Motormouth’s Travel Ideas – Eating Up Sitiawan!November 13, 2012 | 20,724 views
The mere mention of Sitiawan evokes memories of fresh seafood @ Kampung Cina, Foo Chow-style cooking at Bei King or Lido, the insanely popular James cendol in front of the Indian temple, the Chinese-style of bagels named ‘gong pia’ & even Teochew style Bak Kut Teh coupled with steamed fish head. (Read a portion of it on Sitiawan – Half A Day’s Worth of Food Hunt)
For me, revisiting Sitiawan brought to the surface sweet memories of the constant day trips (almost on a monthly schedule!) we made back then. Throughout my 3 years tenure of working around Perak, Sitiawan, Teluk Intan and Taiping opened my eyes to an entire different landscape of cuisines and local delicacies that I was kept unaware of while hibernating in Ipoh.
#1 – RESTORAN SUN HON SIONG @ AYER TAWAR
The Foo Chow clan takes pride in whipping up scrumptious sweet and sour cooking; in this case the Sweet & Sour Pork (Gu Lou Yuk) Rice at Restoran Sun Hon Siong @ Ayer Tawar surprised me with perfectly executed batter-coated pork, cucumber and even fried potatoes in a sweet and sour gravy balanced with the right flavours.
Ayer Tawar – A small town you will pass by before you reach Sitiawan; along the Lumut highway
This is a story of our 2D/1N excursion to Sitiawan few weeks ago. In line with Visit Perak Year 2012, here’s another travel idea to help you plan that family getaway this holiday season.
Ready for the onslaught of another food and travel extravaganza? Let’s go.
At Sun Hon Siong Restaurant you CAN drink responsibly. Because they filled up the beer bottles with homemade concoction of brewed barley drink instead.
This corner lot houses Sun Hon Siong Restaurant along the main road of Ayer Tawar. It’s a barely discernible eatery built into an old wooden structure, hence you really have to slow down and take note. Opposite of Public Bank (if I am not mistaken)
Okay, maybe not to that extent. But still, when you’re out on the road with food bloggers, you know you will be in for a surprise. A gluttony shock, if you will.
Since I was only about to join them for late lunch in Sitiawan as I went back to Ipoh few days earlier, I cruised along the Lumut highway at my leisurely pace; reaching Ayer Tawar within an hour or so.
*To reach Sitiawan from Ipoh, you need to take the Lumut highway exiting from Jalan Lahat in Menglembu, OR the end of Jalan Pasir Puteh. You will pass by Pusing, Tronoh, Seri Iskandar, Bota and finally Ayer Tawar. A word of caution; just before you reach Ayer Tawar, the speed limit is drastically reduced from 90km/h to 60km/h. A favourite spot for our ‘kawan’ in whites to gather.
#2 – RESTORAN YEE SI @ KAMPUNG KOH, SITIAWAN
Foo Chow fares @ Restoran Yee Si in Kampung Koh, Sitiawan. The bowl of noodles on the upper left is named “Chao Zhu Mien” a type of Foo Chow-style braised fried noodles with shrimps, pork and fish cake.
Do you know that the original Kampung Koh chili sauce is the one on the LEFT? The almost unheard of brand is called NKJ’s, though the popular one being sold everywhere is Koki (with the iconic chef’s head).
At 3.30pm daily, the “Mou Mou” or thousand-layer peanut pau will be churned out. Usually finished within half an hour, it’s advisable to embrace the ‘kiasu’ spirit and wait from 3pm onwards.
Converging our journeys into a meeting point at Kampung Koh was a practice of timely arrangement (thanks to the local gal‘s pacing) and well, accelerated eating. We waited patiently for the “Mou Mou” to be steamed and sold at 3.30pm. Meanwhile, we satiated our hunger with fried noodles, the Foochow braised fried noodles (“Chao Zhu Mien”) and also Yee Si’s other pau’s with fillings of pork and peanut, as well as the plain version of “Mou Mou” eaten with kaya and butter. After my meal in Ayer Tawar and theirs at Choy Kee combined, we were actually stuffed yet willing to compress the space in our stomachs for more.
Talk about dedication. And of course, you can take away the un-steamed pau’s for eating pleasure at home or as souvenirs for the green-eyed monsters.
#3 – JAMES CENDOL STALL (NEAR THE STORE, SITIAWAN)
No elaboration necessary for this cendol stall now run by a staff rather than James himself (who’s in KL now) or even his wife. In front of Maha Mariamman temple along Jalan Lumut near to The Store, his legacy has been crafted into history books since 1974. Serving the royalty seemed to be part of his highlights in life, while opening branches (first near Maybank in Bercham, Ipoh, then off Old Klang Road, and finally somewhere in Bangsar, KL) looks to be his next step forward.
