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Tortoise Buns Flying High

If you have not come across them, tortoise bun is a feather-light, vegetarian and tortoise-shaped steaming goodness decked out in rows of striking red at the Chinese temple as the annual Nine Emperor Gods Festival unfolds from the first to the ninth day of the ninth lunar month.

This year, the pleasingly chewy buns formed a multi-hued spectacle as the stalls spiced up their variety with additional flavours.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

From wholemeal, strawberry to the Ipoh white coffee flavour, Sam Foong Red Tortoise Bun Stall at Tow Boo Keong Temple had it all. Harking back to more than 40 years ago and run by two generations of the family, it remains loved by many.

“This year, we introduce the tortoise bun with strawberry flesh in it. The response to this fresh flavour is great! As for the Ipoh white coffee flavour, we have been doing it for two years now,” Loi Kok Leong, stall owner shared with Ipoh Echo on Tuesday, October 24.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

An open kitchen that stayed open 24 hours a day from October 23 to 28, one would not miss the heartwarming sight as every bun was kneaded and steamed on the spot by his mixed age team.

Other than the conventional red tortoise bun, Sam Foong also offered three types of longevity bun mimicking the shape of a peach: lotus paste, pandan lotus paste and red bean paste.

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

“During the peak, we can sell up to 10,000 buns daily. It is a tradition to pray to the Nine Emperor Gods with tortoise bun, for instance, to give thanks for blessings,” the 43-year-old explained.

“With an increasing stream of customers over the years, we’ve had customers from Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and America packing it up by the dozens to bring home on the plane,” the amiable Loi added.

Devotees believe that the Nine Emperor Gods bestow wealth and longevity on their worshippers.

Mei Kuan

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Tan Mei Kuan

Tan Mei Kuan graduated with first-class honours and book prize from University of Malaya majoring in languages and linguistics (English). She is proficient in both written and spoken English and Malay. She is also conversant in Mandarin and has knowledge of Japanese and Korean languages. Mei Kuan has been on the Dean’s List for three years running. Having written for the campus newspaper and residential college magazine, joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise her writing and language skills. In her spare time she enjoys running (races).

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