Saturday, September 24, 2011

Malaysia Food Blog - Tuck Kee Restaurant @ Yau Tet Shin Street

Location: Yau Tet Shin Street, Ipoh

If you have read my previous article on Mix Fruit Ice and crave for more of Ipoh's more locally available food, then here's another one located just nearby the area. The shop's name may or may not be familiar with most people since there are 2 'Tuck Kee' along the same row of shops... heck, they are practically sister shops next to each other, except for the fact that there is another shop in between the competing business.

The shop is nothing to scream about, except for the fact that it has been in operation for a very long while, which lent credit to how popular it is. Another sister shop named 'Sun Tuck Kee' (that's new Tuck Kee for you non-Cantonese speakers) provides similar choices of dish.
Enjoy the moment if you arrived before 7p.m., else get ready to fight for places with everyone for the easily unavailable seats. 

The shop itself is not spacious, and even with extra tents outside of the shop to provide a cover over its customers' heads, you can expect the place to be fully crowded if you arrive after 7p.m., the usual dining hour for Ipoh folks. The shop will be so packed that you still feel hot and stuffy during the night. It is not advisable to arrive after 7, especially during weekends and holidays... trust me.

Sitting under the tent may not be as hot as it is inside the shop sometimes, but it is not exactly a healthy option, with fuming vehicles passing dangerously close, sometimes stopping next to you without switching off the engine. Still, what choice do you have in order to sample the dishes I am going to share if you are late and seats are scarce?

When Phoenix Meets Kraken

OK, that is an absurd depiction of the 2 dishes I am sharing... When most outlanders come to Ipoh to sample its delicacies, people talk about Old Town White Coffee, about bean sprout chicken (芽菜鸡, Mandarin: yá cài jī, Cantonese: ngar choy gai), but how many outlanders will ask for Phoenix Claws (凤爪, Mandarin: fèng zhǎo, Cantonese: fung jau) or octopus (八爪鱼, Mandarin: bā zhǎo yú, Cantonese: ba jau yee)? If you are one of them, here's something special for you to ask your Ipoh friends to bring you to, surprising them with what you know about Ipoh's food. I may be from Ipoh, but it was after I went outstation for my education and career that I missed these wonderful dishes.

Phoenix Claws - a nice name for a dish of chicken feet, leave it to the Chinese to name their dishes into something grand.

Phoenix Claws (ask for fung jau, the Cantonese name of the dish) - well, there aren't any phoenix hurt in the process, just chickens. The beautifully named Phoenix Claws is a traditional Chinese name for the dish of braised chicken feet, served within a plate of delicious sauce. The leathery claws may not be the favourite of everyone, so make sure that there is at least a person from your table who enjoy it before you order this.

Good dish deserves another closer shot! Truth is, this is not exactly the famous spot for Phoenix Claws, but this shop lets you try it out along with the next dish under recommendation.

So, what's special about these leathery claws anyway? True, they are skinny and more bone than meat, but the secret lies within the sauce it is served with. The dark thick sauce is slightly salty and sweet to the taste, sort of like how you will get it from a soy sauce base. And since the claws are cooked with those sauce, the taste is naturally brought into your mouth when you suck on those bony delicacies. The sauce adds a nice taste to whatever staple you are having, be it rice or noodles, and I loved it so much that I just spooned it and drink as if it was broth. Definitely addicting!

Now enters the dish that I find really worthy of recommending: octopus! The sliced tentacles of octopuses (ask for ba jau yee, the Cantonese name of the dish) are served on a plate of oil based sauce in the company of sliced onion stalks and fried and ground garlic. The same note goes to this dish as well: some may feel queasy looking at this tentacled delicacy, so getting people who love it to accompany you may help getting your appetite up when you see people fighting to get the last tentacle.

Presenting the tentacled delight! A plate of boiled octopus should definitely not be missed if you are visiting Tuck Kee; if not, you may as well just go to any other shops.

Unlike Phoenix Claws' sauce, I would not recommend you drinking from the oily sauce, since that is meant more to keep the tentacled delight from being too dry than for your appetite. Scoop your octopus up with the ground fried garlic instead to add to its flavor, or chew some sliced onion stalks to feel the crunch along with the rubbery flesh. A bowl of specially made spicy sauce is most people's favorite sauce to dip into, but I personally favored the tentacles in its natural taste within that garlic based oil, in the occasion company of a scoop of sauce from the Phoenix Claws' plate.

Sliced octopus boiled and served in a thin oily sauce along with ground and fried garlic as well as sliced onion stalks. Trust me, this leathery delicacy is nothing without that sauce.

Feeling nauseous of the look of tentacles? Then close your eyes and just savor its taste, the leathery feel of it against your crushing teeth and the sweet garlic oil mingling with your saliva.

Dip the tentacles into a bowl of specially prepared spicy sauce if you like, but I prefer the taste of it soaked in the originally prepared thin garlic oil.

Some may feel uncomfortable from the look of these dishes, but I assure you that this is an acquired taste. The dishes are usually sold in a plate of RM10, so spending a night out here with family members will be a worthwhile treat. Of course, just there to sample these dishes will not fill your stomach. Other available dishes are more commonly available throughout Ipoh, like wat dan hor (滑蛋河) and fried noodles to provide the necessary carbohydrates.

Suitable for:            a usual dinner or one with family
Cost:                             Occasional; a dish could cost RM10, and depending on how many people dined together, you may want to order a few other dishes to satisfy a growling tummy.

Address:                     Jalan Yau Tet Shin, 30300 Ipoh, Perak.
                                         Truth is, this address has very little meaning to it, except the street's name. Ask for the direction to the more famous Lou Wong (老黄芽菜鸡), since they are located near each other.

Operating hours:   Not sure when they are not open, nor what time they start and end their business of the day. I do know that you can be there around 6p.m. and they have started serving, but not very sure what time they are closed.
Parking:                   Parking isn't easy around the area; you may just need to park a lot farther and walk over to the shop. If you are approaching from the Police Station direction, after coming in from the roundabout, then proceed to the right, where parking is ample. 

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