Sunday, 16 August 2015

Reminiscing About Childhood Over Tea

STG Boutique Cafe, where Hotel Thye Loy was situated
     Sunday tea with Mummy today evoked childhood memories...hers to be exact. We had tea at STG Boutique Cafe, which occupies two shoplots in Jalan Tun Sambanthan in Ipoh's Old Town.  And it is precisely at these two shoplots that Hotel Thye Loy once stood. My maternal grandfather, Yip Chee Cheong, was the hotelier.
     As a young man, my grandfather came over from China to seek his fortune. In days when hotels were rare, my enterprising grandfather rented two shoplots at Hale Street (now renamed as Jalan Tun Sambanthan) from Lam Look Ing, a rich man in Ipoh. And from there, he started his pride and joy, Hotel Thye Loy.
The 2nd shop, where Mummy used to stay in, is now a "Tao Fu Fah" shop
     In its heydays, Hotel Thye Loy was popular among merchants and traders, some of whom came from China. My grandfather rented a shop diagonally opposite the hotel for his family to stay. And my mother grew up in this vicinity with her eight siblings.
     My mother remembers my grandmother cooking huge amounts of food as they also needed to feed the hotel staff. Being the youngest daughter, my mother was assigned "lighter" tasks, one of which being the bearer of report cards. She had to collect all the report cards of her siblings and herself, then take them to the hotel to obtain her father's signature. Unfortunately, she also bore the brunt of my grandfather's grumbles when her siblings' grades did not meet my grandfather's expectations. 
     Another of my mother's assigned duties was to walk over to the hotel to ask her father for the family's daily allowance of RM20. In those days, RM20 was an enormous amount of money; my grandmother was able to feed her family and an army of hotel workers with that money. This childhood chore was most disliked and to this day, my mother is financially independent and NEVER asks anyone for money. 
The back lane where a little girl stood sentinel
     The laundry of the hotel linen required copious amounts of hot water, which was boiled over firewood. My grandfather had to hire a woodcutter to chop the firewood after the lorry had delivered the tons of valuable wood. It was also my mother's responsibility to stand watch at the back lane of the hotel so that the woodcutter did not pilfer any. 
     Skipping over to the hotel to look for her father also held its rewards. When my grandfather was in a jolly mood, he would take my mother's hand and lead her to a father-daughter yumcha session at a nearby dim sum restaurant. My mother recalls fond memories of sharing char siew bao, har gow and fish balls with my grandfather.
     When other hotels started coming up in the late 1960s, Hotel Thye Loy's business was adversely affected. Despite his wife and children's nagging to close it down, my grandfather held on tenaciously to his hotel. By then, the family was no longer staying diagonally across the hotel at Leech Street (now renamed as Jalan Bandar Timah), but had a house in Canning Garden. My mother and her sister, Aunt Sow Kwan, would take turns to drive their father home from the hotel every night.
     My grandfather finally, albeit reluctantly, let go of Hotel Thye Loy to retire. After all, his nine children were already working. Unfortunately, he did not get to enjoy his retirement as he succumbed to a heart attack in 1972, three years before I was born. Some of his children believe that his ill health could have been brought on by closing down Hotel Thye Loy as he did not seem a happy man since then.
     So it was over today's Sunday tea that Mummy reminisced about her childhood at our Sunday tea venue. And I got the chance to feel closer to the grandfather that I never had the opportunity to meet.
An opulent yet reasonably-priced cafe
Tempting array of desserts

I detect a colonial feel to the tasteful decor
Our heavenly walnut brownie

My Baby Strawberry Tea Mocktail and Mummy's Green Apple Juice
Sideview of STG Boutique Cafe, where there's another entrance

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Serving Dry Curry Prawns For A Sunday Dinner

     The Internet is indeed an inexhaustible mine of information. I once stumbled upon this blog "Elinluv's Tidbits Corner" and have been an ardent fan ever since. Elin Chia, a fellow Ipohite, is a recently retired blogger who thinks of her kitchen as her playground. It was a pleasure to meet her in person while we were browsing through cookbooks at the recent Big Bad Wolf book sale in Ipoh.
     Elin shares many mouthwatering recipes and tonight I put to test her latest recipe : Dry Curry Prawns. She served it with her own turmeric glutinous rice but since Derrick and I are not keen on that, I opted to serve my dry curry prawns with the usual white rice.
Dry curry prawns for dinner

     Derrick's verdict? "Nice! Lovely!" he kept on saying, so need I say more? Yes, I do need to add a big thank you to Elin Chia for the recipe of this extremely easy dish to cook.

1/2 kilo of large prawns
fresh ground curry paste (upon Elin's
     recommendation, I went to the Central Market
     for this)
1 or 2 stalks of crushed lemongrass (serai)
3 to 4 tbsp of oil
2 twigs of curry leaves
2 chopped shallots
1/2 cup of full cream milk or coconut milk

1.   Heat up the wok.
2.   Add the oil and heat it up.
3.   Throw in the shallots, curry leaves and 
      lemongrass. Fry till aromatic.
4.   Put in the prawns. Stir fry till the prawns are 
      cooked and the curry paste coats the shells.
5.   Pour in the full cream milk or coconut milk.
      Continue to cook till the gravy thickens.
6.   Dish up and serve hot.

Bon appetit!