I was doing my food spotting rounds at the new shoplots at Jalan Gaya 1 at Taman Gaya when I stumbled upon Nan Bei 南北 Restoran - a simple shop/stall that serves tung po rou 东坡肉 or braised belly pork, braised duck and chicken rice. But, what caught my attention was the tung po rou, which is normally found only in well appointed restaurants.
Actually, I was a little too early at the shop as the tung po rou was not ready for the day's business yet. So, I came back the next day as I was curious about how good the tung po rou might be, and I was eager to share my new find with readers.
We ordered just one piece of tung po rou to try. The set of one piece of tung po rou and rice costs RM7. Allan, the owner told us that the set may cost a bit more if the piece of braised pork is larger.
Allan's mother who is also at the shop makes the tung po rou using fresh pork everyday with a family recipe.
I was pleased with Nan Bei's tung po rou. The braising sauce was light, had a mild savoury flavour and tasted just right, and was not overly salty.
Pardon the cliché but the fat and skin were literally "melt in your mouth" tender. It was rich and smooth, almost like a cream with a smokey, sweet, savoury flavour. This was what made tung po rou so irresistible to me.
The lean meat was also tender but it would have been absolutely perfect for me, if it had been even softer. Others, however, felt that the lean meat was "tender enough".
Expert foodies say that the ultimate tung po rou is about the creamy, smokey, savoury layer of "melt in your mouth" pork fat. The meat is just a side show. I think this is what they are talking about.
If you want to have very good tung po rou for lunch or early dinner at a reasonable price, then Nan Bei is well worth a try.
Restaurant name: Nan Bei Restoran 南北
Address: 68, Jalan Gaya 1, Taman Gaya
Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm (Closed on Sunday)
Date visited: 16 Jan 2013