The good old days…

I came from the generation when our weekly 50 cents a plate of kampua mee, with meat – 30 cents without meat, was a luxury and the Sibu-made aerated water like the Ngo Kian brand, for instance, at 30 cents a bottle was something we could ill afford and we could only wait till Christmas or Chinese New Year before we could drink those – how we loved the ice cream soda and the sarsi – and we would end up with orange or red lips and teeth if we went for the orange or cherry respectively, the result of the colouring in the drinks. The CocaCola and Red Lion (F&N) orange were specially reserved for guests and we would stay away from those if we knew what was good for us.

We had a Lido Cinema once, now a hotel…

Lehdo Hotel, formerly Lido Cinema
*Archive photo*

…after it was burnt down and outside the cinema, in one corner, there was a little stall and we loved the yeu chang koi (fried shallot cake) in little bowls, for just 10 cents or was it 5, I can’t remember exactly now. This is some kind of steamed cake made from rice flour and back in those days, the seller would use a bamboo spatula to cut it up, sprinkle fried shallots on it and pour some very nice special black soy sauce on it and serve and we could add chili sauce if it so pleased us.

I had that (RM1.00)…

Sibu Pasar Malam yeu chang koi
*Archive photo*

…once at the pasar malam (night market) here at a stall run by one lady and yes, it was very nice except that it was no longer in a little bowl but in a wide but shallow stainless steel plate so it was not as thick as the ones before. My friends from Singapore tried and they liked it so much that when they went back the following night, they had it again.

Well, it so happened that the other day, I happened to walk past this coffee shop…

Hong Yuan Cafe
*Archive photo*

where they used to sell our favourite tee piang in town in the morning, while stock lasted and yes, they did get sold out very fast but they no longer do it there. You will have to go to the pasar malam if you want those – look out for the sign on top of the stall…

Sibu Pasar Malam tee piang stall
*Archive photo*

…but be forewarned that there will always be a crowd standing around the stall waiting to grab anything and everything that comes out of the wok so you may have to be prepared to wait for your turn.

That morning, I saw a man selling yeu chang koi

Hong Yuan Cafe yeu chang koi 1

…at the aforementioned coffee shop so of course, I simply had to stop by to give it a try…

Hong Yuan Cafe yeu chang koi 2

Yes, it was very nice…

Hong Yuan Cafe yeu chang koi 3

…and seeing how similar it was to the one at the pasar malam, I asked the man and he told me that was his sister and he learnt how to make it from her. He was gracious enough to admit that his sister could do it better but personally, I thought his was just as good.

It sure brought back pleasant memories of the very simple stuff that brought us so much joy in the good old days, way back then but no, it was no longer that cheap any longer – RM1.20 now, 20 sen more than that time when I had it at the sister’s stall at the pasar malam, a far cry from the pittance that we had to fork out for this a long, long time ago.

HONG YUAN CAFE (2.290323, 111.826358) is one of the many coffee shops on the right along Jalan Morshidi Sidek that leads straight to Wisma Sanyan, facing the Chung Hua Primary School on the left.