Sunday, 16 March 2014

JB Food on Foot - Old School Teochew Noodles in Downtown Johor Bahru

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As many of Johor Bahru's Chinese residents are Teochews, the Malaysian city is often referred to as "Little Swatow 小汕头". Swatow in China is the hometown of many of Johor Bahru's early Teochew settlers.

Teochew noodle soup is a favourite everyday comfort meal among Teochews. Today, in Johor Bahru there are many Teochew noodle stalls sprinkled throughout the city.

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In old downtown Johor Bahru, there are still shops that serve old school Teochew noodle soup dishes, the way it is prepared in the days of our grandfathers.

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Jalan Siu Nam, Johor Bahru Town

A short walk from the modern City Square Mall in the direction of Singapore is Lau Tee Teochew Kway Teow Soup 老弟潮州粿条汤 at old Jalan Siu Nam, just next to the Esso petrol station. Lau Tee is a stall inside Hock Chiang Hin Kopitiam 福振兴餐室.

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Lau Tee 老弟 who founded the stall back in 1942 is the father of the current owner, Mr Er.

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Lau Tee's Teochew noodles is served in an old well used plastic bowl with sauce, our choice of noodles (mee pok, mee kia, bee hoon or kway teow), topped with minced pork, lean pork slices, fish cake, fish ball, small shrimps, fried shallot and lard crackles. We can have chili sauce, if we like our noodles spicy.

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My bowl of mee kia after a good toss in the sauce.

The sauce is a fragrant blend of lard, shallot oil and light soy sauce. Mr Er cooks the crunchy noodles just right and the ingredients are all fresh. Teochews are particular about the freshness of their food and like to taste the natural flavours inherent in the ingredients.

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The noodles come with a small bowl of cloudy broth which has good body, smooth mouth feel and a robust savoury prawny flavour.

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7 Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru Town

A short walk across Jalan Wong Ah Fook, is Mr Er's uncle Ah Seng's shop Sang Heng 甡兴茶餐室 at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee. Locals refer to it as the "noodle shop beside OCBC" as it is located next to the bank in downtown JB.

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Ah Seng (who is Lau Tee's brother) is probably Johor's most senior hawker today.

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Sang Heng's Teochew noodle soup is similar to Lau Tee's.

Both Lau Tee and Sang Heng have their loyal following of fans for their delicious old style Teochew noodles.

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30 Jalan Segget, Johor Baru Town

The third old school noodle shop is Ah Hua 亚华粿条 in Sekee kopitiam 司機餐室 at Jalan Segget. Ah Hua kway teow soup started as a push cart stall along Jalan Tan Hiok Nee in 1957.

Ah Hua's noodles served with pork broth differs from that of Lau Tee and Sang Heng which use prawns to make their broth.

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Ah Hua 亚华 is the only kway teow soup shop that I have seen in Malaysia that still uses charcoal fire to boil the broth.

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The key to Ah Hua's Teochew kway teow soup is, of course, the broth which is made by boiling big pork bones.

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The other key is fresh ingredients, be it the pork, shell fish or kway teow noodles. All must be of the highest quality as the clear broth will show up any inferior ingredients.

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At Ah Hua, you can have the basic kway teow soup which comes with slices of pork and liver, or the luxury versions where we can add kidney, fish maw, oysters and even abalone.

Most of these old noodle shop's customers are regulars who like this old style taste and flavours. They also have a growing clientele who are discovering the charms of old style noodle soup.

Through these three old noodle shops, we can still taste the old flavours and heritage of Johor Bahru.

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2 comments:

  1. Lau Tee has moved to Taman Pelangi a few doors from Bierhaus

    ReplyDelete

I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is the same as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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