoured drinks with a mixer, sometimes with a cute soft toy seated on the apparatus for added entertainment value.
No point in confusing yourself, this stall only offers chicken chop rice or pork chop rice
Point is; we fall for the latest food craze more often than we know it. Hands up who has queued up for a JCo's donut, proudly showcasing their designer cupcakes on Facebook; especially those tailor-made for a friend's or colleague's birthday, went manic and searched for the best macarons out there, or even raved about a new porky joint around the neighbourhood?
I for one, am guilty as charged.
Meh … you mean to say this pool of unrecognizable mess was a fad? Oh yeah. And it has since seeped into the mainstream of timeless classics now.
If you are an 80's baby, you would have been a living testament to the legacy that was Super Kinta. That was THE place to be seen back then, where everything's under one roof and I still vividly remember how the first Baskin Robbins stall was set up there, almost adjacent to the bakery that was perpetually emanating freshly baked bread's aroma.
The food court above the supermarket was a hive of activities come lunch hour. There was this stall that sells amazing chicken/pork chop with rice; the epitome of a hearty lunch back then. Then there was this extremely addictive roti canai from an Indian stall, when a piece of this truly Malaysian creation of a pan-fried flat bread lubricated with ghee and served with dhal curry went for only 60 cents.
Hakka Yong Tau Foo from this stall that also sells lui cha rice and nasi lemak
Astonishingly, amidst the dilapidated state that the premise is in now, the food court is STILL in operational mode. A pale shadow of its old self, the pork chop rice stall has branched out to a stall in Ipoh Central Café; a coffee shop at the junction of Leong Sin Nam and Cowan Street, directly opposite of Foh San Dim Sum.
Though this is not exactly a branch of that famous stall (which by the way is still there at the food court), this lady at Ipoh Central Cafe previously worked for the aforementioned stall. A case of extending the brand, so to speak. And no doubt you'll see the similarity of the food served between the stalls.
Pork chop rice (RM4.30) or chicken chop rice (RM5.00); with options of additional ham, sausage or egg for RM0.80 each. A slice of lean pork chop tenderized and coated in a batter made predominantly with eggs, then fried before served in a pool of gravy infused with the zesty nuance of tomatoes, canned pineapples, green peas, corn and a dollop of chili sauce on top. At first glance, you'd be stunned by the sheer appalling presentation, but the proof is in the pudding, as they said.
Homemade Caramel Egg Custard (RM2.50)
A bite of this caloric-horror revealed a multitude of flavours and texture combined. For less than RM5.00 per serving (I chose to add a fried egg for RM0.80), this was a no-frills meal that lasted me until dinner.
And then there's this interesting piece of story, an urban legend of epic proportion regarding a chee cheong fun seller in Canning Garden being so famous back in the olden days, he had customers from the netherworld!
Just another coffee shop? A brilliant alternative if the whole dim sum street is congested with people, and the dim sum outlets are packed to the brim!
Now, this Motormouth does not know heads and tails of the whole story, but grandma told me this whenever we passed by the field in Canning Garden by the roundabout;
"You know, there was this chee cheong fun man who sets up his stall every evening back in those days. His stall would be by the field, and very popular with the crowd.
But then there was this one time when at the end of the day, while calculating his revenues for the day, he counted paper money (currency for the underworld, usually burnt for the deceased during the seventh month) amongst the pile!"
How affable, his was a face of pure joy when this nosy Motormouth was capturing every detail.
Naturally, chills went down my spine. Yeah, maybe we have not resorted to burning food in paper forms for the ancestors, hence the chee cheong fun lover must have braced all odds and borders to eat at his/her favourite stall once again!
This same uncle (the CCF seller, of course) now operates from Ipoh Central Café, still serving his silky smooth brand of freshly-steamed rice rolls studded with dried shrimps, served with toasted sesame seeds, pickled green chillies and fried shallots. I found this a far cry from my favourite stall in Pasir Pinji, yet a notch above the casual CCF stalls in most coffee shops.
"If it's good enough for the dead, it's definitely worthy of a try! "
Kafe Ipoh Central
Posted: 30 Sep 2011 02:30 AM PDT
Salam sejahtera buat semua.
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