Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ravi's Apom

After our bowls of Penang Hokkein prawn mee in Jalan Burmah, we headed to Pulau Tikus - for some apoms. For the uninitiated, apoms are sweet pan cakes made popular by Malaysians of Indian origin. They are normally quite small with a thick core and crispy fringes. When I was a kid, I used to enjoy them in my home town, but sadly I cannot find any of them in PJ, KL or Subang Jaya any more.

The stall we visited was in a rather run-down coffee shop called Swee Kong. The shop is located at the junction of Jalan Pulau Tikus and Solok Moulmein (Moulmein Close), directly opposite the Pulau Tikus police station. This coffee shop apparently also has a Hokkein prawn mee stall that is said to be very good, but that would have to wait another day. We were there for the apom.

The stall was operated by an Indian gentleman named Ravi. He was totally fluent in Penang Hokkein, spoke it like a true blue local and you wouldn't know that he was not Chinese just hearing him talk. Apparently his apom is very popular in Penang. I had seen him interviewed by a popular food personality on Astro AEC. His first words to us were "Bo liao!" - no more! It was hardly 9am and he was already sold out? My brother-in-law pleaded with him - we drove all the way here, surely you can make some for us. Ravi reluctantly agreed. So we stood there and waited.

He made his apoms with Indian earthen pots over charcoal fires. Perhaps that made his apom so very good. He had a unique way of making his apoms. He poured his flour mix into the pots and move them around, stacking the pots over each other, apparently to get the right heat.

We waited perhaps about 15 minutes and finally our apoms were ready for us. As we paid, I noted that that we were given only 6 pieces. "Only 6 apoms?" I asked Ravi. "You should be happy you get 6 pieces", Ravi replied smilingly in Hokkein. One thing I didn't understand. It was only about 9am in the morning. He obviously was doing a roaring business. His charcoal was still burning hot. Why couldn't he mix some more flour and sell more apoms?

The 6 pieces did not last very long. We tucked on them almost immediately as we were walking back to our car. They were delicious. Top notch apoms. They were smooth and sweet (perhaps a little too sweet) and the flavor was rich with eggs and coconut. We were perhaps a little hasty. The edges of the apoms were still soft. We should had waited for the fringes to harden and be crispy. By the time we reached our car, our 6 apoms were gone.

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