Sinhalese Fei-lo-ship

Uncle Wilfred and Auntie Seela are gracious hosts
Auntie Seela and Uncle Wilfred have a reputation for warm hospitality, always making visitors very welcome with their caring concern and lovingly home-cooked food.  They are blessed with the gift of being gracious hosts, making it a point to invite each family over for a home-cooked meal.  And when we were invited over for dinner, the only response from us was a resounding, “Yes, thank you!” 

They work together in a wonderful partnership – Uncle drives auntie to the market to buy fresh ingredients and helps with the preparation while she does the cooking and baking.  From the fragrant, flavoured rice to savoury Sinhalese gravies and the delightful cheesecake dessert topped with mulberry fruits from their own garden, everything tasted simply superb.  That was probably because every aspect of the preparation was handled with tender thoughts and flavoured with the special ingredients of love and joy!

Gorgeous spread of Sinhalese food lovingly cooked
by Auntie Seela
Fellowship took on a new meaning when shared around such a sumptuous meal.  I say it in Cantonese, fei lo (fat man)-ship, an exaggeration of the word for warm fellowship over sumptuous food because in the typically Malaysian way (tambah lagi?), nobody was allowed to stop with a single helping!  One thing’s for sure – nothing brings people closer together than good food and great company! 

It was fun to quiz auntie on every recipe and it was amazing to discover her culinary skills in turning ordinary meat and vegetables into extraordinary dishes!   Let me whet your appetite with some of her delightful Sinhalese dishes.

Lip-smacking Chutney made with tamarind, dates and apples
My favourite Wambatu - brinjals in zinger spicy sauce!
Sinhalese style Mutton Peratal made with grass-fed local mutton
Sinhalese Parapu or dhall curry
Auntie Seela serving her lovely Cheesecake topped with
Mulberry jam - made from home-grown fruits!

When she has time auntie says she will practice her skills in icing cakes.  She bakes lovely cakes for birthdays and other celebrations and topped with decorative designs, her cakes are even more attractive!  Who knows?  Someday when opportunity knocks, she could even make her passion in cooking and baking, a profitable enterprise.  Yum!


Venice of the East

Canal cruise on traditional boats helmed
by singing boatwomen
Dressed in a bold red, black and white striped Nike t-shirt, Dennis my 6 foot-tall cousin, is standing head and shoulders above the average local men.  I guess he deliberately wore that shirt as it is easier to spot him in the teeming crowd.  With him strolling ahead, my sister and I take time to explore tiny shops that line the stone pavements that border the canals in Zhouzhuang, a picturesque ancient water village also dubbed, the Venice of the East.

For years Dennis, who is based in Shanghai for work, has been asking us to visit him and when we accepted his invite, he came to meet us at Pudong International Airport.  He has a holiday itinerary mapped out for us but of all the must-see places we visited, I especially enjoyed sharing a home-cooked Henan meal with his colleague’s family.  Dennis turns out to be a surprisingly hospitable host and we are delighted to set off on a 2-hour drive from Shanghai on comfortable expressways to spend the day in Zhouzhuang.

“Read the signs,” he instructed from his left-hand driver’s seat and I keep my eyes trained on the road signs along the route.  As we drive through the outskirts of Shanghai in the direction of Kunshan City in Jiangsu province, Dennis tells us a little about where we are going from his research as he has never been there too.  Later I tell him that the Zhouzhuang experience is worth every kilometer of the 70km scenic drive because it’s as if I was transported back in time or into a period movie set but better still, it’s like a living museum where villagers still go on with their almost 1000-year old lifestyle.

Handicrafts that are useful and great as souvenirs

Living Museum

Weeping willows drape over the canals that meander around the village as passing small boats ferrying tourists, gently glide across the placid water.  Just like Venetian gondoliers, the boatmen and women of Zhouzhuang often break into folk songs as they gracefully guide the boats along the busy canals.  

Dressed in traditional sam-foo made from coarse cotton fabric dyed navy blue with white prints, probably to keep warm from the chilly winds and light drizzle, they are a delight to watch and listen to.  

A vendor in a row of stalls selling dried seafood
Dennis went to buy tickets for our canal cruise and while we sailed under arched stone bridges, he followed along the canal edge, capturing candid shots of my awe-struck expressions!

