Sarawak ‘belacan beehoon’: An all-time favourite


KUCHING: The No. 26 stall at the Song Kheng Hai Market food court in Padungan, which serves ‘belacan beehoon’, might not be unfamiliar to frequent Song Kheng Hai patrons.

QUALITY INGREDIENTS: Chow preparing cuttlefish for his famous ‘belacan beehoon’.

QUALITY INGREDIENTS: Chow preparing cuttlefish for his famous ‘belacan beehoon’.

However, not many of the younger generation know the story of this business that has seen many decades in operation.

“The ‘belacan beehoon’ business was founded by my father and I took over the business from him. I started out as a roadside hawker for 20 years and only moved to my current premises when it opened for business,” said its proprietor, Chow Poh Khiang.

Chow pointed out that he made the right decision to move to the Song Kheng Hai market premises because it was shaded and there were many seats available for his customers.

He added as a matter of hygiene and convenience, it made better sense for him to operate a stall at a licensed premise rather than risking his customers’ health concerns with a roadside stall.

“There is no secret recipe to produce ‘belacan beehoon’ but the ingredients used are very important. The ingredients such as belacan, cuttlefish and other minor ingredients play a vital role in producing premium quality ‘belacan beehoon’,” he added.

When asked about the cost of his daily operations, Chow stated that it was difficult to estimate the exact amount, but he did concede that the cost of operations would be higher on weekends and public holidays whereas for weekdays, it was relatively lower.

“The cost of operating the business is definitely higher than before as it has already increased very much compared with the olden days,” he added.

When asked if any of his children would like to inherit his business, Chow smiled coyly and said that none of his children would be inheriting his business as they already had their own careers.

“My children do not want to inherit this business because the operating hours are very long and there are no public holidays. The business needs to be run even if it is on a public holiday. I understand the nature of the business and I do not want to force my children to inherit the business,” he highlighted.

When queried on the taste of his ‘belacan beehoon’, he pointed out that it was difficult to comment on the taste as it depended very much on an individual’s taste. He noted that different vendors had their own unique blend of recipes and it was for the customers to judge.

Besides selling ‘belacan beehoon’, Chow also sells other local side dishes such as ‘sotong kangkong’ and his own version of the famous Sarawak ‘laksa’.