When it comes to the signature classic dish of Ipoh, keeping it simple and consistent is key.
There is a worry whenever I go home that the familiar bowl of Ipoh hor fun (kuey teow) chicken with taugeh (beanspouts) would be ruined by hype and consumerism. That, thankfully, has not happened and the yum factor of the city’s signature dish is safe and continues to delight and feed the melancholy that comes with my eating it.
Tourists and visitors usually flock to Lou Wong, but the more established and often overlooked Onn Kee should not be ignored.
There are two Onn Kee restaurants, one across from Lou Wong and the other next to it. While the rivalry between the shops may have ebbed, the debate on which one is better is still a conundrum that divides the locals.
This time round, I went to Onn Kee.
To avoid the massive crowd that builds up in the area at night, try having a day meal like brunch or lunch there instead of dinner.
In Ipoh, we keep things simple. I ordered a one-person meal of taugeh, chicken and hor fun (we seldom call it kuey teow in Ipoh). The set was RM14. A server comes around with prepared drinks on a tray, and I just picked a glass. Easy.
The food came promptly. The bowl of steaming hot hor fun is uncomplicated, yet flavourful. Clear broth with a sprinkling of spring onions, that’s it – quite unlike KL versions that overdo it with the prawn oil and seasoning. The chicken is smooth, tender and drizzled generously with the shop’s blend of light soya sauce and oil. The beansprouts, with a dash of pepper over them, are flavoured with the same sauce.
While eating, there was some commotion across the street between two newly opened restaurants disputing table placement territory. I ignored it and focused on my meal, and so did the other patrons. It is good to know that even while we Ipohans love a little drama now and then, food still takes precedence.
Onn Kee (??) Tauge Chicken
51 Jalan Yau Tet Sin
Opens daily, 10am till midnight or when everything runs out