AYER TAWAR FOOD: Kim Hock – Wood fire bakery – pineapple tarts, peanut cookies and traditional buns

A good friend of mine, Yungsen (we will call him YS for short) has been most enthusiastic in promoting his hometown delicacies to me since last year.
When I finally made the trip to Ayer Tawar (located about an hour drive south of Ipoh) in October, I found the small town tranquil and as expected, laid-back. The people here enjoy a simple lifestyle and traffic jams are non-existent.

But first, where is Ayer Tawar you ask?
Here’s a map – it is about 3 hours drive from KL.

One feature of the little town that stood out to me was the busy bakeries.
Perplexed, I had to ask YS again and again – “Why are all the bakeries perpetually busy? Who buys those insane amount of breads/buns and biscuits, so much so that it’s always sold out? Even on a weekday?!

I kid you not, there are many traditional bakeries and confectionaries producing traditional Foochow buns, biscuits and noodles in Ayer Tawar (and its surrounding areas) for a town its size.
While I understood the popularity of Gongpia/Kompia since it is a signature delicacy and thus would enjoy tourist dollars, it is doesn’t make sense to me that a small town would have so many bakeries!

Among all, one of the more notable traditional bakeries is Kim Hock Kedai Roti.
The primary fascination for this bakery would be their woodfire oven. Churning out hundreds of buns daily, the business has been going strong since 1942.

BELOW: Kim Hock Bakery – a day of baking.
**Image credit to Yungsen.

For Chinese New Year, Kim Hock bakery makes their signature pineapple tarts and peanut cookies using yes, the very same woodfire oven. I knew I had to try when I saw YS’s FB posting so I asked him to buy for me.

While we home bakers struggle with a ultra-modern oven with temperature control, bottom and top heat and whatnots, the experienced folks here bake using wood fire without a hitch.

Amazing isn’t it?

The pineapple tarts were decent.
The jam was way too sweet for me and the crust was the firm, crispy sort. If you are a fan of those melt-in-mouth type of crust, this isn’t for you.
And as you can see from the image below, the tarts were not perfectly uniformed in size nor shape.
What you see here is the top layer. As I ate further down the tub, the tarts were even more irregular!

But the pastry did possess a rich flavour and in general the tarts did taste good in a homely way. Not bad for RM28.

Meanwhile the peanut cookies crumbles easily so they were hard to handle; and again they were not the powdery melt-in-mouth type, but more gritty in texture with the granules of peanuts and sugar still intact.

Here, take a look.

With each bite your teeth will encounter bits of sugar. Strangely enough I still enjoy them as they reminded me of truly old traditional peanut cookies. 🙂

YS also bought an array of Kim Hock’s buns for me to try – krim (cream) and kaya, plain krim (cream), pork floss, red bean, coconut and plain kaya.
He threw in a bag of their signature crispy buns (roti biskut) as well.

As you can see from the price tags, price per bun ranges from RM0.80 (sweet buns) to RM1.20 (for the pork floss).

Each bun was fluffy and soft.
Personally I like the coconut one – moist and fresh tasting shredded coconut though a tad sweet.
I reckon Kim Hock is still keeping to the recipes of the olden times, where back then the sweetness level was acceptable to those who grew up eating these buns.

All in all, those buns are acceptable for the price. Fresh, fluffy, sweetish and with “acceptable” amount of filling.
Remember, these are only RM0.80 each! 🙂

The roti biskut?
Dry, sweet and good with hot coffee or milo. 🙂

I think the best way to enjoy these buns is to visit Kim Hock, buy and eat them once the buns are cooled enough.
I, for one, can’t resist biting and chewing on warm, fresh buns! 🙂

Kim Hock Bakery
No 1, Kampung Baru, 32400 Ayer Tawar New Village,
Perak, Malaysia.
Contact Number: +605-6722423
Office Hours: Mon-Sat 2.30 pm-8 pm.
Closed: Sunday.

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