Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Ipoh Town

Early September, we received a packaged sent through courier service from Guan Heong Biscuit, a biscuit shop in Ipoh Perak that was established in 1918 by the Mr. Sitt Kun Shan. After being first approached by their 4th generation proprietor in waiting in mid-August to sample and write about their traditional and hand-made signature biscuits and their Hokkien and Teochew mooncakes, we were eager to experience them especially after knowing that they are 5 years shy of being a century old and still being run by the descendants of Sitt Kun Shan. Part of our conservation work is to encourage the younger generations to inherit and carry on the various trades that made up the heritage and culture of what Malaysia was built on.

Mr. Sitt Kun Shan, who was born and brought up in a baker’s family from Zhen Jiang, China, came to Malaya during the third wave of mass human migration in the early 19th century from China, where there was turmoil and displacement. Leaving behind the land he once calls home, he made his way to Malaya (now Malaysia) during an era of economic boom due to tin mining. And in 1918, Sitt Kun Shan established Guan Heong, the first bakery shop in Ipoh New Town. The name Guan Heong roughly translates to “original flavours” from Hokkien, to serve original and high quality tasting pastry to customers. And it is this philosophy that guides this age old Chinese bakery business until the present day to continue present fresh pastry using high quality ingredients, no artificial flavouring and most importantly hand-made. Currently, Guan Heong is being manned by its third generation proprietor, Sitt Hock Lye who inherited it from Sitt You Zhu.

Guan Heong produces and sells Heong Pheah, Pong Pheah, Salted Tau Sar Pheah, peanut candy, sweet sesame crispies, sweet rice crispies, Lo Poh Peang (wedding biscuits) and mooncakes amongst many. Their traditional Hokkien and Teochew mooncakes were once featured by the The Star newspaper back in the year 2007. But through the efforts of its current third generation proprietor, Sitt Hock Lye with his better half further diversify their product range by including Meat Floss Biscuit, Dried Meat Biscuit, pineapple rolls and nutty cookies some 10 year ago (2003), which have further further carved out a name for Guan Heong in and around Ipoh.

Their signature biscuit series include  the Floss with Lotus Paste, Floss with Lotus Pastes and Salted Egg and Dried Pork a.k.a Bakkwa, which shares a similar pastry base that is layered, puffed and flaky. If the biscuits were to be warmed up in a preheated oven for at least 7.5 minutes it would have crisp texture. The oven should be fired up to 170 degrees C for 5 minutes, before loading the biscuits in it with the power (heater) off for 7.5 to 10 minutes. As for the fillings, each individual variation has their own distinctive flavour profile on top of the sweet and savoury taste combination, and Guan Heong are not stingy on the generosity of the fillings. They run out of stock easily, so to avoid disappointment call to book them for pick-up or have them delivered to your doorstep, minimum order 6 boxes with a postal charge of RM 12.60 (depending on prevailing rates).

Floss with Lotus Paste biscuit, filled to brim with savoury sweet meat floss and fragrant lotus paste that balances in terms of sweetness and savouriness. 

Floss with Lotus Pastes and Salted Egg biscuit, filled with “pandan” scented earthy lotus paste, meaty sweet floss and rich and creamy sandy salted duck egg yolk. The egg yolk delivers a rich and exotic taste into the biscuit.

Bak Kua (Chinese pork jerky slices) biscuit, sweet and smoky slices of pork jerky with a hint of meatiness plastered with conventional lotus paste and encased in a crisp and earthy pastry.

Apart from their signature biscuits, we were also introduced to their traditional Hokkien and Teochew mooncakes which are available not only during the mid-autumn festivities but all year round, however pre-ordering is required. Their Hokkien Mooncake has a crusty pastry topped with sesame seeds and filled with winter melon, melon seeds, nuts, dried orange peel, fried shallots and flavoured with Chinese five spice. It was sweet and tangy with a hint of nuttiness, but at the same time with a bit savouriness from the five spice.

Teochew Mooncake on the other hand has a puffy and layered pastry filled with the similar ingredients as of the Hokkien mooncake except there is no Chinese Five Spice. Contributing the savouriness into the Teochew mooncake is the ‘Mui Choy’ (Chinese preserved salted vegetable). It is sweet and savoury with a sticky filling inside, and fragrant and flaky outside.