While Zhouzhuang is a popular tourist destination, life goes on as usual for the elderly folks who probably lived here all their lives.  Some sit at their doorstep, chatting and fanning themselves while the entrepreneurs are still doing brisk business, selling religious trinkets and range of dried fish and prawns.  Chinese barbers are so rare now that when I spotted a quaint little barbershop, I’m so charmed by the equally ancient barber that I ask Dennis if he needed a haircut. 

Dennis getting his hair cut by ancient barber!
After reading my Indian barber memories, he is aware of my affinity with barbershops so being a good sport, Dennis agreed that he’s due for a haircut anyway and got into the barber’s chair to have his hair cut!

I love looking at the touristy souvenirs in the quaint little shops and confess that I cannot resist trying on the wide range of lovely embroidered shoes and sandals.  I may be imagining it but almost every pair looks perfect on my feet and I end up not only choosing my own pair but also helping my sister to pick her pair of pretty shoes.  When I stop to watch a lady hand-spinning fiber into threads, she also impressed me with a demo on the traditional art of weaving on a loom.  She has a range of Chinese blouses and smart shorts tailored for sale and while I may not wear this fabric, I can certainly do with a sling bag designed with a patchwork of these fabrics that look cool with casual outfits.

Traditional nutty sweets made by pounding
the mixture with a giant mallet

Traditional Treats

As in any thriving village, there are restaurants, tea houses and food stalls for sit-down meals or takeaways, in almost every street.  The moment my sensitive nose picks up a distinct smell, I watch fascinated by a crowd of stinky tofu fans, queuing to buy this delicacy.  I bravely venture closer for a peek and see the trader serve cut tofu on small cardboard trays to be eaten with bamboo skewers.  I’ve tried it before so I’m content to observe the connoisseurs savouring this delicacy in spite of its overpowering foul fumes.

Vendors of traditional snacks and sweets readily offer samples for tourists to try before buying and I must say this is a very persuasive ploy because it’s not easy to resist after tasting the scrumptious snacks.  While samples are being distributed, sweet-makers show off their traditional skills in making these products.  I take a delicious chunk of mixed-nuts sweet and chew it as I watch how a huge mallet is used to pound the nutty sweet mixture.  Needless to day, after this experience I cannot resist buying a bagful to munch.

Wansan glazed pork knuckles sold
as snacks!
I suffered a bit of a culture shock as I come across several people chewing into chunks of red glazed pork in takeaways and when I asked him, Dennis confirms that Wansan pork knuckles are a popular snack in Zhouzhuang.  I try hard not to stare because it’s very unusual for me to see a couple seated on a stone bridge, each chewing a pig’s trotter from a plastic bag! 

I also see vendors of fresh cucumbers who will wash and peel off its skin for customers who buy it for a refreshing snack.  While it’s also rare to see people chewing a crunchy stick of cucumber as they walk along, I think it’s a far healthier snack than chewing on a pig’s trotter!

Visitor Tips

Try to plan your trip on weekdays and if possible, never on national public holidays as Zhouzhuang is likely to be swamped by tourists.  This water village is very popular with tourists from Mainland China probably because this is a pleasant change for those who live in land-locked areas.  The village can get over crowded on peak holidays and it’s really no fun inching your way through the narrow footpaths.

Spinning threads the traditional way
Wear good walking shoes and be watchful of where you are stepping.  This village is virtually unchanged in almost 1000 years and has minimal modifications to accommodate tourists so do keep an eye on uneven pavements.  Take time to walk the bridges and explore alleys and old buildings that feature deep corridors and peaceful courtyards. 

Be sure the battery in your digital camera is fully charged and there’s sufficient space in the memory chip because the charming sight of Zhouzhuang will send you on a shooting spree.  Also remember to secure cameras and other electronic equipment lest they accidentally fall into the many canals!

Fast Facts

Entrance fee is RMB100 per person and the boat ride is also RMB100 for six passengers.  The entrance fee includes entry into several ancient houses like the Shen Residence, built in the Qing dynasty and Zhang House, built in the Ming dynasty.  For more info, visit:

View of the teeming crowd of visitors from restaurant window

I wandered into a rear courtyard and found these ladies resting here!
Can't resist taking a closer look at these lovely embroidered shoes!
A visit to Zhouzhuang water village is highly recommended!
A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 12 April 2012

Chinese Barber

Dennis getting his haircut by an
ancient barber in Zhouzhuang water village
Cousin Dennis is such a good sport that he did not deny me the pleasure of watching him get his hair cut by an ancient Chinese barber.  As he seated himself on the old-fashioned barber chair and let the barber put a sheet over him, I wonder what was going through his mind.  I guess he never expected to suddenly become a customer in the hands of this old but experienced barber when we started out on this trip that morning! 

