Growing up in Ipoh, one of my all-time favourite food is the humble Chee Cheong Fun. Literally translated from Cantonese, it means “pig’s intestine noodles”. I have often wondered why it’s named as such? Maybe because they do come in rolls and I guess in some way they resemble “pig’s intestines”? Anyway, my favourite has always been the plain flatsheet-type of chee cheong fun. Ipoh is famous for 2 types of noodles: their sar hor fun (or “kwayteow“) and their chee cheong fun. Actually both are rather similar – they are made from ground rice flour and steamed into these flat smooth sheets. There’s something about the water in Ipoh which makes these rice sheets extra smooth and tender… they say it’s got something to do with the water flowing from the limestone caves that surround this tin-mining town. Well, the tin is gone but the limestone caves are still around, albeit somewhat blasted-off, and that’s why the sar hor fun and chee cheong fun in Ipoh remain as crowd-pullers.
I like my chee cheong fun plain and simple. The Ipoh style of eating this is just by ladling over some shallots oil, soya sauce, sprinkling fried shallots and sesame over it… and some pickled green chillies by the side. That’s as simple as it gets… and it’s absurdly delicious and satisfying. For added flavours, a sweet red sauce (known as “teem cheong”) and chilli sauce are mixed in. Back in the good old days when I used to cycle to the wet market in the centre of Ipoh town to buy vegetables, meat and stuff, I would always pack some chee cheong fun from an old aunty selling this from one of the side stalls, next to the row of dried-goods stalls. I always remember those enamel-coated metal plates that were used to serve this chee cheong fun… most of those plates were either dented or cracked-and-showing-the metal-underneath or discolored or all of these together! It cost a princely 20 sen per packet back then – for the smallest packet… and if I could scrimp an additional 10 sen from the amount my mother gave me for the marketing, the 30-sen packet of chee cheong fun would be the most-prized thing in the basket hanging precariously from the handlebars of my bicycle.
Now, over here in the Klang Valley, I can hardly find decent chee cheong fun. Somehow, the chee cheong fun here lack the smoothness of those found in Ipoh. And people here love to eat it with loads of yong tau foo and fried beancurd skins. The sweet sauce (“teem cheong”) here is NOT red (it’s a gooey dark brown!) and it lacks the aroma of authentic teem cheong, I tell you.
Well, all is not lost though. Not since I discovered the chee cheong fun from Yap Hup Kee, smack in the middle of Pudu, amidst rows of shops selling hardwares, sewing paraphernalia, handphone accessories – you know how haphazard Pudu is! This place has been around for ages – I remember the first time I ate here was like more than 20 years ago… and the shop has not changed one bit since then, except the prices of food items. Now that’s what I call “consistency”! Well, another thing that has changed is the staff – this place, which used to be manned by locals is now staffed with foreign workers. I heard that their claypot “loe shu fun” is famous, as is their yong tow foo.
But to me, the chee cheong fun is always the star here. I never had enough tummy space to try their loe shu fun because every time I come here, I always polish off 2 plates of their chee cheong fun. Yes, 2 plates. Considering their smallish servings, 2 plates (RM2.50 per plate) is not a lot, really. The texture of the chee cheong fun is still not as smooth as the Ipoh ones… close, but not on par yet. What I like is the simple garnishing: shallot oil, soya sauce, fried dried shrimps and the all-important pickled green chillies on the side. I can forgive their not-red sweet sauce because it’s not cloyingly sweet and because there’re all the other garnishing I mentioned earlier, which makes up for this one small shortcoming.
Opt for the curry gravy version if you are a curry lover. I find it pretty decent and tasty… but my preference is still the plain version. I’m simple, that way.
Oh, they have a good variety of yong tow foo too but personally, I find them to be just average… and there’s the sinful cholesterol-laden fried pig’s intestines… all these are just the “supporting cast”… to me, the plain simple chee cheong fun is still the star.
They have another branch in Damansara Utama – read my review about it here.
Restoran Yap Hup Kee
45 Jalan Brunai Barat
Off Jalan Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur