Hawker Food @ Taiping – Chee Cheong Fun, Char Kuey Teow, Popiah & Soya MilkSeptember 5, 2010 | 24,900 views
Taiping Signature Popiah Stall @ Restoran Air Kacang Taiping – Over 40 years of history, and the locals still swear by the fresh popiah he makes.
Since we started on Aulong Heo Pia (flaky and crispy fragrant biscuits) in the last post, let’s see what other delectable hawker fares Taiping has to offer. Taiping for the uninitiated, is a town to the north of Perak (about 70 kilometres away, and accessible using the North-South Expressway) and famous for the Lake Gardens, Taiping Zoo (both daytime, and the Night Safari), Bukit Larut aka Maxwell Hill and the heaviest annual rainfall in Malaysia; hence the Wettest Town in Malaysia moniker.
A roll of fresh popiah at RM1.40/USD0.40; the rolls are comparably smaller, but wetter than Ipoh’s version.
Being the second biggest town in Perak, Taiping is populated by good eats lefts and rights. The sizeable Chinese community (conversing in a smattering mix of Mandarin-Hokkien and some Cantonese) and the generally well-preserved quaint environment (pre-colonial buildings still reign supreme, and no skyliners … yet?) make Taiping an ideal place for street food hunt and shutterbugs to gather for some shooting sessions. The tranquil scene at the Lake Gardens for instance, is a sight to behold. Century old rainforest trees hovering over the pristine waters, tipping the surface with their branches and forming a canopy-like foliage of greens. A haven for the joggers, walkers, and tourists.
Read on to discover some of Taiping’s signature hawker fares ……
Bean sprouts, lettuce, taukua (beancurd), yambean and shredded omelette wrapped in a popiah skin brushed with a mixture of chili and sweet sauce.
Lately I have been itching for some good old road trips. Blame it on the mundane working environment, the lack of motivation, or sudden cravings for the local specialties of the other towns in Perak. Compared to last year, or the year before, when we used to spend weekends after weekends in various towns, and even states (the month of June last year topped the “Believe-It-Or-Not Travel-o-meter Chart” when I woke up in four different states for four consecutive weekends!), this year was rather slow ………
The glass of soybean milk from Restoran Air Kacang Taiping on Jalan Panggong Wayang
Anyway, thankfully things started to pick up steam these past few weeks. I stomp on Taiping’s ground for more than a few occasions, the latest being the Aulong Heo Pia ‘treasure hunt’ and earlier this week when we had the Taiping Chee Cheong Fun for the first time (though technically speaking, I had a plate at Larut Matang Food Court way back in 2008).
This famous popiah stall is parked at Restoran Air Kacang Taiping, the term ‘air kacang‘ refers to the restaurant’s popular soybean milk drinks and soybean curd (tau fu fah) which they sadly ran out of by 11.30am+. The soybean milk was sadly a little diluted, so highly recommended to have yours without the ice. Or if you’re keen on having a mixture of black and white (or the Michael Jackson, as some witty outlets already picked up this name for the beverage) – adding grass jelly or ‘cincau’ into the soybean milk, then feel free to request.
TWO signboards instead of one. If you blink and miss, or too blind to see them … then tough luck.
I won’t rave and rant about the popiah here though, for I found them to be on the soggy side just like Penang’s version of the popiah. Maybe I have grown accustomed to Ipoh’s version, especially Kong Heng‘s in old town of Ipoh where the popiah is dry but still pack some juicy strips of julienned yambean and bean sprouts. Unlike Kong Heng’s version, the sauce is spread on the inside of the wrapping skin; a soft almost threatening-to-puncture layer of fresh popiah skin made from flour, salt and water.
The shop also houses a chicken rice stall, and a rather bustling economy rice stall with an impressive array of cooked dishes.
(Address and map to come at the end of this post)
A hop and a skip away (okay, maybe a few streets apart … but Taiping town’s not THAT big but rather; easy to get confused by the many crossroads, one-way streets, and almost similar structures) is this Pusat Penjaja Taiping, a food court with many hawker stalls within.
