Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Famous Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken

Ipoh is well-known for its food. One of the most famous dishes from Ipoh is the Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai, or Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken. Every time my family visits Ipoh, we try to have a dinner at the famous Lou Wong Ngar Choi Kai restaurant in town. This one is supposed to be the original (equivalent to our own Jalan Kayu Roti Prata) In recent years, many other stalls and restaurants have ‘sprouted’ up in Ipoh offering this same dish, including one just next to it called Onn Kee as you can see from the photo below.

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (3)

Personally, I am not choosy; but one of my Ipoh brothers-in-law always insists on Lou Wong. He is a friend of the boss there. Another brother-in-law from Kuala Lumpur loves this dish so much that whenever he goes to Ipoh, he must visit this restaurant. In fact, I heard that he once made the three-hour drive to Ipoh just to satisfy his craving for this dish. And I thought that we Singaporeans are crazy about food.

By the way, in case you are wondering; my wife has four sisters. She is number 2. Two are married to Ipoh guys, 1 to a KL businessman and another 2 to Singaporeans. Every December we try to have our ‘reunion’ in Ipoh.

For you foodies, please don’t ask me for the address of Lou Wong. I always have difficulty remembering Malaysian road names. But that’s not to say I do not know where it is. The only road name that I can recall that’s near to it is Jalan Yang Kalsom.

The way the Ipoh bean sprout chicken is eaten is quite different from our Singapore chicken rice. In the first place, they don’t usually eat it with rice. Instead it is usually eaten with kueh teow in soup, or what Ipoh people call ‘fun’ – short for sar hor fun, and the bean sprouts of course. In addition, we usually order a bowl of fish balls to go with it. Ipoh people call it ‘yu tan’ or fish egg to be more precise, whilst in Singapore we call it ‘yu yuen’. The chilli they use is also quite different. Instead of chilli sauce, they take cut green chilli on a plate mixed with garlic and light sauce.

I am sorry that I not good at describing food. Let’s just say that it tastes great.
Anyway, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So I show you some photos instead. If you want more, just go to Flickr and do a search and you will certainly be able to see better photos than mine.

I felt at bit silly taking out my camera to take these photos. But judging from the reaction; or rather, non-reaction of the other customers and the restaurant staff, I can say they are pretty used to people taking pictures in the restaurant. Just look at all the newspaper cuttings on the wall.

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (7)

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (10)

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (8)

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (4)

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (5)

Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai (6)

I shall end with a funny story relating to the Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai. Not far from my house, at the junction of Jalan Pasir Puteh and Jalan Bunga Raya, there is a food centre. One of the stalls sells Ipoh Ngar Choi Kai of quite good standard. So one evening we decided to eat there instead of driving all the way to town. Whilst ordering the chicken, the stall owner recommended us another chicken dish. It had a rather fanciful name. Ipoh hawkers are very creative in coining names for their dishes. Remember the Four Beauties of Big Tree Leg.

Anyway, when the dish arrived, we asked the hawker what is so special about this dish with the fanciful name. He said. “This is a special chicken dish from Singapore.” We almost burst out laughing, but restrained ourselves in order not to embarrass him!


Victor said...

>please don’t ask me for the address of Lou Wong

Aiyah, you should have just asked them for a name card and post a photo of it here mah, just like what you did for the photo studio of yore in your last post. Who knows, in a few decades times, when the Ngar Choi Kai restaurant becomes history, your children may blog about it using the name card as illustration. :)

Lam Chun See said...

Victor, Victor. You are so behind time. We are living in the internet age. Still need to scan name cards meh. So Troublesome.

Even this 'laodie' able to find the address within minutes using Google. It's: No. 49 Jalan Yau Tat Shin. In fact, this Penang guy who calls himself, Makan King even found it using his GPS software.

Anonymous said...

chun see
your ipoh house got space for "free-loaders"? How far from Ipoh Railway Station?

Lam Chun See said...

Plenty of space. But very dirty becos we only use it once a year. Even tho we try to seal up the windows with plastic sheet etc. still each time we go up, its a big cleanup.

It's about 6 or 7 km from from Railway Station. Why? You want to go up is it? Contact me by email lah. Blog not suitable for this type of communication.

Anonymous said...

why call Ngar Choi Kai - isn't the Ngar Choi and the Kai come in separate dishes

There was one such Ngar Choi Kai stall at the Food court in Tyrwhit Rd, out the Jalan Besar Stadium - well, they sold Kai and Ngar Choi. The Ngar Choi was just cooked in boiling water.

Victor said...

Frannxis took the words right out of my mouth. The term Ngar Choi Kai is grossly misleading. I also thought that both items come together in one dish. If they come separately then a lot of Singapore chicken rice stalls also serve both. E.g. try the very good 5-star kampung chicken in East Coast Road.

Lam Chun See said...

The "Four Beauties" is even more misleading. And wait till you try Ipoh laksa. It is not even laksa by Spore standards. They have something called Curry mee/fun which is more like our Spore laksa. You can see a picture and description here.

But isn't that part of the fun of enjoying the culture of another country? Their different norms and practices? Another interesting Ipoh practice. When placing an order, they used the verb "ai" which in Cantonese literally means to yell. So in Spore we say "kiew choi" to mean order dishes, whilst in Ipoh they say; "ai choi".

By the way, if you are interested to learn more about Ipoh food, visit Aiyah Nonya's blog.

Aiyah Nonya said...

Wah, don't play play with Ipoh food. They are good. :0
Aiyah joking only lah. The s'pore laksa is good too. I love the stall in Katong.

I went to 'Loh Wong' during my last trip. Btw the chicken there is different form the rest of the shops selling the same thing around there. It is because they use kampong chicken. The meat is tougher than the other stalls.