Simple, good lai fun with sar kok liew at Ipoh Mali in PJ

Ng Tee Sow decided to relocate here with his wife, Low Chong Ling and son, Ng Hin Hao to start his business in PJ. — Pictures by Ham Abu Bakar
Ng Tee Sow decided to relocate here with his wife, Low Chong Ling and son, Ng Hin Hao to start his business in PJ. — Pictures by Ham Abu Bakar

PETALING JAYA, April 29 — Hankering for a taste of Ipoh? Try this two month-old stall selling lai fun, Hakka mee and yong tau foo, opened by an Ipoh family in PJ.

About four months ago, Ng Tee Sow moved here with his wife, Low Chong Ling and son, Ng Hin Hao. His aim was to test out the market for this kind of food.

Previously he had a stall in Ipoh Garden East. In the beginning, they were at Restaurant Sorn in Paramount Gardens, but that didn’t work out.

Enjoy a simple taste of lai fun or Hakka mee with your choice of yong tau foo.
Enjoy a simple taste of lai fun or Hakka mee with your choice of yong tau foo.

They relocated here, just before Chinese New Year. It’s a happier fit, as older folks who frequent the Sea Park area lap up the simple fare.

Expect to dine on a bowl of noodles accompanied with your choice of yong tau foo. There’s about 20 varieties available to choose from.

Some are stuffed with fish paste made from tofu fish, while some have minced pork mixed together with the fish paste. Expect the usual aubergine, beancurd, bitter gourd varieties.

They are prepared in small batches and sometimes varieties rotate. Flavours here are subtle. And satisfying, if you like a clean, uncomplicated taste.

Two things drew me to this stall. First, it was their own-made lai fun or soft, white rice noodles, made from ground rice. Ng explains that his version is not pure rice flour though, like the ones found in Gopeng town.

Pick from a choice of around 20 varieties of yong tau foo stuffed with fish paste and minced pork.
Pick from a choice of around 20 varieties of yong tau foo stuffed with fish paste and minced pork.

He believes it’ll be hard for KL-lites to accept such a soft texture. Instead, he adds a little sago flour to give it a slight bite. It’s served two ways here.

The soup version is accompanied with a chicken broth made by boiling chicken carcasses and sugarcane, for a mellow, sweet flavour. The dry version, with shorter strands of lai fun is tossed with soy sauce.

Both are sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds, chopped spring onions, minced meat and served with blanched beansprouts.

If you prefer more bite, go for their Hakka noodles. The springy egg noodles aren’t made in-house but are still good. A serving of minced meat tossed with the blanched noodles satisfies.

You can also order the springy Hakka mee (left). The stall makes their own lai fun or rice noodles (right).
You can also order the springy Hakka mee (left). The stall makes their own lai fun or rice noodles (right).

The second item that makes me happy here is their sar kok liew. A rare creature in KL, this yam bean fritter originates from Ipoh.

Essentially, it’s a deep fried roll; beancurd skin that is stuffed with a mixture of minced pork and fish paste flavoured with chopped fresh coriander, together with diced yam bean.

This version has more heft with the filling, compared to the other versions found in Klang Valley. Ng also cuts the cubes a little bigger for them to remain crunchy after they are fried. It’s a nice, textural contrast, which I find absolutely irresistible.

The lai fun is served with blanched beansprouts, minced meat, toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.
The lai fun is served with blanched beansprouts, minced meat, toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions.

His customers also love it once they try it making the item his bestseller. If you’re not a fan of yam bean, they also offer another version stuffed with only the minced pork and fish paste.

One culture shock Ng experienced was how people call these stuffed items differently in KL. Known as yong liew in Ipoh, he had to change his signboard to yong tau foo for people to understand what he was selling!

As the stall is new, he only makes a smaller selection. In Ipoh, his repertoire is usually 30 to 40 types!

Find the stall at this coffeeshop right behind KFC in Sea Park, PJ.
Find the stall at this coffeeshop right behind KFC in Sea Park, PJ.

Most of his ingredients are still sourced in Ipoh, as he goes back every few weeks to stock up. He tries to maintain the same taste he used to serve in Ipoh but occasionally, he does make exceptions.

For instance, he serves a boiled bitter gourd stuffed with fish paste, per his customer’s request for a healthier taste compared to the deep fried one.

Try their chilli sauce too. Known as cili asam, it’s brought in from Ipoh. Not overly spicy, it’s got a nice well-rounded tangy taste, completely unlike the ones we get here which use the sharper tasting calamansi lime juice.

A bowl of noodles is RM3. Just add on the yong liew for RM1 per piece.

Ipoh Mali Lai Fun/Hakka Mee Stall
Restaurant Wang Seng Ri (Tong Fong)
(Behind KFC Sea Park)
No 1, Jalan 21/17
Sea Park, Petaling Jaya
Open: 7am to 2pm
Days off not fixed, dependent on the coffeeshop

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