The desire to share food they grew up with prompted the Yang siblings to open a restaurant offering specials from their hometown, writes Tan Bee Hong
WHEN the Yang siblings moved to Kuala Lumpur some 20 years ago, they lamented not being able to indulge in food they enjoyed back in their hometown, Taiping. They felt it even more keenly as their father used to operate a chicken kway teow soup stall since 1955.
But the siblings were not about to just whine and complain. They sat down and decided to open a restaurant where they could come together and share their favourite foods with their relatives and friends, including Muslims.
That was six years ago. These days, Taiping Thiam Kee has its share of loyal regulars who come in for noodles and rice with dishes. Most recipes come from their mother, who constantly comes from Taiping to check on quality as well as bring with her fresh supplies of rempah and sauces.
The corner-lot restaurant is air-conditioned and brightly-lit, with tables well-spaced-out too.
TOAST TO BREAKFAST
“We offer a good kopi and teh tarik,” says Chew Imm, one of the three sisters running the show. Christine takes care of the orders while Choy Hoon manages the kitchen.
I love the white coffee, a real “kau” brew with a wallop.
An unusual combo drink is barley cincau — my first taste of slurping barley grains with black grass jelly.
TTK serves breakfast daily. Toast is a big deal, made with thick slices of Hainanese bread slathered with creamy kaya and butter or margarine, peanut butter or curry chicken. Prices start from RM2.20.
NOODLES & NIBBLES
Taiping is well known for kway teow soup but not the way the rest of the country knows it. To give the dish a kick, Taiping folk add sambal to the soup (while elsewhere, freshly sliced chilli will do).
Chew Imm laughs. “We don’t stock sliced chilli. If you eat the noodles with sliced chilli, it’s not Taiping style,” she explains.
So go ahead and try it with the special sambal. It kind of grows on you.
For the noodle dishes (from RM5.50), customers can choose yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, kway teow or egg noodles to go with curry gravy, clear soup, prawn soup and with thick slices of garoupa fillet. But my favourite is the shredded chicken kway teow soup.
There are dry versions too though these are basically noodles tossed with oil and soya sauce and either topped with thick chicken curry or with a side bowl of prawn mee soup.
I am disappointed that the char kway teow doesn’t have fresh cockles though the prawns are big enough to appease me slightly. This is far better though than the Teochew char kway teow which has fish balls, fish cake and slivers of chicken. I do miss the aroma of fried prawns in the latter.
CHICKENS ONLY PLEASE
Apart from fish and prawn, TTK uses only chicken, especially old kampung hens which are simmered with yambean over a slow fire for up to 10 hours. With such treatment, these old chickens are very delicious. The best part is the skin which is slightly crunchy, not soft. The meat is well textured for good bites too. A serving of chicken comes with blanched greens and you can have it with rice or noodles.
RICE & DISHES
On weekends, families come in for simple meals of rice and dishes such as assam kembung and curry. The assam kembung (RM5.50 each) gravy is thick and piquant, served with lady fingers and a generous bunch of fresh mint that enhances the flavour beautifully.
The curry chicken (RM6.50) also has a thick gravy and I am surprised to get a strong taste of potato. “Yes, we use mashed potato to thicken the gravy instead of coconut milk,” says Chew Imm. “We feel it tastes better and moreover, coconut milk isn’t that good for health.”
The well balanced use of spices makes the curry and rendang a fragrant treat. “This is Taiping-style curry,” says Christine. “My mum is very particular about maintaining the taste.”
I enjoy the deep fried seafood tofu (RM6.50). Firm and full-flavoured, these cubes of tofu are best eaten hot, with the Thai chilli dip.
Individual diners will enjoy the nasi lemak with fried chicken, curry chicken, sambal chicken or rendang chicken.
I’m surprised to find that TTK serves Taiwanese fried chicken, Shilin-style. “Our sister-in-law is from Taiwan, so we added this for her,” explains Chew Imm.
Taiping Thiam Kee
39G Jalan USJ 10/1, Subang Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: 03-5621 9199
8am to 10pm. Closed Monday.
Kway teow soup and steamed old chicken
Average RM10 per person.
Dry and clean
Attentive and friendly.
Go give it a try