Food-Hunting In TaipingFebruary 14, 2010 | 23,681 views
Taiping is a town in the northern part of Perak, famous for its generally cooler climate, hogging the limelight for being Peninsular Malaysia’s absolute wettest town, with average annual rainfall doubling the average of other towns. While usually we relate cloudy weather to forlorn frowns and depressive states, but in Taiping, the unusually heavy rains have led to the fertile growth of flora, especially the century-old, breath-taking rain trees lining the perimeter of Lake Gardens.
Aside from its rich heritage, spanning a historic momentum since the 1844, when Taiping was the first town to initiate tin mining activity in the peninsula, the town is equally famous for the resplendent array of street food. From Chinese style of hawker fares to Malay-Indian (mamak) eateries, with the exceptionally famous Bismillah Cendol serving possibly thousands or millions of bowls of the delectable Cendol since the olden days, the town is developing rapidly as of late, with the opening of several departmental stores and chain eateries such as Noodle Station and Sushi King, fast food outlets, as well as cafes and bistros.
But the real charm lies in the most ancient of places. One brilliant example being Peace Hotel and Coffee Shop (Kedai Kopi dan Rumah Tumpangan Peace) on Jalan Panggung Wayang in town centre. A colonial corner shoplot with a dodgy guesthouse on the first floor, with the ground floor being a coffee shop populated with several stalls selling Chinese hawker food. The interior of the coffee shop plain screams nostalgia, with the same mosaic tiles on the floor since the pre-independence era, and the ceramic tiles lining the walls with colourful designs of swallows.
Peace Hotel and Coffee Shop is quite famous for the roast duck and deep-fried pork, sold by a friendly chap at a stall at the front portion of the shop. Even Hong Kong celebrities (Yoyo Mung and Alex Fong Chun Sun) have patronized this stall before, mind you! Proof of their visits is pasted on the walls in the shop, and deservingly being bragging rights for the respective stalls.
The roast duck arrived in a most savoury-looking glistening form. Not the crispiest skin I have tasted, but the meat was flavourful, and thankfully devoid of the unpleasant gamey taste of the duck. The fried pork is another one of their forte, with lean meat dominating the bite-sized cuts of pork, deep-fried to crispy perfection, with a faint hint of five spices powder. One noteworthy condiment that he serves is the specially-concocted tangy chili and lime sauce, with finely-chopped cili padi (bird eye chillies). The sour and spicy combination worked wonders, complementing the cuts of meats very well.
The roast duck stall is opened daily, and only closes on the 1st day of the month, based on the Chinese lunar calendar. And whenever the coffee shop closes, obviously. Opening hours from 10am until 2pm. The man also sells home-cooked style of boiled soups, at about RM5 per portion.
Kuala Sepetang is a fisherman village very near to Taiping, and no prize for guessing what the specialty is. Fresh seafood, of course.
Along the road from Matang to Kuala Sepetang, you’ll bear witness to the cashing in on the popularity of one particular Malay dish, the perennial favourite of many; Mee Udang. Or better known as Mee Banjir Udang, the ‘Banjir’ moniker (Malay word for Flood) referring to the overwhelming number of prawns served with the noodles (yup, the prawns take precedent here, the noodles a very distant second!).
The crème de la crème; Mee Udang Mak Teh is the most sought-after outlet among all, constantly making rounds in the media and blogs. Just don’t push your luck and go for any other alternative if you’re not brought there by a local resident of Taiping himself. For we were duped once, believing that every stall should be serving more or less the same tempting bowl of prawn mee, only to be sorely disappointed at the most uncalled for experience of having our lunch with hundreds of flies, and the gravy so watery and tasteless, the RM15 per serving price tag had us shaking our heads in disbelief.
Of course, if the detour all the way to Kuala Sepetang sounds taxing on a scorching hot afternoon, an equally favourable alternative is at hand. Nur Zetty is another household name serving the signature Mee Udang in various forms; either Fried, with soup, or the Special (with larger prawns and double the quantity) at a premium price of RM12 per bowl!
Exiting the Changkat Jering toll exit on the North-South Expressway, you’ll reach Restoran Mee Udang Nur Zetty in a matter of minutes, on the right side of the road in Changkat Jering, when you’re heading to Taiping town. But be cautious and extra alert, for the restaurant is NOT by the roadside, and the only hint is the signboard perched by the side of the road, indicating the turn to the restaurant, a short distance within. Amidst the lush greeneries, tropical fruit trees (cempedak, durian and mangosteen trees were seen growing naturally!) and kampong houses, sits Restoran Mee Udang Nur Zetty, in a surprisingly clean and spacious façade.
If noodles ain’t your preference, go for the Nasi Goreng Udang, or Nasi Paprik. Heck, they even serve Nasi Goreng with Daging. But of course, a bowl of the incomparable Mee Udang warrants an order, or if you’re fond of fried noodles, you can go for the Mee Goreng Udang. Both versions are priced at RM6.50 each, with 4 medium-sized prawns to appease that hunger for crustaceans.
Restoran Nur Zetty Mee Udang
No 19, Batu 7, Jalan Trong,
34850 Changkat Jering, Perak.
Tel No : 05-855 2793
Closed on Mondays, Opens from 11am until 12 midnight.
And last but not least, to cleanse one’s palate, and end the feast with something sweet, go for Taiping’s famous cendol, at any one of the two popular spots. Bismillah Cendol on Jalan Barrack next to Hospital Taiping in town, or Ansari Famous Cendol on Jalan Chung Thye Phin.
There. Got you salivating yet? Consider stopping by Taiping, the next time you’re heading north. For the food, the charming town itself, and the beautiful Lake Gardens.
(This article was featured in the February edition of IM Magazine. Click HERE for the original article)