Wednesday, August 25, 2010

endangered dish - loh kai yik

this cantonese dish is called loh kai yik. it used to be quite a common and popular dish in the 60s but today, it has become almost 'extinct' in singapore. i came to know about it when i heard the name mentioned while we were eating teochew kway chap at havelock road food centre. someone in the makan group recalled that there was a cantonese equivalent of the kway chap. when he started to describe it, i realised that i had seen it being sold in my kampong in the 60s.

as usual, i did a search on the internet and found out that there is one stall at people's park food centre selling the dish. perhaps, this is the only stall in singapore selling loh kai yik. such a rare find cannot go unreported. the name of the stall is loh mei - which is another name for loh kai yik - specialist. like most local food, you can choose to eat at the food centre or you can buy 'takeaway'. i can see the similiarity between the cantonese dish and the teochew kway chap. both use a large shallow basin to contain the assortment of foodstuff and to keep it warm. the differences: loh kai yik does not come with 'kway'; kway chap does not have kangkong, chicken wing and cuttlefish.

in the 60s, most of the people who sold this food were itinerant food sellers. the general characteristics of such a person were: cantonese, elderly (could be either male or female) and working alone.

one person described a pot-bellied man who would go around on a bicycle with a big pot filled with tau pok, cuttlefish, pig skin, pig intestines, liver, belly pork and kangkong.

another talked about an old woman who carried a pot of the stuff moving from house to house. she announced her presence with shouts of 'loh kai yik, loh kai yik'.

according to a third person, there was a shop in joo chiat which sold this dish.

over at prince charles crescent, there was an old cantonese woman, who wore a sombrelo, selling this food. the customers would provide their own bowl and they could choose the items that they wanted, just like when you buy kway chap or yong tau foo.

the gradual disappearance of this dish could be attributed to two factors: (i) it was time-consuming to prepare; and (ii) people, now being health conscious, would avoid eating this dish.

if these are the reasons, then many other dishes, which are currently available, will have also gone the way of the dodo.


peter said...

Lei hai Tak Tai Kor!

Thanks for the lead. I shall look for it. My favorite something like 50+ years. How come thes sauce so light colour? I rememebr it was very black I I slurp every bit of it until kena my shirt.

peter said...

The loh kai yek in Tiong Bahru estate used a bicycle to sell. I like the "tai cheong", pig skin and "ung choy" (kangkong)

yg said...

peter, the sauce was a bit diluted but could still taste the red preserved beancurd. it was the first time (for me) eating it.

Icemoon said...

I checked. Loh Kai Yik actually means Braised Chicken Wing.

Err .. where's that wing in your photo?

fr said...

Right, it is braised chicken wing.

I'm Cantonese but I don't remember eating this. I might go and try the one at PPFC.

yg said...

icemoon, it is stewed chicken wing in fermented beancurd sauce. there was one piece of chicken wing in the $4 portion that i bought.

Yu-Kym said...

I've never heard of this dish. I will go try it!

yg said...

yu-kym, you are cantonese, like fr?

Uncle Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Phil said...

Thanks for writing the culinary rediscovery that may be otherwise be lost in a globalised food world in Singapore.

yg said...

uncle phil, seems like we lived through a very interesting period in singapore's history - the 50s and the 60s. remember the sellers of tok tok mee, the red bean soup, green bean soup, nasi lemak, epok2, rojak, bread, etc who came right to your door.

Victor said...

YG, any idea why the Cantonese scold people "Lei Loh Mei"? Did it originate from this dish?

yg said...

victor, sorry, i don't know cantonese, lah. what does 'lei loh mei' mean?

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