Both the Hokkien and Teochew mooncakes require an acquired taste by some extend to really enjoy the flavours and texture of the two, but the flavours grow with every bite. For those who are less adventurous, you could try their more common mooncakes which are available for mid-autumn festival. One of these mooncakes is the Shanghainese Mooncake with a reduced sweetness to meet the health-conscious trend, the mooncakes stands out because the pastry case is crumbly like that of a soft crust pineapple tart, and less greasy as compared to the usual mooncake pastry. The fillings inside include sweet earthy lotus paste, nutty melon seeds and rich and salty fragrant salted duck egg yolk.

Other than these exotic mooncakes, Guan Heong also makes and bakes classic flavoured mooncakes like lotus paste, mixed nuts, red bean, etc.  This year, they have developed some new varieties for this year’s mid-autumn (Mooncake) festival, which includes Bak Kua with lotus, red dates, etc.

To avoid disappointment, visit them early or call them to book your favourite mooncakes before they run out of stock for this season as they are all manually hand-made to preserve their pastry making traditions. Guan Heong caters to postal deliveries to place all over Peninsular Malaysia, we had ours delivered to our doorstep well packaged to ensure no contamination of sorts.

 

Guan Heong Biscuit Shop
No.160, Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street)
30000 Ipoh, Perak
Tel: 05-241 2399 / 016-535 6990 / 017-573 6277
GPS: N4 35.601 E101 05.026
Business hours: Mondays to Saturdays 9am to 7pm & Sundays 9.30am to 3pm
 
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Continuing on the trip that we took during the Raya week, we were in Ipoh again on the 26th of September on the way to Setiawan for a birthday dinner.  We actually planned to arrive before lunch to try out some new places, but we could not make it on time. Thus, we had to have a late lunch pit stop at an eatery which we I and Gill are not foreign to, Ah Yee . It used to be on Jalan Theater, but have finally settled in this newly acquired shop unit just a turn away from ‘Thong Sui Kai’ or desert street.

With my sister and brother-in-law with us, we were able to order more dishes to try this time. We ordered ‘Black Vinegar Pork Trotters’, ‘Terrapin Soup’, ‘Stir Fried Bitter Gourd with Roast Pork’ and ‘Stir Fry Mutton with ginger and scallion’. The total bill came to around RM 80 which is quite expensive to my standard. The last time we visited this eatery the prices were also similarly expensive, the only reason we went back is for their exotic menu and the quality of its dishes. The current trip was a bit of a disappointment for us as the taste and flavour of the dishes were lacking.

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The Black Vinegar Port Trotter was overly sweet with very little sourness and the portion was limited.

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Terrapin Soup was very light and had little herb taste. It was not as appetising as what we had experience before when he was still operating at Jalan Theater.

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The Stir Fried Bitter Gourd and Roast Pork was the acceptable dish for this occasion.

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The Stir Fry Mutton was over cooked and the meat have not absorbed the flavours of the ingredients. We guess the meat was pre-cooked which can explain for the dry and tart mutton meat.

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The overall experience for this occasion at Ah Yee would only be 2.5 out of 5.

After Ah Yee, we head to Lorong Pasir Pinji 5 for our dose of ‘Chee Cheong Fun’ but is was closed. I spoke to uncle who is always seen in the kitchen making the ‘chee cheong fun’, he told me that since early in the year they would rest on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. And he has started to limit take-aways to a maximum of 30 packets per person to relief those who have to endure the wait for dine-in.

With the ‘chee cheong fun’ closed, we had no choice but  take a pit stop at the famous ‘Big Tree Young Liu’, or I should say once famous. Before it redevelop the place into what it is now, it used to be an old wooden house with some stalls infront selling the specialty ‘yong liu’ or fish paste stuffed snacks. After the disappointment at Ah Yee, we are again faced with the same agony at this ‘Big Tree’ place. The soup base and ‘yong liu’ have all lost their shine. I guess development is not always for the better of man.

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The experience at the ‘Big Tree Foot Yeung Liu’ was dropped tremendously, they would get 2 out of 5 from my judgement.

Luckily the day did not ended with another disappointment. As my brother-in-law wanted to visit a place that they visited many years ago some near the Ipoh stadium, we went around searching and finally found the stretch of food stalls that are divided into 2 division, one group for day time and the other for night time. It was a new unexplored place for me and Gill, thus we walked around and saw many people enjoying their tea break at this area. Our walk got us noticing these 2 particular, ‘Low Kwan’ and the one next to it.

