Yook Woo Hin @ Petaling Street. 1928 – 2011?August 8, 2011 | 6,900 views
Piping hot and fresh dim sum being carted by the ladies of Yook Woo Hin. Still the same modus operandi over the years, and still exuding that nostalgic charm of old ‘yum cha’ (literally translated to ‘drink tea’ or breakfast) establishments.
The revelation came when I read this piece of news. That a stretch of old shops in Petaling Street and Jalan Sultan will be demolished very soon to pave the way for development. Again.
And much as I was empathizing with the residents and traders along the affected stretch, a significant yet disturbing thought resounded in the back of my mind;
“What if someday the government decides to develop Ipoh into a mass tourism hub, with MRT’s running through the beautiful landscapes and the heritage structures of old town?”
Read the full story ramblings ahead ….
Delicious spread of dim sum and noodles at Yook Woo Hin
Will I be going home only to be greeted by nothing but skyscrapers, elevated highways, scorching heat emitted from the glaringly cold and lifeless steel structures, rail tracks zig-zagging their way across town; intermittent by state-of-the-art, massive MRT stations and breathing in air quality of API 100 and above?
A far-fetched thought for the moment, but at the rate of how Malaysia has failed to appreciate the utmost values of preserving heritage, the environment, and sustainable ecology, this grim scenario may just lie on the horizon.
Coincidentally, there was a glimmer of hope when The Star ran a story on modern landscaping projects, the back-to-nature concept being taken seriously once again, and the impact of rapid yet unplanned modernization on our country.
Make your decision fast. As the shop had all but ONE dedicated lady with the trolley that morning. So if you’re seated at the back of the shop, then be prepared for lots of waiting as she has to travel to and fro from the tables to the front cabinet to reload her artillery of fresh dim sum.
Yook Woo Hin is a restaurant in the heart of KL city that one will not appreciate if you have been accustomed to kopitiam providing free WiFi services, menus laminated with glitzy colourful shots of food and drinks, air-conditioning blasting away at 18 degrees Celcius or less, and paying a compulsory service fee when you have to write your own orders on the ordering chits and walk over to the counter and pay for your food.
Almost tucked hidden behind a ‘foliage’ of stalls plying Petaling Street, which is closed to motorists (supposedly), searching for this restaurant might not be a walk in the park. Unless you knew where to seek for it … and you have to be on foot, of course.
Specializing in dim sum and several noodle and rice dishes, as well as a few significant dishes (mostly revolving around pork; eg: char siew (bbq pork), siew yoke (roast pork belly), spare ribs, etc) Yook Woo Hin has been around since 1928.
The Lor Bak Gou (fried radish cake) was good, but be weary of the soaked in oil condition of the cakes. The furthest in the picture plate of fried spring rolls filled with a creamy custard filling was another good bet, though the pork dumplings (siew mai) were decent at best.
Yes, 1928. Our grandfather’s era (if you’re an 80’s baby like me), and they have not decided to upscale to some fancy eateries with fusion dim sum nor commercialize the brand. Walking in into this very brightly-lit restaurant that has managed to garner an “A” rating from the local authority for their hygiene standards, the image of the older generations sipping tea, reading the dailies, talking about life and munching on ‘char siew pau’ played in my mind.
Lo and behold, this first dim sum experience may very well prove to be my last at Yook Woo Hin in this very same building. A painful thought, to say the least.
Unlike Ipoh’s version of ‘tung koo chap’ (mushroom gravy with minced pork), the one at Yook Woo Hin was of a more starchy quality, and the rice noodles were served in rolls of larger diameter. Still, one of the better ones in dim sum outlets in KL I reckon.
No matter how badly they wish to replicate the same ambience, the sentimental values have all but evaporated with the times, and the intensive development of the entire vicinity. Chinatown of Singapore has successfully retained that old school charm from the olden days, and the façade of most heritage lots are being retained and maintained. In fact, the preservation culture extends to areas further away from Chinatown and the commercial hub.
Must we attain UNESCO World Heritage Site status BEFORE we can recognize the value of these priceless gems?
Clockwise from top left : The “Siew Mai” had a very bouncy, fresh texture associated with fresh pork being used and the dumplings were not kept for hours in the freezer after preparation. The spring rolls and the steamed bun essentially were filled with the same egg custard. The Lor Mai Gai (glutinous rice with chicken, mushroom and Chinese waxed sausages) was mediocre, being a little too dry.
And if your head is spinning from the rants, I must apologize. This should be a food review, after all. But I was taken aback by this saddening turn of event.
Upon noticing us with DSLR’s in hand, and a perplexed look on my face when browsing through the one page menu, the lady boss of Yook Woo Hin walked over and could not help but lamented;
“Take more pictures of this shop, and its surrounding. Soon, there will be nothing left. We were given a notice to move recently.”
Succulent cuts of caramelized pork, being barbecued to a firm, toothy finish yet without being too chewy. The char siew outshone the siew yoke (roast pork belly) indefinitely. And the egg noodles complemented the meats perfectly. Wait, should be the other way round ….
If you have the time to spare, go on a stroll around Petaling Street; the Chinatown of Malaysia. Embrace the stimulating senses of the experience. This one-of-a-kind cultural meltdown in the heart of the city, where you can binge on your favourite street foods, indulge in street photography, and appreciate the rich legacy behind every story told.
Pastries that you probably can’t find on the streets anymore. Let alone in the malls.
“Yes, you might be pestered by persistent pirated DVD sellers.
Yes, the fumes from buses and traffic during rush hours might put you off.
Yes, parking is never a cinch around this area.
And yes, some food stalls (the Madras Lane stalls come to mind) may practise dodgy hygiene standards.”
Established 1928. Proudly emblazoned on the yellow-coloured signboard fronting the ever-buzzing with activities Petaling Street. But what will the future holds for Yook Woo Hin?
To me, these are all but minor setbacks. Let’s look at the bigger picture here. For the enrichment of the next generations, by the time Malaysia has reached her Vision 2020 objectives; you wish that you can share these interesting details with them. And you can proudly say that yes, before Petaling Street has undergone serious facelift or worse, demolished into smithereens, you have been there and done that.
These gentlemen might have grown together with Yook Woo Hin; seeing the pace of life changes from the backwater surrounding that was Petaling Street, into what it is now.
YOOK WOO HIN RESTAURANT (non-Halal)
100, Jalan Petaling,
50000 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel No : +603-2078 4681
Business Hours : 5.30am – 2.30pm.
Closed on Thursdays.