Mandarin Kitchen in Falim

SeeFoon Revisits  Mandarin Kitchen in Falim

It’s been four years since I last visited Mandarin Kitchen in Falim. Not only have they since moved premises (still in Falim) but now its a bigger and roomier two shoplot space and as an added incentive, there is ample parking.

Restoran Mandarin Kitchen in Falim

What made me decide to revisit was that I heard they are now offering an ongoing promotion of fish curry for the price of RM20 on weekdays. Always thinking of my dear readers and how they would really enjoy this, I thought it was time to pay them another visit because I remember that there are some very interesting dishes on the menu. In fact, I wrote about them in issue 211 in 2015.

Sweet Sour Pork on Ice Bed @ Mandarin Kitchen in Falim
Sweet Sour Pork on Ice Bed

Revisiting this time, I got the opportunity to combine old taste memories and collect new ones and was I glad I did. I remember Chef Ng Wen Lih as one of the most creative chefs giving new twists to traditional dishes and some in the most unusual ways. So for example, my friends are always astounded when the Ku Lui Yoke or sweet-sour pork arrives on the table. The fried battered chunks of pork were served on a bed of ice which results in the batter becoming more crunchy and producing a new mouth feel. For those who like all their dishes served piping hot, this is not for their palate but for me, who is forever moaning about the heat, a cold crispy morsel of meat is just perfect, RM16/20/24.

Chef Ng’s wife Chong Lee Yong takes care of service and on the night we went, she introduced some of the new dishes (new to me as I haven’t been for so long).

We began with the Asam Prawns, medium-sized prawns marinated with a thick slightly sweetened asam paste and pan-fried. The prawns were very fresh and the sauce, although a tad sweet for my taste, was tangy and sweet without being cloying, RM22.

Asam Prawns @ Mandarin Kitchen in Falim
Asam Prawns
Pork belly with Fermented Red Yeast Rice

Next came one of their signature dishes, the Wuxi Fah Lam. Looking like Dong Po Yoke but a dark maroon-red in colour, the pork belly cut into smaller chunks but equally tender and the fat and skin, jelly smooth on the bite. Wuxi is the place in China where this style of cooking originates and the paste is very similar to the paste we get from the Fook Chow people in Sitiawan. This fermented paste made from red yeast rice lends a distinctive earthy taste to the pork. Served with homemade mantou (steamed Chinese buns), RM22.

The Fish Head Curry arrived. This is the pièce de résistance which lures people in, both for its very alluring price and the taste. At RM20 per boiling bubbling tureen, this Garoupa fish head is chopped into chunks and cooked in a creamy, very mild curry sauce that still has enough of the fire to remind you that you’re eating a curry. Monday-Friday promo only RM20; weekends RM30.

Fish Head Curry
Pork spare ribs with ice cream

Then came the most innovative dish of the evening, the Pai Kwat or pork ribs with ice cream. Yes, you got that right – ice cream! These are very meaty pork ribs on the bone, marinated and deep-fried and topped with a scoop of ice cream, this evening being the corn flavoured one. I have to admit that the taste was quite pleasing and unusual. After all why not ice cream? It’s almost a ready-made sauce when melted and though again a tad too sweet for my taste, my table mates devoured and loved it; RM15/25/36 for S/M/L.

Homemade Soft Tofu with Pumpkin Sauce @ Mandarin Kitchen in Falim
Homemade Soft Tofu with Pumpkin Sauce @ Mandarin Kitchen in Falim

Another signature dish next, the Homemade Soft Tofu, steamed and topped with a smooth pumpkin/seafood sauce laced with small prawns and salted egg yolk. The combination was velvety, umami and slurp-worthy, RM10/15/20.

We followed this with the sweet potato leaves fried with ham har cheong or preserved prawn paste – the Chinese variety and not our sambal belacan; RM8/12/16.

Sweet potato leaves fried with ham har cheong
Ice plant salad

The last greens we had was an ice plant salad, this succulent is currently the rage in Ipoh and most restaurants now have it on their menus. I love the crunchiness of the stems and leaves and prefer it raw in salads and in this case had a mayonnaise type dressing topped with oodles of crisped sliced dry cuttlefish. Yummilicious. RM12

I am glad I revisited Mandarin Kitchen.

MANDARIN KITCHEN
No. 11 & 13, Laluan Perusahaan Menglembu 2,
Kawasan Perusahaan Menglembu, 31450 Menglembu, Perak.