The cendol finished at about 4pm. The growling faces of customers lining up in anticipation, only to be fed with announcement that ‘Cendol sudah habis’ was expected. Most settled for the less-popular ABC (ais kacang), while others had to resort to competitor’s/imitator’s.
I still like their soft, wriggly strands of rice flour tainted with a green shade from cendol extract (named ‘cendol’), while the ‘gula melaka’ used in the dessert paled in comparison to Melaka’s or even Penang’s.
#4 – TUA PEK KONG TEMPLE @ PASIR PANJANG, SITIAWAN
While we had to settle for consecutive food stops, a saunter along Teluk Batik’s not-so-impressive beach or even a movie at Lotus Five Stars cineplex to kill time, now we have a new place for camwhoring intentions!
Tua Pek Kong Temple in Kampung Pasir Panjang Laut, Sitiawan is a Chinese temple that appears to be very impressive and larger than any temples in Perak. The multitude of statues built to a grand scale (easily >30 feet tall!) and a beautifully-landscaped garden with rocks and fountains deserve to be witnessed at least once.
Grand statues of deities facing the sea at Tua Pek Kong Temple; the newest attraction in Sitiawan worthy of a visit.
The temple occupies a vast piece of land separated into different segments; the temple of course, where prayers are carried out, the food stalls and retail outlets selling everything from souvenirs, paintings to confectioneries, the main ground where the humongous structures are built facing the sea and even a kids’ playground of sorts where the young ones can even zorb or waddle in a pool!
Not forgetting a separate section named Monkey Garden with a raised platform leading to the end of the swamps for sunset-viewing purposes. Sadly, not a single monkey was observed.
Highly recommended to come for a stroll anytime of the day, and parking spaces are not limited. The problem could be locating this temple as the desolated location can prove to be a tough find. No worries, directions and GPS coordinates to come at the end of this post.
#5 – BEI KING HOTEL & RESTAURANT
Yeah, read that right. Bei King Restaurant; hands down the most famous diner serving Foo Chow delights has moved from its original location to their own premise at Jalan Kg. Selamat within a short distance away.
Now a hotel-cum-restaurant, the immense expansion was mind-boggling. From a double-storey corner shoplot to what it is today, Bei King gives the other diner in town; Michelin Star (don’t laugh) a run for their money!
We ordered several classic Foo Chow dishes; Red Wine Mee Suah (RM22), Sweet and Sour Fish Maw (RM45), Oyster Omelette (RM25) and Foo Chow fish and meat balls (RM15) in a moreish soup laden with cabbages and fried shallots. We also had a serving of Tofu Soup (RM12) and Chap Chye (mixed vegetables) (RM15) to balance out the guilt.
The one dish that managed to impress me most was the Sweet & Sour (do you expect anything less?) Spare Ribs (RM30) with Yam and Chinese Pickled Mustard (Zhar Choy). I found this to be a good alternative to Gu Lou Yuk, while the slices of yam and pickled greens added a different dimension to the otherwise generic Pai Kuat Wong-inspired dish. The other dishes mostly faltered to impress the group; possibly not used to Foo Chow fares. I admit that the mee suah and fish maws failed to deliver, while the fish balls and oyster omelette were okay.
The meal came to about RM28.50 per pax, a pretty steep price if you are comparing this to local restaurants. But portions were more than sufficient for 6 pax, and we could be paying for the revamped ambience, in any case.
*The red wine (made from red rice, not the usual liquor) at Bei King was made by a pair of ‘sour hands’; a term given to the maker who can produce either a sweet variety or a sour one. Naturally, a pair of ‘sweet hands’ will be better valued as the red wine produced will have that inherently sweet aftertaste.
#6 – SHOPPING @ LUMUT PORT TOWN
Lumut is a port town to the west of Sitiawan, about 15 minutes away. Since we were staying in Lumut, we figured that it’s best for a stroll around town to digest off the punishing amount of food we devoured throughout the day. And what better way than to shop for dried food products from any of the dozens of shops around the vicinity?
Prices can be slightly inflated here, and choices limited. If you decide to hop over to Pangkor Island instead, I highly recommend that you do your shopping there.
*Hmm, on that note, it’s probably time for a revisit to the island ….
#7 – KAMPUA MEE @ KAMPUNG KOH MARKET
I first wrote about Kampung Koh wet market’s Kampua Mee few years back. I was not a fan of the Loh Mee with bamboo shoots and optional mix of laksa gravy into the broth (!), but the dry version of the noodles with lean pieces of roasted pork was a nice alternative. Especially with a side bowl of asam laksa soup. Here, you eat everything with either the Kampung Koh chili sauce or the thick, sambal condiment on every table. No pickled green chillies though.
