SOMETIMES, a good makan place can be missed even when you have lived in the area for more than three decades.
I grew up in Kuala Lumpur and lived in Subang Jaya seven years ago.
During my stay in the city area, I spent quite a bit of time commuting from my old house in Jalan Genting Kelang to my then working place in Jalan Riong.
And in that three decades of walking (yes, there was a point in time when I was so broke, I actually walked), cycling, taking cabs and buses, one makan place escaped my attention.
I only later discovered a restaurant opposite the Chong Hwa primary school in Setapak that serves a decent plate of Hokkien-char (stir-fried Hokkien noodles), pek ker (fried rice sticks) and park mai fun (spicy beehoon) with my colleague James Lam.
“Eh Sam ah, you heard of a place that serves good Hokkien-char in Setapak ah?,” he asked.
My immediate reaction was a blank face.
Now, here’s a fact: back in the days when Setapak was known as Mun Noong Kong, this road was dotted with little stalls selling fried noodles, especially at night.
I know that at least two stalls still exist while the rest have faded away with time.
Where I used to live was called Pang Chong (biscuit factory) and when I was achild, I used to take the bus and tell the conductor that my destination was kilang biskut.
Back to the Hokkien-char makan place, Lam took me out for lunch to Restoran Setapak Teochew (GPS N 03 11 108, E 101 42 119).
There, I met Mr Ng, the owner, who is probably in his 60s. He told me that his restaurant has been around since 1912.
Now the burning question in my mind was this: “How did a century-old makan place elude my Samo-sense?”.
We chatted and I found out that Ng’s family had been doing business in Setapak for four generations.
Okay, now comes the crunch – how does the Hokkien-char compare with some of the landmark makan places in Kuala Lumpur’s city centre?
I would rate Ng’s Hokkien-char at 5 out of 10 on the Samoscale.
The pek ker tasted decent and just when I was getting comfortable, the owner of this restaurant pulled a surprise out of his hat.
“Ah, lee kor peen tou tow mou tak sek ka…” (You can never find this anywhere).
Ng recommended a plate of spicy beehoon.
This one-of-a kind noodle dish came stir-fried with fishballs and fishcakes and its main ingredient, dried shrimps, lend it a really aromatic flavour.
As for ratings, I would place the park mai fun at 7 out of 10 on the Samoscale.
There are other dishes on the menu and I plan to try them on another day.
Restoran Setapak Teochew is located along Jalan Pahang and the nearest landmark is the Chong Hwa primary school.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.