SeeFoon Goes Halal for Ramadan

Over the years of living in Ipoh, I have often heard of Caterbest Restaurant in Bercham as a shining example of Halal Chinese food but somehow it never made it to my list of ‘to try’ places. Recently however, a Muslim visitor was lamenting to me about the fact that while Ipoh is awash with great food, there are very few places to enjoy Halal Chinese/local dishes.

Which was what prompted me to visit Caterbest, very conveniently located on the main road of Bercham. The restaurant has two levels and the evening I was there, a party was happily breaking fast upstairs while down below, all the tables were full with families doing the same in air conditioned comfort.

Caterbest is one of those old fashioned restaurants that is fast disappearing in today’s fast food or specialised restaurant scene. This is one place where you can drop in for a Wat Dan Hor (broad flat rice noodles cooked in a velvety soupy sauce with vegetables, chicken and floating bits of egg white) RM6 for a medium portion; a chicken chop in a choice of mushroom or black pepper sauce RM15; a lamb chop RM36 or a New Zealand steak RM38. Or if a full meal is on the cards, then there is a wide choice.


The evening I was there we had their Curry Fish Head which is listed as a House Specialty. The gravy was well blended, flavourful, mild with ladies fingers, Tao Pok (beancurd puffs)  and curry leaves and the fish head pieces were very fresh. RM18 small and RM36 large. What I particularly loved was their Kerabu Pucuk Paku, blanched jungle fern served cold with a dressing of spicy sambal belacan paste with hints of coconut. RM9 small; RM18 large.

Their Inchikabin Chicken deserves mention, well marinated chunks of chicken (I always ask for the drumstick or wing portions as I find the breast meat too dry) deep fried to a well done but still juicy tenderness and topped with good quality keropok or prawn crackers. RM18 small and RM36 Large.This was followed by their Asam Prawns, very fresh large sea prawns in a tangy tamarind sauce, laced with onions and spices. RM20 small; RM40 large. Other cooking styles for the prawns include Nestum or the Butter Prawns, the latter comes smothered in a nest of fine slivers of something (I have never discovered the chef’s secret for this recipe which I suspect is milk powder) interlaced with curry leaves.

All in all Caterbest is a great restaurant for a reasonably priced meal. With prices having gone up the way they have, a meal here for 5 or 6 people need not cost more than RM100. And with good tasting and quality food to boot. And the best news is: they also cater. Hence the name!

 
Restoran Caterbest (Halal)
74 & 74A Jalan Bercham
Taman Seri Dermawan, 31400 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 547 8622. Wong Swee Kok 012 510 8022
Business Hours: 11am-3pm; 6pm-11pm

SeeFoon Finds New Bragging Rights for Ipoh as Culinary Haven

Ipoh just found something else to brag about. Already touted as a culinary haven, the newly-opened Yuk Sou Hin is raising the bar for Chinese fine dining and will soon have other restaurants pulling up their socks.

Ever since I moved to Ipoh, after having had my palate spoilt by superlative Cantonese Dim Sum in Hong Kong, I have been searching for that definitive taste, the translucent paper thin ‘skin’ on a Har Gao or the Chiew Chao Fun Gor, where the ‘skin’ is not like thick cardboard, and the finer touches, sometimes indescribable: that quintessential Cantonese touch of ‘Tsing’ or ‘Xian’ in Mandarin which in English can only be described as clear, fresh, and umami. This last quality is often used to describe the most refined taste in Chinese food.

Now Yuk Sou Hin has arrived on the first floor of the newly-opened Weil Hotel where Master Chef Chung Ho Shi dishes up delectable Cantonese fare that will hold its own anywhere in Hong Kong. Hong Kong born and bred Chef Chung honed his skills in top restaurants before moving to Singapore where he worked for leading hotel and restaurant chains. With 38 years of experience behind him Chef Chung is bringing to Ipoh new standards of Cantonese culinary excellence, hitherto found only in the bigger cities of Hong Kong and Singapore.

Sitting in one of their many private rooms, each named after a tea, the ambiance was gently opulent, with discrete and efficient service and none of the usual clatter and noise that is typical of our usual Ipoh Chinese restaurants. Nor is the noise level high on the outside in the main dining area.

“A good start” I thought as the first dishes were brought in while nibbling on the ‘Old Godfather’ (a new name volunteered by Executive Chef Eric Soong) sauce on the table, an umami crumbly sauce made with dried scallops and fine anchovies, not unlike an XO sauce, slightly tangy without searing overtones.

Tea is one of  their specialties here with 12 different types of premium tea on offer. Each tea is served with its own set of tea cups and serving paraphernalia and with great aplomb.

We sat down to the first of the many Dim Sum dishes, which owing to the lack of space, I shall only describe a few. Their Char Siew Pao or Baked Crispy Honey Barbecued Pork Bun was unusual. Slightly crispy on the outside, the bun itself was soft and fluffy, the pork filling sweet and delectable; in effect, steamed then baked for the crust – RM7 for 3 pieces.

This was followed by the Siew Mai with Fish Roe which arrived on skewers, again an unusual presentation and a twist on the traditional delicacy, steamed then pan fried. Delectable at RM9 for 4 pieces.


Har Gao or prawn dumplings did not disappoint. The skin translucent, paper thin and the prawns inside, ocean fresh, springy and umami – RM9 for 4 pieces.

We then had an unusual soup, a feast for the eyes as well as palate. This was the Pumpkin and Spinach Soup dotted with pieces of scallop, prawn, crab and bamboo pith served in a swirl of the traditional yin-yang symbol, the green of the spinach contrasting dramatically with the orange of the pumpkin and the combination of the mild bitterness of the former offset by the sweetness of the latter – RM13 per portion.

The pièce de résistance here has to be their Signature Smoked Duck with Lychee Wood. This is one of the best smoked duck I have had in a very long time. The skin was honey glazed and crispy, the meat succulent and I who have never enjoyed breast meat, always preferring the extremities of all poultry, found the breast meat to be tender and juicy. A faint lingering aroma of the lychee wood around the skin and dipped into the not-too-sweet sauce, created a heavenly foodie moment for me – RM49 (half) and RM98 (whole).

Many other delectables are on offer but owing to space constraints, I will have to encourage the reader to try it for themselves, but deserving special mention for those who have a sweet tooth, their Golden Egg Yolk Custard Bun is worth risking a burnt tongue – the bun, cotton wool soft with the egg yolk custard, oozy and creamy. Definitely worth investing in a few more calories – RM7 for 3 pieces.

Another unusual dessert the Chilled Lemongrass and Sour Plum Jelly containing chunks of Aloe Vera was refreshing and cooling to the system – RM10; while the Chilled Mango Puree with Pomelo and Sago had a velvety mouth feel contrasted by the morsels of pomelo and sago – RM12.

 

Yuk Sou Hin
Ist Floor Weil Hotel
292 Sultan Idris Shah, Ipoh
Tel: 05 208 2228
Manager: Tong Kar Chun
Mobile: 012 937 2822