Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Journey Of Rediscovery

Sometimes God throws you a good streak. When I wanted to go back to Ipoh last weekend, I had to top up my Touch N Go card but as fate have willed it, when I reached the Jalan Duta toll booth, the top up lane was closed and since it was a long weekend, the cash booth line was so long and snaking like crazy we also heard on the radio that the highway was jammed up anyway. Thus I made a U-turn, and took the old route back to Ipoh which became a serendipitous journey of good eats and sights.

Surprisingly taking the old road to Tanjung Malim was congestion free and we made it to Tanjung Malim Yik Mun Restaurant before the lunch crowd. I know most of you love this place for the paus but we prefer their Mee Hailam, Nasi Goreng or Mee Kari instead. But just like their paus which definitely tasted better more than a decade ago, these dishes should not be ordered if Yik Mun is having a full house situation as their cooks would then be dishing out food that will definitely taste rushed and if you are unlucky enough, may even be tasteless. But like I said we were early and there were only a few other customers, so we took a chance and ordered nasi goreng, mee hailam and steam chicken rice for Along. We were well rewarded with fluffy nasi goreng in a larger than usual portion, beautifully done mee hailam and another large portion of nasi ayam. If I had known this, I would not have taken a piece of beef pau as appetizer as my nasi goring was cooked the old way, over flaming fire that you can taste the char in the rice that is just nicely oiled with enough condiments to satisfy you. Too bad that they replaced the sweet peas with long beans instead but what the heck, the taste was heavenly enough. My wife remarked that we should try to make it a practice to arrive in less crowded environs, for her mee hailam tasted just as it should and was ten years ago when she first had it. Many times since then the taste had yo-yoed, but this was just right. As usual before proceeding with the journey, we took away some chicken and kaya paus and some ground coffee, but this time I tried one cup of their Hainan kaya too. When we got to Ipoh, my kids (and surely we) loved the original eggy taste, which is how kaya should taste actually, that on the return journey we made a short stop to buy another cup. But is expensive though, RM6.50 for a tall cup of Kaya but definitely worth the taste.

We then decided to proceed all the way to Ipoh using the trunk road, since it is now basically a dual carriageway all the way. Sorry PLUS, you are not getting my money that day. On the way, we stopped at Bidor to but some petai and before Temoh I finally located the Capati Corner Restaurant that has been featured on TV and newspaper articles before. That is one stop for the journey back. Anyway we made it to Ipoh in five hours but to me it was a well spent journey as I got to show the family my paternal grandmother kampong in Chulik, Gopeng but too bad it was not durian season, as otherwise there will durian stalls along the road. In Ipoh, we went to take away sate for a gathering at my Auntie’s house in the ex railway station hawkers center beside the Perak Government offices. There are three sate stalls there but the one we liked the most is Pak Hamid’s stall, especially their sate perut which is usually sold out early and the funny thing is that even though the other two sate stalls were closed, we managed to get the sate perut in addition to the usual beef and chicken sates. What a lucky break. I bought 100 sticks at a price of RM40, I kid you not.

The next morning, we went for nasi lemak at Warong Wak in the Stadium Ipoh food court and we were joined by my sister and her husband. Then they got to talking about Matang mee udang or prawn mee near Taiping and there and then, we decided to go there for the big feast of prawns. The most famous is supposed to be Mee Udang Mak Teh but when we arrived, the place was full so my Brother In Law proceeded to another place that he wanted to try out, since usually it only opens after three p.m. and this time we were there at the right time. We ordered the mee udang, mee goreng udang and nasi goreng and when they arrived, it was definitely a sight where the mee udang and mee goreng udang was loaded with prawns. But the nasi goreng was without the same prawns as it would have been at Mak Teh’s, but what the heck, we already had enough cholesterol inducing prawns on our plate. Based on their feedback, this place dishes was more savoury and generous in their ingredients, and the Penang soup style is as we liked it as Mak Teh’s seems to be more mee rebus style. My sister also ordered a side dish of fried prawns to be eaten with white rice but my daughters shared this with her and liked it so much, that I had to order take away for their dinner also. All in, it was a fabulous feast that only cost me RM75 for a group of seven adults and four kids. Where can get that sort of prices elsewhere, as it can be easily doubled.

After that we headed into Taiping proper as mum wanted to try some of the pasembor was sister raved to her before and I wanted to try my luck on getting some proper mamak popiah that I lucked out off in previous trips there. Since I was on the lucky streak, this time I managed to get some before they were sold out a few customers after me since the other stall was closed for the day. Delicious but still I hanker for some Ipoh or Penang popiah, but in the meantime I feel satiated. Another coincidence perhaps was that on the way out we found some old style stomach or usus sate that we were talking about the night before, and we took away some to try. Not so fantastic as Sate Emas Kajang is definitely better but you cannot easily find this in Perak anymore. The only thing that was negative from this trip was that during dinner my wife found her sotong kangkung used the pasembor sauce as the dip instead of the teem cheong based sauce that is normal but I told that is mamak style, so cannot complain. Anyway dinner for me was five pieces of popiah, and that was enough and as I often told my wife, only in the north can I get away from rice as dinner, and the only way I can eat right.

So the next day we only had a light breakfast since I wanted a real one at the capati place I mentioned above. So detouring out the Gopeng exit after topping up the Touch N Go card, we had another slow journey along the trunk road as we need to look out for the place. When we arrived, I had their coffee with fresh unskimmed milk or kopi kepala as you get the layer of fat on top, very nice but made me too sleepy to drive later. Their capatis were good but was over hyped methinks so next time I want to try the other capati place across the road where the road warriors or the lorry men seems to be stopping by instead. Since we wanted another cup of kaya, we proceeded by the old road again to Tanjung Malim, stopping at Bidor for cikus, jambu madu and mangosteen this time. Once we arrived in KL it was lunch time and since we had to do some business in Lebuh Pasar, I took my family to a café that I frequent there where they loved the nasi gorengs. But this place I shall review for the next time as I will only talk of the rediscoveries I made on this journey.

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