I drove back to Kuching town via the 2nd link (Tanah Putih toll bridge) after Menara Pelita the other day. I decided to drop by Yoshi Square (in Pending) for my lunch.
Being brought up in Kuching, we always come across specialty food from different dialects, like kolomee is from the Hakka, mee sua and kampua are from the Foochow and now this noodle dish comes from the Henghuas. It’s just being called ‘Henghua mee soup’. Very nice – handmade noodles, seaweeds, prawns, fish balls, lean meat and clear non-spicy soup.
A bit of History on the Henghua dialect group extracted from:
Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 21, No.3, December 1983
The Chinese of Sarawak: Thirty Years of Change
by T’IEN Ju-K’ang*
Henghua is the historical name for a prefecture of southern Fukien covering the present districts of Put’ien and Hsienyu.
In Sarawak the Henghuas are often regarded as a small group because of the size of their population and the strength of their financial resources. According to the 1970 census they totalled 10,642, of whom 4,806 were in Kuching. Eighty percent of the Henghuas came from Hout’un and Kianghsia villages in Put’ien district (hereafter called sub-group A), the rest (20%) from Shangt’ien, Hsiangch’eng and several other small villages in the neighbourhood of Hout’un and Kianghsia (hereafter called sub-group B).
They came to Sarawak as late as the beginning of this century. Owing to historical disputes over fishing rights and irrigation facilities, these two sub-groups had already been feuding for a long time when emigration began. They carried their deep-rooted hatred to Kuching and when they initially lived together in Blacksmith Road often exchanged blows. Eventually, sub-group B, with the colonial government’s help, moved to Sungai Apong. Subsequently, sub-group A also moved, to Bintawa fishing village. Thus, the two groups lived quite far apart. Even now the older members of these groups are not on speaking terms, although the long-standing enmity has gradually been diminishing among the younger generation.
Initially both groups engaged in fishing, as they had done in China, but the hardship and severe competition within the dialect group forced some of them to eke out a living by pulling rickshaws when they were unable to go to sea. As they gave up fishing, they came into contact with some of the simpler mechanical jobs and began to monopolize the trade in selling and repairing bicycles, thus making the Henghua dialect the indispensable medium for such transactions everywhere.
So now you know why there are seaweed, prawns and fishballs in their soup coz they were fishermen once upon a time! Hmmmm… history is what made us today, don’t you agree?🙂