Sunday, October 02, 2011

Ipoh hawkers under the big trees

We departed Penang early for home to avoid the post festive traffic. It was the Friday of the Merdeka Raya week. We picked that day to drive home reasoning that it would not be the day that people would go home from their holidays. Our reason was only partly valid for the traffic was still heavy albeit not a standstill. Perhaps others think like us too. In any case, it took us about 3 hours to reach Ipoh. And when we did, we headed straight to Pasir Pinji for some hawker food under the big tree.

大树下 or under a big tree is a small hawker area very near to Tuck Kee Restaurant where YF bought us lunch on our way to Sungei Petani. It is located on Jalan King in Pasir Pinji. It is a combination of several sheds under, not one but several big trees. It did not look very impressive but in it was a surprising hive of activities.

There were many food stalls selling all sorts of delightful things - beverages, noodles, porridge, popiah, chicken rice, fried radish cake, yong tau foo, etc, etc. There were tables all over the place. People jammed it in. It was like an organized disorderly hustle and bustle of serious eating. 

There was an open area that even in the midst of a hot afternoon, was cool and comfortable below the shades of the big trees.

The place is famed for the yong tau foo (釀豆腐). Apparently this YTF stall started the whole hawker place. I was told they were the first to set up business here. It became so very popular that other food stalls joined in and the whole place became what it is today.

The YTF remains the most popular stall. There was a long queue of people selecting from a large variety of fish stuffed tofu, fu chuk (腐竹), brinjal (egg plant), bitter gourd, long beans, chili, fish balls of various types, etc. They all looked so very good.

This YTF stall also sells noodles - curry, clear soup and kon lo (干捞 or dry). After selecting your YTF, if you want the noodles, you tell it to a lady at the end of the queue. She writes your noodle preference and table number on a piece of paper and stick it to your bowl. You then wait for it to be delivered to you. On that apparently normal day, the queue for noodles was this long....

Another stall worth mentioning was the beverage. Its specialty is blended drinks - red beans, green tea, fruits, etc. The red bean and green tea are particularly good.

Our lunch that day started with yong tau foo. We had to have this of course, having drove all the way here. And it did not disappoint. They were good. Both the fried and non-fried stuffs were delicious. The fish paste was springy and very nice on the bite. Small wonder why it is so very popular.

The popiah was very nice. Lots of crunchy stuff inside. We seldom get such crunchy popiah interior in the Klang valley. In Ipoh, it is the norm.

The bowl of chu chap chok (猪杂粥 or pork innards porridge) was also very tasty. The porridge was smooth. There was a generous portion of innards. Best of all was the crispy deep fried pork intestine. And the yew char kueh (油炸鬼).

From the same stall, we ordered this bowl of pork noodles. Most delightful. We cannot get pork noodles like this in KL or PJ. The soup was heavenly. 

This plate of fried radish cake was so-so. It was wasn't bad. I guess it was over-shadowed by the other good dishes. Still, like all the others we ordered, it was cleaned out.

It was a lot of food for 4 of us. But we were hungry and everything was so good. This place under the big trees will probably be our regular pit stop every time we pass Ipoh on our way to and from the in-laws'. And I am looking forward to the next trip.

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