I am not an avid breakfast person. Oh the idea of a hearty breakfast is very appealing indeed but to go traipsing around to far away places for a meal in the morning just takes up too much time. So when my friend Surine Ho who has recently joined the ranks of ‘ladies-of-leisure’ now that her son is taking care of the family piano business, called to say that I absolutely had to try these fabulous fishballs in Falim, I was hesitant…Falim?…for breakfast…there goes my whole morning…I thought to myself. But dangle a carrot (in this case fish balls) in front of me and I can never say no. So we compromised on brunch which still gave me a good two hours to get some work done. And off we went.
If you take Jalan Lahat and follow that road until you come to a fork in the road with traffic lights, with one leading off to Jalan Kledang Utara which leads to the Lumut highway, veer left staying on Jalan Lahat and you will come to an industrial area looking quite dilapidated. Look out for the signboard for Kia Motors followed by Malaysian Oxygen and turn right into Jalan Foo Wah Cheng. There on the left is a shack with fish balls worth travelling all the way for.
Tiniest Fish Balls
We were three of us and when Surine ordered 60 fish balls I was taken aback. She smiled as did the proprietor of the stall and reassured me that 20 fish balls per person was but a mouthful. When the steaming bowl arrived, I understood. The fish balls were the tiniest I have ever seen. All homemade from Ikan Tenggiri (Spanish Mackerel) they were springy without being too resistant and I could taste the freshness of the fish in every bite. RM1 for 6 pieces.
Other ‘Yeong Liu’ available here include stuffed white tofu, ‘Tau Pok’, and whatever else is on offer for the day, ‘Fei Yuen’ (made from pork, dried squid and fish) and fried wonton (RM0.50 per piece) and their fried options typical of ‘Yeong Liu’ (RM1 for 3 pieces). But it is the fishballs that are the star of the show. There is a choice of clear soup or the curried version which comes with a choice of noodles. RM1.50.
A delectable ‘must have’ is their curried pig skin, RM1.50 and up depending on portion. Worthy of mention is their homemade dipping chilli sauce, thick, with hints of curry powder, quite unlike the usual run-of-the-mill chilli sauce served at other ‘Yeong Liu’ stalls. And not sweet which to my palate is a huge plus point.
From Falim to Ipoh Garden East
As is usual when a group of us gather to eat, the conversation inevitably drifts to the topic of food and where else is there good breakfast to be had. And we promptly made a date for the next morning to savour another stall in Ipoh Garden East.
It turns out that the stall is run by an old acquaintance of mine who used to own a boutique where I would shop and with the intense competition in ladies wear sprouting up around Ipoh, decided to turn her culinary skills into a business. So it was a reunion of sorts when Surine and I together with Datin Stella Lim sat down in Sun & Sun (a corner coffee shop diagonally opposite Citrus restaurant and Tammy’s Kitchen) and ordered some of Michelle’s specials.
We began with the mixed pig’s offal congee, a heaping bowl of creamy gruel, the rice grains almost disappearing into the broth and chock full with liver, intestines, minced pork chunks, kidney and topped with the usual green garniture. RM5.00.
I asked my usual question about MSG in the stock and Michelle reassured me that she only uses a hint of it, to lift up the soup stock which she personally prepares with 7 ingredients. This proved to be true as an hour later, I was not having my usual reactions to this neurotoxin! And so I proceeded to tuck in with gusto, slurping up the various soups with impunity.
Michelle proceeded to explain that the basic soup stock is the same for all the noodles and congee but the different ingredients lend their unique flavours to each bowl. The fried fish head soup with thick rice noodles, tomatoes, Ham Choi or preserved Chinese cabbage and a hint of pickled limes. You can choose not to have the preserved cabbage if you wish. RM6.50
The seafood soup has prawns, fish paste, baby octopus, bitter melon slices, tofu and tomato. Absolutely scrumptious at RM5.50. Then came the ‘piece de resistance’ which is usually not one of my favourites: pig’s kidney which in the wrong hands can smell and taste like a urinal. But under Michelle’s culinary wizardry, the steaming bowl of soup that arrived was redolent of rice wine, and chock full of liver, intestines and very clean tasting kidney pieces cooked to perfection. RM5.00.
There are other combinations and it just takes a minute to discuss with Michelle what you’d like for the day. For some of her regulars who come daily, the options provide enough variety for it not to be boring.
Falim Fish Balls
Jalan Foo Wah Cheng
All year round except for occasional long breaks.
Tel: 05 2821437 Mrs Leong.
Sun & Sun
3A Persiaran Bandar Bahrun Tambun 16
Desa Tambun Indah
Michelle: 016 5013639