August 10, 2012

Eating Kampua in Batu Niah



Batu Niah is one of the most famous towns of Sarawak because it is the place where the World Famous Niah caves are found. Hence people in other parts of the world and even Malaysia know more about the Niah Caves than the town itself.

Batu Niah was a small town which was established by the side of the Niah River as a result of small trading businesses by the Chinese and the Malays and Kedayans more than 100 years ago .Timber also contributed to the establishment of more shops in the 1960's. Actually it was the demand for rattan and Birds Nests from the Niah Caves which first contributed to the establishment of the little town in the early days. However in the last 20 years the oil palm industry has actually given a great boost to the building of more shops and modern homes in this area. Take for example Sepupok and Kuala Niah (nearby townlets) are now fast growing with a good population and a great number of Hilux and lorries.




Eateries in Batu Niah are mainly operated by the "original" Chinese settlers of Batu Niah - the Hakka people and to a small extent the Hokkiens. Some Foochows have established themselves here after the timber companies have left town when logging could no longer make money.







Although Cantonese (?)  Fried Noodles and Hakka braised noodles are popular  Hokkien Stir Fried noodles can also be found in the eateries. The Kampua seems to have taken hold of the cuisine found in Batu Niah in recent years. With a population which swells in the weekends the town's coffee shops and small hotels do a brisk business. Most of the people from the hinterland come into the town to buy supplies and even gold jewellery at the end of the month according one business man I interviewed.

According to a die hard Foochow business woman in Batu Niah..."Every one would still care to order a plate of Kampua Mee because it is so nice even in Niah...no need to go to Sibu to order a plate of Kampua Mee!!"

Yes indeed we used to swear that only Moi Suong's kampua in Sibu was the best and Sarikei also produced some good kampua mee too. In Miri Wan Hin Coffee shop has one of the best kampua ....May be we don't have to find the best...just look for OK ones...

We went to this local coffee shop in the original old bazaar of Batu Niah(not the Miri /Sibu Road junction)  and ordered kampua mee...and our friends said that the kampua is "OK"...and may be that's why the business in this shop is good!!

The deep fried onions made the kampua nice and the "Sup Kosong" or Ching Tang (Clear soup) is tasty. I would say if the towkay puts into one Wonton (dumpling) into the soup for good measure with extra chopped green onions.....even more people would come and patronise the coffee shop!!

I heard from a friend that when one outlet in Miri did not give  complimentary bowls of Clear Soup some of  its customers stopped coming. Later when the soup was offered "upon request" some customers came back. Now the clear soup is given without being asked...more customers have come back and putting the business on its feet again. so I think one special Wonton or dumpling in the Clear Soup would help make the business even better.

Kampua Mee is quite a staple and it need not be made by the Foochows. Halal Kampua Mee has become quite popular every where in Sarawak.

The secret is in the sauce and the oil which gives the plain noodles a good taste. But other factors must also be taken into consideration....It is not as simple as you see it to be....

It is difficult to say who makes the best Kampua Mee ....because your taste and my taste are really different...

Have you heard of the Ministers' Kampua Mee stall in Sibu? If you have the time...you can try to find out the Ministers' taste...

14 comments:

wenn said...

the mee looks good.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes...this is similar to Wantan Mee of KL..but there is no veg and meat balls...the sauce is different..Kong lou...Hope one day you will try it in Sarawak...available in KL.

Anonymous said...

sibu kampua is still the best and being the original....ask anyone and they will tell u tht Ah Kow ws the best.........but now is run by his former assistant(next to the fire brigade)Not only wht goes into it.........but the actual cooking techiques have to be good too.Give me kampua anytime

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thank you Anonymous for writing in. Yes I used to enjoy the kampua mee of the Island Road shop since Primary School days. And then a few other places in later years. I must go to Ah Kow's and try the kampua there. I have heard of the special technique of getting the noodles cooked just right...

I often need a kampua fix every now and then..and then World Peace....

Ann said...

I was disappointed when I ate them this trip.

Ann said...

I met a pastor and he paid for the Kampua, andI felt bad. But they tell me is ok, this pastor is rich.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

You did not go to the right shop? Or your taste buds might have changed...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

the pastor may be your father's student? Or he is from Bintangor?

Ann said...

See my facebook, the photos where I have you listened under "My connection" with Methodist.

Rev Alopen is too young to be my dad's student, even younger than me. If I have not mistaken, family is something Ing bookshop.

Ann said...

I went to quite a few kampua shop, may be I was building up my anticipation.

Joseph said...

I chance upon your blog page while browsing on ensabi iban. Its been many years since I last tasted a plate of kam pua mee. Way back in the early 70's it was just 30sen kosong a plate with a bowl of plain soup. Was wondering whether you could spare us the recipe for the plain noodle. As residents of Vancouver proper in Canada we are not opportune to eat any kam pua here till our next holiday in Sarawak. My wife is iban and she craves for kampua mee whenever we visit Kuching.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thank you Joseph for writing..I will do a home cooked Kampua when I can get a great lady to do it for me..Will do some photographs just for your wife!! Some say it is the noodle (snall and curly) made by Sarawakians..some say it is the onion sauce...there is indeed magic in kampua...Cheers..

Joseph said...

I am looking forward to it. Hopefully a great "ah mu" will indulge in telling you the secret recipe for the "snall and curly" noodle, the very essence of a good foochow kam-pua. It is imperative that I get to know the works of the noodle making first......the rest of the make up and seasoning will come with the foochowness in me.
By the way, I am very impress with your articulation of the many foochow traditions and customs. I find them very informative and entertaining. Never had I once knew the foochows are so steep in their traditions. I am a foochow, speaks "ni kiang" of the dialect and was raised in Kuching in the mid sixties. Those days in Kuching the very small foochow clan was very much frown upon for reasons of which I was too young to understand then. I would visit my uncle once so often who resided at Lee Hua Sawmill on the once mighty rejang river between Sibu and Binatang (now Bintangor). That's where I tasted my first kampua-mee and its sister noodle the "mee sua" in "ang chiew".
Cheers.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Joseph,
Thank you for your great response. I am very touched. Can you still remember your days in Lee Hua Sawmill with your uncle? It would make very good reading I am sure. Let me know if you like. I have written about Ramin and Lee Hua sawmill.