Battle of the Fragrant Biscuits #2

Heading back up to Ipoh in March this year, I acquired another batch of heong peah to attempt another battle. It’s been six years since the first.

The contestants in this round are Sin Eng Hoe, Sin Eng Heong, Lam Fong and Ching Han Guan. Are Eng Hoe and Eng Heong related? Who knows? We’re just going to go on taste here.

The only repeat from the previous lot (unplanned) is the sample from Sin Eng Heong. But even that has a different packet and the biscuit looks slightly different.

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Chicken Biscuit fight

There’s another famous biscuit that comes from Perak, and it’s the chicken biscuit.

It contains zero real chicken, but has all the beauty of chicken flavouring. It also contains nam yu, a type of red coloured fermented bean curd, sesame seeds, sugar, maltose, winter melon, spices and a healthy dose of lard. It’s a far cry from the salty Western option in the form of Nabisco’s Chicken in a Biscuit.

Inside detail of Pun Chun's thick and chewy chicken biscuit.
Inside detail of Pun Chun's thick and chewy chicken biscuit.

The chicken biscuit comes in two forms, a thick and chewy one, and the thin and crispy one.

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Battle of the Fragrant Biscuits

Heong Peah, Heong Peng, Pong Peah, Biskut Wangi – whatever way you call it, it means fragrant biscuit and it refers to the flaky local biscuit that’s filled with a sticky, chewy filling of maltose, onions and sesame seeds.

In Ipoh, famous for its heong peah, there are plenty of brands and it’s not always clear which is the best tasting. So when I was there, I took the opportunity to pick up a few brands of heong peah.

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Eating in Cameron Highlands

As we wanted to visit Ipoh after visiting Taman Negara, we took the road through Kuala Lipis and Gua Musang, right through the centre of Malaysia.

It was exciting for me, as I’ve driven up and down the North South Highway, the coastal roads on both the East and West coast, the East West Highway that skirts the border between Thailand and Malaysia, but never this way.

The drive was great, the roads wonderful and clear. A new road connects Gua Musang to Cameron Highlands and Ipoh. Ipoh is now only an hour or less away, depending on how fast you like to take the curves.

It’s been over 20 years since I’ve been to Cameron Highlands and the transformation has been radical and typically haphazard and sometimes, not very pretty.

Tea plantations of Cameron Highlands
Tea plantations of Cameron Highlands

Still, Cameron Highlands has much to offer to tourists who like farms, cacti, honey, strawberries and relief from the sweltering heat.

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Yong Tau Foo at Chan Chan Restaurant

It’s been over 20 years since I’ve had yong tau foo in Ampang, KL.

All I remember from my dusty childhood memories are of the massive traffic jams, our journey of over 2 hours, the oppressive heat, the difficult parking, the waiting for tables, the really crispy wantans crackling in hot soup and the boiled sugar cane water.

Looking back, I wonder if we were just gluttons for punishment. Did it require so much time, effort and energy to get there that everything tasted damn good after that?

I don’t think so. All you have to do is to compare the Singapore version of Ampang yong tau foo – tired and small portions, drenched in oil – and remember that real good yong tau foo tastes quite different. The stuff you get in food courts is absolutely dreadful. No wonder one has to drown it in sauce.

Fortunately, besides Ampang, you can now fight traffic in the other direction and get to Kepong.

Kepong, in the northwest part of Kuala Lumpur, has become an area famous for not just good, but cheap Chinese food.

I’ve had good Ulu Yam noodles in this area, and now, for the second time, I got the chance to eat the yong tau foo at Chan Chan Restaurant. It’s been five years since my first visit and it is good.

Dumplings and Tau Foo
Dumplings and Tau Foo

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Braised Duck Rice and Porridge in PJ

Braving the rain, I returned to the centre of Petaling Jaya to revisit a duck stall that I hadn’t eaten at in over 5 years.

The good news is, Kan Heong Restaurant in PJ, is still excellent.

Juicy and succulent braised duck at Kan Heong Restaurant
Juicy and succulent braised duck at Kan Heong Restaurant

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Malaysian and Taiwanese Beef Jerky

I love beef jerky.

Dried meat, full of concentrated beef flavour and just enough herbs and spices to enhance the flavour.

On my recent trips to the US, I had the opportunity to have not just beef jerky, but elk, bison and other exotic meats. Elk, while more gamey made a jucier jerky.

While the jerky in the US is salty and readily available, ours is sweet, sometimes spicy and quite difficult to find.

So I was very excited to receive two packets of Taiwanese Beef Jerky from a friend – a spicy version and a sweet one, both from the same company. As I’ve never been to Taiwan, I’ve no idea if this is the most popular brand.

Since I also purchased some beef jerky for Malaysia a couple of weeks back, I decided it’s time to rip open all the packets and compare both types of beef jerky.

The difference is night and day. Continue reading “Malaysian and Taiwanese Beef Jerky”

Lunar New Year Yu Sheng dish

This being the 15th and last day of the Lunar New Year, I thought it’d be good to talk about the wonderful dish of Yu Sheng, Yee Sang, Lo Hei, or whatever else you may call it.

To me, it’s always been a special treat to have the dish, best described as a raw fish salad, that has significantly more salad than raw fish. So much such that the fish is hardly discernable, unless it is not absolutely fresh.

Traditionally, Yu Sheng is not eaten till the 7th day of new year. So you could only have it 8 days out of 365 days. How special was that? Continue reading “Lunar New Year Yu Sheng dish”