Tel: 012-475 7513

Business hours:
11.30am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10.30pm (daily)
Off 1 weekday every 2 weeks (not fixed)

 

 

Mad Ramen in Old Town

SeeFoon Gets Mad about Ramen in Old Town

I love noodles. It’s my Achilles heel. No amount of willpower or determination can keep me from guzzling noodles if it’s staring me in the face and taunting me. Even if it means blowing my low-carb regime.

Which brings me to being mad about Mad Ramen Bar.

This newly-opened restaurant in the thick of old town right opposite Plan B has all the makings of a carb lover’s paradise. Ramen in all its guises served in various broths and topped with a large selection of condiments and garnishes are the stars of the show here.

Don’t look for sushi or sashimi here. Look instead for freshly pan-fried Yaki Gyoza, homemade pork and cabbage dumplings with grapefruit ponzu dipping sauce RM11.80 for 5 pcs. They also have a deep-fried version called Age Gyoza served with a Sriracha mayo for RM9.80

Don’t look for French fries here. Look instead for Porky Fries, thin strips of pork luncheon meat appearing on my table looking for all the world like sweet potato fries (which I thought they were) until I took the first bite. All my childhood memories of Ma Ling or Spam luncheon meat came flooding back and I was transported. Umami strips of meat, slightly crisped on the outside and tender on the inside. Great as a snack to go with their speciality Craft beers while waiting for your meal; RM10.80.

Porky Fries
Takoyaki Balls

Other nibblers or appetizers included the Takoyaki Balls, a very special rice-batter ball filled with bits of octopus, laced with Japanese sweet sauce and topped with Bonito flakes. You must be very careful biting into this ball as it arrives piping hot and can certainly burn your tongue; RM7.80 for 5 pieces.

While still on appetizers, we had a platter of their Yakitori skewers, ranging from Australian beef slice, pork belly, chicken, button and king oyster mushroom, bacon enoki and mixed vegetable. There is a two skewer per order minimum with prices ranging from RM3.80 to RM5.80 each and a Mad Ramen platter of one of everything for RM28.80. Dipping sauce is not necessary as each skewer is well seasoned.

Mad Ramen platter
Black Tonkotsu

Then we moved onto the Ramen. The menu lists items under the heading of Tonkotsu Ramen and Hokkaido Ramen. Tonkotsu Ramen is distinguished by its robust pork broth, simmered over 8 hours for a thick creamy result, definitely a labour of love! This ramen is a speciality dish from Fukuoka, Kyushu Island. From the Tonkotsu menu, we had the Black Tonkotsu, black garlic (extremely beneficial for health) and black sesame broth served with pork Chashu (a special roast pork) black fungus, braised egg and spring onions; RM19.80.

This was followed by the Pork Rib Black Shoyu, another robust broth with Black Shoyu, a huge braised pork rib, black fungus, braised egg and spring onions. The rib (ask for gloves to eat) was fall-off-the-bone tender and the broth divine. Definitely THE signature and must-have dish here; RM21.80.

Pork Rib Black Shoyu

Then one of my group suggested we sample the Hokkaido style Ramen, which he said was lighter and not as satiating. The Shio Ramen, one from the Hokkaido ramen series, a salt-based soup in chicken and vegetable broth with light and refreshing notes. With Ramen, pork Chashu, wakame, nori, braised egg, corn bamboo shoots and spring onions. Definitely lighter but equally umami; RM16.80.

On a previous occasion, I sampled their Chili Miso Ramen, served with the same condiments as the Shio ramen except that the Chili Miso lent a piquancy to the broth which I found delightful. And if the Scoville unit is not enough for you, you can always add the readily available sprinkle which they’ll be happy to supply; RM16.80.

Mad Ramen is a full bar, and their drinks menu is worth investigating. Their Craft Beers are certainly special as is their house Draft from Suntory, with a price of RM18.80 per glass and RM78.80 for a set of 5.

Sake Bomb

Worth having fun with is their Sake Bomb (they have an extensive range of Sakes) where you get a shot of sake and a beer. The shot of sake is placed on 2 chopsticks across the top of the beer mug and with whoops and much banging on the table, the shot of sake is encouraged to drop into the mug of beer. For those who fail, they’ll just have to buy another round!

MAD RAMEN BAR
3 Jalan Panglima, 30000 Ipoh.

Tel:  05 210 8866

Opening Hours
Weekdays:  12pm-3pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm (5.30pm-12am Thu & Fri)
Weekend:    Saturday (12pm-12am), Sunday (12pm-10.30pm)
Day off:        Tuesday