Sunday, October 14, 2007

Perak Pau

Nothing beats a tasty pau

Photos by LEW YONG KAN

AGE-OLD recipe pau or steamed buns – that is the selling point of several spots in Perak.

Yei Lock Restaurant in Ipoh is one place that should not be missed for delicious pau based on recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation.

Located at Jalan Raja Permaisuri Bainun (formerly known as Jalan Kampar), Yei Lock sells pau that is so popular that it is snapped up as soon as it leaves the steamer.

Family affair: Tan Yee Mun, his wife Soo Sau Lin and their son Chuan Ruey making pau at their Nam Seong Coffee Shop in Temoh.
According to restaurant owner Wong Kok Ming, he only started to sell pau to supplement the restaurant’s business.

“When I began my restaurant, business was not booming.

“My wife Choong Yoke Eng then suggested that I make pau to supplement our income,” says the 50-year-old who learnt to make pau from his father.

Wong, who uses the recipe believed to be over 50 years old, says that when he first started out, he made common flavours such as kaya (coconut jam), chicken, char siew (barbequed sweet pork) and vegetable.

“But over the years, my regular customers have suggested other flavours for me to make,” adds the father of two daughters and a son.

Today, Wong’s range of pau includes char siew, kaya, tau sar, lotus paste, coconut, butter, vegetable, chicken and curry.

Another pau that should be given a try is the one at Yat Lai Restaurant in Kuala Kangsar.

The pau here, said to even get the stamp of approval from royal families, is made by identical twins Chong Cheen Yee and Cheen Hwa, 33, with the help of their 69-year-old father, Khong Meng.

Double take: Twins Chong Cheen Yee (right) and Cheen Hwa preparing to sell the pau made by them at their Kuala Kangsar shop.
Cheen Yee says they only make 250 pau a day due to a lack of manpower.

“If you want to buy in bulk, it’s best to call us first so we can reserve for you,” he says, adding that the recipes for their pau came from their Hainanese grandfather.

The restaurant, which serves chicken, curry, beef and kaya pau, starts selling pau from 2pm.

When you drive by Temoh, north of Tapah, do not let its tranquillity fool you.

Come 3pm, crowds will throng a coffee shop on the main road – Nam Seong Coffee Shop to savour its piping hot pau served there.

Its proprietor Tan Yee Mun, 65, says besides the run-of-the-mill flavours, he also makes red potato pau.

Yummy: Wong Kok Ming showing the variety of pau available at his Yei Lock Restaurant in Ipoh.
“It however depends on whether I can get red potato from Cameron Highlands,” he adds.

Tan, who is now helped by his youngest son Chuan Ruey, 25, says he learnt to make pau from his mother when he was seven years old after his father passed away.

“My son is now a third generation pau-maker,” he says.

Yee Mun, who starts making his pau at noon daily, says he places high importance on quality.

“Sometimes when the dough does not turn out properly due to the weather, I’d rather not sell pau on that day to avoid disappointing my customers,” he says.

On a good day, his pau is sold out within two hours.

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