Homecoming & The Craving for “Sambal Petai” StoryAugust 27, 2011 | 2,485 views
Sambal Petai – A wonderful creation but why the notorious reputation?
Back in Ipoh!!!
At times the craving can be so strong … I’d do whatever to get it fixed.
In this case, I was literally dreaming of petai. Yup, those repulsively stinky beans from hanging pods; best cooked in a spicy sambal belacan paste, paired with plump/succulent prawns and usually requiring copious amount of mouthwash to rid the after-effect.
The realization that I have not been having my regular fix of petai hit me on one of the evenings in KL. The sight of a mouthwatering pile of crunchy green beans cooked in a stark red chili paste infused with an equally pungent shrimp paste (belacan) was inviting, to say the least.
So strong was the craving that the first thing that struck my mind upon arriving in Ipoh this morning …. was petai.
Sweet and Sour Pork – For the child in you and me …
I threw a question on All About Ipoh few days ago, asking for recommendations. An easy way out, I know. But it has been more than half a year since I’ve moved to KL. And the sheer number of new restaurants/cafes in Ipoh left me bedazzled more often than not. Although I still have my reservations with regard to their sustainability.
Don’t get me wrong, the good old Ipoh classics should be cherished as these are still gems of this charming city that was literally built from the legacy of tin mining. But it’s always an encouraging notion to see new proprietors slugging it out with the authentic champs (or “lou jiu pai”); more so when these new kids on the block attain measurable success.
When a whole fish with bones sounds too much of a hassle, go for the filleted ones.
Tammy’s Kitchen comes to mind, though the sudden surge in customers rendered them incapacitated; as this was supposedly a ‘family affair’ more than an all-out restaurant serving the hungry masses. And if you don’t already know, she bakes the BEST quiche in Ipoh so far.
(*Please note that they now close on Mondays and Tuesdays, and operating hours shortened to 12-8pm only)
Lots of gravy for the rice; a good bet for the young and the old.
Getting back on track here, tonight’s dinner was at Top Wok, a short distance away from the aforementioned Tammy’s Kitchen. This was not the first visit, and you can read my previous experience at Top Wok if you insist.
The immense influx of out-of-towners (Raya homecoming) jammed up the streets of Ipoh to an extent that we would rather stay home or choose a place nearby for food. Compared to KL, you may say ‘bah …. Peanuts ….’ But then again, the streets of Ipoh were never meant to accommodate THAT many vehicles on the road anyway.
Top Wok was not our immediate choice for dinner. But can-lah …. since none of us was in the mood of driving all out and caught in the jam anyway.
Fan Shu Miu has always been one of our favourite orders to complete the balanced meal.
Verdict? Not as good as I had remembered. The sambal petai was passable, though the smaller beans and softer texture left much to be desired. Not spicy, so the kids can get acquainted to spicy sambal dishes, and introduction to this marvel bean named ‘petai’.
The other dishes were above average, yet the sweet and sour pork paled in comparison to some of the better ones in Ipoh (eg: Sun Marpoh, Wong Koh Kee, Mun Ji). The claypot beancurd shone where the others faltered, flavourful and homely with a delectable gravy that’s a perfect complement to the rice.
Their usually brilliant sweet potato leaves (fan shu miu) was awful this time around; the old shoots were fibrous and the lack of garlic was evident in the taste. The grouper slices stir fried with ginger and spring onion finished off the medley of dishes yet did not register in our minds; being neither impressive nor poorly executed.
And so, the hunt continues …. Maybe should have settled for Yum Yum instead. Assam House is no longer spectacular like in their heydays, and Kim Bali’s lost the identity somehow. 1919 is perpetually packed though, and Bee Gaik’s been receiving negative comments lately.
Now now … What to eat in the coming days?