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‘Low Kwan’ sells ‘Rojak’ or mixed fruits salad, ‘Sotong Bakar’ or BBQ Squid, ‘Kerang Rebus’ or Poach Cockles and ‘Sotong Rebus’ or Poach Squid. We had their ‘Rojak’ as we noticed many order were coming from their stall. It did not disappoint us, the ‘Rojak’ was filled with the bitter sweet taste and pungent aroma of our local shrimp paste or ‘har ko’. The cut fruits were naturally sweet and fresh too. To our surprise it also have in the plate, strands of ‘oung choi’ or water spinach.

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For refreshments, we ordered ‘Ai Yu Ping’ or shaved ice with lemon and corn jelly and ‘ice kacang’ or ice shavings with sugar syrups and red beans. The ‘Ai Yu Ping’ was tangy and sweet which was good pick-up for hot lazy afternoon. The sourness of the lemon juice and the sweet syrup was well balanced.

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The ‘ice kacang’ we had was drenched in palm sugar as requested with lots of evaporated milk to make it rich and creamy. In fact it was even better some of the ‘ice kacang’ stalls in Penang.

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The ‘chee cheong fun’ that we had came from another stall just 3 stalls away from ‘Low Kwan’. The chee cheong fun was silky smooth and tasted standard, but it lack some firmness.

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The overall experience at the stretch of food courts next to the Ipoh stadium was not bad, I would give it a 3.6 out of 5.

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Last week we had to travel down south to Kuala Lumpur, then Setiawan, then again to KL and back to Penang for work and personal matter. And as usual we would take our time to savour or at least try something which is foreign to our taste bauds. The drive down was a bit off scheduled, thus we did not had any major meals in Ipoh, just some bits and pieces along the way.

First stop, Funny Mountain Soya Bean Curd and Milk shop near to Jalan Theatre in Ipoh town. This particular shop has been in the print media and online media for quite sometime, but we only had the opportunity to try it for the first time on that faithful day.

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The soya bean curd or ‘taufu fah’ is still kept and served from the wooden barrel like the old days. The bean curd was very smooth, until I could not sense any form of firm texture. The soya bean curd also lack that distinctive beanie and earthy fragrant and taste. And the sugar syrup was nothing to boast about too. But then again, who am I to criticise about it when it has been on the news because of its uniqueness.  The usual ‘taufu fah’ that I have had although is not as smooth, it still had body, the light fragrance of the soya beans and the earthy nutty taste. Syrup wise, it would be either pandan scented clear sugar syrup or the common palm sugar. Oh, another experience! The proprietor or worker was bit arrogant at first before I took out my DSLR. He really annoyed my Gill Gill.

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Not feeling satisfied, we headed, truthfully, I headed to another ‘taufu fah’ shop that may have just ‘pop-out’ just a corner’s walk away.  It seems that there are many me-too business that have begun operating in the Ipoh. I guess the Chinese saying “Pigs are scared to be fat” is true. Not only Funny Mountain has its work cut-out, even the Au Keng Lim bake salted chicken is facing stiff competition from newly set-up salted chicken shops and stalls around its own turf.

The next ‘taufu fah’ shop that I went to was ‘Lai Kei Soya’. The bean curd had more body but still lack the fragrant and taste, but the sugar syrup was a tad better. They have at least a choice of 3, palm sugar (gula Melaka), plain ‘pandan’ sugar syrup and ginger sugar syrup. I had the ginger syrup which was quite strong and spicy. At ‘Lai Kei’ they emphasise that their soya bean curds do not contain gypsum powder. Gypsum is a very soft mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is use to coagulate the soya bean milk to make the curds. In Asian society it used to be a major source of dietary calcium.

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After the pit stop in Ipoh  town, we headed to Menglembu in search of the coffee shop that I used to patronise for the famous Ipoh White Coffee, ‘Meng Meng Kee’. But to our untimeliness, the shop has only closed for the day. A check with its neighbor, they told me that the coffee is not as good as before. May be on my next trip, I would have to sample the white coffee one more time to be sure.