Dennis speaks the local dialect so he explained about what I do and that I will be taking photos and recording a video.  After the barber put on a tunic over his clothes, he brushed Dennis’ wind-blown hair into place at the start of the haircut.  Dennis interviewed him on my behalf and from the translation, I learnt that the barber had already retired but is keeping a practice in Zhouzhuang water village as part of the tourist attraction here.  

The barber worked with slow efficiency, taking his own sweet time step-by-step in the meticulous process, using electric clippers, scissors and a shaving blade.  The dubious hygiene standards did cross my mind because his barber tools certainly looked antiquated.  But Dennis is so cool about it – he’s lived in China for years – and graciously placed his hair in the barber’s skilled hands.

Watch out for that ear!
Steady hands wielding that shaving blade...
Wooden tray filled with antiquated barbershop tools
Old-fashioned shaving soap and shaving brush!
Hot water from a flask poured into these enamel basins to rinse a towel!
Dusting powder on Dennis' neck - all done!

Tourists passing the barber shop curiously peep in the door and through the window and as the barber worked, Dennis became the object of interest in his shop.  Yes, I paid for his handsome haircut and I even let the barber keep the change.  For me, it was such a rare and priceless experience that it was worth every cent of Chinese Yuan!


Ching Ming

Aunty Lily [Centre] holding umbrella to shade grandma
who is laying out items at an ancestor's grave
Chinese Ching Ming traditions

Late last year, I received an email from Eza, a reader who was doing research on Chinese New Year customs in the South for a short documentary in ‘Panorama’ an RTM programme.  She read my articles on these timeless traditions and wanted to interview me about the specific significance of items like mandarin oranges, ang paus and traditional food for Chinese New Year. 

Her deadline was close and she was already en route from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru and while I was flattered that she was keen to meet me, I thought it was best to introduce her to people who practice such customs and are better sources of information. 

My cousins with grandma [wearing shades!]
at the cemetery - 1960's
So I connected her with my friends in the Johor Baru Tiong Hua Association who are far better equipped to help her and I’m glad Eza got all the info that she set out to find.  This incident was a significant and heart-warming experience because she is a young non-Chinese who was keen to discover more about Chinese customs to share with viewers.  I just hope this knowledge will lead to more tolerance, understanding and greater racial harmony in our multi-cultural community.

Generally most non-Chinese are familiar with Chinese New Year traditions because they cannot escape the abundance of Red colour, red packets or ang pau and mandarin oranges during that time of year.  But they may not know much about the Mid-Autumn Festival when the Chinese traditionally eat mooncakes or the Hungry Ghost Festival when they believe that the Gates of Hell are open for ghosts to roam the earth to be fed and entertained.  The Chinese who practice ancestor worship also observe Ching Ming, a tradition where families visit their ancestors’ graves in the cemetery.

Grandma laying out items at an ancestor's grave
while Ah Kong [standing Left] looks on

In the early years when I first joined the family for Ching Ming, I remember waking up in the morning and not asked to change out of my pyjamas.  We are not encouraged to lounge around in pyjamas but on that day, the children were allowed to go out in their pyjamas.  Much later I understood why and it was not any part of the tradition but the long trousers of our pyjama pants were helpful in protecting our little legs from mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies in the long grass around the cemetery!

Ching Ming, the most important festival of the dead on the lunar calendar, is a month-long celebration for families to go to the cemetery to clean up the graves and make offerings and prayers to their ancestors. 

Shirt in paper replica with a variety of joss paper

Days ahead of that chosen date in the month, grandma would buy loads of joss paper and joss sticks and she would start folding the joss paper into rolls of paper with turned-up ends that resembled taels of gold.  I also had fun rolling stacks of tissue-light sheets of single-colour paper in multi colours which I later learnt, were replicas for sheets of fabric. 

Grandma would organize baskets of food including steamed pau dumplings, whole boiled chicken, braised duck and roast pork along with sacks of the gold taels, coloured rolls of fabric, other joss paper and fresh flowers for each ancestor.  It was a fun family field trip to lug them to the various tombs located in different cemeteries in Johor Baru. 

