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Eating Up Sitiawan @ Sitiawan
The mere mention of Sitiawan evokes memories of fresh seafood @ Kampung Cina, Foo Chow-style cooking at Bei King or Lido, the insanely popular James cendol in front of the Indian temple, the Chinese-style of bagels named ‘gong pia’ & even Teochew style Bak Kut Teh coupled with steamed fish head.

For me, revisiting Sitiawan brought to the surface sweet memories of the constant day trips we made back then. Throughout my 3 years tenure of working around Perak, Sitiawan, Teluk Intan and Taiping opened my eyes to an entire different landscape of cuisines and local delicacies that I was kept unaware of while hibernating in Ipoh.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Sweet & Sour Pork (Gu Lou Yuk) Rice @ Restoran Sun Hon Siong, Ayer Tawar

The Foo Chow clan takes pride in whipping up scrumptious sweet and sour cooking; in this case the Sweet & Sour Pork (Gu Lou Yuk) Rice at Restoran Sun Hon Siong @ Ayer Tawar surprised me with perfectly executed batter-coated pork, cucumber and even fried potatoes in a sweet and sour gravy balanced with the right flavours.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Ayer Tawar – A small town you will pass by before reach Sitiawan; along the Lumut highway

This is a story of our 2D/1N excursion to Sitiawan few weeks ago. In line with Visit Perak Year 2012, here’s another travel idea to help you plan that family getaway this holiday season.

Ready for the onslaught of another food and travel extravaganza? Let’s go.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Sun Hon Siong Restaurant

At Sun Hon Siong Restaurant you can drink responsibly. Because they filled up the beer bottles with homemade concoction of brewed barley drink instead.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Sun Hon Siong Restaurant (corner lot houses) along the main road of Ayer Tawar

This corner lot houses Sun Hon Siong Restaurant along the main road of Ayer Tawar. It’s a barely discernible eatery built into an old wooden structure, hence you really have to slow down and take note. Opposite of Public Bank (if I am not mistaken).

Since I was only about to join them for late lunch in Sitiawan as I went back to Ipoh few days earlier, I cruised along the Lumut highway at my leisurely pace; reaching Ayer Tawar within an hour or so.

To reach Sitiawan from Ipoh, you need to take the Lumut highway exiting from Jalan Lahat in Menglembu, or the end of Jalan Pasir Puteh. You will pass by Pusing, Tronoh, Seri Iskandar, Bota and finally Ayer Tawar. A word of caution; just before you reach Ayer Tawar, the speed limit is drastically reduced from 90km/h to 60km/h.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Foo Chow-style braised fried noodles @ Restoran Yee Si at Kampung Koh, Sitiawan

Foo Chow fares @ Restoran Yee Si in Kampung Koh, Sitiawan. The bowl of noodles on the upper left is named “Chao Zhu Mien” a type of Foo Chow-style braised fried noodles with shrimps, pork and fish cake.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Kampung Koh Chili Sauce

Do you know that the original Kampung Koh chili sauce is the one on the left? The almost unheard of brand is called NKJ’s, though the popular one being sold everywhere is Koki (with the iconic chef’s head).

Eating Up Sitiawan
Peanut Pau

At 3.30pm daily, the “Mou Mou” or thousand-layer peanut pau will be churned out. Usually finished within half an hour, it’s advisable to wait from 3pm onwards.

Converging our journeys into a meeting point at Kampung Koh was a practice of timely arrangement and well, accelerated eating. We waited patiently for the “Mou Mou” to be steamed and sold at 3.30pm. Meanwhile, we satiated our hunger with fried noodles, the Foochow braised fried noodles (“Chao Zhu Mien”) and also Yee Si’s other pau’s with fillings of pork and peanut, as well as the plain version of “Mou Mou” eaten with kaya and butter. After my meal in Ayer Tawar and theirs at Choy Kee combined, we were actually stuffed yet willing to compress the space in our stomachs for more.

