KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — For the longest time, I avoided Jinjang. It was probably because of my own prejudice... after all, this is the home of the Jinjang Joe (the pre-cursor of the Ah Beng!). At the same time, rumours were rife that this was a hotbed of gangster activities.
My recent wanderings to Jinjang didn’t yield any of these urban legends. Instead, all I found were old folks quietly pedaling their bicycles around streets lined by a mix of wooden and cement houses. The new village is divided into two areas by Jalan Kepong: north and south. Most of the food stalls seem to gravitate around the southern corridor though.
Similar to other new villages, the food served here is honest-to-goodness fare, especially once you know where the locals hang out.
With vague instructions and the handy help of Waze, one morning I made my way to a nondescript corner coffee shop without any signboard. It was a little baffling why people gathered here since it felt so out of the way from the main thoroughfare.
A quick chat with the coffee shop operator when I placed my drink order cleared things up. Long known by many as the original Chooi Wah in Cantonese, this used to be the centre of the new village. As development boomed and more shops were added, the business centre shifted away but those in the know still gravitate towards this 30-year old coffee shop.
As seen on a busy morning, tables would be filled with groups of ladies or even old men sitting around and kicking back with a pot of Chinese tea as they shared endless stories of their everyday life. Even the stall owners end up joining these regulars for a quick chat when they catch their breath once business winds down a little.
Look for the loh chiew pai (old-timer) pork ball or sam kan cheong noodles stall. The owner divulges that she has family ties with the original owner from Jalan Silang who first sold these noodles. When the shop closed, this branch of the family relocated to Jinjang Utara and continued their legacy.
Her two brothers inherited the business and they have their own factories in the village to produce the key ingredients for the noodles dish — the flat pork balls and the tender dark pork liver sausages. Their supplies are highly prized in the Klang Valley since their products are freshly made and use leaner minced meat.
Try her pork noodles and you will notice the difference from other stalls... the liver sausages are more flavourful while the flat pork balls have a tender bite to it. Unlike the other versions served, the broth is incredibly simple with less pepper. There isn’t any minced meat added to the bowl of noodles, but they make it up with a generous portion of the flat pork balls.
In the same coffee shop, you have a relatively new stall here with three years of experience under their belt that sells a superb bowl of pork noodles. It is run by a mother-and-son team who are busy cooking what is in the metal pots over the hot fire. If you like something unusual, their noodles served with pork belly slices or a huge pork meat patty will hit the spot.
It’s a joy to bite into the patty with its slightly soft texture indicating a nice ratio of fat with meat. There is also a comforting vibe about the bowl of noodles served here with its sweet tasting broth topped with sliced white cabbage and generous sprinkling of chopped Chinese coriander. The coffee shop also offers other hawker eats like char kway teow, pan mee and Western breakfast sets.
A fruit stall on the side is popular for its cut fresh fruits or fruit rojak.
Nearer to the wet market, look for Ttua Mark Pan Mee House. The place is said to be named after the owner’s nickname...”Big Eyes.” It has a steady following especially from the local folk for its pan mee. There’s a constant stream of customers coming in to fill up the airy corner shop with its comfortable faux marble table and chairs.
Join the queue for a bowl of pan mee made to order — a choice of pinched squares of dough or bouncy strands rolled out from a noodle machine. The broth is full of the natural sweetness from the ikan bilis. Its flavours are further accentuated, when you mix it with the generous portion of fried shallots and large crunchy deep fried ikan bilis. Slices of shiitake mushrooms, sayur manis and thin pork slices complete the bowl. Punch up the spice levels with a choice of their homemade chilli sauces or sambal with its requisite tangy and spicy flavours.
Last but not least, this place is probably teeming with cottage industries but I was happy to accidentally discover a traditional biscuit maker on the main road. In business for more than 40 years, it’s now run by second generation owner Su Chee Hui who inherited it from his mother.
The small business makes items like tau sar pneah and sweet biscuits. With Chinese New Year round the corner, they are also gearing up for the festivities with cookies and nian gao. They also sell a popular Hokkien item — a mix of fried dough, sesame sticks made with puffed rice and peanut candy. Traditionally, these items are served with Chinese tea since it sweetens the festive season.
Sam kan cheong stall and pork noodles stall
1508, Jalan Jinjang Utama, Jinjang Utara, KL
Open: 6am to 1pm. Closed on alternative Thursdays.
Directions: If you go down Jalan Tebing Timur, turn left at Restoran Peng Yue and drive down Jalan Jinjang Damai, the no name coffeeshop is at the crossroads.
Ttua Mark Pan Mee House
Jalan Jinjang Aman 3, Jinjang Utara, KL
Open: 7.30am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays.
Sin Hing Hing Trading Co.
No. 2330, Jalan Tebing Timur, Jinjang Utara, KL
Open: 8am to 6pm. Closed on Sundays. Tel:03-62582818