SeeFoon Gets All Steamed Up Over Fish

It’s quite amazing how certain locations are famous for certain dishes and Rawang is one of them. I have heard of their famous steamed Tilapia but have never had the pleasure of actually tasting it. Now I won’t have to go to Rawang for this delectable dish. It is right on our doorstep with the opening of the Rawang Famous Steam Fish.

Located at a corner shop lot adjacent to the Symphony Suites Hotel, this newly-opened restaurant is ‘coffee-shop’ style with ample fans and because it is a corner shop, is sufficiently airy for the group of us who were there, not to be affected by the heat.

Of course the first thing we ordered was the famous steamed fish. This is black Tilapia, live from the tank in the kitchen, which they source locally and steamed to perfection with the very special Betong ginger. Again having heard about this special ginger for quite some time, and never having tasted it, I was delighted to notice that not only do they sell this at the restaurant (raw) for takeaway but they use it generously on their fish lending a particularly special fragrance unlike ordinary ginger. RM30 for a medium size fish.

Another signature dish here is their Odyssey Soup, pig’s stomach stuffed with a kampong chicken and steamed till tender. This is then cut up and served, the pig’s stomach thick and succulent, (unlike some other places where they tend to be thin and puny) and the broth robust and umami. The tureen was so large that even between the six of us at the table, we couldn’t eat it all and ended up taking half of it home, which suited me to a T as I absolutely adore offal – RM78.

The fried Kangkung with sambal belacan had very good ‘wok hei’ (wok energy) and was devoured quickly – RM8; as was the the Dong Po Rou, a thick slab of well braised belly pork, the skin and fat cooked to a jelly consistency and was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth delectable, the saucing done perfectly – RM22.

We then had the deep fried Ham Dan squid, crispy morsels of squid coated with salted egg yoke and flavoured with curry leaves and hints of chilli. Yummilicious RM16; followed by the Loufah Tofu, the tofu velvety smooth in a sauce made more umami by the generous addition of crab meat – RM19.

The crème de la crème of the evening’s menu had to be the Pork Trotter, a humongous Pig’s Trotter deep fried (presumably after steaming) with the skin still crispy and the meat inside falling off the bone, tendons and sinews reduced to jelly and paired with the black pepper sauce that was slightly on the sweet side, was heavenly. Despite our best efforts to do justice to the dish, the portion was so large that again we had to take a big portion home – RM60.

We then followed all this up with taster portions of their Kam Heong kampong chicken, marinated with Tong Kwai (Chinese Angelica), steamed and ladled with hot oil. Excellent flavour – RM16 and their cheesy prawns, large seawater prawns cooked in the shell and served with a cheese sauce, an interesting fusion delight at RM30.

Victor Lee, together with his sister Vicky run this restaurant and it is interesting to note that young as this brother and sister team is, they are passionate about what they do and can be seen busily keeping customers happy, explaining the menu and keeping their team of Iban workers on their toes. This is no struggling pair needing to survive, instead coming from a well-to-do family and in fact Victor, who gave me his card, has a B.A. in Management Studies from the UK.

When asked what prompted him to open this restaurant and naming it Rawang Famous Steam Fish, he said, “There is no harm in riding on the wave of popularity of a famous product. We are using fish sourced locally in Perak which helps our economy and along the way, delivering a superior dish for Ipohites. My love of food has been my passion for a long time and this restaurant is the fulfilment of a dream. I hope to be able to create more innovative dishes as we go along.”

At which point he urged us to try one of these innovations, the ‘Yu Tsu Gai’ or suckling pig chicken, drumsticks, deboned, chopped up and roasted, with the crispy chicken skin on top to resemble the crispy skin of the suckling pig. Indeed on tasting, the chicken skin was crispy and while not crackling as in suckling pig, it bore some resemblance especially when served with the suckling pig sweet sauce. Now if he would add the pancake and scallions, diners can certainly pretend to be having an economical version of the very pricey suckling pig. RM16 per portion.

