SeeFoon Gathers Her Foodie Troop for Ramadan Patrol

Musings on Food

It’s that time of the year again when puasa month has Muslims fasting and focusing on religious matters and non-Muslims are packing on the pounds as they eagerly look forward to scouring the many Pasar Ramadan or Bazaars for delicious treats that are often not commonly available during the rest of the year.

So I sent out the troops at the Ipoh Echo office and urged them to suss out their favourite stalls and best eats from the various Ramadan Bazaars and this column today is a compilation of their picks and their comments.

 

Rosli Mansor at Medan Gopeng

Kuih Akok Panas is a traditional kuih originating from the Malays of Pantai Timur. The stall that sells this kuih is always crowded with people especially from 5pm until 7pm in the evening. Kuih Akok is made of flour and looks like a pancake. It is grilled in a specially-made brass mold for about 3 minutes. Kuih Akok has a sweet and rich taste and only 1000 pieces are sold out each day so come early – RM0.50 per piece.

Nasi Ambeng Miraqil is another of my favourites. The cuisine was originally a Javanese traditional dish that was later brought in to Malaysia during the 1800s through trading. What’s unique about this dish is that it is also eaten together with fried noodles, coconut sambalayam masak kicap or with fried chicken. It can be found at stall number 13 and costs RM6 per box.

S.H. Ong at Angsana Mall and Stadium

Every year my wife and I look forward to the puasa month, because of the mouth-watering spread of food and kuih muih available which we do not get on a daily basis. This is also the time of year when my wife goes on ‘strike’, meaning she will not cook for the entire period. Our two favourite locations are the Perak Stadium which has about 160 stalls and the one next to the Angsana Mall in Greentown, with 130 stalls. My personal favourites are: BBQ skewered chicken in satay sauce @ RM4/stick; ikan bakar cincaru @ RM6-8/pc (depending on size); kebab ayam/daging @ RM3/pc and various kuih muih @ RM2 for 5 pieces.

Yng Chin Yean at Angsana Mall

Stall 31:  Nasi Ayam Panggang – whole chicken RM17; half chicken RM9; Nasi Ayam RM4.50. 40 to 50 chickens are sold per day. Yummy & juicy.

Susan Ho at the Stadium

Puasa season is a time I look forward to. The moment the bazaars start everywhere, I would ask my mother to accompany me to search for some good food which I only eat once a year.

There’s the Ayam Percik, which costs RM5 each and tastes yummy. The Lamb Kebab is a must as the combination of flavours make it perfect, RM5. What surprised me most was this year’s new addition, the Durian Crepe. Encased within a mock durian skin, is an oozy cream with pieces of durian. It is creamy, light to eat for a dessert and not too sweet – RM10 for 6 pcs.

Deanna Lim and Yvette at ibis Styles Ipoh Ramadan Buffet: RM45++

Chicken Rendang and Milk Pudding (Deana);

Tomato Rice and Lala Masak Lemak (Yvette)

 

Georgie Hendricks at Medan Tasek

Murtabak Damanhuri – in business at the Ramadan stalls for 24 years. Price of murtabak in 1990 was RM1.50 – now selling at RM5 with brisk business daily  Packet nasi lemak at RM1.30 – very good but little omelette piece and sambal ikan bilis. Good sambal.

Puan Norreha rice stall (variety) – In business at the Ramadan stalls for 15 years. Tomato  rainbow rice is very nice at RM1.50 for plain rice or with chicken at RM3.50. Also sells laksa – good at RM3 and nasi lemak at RM2.50. She has chicken pieces that is covered in what I would call fluff and it is good.

Nasi Bryani Tayub – Bryani comes with acar and he also sells beef rendang and mutton with thick gravy. Price per container with 1 piece of chicken at RM6. Sells out by 6.30pm.

SeeFoon and Veronica at Silibin

Murtabak Daging/Ayam – RM3.50; Roti Jala with curry, the roti jala beautifully lacy and meltingly soft but the curry lacked oomph – RM2; Rempah Udang – buy from the stall with the longer and fatter portions; Rendang Tok 100gms with 5 pcs of ketupat @ RM5 and Serunding both meat and chicken @ RM7 with 5 pcs ketupat.

Luqman at Bercham Jaya

Hot ‘Otak-Otak’. ‘Otak-otak’ is an oblong-like fish snack wrapped in nipah leaves that has its origins from Johor. It is made of minced fish meat mixed with spices, chili and pepper. The otak-otak sold at the Ramadan bazaar in Bercham is considered the best in town. It costs RM0.70 a piece. The stall makes about 500 pieces a day so come early to avoid disappointment.

Kak Yuniza’s Snow Cheese Cake is an appetizing dessert that is rich in cheese and is pleasantly sweet. As the name suggests, the cake is made from cheese with a liberal dose of sugar. Kak Yuniza’s Snow Cheese Cake is sold at the Bercham Ramadan bazaar at Stall No.6. The cheese cake is priced at RM5 a piece.

Yvette at Ipoh Jaya:

For a foodie like me, Ramadan is a month I look forward to indulging in my favourite passion – eating! Ipoh Jaya’s Pasar Ramadan may not be as large or as famous as the one in Medan Gopeng or Bercham, but it certainly provides a handful of delicacies to die for!

One of my must haves is the Lekor, a finger food of fish cakes shaped into long odd sizes and then deep fried – RM1 per pack of 5 pieces. Another favourite is the Roti John, a type of sandwich made with two long pieces of bread covered in an egg mixture and then fried on a pan to perfection. There are 2 choices to choose from, either stuffed with chicken or beef. It costs about RM3 for one and is very filling.

