Ipoh Boy’s Cooking Got Approved By The Thai King

It’s been open only six months and already garnering a coterie of fans, especially those who like the clean wholesome taste of Cantonese cuisine and its very light saucing.

I don’t know how Chef/Owner William Yap does it but his soups and his sauces are inimitable. And the name of the restaurant says it all. Called Hao Xian Wei which when translated to ‘excellent fresh taste’, is exactly what you get here.

When the chef personally chooses the fish, sources his sauces and titivates the sauces and marinades himself to add extra layers of flavour, you know you’re onto a good thing. Chef William, an Ipoh boy who has spent over 10 years in Thailand and has received recognition from the Thai King himself, is bringing his special brand of culinary skill back to his hometown and is already creating a stir amongst the foodies here.

With the escalating prices around the type of fish one orders when entertaining friends and the game of one-upmanship is played, to order Siakap is about as downmarket as it comes, tantamount to committing social suicide. Siakap (Barramundi) is a common fish placed probably just above the ubiquitous Tilapia on the snobbery scale. Yet the Siakap belly, cut in pieces and steamed to perfection with a divine soya sauce was as good as any expensive fish you get elsewhere. From RM13 small and RM20 large.

It’s all in the saucing. William personally goes to market every day and buys all his fish and meat. He buys the big Siakap choosing those at a minimum of 4kg. This he then cuts into the various sections and dishes out whatever customers want. You can choose tail, belly, head, fins, you name it, and decide if you want it in soup (superlative, with no MSG, simmered with fish bones, ikan bilis, dried fish), plain steamed or even Thai-style (not my favourite). He even gets fresh “Fah Gao” or fish bladder from the fish he buys and serves that if you wish. Knowing how expensive Fah Gao is dried, I found the fresh version totally satisfying. Price is seasonal so ask first.

Another surprise is his steamed black pomfret. This lowly fish is usually relegated to the curry pot and yet under the masterful eye of William and his special secret sauce, it comes out superlative. 1kg RM60 We also had blanched Squid (Wong Ka Lon) which arrived springy and resilient but not tough. RM20

 All this talk of fish and I forgot to mention the starter which was an ice plant salad (now the latest rage vegetable), dressed in thousand island and topped with fried black and white sesame seeds. RM25. Wonderful.

Having raved on about the fish, I must mention the meats. Although limited, each meat dish is special, like the Woo So Kai, or bearded chicken as it says on the menu was steamed: tender, juicy and utterly delectable. Eat it with their two sauces, garlic, chilli, onions, coriander and their ginger sauce (all fresh made) and you’ll swoon. RM30/60 S/L.

Now we come to the pork. Two styles of doing pork belly and both yummilicious. On one occasion I had their pork belly done Korean-style, marinated in a Korean sauce and coated with Hong Kong Ham Har Cheong (salted prawn paste), then deep fried to perfection, the fatty bits melt in your mouth; RM20.

Another style of serving pork belly is braised, the sauce thick and sweetish, each morsel a mouthful of heaven. I won’t even venture to guess what went into the sauce. Suffice to say it was delectable. They make only six portions of this a day so it is wise to order in advance; RM30.

I haven’t tasted Ham Har Cheong in years and the prawns coated with it came last and it brought back memories of my time in HongKong. The prawns were very fresh and firm to the bite and the prawn paste added another layer of taste to the dish.

A final word about the rice. I am not much of a rice eater but this fragrant Thai rice topped with a generous portion of Japanese garnish of seaweed, sesame and bonito really make it so tempting that I finished a whole portion by myself!

Welcome home, William. I love your passion for curating the best dishes in your restaurant.

 
Restoran Hao Xian Wei
11 Jalan Medan Ipoh 6, (a few doors down from 1919 in the corner)
Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh 31400 Ipoh.
Patrick Cheong: For reservations: 012 431 1070
William Yap Chef/Owner for ordering (in Cantonese only): 017 4216523
Open:  12pm-9pm
Closed:  2 days a month; Tuesday and Wednesday (not fixed).

Butcher’s Table: SeeFoon Revels in Carnivore Paradise

The sign Butcher’s Table intrigued me. I made a mental note to check it out but my friend William Balasingam beat me to it and so a subsequent invitation to lunch was accepted gratefully.

