When I started this blog, I must admit, that I knew I had to write about this place. But before we begin, please bear with me for just a tad.
The concept of food memories first struck me when I visited the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, which is about an hour’s journey from London. The idea that food can evoke feelings of nostalgia, which is memory, and memory in turn is very personal to an individual.
My food memory, is my mom’s dish of steamed (and occasionally deep fried) pork meatballs, which she had learned from my grandmother, her mother. This is usually served as part of a dish called “mee sua” i.e. vermicelli noodles, with a clear pork bone broth, accompanied with choy sum flowers and shredded omelette. This, to me, represents my comfort food, and evokes memories of family dinners and especially of my mother.
Whenever I’m in Miri and in need of comfort food, I come here. A humble restaurant by the name of Vintage tea house.
As you might expect, the place looks and feels like a tea house. A family run operation, the wife handles the kitchen, the husband is the resident Chinese tea connoiseur and savant, and their young son handles all the other tasks in between. It is quite a lean operation, and patrons occasionally lend a hand whenever the crowd gets a tad overwhelming.
Now, for the food. Man, you gotta try the food!
The deep fried pork with butter sauce is my absolute favourite, as well as the Yong Tau Foo (i.e. tofu stuffed with pork), long beans with minced pork, deep fried pork belly, and many more. They pride themselves for cooking their dishes with tea, and I must admit I’m a bit clueless about the health benefits. But I can attest that despite eating rather large portions, my gut feels fine afterwards as the food isn’t greasy, nor does it contain any MSG.
It is a lovely place that feels like home, and the food is a panacea for my occasional homesickness. The chef feels like one of my aunties, scrutinizing my every bite, and making sure that we enjoy our meal. And I’m pretty sure most patrons leave the place feeling a little bit better than when they first came in.
To me, food is personal, and I’m sure each of us have that particular food memory that we can associate with. So my challenge to you all is to try to remember what that is, and how important it is to you.