Musings on Food
By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
It’s been a long time since Ipoh diners have had the pleasure of dining in a ‘posh’ ambiance. Outside of Indulgence on Jalan Raja DiHilir which has garnered for itself a reputation for fine dining in a setting resplendent with the colonial heritage of the long ago, Ipoh restaurants in general tend to be long on good food but sorely short on decor, ambiance and cleanliness.
Once in a blue moon, a restaurant comes along that puts many other restaurants to shame, a shining bastion of grandeur and warm friendly service. And the food is second to none.
I am referring to the Tandoor Grill, which beckons in its Moghul magnificence on Jalan Chin Choon Sam, opposite Movenpeak in Greentown.
I have often passed it during its construction phase and wondered what kind of place it would be, with its pointed horseshoe arches and generous parking spaces all around. I missed the grand opening party to which I was invited but subsequently managed to sample both the lunch buffet as well as the à la carte menu in one of their sumptuous private rooms.
The buffet lunch at RM23.90 is incredible value with 10 main courses, soup, salad, dessert, an unlimited topping up of butter Naan served fresh from the oven at your table, followed by dessert and coffee. Unlike many a tired buffet I have had the misfortune to experience, the lunch buffet at the Tandoor Grill tastes fresh from the kitchen with a change in main courses everyday. The service was most attentive, with each request for Naan promptly executed and the service staff courteous and willing to please.
The physical premises of the Tandoor Grill is impressive. While the exterior of the building is decidedly Moghul in style, the interior is more eclectic and modern. Upstairs, the Cinnamon Ballroom, with a seating capacity of 800, is spectacular while downstairs, aside from the main dining hall which can accommodate 88 people at one sitting, there are 10 private rooms which can seat between 10 to 20 people at a time with charges varying from RM100 for an 8-10 seater room to RM300 the latter being the Royal Cinnamon Room. Pricey as the room charges may appear, they may be applied towards food and drink, so if a group of 10 opts for the most expensive room, it works out to only RM30 per head, which is easily covered by the price of food and drinks per person.
A subsequent visit saw a group of us sitting in the Royal Cinnamon Room enjoying an à la carte meal. It began with the Royal Murgh Soup, a thick creamy chicken soup that is a meal in itself if one were to really eat every spoonful; flavourful with hints of herbs and spices and yet not spicy enough to offend even the most delicate of taste buds – RM10.50.
Next came a starter of Chicken Samosas, crispy on the outside and stuffed with a generous portion of chicken, served with a tangy mint and coriander chutney – RM10.90. This was followed by the Tandoor Ki Nazakat, a mixed grill (RM49.90) of Tandoori Chicken – RM12 for quarter, RM22 for half and RM42 for whole; Chicken and Fish Tikka – RM18.90 each; Chicken Reshmi Kebab – RM17.90; and Mutton Seekh Kebab – RM19.90. These were served with a bread basket of garlic, butter and cheese Naan fresh from the oven.
Then the rice, a Masala Biryani (RM7.90) and the delectable Hyderabadi Gosht Biryani (RM20.90), basmati rice cooked with tender mutton cubes flavoured with aromatic spices, came with a dazzling assortment of ‘wet’ dishes, almost too numerous to list here in this short article. I particularly liked the Kadhai Mutton, tender pieces of mutton cooked Lahori style on a slow fire with tomatoes, onions, capsicums and aromatic spices – RM28.90; the Methi Fish, boneless pieces of fish cooked in a fenugreek gravy – RM23.90; the Malabar Prawn, cooked in a delicately spiced coconut and mustard based curry, RM30.90.
The two vegetarian dishes Bhendi Masala, okra tossed with onions, tomatoes and spices (RM11.90) and Palak Paneer, fresh spinach cooked with homemade cottage cheese and cream, were noteworthy, in particular the Palak Paneer which was velvety smooth, the cottage cheese lending substance to the creamy consistency – RM16.90.
Then came dessert, by which time, all of us were totally sated. However, the temptation was too great and I had to dip my spoon into the Ghajar Halwa, pudding made with carrots and milk – RM6.90; Rasmalai, homemade cottage cheese balls in sweetened milk flavoured with nuts – RM7.90 and the Badami Kulfi, the traditional Indian ice-cream, flavoured with almonds (RM8.90) all of which were delicious but far too sweet for my taste.
All in all, the service was impeccable, with Gurmit the manager and the waiters able to explain the dishes in good English. A family owned affair, The Tandoor Grill’s patriarch, Jagit Singh, together with son Malvinderjit Singh and daughter Jasvinderjit Kaur, run the show after a tedious setting up process which involved going to India and personally interviewing and hiring all the chefs and service staff. Well it looks like their hard work has paid off. I only hope that as time goes on, the service remains at the same levels and the toilets, which were spotless, will remain in the same condition.
The Tandoor Grill
9 Jalan Chin Choon Sam, Greentown
Tel: 05-255 5995; 05-253 5995
Open 7 days a week 11.30am-3.30pm; 6.30pm-11pm
Pork free. Serves alcohol.