Mon, 4 Mar 2024


A family’s beef noodle legacy
Published on: Sunday, February 04, 2024
By: Lorena Binisol
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Wong Shiew Kin personally attends to the making of the beef broth everyday.
WHEN Wong Hui Feng passed on aged 90 in 2014, he left something behind for his family – the art of preparing beef noodle soup perfected over generations.

The success of the family’s beef noodle business is apparent at Cheng Wah’s in Lido that has been famous for its beef noodle (Ngiu Chap) broth recipe for six decades.

Wong came to British North Borneo (now Sabah) with his wife Chin Fong Ngo from Hainan, China, around the 1930s or early 1940s for better prospects.

Customers throng the beef noodle shop in Lido as early as 7.30am. 

Chin is now 100 and, true to the earlier batch of Chinese entrepreneurs, still attends to chores in the shop like slicing meat and wiping plates. 

She can often be seen sitting at the corner of the shop with her hands moving (working) and at times even carrying things around.

Asked how many grandchildren she had, she said (in Chinese dialect) “eight”, before bursting into tears as she lost one a few years ago.

The family grew stronger and more united, offering moral support to one another.

Daughter Wong Siew Kin, 67, said she was grateful that the family continued her father’s legacy.

“It isn’t just about the food. My father’s kind and humble behaviour influenced the family to remain humble and grounded as well.”

Wong Hui Feng – the founder of Cheng Wah Ngiu Chap. (Left:Wong Siew Kin with her centenarian mother)

She said in the early 1960s, her father embarked on his small eatery at the Tanjung Aru stall market, where he initially partnered with another individual.

Their venture evolved over time, leading to the move to Sembulan. 

Later, they relocated to Jalan Pantai in the city, continuing the famous Ngiu Chap noodle soup that people had been talking about. 

Finally, the business moved to Lido area around 1993. 

Siew Kin remembers a bowl costing only 30 sen when her parents started the business.

“Later, it went up to RM2.50, then RM3.50. Today, it costs RM11 due to costlier ingredients, especially after the MCO,” she said.

The bowl of beef noodle soup invented by Hainan-hailed Wong.

Wong Cheng Shiew with his mother Ong Lee Ling. 

Grandson Wong Cheng Shiew, 35, paid tribute to his granddad’s dedication, hard work and perseverance.

Asked about sustaining a business as a younger generation, Wong said: “There’s no secret, it’s all about hard work. There are no shortcuts to success.” 

The fact that the Wong recipe had weathered the test of time and continued to attract customers made the young feel proud and honoured.

“I have no words to describe my grandfather. He was our strength. He was a good example for the family.  

“We stay closely connected as family members and maintain the tradition of personally making the noodle soup from scratch. Staff are hired to assist in serving customers,” he said.

He said while the ingredients might be similar to other operators, it’s the family spirit that made theirs special. 

“Despite challenging times, our familial bond always held us together, infusing every bowl with that special touch.”

Despite the success, there are no plans to expand or franchise the business.


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