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Traditional Dumpling Pau @ Temoh Nam Seong Coffee Shop
I myself have zoomed by many times and often noticed some cars stopping in front and at the side of an old colonial house that looked run-down and dilapidated. Curiosity tickled, one fine day I made a U-turn to find out what the hoo-hah was all about.
The outside may look run-down, but inside was a clean coffee-shop furnished with round marble tables and old-style black wooden chairs. At the far end were some people buying something. Hmm... must be good stuff.
They were going for these Lor Mai Kai (Glutinous Chicken Rice). "Don't you all sell paus?" "Yes we do, but they are not ready yet". Hungry I quickly grabbed one of the last few of this Lor Mai Kai.
It was only twelve noon, and their paus would only be ready by 2 pm. Eager to savour their paus, I plonked myself into one of the old chairs, ordered a coffee and a plate of fish balls to go with the Lor Mai Kai.
The Lor Mai Kai was good, slightly above average with chicken that had a hint of Chinese White Wine. The chicken were of better cuts and their Chinese sausage of better grade.
The fish balls were good too, bitey and with a good fishy flavour.
I ate slowly and let myself settle into the slow place of life here, just being relaxed. After a while, the small town mood gets to you and slowly the rat-race anxiety ebbed away.
With time to spare, I walked to the kitchen; the owner and his son were making pork dumplings, rolling the pastry, scooping pork onto the rounded patties and with deft hand movements, lightly squeezed them into shapes that we are familiar with. With an adept pinch, they finished off closing the dumpling with a nipple at the top. This requires good nipple pinching experience to ensure that the pau fillings won't leak out.
I like the way they shaped their paus, not like the normal half-sphere but with groove lines atop, making them look like half-opened lotus blooms.
How does one recognise the different types of paus? Each pau-maker have their own style - either shaping the pau differently or by their sizes or by coloured dots on the tops. This maker had made his Char Siu Pau with a skew to one side that ended with a nipple.
The above are the normal pork dumplings, no skew and with a less pronounced nipple.
Guess what these ones with a saffron orange dots are?
Yup, saffron orange like a Buddhist monk's robe could only mean vegetarian. These are vegetable paus.
A close up look at a vegetable pau.
The filling used here is different, instead of the usual Mui Choy, sliced turnips is used, the flavour of which is similar to those fillings used for steamed Chai Kueh. The bun itself is good, with a bready, firm body starting from the top nipple downwards... serious! I am not trying to be naughty.
A close up view of a Char Siu Pau, this one's nipple is a bit distorted, must have been made by the son who probably has less nipple pinching experience 😜.
Ok.... jokes aside and I better stop with the nipple allegory before a saffron robed monk come by and whack me on the head!
Their filling is again different, no dark reddish colour of the regular Char Siu, just a brown soya sauce colour. It still has the sweetness of Char Siu, but the meat were more tender and the overall mix had some turnips too... guess the old man believed in a balanced meal.
But I am not done eating yet, am still waiting for another of the pau, the cute looking Lam Yee Pau (Fermented Bean Curd Dumpling). These will take another half an hour before they are ready! It's okay, I am getting used to the slow pace; nor with urgency, I ordered another coffee slowly drinking in as I watch another patron serve himself some hot Chinese tea. We gave each other an acknowledging nod, like old friends sharing a secret.
Meanwhile... in the kitchen... the Lam Yee Pau were being made. From a basin, a worker scoop up a spoonful of Lam Yee-Pork mixed, put them onto a slightly elongated patty.....
..... which are rolled into these cute looking paus with their sides exposed and the filling peeking out.
I like these Lam Yee Paus, they look so elegant, like a silk pillow.
and they taste good too; the slightly salty and strong musky taste of the fermented bean curd goes very well with the bun. Not to be missed, this one!
I have also ordered take-away; my order was put into a separate bamboo tray for it to cool down before packing.
Pricing of their paus at time of this blog are as follows:
Kaya, Tau Sar and Vegetable Paus are at RM1:30 each,
Char Siew Paus are at RM1:70 each.
Lam Yee Pau at RM2:00 each.
I watched the old lady work out my bill, slowly pushing the beads of an abacus, oblivious to the electronic calculators beside her. I am going to miss this unhurried place as I sped off to return to the rat race.
NAM SEONG COFFEE SHOP
Shop Hours: 6:30am to 6:00pm | Dumpling Hours: 2:00pm to 5:00pm
GPS: 4.24335, 101.1958
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