“I’ve been in this business for 47 years.”
His statement was beaming with pride yet slightly cooled with the sips from his iced coffee.
He, is Uncle Chow. And Uncle Chow is the owner of Keng Heong, or more affectionately known as The Pink Shop, the coffeeshop that we frequent daily for lunch and sometimes dinner. I have mentioned about him before in this post whereby his RM1 bought me a smile.
Last night, he brought us to Menglembu’s night market to taste probably the best Laksa in Perak. It was so good that we had to wait for our seats, and even then, many couldn’t be bothered to wait for their turn. It was like a competition to see who got their own seats first.
There were six of us, including Uncle. He made sure we all had our seats first, while he stood and waited for his. And when we got to our table, instinctively, like the kopitiam uncle we know, he took the table cloth and wiped our tables clean for us – at a stall that was not his. He disappeared for a moment and returned with Taiwan fried chicken and some famous popiah to fill our tummies while we wait, and refused to accept any payment.
Taste-wise, it was the best Laksa I’ve ever had during my 5 years here in Perak. If only I knew about this place sooner. And this is coming from a Penang-bred Laksa snob.
After our meals, he let us take our time to roam about that huge night market (which according to him has about 100 over stalls), and offered to quench our thirst when we were done. He drove us to a nearby coffeeshop (also filled with a galore of food), and ordered iced coffee for each of us. With just one sip, our senses were heightened with the rich aromatic flavor, something quite rare in iced coffee. I can only imagine how it would be like if drunk hot. Next time, next time.
He shared secrets of how to make a good cup of white coffee. Granted, even his own coffeeshop makes good coffee (and in a very generous portion too). Then he asked us about our origins and which school we went to in our secondary years. Then I asked him a little bit about himself. From our conversations, it was pretty obvious that Uncle has “eaten more salt that we have had rice”, and we were all amazed by how he stayed on in the small Tronoh town for 47 years. He knew generations of UTP graduates, names we’ve never heard of, including those who have gotten married and started their own family. We wondered if we would come back in the near future for a little reunion.
The Malaysia vs Singapore match was live on telly. I learned how the aggregate system works (never been a big fan of football), and we cheered as Malaysia scored the first goal. We continued our conversations until Singapore even the score, resulting in groans over the kopitiam. We left before the match was finished – and while we may have lost the game, we won ourselves a very good cup of coffee, courtesy of Uncle once again.
I’m definitely going to miss Uncle Chow when I leave this place.
This is the Uncle who makes sure we get good cash bills in return.
He’s also the Uncle who charges us Rm1.00 for our hearty bowl of soup, when others charge RM1.20.
He gave half his durian to us (despite other customers present) during dinner.
When his friend made him a limited jar of (awesome) home made chili paste, he took it out and shared it with us over our meal.
He’s much older than us, more experienced, and a successful owner of a business that feeds hungry UTP students everyday.
But he’s the most humble man I’ve ever met.
And dining with an icon of humility, is great honor.