Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Tanjung Tualang Big Head River Prawns @ Sun Mee Fong 新美芳 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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This was a much anticipated meal. For Ipoh folks, a trip to Tanjung Tualang town for big head river prawns is just like JB lang 人 going to Sungai Rengit for wild caught live lobsters.

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Sun Mee Fong Seafood wasn't our Ipoh buddy Kong's first choice. When we reached Tanjung Tualang town after driving one hour from Ipoh, our original choice wasn't open for the day 😂

There are about a dozen restaurants serving big head river prawns in Tanjung Tualang, and Sun Mee Fong founded nearly 50 years ago in 1971 is also one of the famous ones. So, we settled for it. (Locals consider Sun Mee Fong and similar such as tourist traps.)

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Inside Sun Mee Fong, the decor and furnishings are typical of small, mid priced Chinese restaurants in Malaysia - red table cloth, red padding on gold framed chairs, red lanterns overhead and large mirrors on one wall. It has air conditioning, much welcome in tropical Malaysia.

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The large live big head river prawns are kept in display tanks.

The area around Tanjung Tualang is pockmarked with hundreds of large, deep ponds left over from one of old Malaysia's two economic pillars - tin mines (the other is, of course, rubber).

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Tin mining ceased in the 1990s, leaving behind deep water filled pits around Tanjung Tualang. Many of these abandoned pits are now repurposed to farm big head large river prawns.

But, the most sought after are still the wild river prawns netted from the Kinta River which are what Sun Mee Fong serves.

Tanjung Tualang is renowned for large big head river prawns. Prawn lovers from Ipoh, Penang and Kuala Lumpur think nothing of driving a couple of hours to enjoy these river prawns.

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We also had this nearly 2 kilo live wild caught Soon Hock fish 林哥魚 or 笋壳鱼 😄 (known as Ikan Hantu or Devil fish in Malay | Marble Goby in English.)

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Let's eat 😋

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We had the large river prawns steamed and dressed with aromatic light soy sauce and Shaoxing wine 紹興酒. Sun Mee Fong's signature style.

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Woohoo! The Tanjung Tualang large river prawns really live up to their reputation.

The flesh is meaty, the texture is a unique blend of tender, springy and firm crunch. The taste is a refreshing delicate natural sweetness complemented by the mild savoury light soy sauce and aromatic flavoursome Shaoxing wine.

The oozy creamy cheesy gut in the oversized head added eggy sweetness to the flesh (but they are gut, mainly pancreas, not eggs as commonly thought).

Credit: Photo from Wikipedia

Prawns carry their eggs outside their body between their legs.

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It's a unique taste that one will not forget and will pine for it after tasting it 😋

(It tastes nothing like the forgettable big freshwater prawns ubiquitous in Bangkok.)

A post shared by Tony Johor Kaki (@johorkaki) on

Oops.... I cannot remember exactly how these tasted as I was quite overawed by the signature steamed version.

Stick to steamed prawn next time 😂

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Steamed wild caught Soon Hock....., what more is there to say?

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The meat is tender, firm, juicy with delicate natural sweetness. Dipping it in the light soy sauce adds a little savoury balance and accentuates the natural sweetness.

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Simple, well executed fried rice. Savoury sweet flavours and tender nutty texture rice. I enjoyed this.

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For drinks, get this wan tou long 雲頭浪 jelly in fresh coconut milk topped with boiled corn. Layers of sweetness with refreshing subtle grassy flavour in the jelly. (Wan tou long is similar to, but not the Taiwanese Aiyu jelly.)

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The prices (which of course are seasonal - prices have been rising steadily and quite steeply... 😂).

River prawns (large) 👉 RM130 per kilo
River prawns (medium) 👉 RM105 per kilo

Soon Hock fish (large) 👉 RM150 per kilo
Soon Hock fish (medium) 👉 RM120 per kilo

River catfish 👉 RM40 per kilo.

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4-Star (out of 5). After this meal at Sun Mee Fong 新美芳, I will have to fight myself from making a detour to Tanjung Tualang whenever I drive between KL and Ipoh.

Buddy Kong still thinks that his favourite is better, so the next trip I will give that a try! (Just around the corner. I know exactly where it is but I couldn't recall the restaurant's name 😂 )

Next time, I also want to try the wild river catfish 白鬚公 - one of my favourite fishes.

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Restaurant name: Sun Mee Fong Seafood 新美芳海鲜楼 
Address: 21 & 23 Jalan Pasar, 31800 Tanjung Tualan, Perak, Malaysia
GPS4°19'31.6"N 101°03'20.0"E | 4.325431, 101.055563
Tel+60 5-360 9321 | 016 451 5552
Hours: 11:00am to 9:30pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 5 Sep 2017

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  1. Pray share the name of the (non-tourist trap)restaurant you guys wanted to go to originally...thanks

    1. I didn't get the name as we didn't get down from the car and I couldn't see clearly from my seat. It's at the junction of Jalan Pasar and Jalan Besar. Couldn't find it on Google map. Will check it out later.

  2. Fresh seafood is a gem! great post!


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