Help the Small Businesses: Galanggal Cafe

Galanggal Cafe

SeeFoon is Blown Away by Chef’s culinary flair

He’s young and good looking and wears a straw fedora at a jaunty angle. If he wasn’t wearing an apron you would think he was a customer. Just calm, cool and collected without the harassed demeanor of the usual chef.

Fikri Jalil

Fikri Jalil is 32 and is Chef and proprietor of Galanggal Cafe, a brightly decorated cafe in a new row of shophouses in Meru Raya behind Mydin. A mini nursery fronts the steps leading to the entrance emblazoned with a big letter G. A shallow tray with sanitizer leads to the door and I am encouraged to step in to sanitize my sandals. That’s innovative, I thought as I walked into a cheerful ambiance with one wall brightly painted in multi-hued tropical foliage. Artistically done, I thought, whoever painted it has style. I subsequently discovered it was done by Fikri’s sister who is an artist, and framed pieces of her art are on sale in the cafe. 

Interior of the cafe

Fikri’s culinary skills were picked up from Syeun Catering College and subsequently through working in various locations in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur; the most significant and made the most lasting impression on him was his stint working in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel under Lebanese Chef Raymond Rjaily.

You can taste that middle eastern influence in his food, the subtle aromatic touches of spices like sumac and  za’atar;  the flamboyant flair he has with ordinary spices like coriander, star anise as well as local Ulam herbs in his salads. 

Going where few western cuisiniers dare to tread. 

But forging bravely ahead, Fikri creates memorable taste temptations in his curating of eastern and middle eastern ingredients with traditional western cooking methods.

Like his Duck Confit, a delicacy usually found in France which is duck leg, marinated and smothered in duck fat, slow cooked, then pan fried to crisp the skin and served on a bed of mashed potatoes. In Fikri’s hands, the Duck leg is still cooked the French way (a minimum of 4-5 hours) but instead of serving with mashed potatoes, it is encircled with a dry lentil curry, and unusual salad leaves which Fikri’s Mum grows at home including Daun Selom or water celery, one of the popular leaves used in traditional ulam. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and eaten with the fresh leaves and the mildly spiced lentils, a wonderful adventure off the culinary path, RM26.

Galanggal Duck Confit

Fettuccine Bolognese is a common enough dish on many cafe menus but in Chef Firki’s hands and without cheese or red wine, he turns it into a delectable main course, the Fettuccine al dente, the minced beef Bolognese sauce generous without being overwhelming,  cherry tomatoes adding a nuance of  tartness to the whole dish.  Excellent flavour, RM23.

Fettuccine Bolognese

Next came the braised Lamb shank arrabiata topped with sumac. This ancient herb is made from ruby-colored berries that are ground into a beautiful, coarse powder that bursts with color and flavor and is very widely used in middle eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It added tangy, lemony fresh flavors to the lamb which was tender and juicy and was served on a bed of Baba Ganoush (roasted eggplant mash) and burnt kale with pomegranate seeds scattered all over, RM36.

Arrabbiata Lamb Shanks

The Chicken Harrissa with Burnt Hummus was tantalising. The roast chicken was tender and juicy immersed in a Harissa sauce (the middle eastern  equivalent of chilli sauce which was homemade by Fikri) served with  burnt hummus in olive oil, cherry tomato, and burnt French beans with crunch supplied by whole coriander. The flavour of za’atar, a very popular and timeless Middle-Eastern spice blend of sumac, oregano, thyme, sesame seeds permeated the whole dish. Divine and innovative. RM20.

Chicken Harissa with Burnt Hummus

For drinks, check out the Royal Caribbean, pineapple and mint, topped with star anise crush or the Tebu sparkling Mojito lime and mint, topped with sugar cane ice cubes. Both at RM6.50 each.

Here is a sparkling new chef and he needs to be supported. What the engineering world lost (yes he was studying to be an electrical engineer!) the culinary world in Ipoh gained and I hope will continue to benefit from his culinary skills. 

Let’s help the small businesses.

 

Address:
49G, Jalan Meru Bestari B8, 31200 Ipoh, Perak

019-241 5034

Business hours:
Mon- Sat.
3-10.00pm (Last order at 9.40pm)
Takeaway & pick up available

Help the small Businesses: dé Cafe and Rest House

dé Cafe and Rest House

So many restaurants and cafes are now open but how to decide on where to go or what to ‘tapau’? 

If you happen to be hanging around old town, you could be eating at a myriad of small coffee shops and cafes and not run out of choices. 

One small cafe that has escaped my attention is dé Cafe and Rest House on Hugh Low street or Jalan Sultan Iskandar. Situated on the right side of the road, it is about 100 metres before the traffic lights turning to the padang.  Louisa Loh, my new Foodie Kaki and artist extraordinaire, insisted I must try their specialties and off I went the moment restaurants were allowed to have dine-in guests. 

Young proprietor Dawson Tham, who hails from Pulau Ketam (Crab Island) is a young man who is proud of his birth place, renowned for its seafood.  

Waxing lyrical about the abundance of crabs and other crustaceans from his hometown, he has taken traditional dishes to a new level. 

Like his Nasi Lemak.

Eschewing regular prawns (often used in the sambals), he has decided to offer mantis prawns instead and serves them battered and fried as an accompaniment to this traditional dish. Just as we may occasionally have a piece of fried chicken or fried fish with our Nasi Lemak, here at dé Cafe, we have Mantis prawns, which are sweeter and more tender than regular prawns, RM10.

Mantis prawn nasi lemak
Photo by Louisa Loh

Served with a well-balanced sambal, neither too sweet which is the usual case, nor too spicy and you can taste the belacan without it overpowering you; the sambal is a lovely compliment to the fried egg over green veg served on the platter.

