GEORGE TOWN, Sept 9 — While lor bak is believed to have originated from Fujian, China, it is a well-known dish here usually prepared by the Teochews and Hokkiens.
These traditional pork rolls, more popularly known as ngo hiang in Singapore, are made from minced pork seasoned with five-spice powder, wrapped in soy skin and then deep fried till crispy. Lor bak is often sold at stalls together with other deep-fried goodies such as prawn fritters, spring rolls, battered fish and beancurd.
Neoh Khay Chye, who was born in 1935, grew up helping his father make and sell lor bak along Esplanade and outside any makeshift Chinese opera stages. They had a push cart and would go to where there were crowds of people.
He took over the stall sometime in the 1950s after his father died.
“My father used to go to Esplanade in the evenings and also set up outside any stage performances at temples in town,” his daughter, Neoh Wan Kin said.
It was sometime in the 1960s that they shifted to Brick Kiln Road or Hong Chia Lor (as the road was called in Hokkien).
“I started helping my father at the stall when I was 12 years old and he taught me all the recipes he learnt from my grandfather,” she said.
Wan Kin, now 64, never knew her grandfather so she did not know what his name was or where he learnt the recipe for lor bak.
“I only knew he was selling lor bak before my father was born and my father grew up learning how to make lor bak and helping him at the stall,” she said.
She believes that their lor bak recipe and their family business could well be over 100 years old. Her father Khay Chye, who was born in Penang, died in 2008 but she never did ask him about the history of their stall.
They shifted their stall again from Brick Kiln Road to a narrow side lane, Trang Road, when hawker stalls along the main road were relocated to make way for the construction of Komtar back in 1974.
“I helped at and operated the stall for almost 50 years. I decided to retire about three years ago so now my niece is the one operating it,” she said.
Today, 28-year-old Quah Chiew Guat runs the stall at the hawker site just behind Gama Supermarket.
The lor bak stall continues to be known as “Neoh Khay Chye Low Bak” with its original signage still attached to a pole next to it.
Quah said she too has been helping her grandfather and aunt at the stall since young and when her aunt decided to retire, she agreed to take over.
“I’ve been doing this for many years... after school I’d come here to help so I am used to this and I know all the recipes. That’s why I decided to take over,” she said.
The lor bak stall does not only offer a wide variety of deep-fried fritters, beancurd, fish balls, Chinese sausages and sausages, it also has the rarely found braised pig’s head skin along with boiled octopus, hard boiled eggs and century eggs.
“We use to have braised pig’s ears too but nowadays, not many people order that and it is not easy to come by so we only offer pig’s head skin,” she said.
She said these are traditional delicacies that were very popular during the 1940s up to the Eighties but the demand has declined over the years when many of the younger generation don’t appreciate such delicacies anymore.
Quah now sells lor bak at the stall in Trang Road in the afternoons before moving to another stall at the 888 Hokkien Mee coffee shop along Presgrave Street at night.
Neoh Khay Chye Low Bak Stall
Trang Road (behind Gama Supermarket)
Time: 1pm-5.30pm (Wednesdays-Sundays)
888 Hokkien Mee Coffee Shop
(Closed on Tuesdays)
Macallum Street Night Market
Only on Mondays