One of the rituals of grave site ancestor worship is the lighting up of joss sticks and taking turns to kowtow before the ancestor’s tomb, starting in the order of seniority within the family.  Then the paper items are burnt because the Chinese believe that the money and material items will be sent to their ancestors to make them more comfortable. 

Aunty Polly showing off shirt
replicas for Ah Kong - 2011
Now, in addition to stacks of Hell Bank Notes, paper coins and paper gold ingots, many families also send their ancestors gifts in paper replicas like shirts and sexy lingerie, cars with chauffeurs, mansions with servants and even luxury items like mobile-phones, plasma TV’s, DVD players complete with discs and more recently, even i-phones, i-pads!  I remember after the rituals at each tomb, the pau, fruits and drink would be distributed and eaten at the site and this is so interesting because I just discovered that this is a form of a reunion meal with the ancestors!  Meanwhile the meat items would be brought back to Ah Kong’s house and enjoyed with other dishes and grandma’s delicious slow-boiled soup in a big family feast. 

The Chinese do not neglect the Ching Ming observance because their honour and respect for their elders and ancestors continues even though they have moved into the spirit world.  The belief that the family’s future generations will be blessed as their forefathers are honoured, is a universal conviction held by many cultures in the world and one that Malaysians can easily identify with.  So around this time of year, it is not unusual to see the roads around Chinese cemeteries all over the nation, lined with vehicles as families carry out this annual obligation as part of their culture and tradition.

Mum at tomb of Uncle Robert
and Aunty Helen - 2011
Unlike modern memorial parks that are designed with carparks, visitors to old cemeteries have no alternative but to park their cars on roadsides.  Last Sunday my sister and brother-in-law were back in his hometown and while they were passing a cemetery where the roads were bordered by parked cars, they were appalled to see policemen busy issuing summonses for parking offences!

While these officers may be carrying out their duties, they seem to have an obvious lack of understanding and tolerance for another culture.  This Chinese tradition is practiced only once a year and because they usually go early and stay briefly to avoid the blazing sun, their cars are not parked there for long.  With better understanding and greater sensitivity towards the Ching Ming traditions, I just hope that such summonses will be graciously waived.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 11 April 2012

Baba & Nyonya

A collection of vintage sarong kebaya [Background]
and kasut manik, embroidered slippers
Do you know the subtle art of the nyonya gelek?  If I tell you that it involves a slow and graceful gait that features a sensuous sway of the hips, I’m sure its enough to fire your imagination.  The nyonya wear narrow sarongs and delicate embroidered slippers that do not permit her to walk fast so they are compelled to gelek – a gait that not only flatters the female form but also attracts the desired male interest.

The nyonya’s sarong kebaya outfit is not complete until she wears embroidered slippers on her feet and has her hair coiled up in a sanggul or bun.  And the secret to shaving years off your age is to wear your sanggul higher on your head.  While you’re at it, why not dress up the bun to add allure with some flowers.  If you didn’t know why your mother and grandmother used to wear fragrant flowers like jasmine buds in their hair, the answer lies in how the scent will affect the male senses…

Ornately decorated kebaya
I learnt all this and more from Rita Tan, a nyonya who shared some Peranakan culture and traditions in her rich heritage when she was a guest speaker in the Rotary Spouses programme arranged with the recent Rotary District Assembly of Rotary International District 3310.  I was privileged to join the spouses for an interesting and engaging session with Rita who also demonstrated the art of wearing the sarong kebaya, hairdressing a stylish sanggul and learnt tips on storage and maintenance of traditional costumes as well as traditional nyonya footwear – the kasut manik or embroidered slippers.

The Peranakan culture was further enjoyed at tea break where a variety of nyonya kuih like Kuih Sarlat, Rempah Udang, Pulut Inti, Ang Ku Kuih, Kuih Dadar, Kuih Talam and Bingke Ubi made by Ma Ma Nyonya Food, a restaurant in Taman Molek, was served.  This tasty experience continued with lunch there the next day to taste a menu of nyonya food that included Kuih Pai Tee and rice with dishes like Chicken Pong Teh, Sambal Bendih (lady’s fingers), Sambal Petai Udang (prawn petai), Nyonya steamed fish and other delicious nyonya favourites.

Variety of traditional Nynoya kuih
Speaking in fluent English sprinkled with charming Peranakan patios, Rita encouraged nyonyas to wear the kebaya with pride and to walk tall in their traditional costume. 

