Thursday May 14, 2009
Simple and satisfying
By SAM CHEONG
Smooth, tender steamed chicken served with flat rice noodles in a tasty light broth to start the day.
THE public housing project in Section 17, Petaling Jaya, is perhaps one of the oldest set up in the city.
Often overlooked, this area is home to a place that has become the talk of the town, especially among senior citizens and food lovers.
I must have driven past this housing project countless times without realising that one of the best kai pei hor fun (flat rice noodles with whole chicken leg) can be found here.
In fact, I used to work just across the main road that separates the housing project from the Section 13 industrial area.
One of my old buddies, Alfa Charlie (I need to use this international code to protect his identity), who lives in the vicinity of the neighbourhood, alerted me to a good makan place at the sei low (four-storey flats). He spoke of eating chicken hor fun for breakfast and praised the coffee shop that served it.
To me, the four-storey flats are an iconic landmark of the early 1970s. At least two generations of Petaling Jaya folk have lived in this area.
But, with regard to good makan, there was only a brief mention of the coffee shops here, nothing really major.
“Eh Samo, I tasted the hor fun that came with wat kai (steamed chicken) on the side. The portions are generous and tasty,” Alfa said.
So, having heard about this new place, I asked him how to get there, what to expect and its opening hours.
I duly made my way to the flats one Friday morning. My mission was to settle my Astro bill and have breakfast at the said coffee shop.
From the post office, I walked down three blocks and found a coffee shop with a noodle stall in the front of the shop. I instinctively suspected that this was the place Alfa had mentioned. The dining area was already packed with office workers and senior citizens.
I was greeted by a lady who wished me “Good morning.”
I found it strange that, in a big city like Petaling Jaya, coffee shop owners would actually greet their customers. I nodded in acknowledgement.
I ordered a bowl of kai pei hor fun and was given a numbered tag. It seems that this coffee shop has a system of taking orders and delivering their meals.
What impressed me most in this coffee shop was its cleanliness. It was also brightly lit – a bonus.
While I was sipping my cup of hot local coffee, I overheard a senior citizen seated next to me telling his breakfast buddies about food and the history of Ipoh hor fun in Petaling Jaya.
Amused, I turned to catch a glimpse of the gentleman. I could see that his concentration was interrupted, and acknowledged him with a nod and a smile.
As in any other coffee shop around Petaling Jaya in the morning, the people here were tucking into a hearty breakfast to get themselves ready for work.
I could see that most of the coffee shop patrons were having the chicken hor fun.
Midway through my coffee, a Myanmar worker delivered my order.
My chicken hor fun came up to RM6.50, and what I saw in the bowl was a minimalist presentation. There was a sprinkling of spring onion and deep-fried garlic.
But, when I tasted the noodle dish, my senses connected to tell me that it was perhaps the best chicken hor fun around Petaling Jaya.
The soup was a light, tasty broth, and a small sauce dish containing sliced cili api (bird’s-eye chilli) in soya sauce complemented the noodle treat.
When I sank my teeth into the chicken, I found it smooth and tender. What impressed me was the cook’s skill in deboning the chicken. As a result, I enjoyed tender bites of meat without the hassle of wresting it off the bone.
Since the Northern way of preparing chicken hor fun is to leave its skin intact, you may want to skip this if you are watching your weight.
Slowly but surely, I finished my bowl of hor fun, and at the end of it, I was a satisfied man. The sweat on my face said it all.
After logging down the GPS information on my cellphone, I made my way to the payment counter and asked the lady manning it the name of the coffee shop.
“Ipoh Chang Jiang,” she replied.
On that note, I left, feeling totally satisfied and started my day at work.
For you gearheads out there, the lat,long coordinates for Ipoh Chang Jiang are: 03 07 154 N, 101 37 959 E.
So, happy hunting and have a good time!
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by Star Metro.
FOODIES! Take note: Star Metro and Knife Cooking Oil are embarking on a ‘food tale’ quest to identify good makan places in and around the Klang Valley. To be a part of the search, send your original makan stories, in the form of a short essay and picture, to firstname.lastname@example.org with details such as your full name, NRIC number and cellphone number. We will publish the story of our choice and Knife Cooking Oil will present a meaningful token to you for your effort.