Road Trip – Ipoh

8 Dec 2006 In: Bits and Pieces: Life, Location: Ipoh, LOCATION: PERAK

Part 1

Bouncing Barbie will turn 25 (again) tomorrow, and Pretty Pui, Ecstatic Eeyore and I planned a road trip to Ipoh to celebrate her birthday. Ipoh is located about 215km away from KL, and yours truly volunteered to be the driver for the day. Armed with our trusty X-trail, we began our journey at 7:30am today.

Driving to this city north of Kuala Lumpur, I realised that despite having travelled all over the world, there is so much to be proud of here in Malaysia. Sometimes, the most beautiful thing can be right in front of our eyes, but we miss it because we’re too busy looking further.

It was a lovely Saturday morning. The weather was warm, there were blue skies and the only imperfect moment to that beautiful morning was the slightly off-pitch sounds emanating from Pretty Pui’s throat as she sang along to Peterpan, an Indonesian band.

The endless chatter, the anticipation of good food and the approaching scenery of limestone hills near Ipoh kept me alert throughout the journey.

The subsequent few blogs will document our food adventure into the realms of the wonderful city of Ipoh.

I hate the school holidays.

Other than the fact that the roads are just a little less busy in the mornings.

God forbid if you’re crazy enough to venture on the roads between 9.00pm and 10.00pm. The droves of people who take their families to shopping malls during the school holidays is mind-boggling, and as everyone well knows, Malaysians love maximising their time, so it isn’t unnatural to find people leaving the malls only when it’s closing time, i.e. 9.30pm – 10.00pm.

So when we decided to go to Goon Wah Restaurant at Kuchai Lama, it didn’t come as a surprise to us that half of Kuala Lumpur was out on the roads as well.

Finding Goon Wah was not that difficult thanks to Eeyore’s knowledge of Old Klang Road and Kuchai Lama. But I think that if I were equipped with a reasonably good map, it would not be difficult to locate the restaurant.

Finding a table is a little more difficult. Goon Wah occupies two shoplots, one of which is air-conditioned. All the tables were occupied when we arrived. But within 5 minutes, we were shown to a table.

It didn’t take long before our orders arrived. First up was the Chu Cheong (pork intestines and stomach). The strong smell of the intestines and stomach were masked by a generous amount of garlic, red chillies and dried shrimps, while still retaining the crunchiness. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

Next came the Lo Hon Chai (chinese mixed vegetables). We thought it was pretty ordinary, and will probably never order it again.

The star attraction, XO fish head noodles, was served boiling hot in a claypot. The soup, despite not being as “creamy” as some other restaurants – presumably this place uses less milk? – had a nice fishy taste with the right amount of tanginess. And the noodles…thick white noodles…soft, yet not mushy, with a nice bite to it, and its texture a cross between asam laksa noodles and marshmallows. I could wax lyrical about it, but one would think I was off my rocker.

The claypot lou shue fun (literally translated as rat tail noodles) was slightly different from what I am used too. Normally, it is a little on the greasy side, but this lou shue fun was dry and not oily. Served with minced pork and egg, it was delicious.

Our final dish was Kau Yoke (pork) with yam. It may be extremely sinful, what with layers of fat and meat cooked in dark soy sauce, but the taste was heavenly! Eeyore happily “wiped up” the sauce with the steamed mantou (buns).

I think I died and went to heaven today.

Goon Wah Restaurant

G13, Jalan 3/115C, Block KP2,

Taman Kuchai Jaya,

Off Jalan Kuchai Lama,

58200 Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-79820048/79840722

Fax: 03-79820163

Mention Brickfields and one immediately thinks of a bustling, chaotic neighbourhood with cheap food, drinks and brothels. I suppose the addition of KL Sentral brings about some semblance of respect to Brickfields, but I wonder, does Brickfields really need that?

What I like about Brickfields is the appearance of uncomplicated life.

Where the uncle selling newspapers greets you every morning, whether or not you will be getting the papers for that day.

Or where the aunty selling roast pork at the wet market sells you that small portion of roast pork at a privileged price of just RM2 for your breakfast.

Where the man at the chicken rice stall asks you where that curly haired friend who normally frequents the stall has gone.

Where the uncle at the teh tarik stall in front of the Petronas petrol station takes the time to sit down with you to have a chat while you enjoy a packet of packed nasi lemak with your usual ginger tea.

We decided to go to the Lido kopitiam at Brickfields for lunch today. This is the kopitiam that is located behind the old Lido cinema, now the site for Public Bank, and opposite the YMCA. There are two dishes which I find particularly delicious at this kopitiam: char koay teow and pan mee.

The char koay teow is fried with crunchy bits of lard, lup cheong (chinese sausages) and kerang (cockles). It is hard to find a good char koay teow, and this place gets the thumbs up from me.

The pan mee stall has a strong following too. Be prepared to wait before you are served as the queue is pretty long. What makes the pan mee special here is the sambal belacan which is hot and sour. The aunty who dishes out the pan mee is quite generous with the ikan bilis (anchovies), minced pork and sweet potato leaves.

After wolfing down our lunch, we made our way across the road to a stall selling kuih and other savoury treats. The husband and wife duo have been running this stall for as long as I can remember, and it always gets crowded at lunch time. They sell an amazing variety of kuih and I hardly ever notice the aunty taking a break.

I am always filled with a sense of nostalgia when I am at Brickfields. The familiar faces remind me of simpler times.

About this blog

Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.


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