On Ipoh Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

As a Foodie and food critic, I am often asked which is my favourite cuisine and inevitably my reply is “wherever my taste yearnings take me”. However if I’m ever to sustain my insatiable craving for variety and nuances in the myriad ways the Chinese prepare food, then Chinese cuisine is my first choice.

There is just no end to the subtleties and results achieved from region to region in China as they use similar ingredients in a myriad of ways, each one resulting in dishes that tempt, tease or torment (as in fiery Szechuan). Teochew cuisine, also known as Chiuchow cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine or Chaoshan cuisine, originated from the Chaoshan region in the eastern part of China's Guangdong Province, Teochew cuisine bears more similarities to that of Fujian cuisine, with which it shares some dishes. However, Teochew cuisine is also influenced by Cantonese cuisine in its style and technique.

Teochew cuisine is also known for serving congee or mue, in addition to steamed rice or noodles with meals. The Teochew mue is rather different from the Cantonese counterpart, being very watery with the rice sitting loosely at the bottom of the bowl, while the Cantonese dish is more a thin gruel.

At Hock Kee Teochew Porridge Restaurant, in addition to the plain porridge which is served with various dishes which you order, they also do a superlative Garupa Fish Slice and Prawn porridge which comes in a tureen bubbling with invitation. Both the fish slices and prawns were very fresh with nary a fish smell in between. RM23 (small) and RM45 (large).

Steamed Clams or Lala were large, extremely fresh and yumilicious at RM15/25 S/L, followed by that traditional Teochew signature dish, the slow simmered, soaked-in-soya-sauce pork, tofu and eggs. I would have liked to have seen more pork bits like ears, head and innards but alas all they serve is pork belly tofu and eggs all of which were well seasoned and the pork tender – RM17/32 S/L.

A dish which I found myself returning to here at Hock Kee was their Chives Pancake, a very thin beancurd skin rolled around chopped green chives and minced pork, bound with some egg and pan-fried. Umami, a tinge crispy around the edges and good to the last bite. RM12 served with their special sambal and chilli sauce.

As to choice of fish, I find myself quite jaded with the usual pomfrets, tilapia and garupa so I opted instead for the Ikan Pari a local flounder or skate fish which arrived smothered in a spectacular mound of chopped garlic, black beans, Tsoi Po (preserved daikon) and other aromatic ingredients, topped with scallions and coriander leaves. Slightly tangy, the aromatics crisp and the skate super fresh. It was such a delight to scrape the meat off from the cartilage beneath and heaping on the topping for an unforgettable mouthful. Market price.

Next came a claypot tofu topped with a raw egg which when mixed in gave a velvety smoothness to the bean curd – RM12/18 S/L, followed by crunchy long beans sautéed with minced pork. Superlative at RM13/19 S/L.

Black Bean or Dao Si Gai Signature Chicken with black bean at RM15/25 was excellent, with curry leaves lending an added nuance to the dish, while the well coated stir fried pork belly slices which was a tad too sweet for my taste buds were well received – RM18/18 S/L.

Hock Kee is the perfect spot for simple family lunches or dinners, where the food is wholesome and the prices reasonable. Their egg menu alone is irresistible with all manner of egg preparation from steamed with ingredients to plain and if simplicity is what you’re after, order just their salted egg RM1.80, preserved egg RM2 and eat with your plain porridge to your heart’s content.

Having just got my juices flowing writing about all these dishes, I have just made arrangements to go back with a group of friends next week! See you there!

Hock Kee Teochew Porridge Restaurant
21 Jalan Medan Ipoh 8, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 546 3321
Business hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 4.30pm-11pm
Tuesdays off