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Beef Soup in Malaysia

Among the Chinese, I learned that there are those who take beef and there are those who do not. It is surprising to me to find restaurants or hawker stalls that offer beef in their menu. All I can say is that my mother eats beef and she cooked it in the pot for us. So I grew up eating beef as I do fish and pork.

The earliest dish I remember of beef is beef soup. When I was young, I followed my mother in her rounds at the wet market. She would stop by the beef stall and ask for muscle and tendon. These were the only parts of the cow that she would buy. Later on, when supermarkets offered frozen meat such as lamb, beef, and fish, she would add beef tripe into the cart. Nowadays, she loves the tendon and tripe more than the beef. I guess one reason why she liked tendon is because she can’t get tendon from the Indian butcher at Chowrasta Market, Georgetown. This particular Indian butcher will not sell tendon because he has to reserve them for his regular customers. She complains to me and since I used to live on the mainland, I frequent a stall run by a Malay beef butcher named Mat at Seberang Jaya. I always order 1kg of beef muscle and meat. Once in a while, he will throw in some tendon for me as a free gift. I want to pay him for it but Mat says, “No, no. It’s not chargeable.”
I ask why and he tells me, his customer or customers buy just the “gear box.” He explains that the cow is divided into each of its legs. By gear box, he means, all the tendon and leg bones left over after all the meat is sold off. Usually, a gear box is a fixed price depending on how big the cow is. He does not sell the gear box by weight. The leftover tendon can then be cut off and given to customers like me.


“Gear box” as coined by Mat, the butcher.

Curious, I ask what the customer wants to do with the gear box. Mat says the cook will put it into a pot and boil it to make soup. Since talking to Mat, I did buy cow bones to make soup. But I do not prefer it because it is just too big a bone to fit into my small kitchen pots!
I don’t get the tendon all the time but Mat makes it a point to add it in whenever he can. When I first purchased beef from Mat, the price then was Ringgit Malaysia 19/kg. This year, 2014, the price of 1kg of local beef is RM28. I ask Mat what happened. He just told me that local beef is more expensive than imported beef because there is more demand than supply. Well, not only beef has gone up, the price of poultry as well, and not to mention seafood. Malaysians are feeling the pinch.
Well, Mom wanted to have beef soup and we went to Kang Beef House for a bowl of beef soup.
Located on a strip of shops where one side borders Jelutong Road and the other, Perak Road. Do enter from the Perak Road side because there are places where you can park your car. Please observe caution here. The Perak Road entrance is peculiar because one portion is only for one-way traffic, and the other portion of the road is two-way. The Jelutong Road side does not have parking spaces and you will get a traffic summon if you park by the roadside!

Kang Beef House restaurant offers other appetizers besides its main offering of beef. I have tried their steamboat and it is nice. The beef ball is one of their specialties. I understand they make it themselves. Another dish is the stir-fried bitter gourd with egg. This dish is an accompaniment to the steamboat. But you only get the side dishes during dinner. The restaurant owner said to me that the cook only comes in at 5.00pm. If you come earlier than 5.00pm you will not get the side dishes. I know about this because I went there early at 4:30pm and I didn’t get my side dishes!
That day, I had lunch at Kang Beef House with my mom and they serve a bowl of beef soup with all the condiments of beef balls, tripe, beef meat, and bean sprouts. We had a cup of herbal tea and we enjoyed our light meal.

For options, try beef soup with a bowl of white rice.
The lady who runs the restaurant told me they have to change their pricing per bowl because of the higher cost of beef. A small bowl costs RM7 now instead of RM6. I didn’t mind. I still get my favorite bowl of beef soup!


Beef koay teow soup at Kang Beef House


Kang Beef House menu details
I do recommend the steamboat and do try the side orders.


Front and back menu of Kang Beef House
Kang Beef House serves herbal tea and nutmeg. These are recommended if you want to try something different. However, they don’t serve kopi-o (local black coffee).
The restaurant is clean and graded ‘A’ for cleanliness. There are ample air coolers in the restaurant to take away the tropical heat.

The business hours are as follows:

Kang Beef House
474 Jalan Jelutong, 11600, Penang
04-281 0892
Lunch 12.00pm to 2.30pm
Dinner 4.30pm to 10.00pm
Closed on Tuesdays

/// Written by Irene Tan, Malaysia