Sunday, April 29, 2007

Big Tree Leg

My mother-in-law who recently passed away was a wonderful lady. Everything you read in the comic strips about ‘monsters-in-law’, she was not. Once, I casually mentioned that I liked to eat chicken feet, and guess what? Every time we visited my in-laws in Ipoh, she would cook or order same braised chicken feet for me. The same is true for sea cucumbers.

Anyway, now that she has left us, I guess my pilgrimages to Ipoh will slow down in frequency. Which means that I am going to miss the wonderful Ipoh food. But at least I can still blog about it can’t I?

Once, I was having lunch at a new food court in town, similar to the ones we have in Singapore. I saw a stall proudly displaying a banner that said that they were formerly from 大树脚 (pronounce tai-shu-keok in Cantonese, meaning ‘foot of big tree’). I found out later from my relatives that this was a famous eating place in Ipoh, and not far from where we lived. Below are some photos of this unique place

Actually, Tai-shu-keok is a collection of shanty stalls located in the shade of some huge sea almond trees in the Pasir Pinji area. Although the conditions were a little shabby and dirty, it was very popular with Ipoh folks. I saw many office workers including some men in ties. Traffic was chaotic and we had to park our car far away.



Some of you may have heard of the legendary Four Beauties (of China) or 四大美人. Did you know that Ipoh too have 4 beauties. Here they are.


The Four Beauties is actually the name given to 4 super-sized mixed fruit drinks (top of banner). Notice the many dead leaves on top of the canvas canopy.

Frankly, I didn’t find the food any different for the other places. But then I am not a discerning ‘foodie’. Like the Dance Floor (tv show) judges, my only adjectives are wonderful and fantastic. Anyhow, I enjoyed the unique environment of the Big Tree Foot’. I liked the huge sea almond trees. I don’t recall ever seeing such huge ones in Singapore.




Next time, I will blog about the famous Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken.


Anonymous said...

Chun See:
How come u take photos of "beauties" that are fruits? Dont you know Ipoh also famous for those "pak shuet shuet" girls. I heard it was because of the water of Tanah Rata?

One characteristic of Ipoh girls as compared to other Malaysian town/suburb girls I think you should know right?

Victor said...

Thanks for the rare glimpse of a Malaysian food scene which Singapore no longer has since the 60's.

I can undertand why there are very few human subjects (whatever their complexion) in your photos - your blog is strictly on nostalgia.

Unknown said...

Nice post Chun See and one which makes me wish I can drive up North like right now and enjoy the relaxing life. I guess the beauty of nostalgia and blogging is that it allows you to live other lives and imagine. That's how memories work too I guess.

Anonymous said...

Nostalgia is a powerful theme, particularly for older folks. Things of the past can only resurface in our dreams, thoughts or pictures (or photos). Today there is a big-tree-leg, but years later the 'leg' may be replaced by a comfortable air-con food court with nice ambiance, more appealing to young people. By then the govt and business people may say that they need to level down the big-tree-leg area in the name of progress.

Lam Chun See said...

Victor, my blog is not Strictly nostalgia. Occasionally I wander off track. But I did not write this particular article for nostalgia. It was to share something about this interesting place with an interesting name; especially with my Ipoh friends like Aiyah Nonya. But for older Sporeans like Victor, it evoked some memories of Spore of yesterday.

Now partly in response to what Victor and Elaine wrote in their blogs about the joys and pains of blogging. I rather focus on the gains. Most of all, I value the new friends acquired thro this blog; some of whom I never would have got to know. Over the weekend, I exchanged some emails with Brian Mitchell. We agreed that if kampong boys like me and Chun Chew had met British kids like him and John Harper in the 60's, it was extremely unlikely that we could become friends. The cultural chasm was too wide.

Back to this article. The reason why I did not put up photos of the food is becos my photography is lousy. It doesn't do justice to the great-tasting food.

As for beauties .. Ipoh girls are pretty, and so are Spore girls. In fact all girls are beautiful becos "He hath made every thing beautiful in His time". (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

aiyah nonya said...

Hi ! Thanks for those pictures. This is one stop H and I will never miss whenever we drive back.

Earlier days there were not any canopy over the tables. Occasionnaly you get some leaves driffting down on to the table. And when it rains you bring your food into the drink stall, who has a permanent roof. It started only with a few stalls. The yeong tau foo ,drink and porridge stall mainly. But as its reputation grew more stalls started to open business around it. Which is good for us - more choice to choose from.

They have improve there service too by hanging the table's number from the canopy. Well that was last year. Any new improvement ?

The first time my boys went there, they refuse to enter. They were put off by the sight of the place. Had to drag them in. They told me this is the worst place I have ever brought them to.
After so many years they are much better now.

Btw did you eat the stuffed longbeans ? Can't find it here. It is sort of like a wreath with the fish paste in the center.
Aiyah, make me want to have some now.

Maybe I will make a short trip back this hols. :)

Thanks for the pictures again. Have a nice May Day.

Cheers !

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks A.N. for that background of this place. No I did not try the stuffed long beans. Heard that the stall with the yong tau foo (liew) is very famous. But it was crowded. And being the lazy, undiscerning type, I just ordered something from a stall near to our table.

Lam Chun See said...

It is interesting to learn of how this place grew from just a few stalls. I guess there is a special attraction to having a meal under the shade of a big tree in the heat of the day; especially when air conditioning is not readily available. Maybe that was one of the reasons why we enjoyed the mee rebus and Indian rojak stalls at Waterloo Street so much when we were young.

I suppose there were several places in Spore just like this Big Tree Leg place back in the 60's. But off hand I can't recall any.

aiyah nonya said...


Aiyah, that is the reason why everyone flocks there - the Yong Tau Foo stall. The queue is daunt but they are quite prompt with their service.

These type of places is fast disappearing in Ipoh too. Most of them have been relocated into the coffee shops. Especially those in the town itself. Those in these out of town places still exist. It will be a matter of time before the authorities do something about it.So must enjoy them while we can.

This stall is located in either Pasir Pinji or Pasir Putih. I always can't remember which because they are just next to each other.

Btw do you know that Pasir Pinji and Pasir Putih used to be those 'new villages' set up during the communist era by the British. It was fenced up to ensure the communist do get get food or help from the folks inside.

Anonymous said...

Tom said..,
I thing Victor is geting awee bit humpy about yout blog Ghun see,I thought your photos where very good
food stalls or not. it brings back memories to me. Victor when are you going to start dreaming about your pass. haha.

Anonymous said...

A visiting HK friend, while here, observed that our coffee-shops and hawker centres are like their small 'milk-tea' shops snd 'tai pai tongs'(street food stalls). She believes that it is because of these humble eating places, that high cost of living can be brought down. Just imagine without these eating outlets, the working class has to frequent high-end eating restaurants, which could cause big holes in their pockets.