Talk about dedication. And of course, you can take away the un-steamed pau’s for eating pleasure at home or as souvenirs for the green-eyed monsters.

Eating Up Sitiawan
James Cendol Staff (Near The Store, Sitiawan)

No elaboration necessary for this cendol stall now run by a staff rather than James himself or even his wife. In front of Maha Mariamman temple along Jalan Lumut near to The Store, his legacy has been crafted into history books since 1974. Serving the royalty seemed to be part of his highlights in life, while opening branches (first near Maybank in Bercham, Ipoh, then off Old Klang Road, and finally somewhere in Bangsar, KL) looks to be his next step forward.

The cendol finished at about 4pm. The growling faces of customers lining up in anticipation, only to be fed with announcement that ‘Cendol sudah habis’ was expected. Most settled for the less-popular ABC (ais kacang), while others had to resort to competitor’s / imitator’s.

I still like their soft, wriggly strands of rice flour tainted with a green shade from cendol extract (named ‘cendol’), while the ‘gula melaka’ used in the dessert paled in comparison to Melaka’s or even Penang’s.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Eating Up Sitiawan
Bei King Hotel & Restaurant

Bei King Restaurant; hands down the most famous diner serving Foo Chow delights has moved from its original location to their own premise at Jalan Kg. Selamat within a short distance away. Now a hotel-cum-restaurant, the immense expansion was mind-boggling. From a double-storey corner shoplot to what it is today, Bei King gives the other diner in town.

We ordered several classic Foo Chow dishes; Red Wine Mee Suah, Sweet and Sour Fish Maw, Oyster Omelette and Foo Chow fish and meat balls in a moreish soup laden with cabbages and fried shallots. We also had a serving of Tofu Soup and Chap Chye (mixed vegetables) to balance out the guilt.

The one dish that managed to impress me most was the Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs with Yam and Chinese Pickled Mustard (Zhar Choy). I found this to be a good alternative to Gu Lou Yuk, while the slices of yam and pickled greens added a different dimension to the otherwise generic Pai Kuat Wong-inspired dish. The other dishes mostly faltered to impress the group; possibly not used to Foo Chow fares. I admit that the mee suah and fish maws failed to deliver, while the fish balls and oyster omelette were okay.

The meal's portions were more than sufficient for 6 pax, and we could be paying for the revamped ambience, in any case.

*The red wine (made from red rice, not the usual liquor) at Bei King was made by a pair of ‘sour hands’; a term given to the maker who can produce either a sweet variety or a sour one. Naturally, a pair of ‘sweet hands’ will be better valued as the red wine produced will have that inherently sweet aftertaste.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Kampua Mee @ Kampung Koh Market

The dry version of the noodles with lean pieces of roasted pork was a nice alternative. Especially with a side bowl of asam laksa soup. Here, you eat everything with either the Kampung Koh chili sauce or the thick, sambal condiment on every table. No pickled green chillies though.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Kampung Koh Wet Market

Eating Up Sitiawan
Sitiawan Cheong Cia Gong Pian

Come early, come late. Just be prepared for the wait if you are not here at the right time. But take the chance to observe how these Foo Chow biscuits are made.

Eating Up Sitiawan
How Foo Chow Biscuits are made

Eating Up Sitiawan

Eating Up Sitiawan
Sitiawan Cheong Cia Gong Pian

There have been unresolved disputes and argument on where to find the best gong pian (sometimes termed as gong pia, or kong peng) in Sitiawan. The local folks will champion for the Kampung Koh’s version, while some even mentioned that Ayer Tawar’s gong pian tastes infinitely nicer than Sitiawan Cheong Cia’s.

I have tried one in Kampung Koh (a shop along the same road as the Kampung Koh market), and the one in Ayer Tawar town. And I still go back to this. More story on Sitiawan Cheong Cia Gong Pian here.

That being said, this renowned stall at the back of a corner coffee shop only sells the onion+lard gong pian now. They have stopped producing the ones filled with char siew (minced pork fillings) since 3 years ago.

