Yinzo Kopi also have some new dishes on the menu like the traditional Hakka “Lei Cha” and traditional Hakka Tofu made by their own chef and one of the best Kai Si Hor Fun (Chicken Soup Noodle) in town!
Arguably the Best KSHF in Ipoh
In the 16 Jul 2019 issue, IE308, I wrote about Yinzo Kopi that newly-refurbished cafe right in the heart of old town. At the time, I thought some of their offerings were brilliant and some hit and miss. However, William Oh, manager and partner, takes feedback very well and I am happy to report that all my comments on previous occasions on some of the items have all been taken to heart and the dishes modified.
They also have some new dishes on the menu like the traditional Hakka “Lei Cha” and traditional Hakka Tofu made by their own chef!
Available every Tuesdays, Fridays and on every 1st and 15th day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, each serving is priced at “Lei Cha” RM13.80; Hakka Tofu RM3.80 (2 pcs); set of both RM16.80. Great for sharing or if a big eater, hog it all for yourself. The portions are BIG, the herbal tea soup umami and fragrant and the mix of ingredients freshly prepared.
And they have expanded their dim sum menu with new additions like Dried Prawn Pastry (3 pcs RM4.80) and a yummilicious Polo Pau, fragrant, pillow-soft and enveloping a big slab of butter. This had me asking for more and my dear readers know that I don’t have a sweet tooth! RM3.80.
Also Osmanthus Jelly, RM4.80, is available on Saturdays and Longan Soya Bean Curd, RM4.80, available on Sundays.
But I’m saving the biggest surprise for last. From now on, I will only go there for their Kai Si Hor Fun (KSHF), Ipoh’s iconic dish of rice noodles in soup. Depending on individual taste buds of course, for my palate, their KSHF is now edging out the front runners Moon de Moon and Pulau Sembilan. Here you sit in air-conditioned comfort and leisurely sip their home blend of local white coffee, pick at a dim sum or two and wait for the KSHF to arrive (which is pretty quickly), as you eat the noodles and slurp the broth. This latter is the magic to their KSHF. Simmered for a minimum of six hours, the broth is out of this world umami with no MSG, RM8.80.
And no waiting for tables or queuing up (although parking is rather difficult around there, take a Grab).
If still hankering for more, check out the Mizo Pork Rice. Well marinated pork slices, tender and well-coated with Mizo, served with white rice and mustard, RM13.80.
So William Oh, keep up the quality and don’t let Ipohites down! People will start complaining to me if you do.
SeeFoon gets her spice fix in Old Town. The interesting phenomenon in Ipoh old town nowadays is observing the plethora of new restaurants that open. One of these is Zaitun, a newly-opened family restaurant on Market Street
SeeFoon gets her spice fix in Old Town
The interesting phenomenon in Ipoh old town nowadays is observing the plethora of new restaurants that open and close like Venus flytraps, that rare carnivorous plant species that traps insects who have the misfortune to wander close, lured by the bright colours and the fragrant scent it secretes. Hence the name Venus, the Roman Goddess of love.
Restaurants appear to do the same, open and close rather quickly and often, sad to say, we don’t even miss them. However, for a few new ones that have recently opened, I would like for them to stay around and become part of the Ipoh food scene.
One of these is Zaitun, a newly-opened family restaurant on Market Street, which is owned and operated by charming Naveen, an Indian national married to a local. This is the second restaurant to be opened by this enterprising young man whose first one, Hadramot Tent Restaurant, an Arabic restaurant, has been up and running for a while on Jalan Sri Ampang.
Far from a Venus flytrap, the signage for the restaurant is so unassuming that it’s easy to miss it. In fact, I have been so often to the PWW shop and not noticed it directly across the street. Plus I have an inherent prejudice against any restaurant that over-reaches and wanting to be all things to all people, for, as per Zaitun’s signboard, a “Multi Cuisine Family Restaurant”. But I was about to be proven wrong.
Naveen has seven chefs manning different stations in the kitchen, all highly skilled in their respective specialities. So he’ll have someone just preparing all the grilled items, another all the breads, another on the Arabic sauces and mezes, one handling the continental dishes another blending the masalas and another one cooking the various regional Indian specialities, and so it goes. So there is not one or two ‘jack of all trades’ dishing out mediocre food.
That is what makes Zaitun special.
At first, I thought we were walking into a Malay restaurant as the name is fairly common here but Naveen explained that ‘zaitun’ means ‘olive’ in Arabic. So now that was all explained, we began to taste the dishes which on this particular occasion was a mix of Indian and Arabic dishes.
The first dish was the Chicken Mandi a quarter of a chicken served with long-grain flavoured basmati rice, soup and Arabic sambal. The chicken looked remarkably bland on the plate but on tasting, was tender, well-marinated through and umami. The soup reminded me of a mild sup kambing and the Arabic sambal, pungent, fiery and had its own unique flavours, quite unlike the local Indian sambals I’ve tasted; RM13 – quarter, RM22 – half.
Next to come was a Chicken Cheese Tandoori, a large portion but with a difference. All the tandoori flavours were there but the addition of mozzarella cheese which was stuffed into the meat lent a new dimension to the tandoori package. The coriander-mint sauce was thankfully(!) not sweetened, mildly tart and tangy and the serving of mayonnaise (I reckon) was for those who need the fatty mouthfeel for the non-oily chicken; RM22.
The Butter Chicken was hands down one of the best I have tasted. Creamy, voluptuous, spicy and populated with chunks of chicken; RM17. We ate it with a mixture of Naans. Parathas, a Rumali Roti varying in price from RM3-5 except for the stuffed one.
Other dishes with gravy included a Chettinad Chicken made with 35 types of spices fresh from India, RM15, and a Chettinad Lamb at RM22.
Then, we had the mixed kebab platter, lovely skewers of grilled minced lamb and chicken served with french fries and chilli sauce and mayo. The kebabs were certainly flavoured exotically (more Arabic) and were very tasty but I thought the attempt at fusion with the fries and mayo rather tainted the dish. I would have much rather preferred the coriander-mint chutney and a squeeze of lime. But then that is my palate and next time I would request for that. I am sure that many a young person would much prefer the fries and the mayo! Mixed RM23. Lamb only RM24.
We were five of us and by this time groaning with surfeit and then came the non-vegetarian Thali! Which is a full meal in itself – 11 small dishes of delectables, like Chicken Khorma (very umami), two types of dhal, mutton curry, fried bitter gourd, mixed vegetable and a very delicious fish curry which I have promised myself to order next time, served with a heaping portion of Ponni rice which you eat with ghee and powdered dahl – an unusual serving style which is new to me; RM24. There is also a vegetarian option for RM12 which is currently on promotion for RM10.
Overall I found the prices at Zaitun very reasonable. Their menu is extensive and I hadn’t even ventured near their continental dishes! If they keep up with the quality, Ipoh can look forward to having them on the permanent food scene.
Zaitun Multi Cuisine Family Restaurant (pork-free and waiting for Halal certification) 20, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh.