Taiping is a town of roughly 245,000 in the state of Perak in Northern Malaysia. The British colonialists made it the administrative capital of Perak state from 1875 till 1937, during which large numbers of Cantonese and Hakka settlers from Southern China (many to escape the Taiping Rebellion, a Hakka uprising against the Manchu government where up to 30 million died) moved there to work in the tin mines.
Yut Sun restaurant started during the Roaring 20s, when Taiping was buoyed by a global boom in the demand for rubber products. The Hainanese Chin family offered Hainanese-British fusion dishes that was popular throughout Malaya and Singapore at the time, and many British & European planters were regulars at the restaurant.
For the longest time from around the 1970s till the 2010s, it was run by Mr Chin Bee Soon, whose father founded the restaurant. Under his watch, the restaurant became pork-less/halal, catering to a mainly Malay-Muslim clientele base. Today, Yut Sun has become a must-stop for any traveller passing through Taiping town, famous for its signature Hainanese chicken chop, a dish which can only be found in Malaysia & Singapore: breaded/batter-fried chicken, served with English-style chips, peas, mushrooms and fresh tomato, covered with a brown sauce redolent of Worcestershire sauce and soy-sauce.
Another popular menu item is the Hainanese fried noodles - I’ve always found Hainanese-style fried noodles to be too bland and one-dimensional for my taste, preferring the Cantonese variety. But Hainanese noodles (inexplicably) has its fans, and the one here is typical of its genre: thick yellow wheat noodles, fried with bits of slivered chicken and cabbage, flavoured with oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and other condiments, and covered with quite a bit of gravy.
A unique Yut Sun innovation is the Roti Sayur - stir-fried finely-shredded cabbage, carrots & green peas, with chicken slivers, served on a thick piece of toast, slathered with a pale-brown gravy and topped with a fried egg with runny yolk. The dish is Yut Sun’s variant on the more universally popular Roti Babi (French toast with minced pork and vegetable filling). Roti sayur suits Yut Sun’s Muslim clientele as it’s halal.
The restaurant is now managed by Mr Chin’s 50-something year old son, the 3rd-generation of the Chin family to run this Taiping dining icon. The rather spartan-looking eatery spans two shop-lots and can be surprisingly busy.
I’ve just heard from some quarters that Yut Sun is somewhat related to Yut Loy in Kuala Kangsar, 40 minutes’ drive away. Yut Loy’s owners, the Chong twin-brothers, were supposedly maternal cousins of the Chins. I’ll have to ask the younger Chin on my next trip to Taiping.
78, Jalan Pasar,
34000 Taiping, Perak, Malaysia
Tel: +611-3618 3266
Opening hours: 8am to 5pm daily, except Tue