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Thus, a drive to the near by ‘makan’ spot was needed before we continue our journey to KL. For this, we went to the ‘Wai Sek Kai’ near Jalan Lahat and found ‘Michael Home Made Noodle’. What actually attracted my attention was first the sign saying it was home made noodles and the pungent aroma of boiling anchovies base soup. It is one of the traditional recipes of making ‘wantan’ noodles’ soup stock. The wantan noodles were springy and crunchy, but the ‘dry’ sauce was just average. The soup was sweet and fragrant, and the wantan was quite good. In whole the experience was comforting.

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After the plate of comforting noodles and the bowl of soothing wantan and soup, we continued with our journey to KL. After we reach KL, we immediately went off to delivered the ‘ta pau’ baked salted chicken from ‘Au Kheng Lim. After that it was off to ‘Rocket United Cafe’ in PJ SS2 for a very late dinner.

Yea, The DAP “Rocket United Cafe”, First Political Party’s Concept Cafe in Malaysia!

Stay tune…

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Hoy Tin Lau @ Ipoh, Perak

Posted by gill gill On July - 19 - 20084 COMMENTS

This is my second trip to Pangkor, not for holiday, but is to attend Jason’s relative wedding ceremony instead. We decided to visit our friend in Ipoh, when on the way down to Pangkor. So I’ve done my homework – to hunt for ipoh food among the food blogs, or else we will miss ipoh food again!…heee.

Hurray! I’ve finally found one interesting & mouthwatering food, is “Sar Keong Chicken” from Hoy Tin Lau were posted by Motormouth – Ipoh food blogger (j2kfm.blogspot.com). The chicken looks delicious, and we both agreed to go for it! So we contacted our local friend and ask for direction.

We nearly lost the opportunity, because we arrived ipoh were almost 2pm – noon session is going to close soon. We faster called up our friend and asked her go to “Hoy Tin Lau” and checked were they still open at that time.

Lucky! We were the second last table before the kitchen close. After the “Rush Hour”, is time to enjoy the food!

Before we start to the food topic, I have to mentioned about the waitress (probably is the ladyboss) was not friendly, black face indeed. Little rude in the way asking for the order. When ever we faced this situation…we will show our black face too… In Chinese called ” 以牙还牙”… lol

Hello, we pay for the food ok?! We are not begging you! Just wondering why, do they really understand how to operate a food business? How would your customer feels, and will they come back again? At the end, who loss?

Anyway, don’t care la…just enjoy the food to release our tention. Let see, what we’ve ordered…

Sar Keong Chicken “沙姜鸡”
The chicken lightly roasted in golden color, served with churchy jelly fish and a plate of finely chopped Sar Keong (a type of ginger). The meat is tender but its abit salty. Remember to eat it with the Sar Keong, or else you won’t taste the different with other roasted chicken….lol. And I don’t feel the jelly fish is a good combination for this dish. The soury covered the chicken taste. Although is special, but the Jellyfish is not a necessary item to put into it. I personally would prefer how would the Sar Keong taste better for the chicken. The Sar Keong couldn’t plays the part, its because it was finely chopped only. I would suggest the best way to prepare the Sar Keong is to finely chop and mash, marinate in oil OR lightly sauté in oil to bring the sar keong flavour out. From there you can get the strongger Sar Keong taste.

Food Taste: 6.5

3 Yolks Steam Egg “三黄蛋”
A normal plate of steam egg….and was below par! Their eggs is over cooked and tasteless.
Food Taste: 4

Stir Fry Mixed Vege “清炒杂菜”
Oh, their vege has mixed with asparagus and celery, can taste Chinese wine and wok hei. Not bad.
Food Taste: 6

Claypot Goose Feet cook with Salted Fish “咸鱼鹅掌煲”
I doubt that was goose feet, i’d rather believe it is duck feet instead. The sauce is quite alright, but there is nothing you can suck from the feet! Did you see the picture? All is TULANG! Pretty tought and hard to pulled the skin out from the feet, at the end, we surrendered! just to suck the sauce from the feet!!!! It was damn expensive (RM20+) and ate nothing…$#%$%&^ pretty unhappy with this dish.
Food Taste: 4


Shops located in the middle of Ipoh Garden East-Bercham.

Rating 0-10
Food Taste: 6
Environment: 3 (dirty…find out their kitchen and bathroom!)
Service: 3
Price: 3 (pricey for ipoh and penang standard too)

Recommend: Ermmm….

Sar Keong Chicken

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