Volcano Grill Cafe

By Jack Foo

Boom! There goes the sound of your taste-buds exploding to the pervasive aroma of grilled meat whilst at the same time basking in an elegant dining experience that is second to none. You wouldn’t expect to find this here in humble Ampang Baru, so it might surprise you a little but that doesn’t even compare to the taste you are going to be indulging in.

Sourcing his expertise in cookery by travelling to various European countries (such as France) to master his craft, chef Chai Wee Khun and his team are offering a unique and exclusive range of free-range meats, homemade breads and freshly-brewed soups to spoil the public. The restaurant follows a rotational menu that changes on a weekly basis.

The restaurant’s signature dish is undoubtedly their ‘Dry Aged’ Angus Rib-Eye, which is prepared very unconventionally and it’s so distinct to the point where calling it exotic would be an understatement. Why? It is because of dry-aging, where the meat (only high-grade meat can be dry-aged) is hung or placed on a rack for several weeks. This involves considerable effort as they must be stored to near-freezing temperatures which means constant monitoring of temperatures. (Fun fact: There are only three known restaurants in the whole of Malaysia to offer this method of preparation!)

“There are a few ways to prepare the meat,” said Wee Khun, the owner chef of the cafe. “We dry age it for a few weeks, sometimes even several months, to make it more tender and delicious.”

He added that this method of cooking is considered ‘primal’ in the sense that cavemen used to bury their meat, lift it up, remove the mould formed on the exterior – which actually aids in adding tenderness and flavour – and roast it for safe consumption, “Most are aged for 120 days in -4 degrees Celsius, and kept in a humidity of 75-85%.”

The exclusive Angus beef hails from Australia and it uses its own natural enzymes to break down some of the connective tissue in the meat, enhancing its tenderness. The ultimate effect of dry-aging beef is to concentrate and saturate the flavours of the beef, as well as to make it a lot more tender.

Freshly baked homemade bread on offer will be their walnut and raisin wholemeal bread, amongst many others which changes daily. Make no mistake as their bread is extremely soft, non-sweet and warm. This is paired with their soup-of-the-day, such as their Watercress Soup, which caps off the appetizer section of the menu.

Other signature and much recommended dishes include their BBQ Pork Ribs, marinated with smoky barbecue sauce and with a hint of citrus; their Iberico Collar, made from pigs native to the Iberian Peninsula and cooked without a lot of marinating to retain the pure flavour of this pork species – both dishes accompanied with steamed, creamy sweet potatoes that literally melts on your tongue and sauces such as their homemade Thousand Island and a mint sauce that’s made with cream and supplemented with a slight hint of vinegar to titillate  the senses; leaving nothing but a good impression as you leave the cafe.

“Our loyal customers love our food,” said Wee Khun. “But most of them eventually get bored so we have to change our menu often and keep surprising them!” he laughed.

31 Jalan Ampang Baru 6b,
Kampung Ampang Baru,
31350 Ipoh.
Tel: 011 3140 4800
Open: 6pm-11pm
Closes on Mondays.

Dynasty Palace: SeeFoon tracks down best “Wu Kok” in Ipoh

Having lived in Hong Kong for an extensive period of my life, “yum cha” (in English to drink tea) was a common experience that probably occurred at least once a week. No I’m not referring to the tea with milk variety served with petit fours and cucumber sandwiches but the gustatorial feasts of delectable plate upon plate and steam basket upon basket of small, sweet or savoury dishes, each one a “light touch on the heart” which is what Dim Sum means.

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumThis culinary tradition is said to have begun thousands of years ago when those who travelled along the ancient Silk Road through China would often need a place to rest before continuing on their journey. In response to the increasing amount of people passing through, teahouses opened up along the roadside of southern China. It was later discovered that tea aids digestion, so teahouse owners began offering bite-sized snacks as an accompaniment, and thus yum cha was born.

Finding a foothold in Hong Kong was easy and from there, Dim Sum was a hop step and jump to all the locations in the world where the Chinese settled and missed their culinary traditions.

Since living in Ipoh, my heart has not been “touched” much as I have had difficulties finding the definitive Yum Cha or Dim Sum (often used interchangeably) place to either whet or sate my appetite for delectable morsels.

But now all that has changed with my rather late discovery of Dynasty Palace, a gem of a ‘Yum Cha’ restaurant that has eluded my foodie ‘tentacles’ because it is somewhat off the beaten track for me.

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumSituated in Station 18 directly opposite Aeon, the restaurant appears small when you look at the entrance but on entry I discovered that it is very spacious, occupying two shop lots. And this is where I found the best ‘Wu Kok’ in all of Ipoh.

Having been spoilt for choice all those years in Hong Kong, my definitive Wu Kok (a taro paste-deep-fried-dumpling with meat filling), is crispy, with lace tendrils flying, tongue-burning-straight-off-the-oil fresh, crunchy on the exterior, followed by a velvety smooth taro pastry and filled with beautifully flavoured meat farce.

And this they had in Dynasty Palace. As well as a host of unusual Dim Sum delicacies not found elsewhere in Ipoh.

Not surprisingly, on chatting with proprietor Tim Lee and partner Chef Ben Lew, I surmised that their Dim Sum is all “homemade” unlike some other Dim Sum establishments who are supplied by factories. And the biggest surprise of all is that Chef Ben learnt his craft in the UK under the tutelage of a HK ‘Sifu’ or Master Chef.

So it is UK’s loss and Ipoh’s gain as this pair has come home to roost, bringing with them years of training with some of the best chefs that HK has lost through migration.

For the purposes of this review, I shall only concentrate on the unusual items, those which I consider the well worth trying items on their menu which is very extensive. All of the other typical Dim Sum items are there but as space is limited I shall only dwell on the ones that impressed my palate.

Aside from the Wu Kok, the ‘must trys’ are their Bean Curd Skin Cheung Fun, a delicate steamed rice pancake wrapped around deep fried bean skin; deep fried Char Siew Pao (their steamed ones are good too); Siew Mai which is ubiquitous but especially good here; Pan Fried meat and vegetable PaoLoh Hon Chai Cheung Fun which is rice pancake wrapped around vegetarian stir-fry; their chicken feet both the deep fried (hot) and their Thai Style, boiled, deboned and spicy (cold) versions; unusual Spinach and Goji berry dumplings; their spinach and prawn dumplingsChives and prawn dumplings; pan fried vegetarian pao; steamed spare ribs which were well seasoned and tender; and last but not least their small delicate custard tarts which are melt-in-your-mouth yummilicious.

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsum

I am told by Tim that their bean skin is imported from Hong Kong as is their Pao flour, which may explain why they’re particularly good.

Expect to pay on the average of RM5.10 per portion with most around RM4.80 and RM5.10  with the odd item as high as RM6.30 and you’ll be more than satisfied with the tally at the end of the meal.

All in all, a brunch here at Dynasty Palace is worth the drive to Station 18.

Dynasty Palace
16-18 Medan Station 18/11
Station 18, 31650 Ipoh.
Business hours: 7am-2.30pm
Tel: 05 321 6419. Off days: Call to check.
GPS 4’ 32 38.81  N  : 101’ 4’ 16.86” E

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsum