Faithfully Yours; Ah Jik – A Traditional Teochew Porridge & Rice Stall in IpohNovember 9, 2011 | 6,538 views
I look forward to the monthly homecoming more and more. Ipoh means so much to me; for more reasons than one. Yes, I was born in this beautiful town (to me, this is never a city … only my beloved hometown) and raised with the resplendent of resources from this town built on tin mining activities. Tin mining was HUGE back in the glory days, when Ipoh was barely tainted with the brush of development and mass commercialization.
This past weekend was different. Instead of going all out like I usually did, and hunt for new restaurants/cafes in town, I adopted a significantly different approach in capturing the essence of what made Ipoh famous; the incomparable street foods and the magnificent sights.
For a start, let’s hear a story from this Teochew uncle already in his 60’s (presumably); running this stall selling Teochew-inspired dishes with rice or porridge for more than three decades now ….
We fondly refer to this affable uncle as Ah Jik. Mum said they call uncles “Ah Jik” in the Teochew dialect, and we have been loyal customers since years ago. Though this was the first time I was acquainted with the man himself, and his children running the stall with him.
Or maybe for him. His eyesight has deteriorated to a point when he may not be able to see you clearly had you stood a considerable distance away from him. Yet, he still continues to serve his loyal batch of customers come lunch hour on a daily basis; albeit on weekdays only.
Back then, Mum would usually ‘ta pau’ (take away) several dishes at once and we would look forward to the modest yet sumptuous feast for dinner. Routinely, we ate Ah Jik’s splendid vinegar pig’s trotters, pork patties with salted fish, stir-fried la la (clams) in a piquant chili sauce and when he had crabs on certain days; we’d be polishing off his sweet and spicy chili crabs.
After a meal of Teochew porridge (ironically) at this fairly new premise (to me, at least) named Sin Hup Heng on Theatre Street, we proceeded to collect our order of kaya puffs, ‘siew par wong’ and ‘ham kok’ from Sin Eng Heong. Then we walked over to Comeson Hotel and Restaurant where Ah Jik’s stall is, and bought various dishes for dinner.
If the name Comeson sounds familiar, it may be because early in the morning …. wait, make that VERY early in the morning, you can find a fabulous wantan mee stall here. But they usually sold off all of their noodles by 11am. Or prior to that.
And Ah Jik opens only from 11am onwards. Guess there’s no chance of having the best of both worlds here.
The stewed pumpkin had briny bits of dried shrimps with a startlingly fresh flavour to them. Yes, dried shrimps (har mai) CAN taste fresh if the shrimps used are of good quality. Soft, pulpy and sweet, the pumpkin was reduced to a mash of bright, orange-hued pile permeated touches of greens from the spring onion. Not a huge fan of pumpkins, especially cooked to an unrecognizable appearance like this one, I actually found myself lapping up my portion with glee.
If there is but ONE dish that you’re allowed to order from his stall, make that the salted fish pork patties (ham yue chu yuk peng) Rarely can you find such a tasty treat in common economy rice stalls.
Deep-fried battered patties of tenderized pork, intermittently infused with bits of salted fish. The combination of flavours proved to be a savoury one, and the patties were usually moist and tender, rarely dry and hard. Sometimes we’d buy more than 10 pieces and keep in our fridge, to be re-heated/fried before serving for subsequent meals.
He procures his supplies of seafood fresh from Pangkor island too, according to Mum. Hence, his Teochew style of steamed fishes should be on your list of to-tries if you’re eager for a fresh bite from the sea.
This area could be the BEST place (aside from Ipoh old town, maybe) in Ipoh for food hunting. And photography, to some extent. Everything’s within walking distance from each other, and almost everything’s good enough to warrant at least one visit.
Just be wary of your surroundings especially at night, if you’re parked at a further distance away.
*The nuisance ‘jaga kereta’ men can be revolting, as they impose a certain threat had you decided to park in one of ‘their guarded’ spots and refuse to pay them a small fee. Almost holding you at ransom without a choice. Sometimes they demand for RM2, or more. Clearly the authorities NEED to do something about them, before Ipoh got tarnished with the unpleasant image of housing drug addicts and looming danger from these people.
Anyway, consider this post an appetizer of sorts. There will be definitely more substantial ‘servings’ to come. And don’t expect only the typical Motormouth’s food reviews from Ipoh. Sometimes …. I get tired from all the eating too.
Til then, have a tremendous week ahead (or what’s left of the 2.5 days of work)!
Teochew Porridge & Rice Stall (Ah Jik’s) @ Comeson Restaurant & Hotel
50, Jalan Yau Tet Shin,
30300 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Business hours : Mon-Fri – 11am – 3pm, closed on weekends
*At the junction of Lou Wong and Onn Kee famous bean sprout chicken restaurants