Growing up as a kid in a Chinese new village in Ipoh, I never had much pocket money to spend. In those good old days, 10 sen was a fortune. I remember I was only given that amount as pocket money to spend in school each day. Sometimes I would bring bread or biscuits to school and tried to save my precious 10 sen. You see, back then, 10 sen could buy you a bowl of noodles (5 sen) plus a piece of "liew" (5 sen). What we Ipoh people mean by "liew" is fishpaste-stuffed stuff - eg taufu, beancurd skin, fishballs, fishcakes etc. Anything that has fishpaste stuffed in it is called a "liew" and this "liew" is generally eaten with noodles. Over here, we call 'em "liews" Yong Taufu :-)
In that Chinese village where I lived as a kid, there'd be all kinds of mobile hawkers coming by with their "peee poh peee poh" horns, selling goodies like noodles, breads, sweets, tidbits etc. On the days when I didn't have any spare sen, I'd look longingly out to the road, wishing I was one of those kids who were happily clamouring round the hawkers. I particularly remember the noodles hawkers because they were my favourites. In those days, we kids were already practising "Save Mother Earth" - we used to bring our own plates & bowls to the mobile carts for our noodles. Happy was the day when I could scamper out eargerly with my tin bowl to get my noodles and "liew" from my favourite "peee poh" hawker!
So, you see, "liews" had been my favourite food since time immemorial. I never miss out on this whenever I balik-kampung to Ipoh. One of my favourite haunts for "liews" is of course the infamous "Tai Shue Geok" - Big Old Tree in Pasir Pinji. In my last trip back to Ipoh, due to the sweltering heat which has been hitting us relentlessly for the past so many months, the air-conditioned Nam Fatt seemed a good choice.
Located along Kampar Road, Nam Fatt Fish Ball Noodles Restaurant is known for being "higher priced" than most noodles shops in Ipoh. But then, what the heck, I needed an aircond place to get out from the scorching heat!
Looking through their rather extensive menu, Nam Fatt serves more than "liews". There are a variety of noodles (soup & dry versions), roast pork, vegetables and more than 24 types of "liews"!
LL & DL started off with their Curry Mee (RM5.50 per bowl) ...
While not as spicy & fragrant as that famous Police Station Curry mee, the roast pork, mint leaves & dash of lime in the bowls were enough to whet our appetite for more.
I think I made a good choice in selecting their Beef Noodles (RM6.50). The beef, tendons, tripe were deliciously tender, having been boiled in thick broth flavoured with white radish & spices. The coriander leaves gave added fragrance to the full-bodied robust soup - it was a great pleasure slurping that with the smooth kwayteow...
Next came the assortment of "liews"... there was this plate of yong taufu cooked with their "special sauce" - a thick brown gravy that hinted of oyster sauce, beanpaste and worcestershire sauce, I believe...
We also had a bowl of their "liews" in clear soup - beancurd, beancurd puffs and fishballs.
I love the taufu (beancurd) in Ipoh. It's true what they say about the water in Ipoh being enhanced by limestone (because the town is surrounded by limestone caves!) and it's that special added ingredient that results in smooth taufu and superfat beansprouts!
Steamed Taufu with Fishpaste (RM3) was of course, a natural choice for me. However, I found the white taufu not really up to mark. It cannot beat the supersoft supersmooth white taufu sold in a stall in the Pasir Pinji wet market. Nevertheless, it still beats any taufu here in the Klang Valley!
Beansprouts with Fish Paste (RM3) - see what I mean about the Ipoh beansprouts? Unlike the thin stringy ones we usually get here, the Ipoh ones are short, fat & sweet! Blanched for just a few seconds in hot water, the beansprouts retained their sweetness & crunchiness delighfully...
Then came the platter of fried "liews" - favourites of LL and DL! My favourite is the Sar Kok Liew (fried fishpaste mixed with sengkuang, on the bottom right of the collage). This particular item is just so-Ipoh! I mean, I have never found a decent piece of this anywhere in the Klang Valley all these years. This is definitely a Ipoh delicacy!
For want of some fibre, we ordered the Siew Pak Choy stuffed with Fishpaste (RM3.50). Generally the fishpaste in Nam Fatt is good - smooth, bouncy & full of fish flavour (unlike some other places where they use more flour than fish!). I suspect they use the "saito" fish (wolf herring, I think) that gives the paste that unmistakable lovely texture.
However, I was a bit disappointed with the Siew Pak Choy, which was over-blanched, as can be seen in the almost-yellow and limp leaves here...
Prices at Nam Fatt are definitely steeper. But then we get to enjoy a clean air-cond environment and most of the food items are above average. Another good thing is that they are open till quite late at night... so if I get my "liews" cravings at night, this is one place that's open!
The shop is located at:
Nam Fatt Fish Ball Noodles Restaurant
86C Jalan Kampar
Tel: 05-253 6454
Open daily from 7.45am till 10.45am