The IE group at Symphony Suites Ramadan Buffet: RM50 nett

Rosli – Mee Bandung;  SeeFoon and Veronica – Ulam with budu (fish sauce fermentation), sambal belacan and cincalok; Deanna – Daging Rendang Tok; Yvette  – Ikan Keli Bakar; and Luqman – Ayam Percik.

SeeFoon Goes on a Warpath against MSG

I have declared war on Monosodium Glutamate or MSG for short, that ubiquitous flavour enhancer that goes by tis different brand names and hidden in soup stock powders, stock cubes, prepared sauces and even soya sauce. According to naturalnews.com“…consumption of MSG causes numerous side effects, including headaches, migraines, muscle spasms, nausea, rashes, anaphylaxis, seizures, depression and heart irregularities. MSG is known to cause damage to the nervous system….When neurons are exposed to these substances, they become very excited and rapidly fire impulses until they reach a state of extreme exhaustion. Several hours later these neurons suddenly die, as if they were excited to death. As a result, neuroscientists have dubbed this class of chemicals ‘excitotoxins’.”

In my case, I know I’ve consumed MSG when I feel dead tired, have an unquenchable thirst and worse symptom of all, my legs and ankles swell up like elephants’ trunks the following day. Hence my declaration of war. But despite my pleas with chefs and restaurant proprietors, there is no ceasefire in sight so I have gone solo and am now seeking out restaurants who will join my cause.

One such newly-opened restaurant in Ipoh Garden South definitely gets my support not only because its chef/proprietor Wyman Lee does not use MSG, but he’s also a staunch vegetarian and it’ll be the first vegetarian restaurant I’ve had the pleasure of patronising and not regret the meal later. Past experience has taught me to avoid vegetarian restaurants like the plague because the mock fish, chicken, meat and all dishes are heavily laced with MSG to give the umami flavour.


My Home Recipe has an eclectic choice of items on its menu. Here you’ll find Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and of course Malaysian dishes, all vegetarian and all prepared without a speck of MSG. And very tasty they are too.

Drinks are fresh squeezed as in the cucumber juice flavoured with a sour plum, beetroot juice, and honeydew melon juice which are all wonderfully refreshing in the current heat and their green jasmine tea is specially imported from Taiwan. Wonderfully fragrant. Juices – RM3; Jasmine tea – RM1.50.

What I particularly enjoy about the food here is that the sauces served with various dishes are not sickeningly sweet as is the tendency of some restaurants where they feel that in place of MSG, they have to replace lost taste with added sugar. Here, one can actually taste the goodness of the ingredients without their natural tastes being smothered.

Snacks

The snack items are perfect for sharing and being there on two occasions, I managed to sample five out of 19 on the menu. The Vietnamese Spring Roll was freshly made, the rice paper skin soft and pliable and the vegetable julienne inside crunchy and fresh. The accompanying sauce was slightly tangy with the right ratio of sweetness to tartness. All raw healthy goodness in one bundle – RM7.20. The Thai Papaya Salad was mildly spiced, topped with freshly roasted crushed peanuts – RM7.20; and the fried Salt and Pepper Bean Curd could have done with more salt and pepper but the sauce that came with it provided essential emollients to the mouthfeel – RM4.80. What was spectacular on the snack menu were the two cheesy items I sampled. The first was the Cheesy Pumpkin, wedges of soft baked pumpkin topped with melted cheese, mildly sweet and oozing with cheese – RM8 and on another occasion, the Cheesy Portabella, fresh mushrooms lightly battered and baked with cheese. At RM15.80 this makes it one of the most expensive item on the whole menu but worth every ringgit and every bite.

What caught my eye on my first visit was the listing of eight items of Stinky Bean Curd, a very unusual dish which I learnt to appreciate in Hong Kong where I used to follow my nose to locate a stall. Unfortunately, they were all sold out and I made sure that they were on the menu when I returned for my second visit. This dish requires a cultivated palate as most people find the taste and smell objectionable (just as a foreigner would react to our durian) but here at My Home Recipe, Wyman who makes the bean curd himself, controls the degree of fermentation to ensure that the smell when he cooks it is not so potent that he’ll drive his customers away. The dish when it arrived on the table  was actually quite mild, with only a trace of the acrid smell that I fondly remember from my Hong Kong days. Deep fried and served with a mildly spicy sauce, this is the only restaurant aside from the occasional stall to be found at some pasar malams, for one to enjoy this dish.There are 8 styles of preparation to choose from. I ordered mine deep fried. Well worth sampling at RM9.80.

My Home Recipe has an extensive menu, with snacks, dumplings, noodles and rice dishes to choose from. Specials of the day can include Nasi Lemak‘Chicken’ Rice and Asam Laksa. These change on a daily basis. All the dishes which I sampled on both occasions merit praise, from the Tom Yum noodles to the Sushi rolls, to the dumplings and the soups. Their noodles are homemade and the Panini bread is on special order for which Wyman provides his own butter to the baker to avoid the use of margarine. Coupled with all this wholesomeness is the added bonus that they do not use MSG and My Home Recipe has now found a loyal fan in me who will be returning often to lunch here.

 

My Home Recipe
44 Lorong Taman Ipoh 1, Taman Ipoh Selatan.
GPS:  N 4° 36.405’   E 101° 7.145’
Tel: Wyman Lee 012 578 0508/012 501 6339
Closed 4 days a month.
Business hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5.30pm.
Private booking available after 5.30pm for 25 to 70 pax.
Sat, Sun, 1st & 15th of Chinese calendar and Chinese feast days: 10am-8.30pm.