CNY 2012 – What’s “Bak Kut Teh” Got To Do With It?January 29, 2012 | 5,200 views
Dry Bak Kut Teh; a pot of various cuts of pork cooked in a thickened gravy that’s nothing like the conventional bak kut teh perfumed by herbs, but resembling a ‘kung pow’ touch with dried chillies, dried cuttlefish and lots of okra (ladies finger) and topped with chopped coriander.
Now I have been itching to write about (worthy) Bak Kut Teh outlets in Ipoh; albeit well aware of the fact that this essentially Hokkien dish has been jostling for the limelight (and guide books) in this city populated by an array of lip-smacking street foods in a futile manner.
If you ask me to name a few good BKT stalls in Ipoh that’s commendable AND recommendable to the outsiders (aside from Klangites, perhaps), there are 3 major names that I can think of.
Lee Soon (or was it Soon Lee?) near to the secondary school on Jalan Pasir Putih (SMK Jalan Pasir Putih), Sun Tong Chew off Jalan Kampar near to Ave Maria Convent, and this Tung Lok Hin at Medan Bendahara.
Since they churn out only a few pots at any one time, the wait can be discouraging if you’re there in a half-famished state.
Bak Kut Teh in Ipoh has always been a love-and-hate affair. Pure BKT aficionados would balk at the sight of beancurd sheets (foo chook) and an insane amount of coriander thrown into the soup. Not to mention the accompanyin dip of mouth-tingling ‘cili padi’ (bird’s eye chillies) and chopped fresh garlic.
But then there will be the ones growing up accustomed to the taste of Ipoh’s rendition of the popular herbal soup, swearing that Ipoh’s version with a lighter tinge of herbs and a clearer broth (a cross between Hokkien style of BKT which is thicker/darker and more robust, and Teochew style with a clearer, peppery body) beats Klang’s version hands down, and trumps Sitiawan’s Teochew-inspired version.
Customary ‘yau char kwai’ (you tiao) that was soggy as these were left exposed to the air instead of kept in an air-tight container, and the bowls of rice (look at the rooster motives …. classic eh?) to go along with the feast. Tung Lok Hin serves yam rice too, and you really should try that if you have the chance. We were late and they ran out of those.
The onslaught of assaults to the senses owing to bak kut teh sessions in the Klang Valley rendered me incapable of finding something similar to the full-bodied, robust flavour with an intense aroma back here in Ipoh.
Okay, truthfully .. Sun Tong Chew (the one near Ave Maria Convent) faltered miserably. I kept missing on the chance to write about Lee Soon in Pasir Putih, but currently, Tung Lok Hin’s the next best option.
Just what you will be expecting at all the other BKT restaurants in Ipoh; claypot version of BKT with ample quantity of complimentary sides of beancurd (tau fu pok), the mentioned beancurd sheets, and even mushrooms/button mushrooms in some.
Since this was the fourth day of CNY, most Chinese restaurants were still closed. Thankfully, Tung Lok Hin chose to kick off the Dragon Year on that same day. And boy oh boy … was the place crowded!
The almost half an hour’s worth of wait was bearable though, since the corner shop was well-aerated, and the sight of the orange T-shirt clad workers running around like clockwork did lend a sense of urgency in serving the hungry patrons.
There is one menu on the wall; all written in Chinese though. This was the FIRST restaurant (quite sure of this) in Ipoh that served DRY bak kut teh, on top of the conventional herbal soup base version. And also the only one (so far) dishing up yam rice to go along with the porky mains. (p/s : they steam fish heads too, so you can say this is one BKT restaurant with multiple personalities … at best)
Lightly blanched three types of greens; (“Sam Sik Choi”) drizzled with oyster sauce and shallot oil.
Still one of the better ones in Ipoh, the lunch experience at Tung Lok Hin was above average and damn reasonable. RM26/USD8 for 3 pax, inclusive of Chinese tea and rice. And mind you, this was in the midst of CNY, to top it off. Certainly a small price to pay for a porky gathering with family and friends.
TUNG LOK HIN RESTAURANT
1, Jalan Ho Lok Park,
Medan Bendahara 2,
31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Closed on Tuesdays.
Opens for breakfast until lunch.
Tel No : 016-566 5234 (Ah Hon)/017-555 0706 (May)
GPS Coordinates : 4.584561,101.080851
Google Map to Tung Lok Hin