Memories @ Pasir Pinji – A Pot of Rice, A Bowl of “Tau Fu Fah” & A Piece of ApomOctober 17, 2012 | 5,113 views
Let’s not disregard the fact that this old chap with a perpetual frown etched on his face, has been laboriously cooking up pots after pots of claypot chicken rice for more than 30 years now. And still goes on and on; driven by passion.
I remember someone left a heartfelt plea in a recent post;
“Motormouth, I hope you follow your grassroots. Do what you do best.”
Okay. Wish granted. Still struck by the rainy spell this chilly Tuesday evening, in the midst of the Nine Emperor Gods’ Festival (Kau Ong Yeh), let’s turn back the clock and reminisce on a few forgotten gems in Pasir Pinji; overshadowed by swanky cafes, posh diners and erm, possibly hampered by lack of coverage.
It took them a good 20 minutes or so. Before this table was cleared. It was evident from the moment we sat down, that the place was severely under-staffed. It was the tango of a Chinese couple in their late 50′s or early 60′s.
Wing Fatt Coffee Shop; this hole-in-the-wall eatery houses only one solitary stall. The claypot chicken rice stall, backed by a few simple dishes whipped up by the wife. Whom ironically makes the drinks and moonlighting as cashier too.
Nothing too fancy, everyone had ‘leung sui’ or herbal tea. Depends on the brew of the day. And the order was taken after a good 10 minutes of being seated.
Pasir Pinji is a predominantly residential area near to the newest shopping mall in Ipoh; AEON Station 18 in Pasir Putih. An older part of town not unlike Menglembu, Pasir Pinji still has wooden houses crammed into tight alleys; and don’t be surprised to find houses with wells!
The last time I wrote about Yee Jie’s fish ball noodles (“yu dan fun” or “liew fun”) stall that only opens at night in the eerily-deserted wet market, a few readers were quick to add that the claypot chicken rice shop opposite of the market and the soybean curd (“tau fu fah”) stall outside of the same market are equally as worthy of a post.
After 45 minutes; a torturous ordeal if you’re hungry like a wolf, but bearable if you’re in good company and can appreciate the fact that he never rest on his laurels by continuously replenishing the charcoal, checking on the rice, stirring up the mixture and timing the perfect moment to add the chicken into the pot to ensure that the natural sweetness and tender texture of the meat is not lost to the heat.
The experience started up pretty daunting. The man was the anti-thesis of an affable/charming hawker. He barely speaks more than a few words and he does not string sentences. Another grumpy uncle from Ipoh? You bet.
Instead, he will mumble a few syllabus at most, or nod slightly when you place your order. The wife (I assume she is, though I did not bother to find out) stays in the kitchen; whipping up the common dish that goes with claypot chicken rice – blanched vegetables with oyster sauce, and also the less common “Gau Kei” soup; comprising of ‘sayur manis’, egg drops, fish cake, meat balls and shrimps.
Fibres to balance out the meal; “Choy Sum Fah” blanched and flavoured with oyster sauce, and the “Gau Kei” soup that was a very homely affair.
If you ask me was the 45 minutes worth the effort, I cannot answer you. More of a reliving an old memory type of experience, I personally was not wowed by the claypot chicken rice. The rice was of superb quality though; cooked to a perfect degree without being overly mushy or hard as nails. The tender cuts of chicken added in at the last few minutes were not well-marinated, but mixed well with the seasoned rice, topped off with generous portion of chopped spring onion. To some extent, the sauce was underwhelming, and the lack of salted fish (I understood that this is an option, is this true?) rendered the ensemble a little bland.
But again, taste is a subjective matter. And it also depends on how you like your claypot chicken rice to be. Some prefer the grains of rice cooked to perfection within an aged claypot, regardless of the other condiments. While some actually love having waxed sausages and salted fish in theirs.
K10 in Bercham fared worse in comparison though, yet nothing comes close to Kampar’s version. The entire meal costed us only RM21.90/USD7 for 3 pax.
Instead of scrambling all over town for a bowl of “Tau Fu Fah” at night, come to Woong Kee in Pasir Pinji, or their other stalls in Bercham near to the field and the one on Jalan Ali Pitchay off Jalan Yang Kalsom.
At RM1.10/USD0.40 per bowl, this was miles more worthy in comparison to Funny Mountain‘s. While I’m on that, Funny Mountain has moved to its own shop near to the previous iconic drive-thru stall.
Some readers hate Funny Mountain’s with a vengeance; spiteful spews of venom escaping their tongues – lashing out in various comments throughout the years. Personally, I prefer Funny Mountain’s to Woong Kee. Wait, put down that bucketful of rotten tomatoes!
Woong Kee‘s version was not bad, velvety smooth custard doused in a syrup that not as sweet compared to Funny Mountain’s. And the portion was more than double of what Funny Mountain is notorious for serving; two pathetic spoonfuls.
Yet, Woong Kee’s tau fu fah does not slither down one’s throat like Funny Mountain’s. Or the ginger-laced syrup registered itself as a key component in ensuring satisfaction in every slurp. Somehow … just not there. But, a VERY fine contender and definitely worth your journey to any of the stalls, if say, you’re sick of the more famous counterpart’s antics.
Ah Pong (or more commonly known as “Apom”) is a sweet snack with the unmistakable flavour and fragrance of coconut milk; crispy at the sides and warm and soft towards the centre. This stall has been around for 22 years. Time for some recognition?
Walking out from Wing Fatt Coffee Shop, you will see Woong Kee tau fu fah stall a short distance down the road, and this Ah Pong stall opposite of it; directly in front of the Pasir Pinji wet market. There is also a stall selling fried chicken, and another with steaming hot buns and dim sum.
*All of the stalls mentioned in this post are located on Jalan Queen in Pasir Pinji. The Claypot chicken rice stall closes on Mondays, and opens from 5pm until 9pm on other days. All the other stalls open only from evening onwards, until late night.
Find your way to Pasir Pinji wet market on Jalan Queen located at this GPS coordinate – 4.576222,101.08722
Please refer to the Google Map at the end of the Yee Jie fish ball noodles post for more clarity.