SeeFoon explores Bercham and turns up Trumps (excuse the intended pun)

I am often asked how I find all these places I write about and the only answer I can give is that I’m blessed with good friends. Not only good friends but Foodie friends. Friends who take me to places I could never discover by myself. Like Dato’ Daniel Tay and his wife Datin Siew Phaik.

Choy Delicious is a small, unpretentious fan-cooled restaurant serving some wildly delicious dishes. Ah Yoke who ‘mans’ the front of the house and her husband Chan Keat Choy, whose culinary skills were honed in Singapore for more than 10 years, serve up typical Chinese ‘Tai Chau’ dishes but like every good chef, adds his own inimitable style to turn a dish from mediocre to superlative.

Like the Chicken with lotus pod, chicken chunks mixed with crispy fried lotus pod slices, whole garlic pips, onions and coated with a thick mildly sweet sauce, was so good that we promptly ordered another portion – RM20.

Another unusual dish was the Sizzling Bangkok prawns, large very fresh ‘Meng Har’ pan fried and served on a sizzling platter with a bed of pandan leaves wafting its fragrance and permeating the prawns – RM30.

One of their signature dishes is the Sek Pan Yu Tao Woh or Garoupa Fish Head Steamboat. What I liked was their service, in an old-fashioned hot pot tureen with charcoal underneath rather than the dangerous one with the gas canister. This was Tong Hou or Garland Chrysanthemum leaves, Bak Choy and fish head chunks or if fish head is not your fancy, fish chunks, swimming in a delectable broth (I had no MSG reaction) that was seasoned to perfection. Fish head: M/L RM40/50. Fish meat: daily price.

Similarly delicious is their Curry Fish Head which was cooked with coconut milk instead of what appears to be ubiquitous these days – that dreadful evaporated milk – giving the gravy that luscious, creamy ‘coconutty’ flavour and aroma complemented by curry leaves and other spices – M/L RM45/55.

Their homemade Bean Curd was deep fried and topped with a crunchy Choy Po (Chinese preserved radish or daikon) mince which contrasted nicely with the velvety smooth bean curd – S/M/L RM8/12/15. This was followed by very meaty Spare Ribs coated in a mildly sweet sauce and cooked to the right degree of tenderness – S/M/L RM10/15/20.

For their creme de resistance, their Indonesian crabs are done in many styles including the one I had to try, reminiscent of my days in Singapore where I grew to crave for them. This is Black Pepper Crab, a dish made popular in Singapore where this chef honed his skills. Ah Yoke was very honest and came to tell me that the crab she had kept for me was not as fresh as she would have liked it and that the meat had shrunk a tad (this happens to crabs when they have been kept alive for too many days…they shrink). That didn’t mean that the crab was bad so I opted to try it anyway just to get a taste of the sauce; which on tasting, justified my risk. The crab was still fresh to my taste buds and yes it was true, the flesh had shrunk a bit but the sauce was everything I remember it to be in Singapore. Peppery, tangy, and ‘finger-licking good’ to quote a certain Colonel Sanders. RM100 per kg (about two smallish crabs). Worth going back for when they have new stock.

Choy Delicious Seafood Restaurant is tucked away in the bowels of Bercham. Once you’ve been there it’s easy to find but some other friends had difficulty. So do use Waze or the GPS co-ordinates given here.

Choy Delicious Seafood Restaurant
120 Lebuh Bercham Timur
Taman Bercham Sinar (East Eden)
Tel: Ah Yoke 012 482 2187 or 016 513 2213
GPS:  E 101° 8’ 11.0  N 4°  37’ 46.9
Business hours: 5pm-10.30pm; Closed 3 days a month (call to check)

SeeFoon Goes Pubbing at Lunch Time

I have never been much of a pub person and if there is one pub in Ipoh that I have been to most often would be Healy Mac’s in Greentown. And the reason is not because it’s across the road from the Echo office but because their pub food is among the tastiest and creative in town.

I recently had the pleasure to taste the latest offerings in their new lunch promotion beginning on November 1. And escorted by a coterie of staff from the office, we descended on Healy Mac’s to sample and gorge our way through 10 new items on the lunch promotion menu.

Priced very reasonably from RM11.90-RM16 per meal depending on which main course is ordered, the lunch set comes with a complimentary mushroom soup as starter and iced lemon tea to go with the meal.

Chef Litha Letchumanan came out from the kitchen after the meal to update me on the menu items and the latest news on Healy Mac’s. Currently the Assistant Manager and Chef at Healy Mac’s Ipoh, I congratulated her on her new promotion which will see her travelling around the country as Executive Head Chef for all the Healy Mac’s pub in Malaysia; a ‘heady’ job indeed and with loads of responsibility.

We started with the Smoked Duck Quesadilla, a Mexican derivative consisting of sliced smoked duck with cheese, spread on a flour tortilla, and grilled till the cheese melts, the tortilla slightly charred and the cheese oozing around the edges. Served with a mint and sour cream sauce, it was yummilicious at RM16.

Who doesn’t like Bacon and Eggs but the next dish came with a twist as a burger with the egg and bacon served on a crispy sesame bun. I loved the crunch of the lettuce and the bun contrasting with the softness of the fried egg, the mild sweetness of the fried onion and the bacon which lent its umami saltiness to the whole combination. Served with French Fries and salad. This is not for the genteel fork and knife nibbling crowd but for the “lets-roll-up-sleeves-and-eat with-your-hands” sector. In other words…foodies like me. Real comfort food – RM14.

The Penne with Salmon and lemon was creamy, the Penne al dente and the portion was generous. Served with garlic bread and salad – RM16.50. This was followed by my favourite comfort food, an omelette, this one with Ham, cheese and onion. Wholesome and heartwarming. And this too was served with garlic bread and salad – RM13.

Even though we were nine of us, we were all starting to feel full as the portions were all very generous. And we still had a few more dishes to sample. The Fish and Chips served with a homemade red cabbage slaw (loved this one) and homemade tarter sauce was crispy and fresh – RM15, and the Chicken Chop served with a choice of three sauces was a departure from the norm. This arrived with the chicken nicely charred and the choice of sauces are the Black Pepper, robust with enough pepper for heat; the Hainanese, slight sweet and sour and which brought back for me the nostalgia of good old Hainanese cooking with its liberal use of Worcestershire sauce which this had; and the fresh button mushroom cream sauce – RM16.

This was followed by Litha’s famous Nasi Lemak which came with a fried egg, ikan bilis and peanuts, cucumber, lovely vegetarian sambal and well-cooked coconut rice. So for the vegetarian, all you have to do is to ask for them not to serve the ikan bilis. And no egg if you’re vegan – RM13.

Just as we were groaning with surfeit a final dish showed up which were the barbecued spare ribs, tender fall-off-the-bone pork ribs glistening with barbecue sauce that were hard to resist. Served with mashed potatoes – RM16.

So if you’re ever in the Greentown area and in search of a quiet place for lunch, check out Healy Mac’s. Not only is the food quality high but it is great value for your money.

Healy Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaurant
#2 Ground Floor, Persiaran Greentown 4,
Greentown Avenue, 30450 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 249 3627
Lunch Specials from 12pm till 3pm.