#8 – SITIAWAN CHEONG CIA GONG PIAN
Come early, come late. Just be prepared for the wait if you are not here at the right time. But take the chance to observe how these Foo Chow biscuits are made.
There have been unresolved disputes and argument on where to find the best gong pian (sometimes termed as gong pia, or kong peng) in Sitiawan. The local folks will champion for the Kampung Koh’s version, while some even mentioned that Ayer Tawar’s gong pian tastes infinitely nicer than Sitiawan Cheong Cia’s.
I beg to differ.
*That being said, this renowned stall at the back of a corner coffee shop only sells the onion+lard gong pian now. They have stopped producing the ones filled with char siew (minced pork fillings) since 3 years ago!
#9 – HOCK CHEW SO MEE SHUA KONPIAN
We parted ways after snacking on Gong Pian. I drove around town to jog my memories of Sitiawan and the incredible impression this town has made throughout the past years. From a newbie to the entire stretch of smaller towns along Lumut highway, to almost an expert when it comes to navigating around Sitiawan-Seri Manjung-Lumut for food, I have more than a few good things to share about this charming place.
The unmistakable sight of handmade noodles resembling cotton threads left to dry under the hot sun stopped me dead in my tracks. I pulled over and got a closer view at the process of making the Sitiawan’s famous noodles.
In the midst of a village populated by the Foo Chow clan, don’t be surprised to see the folks producing these at the backyard of their homes. The special flour for the noodles is difficult to source nowadays, and slightly more expensive than the usual rice flour for other noodles.
The drying process takes roughly an hour or so; and it’s pertinent to ensure that the dried noodles can be kept for a much longer time. The locals use the noodles for all cooking purposes; from cooking in soup to stir-frying. And of course, the iconic dish of Red Wine Mee Suah.
Aside from the production of noodles, I noticed the plastic bag filled with gong pian at one corner. Heavily-studded with sesame seeds and in a non-covered bag, I had no expectation of these as I have had my fair share of hardened pieces of inedible biscuits over the past few experiences.
Yet, I felt compelled to sample at least once. And the lady told me they are filled with pork instead of the usual onion (like the ones we had at Sitiawan Cheong Cia earlier).
I started munching on one in the car and boy, their Gong Pian tasted great! The pastry was soft with a slight crunch, yet not hardened at all. The minced pork fillings presented a savoury touch that left me wanting for more. I bought two at RM1.40 each, and wished that I trusted my instincts more.
9 stops, 2 days. 6 burping souls. Just when you think that travelling locally sounds boring, think again. I am already drafting my plans to cover the other towns in Perak to complete the cycle before 2013. Where do you suggest?
RESTORAN SUN HON SIONG (Sweet & Sour Pork)
142, Main Road,
Ayer Tawar, Perak
Opens from 10am – 10pm
Closed alternate Mondays
Opposite of Public Bank in Ayer Tawar
RESTORAN YEE SI (Peanut layered pau)
80, Jalan Lin Chen Mei
Kampung Koh, Sitiawan, Perak.
Opens from 7.30am – 6pm
(Come around 3pm for the pau’s)
*Next to Maybank in Kampung Koh, Sitiawan)
In front of Maha Mariamman Temple
Near to The Store, Sitiawan
Opens from 11am – 7pm
TUA PEK KONG TEMPLE
Kampung Pasir Panjang Laut
Look for the signs to this temple.
The lamp posts around the area are tied with red cloths.
Go towards Kampung Koh’s direction, passing by which will lead you to Jalan Pasir Panjang.
GPS : 4.163475, 100.688934
BEI KING HOTEL & RESTAURANT
Lot 35535, Taman Desa Selamat,
Jalan Kg Selamat,
32000 Sitiawan, Perak
Tel No :+605-691 0253
GPS : 4.213606,100.704866 (estimated)
*From main road of Jalan Raja Omar (same road as old Bei King), turn left in between Alliance Bank and Nissan Showroom. You will be on Jalan Menon. After about 1km, you will see Bei King on your left after the Simpang Ampat church.
KAMPUNG KOH WET MARKET – KAMPUA MEE STALL
Jalan Simpang Dua, Kampung Koh, Sitiawan
Opens from 5am – 6pm. Closed on Mondays.
SITIAWAN CHEONG CIA GONG PIAN
12, Jalan Tok Perdana,
Tel No : +6019-5589 288
Opens from 9.30am – 5pm.
Near to KFC crossroad traffic lights in Sitiawan. Off Jalan Raja Omar, beside a huge yellow building.
HOCK CHEW SO MEE SHUA KONPIAN
No. 117, Kampung Cina,
32000 Sitiawan, Perak
Tel No : +6012-564 9061
*Same road as Ah Pek Lee Kou Hock and Villa Seafood Restaurant.
**For other Sitiawan food posts, please browse through the Perak Food List