Eating Up Sitiawan
Hock Chew So Mee Shua Konpian

We parted ways after snacking on Gong Pian. I drove around town to jog my memories of Sitiawan and the incredible impression this town has made throughout the past years. From a newbie to the entire stretch of smaller towns along Lumut highway, to almost an expert when it comes to navigating around Sitiawan-Seri Manjung-Lumut for food, I have more than a few good things to share about this charming place.

And along the stretch of seafood restaurants in Kampung Cina (Ah Pek Lee Kou Hock, and Villa Seafood has moved to the same road), I passed by this house-cum-factory making and selling mee suah.

Eating Up Sitiawan
House-cum-factory making and selling mee suah

The unmistakable sight of handmade noodles resembling cotton threads left to dry under the hot sun stopped me dead in my tracks. I pulled over and got a closer view at the process of making the Sitiawan’s famous noodles.

In the midst of a village populated by the Foo Chow clan, don’t be surprised to see the folks producing these at the backyard of their homes. The special flour for the noodles is difficult to source nowadays, and slightly more expensive than the usual rice flour for other noodles.

The drying process takes roughly an hour or so; and it’s pertinent to ensure that the dried noodles can be kept for a much longer time. The locals use the noodles for all cooking purposes; from cooking in soup to stir-frying. And of course, the iconic dish of Red Wine Mee Suah.

Eating Up Sitiawan

Aside from the production of noodles, I noticed the plastic bag filled with gong pian at one corner. Heavily-studded with sesame seeds and in a non-covered bag, I had no expectation of these as I have had my fair share of hardened pieces of inedible biscuits over the past few experiences.

Yet, I felt compelled to sample at least once. And the lady told me they are filled with pork instead of the usual onion.

I started munching on one in the car and boy, their Gong Pian tasted great! The pastry was soft with a slight crunch, yet not hardened at all. The minced pork fillings presented a savoury touch that left me wanting for more. I bought two and wished that I trusted my instincts more.

9 stops, 2 days. 6 burping souls. Just when you think that travelling locally sounds boring, think again. I am already drafting my plans to cover the other towns in Perak to complete the cycle before 2013.

Restoran Sun Hon Siong
142, Main Road,
Ayer Tawar, Perak.

Opens from 10am – 10pm
Closed alternate Mondays
*Opposite of Public Bank in Ayer Tawar.

Restoran Yee Si
80, Jalan Lin Chen Mei,
Kampung Koh,
Sitiawan, Perak.

Opens from 7.30am – 6pm
(Come around 3pm for the pau’s)
*Next to Maybank in Kampung Koh, Sitiawan

James Cendol
Jalan Lumut.

Opens from 11am – 7pm
*In front of Maha Mariamman Temple. Near to The Store, Sitiawan.

Bei King Hotel & Restaurant
Lot 35535, Taman Desa Selamat,
Jalan Kg Selamat,
32000 Sitiawan, Perak.

Tel No :(605) 691 0253

*From main road of Jalan Raja Omar (same road as old Bei King), turn left in between Alliance Bank and Nissan Showroom. You will be on Jalan Menon. After about 1km, you will see Bei King on your left after the Simpang Ampat church.

Kampung Koh Wet Market
Pasar Awam,
Jalan Simpang Dua,
Kampung Koh, Sitiawan.

Opens from 5am – 6pm.
Closed on Mondays.

Sitiawan Cheong Cia Gong Pian
12, Jalan Tok Perdana,
Sitiawan, Perak.

Tel No : (6019) 558 9288

Opens from 9.30am – 5pm.
*Near to KFC crossroad traffic lights in Sitiawan. Off Jalan Raja Omar, beside a huge yellow building.

Hock Chew So Mee Shua Konpian
No. 117, Kampung Cina,
32000 Sitiawan, Perak

Tel No : (6012) 564 9061
*Same road as Ah Pek Lee Kou Hock and Villa Seafood Restaurant.
article and photo by Motormouth From Ipoh  |  Permalink
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