By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

With the escalating prices of raw produce nowadays, restaurateurs often take advantage of the situation and hike up their menu prices too, resulting in some places pricing themselves out of reach for many average income families. Not so Soon Mun restaurant.

This modest corner coffee shop located on Jalan Prince in Pasir Pinji is almost always chock-a-block with people waiting in line to grab the first available table the moment it’s vacated. Obviously the tenet of “if the restaurant is not bustling, don’t walk in” applies here as I drove past one or two other similar restaurants that were doing desultory business on the same road; and one of these was even air-conditioned.

The reason for Soon Mun’s popularity is not only their reasonable prices but the quality of food is excellent and  some of their specials are worth making return visits for. Thanks to my foodie friend Ginla Chew, we managed to book a table in advance and on one of the hottest days in the year, a group of us sweated our way through an 8-course meal and came away feeling it was worth the perspiration.

As space is limited for this issue, I will only list the dishes which belong to the “die die, must try” variety and leave the rest of the accompanying dishes to you dear readers to round out your meal.

The Steamed Tilapia is a steal at RM25, smothered in taucu (preserved bean paste), garlic and chilli, while their Fish Head Curry (chopped in chunks) is tangy and flavourful RM27.

Their For Yeem Quat (barbecued pork ribs) is a tad on the sweet side (for my taste) but delectably tender and well seasoned – RM20 while their eggplant with minced meat oozes with flavour. Their Pig’s Trotter braised with peanuts was tender with the skin and tendons delectably smooth yet still providing a bite.

What is outstanding at Soon Mun is the way they do chicken in many styles to suit different palates. I had to make two visits to sample three of the ways: smothered in minced ginger, steamed with herbs and salt baked (must order in advance). They use only the ‘white whiskered chicken’ or Wu So Kai whose meat has a better texture and flavour than ordinary chicken and is also understandably more expensive. At RM50 for a whole chicken you can choose to order one chicken done two different ways or for the salt baked chicken, a whole one. All three styles have their own unique embellishments and it’s even hard for me to recommend one particular one given that they are all good in their own way.

One cannot have a meal in Soon Mun without tasting their famous shaved ice. For someone like me who generally dislikes anything sweet with their meal (other than dessert and even then it has to be extra tempting) their specialty had me converted. Order it with all manner of toppings, fruit, jellies, syrups, ice cream, and you have this mountain of sweet deliciousness staring at you and waiting to be devoured. It was a good thing I had plenty of helping mouths on that occasion and despite ordering a mix of different flavours, we made short shrift of them all.

Soon Mun is definitely one restaurant I will return to again and again.

Soon Mun Restaurant (no English sign, see pic above)
1511 Jalan Prince, Pasir Pinji.
Tel: 016 518 9336; 016 518 8797
Business hours: 5pm-11pm. Closed Wednesdays.