She showed off several pieces of antique kebaya that she inherited from her mother and even discussed the secrets to wearing the right foundation garments for the best effect.  She also demonstrated how to tie a silk sarong using an ornamental buckle and how versatile kerongsang by Tiffany can be used as kebaya fastenings or as brooches.

You can learn more about this exotic culture by inviting Rita Tan to speak at your event.  She can be contacted on Tel: +65 – 9633 9122 or email:

Nyonya & Baba, Rita with her
husband, Gabriel Chong
Rita’s husband, Gabriel Chong, a baba who conducts cooking classes in Peranakan cuisine, gave some cooking tips for the best results in nyonya dishes.  It was interesting to learn that in the preparation of buah keluak, the seeds should be soaked for seven days with the water changed daily to remove any toxins.  

In response to a question on how to choose buah keluak from the market, Gabriel said that the trick is to shake them and pick seeds that are heavier and do not rattle. 

His cooking classes are conducted with hands-on participation by groups of between eight to ten participants.  The menu usually includes an appetizer, main course and dessert and participants can take home what they have prepared in class.  For enquiries on cooking classes in Singapore, contact Gabriel Chong on Tel: +65 – 9237 5822 or email: 

Antique kasut manik should be stuffed to retain its shape

Antique kebaya should be folded for storage [not hung up!]

Elegant choices of kerongsang by Tiffany costume jewellers

Fragrant bunga rampai on a plate with typical Peranakan designs

Cheeky finger-to-cheek pose!
My Nyonya adventure continued in April:

Nyonya kasut manik or embroidered slippers
worn by Sylvia Wong at church!
Nynoya-style salad fragrant with bunga kantan flavours
savoured at International Women's Association Food Fest...hmm...


March On!

Caught on camera - fun and frolic in rear garden!
The last few weeks whizzed by in a flurry involving cats and dogs and a deluge of Straits-born Chinese or Peranakan culture.  Yes, cats.  My feline frustrations escalated a few notches when the cats decided to make the ceiling above our kitchen their maternity ward! 

The constant mewling from new-born kittens got so distressing that I had to call in the heroes from Bomba to remove them.  Just as I thought it was all over, I heard the patter of tiny feet again and it was definitely not just my imagination because I spotted the happy family frolicking in our rear garden!

Sumptuous lunch at Nynoya Cafe
From cats, my focus moved to dogs.  A friend was in search of dogs to keep him company in his new place so we went around looking and found our way to a dog shelter in Lima Kedai [Five Shops!] where he picked out a pair to give them a home.  After the female was neutered and the male had recovered from kennel cough, the pair adjusted to the change and they are now living charmed lives, properly pampered by the privilege of even sleeping on custom-made doggie beds!  Ahh…not bad for a dog’s life, eh?

My series of Peranakan pleasures started with a reunion with Kim, a former schoolmate who I’ve not met for 38 years, because her choice for lunch was Nyonya food.  It was a unanimous decision to go to June’s Kitchen, now known as Nyonya Café, and to our amazement Kim decided that the food was not spicy enough for her taste.  Wow!  Even though she’s been living in the UK for her entire adult life, she certainly has a high tolerance for hot food!  

Pak kor fu chok thong sui, a Cantonese dessert
Hwee Ling warned us to keep some space for “afters” because she had prepared pai tee, a typical Peranakan delicacy and pak kor fu chok thong sui, a Cantonese dessert, for us back home.  When we returned to her house, Rose turned up with her Convent School recipe kueh kosui (best served chilled!) and fresh lemongrass tea that she brewed.  It was a veritable picnic for our makan-marathon that Sunday, so don’t ask me how our rubber stomachs managed to stretch and accommodate these lovingly homemade treats!

My delightful discoveries about the Straits-born Chinese culture are shared separately in Baba & Nyonya.

Convent School recipe kueh kosui made by Rose

Homemade pai tee delicacy by Hwee Ling


Teochew Traditions

Teochew muay with first course side dishes
“Chiak muay thoi hee,” literally translated, ‘eating Teochew porridge while watching a show’ was one of the highlights of the Lunar 303 festival held in the evening of 25 March. 

This was an attempt at bringing back the nostalgia of a bygone era when the only entertainment available was live shows performed by street entertainers.  It was a then a tradition that entertainment was provided for the diners’ enjoyment on special occasions. 

