Sunday, October 3, 2010

follower of teochew porridge stall

whenever i think of teochew porridge, i think of chye buay (preserved cut vegetable), steamed fish, hae bee hiam (chilli fried with dried prawn) , chye poh (salted radish) omelette, tau kee (beancurd strip) with stewed chicken feet, the bland watery, grainy porridge and owen road.

owen road in the 60s and up to the 80s used to be the place where people would zero in for teochew porridge, just like you will head for beach road and geylang for steamboat buffet, lau par sat for malay satay and upper thomson road for roti prata. in the past, we would also head to middle road for steamboat and waterloo street for indian rojak.

the authentic teochew muay or porridge stalls at owen road had a spread of many dishes, some stalls as many as 60 varieties for you to choose from. most, if not all, of these dishes that went with the bland porridge were salty. if it was not salty, like the steamed fish, then you would have to dip it in soya sauce or the fermented bean sauce to make it salty.

in those backlane and low-stool days, there were as many as three shops or stalls selling teochew porridge along that short stretch of owen road between worcester road and race course road. it was so popular that some of the shops/stalls had extensions to the back lane, especially the shops at the two ends. yes, we did sit on low stools sometimes but we did not squat or place our feet on the stools.

we were so besotted with the chye buay at one particular owen road stall that, up to today, whenever or wherever we eat teochew porridge, we will order this dish. if this dish is not available, it just seems that something is missing and that the teochew porridge meal is not complete.

after that owen road stall moved, we looked for teochew porridge elsewhere and found a good replacement at the former lakeview housing estate. one day, while i was at dunlop street, i was happily surprised to find the same man who had been manning the owen road's stall. from then on, we had the option of having teochew porridge at either lakeview or dunlop street. somehow, we preferred the dunlop street stall, the one that had originated from owen road.

the porridge stall at dunlop street moved again. we made enquiries and found out that it had moved to sam leong road, off jalan besar. the quality remained unchanged although the number of dishes appeared to have dwindled.

one day, while having porridge at the stall, we overheard the owners talking about quitting the business. alas, it was not long before we discovered that the stall had been replaced by a bak kut teh stall.

i have been resigned to not having my favourite chye buay and hae bee hiam till the other day when i went to explore geylang. after eating bak kut teh, we were walking to the bus-stop when i saw my 'old friend' at the corner teochew porridge stall at lorong 17. i went up to him to ascertain that he was the same person who had been at owen road, dunlop street and jalan besar.

looks like i would be renewing my acquaintance with my favourite teochew porridge stall.

teochew porridge in the past used to be the fare of the working class although it was not uncommon to see towkays coming in mercedes to join the labourers, trishaw riders and blue collar workers in their overalls at the stall.

today, a bowl of fishball noodle or a plate of wanton mee is cheaper than a teochew porridge meal. today, we pay $16.00 for four bowls (two bowls each) of refreshing porridge with fish (sea bass), hae bee hiam, chye buay and tau kee at the geylang lorong 17 stall.


Lee said...

Hello YG, I was busy with some visitors and household chores and no opportunity go visiting.
But today, I told myself I must return your visits, ha ha.

I like that car was down under.
I too use a car wash, over and under, especially during winter, but only when temp above freezing, or else whole car turns to ice.

I have always loved this Teochew porridge.
Used to have it long ago at that steel market in Singapore, Beach road? Lau Pak Sat or something the name.
As well at a shop in North Bridge road, but this was wayyyy back '70s, 80s.

More often in JB at Jln Ah Fook by the smelly longkang, ha ha.
I love especially their 'hum choy' and that delicious soy pork.

Thats one porridge I have not eaten 23 years!
Oh ya, love Shangrila's after midnight prawn porridge too.

So, how you doin' my friend?
How's the the way, I guess when past 50, memory passes 70, ha ha, but always wanted to mention, but have 2 lovely daughters.
I guess their attractive looks come from both the mom and dad, huh? Ha ha.
Have a nice day, best regards, Lee.

yg said...

hi lee, wow! now you are well-known to s'pore readers and bloggers. i have just received an email from a friend who highlighted your blog.
the 'steel market' you referred to was the clyde terrace market at beach road which hokkiens called 'tik pa sat'. i go to jb to eat 'guo bak hoon' and on jalan wong ah fook, usually to eat roast duck.
i am fine, thank you. my daughters are lucky that they didn't get my 'look' genes.

Dogcom said...

Hi YG, anybody worth his salt to comment on "Teochew Muay" must remember the old days of labourers squatting on top of the stools to enjoy their meal. And those of us who are Teochew Porridge fan and old enough will remember the Owen Road stall. We used to eat at the back lane, and you'll remember fresh porridge being made continuously by an 'old master' in clay pot; how he expertly control the boiling time etc to create that perfect texture that Teochew Muay should be. Fond memories...

yg said...

hi dogcom, after all the rich and fried food, teochew muay is such a refreshing change. once in a while, i must have it. the authentic teochew porridge is plain, with no sweet potatoes in it. each time, i usually have two bowls of the porridge.

Dogcom said...

When we were a young my grandmother makes porridge for breakfast. Just the very simple basic dishes to go with it. Yes it is the best! Of course when we get older we have Teochew muay for supper. Refreshing and not oily. Cheng cheng : )

Dogcom said...

Hey check out a couple of pictures of the way people eat their Teochew Muay, squatting on my blog : )

yg said...

hi frankie, thanks for sharing. i didn't realise that there are people who still place their feet on the seat while eating.

doris said...

go try the $8 porridge buffet at rajah inn on L2 of tiong bahru plaza. the buay chye, soy bak etc are nice and you can eat from 11am to 2.30pm. we bhts gals just went yesterday.

Thimbuktu said...

Hi YG,

The traditional way of people who place their feet on the seat while eating "teochew muay" in front of these stalls along Telok Ayer Road, Beach Road and Chinatown for practical purposes.

The photo below at this stall shows how the customer will have to eat in front of the stall in those days here .

Dogcom said...

Hi James, nice photo : ) likely from the 60's. I think it's all a habit. Further back in pre-war and probably 50's as I can recall stories told by my grandma and my parents, the seating arrangement would be a long bench in front of the stall, not individual stools. I would imagine squatting on a bench is easy, whereas on a stool it might be unstable.

yg said...

james, thanks for sharing the photo. i guess in those earlier days, there were teochew muay stalls at ellenborough market and hock lam street area.

yg said...

frankie, yes, i have seen such a bench before. it could be shared by a number of customers.

yg said...

doris, parkroyal on kitchener road used to have teochew porridge. don't know if they still have it.