Buntong’s bountiful bean sprouts


Fresh and crunchy: Nothing compares to the quality of bean sprouts produced in Buntong, say foodies. — RONNIE CHIN/The Star

Buntong in Ipoh, Perak is not only famous for its kacang putih, the bean sprouts or taugeh produced there are also said to be the best in the country.

Many attribute its quality to the limestone formations in the vicinity.

As a result, crystal-clear underground water abounds.

Farmers there can vouch for the fact that the abundance of hard water is definitely a plus point.

They are enjoying the rewards as the land is so fertile, no artificial fertiliser is needed for their trees and plants.

It may be not be scientifically proven but several farmers and individuals say that their produce is of high quality because of the natural mineral water.

Most people will agree that Ipoh’s taugeh is the king of bean sprouts in the country.

The city’s supply of bean sprouts comes from Buntong with at least five producers operating in the vicinity.

One of them is Khong Pak Leong, 63, who has been growing bean sprouts for 30 years.

He attributed the texture of the plant to the water used.

“Growing bean sprouts only requires water, and more importantly, a good watering technique.

“In Buntong, underground water near rock formations have been found to be ideal,” he said.

Khong was initially working for someone at the central market selling bean sprouts, but decided to start growing them himself.

He bought over his current business and together with his wife and two workers, runs a taugeh processing plant in Jalan Bidor.

“The previous owner had dug a well and extracted water using a pump.

“The underground water was then stored in a tank.

“Because we use this water, the taugeh here is thick compared to bean sprouts grown elsewhere,” he said.

Khong claimed that someone who came to inspect the ground water told him it contained calcium.

On the process of growing taugeh, he said mung beans were washed, placed in big blue plastic drums, and watered every three hours.

“After five days, the beans are packed for delivery.

“However due to the Covid-19 pandemic, sales have dropped by about 80%.

“Dine-in restrictions meant that orders from outlets selling the famous “Tauge Ayam” or chicken bean sprouts dropped drastically.

“It is best to eat bean sprouts hot and straight out of the kitchen, instead of packing it,” said Khong.

Retiree Joginder Kaur, 66, from Buntong, also attributed the fertile environment to the water.

She had planted papaya and banana trees on a small plot of land at her house, and said the plants grew well.

“I am happy with the quality of the fruits.

“Besides that, I also planted flowers and some vegetables that grow beautifully as well.

“I believe all this is because of the soil that is surrounded by mineral-rich limestone hills,” she added.

Fruitful farming

Yus Amirul Mohamed Yusuf, 59, a civil servant who stays in Taman Meru, Ipoh said his vegetables, fruits and herbs were healthy.

“It is definitely of better quality than what I buy at wet markets,” he said.

Yus Amirul plants okra, chillies, pandan leaves, kaffir lime, cucumber, petola and papaya on his land.

“I was advised by friends to plant vegetables and fruits as the soil is really suitable due to the underground water.

“My housing area is located near the limestone hills.

“During the first movement control order last year, I decided to do some gardening.

“I was surprised to see the vegetables and fruits grow so well,” he said.

Farm owner Tan Swee Kong, 54, said pomelo, starfruit, mango, jackfruit, guava and ciku at his farm in Tambun were big, juicy and sweet.

Tan said he used a pump to draw underground water for his orchard, as well as water from a well.

“I am the second generation operating the farm that has been in existence for 30 years.

“We mainly use underground water that comes from the nearby limestone caves.

“I believe it really makes a difference to the quality of the produce.

“We are truly fortunate to have this resource at our disposal,” he added.

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