Since 2002 the Teochew community in Johor Baru has been keeping the annual tradition of celebrating the third day of the third lunar month to commemorate the birthday of the Teochew diety, Yuan Tian Shang Di or Tuah Lau Yiah in short.  This celebration, dubbed the Lunar 303 Festival, kicked off on 23 March with a grand opening ceremony held in the forecourt of the Johor Ancient Chinese Temple
or Johor Gu Miau on Jalan Trus. 

A section of Jalan Trus was transformed into a banquet hall

Some of the cultural and traditional activities in the 3-day festival included opera performances, a Teochew opera karaoke singing contest and a fund-raising food fair that featured typically Teochew specialties in the morning of 25 March.

For the Teochew porridge event, the section of Jalan Trus in front of the Johor Gu Miau was closed to vehicular traffic and transformed into an open-air banquet hall that seated almost 800 guests.  While waiting for dinner to be served, the audience viewed a recording of a news broadcast by the Teochew Broadcasting channel with scenes from the recent Johor Chingay procession that featured the guest appearance of a Yinge dance troupe from Shantou. 

Diners on Jalan Trus enjoying the Teochew muay meal

Johor Baru’s 140-year tradition of the annual Chingay celebration which had its origins in China continues to be held on a progressively grand scale here and at this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presented the Johor Baru Tionghua Association with a certificate to recognize the Johor Chingay procession as a national cultural heritage. 

Johor Baru has the distinction of being once known as Little Swatow because most of Johor’s Teochew community originated from Swatow or Shantou [Mandarin] a Teochew district of the Kwantung province in China.  This community has a distinctive cuisine that uses less oil and features flavours that depend heavily on the freshness and quality of the ingredients.  The cooking methods for Teochew food are usually poaching, steaming and braising as well as the Chinese method of stir-frying.

Platter of eight items in first course side dishes
to savour with Teochew muay [rice porridge]
One of their favourite meals is Teochew muay (plain rice porridge) accompanied by a variety of dishes that have contrastingly stronger salty, sour or spicy flavours.  Unlike Cantonese rice porridge which is a smooth gruel, Teochew rice porridge is virtually a watered-down version of boiled rice where individual grains of fluffy rice remain intact in the rice broth.  It is such a light and tasty meal that many Teochew families in Johor still maintain a lifestyle of eating Teochew muay at home.

At the event, each table was served with a steaming hot pot of this soupy rice porridge that was refillable upon request.  Every dish served to savour with the plain porridge was cooked in the Teochew tradition in recipes that have been handed down through generations.  The impressive first course of dishes featured a platter of eight condiments that included preserved olives and chopped vegetables, braised peanuts, slices of salted fish, crunchy preserved lettuce stalk, ngoh hiang rolls, egg omelet with chai poh preserved vegetables and cubes of fu-yee pickled beancurd paste.

Teochew favouries like braised duck, braised tofu and
popular kway chap ingredients like pig's skin and tongue
This was followed by nine more courses of Teochew favourites like braised duck and popular kway chap ingredients, steamed or her or black fish in taucheo sauce, boiled squid rings and salted egg halves, and a platter of two types of stir-fried vegetables – leeks with tofu and meat slices and the other dish of salted vegetables with minced meat.  Another Teochew staple served was pig’s large intestine stewed in a spicy pineapple sauce.  This sumptuous banquet ended sweetly with a dessert of caramelized sticks of yam and pumpkin.

Throughout the evening, there was live entertainment with traditional Teochew music and lion and dragon dance performances.  While six finalists in the Teochew opera karaoke contest took turns to sing, the Baby Lion Dancers featuring children as young as age 5, made their parents so proud and the dragon dancers of the Fifteen Storey Flats Troupe showed off their skills with a lighted dragon.  A master drummer from China, 70-year old Tan Teng Siak, known as the King of Chinese Drums, made a guest appearance with the traditional music band from Zhen An Gui Miau, Stulang Darat, Johor. 

From opera singing, traditional arts and music to dining on food typically enjoyed by this dialect group, the Teochew in Johor Baru is determined to keep traditions alive to strengthen and unify the community while passing on their proud heritage to the younger generation. 

Tan Teng Siak, King of Chinese Drums [Centre] perfom as guest artiste
with traditional band from Zhen An Gui Miao, Stulang Darat

Teochew-style steamed or her or black fish in taucheo sauce

Boiled squid [Left] and salted egg halves

Peggy [Right] with C P Tan [Centre] and friends sitting on Jalan Trus
for the Teochew muay dinner

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 5 April 2012