HANDMADE food items such as the sai-tou yee yeen (wolf herring or ikan parang fishballs) are difficult to find these days.
Automation has taken over cottage industries and most of the ikan parang fishballs that you find in supermarkets are from factories in coastal areas around Selangor.
Despite modernisation, one particular noodle stall off Jalan Loke Yew in Kuala Lumpur, is still offering handmade ikan parang fishball noodles.
And if you are lucky, you can actually see how it is made.
I came to know about this stall from Lee Hon Yew, an old makan kaki of mine, who is very fond of fishball noodles.
“Eh Sam ah, have you heard of the saitou yee yeen noodle stall in Loke Yew?,” he asked.
I found out that the noodle stall was his favourite makan place.
Even in retirement, Lee is actively seeking new makan places around the country.
I chanced upon this noodle stall while looking for a fishing tackle shop.
It is under a flyover and is a corner shop called Huat Kee (GPS N03 07.753, E101 41.669).
I was also told that the fishball noodle stall was located in Jalan San Peng some years ago.
When I got there, I saw an elderly man laying out a few table-sized wolf herrings and filleting the fish.
There was a meat grinder next to him I stood there, watching him skilfully remove the flesh from the filleted pieces with a metal spoon.
This is called tarr yee tan (blending the fishball), and the results are amazing. Back in the days before machines were introduced, the fish fillets were beaten with a stick until soft and the flesh was scooped out with a spoon to form fishballs.
And since the fishballs are made on the spot, expect them to be fresh off the wok!
A bowl of karr-lieu noodles with all the goodies thrown in costs about RM9.50, and it was worth every ringgit and sen.
The fishballs were springy in texture and tasty, and a few “flying saucers” or Teochew fish wantan that were thrown in the soup mix was outstanding.
I would rate it an 8 out of 10 on the Samo-scale.
The only part that really sucks is finding a place to park as the Loke Yew area used to be notorious for gangsterism.
Huat Kee fishball noodle stall opens early in the morning through lunch hour. The best time to go there is before noon.