The spring rolls at Jaffan Popiah Taiping are so fresh they get your mouth watering in no time.
It is often easy to overlook the hidden culinary gems in small towns, transfixed on the delicacies originating from bigger – and more famous – localities instead; Penang, Ipoh and Malacca immediately comes to mind. Nonetheless, small towns shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to food, and in this era of hipsters and Instagram, proving you’re a committed foodie not afraid of a long drive in search of a trendy dish is a way of life, and these once-forgotten hamlets now take the shape of ‘like’-mining meccas.
In Taiping, equally as famous – if not more – as the cendol is the popiah basah, aka fresh spring rolls. And not just any spring rolls by the street, but specifically the one located in the iconic Larut Matang Food Court. This historical edifice where the popiah can be found was once the centre of congregation for Taipingites, when movie-goers from nearby (now-defunct) movie theatres as well as shoppers from the Larung Matang supermarket (also defunct) would come together over food.
The food court itself is reflective of the multicultural harmonious living of Taiping – with the building being shared by all types of vendors selling all types of food. All the stalls are numbered, making it easy for tourists to find any specific stall they may be looking for. The stall you need to seek out for some delicious popiah is stall No.1: Jaffan Popiah Taiping.
A short history – Jaffan Popiah Taiping was once known as Famous Omar Popiah Taiping, when it still reflected the owner’s name. However, as it often the case with inherited food-stalls, Omar recently changed the name of the stall to Jaffan, in preparation of his namesake son taking over the business. Nonetheless, having been around for more than 60 years, the name change does not seem to affect the business one bit, as followers and foodies still throng in full force to the first stall by one of the food court’s many entrances. Also, the price has also gone up by 10 cents for each popiah to RM0.70 now since the rebranding.
Now to the main – and only – star of Jaffan – the popiah basah. Spring rolls are a common presence in our nation’s roster of traditional dishes, be it fried or fresh. Originating from China, they have become famous throughout Southeast Asia, and even a staple dish for some, as is the case in Vietnam. Nevertheless, these spring rolls are not the same, with each culture infusing their own method of cooking to make each spring roll different.
The popiah basah at Jaffan contains all the usual spring roll fare – turnip pickled with turmeric, bean sprouts, ground tofu with turmeric, fried onion and dried shrimps. But, what makes it special though is the homemade spring roll wrapper, as well as the rich, dark, secret sauce that is spread on the skin before adding the other ingredients and tightly wrapping it all up.
Want a taste of the popiah for yourself? Take a drive to Taiping today – it’s only 3 hours away after all.
Larut Matang Food Court,
25, Jalan Panggung Wayang,
34000 Taiping, Perak.
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