A GOOD lead is always worth trying out. This was the case when I made a bicycling tour to Tanjung Sepat and stayed a night there.
While searching for the ultimate supper in this fishing village, I ended up having Vietnamese coffee at a shop next to the famous Yik Kee’s fish kut teh.
The owner of the coffeeshop asked if I ever heard of Tanjung Sepat’s legendary bak kut teh, which I quickly acknowledged by pointing at the shop next door.
A decent meal: Ah Hock’s seafood bak kut teh.
He just smiled and told me that there was another makan place than can rival Yik Kee.
Well, I must say that it can be next to impossible to savour the good food in this village — if you make no effort to get there early to beat the queue.
That said, the first thing I did, was to give the recommended makan place a try.
Michelle (my wife) and I walked to the end of the village’s town square to a stall next to a Chinese temple.
It was only 8am and the stall was packed.
There was a huge banner at this place depicting its owner in a chef’s outfit and one of the other catchier photos showed him next to a South Korean lady in her national costume.
Now, before I get into the details, let me warn you that service here was extremely slow.
Humble outfit: Ah Hock’s stall in Tanjung Sepat.
Besides that, the residents of Tanjung Sepat are also very unusual when it comes to breakfast habits.
I have never seen people eating braised ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackerel) with tauchu and fried eggs early in the morning. So, for many firsts, this had to be the most bizarre scene I have encountered.
Okay, after being seated for 10 minutes, I finally managed to get the attention of a young man who took my order.
“Mau makan apa?” (What do you want to eat?) he asked.
Since my Hokkien was totally zero and I don’t speak Mandarin, I replied in Malay and asked him what he would recommend.
“Ah boss, ini ada bak punya la!” (There’s pork in our dishes) he said.
“Mmm ... Bagus! Kasi saya satu dan taruh itu makanan laut ah! Udang tak mahu!” (Ah ... good, I’ll have one and please don’t serve me prawns) I responded.
The stunned lad could only note down my order on his writing pad with disbelief and went to work on my breakfast right away.
A pot of seafood bak kut teh — which this place is famous for — costs RM33 per serving.
You can choose your fish, shrimp and squid, including your choice morsels when it comes to pork.
And when it comes to quality, I would say that it would rank 6.5 (out of 10) on the Samo-scale.
With Yik Kee fish kut teh as a benchmark, I won’t say this stall, called Ah Hock Bak Kut Teh (GPS: N 02 39 606, E 101 33 678) is any better, but it was definitely different.
So, if you plan to take a drive to Tanjung Sepat and if you are one of those who cannot wake up early (but still love food adventures), make it a point to support the homestay business in the village.
To those who never knew that this quaint little village existed, do a ‘Google’ search and there will be plenty of answers.