‘Legendary’ Kuching steamed buns stall still going strong after 37 years

The famous green canopy marks the location of Yong's steamed bun stall in the vicinity of Hua Joo Park along Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, June 13: Rain or shine, friendly Yong Kui Lim has never failed to serve his homemade steamed bun in the vicinity of Hua Joo Park along Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli for 37 years.

Dubbed by customers as a steamed bun connoisseur,54-year-old Yong welcomed the DayakDaily to his famous green makeshift canopy and shared that he learned to make soft, fluffy Chinese steamed buns from his uncle when he was 15.

Yong shows a tray full of fresh buns for sale at his green canopy stall.

“After I had learned and helped him for a few years, my uncle decided he did not want to sell buns as he complained that it involved a lot of physical work in making steamed buns, so I decided to open up my stall here in this locality with the encouragement of my family.

“This locality used to be our land and belonged to my family—we had it sold. Meanwhile, I am still allowed to occupy and erect the green canopy which is also the ‘trademark’ of my spot to sell the steam buns,” he revealed.

Yong disclosed that he has been selling steamed buns at the site for 37 years and hoped to stay until it is time to leave.

He agreed that making steamed buns is time-consuming as everything is done by hand, except for mixing the dough.

Yong said he does not complain as he is focused on the routine which is forms the backbone of his business.

“I believe I am good at making these buns and thank my family that it is a livelihood I could rely on. I also hope some family members will follow my legacy, but no one seems interested. So, I do it for the moment.”

Yong’s steamed buns ready for sale.

Yong revealed that despite having to prepare his buns at dawn daily, the work to make them is routine, and by just after noon, he is ready at his makeshift canopy and taking his equipment out to steam the buns for his customers.

He said the buns must be fresh from the steamer for maximum enjoyment during consumption.

“If customers and my regular patrons come, I must serve them a hot, steaming bun. Usually, I would rather let them wait at least twenty minutes (for the buns to be fully steamed) when I open for the day if they sit-in at my stall,” he added.

Yong said he always ensures that his steamed buns are fresh and never kept left over for the next day.

“I will deliver the leftover buns to the Salvation Army Boys’ Home to be consumed. I feel great to be able to give back to society. There is no waste,” he revealed.

The price list at Yong’s stall.

Yong said when he runs out of stock at the site, his older brother, 57-year-old Yong Sze Kiong, will help to bring more buns.

He said he sells regular-sized steamed buns as they are easier to make.

Yong revealed that he makes enough from his business to get by and closes the stall when the buns run out for the day.

He sells ‘Bak Pau’ (RM3.20), ‘Chicken Pau’ (RM3.20), ‘Cha Siew Pau’ (RM3), ‘Vegetable Pau’ (RM3), ‘Pau Kacang’ (RM2), ‘Sio Bee’ (RM1.30) and fresh soya bean milk (RM2).

Many regulars who patronise Yong’s stall called him a ‘legend’ steam bun seller in the vicinity, and it is a must-visit stop for a ‘coffee break’.

“I am flattered to be called a ‘steamed-bun legend’ in the area, and I appreciate my customers who buy from me. I believe my steamed buns are ordinary and the customers are pulling my leg as they are so familiar with me,” he said.

Yong’s stall is located along Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli Kuching before Trinity Hub Commercial Centre. He operates daily except Sundays and public holidays, from 1pm to 6pm.

For more information, call Yong at 019-826 3368.

Yong’s stall is located along Jalan Datuk Tawi Sli, Kuching, near Hua Joo Park. Screenshot taken from Google Maps

Yong sells an assortment of steamed buns as well as ‘sio bee’.
— DayakDaily