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Ipoh Famous Traditional Heong Peng @ Gunung Rapat – 189 vs Seng Kee
If you do not mind the extra miles taken to grab something of sentimental values, worthy of your effort (satisfaction guaranteed) of venturing all the way into the residential area of Gunung Rapat in Ipoh, then by all means, you can stop at Seng Kee Trading.

189 Yat Pat Gao
Good Rejects? – Just like an abundance of GOLD; a tray full of irresistible Heong Peng (fragrant biscuits) will just have to do for now. And who cares if the biscuits were not of top notch quality?

189 Yat Pat Gao
To make Heong Peng of uniformed sizes and of the right texture, with a standardized dollop of molasses; this takes skills.

Seng Kee Tradind sticks to eateries and confectioneries that still pride on their original roots; the most authentic of flavours can only be savoured if you’re using charcoal to fry your noodles, charred claypots to cook your claypot chicken rice, and nothing beats ‘heong peng’ (or heong peah) broiled in a specially constructed cement contraption fuelled by coconut husk.

189 Yat Pat Gao
Flattened dough with the sweet, caramelized filling intact, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top before the broiling process in the special ‘ovens’.

You willmildly in disbelief when informed about this Seng Kee Trading that still makes their heong peng in their most stripped down, traditional manner. For I have not been a die-hard fan of heong peng any longer since my favourite Yee Hup shifted gears and moved to the realms of commercialization and mass production.

Baking the biscuits in an electronic oven produces generic, hardened pastries with a serious lack of character and aroma.

189 Yat Pat Gao
Watch in amazement (and perspire to no ends) how the biscuits get all browned, flaky and crispy within 15 minutes of being broiled in the hollowed cement contraption.

But that was more than a year ago. Seng Kee has been top pick whenever friends, relatives, strangers and readers asked about good biscuits to take home, aside from kaya puffs from Sin Eng Heong and meat floss biscuits from Ching Han Guan.

189 Yat Pat Gao
Yat Pat Gao (189 in Cantonese) has been around for about 2 decades now, and among the more popular brands of Gunung Rapat classic homemade heong peng.

You should try their packet of 189 Heong Peng and they’re selling them at their shop, aside from the many other biscuits and confectioneries there. Of course, if you can’t get a box of their insanely popular kaya puff, you can still settle for the other selections there.

The brand simply named ’189′ has been in business for about two decades now, significantly longer than Seng Kee, yet shorter than Yee Hup. Never one that pushes for intensive/aggressive marketing measures, the brand lays low and comes only to the knowledge of the privileged few.

For one, you don't even know about 189 until you have succumbed to the lure of Seng Kee. And then the other brands surfaced which the other brand being 362 on the main road of Gunung Rapat.

189 Yat Pat Gao
Completely embracing the essence of homemade; the heong peng from Gunung Rapat can’t get any more authentic than this.

The acid test of a good heong peng? The flaky/crispy crust must be in a slightly oblong shape; slanting towards one end, and the pastry should stay crispy even after exposure to air. And don’t forget that droolworthy, sticky and sweet filling within; a combination of molasses, shallots, etc preferably not in a cloyingly sweet manner.

189 passed the test with flying colours. The crust may not be as crispy as Seng Kee’s, but definitely flakier and suits the elderly more. But the icing on the cake? The absolutely enticing fillings within. With a slight crunch from the caramelization, the liquid hardened to a layer of molasses permeated with the fragrance of shallots.

189 Yat Pat Gao
This has never been easy; as claimed by the boss of Seng Kee. About 150 pieces go in at one time, but some of the biscuits don’t stick and fell to the surface below. 15 minutes should be enough for the biscuits to get browned and ready for consumption.

But if you’re one who detests sweet stuff, and prefer your heong peng with a lower sugar content (read : less filling) then Seng Kee might be your preference. And Seng Kee does a crunchier crust with lesser filling, but still satisfying nonetheless.

189 Yat Pat Gao
Stacked up on the wooden platforms and ready to get baked.

At the end of the day, there can never be one sole winner in this one. And some still prefer Yee Hup’s aesthetically-pleasant creations boosted with an international recognition now. I am proud too, being a true blue Ipohan; to be seeing brands like Yee Hup and Old Town going the distance.

And then there will be the detractors, with preferences for heong peng from Teluk Intan or Taiping.

Gerai Makanan Dan Minuman Rahamath
Know why the odd shapes of the traditional heong peng? The baking/broiling process submits the dough to gravity’s force, pulling down the fillings within. Hence you get lopsided shapes with the molasses filling accumulated at one end.

Gerai Makanan Dan Minuman Rahamath
Don’t judge the biscuits from the exterior. Though these ones from 189 were rejects, so to speak.

Gerai Makanan Dan Minuman Rahamath
The sweet fillings alone made it worth the effort.

189 (Yat Pat Gao Enterprise)
189, Lorong Gunung Rapat 5,
31350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel: 6016-560 9781 (Lew), 605-312 7033

Seng Kee Food Trading
177, Lorong Gunung Rapat 3,
Gunung Rapat, 31350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel: 605-312 0972. H/P No : 6012-507 0728

Seng Kee and 189 are situated almost back to back, so you can go for both and witness their production of the biscuits, buy few bags back and compare if you want
article and photo by Motormouth From Ipoh  |  Permalink
The opinion mentioned in the article above is solely based on reviewers' (individually or collectively) taste buds and observation. It may vary for other individuals and does not reflect FoodStreet's opinion.
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