SeeFoon discovers a Foodie Gem in the Boonies

This is one restaurant that is best for the intrepid Foodie – one who will brook no obstacle, burn up the tyres in search of this backwoods simple Tai Chau restaurant that is open only for lunch somewhere in Batu Gajah.

With this not so encouraging introduction, let me begin by warning my dear readers to arm themselves with GPS or waze on their smart phones and head towards Batu Gajah going either via Pusing or the usual route, which according to Kumar my road-smart driver, the latter is longer than via Pusing.

The restaurant which doesn’t have an English name is Foong Loy (transliterated from Chinese) and is up some dingy stairs, over a car accessories shop (see pic). While the premises are certainly not palatial – in fact it’s your usual lower-end run-of-the-mill ‘Tai Chau’ restaurant – the food quality can certainly beat many of the more upmarket establishments that abound in Ipoh and the prices to boot.

Where else can one get a live ‘Soon Hock’ (Marble Goby) fish albeit a smallish one for RM38? Plus it was steamed to perfection, the sauce seasoned delicately to complement the sweet and juicy flesh. With only 4 or 5 tables in the place, the fish tank is understandably small but enough to house two to three fish which vary from day to day depending on the supply.

We were a total of 5 people that day and our total bill for 11 dishes came to RM209, which included very fresh and very well pan fried Tualang Prawns or Udang Galah. They were smallish but absolutely delectable – RM52.

Tofu fried with dried prawns were crispy and fragrant – RM8 and the chicken that followed (kampong chicken) was also steamed and redolent with ginger. The meat was tender and juicy and seasoned with just the right amount of salt and soya – RM18.

The Duck that came next was aromatic, cooked in the style of the famous ‘Gow Tsai Ngap’ or Puppy Duck of Pusing’s Ming Feong Restaurant. Now lest you animal lovers out there start protesting, the recipe contains no dogs, puppies or four-legged animals of any kind. It is just duck braised in a dark soya sauce and laced with oodles of young ginger and ‘sar keong’ or kencur (Malay), aromatic ginger or sand ginger – RM16.

Fried Catfish with basil was unusual and delectable at RM16 as was the Sayur Paku fried with ikan bilis, shallots and chillies. RM10 (seasonal). The clams that followed were very fresh RM18 but it was the last dish that blew me away.

Fresh oysters (small ones) braised with pork belly with slivers of dried squid was one of those old recipes that is hardly ever found on menus these days. Here at Foong Loy, the oysters were fresh, the pork chunks braised to quivering exquisiteness and the squid slivers lent its smoky fishiness to make this dish the paragon of culinary excellence. It’s a pity that most restaurants have dropped some of these exquisite recipes from their repertoire – RM16.

All in all, every dish I had here was well above average, in fact, most had the best ‘wok hei’ or in Cantonese, the aroma from the wok.

Foong Loy Restaurant
#4A, Jalan SM1, Taman Saujana Mega
31000 Batu Gajah, Perak
Tel: 016 5996443; 016 5385425
GPS: E  101” 1’ 19,8”  N 4”  29’  32,5”
Business Hours: 12pm-3pm. Closed evenings.

SeeFoon Discovers Another ‘Lo Chiew Pai’

How this restaurant has escaped my foodie tentacles and not been on my flavour of the month, year, indeed even lifetime list is baffling to me. Indeed I even accused my Foodie kaki Ginla Chew of keeping secrets from me when she finally brought me here. Apparently when I mentioned going there to some other friends, they said, “Oh Fay Loo, it’s been around for a long time and used to be our favourite after-clubbing spot for supper.” Their name card for the restaurant says they’re open from 6pm till 2.30am so after 20 years in Ipoh, why haven’t I been there?

It was well worth the wait though as I have definitely decided that this will be my ‘go-to’ place for a casual dinner, a place to tuck into some of my favourite ‘homey’ Chinese dishes and a place to ‘pig’ out literally and figuratively as they have many superlative pork dishes.

It’s a rare treat when one finds a restaurant where 12 out of 12 dishes which I tried were superb and worth going back for. So let me get down to describing the dishes.

Fay Loo is known for their pomfrets, both the black and the white more expensive variety. We started with one of their signature dishes which was Black Pomfret smothered in chopped Ham Tsoi or pickled vegetable. It was a biggish fish and very fresh, the Ham Tsoi adding a salty tart element to the fish – RM40. For contrast I asked for the white pomfret steamed Hokkien style. This was a small pomfret and again absolutely ocean fresh – RM30.

The next dish, the Ham Yu Yoke Pang or Salted fish meat patty really spoke to my palate. This is the kind of home cooking I grew up with:  crispy on the edges, the inside redolent with the fragrance of salted fish – RM12.

The next dish was even more homey: Dried prawnsTsu Yao Tsa (lardons) with green pepper and onions, spicy, salty, crispy and perfect as a snack or with rice – RM14.

The Salted Kampung Chicken was steamed to perfection, not too salty nor bland – RM35 followed by Asam Prawns which were superlative – RM35.

The pan-fried Big Squid (which is known as Wong Ka Lun in Cantonese) was chewy without being rubbery and was perfect with our drinks as an appetiser – RM24. Clams followed done ‘Kam Heong’ style, very fresh and fragrant with the curry leaves and spices – RM14.

What made the Mah Po Tofu special was the addition of Tsu Yao Tsa or lardons. This soft tofu dish with minced pork is a Szechuan specialty that can be fiery and in this case, it was moderate but the added lardons made it particularly fragrant and delectable. Definitely a ‘must repeat’ – RM12.

And the dishes kept coming. Belly pork or Tseng Chiew Fa Yoke with red and green pepper was excellent at RM14 while the ‘Moonlight Noodles’ named for the raw egg resembling a full moon topping the noodles was quite romantic as well as yummilicious – flat rice noodles with a soupy sauce.

We ended our meal with yet another noodle dish, this time a Mee Goreng, spicy and very close to the Indian version.

Restaurant Fay Loo
A7 Jalan Dato Tahwil Azhar
Tel: 05 255 7642
Business Hours: 6pm-2.30am
Closed Tuesdays Fortnightly
GPS: N O4°  35.434′ E 101°  05.007′