SeeFoon finds seafood treasures on land in Ipoh

Musings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

I have always lived by the motto that I will go anywhere for special food. And when my foodie friend Ginla Chew mentioned Larut Matang Seafood, my first thought was…“now that’s going to be quite a trek so we’ll need to leave early” but to my surprise, I found it right on our doorstep, in the now popular hub for restaurants and good eats – Medan Ipoh to be precise.
So gathering a group of friends, we descended on the restaurant.

Larut Matang is, as its name implies, an offshoot of a similar seafood restaurant in Matang and all its seafood comes from there. I have lingering taste memories of one of the most impressive food items I have had in Matang the last time I was there and that was the Shark’s Liver. The first thing I asked of chef/proprietor Tan Swee Hooi on arrival was whether he had some and to my delight he said yes. That made my day.
While some of my friends shuddered at the idea of Shark’s Liver, yet when it arrived all but one of them tried it and liked the taste. It had none of the fishiness that one would have expected, melting in the mouth, velvety smooth as it slides down the gullet, evoking nuances of Foie Gras or goose liver – RM60 per kg.

Next came the Seafood Congee, a steaming claypot chock full of fresh crab, prawns, large fish balls and fish slices. This was delectably umami and as far as my allergic body can ascertain, had no or minimal MSG as I didn’t have a reaction later in the day. The congee is as à la carte as it comes, where one can choose the type of seafood one wishes to put in and the price will vary depending on what one orders. Of course, you can also choose to have it with noodles or glass vermicelli (Tung Fun). A plain tureen with fish balls and fish slices is RM20 while crabs cost RM55 and prawns RM70 per kg.

Next came the Steamed Pomfret, absolutely ocean fresh, done in the Cantonese style with scallions, garlic and soya sauce which we devoured in a flash. Pomfret RM80 per kg. Other fish are available depending on the catch of the day and the steaming styles are also optional. I personally prefer a Chao Chou style of steaming with sour plums and ham choi (preserved cabbage) and promised myself to return to sample this.

Their fried homemade seafood bean curd was delectable, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the seafood paste lending an umami sweetness to the cubes – RM14(L), RM10(S).

This was followed by their Sardines (Tsai Yu Tsai) fried to an edible crisp where the heads, tails and most of the fish can be eaten.

We then had a plate of Sautéed Clams which were very fresh but unfortunately they were slightly overcooked so do make sure dear readers, to make a point to the chef when ordering this dish – RM15. Next came the Steamed Squid, tender just cooked morsels of baby squid with hints of garlic – RM45 per kg. For greens, we had the pick of the day (Choi Sum) which we had sautéed and it arrived on the table fresh and still crunchy.

As all the seafood comes from Matang, it is advisable to call in advance to ask what is fresh in for the day. One of the dishes that I look forward to but was unavailable the day I was there is  the fried oyster omelette which Tan assures me is occasionally obtainable. So that is an occasion I shall bear in mind when next I go out for a meal.

Larut Matang Seafood Restaurant
22 Jalan Medan Ipoh 1B, Medan Ipoh Bistari.
Tan Swee Hooi: 016 503 2718
GPS: N04° 37.082’ E101° 07.045’
Business Hours: 11am-10pm
Closed Tuesdays

SeeFoon Explores the Cuisine of Andhra Pradesh

Musings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

One of the characteristics of a Foodie is an insatiable curiosity linked to a palate that constantly craves new tastes, new excitement in culinary adventures and new eating places to explore. I am unabashedly a Foodie and nothing gives me more pleasure than to discover a new restaurant serving variations on a culinary theme. The Mahraj’s Kitchen is one of these.
Opened only five months ago, this restaurant located in Old Town in the midst of ‘Little India’ is already garnering a fan base with its quite unusual (in the sense of different from the usual run-of-the-mill) offerings based on royal south Indian cuisine.

Proprietor Sinu, an affable young man who has left his profession in graphic design to set up the restaurant, was on hand to recommend his specialties of the house when Sara Tiagi invited me and a group of friends there recently. Using only a photocopied menu which he says is still being printed, he proceeded to recommend dishes to us. As it was, the moment we walked in, we spied a lawyer friend of ours who immediately said, “You must try the Chicken 65”. Curiosity is my second nature so I immediately ordered that and listened to the rest of the recommendations that Sinu was making.

And did we order up a storm. The Chicken 65 arrived, small nuggets of boneless chicken marinated in their special blend of herbs and spices, dipped in batter and deep fried, then once again sautéed and coated in a robust, thick sauce with a hint of sugar. Absolutely delectable and not a dish to stop at the first bite. In fact the dish disappeared so fast that we ordered a second helping – RM6.90.

The second dish was the Fried Pepper Mutton, boneless pieces marinated and coated with a very generous helping of black pepper which lent its pepperiness to the bite sized pieces. A bit on the salty side but appealed to my very salty palate – RM8.90. This was followed by a host of dishes in quick succession.

The Kerala Tullagadda certainly seduced my taste buds, never having eaten this anywhere else before. A vegetarian dish, it consisted of potatoes topped with a mix of dessicated coconut with herbs and crispy crunch provided by fried lentils. A fresh clean taste enhanced by the subtle spicing and crunch. This was simply irresistible and despite being a low carb eater and generally avoiding potatoes, I almost ate the whole portion myself – RM6.90.

The Gongura Chicken, chicken pieces cooked in a green sauce made with sorrel leaves was tangy and had some fire to it, the sorrel lending a slight tartness to the sauce without the fruitiness of our local tamarind – RM5.80 small; RM8.90 large. Also Gongura Mutton RM7.90 small; RM10.90 large.

Mahraj Kitchen has an interesting choice of flavoured rice some of which I have never tasted before. We ordered one each of the Jeera (cumin seeds) and Lemon rice as well as the more traditional chicken and mutton Briyani. The Jeera rice was redolent with the aroma of cumin seeds RM2.90 and the Lemon rice was tinged with the fragrance of lemon RM2.90. The chicken and mutton Briyani were very generous portions of robustly flavoured basmati rice, with ample helpings of chicken and mutton hiding in its depths. On another occasion I also had the 65 Briyani which had the aforementioned 65 Chicken flavouring the rice. The Briyani prices range from RM5.90 for vegetarian (excellent) to RM11.90 for a large mutton portion. Small portions are also available.

Signature dishes here include a whole range of Bajji’s (or dumplings) from green chillies (Mirchi Bajji) to Punugullo with coconut, and a whole host of Pakodas made from chickpea flour.

An unusual feature here is their all day breakfast dishes where Thosai, Idly, Pooris and Uttappam are available throughout the day.

On a subsequent visit, Sinu informed me that they had finally received their Tandoori oven and naturally I had to sample their tandoori dishes. Their Tandoori Chicken was flavourful and served with a mint chutney – RM7.90 for a whole leg. The interesting Hearily Kebab which was chicken pieces smothered in mint, coriander and green chillies was tangy and had bite to it – RM8.90. As the tandoor was brand new, Sinu promised new dishes would be appearing on the menu soon. I shall look forward to returning to sample some more of these unusual Hyderabad/Andhra dishes.

Mahraj’s Kitchen (Halal)
14 Jalan Sultan Yussuf (Little India)
Tel: 05 242 6973;Sinu: 016 287 9492;  Premila: 016 427 6973
Business Hours: 8.30am-10pm – 7 days a week.