Ah Jik, as he has been fondly referred to by our family, has been selling Teo Chew porridge and economy rice for more than 30 years now. (Comeson Restaurant @ Jalan Yau Tet Shin)
Some, if not most of us would associate Teo Chew cuisine with porridge. Paired with salted egg, salted fish, salted pork, pickled mustard, canned dace with black beans and various seemingly over-processed/preserved foodstuff.
But in reality, Teo Chew dishes are more varied than the bland porridge with intensely-flavoured condiments we have all come to associate them for.
For instance, the Teo Chew folks love to steam their fishes, braise their meats (less robust compared to the Hokkiens' style of braising though), and poach their chicken. Occasionally, they do stir-fry and deep-fry their items, yet this seems less common and only reserved for certain signatures like the tasty Or Chien (oyster omelette) and Salted Fish with Pork Patties.
Chilled skin from the pig's head; another alternate rendition is the famous pork jelly made from the legs of the swine. (Teo Chiew Restaurant @ Maxwell Road)
In good old Ipoh, the majority of the Chinese restaurants serve Cantonese style of cooking, sporadically intermittent with outlets specializing in Hakka food. But Hokkien and Teo Chew style of eateries are lesser in comparison. Yet, not to indicate that the few in town are not good.
Far from the truth really.
Situated in one unassuming, humble corner diagonally opposite of the two famous bean sprouts chicken outlets in town; Lou Wong and Onn Kee, Ah Jik has been passionately dishing up his fan favourites; steamed fish Teo Chew style, batter-coated fried pork patties with salted fish, and sometimes chili crabs at extremely reasonable prices.
For more than three decades now, his stall at Comeson Restaurant opens only for lunch, and the dishes fly off the counter literally, vanishing within an hour or two. Come during the peak hours and bear witness to the power of the hungry souls.
Salted Fish Pork Patties @ Fay Loo Restaurant, Osborne Street
For dinner, you can't go wrong with Teo Chiew Restaurant in the quaint neighbourhood of Merdeka Garden, off Maxwell Road. The restaurant is actually more famous for their Teo Chew steamboat, especially the signature beef steamboat (an all-beef, carnivorous madness) that requires pre-booking.
Teo Chiew Restaurant serves a myriad of quality Teo Chew cooking as well, as evident from their claypot Kai Lan dish, or the chilled pig's head skin classic. Or even the steamed pumpkin stuffed with braised pork with dried shrimps and peanuts. Everything here screams authenticity, with most of the dishes they recommend you cannot find anywhere else.
Another option for dinner would be Fay Loo Restaurant in town centre, on Osborne Street. The salted fish minced pork patties here are to die for, while the braised black pomfret with preserved mustard and tomatoes was as homely as a dish can get.
So what if you REALLY are seeking for one traditional Teo Chew porridge stall?
There are a few famous ones, for example Sin Hup Heng Chaozhou on Theatre Street, Yew Ming in old town of Ipoh, and Jack Fah Restaurant along Anderson Road of Ipoh. At these stalls, you can expect plain porridge or even with sweet potatoes, served with salted eggs, braised pig offals and other meats, canned mustard greens and stewed pork, or even a piece of salted fish or two.
Teochew Porridge & Rice Stall (Ah Jik’s) @ Comeson Restaurant & Hotel
50, Jalan Yau Tet Shin,
30300 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Business hours : Mon-Fri – 11am – 3pm, closed on weekends
*At the cross junction where Lou Wong's and Onn Kee's famous bean sprout chicken restaurants are located.
TEO CHIEW RESTAURANT
No. 10-Q, Jalan Tun Abdul Razak (Maxwell Road)
30100 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel No : +605-506 3299
Business Hours : 10am – 2.30pm, 5pm – 12am
Closed on Tuesdays
FAY LOO RESTAURANT
A7, Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar (Osborne Street)
30300 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel No : -605-255 7642
Business hours : 6pm – 3am daily, until 4am on Saturdays.
Off days not fixed.
SIN HUP HENG CHAOZHOU RESTAURANT
91, Jalan Theatre,
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Tel: +6012-502 3116 or +6012-519 8377
Business Hours : Open from 10.30 a.m.-4.00 p.m.
Closed 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.
JACK FAH RESTAURANT
No. 3, 5, the street between Jalan Raja Musa Aziz
and Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar (Osborne Street)
Opens for lunch and dinner. Closed on Sundays.