Thursday, June 09, 2016

ipoh: food

This wasn’t a trip which was planned with the children in mind, at all.

There were no theme parks, no attractions to look at, nothing kid-oriented. We didn't visit any of the tourist spots.

Instead, they spent much of their time travelling within Ipoh in a car and driving for long hours to arrive at food destinations where they were expected to light up at the spread. The agenda firmly belonged to the adults.

Compared to our last trip, we really ate this time around because my folks were involved. Somehow when senior relatives visit from another country, top-notch food is compulsory.

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* Tim sum breakfast

But kids - well these kids anyway – don't really appreciate food. You know, they eat to live, not live to eat.

After Day 1, Lulu stamped her foot and said – I HATE eating. Do we HAVE to go out to eat again? Can I NOT eat?

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And after what seemed like an hour-long drive to a dusty remote village with really nothing much to see called Sauk for not one but three fish dishes (it’s famous for its freshwater fish), a drive so long we all slept on the way there and back, Day whispered – I’m a little disappointed. This is what we drove all the way here for?

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* The fishes of Sauk, at the Restoran Lau Kai

Who cares? The adults lapped it all up.

Aside from the usual suspects (fat Ipoh beansprouts, salt-baked chicken, soya beancurd, Ipoh hor fun), these are the food highlights from our trip this time around, which are a little different:

Fish. For some reason we eat fresh, sweet, steamed fish whenever we pop into a restaurant, which is nearly every day because everybody wants to treat Gong Gong.

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* A singular Soon Hock fish weighing nearly 3kg

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* As part of the seafood spread, prawns as long as my hand. Its very luxurious, but none of the kids like this one, they find the prawni-ness too jelat. The prawns spill over with thick royal-yellow roe. At least I think it's roe.

Fish balls. Not quite the Singapore type, but what in Ipoh is called Yu Dan (Yu3 Dan2). These are tiny irregularly-shaped (therefore clearly handmade and not manufactured in a factory) blobs of fish meat. Our attention is drawn to how, upon spearing with a fork, the yu dan is so tender it shivers for a while. This is apparently a great local delicacy which we really eat a lot of, and which we eat so quickly I didn't get any pictures.

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* The nearest thing to it which I photographed (in foreground), but these are more fishball-y

Incredibly sweet tiny pineapples.

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* This, the kids loved to bits

And last of all, the first thing we ate in Ipoh which we ate almost every day, in between meals: Durians.

I spy in Thim Gor Gor’s mobile phone a long list of contacts which start with Durian. His durian-seller friends call him when they have new stock, he calls to reserve stock from top durian sellers before we head down; he just seems incredibly well-connected to the Ipoh durian supply chain.

Day one, he purchases over 600RM worth of Mao Shan Wangs (nine in total). The deep yellow flesh is uniformly warm, creamy, sweet and thick. 

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* Enjoying Mao Shan Wang straight from the shell under the shade of a tree next to a car booth. Good boy 

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* The girls stay in Thim's air-conditioned car - the engine was idling - watching us sweat through the tinted windows (car behind Day)

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* Talking prices with the durian man

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* Durian stems kept moist with leaves

Day two, he buys more of different types of durians from a Malay seller, with paler flesh and a bitter tang.

We eat so much durian I think a few of us fall sick from the heatiness when we return home.

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