Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tian Pian Hu

One of the best food in the world is the superdelicious Tian Pian Hu of Foochow Cuisine.

This is really a genuine part of Foochow Cuisine, out of this world. And indeed, it is "have wok and you will be in heaven" .

Simply this dish calls for a good wok and rice flour batter and a bit of pepper and salt and a simple but wonderful soup. This was the Fast Food of the fifties and sixties.

The one and only shop selling "Tian Pian Hu" in Sibu then was Tie Yang's shop,at the back lot of Chop Heng Ang which was an engineering firm selling spare parts , belonging to the richest Heng Hua Goh family of Sibu. All the Gohs were Methodists because Grandmother Goh was a leading deacon at that time. The Goh family later sold up their property and emigrated to Australia. Mssrs.Tie Yang's family stayed on to do their business.

Mssrs.Tie Yang had the original authentic Tian Pian Hu outside of China! (If you want to compare you will have to take the next Air Asia flight to China, and then proceed to Fuzhou City to verify my statement). His family has been keeping the business going from success to greater success in the last 40 years!! Every Chinese in Sibu since the beginning of their outlet must have eaten at least once there. Today, folks not only eat there, they take away too. The chief cook today was probably a teenager assistant when the outlet first started.

I believe that this kind of business and patronage is the very essence of Sibu Foochow business, without which no one can grow wealthy. There is trust by the customer, the service is simple and respectable, the raw materials fresh , and the product is exceptionally cheap but excellent. Foochow customers believe in low pricing,excellent service, quality goods and fast delivery. And if you wish to have a hot bowl of Tian Pian Hu, you can have it in less than ten minutes. Now I am talking about 1950....somewhere in the world quality service came about in 1990's! 40 years behind Mssrs.Tie Yang.

All students who had extra classes then would pop by the shop (it is still in the same location at Blacksmith Road) to have a bowl between the morning and afternoon sessions. And what I liked was the students' fare of that time. The adults had their big bowl with normal ingredients.

A student's bowl of tian pian hu would be just the rice cakes and the "empty" soup with NO dried squid, NO fish balls, NO slices of pork. To add flavour to this plain soupy tian pian hu, we would happily add a lot of the pepper and salt from the bottles which were placed on the table. This delicious bowl would set us back by only 30 cents. But it was the getting together, the socialising and the "being seen" at the Tian Pian Hu shop that was important to us girls at that time. By today's standard, it would be like appearing in Tatlers'.

In those days, parents did not take their kids out for snacks, unlike today's KFC generation. I think because my father worked out of town then and my mother was a very good homemaker, we did not eat out or have take away. But the few occasions I went with my classmates remain in my mind, and it was such a nice warm feeling, remembering having Tian Pian Hu even though we had the "empty" or plain ones.

Children are so lucky today. Their parents would call for "special"+ for them all the time .

Recently I went back to Sibu and the first thing my dear dear ex-graduate teacher's trainee Serena Chou did was to bring me to have a bowl of "Special" tian pian hu in Tie Yang's Shop....I could hardly keep back my tears. I just cannot remember the last time I was in the shop!! The quality is still the same..superdelicious, original,fast service,and equal treatment to all the customers.....and most of the old chairs and the tables are still there. (Quality carpenters!)

Tears of gratitude, tears of memories. Blest be the ties that binds......

+" Special" in Sibu or any eatery in Malaysia would mean one can get extra goodies in the noodles or whatever when we order. It would definitely, as a result cost more. (Special = extra pieces of pork,fish balls, meat balls, prawns, fish,etc)

0 memories:


web statistics