Welcome to our blog. This is a blog about our food, our travels, our life in Malaysia and NZ.
Henry and I,Alice are born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am the second eldest (out of 15 children) of Hon Soh, the founder of the famous Tai She Tau Soo Kee Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, established more than 60 years ago. My father is famous for his Sang Har Mien (Fresh Water King Prawn Noodles) and Ngau Yoke Horfan (Beef Noodles).
The history of Soo Kee and his famous food has been grossly misinterpreted. There are many who ply their trade by the same name but many are ex-staff who are riding on dad’s fame. Jalan Silang was where he started his iconic restaurant under a big rain tree at the age of twenty. From a few wooden tables he grew the business to spread around the area to 36! Needing help he quickly got married and produced fifteen of us little “Hons” The place was always packed and most times customers waited patiently for up to 40 minutes for their noodles, usually quite happy. My sisters, beauties in their own ways were sure they were part of the attraction too! I remember the late Mr. Lim Chiu Seng, founder of “Empat Ekor”, would ask dad to surprise him and with his ingenuity dad would cook exquisite meals only Mr. Lim would appreciate and could pay. At RM 120 a plate in those days, dad must have put magic in his food. A plate of “tou geh” was RM 10! Today standing in its place is a building with Emporium Mydin as the anchor tenant. The bus stand is still there, busier than I can remember and probably many third generations of pick-pocketers still fiddling for cash-filled wallets.
Today’s outlets of the real “Soo Kee” are at Jalan Khoo Tiek Ee (2 facing each other), Apollo Restaurant in USJ11, Jalan Telawi, Bangsar and Taman Megah. The rest of the wannabies are long lost staff.
Dad was very kind. Taxi drivers who worked hard for a living those days would always get ‘extras’. The common people, the rich and famous eat at his restaurant because his noodles were so good that even the posh restaurants could not duplicate his specialties. In those days, famous Hong Kong stars such as Jeh Yin, Lee Heong Kam, Leong Seng Poh and many of the Chinese opera stars must eat at the restaurant whenever they visit KL. The outlet at Jalan Khoo Tiek Ee is still feeding many celebreties like Jacky Chan, Frances Yip. a host of TVB HongKong actors and chefs worldwide. Tourists from Japan and Southeast Asia dine here as a highlight of their visits. The food that Sookee served is a dying breed. Sookee’s sons and daughters could not replicate 100% of his cooking. Having started three restaurants in New Zealand(all sold back in 1993) and operated a popular Japanese ramen food chain, we are happy to share recipes made famous by dad, grandmother and us strive to do our best but a lot of it is passion.
Alice’s maternal grandmother is a nyonya ( Chinese lady from china who migrated to Malaysia and adopted the Malay culture). Her good health was attributed to sleeping and waking up early, three “churetts”/cigarettes a day and eating well. Her fluency in Bahasa Malaysia and Tamil plus most Chinese dialects would make her a model Malaysian. Always in her sarong kebaya and immaculate her style she could stir up a feast fit for the king. Never too far away from her kitchen she created many nyonya dishes in my NZ Malaysian restaurants. A hot favourite was a whole snapper stuffed with a chilli paste, “ikan pagang pedas”, crispy outside and spicy moist inside. Customers at Alices’ Restaurant could never have enough!. Her Portugese baked curry was sensational. Her cooking is one of the best in nyonya cooking and Alice had learned some favourite recipes from her.
Being born into the restaurant business and growing up in Malaysia exposed us to a multicultural cuisines from Chinese, Malay, Indian and Nyonya. Migrating to NZ took a turn in our career as we ventured into opening a Malaysian restaurant (Alice’s Restaurant) in Papakura which became famous. Alice’s Restaurant was patronized by royalties such as the Prince Sufri of Brunei, the royal families from Johor, Selangor and Pahang etc. This was a favourite venue during the Wrightson’s Bloodstock thoroughbred auctions where many overseas buyers came to Papakura.
For those who are passionate about Asian food, we share the recipes of food that we love to cook for our family and friends.