Monday, September 17, 2007

The Very Best of Malacca and Ipoh

"I heard Ipoh girls are very pretty."

Inn Shan

"Ipoh girls collectively, or just one of them?"


It’s an inside joke – you wouldn’t understand.

Day 1 of the Great Penang Road Trip.

It started with breakfast, possibly the best sort you can get in this side of the world; Malacca’s Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls. This time around, I brought Road Trip Mate #1, Inn Shan, to the most well known shop of the state – Hoe Kee. I was told it appeared numerous times on various television programs. It’s the one with a cardboard cut-out of some Chinese TV presenter bloke at the front of the shop;

Here's a picture of one third of the shop. Some SUV was blocking the other two thirds. Bloody SUV owners think they own the town.

And since Inn Shan had already tried The Other Shop

If anything, Hoe Kee’s proprietors are more business savvy, having refurbished the premises to something akin to an old-fashioned Chinese teahouse (yes, yes, I realise that I am talking as if I actually know how old-fashioned Chinese teahouses ought to look like);

Quaint, ain't it?

I can almost hear irritating Japanese girls in high-pitched voices going "kawaii ne!" at this.

Just so you know, I'll beat anyone to death with a stool if they so much utter the phrases "kawaii ne!" or "oiishi!" or some similar skin-crawling Japanese phrases within 10 feet of me. Consider yourself warned.

We were the first customer. It pays to know all the off-peak hours in most of the famous restaurants in Malacca.

Rumor has it that they did their renovations according to the directions in “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Building a Tourist Trap” – just like the Famosa Chicken Rice Balls franchises. But unlike the Famosa Chicken Rice Balls outlets, Hoe Kee’s don’t serve turds to their customers.

Far from it actually;

I'm hearing that annoying "kawaii ne" in my mind again.

Bathed in soy sauce and sesame oil.

It a rather pointless toss between Hoe Kee and Chung Wah because both shops would still blow your epicurean mind if you are uninitiated to the taste of the crumbly, glutinous, delectable goodies. One might conclude, of course, from the picture that the rice balls do seem a tad densely packed, but they sort of melt in your mouth once you pop one in. Maybe that’s why only two shops managed (by most Malaccans’ standard) to serve what we termed as the "genuine article" *sticks on a monocle and takes a puff from a pipe*. The other shops make rice balls that are either too hard or too tasteless.

We guzzled down a 20 rice balls plate between us with the customary "pak cham kai" (literally meaning “white chop chicken”) and had another 15 rice balls to go for Sze Yin – Road Trip Mate #2 – and her family.

The drive up to SS17 of Subang Jaya was unremarkable excepting that instant I missed the Subang Jaya exit and had to make my way there from the Sungai Besi highway. The thing that really irked me most about driving in KL is not the jams (incredibly enough) but the tacky smugness of our higher-ups which think that putting a toll plaza wherever one can be placed is okay. I could almost imagine it (and by ‘it’, I meant our beloved government) rubbing its hand in glee, abacus clacking every time I smack my head on the steering wheel after realising I’ve been shepherded to another toll plaza. The point of highways is to reduce travelling time wasn’t it? Considering the amount of toll stops I made, the only real difference between travelling through these "shortcuts" and the regular free roads is that I feel like I’ve been raped by pirates traversing the former. 'Nuff rantin'.

We reached Sze Yin’s place at about noontime, and left about an hour later after she finished Chicken Rice Balls we brought for her.

I realise that one of the most pleasant drives in Malaysia is that stretch of the North-South Highway near Ipoh where numerous picturesque limestone hills can be seen flanking the road. I wished I could have stopped and took pictures of them but pulling over in a highway is a Darwin Award worthy act. What a bloody waste.

We arrived in Ipoh at about teatime and the city, I have to say, is awesome. No matter which direction I was heading to, there were always pretty hills in the distant – like the whole place is surrounded by them. We arrived at Inn Shan’s uncle’s place in Silibin without a hitch. Inn Shan’s uncle and aunt is a pleasant couple, and I liked them on the good to go.

Of course, the single thing on my mind when I was in Ipoh was their very well-known "nga choy kai" ("bean sprouts chicken", literally). Inn Shan’s uncle brought us to the Old Town area of the city for that;

Old Town indeed.

And here’s one of the best shops for "nga choy kai", I was told;

A no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point signboard, isn't it?