Rawang Famous Steam Fish
1 Jalan Lapangan Symphony, 31350 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 311 0854
Business Hours: 12pm-3pm; 6pm-10pm;
                                7 days a week
GPS: N 4° 34.124’  E 101° 6.82’

SeeFoon Gets Bowled Over

My favourite meal of the day is breakfast. That is when I’m ravenous and my palate is fresh. Ready to savour the delectable dish of the day. Alas, I’m often too lazy to trek into town for breakfast. Recently however, I allowed myself to be persuaded by friends on two occasions to do just that. The first was to Auntie Fei Sow for oodles of noodles done any way you choose and two days later to Weng Oon Kopitiam two doors down, for the best beef balls and beef noodles in all of Ipoh (best for me that is, watch for the next review).

Fellow foodie Datin Phaik Lean loves offal as I do and she persuaded me to try Auntie Fei Sow where she swoons over the ‘Tsor Yuet Tong’ or post-partum soup. This heavenly rich broth is heavy on the ginger (ginger is supposed to help new mothers regain their strength after birth) and unlike other places where they use home brewed rice wine, Auntie Fei Sow’s (whose name means Fat Auntie – quite an apt description) is laced with Siew Heng (Fa Tiew) a Chinese wine rather like sherry. Liver is high on the priority list for boosting new mother’s blood so this soup has loads of it. And my favourite, pig’s small intestine or ‘fun cheong’. Add an omelette of sorts fried with slivers of ginger, minced pork and wood ear fungus to top the soup which can be served with or without noodles and I am in offal heaven – RM8.

Their seafood soup is very ‘tsing’ (Chinese for clear) but with Auntie simmering her soup overnight with good quality ikan bilis or dried whitebait and some pork bones, the broth is rich and umami. Add to this rich stock some very fresh big prawns, some fish paste, fish slices, clams (again very fresh and nary a bad one), cuttle fish, bitter gourd slices and some ham choy or preserved chinese kale and you have a concoction fit for the most discerning gourmet. I chose the ‘lai fun’ a thick round rice noodle which has a lovely chewy consistency and imbued with the fish flavours of the broth and other garnitures, reminded me of some other noodles I’ve had elsewhere which are actually made from fish paste – RM8.

For the less adventurous palates, their fish slices are very fresh and can be mixed with fish head chunks or have fish head on its own with the ‘Ham Choy’ or preserved vegetables and bitter melon – RM8.

A bowl of just innards with some sliced pork is RM5 as is the ‘Yu Wat’ or fish paste with your choice of noodles.

Worthy of mention is their Pan Meen, homemade noodles (you have a choice of the thick or thin type somewhat similar to spaghetti in taste and texture) in a very clean broth served with a bowl of  ‘gow gay’ soup,  the dark green, slightly bitter leaves of the Chinese boxthorn which are reputed to be very healthy. I opted for the dry version with thick noodles which came with a dark slightly sweetish soya sauce, delicately flavoured, topped with minced pork and a generous portion of crispy ikan bilis. The noodles were ‘yeen ngan’ the Chinese equivalent of what I would classify as Italian ‘al dente’ and at RM4.30 beats any Italian pasta for both price and flavour.

The ambiance might not measure up to most Italian restaurants but if one is willing to sweat a little (although their big powerful fans really whip up a cooling breeze) this is one coffee shop to patronise. And I haven’t even mentioned their sambal belacan which is doled out generously with every bowl. Just ask for replenishment.

When Auntie first opened she was closed by 2pm but now with extra help from her son and even grandchildren, she has extended her hours till 8pm.

Restoran Auntie Fei Sow
20 Jalan Medan Ipoh 1b, Medan Ipoh Bistari, 31400 Ipoh, Perak
Tel.: 012-515 1289
Business Hours : 7:30am-8pm.  Closed one day a month.