A very recent excursion to Taiping found us going back to town centre for breakfast, but the plethora of choices got us psyched. And ended up at this uncharted territory (for me at least) of Pusat Penjaja Taiping behind of the fire station of Taiping. Okay, so I was here before for lunch at a random Malay stall, but that was not a food hunt nor MY pick in every sense of the word.
Taiping Chee Cheong Fun sounds fabulous for breakfast, hence we decided to stop by for a closer look at what the other stalls were selling and a rather large crowd of locals were having that morning.
The man behind the brand; Taiping Chee Cheong Fun @ Pusat Penjaja Taiping – His stall is sandwiched amidst a row of stalls that do not operate during the earlier hours of the day.
Initially we thought the Chee Cheong Fun stall was closed that morning. No sight of the stall where the crowd were ravishingly lapping up their wantan mee, slurping their coffee and tearing their pieces of roti canai apart. Luckily the aunty from the beverage stall pointed us to the exact opposite direction, over the piece of grassy land in the middle.
Self-service is practised here, for you can’t expect the man who runs his stall alone to hop all over the rectangular-shaped food centre and earn a meagre sum of RM2.00/USD0.60 per plate of CCF. Doused liberally with the sweet sauce (tim cheong), sprinkled with lots of sesame seeds and fried shallots, I had the rolls of steamed rice noodles with chunks of yam cake (wu tau kou) for some interesting clash of texture and flavours.
The perennial favourite of many; Taiping Chee Cheong Fun. Do tell where you think serves the BEST Chee Cheong Fun in Taiping, okay?
A plate of Char Kuey Teow for only RM2.40/USD0.70 – Redolent with wok hei, slightly wetter than the Penang’s version, and no fishballs in this one.
The Wantan Mee Stall (No A14) (same management with the stall serving beverages) seemed to be doing brisk business, with most tables ordering at least one plate of their wriggly egg noodles tossed in a dark sauce, then served with slices of red char siew and a bowl of dumplings (wantan) in clear broth.
But NK chose the designated Kuih Teow Goreng Stall (No A17) and ended up smacking his lips over the slightly spicy fried noodles, with crunchy bean sprouts, chopped chives, eggs, shrimps, etc.
Roti Canai (RM0.90/USD0.30) from the Indian stall that sells various roti’s (Indian breads)
I had the roti canai on the other hand, a fluffy piece of Indian flatbread that was still crisp from the grilling, and thankfully not greasy at all. A little cold, yes. But maybe that was because the roti arrived while I was over the ‘field’ ordering the Chee Cheong Fun.
The food court was continuously packed with the breakfast crowd, taking their sweet time mingling with each other and devouring the many hawker delights from the stalls.
I have tried Kum Loong Dim Sum. I have gone for Chicken Kuey Teow Soup from Kakak, and roti canai from ‘octogenarian’ Bismillah. And I have eaten a variety of hawker fares for breakfast at the Larut Matang Food Court.
What else should I go for, when I am in Taiping or Kamunting for breakfast, people?
RESTORAN AIR KACANG TAIPING (Popiah & Soybean Milk)
2, Jalan Panggong Wayang,
34000 Taiping, Perak, Malaysia.
Opens from 7am until 4pm.
GPS Coordinates : E100 44′ 30.7″ N4 51′ 1.9″
(Popiah stall opens from 11am onwards)
PUSAT PENJAJA TAIPING (Taiping Chee Cheong Fun, Char Kuey Teow, etc)
Junction of Jalan Maharajalela and Jalan Tupai.
34000 Taiping, Perak, Malaysia.
GPS Coordinates : E100 44′ 36.9″ N4 51′ 0.1″
(Chee Cheong Fun stall opens from 6.30am – 11am. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)
GOOGLE MAP to both Restoran Air Kacang Taiping & Pusat Penjaja Taiping