Friday, July 13, 2007

Batu Gajah - Hakka Chee Cheong Fun

I want to write again about my trip to Batu Gajah on June 16th. I want to share with you a story about the Batu Gajah Hakka Chee Cheong Fun, which I discovered during that same trip.

The story began in 1970s, when I was still in primary school in a small little town in East Malaysia in Sarawak called Miri. I spent about 15 years there doing my kindergarten, primary and secondary schooling until Form 3.

My mom would buy us Chee Cheong Fun from the Miri wet market for breakfast. That was my first ever encounter with this delicacy. My sisters love it and we would fight to get more than our fair share each time.

My second encounter with Chee Cheong Fun was in a Dim Sum Restaurant in Vancouver, Canada. The texture of the Chee Cheong Fun was smooth and silky, unlike the ones I had when I was in Miri. There were fillings of prawns or minced meat enfolded inside, giving them their respective flavors. However, I could not help thinking about those Chee Cheong Fun I had back in Miri and found myself longing to go back during that time.

During this last trip to my wife's hometown, Batu Gajah, we were sitting in the living room when my wife's aunt shouted, startling all of us. In the Hakka dialect, she said, "The Chee Cheong Fun guy is here. Get your husband to go out and call the guy to stop so that he can try our Hakka Chee Cheong Fun."

She has just heard the Chee Cheong Fun seller riding pass on his motor bike blaring the horn at regular interval. So, my wife quickly got me up from watching TV and hurried me to go chase the Chee Cheong Fun guy on a motor bike, I dare say. What's wrong with her... how was I to chase a guy on motor bike, I thought to myself. Besides, I was watching a real good show on TV (which for the life of me, I could not recall the show's name now, senility???) and was not amused.

When I got out to the streets, the guy was no where to be seen. Of course, they would not let it go at that, "Go and find, go and find. Use my father's motor bike and go chase," my wife said.

Not wanting to cause a scene, I relented and rode the motor bike out in hope of finding that Chee Cheong Fun seller. And of course, like all normal married couple, my sweet wife directed the search.

Finally, we caught up with the seller in front of a house a few blocks away. Some lady (obviously) had flagged him down and she was buying some for her family.

The Chee Cheong Fun - There were the plain ones (almost sold out in the other compartment) and the ones with "dried" prawns embedded in the Chee Cheong Fun.

The seller packing 5 packets of the Hakka Chee Cheong Fun for us.

The man and the tools of his trade.

I ate a serving there.

I asked him how often he drives pass this neighbourhood and what time of the day. He pointed to the back of his motor bike and said, "The only way to be sure I come by is to call me by this number."

"Cool!" I thought. I will definitely do that whenever I get back to Batu Gajah.

Now, the reason in the beginning of this posting, I wrote about my Miri Chee Cheong Fun and Vancouver Dim Sum experience, was that this damn Hakka Chee Cheong Fun in Batu Gajah tasted exactly like those I had when I was a kid a lifetime ago!!!

Of course you know there is nothing like that first time experience.

Of course you know I had to benchmark all Chee Cheong Fun with the Miri ones!

Of course, the Batu Gajah Chee Cheong Fun brought back so many memories.

Of course, I will go to Batu Gajah for that Chee Cheong Fun! I am home!

(Btw, I was back in Miri in 1984. I searched for that Chee Cheong Fun in the wet market and was told that the seller had moved.)

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