“Ma Ta Liu” Curry Mee @ Xin Quan Fang, Ipoh – Still The Old School FavouriteApril 21, 2012 | 25,668 views
What could be better described as a bundle of sins loaded into several bowls; the Ipoh famous “Ma Ta Liu” (police station; referring to the one on Hugh Low Street) curry mee possesses an unprecedented legacy and undeniable charm over their fans since more than half a century ago
The last experience with Xin Quan Fang was way back in 2008 (read that post intermittently peppered with nonsensical ramblings and grainy shots here), and from then on, I had no intention of returning.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because of the food, nor even the infamous attitude of the people running the place. But rather; the tenacity and patience required to endure the taxing wait … which can take up to 15 minutes (if you’re lucky), or a stressful 45 minutes if you’re not.
But life plays its tricks on you at the most unexpected times. And I found myself there for brunch this morning. What really happened then?
Nothing much has changed over the years. Aside from moving to this premise located across the road from the original corner lot opposite the police station, they still serve ONLY curry mee. And nothing fancier than that. “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?”
Initial plan was to dig in into a piece of potentially lip-smacking Hainanese chicken chop for breakfast, but I woke up late. Overslept for an astounding 3 hours actually.
Reaching the planned destination for a brunch sounded fine too. Or so I thought.
Only to find the place closed on a Saturday.
A bowl of chili paste that’s an unmistakable signature of Xin Quan Fang’s, consisting of finely-mashed garlic, curry oil, chopped scallions, bits of pork and lard, and a squeeze of calamansi lime.
A detour to Jack Fah; a classic coffee shop nearby housing a popular Nyonya kueh and ‘tong sui’ stall led to more disappointment as I was not aware that the stall opens only in the evenings. On the way, I bumped into The Mia Noodle House; possibly related to this outlet in Pasir Puteh. And it was closed as well.
Hmm …. thankfully, I was within an area that’s bursting with choices (come to think of it … which area of Ipoh does not?). And with a smirk on my face, I gladly maneuvered my car into a vacant lot beside Paris Restaurant; where the (arguably) most famous Hakka mee stall in Ipoh is located at.
And the uncle was already washing his utensils and clearing up his counter. Yes, he sold everything off by 12pm. By then, I was close to tearing out my hair. Or whatever’s left of his.
Remember to ask for a separate bowl of ‘liews’ (ingredients), and not served together with the noodles. Firstly for gluttony’s sake, and secondly for good photography. Bear in mind though, by this you will get a more generous portion of the deadly chili paste depicted before this.
I felt dejected, understandably. Here I am; back in Ipoh within a day of planning (was down to Batu Gajah yesterday for work) and was already patting my back for being able to draft an almost fail-proof plan to sample a Teochew dinner yesterday (failed), a Hainanese breakfast this morning (failed as well) and now a Hakka mee for lunch …. yet everything came to a screeching halt.
Since Xin Quan Fang is within a few shops apart from the Hakka mee stall (previously known as Yin Yau Kui), I thought …. “Hey … why not? After all, they could have run out of noodles, or bean sprouts, or roasted pork, or even bowls for that matter. Come what may … I can just saunter into a McDonald’s or KFC.”
And lo and behold, the curry mee specialist is STILL open for business although it was way past breakfast, and there were more than one empty table! Lady luck’s decided to rise from her extended siesta.
Seriously, they could not have bothered had I dragged in a whole filming crew for the experience. They’re a bunch of darlings to the media now.
The trick here is … you grab a seat, and spend time on your gadgets (iPhone, iPad, iWhatever) or read some papers. DO NOT stand around at the stall or raising up your hands and feet to gain their attention or make your orders. They WILL come to you once they’re ready for you.
Short, plump and juicy bean sprouts, incredibly smooth Hor Fun and the multitude of ingredients dunked into the bowl of ridiculously-delicious goodness.
The wait was bearable. Even enjoyable, I have to add. This lady with a penchant for yapping came and shared my table, and started her banters with the owners of the curry noodles stall. She went on and on and on … until her bowl of noodles arrived. But it was all in the spirit of fun and neighbourhood I guess. They knew each other by name, including the family members and extended ones. I did not mean to eavesdrop, but her decibels reached beyond my chair, truthfully.
A bowl of dry curry ‘hor fun’ (flat rice noodles) arrived with a side of roasted pork, their homemade ‘char siew’ that looked nothing like the conventional red and white generics, and shredded chicken meat seated on top of a bed of blanched bean sprouts. The ensemble cost RM9.50 (USD3.30) for ONE PAX, so don’t go WHAAAATTT?!!!!!!! if you’re not ready to pay that much for a bowl of curry mee.
The man in action; he was assisted by at least 3-4 pax while he was clearly in his elements; cooking up a storm of a bowl of curry mee.
But was the experience worthy of an accolade?
YES. A deafening, resounding affirmation. The bowl of chili paste alone won my heart over; goes well with everything on the table. From the noodles to the bean sprouts to the caveman’s wet dream of a myriad of pork and chicken. You can also opt for additional sliced, boiled shrimps in addition to the meats I had.
The dry curry was not exceptional though, compared to say, Nam Chau‘s or Yee Fatt‘s. At Xin Quan Fang, you should really go for the curry soup version instead. That being said, I’m slowly swaying my votes for BEST Curry Mee in Ipoh to this stall instead of Nam Chau, given the sometimes inconsistent quality of the dry curry noodles served by the latter.
XIN QUAN FANG CURRY MEE (non-Halal)
174, Jalan Sultan Iskandar
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Tel No : +6016-531 4193
Business hours : 7.30am until about noon, or latest by 1pm.
GPS Coordinates : 4.593135,101.08422
Directions : If you come from the roundabout connecting Jalan Tambun and Jalan Gopeng to Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street), you will pass SMK Yuk Choy on your RIGHT, and then a traffic lights that connect Jalan Yang Kalsom to Jalan Raja Ekram (Cowan Street). Go straight and you will see Xin Quan Fang on your LEFT. Gerbang Malam (the archway) will be on your RIGHT.
*Click for a list of 15 FAMOUS CURRY NOODLES IN IPOH