There is a popular Foochow concoction over here called pek tin yok which is translated literally as “eight herb soup”. I haven’t had much contact with this particular broth while growing up, being rather adverse to soup dishes in general. I’ve had it a couple of times at my maternal grandmother’s house (who is a Foochow) and didn’t particularly like it.
Faye is a bit of a traditional Foochow in the stuff she eats. She actually loves “8 herb soup” and has cravings for it from time to time. There is an eating establishment here that doesn’t have a signboards so the locals just all it “xiao yu shang” (Little Umbrella) from the seating arrangements outside which has a huge beach umbrella covering it from the rain (since the place is not open in the morning, it can’t be the sun).
Little Umbrella is supposed to have the best pek tin yok in town and props should be given to the proprietor for attempting to install some fittings in the interior that makes the place look more upscale. There are glass tables inside and artsy fartsy chairs made out of real tree branches. Unfortunately, the clash of the old and new styles contrasts too garishly. A for effort, F for execution.
The place serves a bowl of Eight Herb Soup for RM 7. Eight Herb Soup is a concoction brewed in 8 different types of herbs and spices with pork leg. It’s considered to be a traditional nutritional supplement of sorts and is often force fed to overactive little children. At least, that’s what my mom used to do. ;)
Eight Herb Soup is served with a complimentary plate of rice in Little Umbrella. It’s rather similar to bak kut teh in this sense, but the two dishes tastes totally different. Eight Herb soup tastes very “sweet” for a lack of a better descriptive adjective.
There are also other Foochow specialties in Little Umbrella – this is chicken feet cooked with peanuts and soy sauce. I don’t mind eating chicken feet but it can be a bit of a bother at times coz of the little bones inside. I like the de-boned chicken feet in Kuching.
Eight Herb Soup is brewed with chunks of pork meat. The meat is tender and juicy and absorbs much of the soup’s flavors. It’s eaten with soy sauce and rice and some people add a little bit of soup to the rice as well. I don’t remember liking it when I was a kid, but I was force fed a couple of scoops of the stuff and found out that I actually kinda like it now. It’s a little like vegetables – I hated the stuff when I was younger, but have started loving some kinds of vegetables now.
Don’t make me hungry. You won’t like me when I’m hungry. Feed me.