I mean, you definitely have something to show for if you’re cocky enough to plaster your shop’s wall with a massive signboard proclaiming that you’re the "Most Famous in Town";

Veteran girl-watchers would tell you that girl watching is all about three things...

... "Location, location, and Ipoh".

Business starts at 5.30 pm and in less then a quarter of an hour, there wasn’t a single table empty. Yee Lin, our Ipohan/Ipohite/Ipohnoid batchmate from Manipal joined us (no, I don’t have a picture of her – I am not a big fan of taking pictures of people).

I’m more of an inanimate objects sort of person;

The most incredibly juicy and satisfying bean sprouts ever.

The best steam chicken I've ever eaten in my life.

And the Ipoh "Hor Fun"

I had expectations.

But Ipoh blown them out into orbit, then out of from orbit and into the outer cosmos.

They were bloody, fucking good!

Almost *cough* as good as Malacca's Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls though I'll concede that Ipoh's chicken is waaay better (the chickens in Malacca were never something we shout about anyway *snobbish snort*). Now I know how Ipoh grow their hot chicks - with the juicy goodness of bean sprouts so plump they make you go into an ecstatic trance, and the smoothest, most scrumptious steamed chicken in the world.

Yee Lin told us that there's actually a shop that serves better "nga choy kai" but it only opens twice or thrice a month, according to the shop-owner's whims.

My reaction was; "There's better?!"

And if that bloke can survive by just opening for business a couple of times a month, he must be mind-'sploding, karmic-bliss, rapturous, brain-fucking AWESOME. I got to look him up.

That brief meal at Lou Wong's shop was on Inn Shan's uncle, an impossibly magnanimous man who also treated us to dinner at a famous steamboat buffet chain in Ipoh called MP (or something very much like that) - on top of providing free lodging for Inn Shan and I in his home. Sze Yin bunked at Yee Lin's place.

End of Day One. Jealous?

First time in Ipoh,
k0k s3n w4i

Other posts in of my Great Penang Road Trip:

1 Teluk Intan is known as "Ngon-Sun" (in Cantonese) and "Ansun" (in Mandarin) by most Chinese people in Malaysia – evocative of the town’s colonial name of Teluk Anson.


bevE said...

i'm going to comment last.

things of note to comment about later (to remind myself):
- balls
- hor fun
- hot chick #2
- chicken
- japanese

Anonymous said...

i went to the same shop (Lou wong) yesterday. man i missed ipoh horfun and nga choy kai.

and *cough,cough* i was originally from ipoh. so does that that make me a hot ipoh chick? XD

Anonymous said...

Teluk Intan is also popularly known as T.A. btw

InnShan said...

Yeah, that chicken rice balls are awesome. You could comment a bit on the cendol shop u brought me too! It was nice~ :D

You left out one. "Hotchick #3 was sitting next to Inn Shan."

Jen said...

i have a feeling that for the next few days, i'm gonna have to visit your blog only after i've had dinner.

the other shop that opens randomly a few times a month sounds almost legendary. do ipoh people refer to it in hushed voices and look around before mentioning it? ;)

and yes, jealous much.

michelleg said...

ohh i love ipoh's nga choy kai. damn nice.. only can get nice ones in ipoh. =/

baby sa said...

I once went to the shop opposite lou wong.
Anyway, ngah choi kai is fabulous:)

Oh yeah, sorry bout din check your mail earlier:(

go menasai *high pitch japanese girl tune*

k0k s3n w4i said...

ur not going to comment at all. stop pretending.

@kit sze
I miss it already T_T
Did I say all Ipoh chicks are hot? xD
Haha... haha.. ha.... ha... ha ha..
What's important is inner beauty *pats kitsze on the shoulder in a fatherly manner*

I didn't think the cendol show was that special *shrugs*
I still prefer my regular haunt.
Awww, hot chick #3 is all yours to mention :D

you poor deprived soul *sheds a single tear for jen's plight*
At any rate, the worst is over. It is my opinion that both Ipoh and Melaka trump Penang anyway :D
I bet half of Ipoh never even heard of that place. I plan to find it before I die tho.

City specialty :D ... Ipoh only 5 hours drive away ma. Go get some!

@baby sa
dun worry about it. and thanks for replying :D
just let me know if u ever need any stuff in Malacca. I'll be here permanently in a year. And good luck for your STPM
*kills sa with a stool*