The name Butcher’s Table has a homey ring to it, akin to a Chef’s Table where you get to taste the Chef’s special dishes. And here at Butcher’s Table, the same applies. All the charcuterie and meats are here minus perhaps the liver pate and the air-dried items like salami, prosciutto and jambon. And all items are homemade.

 This is a carnivore or meat eater’s paradise. And the perfect venue for those on a Keto Diet. There are concessions for the carb lover though, albeit small ones like three pasta offerings, mashed potatoes, crispy fries and garlic rice.

But you don’t come to the Butcher’s Table looking for carbs. You come here to gorge on meat in all its glory, from Wagyu steaks (and giant tomahawks) to pork in its multiple incarnations, lamb and the one chicken concession for those who eschew red meat.

I have heard of Mr Ho, who used to garner rave reviews from KL-ites who loved his roast pork with its famed crispy skin when he had a stall in the lobby of the Bangsar Shopping Centre since 1992. Alas, probably due to escalating rents he has since moved to Petaling Jaya and now recently has opened a Butcher’s Table in Ipoh; adding another dimension to Ipoh’s food scene.

And am I happy to welcome him to Ipoh.

Mind you, serving Siew Yoke (Chinese style roast pork) in Ipoh is like ‘bringing coals to Newcastle’ as the English expression goes but Butcher’s Table’s Siew Yoke holds its own against the best of them here. I don’t know what their secret is (according to Kent, Mr Ho’s son who manages the restaurant, it’s the combi oven) but the skin is extra crisp and stays crisp even till the end of the meal. For those who dislike 5-spice powder, you’ll be happy to know that they don’t use this to marinate the meat but instead use their own spice blend.

Butcher’s Table, Roast Pork
Roast Pork

And that is just one of the dishes I like to order as a starter! RM12 per portion. You can also choose to have this as a topping to pasta Aglio Olio with mushrooms as a complete meal; RM21.

Having been there a few times, my favourite item on the menu is their Signature Salted Beef. This is beef brisket, brined for 10 days, cooked sous vide for 24 hours and boiled. Not overly salty and absolutely tender. Served with sauerkraut imported from Germany, gherkins and mustard, it always puts me in Teutonic heaven; RM34.

Butcher’s Table, Salted Beef
Salted Beef

Butcher’s Table, Iberico Shoulder Collar
Iberico Shoulder Collar

Next came the Iberico Shoulder Collar, a juicy piece of fairly fatty Iberico pork grilled to perfection and served with mashed potatoes which were yummilicious; RM30.

A few words must be said about the sausages served here. All homemade without preservatives and stuffed into hog casings, these sausages are what I’ve been looking and searching for, for ages. You see, in case some of my readers don’t know, most sausages contain preservatives (nitrates or nitrites) and contain a great deal of fillers which help to increase weight and bulk. Also, a lot of commercial sausages use artificial casings. Here at Butcher’s Table, these sausages are fresh made, with no fillers and are chilled, not frozen. Of course, you may buy them home and freeze them but here when you’re served, they are all fresh.

 

Butcher’s Table, Cheese Ring
Cheese Ring

My favourite is the deluxe cheese ring sausage, a round of 20% fat and 80% meat with no fillers, oozing cheese as you cut into it. Served with sweet mustard; RM25. They also have Nuernberger, Bratwurst, Oxford, Garlic, Italian, Cumberland, Mushroom and even a Currywurst! All regular sausages are RM9 each and eaten with a side order of anything from fries, mash, sauerkraut or rice, becomes a meal in itself.

Butcher’s Table, Smoked Pork Knuckle
Smoked Pork Knuckle

Keeping the best for last, we then had to try the Smoked Pork Knuckle, a 1kg whole front knuckle (more tender than the hind one) again brined for 10 days and slow smoked with beechwood chips. The meat was fall-off-the-bone-tender and so well infused with both the marinade and smoky flavour that we had to tuck in despite the fact that we were totally full. RM65 which can easily feed four people.

Butcher’s Table serves beer and cider and till they get their liquor license, BYO is free.

Reservations are advised as they are very popular.

 
Butcher’s Table
#18 Tingkat Taman Ipoh 6
Ipoh Garden South, 31400 Ipoh.
Tel: 605 210 7088
Business hours:  12 noon -3pm; 6pm-11pm
Closed Wednesdays.