Sunday, November 20, 2011

Food: Sarikei Ah Suah noodles - Cantonese delight

Below the relatively new hotel, Lodge 808, is a corner coffeshop, Lai Lai, that's always filled to the brim with patrons. Most come here for the stall at the back that serves out flying dishes of Cantonese delight. Where exactly is this shop? Pray tell.

 Lai Lai Coffeeshop, January 2011

Lai Laicoffeeshop is at Lorong Tun Razak 1 (Jalan Masjid Lama) opposite Ngiu Kee supermarket. The consumers come here for the noodles from the stall popularly known as Ah Suah. The cook is now his son, Ah Wah. They do not have time to cook noodles during lunch time because the focus shifts to other cooked meals and rice.

  Lai Lai Coffeeshop, Jan 2011
Ah Suah's Soup Noodles. MYR3.50

Let's unwind the noodles and trace back the noodle trail. The head of a Cantonese family, Yow Siang (surname?), moved his family from Binatang (now Bintangor) to Sarikei. He operated his Cantonese food business from the 1st shop at Central Road (later occupied by Min Sing 明星 restaurant). 

The family lived at the third floor with a balcony where you could see their home made Cantonese sausages (lup cheong) hanging out to dry. They also made their own kway teow (flat rice noodle) before Sarikei had factory made versions.

  Lai Lai Coffeeshop, Jan 2011
Ah Suah's Noodles

Three of his sons inherited his culinary skills. The eldest, Ah Nan, delighted Sibu foodies (and later Kuching folks) with his wok. The second son, Ah Zheng and the youngest, Ah Suah, helped dad in Sarikei. They later operated from the first stall at the right of the main entrance at the old open air hawker centre in the 1970s (before the new Merdeka Park hawker centre opened there in 2006).

Ah Zheng operated a stall at the left of the main entrance of the Merdeka Park hawker centre. His stall attained a similar cult following in Sarikei as Ah Kow's legendary restaurant (Hung Kiew Kee). Ah Zheng's son stirs the wok now.

   Lai Lai Coffeeshop, Jan 2011
Ah Suah's Fried Noodles, MYR3.50

Ah Suah went on a separate fork on the trail to the Lai Lai coffeeshop. Most customers come here for his oily noodles that are charred in a super heated wok. The toppings of char siew (barbecued flavoured pork), white pork, three-layered roast pork, a slice of fish cake and vegetables are the same for the dry and soup versions. Some people swear by the the dry version with its gravy. Others will swoon for the soup version with its unmistakable broth of fried lard flavour.

   Lai Lai Coffeeshop, Jan 2011
Ah Suah's Noodles

Some have a hard time deciding on one of the binary choices and will choose all of the above. Some will choose none of the above and refuse to deviate from Ah Zheng's stall. It's your choice and your noodle trail.


Sarawakiana@2 said...

look so good

@nGeLine said...

Haha...I alway have my lunch at Lai Lai coffee shop when I am a part time worker at Dr.Sim clinic.

nelson said...

each time i go back to sarikei, i ll definitely go to ah suah and ah cheng to makan. i like especially their noodles. couldnt find it elsewhere.

阿炳 said...

The family surname is 趙 Chiew. Is a mystery why the elder Chiew came to Binatang, elder Chiew is a son from a rich family with huge farmland back in his home village 三江 (SanJiang) in Canton, the father has clubfoot walking with a limp and taking charge of the ancestor’s land rented out to poor peasants. Those days landlord would collect 80% of the year harvest, the poor peasants would be left with balance 20%. One theory has it that he came because the girl he loved moved to Binatang with the family, a very beautiful lady. Unfortunately she passed away after giving birth to the first few children and elder Chiew later took the wife’s younger sister as his new bride who gave him another few children. Elder Chiew has a passion for reading up on cook book, he has high standard for everything he prepare and he demand the same from his sons.

There was a true story about the 趙 Chiew lineage from 三江 SanJiang which is next to Xin Hui 新會 county, everyone that came to Sarikei from the 3 prefectures in Canton, Guang 廣府, Hui 惠府 and Zhao 肇府 would continue to repeat the story but now it is all forgotten. For those who are keen on old grandmother tales (true story) read on...........

Old Chiew (老趙 ) had only a daughter from his wife who passes away early in life though old Chiew is successful he didn’t remarry. He accumulate many pieces of land throughout his life. He had so many titles to his land that he tuck all into a pillow. So in his advancing age he moved into his daughter’s home and gave all his accumulation to his daughter.
One day the daughter’s teenage son called out shouting “Grandfather, Grandfather dinner” and old Chiew responded. To his astonishment the grandson reply saying that he wasn’t calling him but instead calling his own paternal grandfather. Sadness pouring all over old Chiew and immediately he feel very uncomfortable and so came the daughter attending to him. Old Chiew told his daughter that to eliminate his pain he always place the special pillow over this body and the pain would go away. So daughter brought him the pillow that content all the land titles and old chiew hold it firmly to his body. While the family was having dinner old Chiew escaped out from the back door with the pillow and start running as far as he could.

The sun was already setting and old Chiew ran until he could not move anymore, happen that he ran into a small farm of a woman whom together with her 3 daughters were about to call it a day. Upon seeing old Chiew the woman and her 3 daughters try to help old Chiew and slowly he relate to the woman what had happened to him. After hearing old Chiew story and also notice the whole pillow of land title the women told old Chiew that he could take one of her daughter as his wife and old Chiew aged 80 chooses the 2nd daughter whom was 20. Wedding banquet was thrown to celebrate old Chiew nuptials. The wife bore him several sons and all of them got married early so old Chiew was able to see his sons getting married before his death. Within a few generation there were 10 thousands 趙 Chiew (Zhao) from old Chiew’s lineage all over 三江 SanJiang in Canton.

Daniel Yiek said...

I personally prefer Ah Zheng's noodle to Ah Suah's.

Very interesting comment!

Tuan Lokong said...

Aiyo me seliva loo...
So Long no taste all those...Geees long to go back to Sarikei ma.

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