As usual, 2:30pm to 3:00pm is a good time to spot the outstanding restaurants. By 2:30pm, the lunch time is over, most average restaurants will have few, if any customers at all. If a restaurant is still buzzing with customers at 2:30 to 3:00pm, it usually means that the food is good.
Freshly topped up spread of fresh ingredients.
So, Ah Huang 亞方 caught our eye because the restaurant was still humming with activity at 2:30pm and fresh ingredients for the soup were still being brought out and topped up. Usually, by 2:30pm, most average restaurants would be packing their fresh ingredients back to the fridge.
When I asked the boss how come his shop is so popular, his reply, "I've been doing the same thing for over 40 years." It's that simple?! Just give the customers the same old wholesome food they are used to and they will be back for more?
MR Ang has been making kway teow thng for 40 years
Actually, it only sounds simple. Usually, keeping to the old traditional ways of making a dish is tedious, labour intensive and time consuming, and expensive. The old way means fresh ingredients, use of manual labour and hand tools, and long preparation hours. Expertise and skills are also getting scarcer as the young are not taking over the baton. Also, most recipes are implicit knowledge and when memories fade so do the recipes. But, there is simply no shortcuts to the good old traditional tastes and flavours.
So, how was Ah Huang's Teochew Kway Teow soup?
Simple kway teow or noodles in simple soy sauce based gravy. The winner here was their fried shallot crackles. Hand cut and freshly fried at the shop every day.
Completely different in taste from those brittle, tasteless, wood chip-like ones mass produced and bought from wholesalers. Each little bit of Ah Huang's fried shallot was like a taste sparkler. I am still thinking of it, as I wrote this.
The clear soup was robust with flavours from the bone and seafood stock. However, the soup was a tad salty and too oily for me, especially with the bits of minced pork fat floating in the broth. But, I do appreciate that this is the old way and it had always been like this.
Perfectly done kidney - one of the hardest meats to cook correctly
The ingredients were all super fresh and expertly blanched. Not raw and not overcooked, scooped out just at the point where the hot broth brought out the natural sweetness of the ingredients like liver, kidneys, prawns, abalone, squid, fish, fish maw and so on.
Come again? Definitely. Ah Huang stands quietly and proudly with the other old established names in Teochew kway teow thng in "Little Swatow" i.e. Johor Bahru.
Besides the staple kway teow soup, Ah Huang also serves pomfret porridge which I would like to try at the next visit.
Address: 16, Jalan Teratai 8, Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Hours: 7:00am to 3:00pm (closed on Tuesday)
Date visited: 26 Sep 2012