Inflation took its toll on local prices
Find the soya sauce specks
n the 60's to early 80's, there were really not many choices when you ate at a kopitiam (coffeshop). You basically have only 3 choices to order from the Foochow cook: pien neek dumpling, kam pua noodle or the humble clear soup noodle (ching chang mien in Mandarin). The menu above showed how the choices have proliferated. Some new favourites in kopitiams are kam pua noodle with pig's spare parts soup and mee suah noodle in chicken soup.
Sarikei pien neek 2007 - Smooth operator
I had ting bian hu at the kopitiam in the Payang Puri Hotel block but my stomach was not satisfied. I watched the fast hand of the man preparing pien neek dumpling with razor thin slices of dough. I had to ask him to pause for the picture and he gladly obliged. Note how he used flour to prevent the completed dumplings from sticking to each other.
Sarikei Soup Noodle in the making, 2007
Kopitiam at Payang Puri block.
I tried something nolstalgic that I have not tasted for years - the clear soup noodle. It's like the forgotten recipe that you had hidden under the cupboard simply because the natural tendency was to order kam pua or pien neek.
Clearly a winner.
The clear noodle soup used the same noodle as in the kam pua dish. It's soaked in simple broth (not chicken or pork bones stock, I think) and garnished with chopped shallots and fried onions. The layer of lard floating on top gave it the aroma that lured your senses. You simply had to slurp it down without hesitation and then rubbed your tummy with satisfaction.
It's a humble delicacy derived from the less affluent immigrant days like the kampua and pien neek - they are non souped up (no fancy decor, etc) but simply irresistible.