Another option is the Nasi Lemak accompanied by a petai, prawn and sotong sambal (RM11), again with the same crispy fried anchovies and peanuts. I loved the plain sambal so much that I had to ask for an extra portion to go with my coconut rice. 

Seafood petai nasi lemak

Dawson also ventures into western dishes with his Pesto spaghetti ranking high on my list of favourites. Cooked al dente and tossed with his homemade pesto sauce, fresh mushrooms, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, specially imported Spanish olive oil and grated parmesan, this is a vegetarian dish par excellence and one that should delight the vegetarians amongst you, RM16.

Pesto spaghetti

Another fusion option which I found most innovative is their Fuyu Pasta, a pure vegetarian dish using Chinese fermented bean curd (the white variety) creamed with milk. The addition of sultans imbued it with a tang of sweetness while the fried tempeh pieces added more protein content to the dish. All in all a most healthy dish, RM12.90. I had it ‘tapau’ed’ home and even after putting it in the microwave (for less than a minute as advised), it still tasted al dente and moist. Worth considering when deciding what to serve the family for dinner. 

Fuyu pasta

Whether you’re dining in (they adhere very strictly to social distancing SOPs) or doing takeaways, the piece de resistance which you MUST order is their Yam cake. Layers of creamed fresh purple yam are sandwiched between fluffy sponge cake and topped with a layer of whipped cream.The addition of santan is the added magic.  Not too sweet and Paradise in a mouthful. You can try it out at RM14 for a wedge and RM75 for a whole cake. 

Yam cake
Photo by Louisa Loh

So whether you dine in or do a takeaway, do check out dé Cafe.  I promise you a taste treat and while you’re at it: HELP THE SMALL BUSINESSES.

 

Address:
dé Cafe & Rest House
35, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, 30000 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

05-246 1010

Business hours:
Tues- Sun. 10am – 5.00pm

 

Help the small Businesses: Hao Xian Wei

Help the small Businesses

Now that MCO is over and RMCO is the new normal, most of us can dust off the cobwebs of the past 3 months, bid a fond farewell to our hobs and ovens and look forward to being served a proper meal in the myriad of restaurants that have reopened.

With the period of self isolation over, the tendency is to rush out and head for all your favourite restaurants. The exhilaration of having your food served to you, of no dish washing, and no racking of your brains to decide what to cook may be over but let’s not be hasty. The number of new cases may be occasionally in the single digit but COVID 19 is not going to go away that soon and it will be most prudent of us to stick to more “Tapau” or takeaway food for a while longer.  

While we’re doing that, may I suggest that we give a thought to the small businesses and restaurants struggling to get back on their feet after the 3 month hiatus. The MCO has actually given a positive push to the smaller restaurateurs, pushing their entrepreneurial skills to the max and having them come out with easy to take away one-dish meals. 

So for the next few months I am going to concentrate on the small cafes, restaurants that need a little help.Today, I will highlight some of these and suggest the best “Tapau” options for you.

 

Hao Xian Wei

William, the proprietor of Hao Xian Wei which prides fish as its signature dish, has had to adapt to the changing environment. “Fish needs to be eaten fresh, hot off the stove, but the MCO put paid to that for me. Plus all my other specials lose some flavour on the way home,” he lamented. “I therefore settled on the idea of very special Tsong or Zongzi ( Mandarin ).” 

Tsong is a wrapped Glutinous rice dumpling which for me is one of the most satisfying comfort foods to eat. It’s also a no-hassle meal. William recommends that you bring the dumpling home, boil some water, dunk it in and let it boil for half an hour. Take it out, cut the ties and voila, a steaming fragrant pyramid of deliciousness. He prefers this method to steaming the dumpling as he says that the boiling will bring all the oil to the surface, leaving it glistening and velvety. 

The fun part is digging in to discover what’s hidden inside. Most of William’s Tsong is of the Tsao Mai variety, which means that the glutinous rice has to be fried before wrapping. This gives it its characteristic brownish colour. Only the Nonya Tsong is white. 

Hokkien Tsong

The Hokkien Tsong is very special. It is bigger in size than the Hainan and Vegetarian ones because it is generously filled to the brim with goodies like fatty braised pork, salted egg yolk, roast pork, mushrooms, chestnut  and chicken. A hefty meal in one, each morsel well seasoned; the velvety rice textured with black eyed peas; the filling with its well juxtaposed textures: chestnut against black mushroom, salted egg yolk against soft chicken and the fat from the pork, braised to a quivering, jelly-like consistency, lending its unctuous texture to the whole mouthfeel. 

Heaven in a mouthful. 

And that was just a description on the Hokkien Tsong, RM12.80.

Where other Tsongs I have tasted can be dry and stodgy, William’s are very moist and velvety. The Hainanese Tsong is equally tasty but smaller and with less fillings, RM8, while the vegetarian Tsong is interesting with unusual fillings like Lion’s Mane mushroom, RM8.50. There is also a Nyonya Tsong which has a slightly sweet texture which was my least favourite, RM8.

Hainanese Tsong
Vegetarian Tsong
Nyonya Tsong

If you have big eaters at home, William has another “Tapau” goodie in the form of stuffed Tau Fu Pok, packed and frozen in packs of 6. At RM18 for 6 these are very good steamed at home and eaten with the Tsong. William orders the Tau Fu Pok in an extra large size and round shape, stuffed to the brim with a pork farcie. 

Stuffed Tau Fu Pok

Address:
Restoran Hao Xian Wei
11 Jalan Medan Ipoh 6, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh 31400 Ipoh.

Patrick Cheong | For reservations: 012 431 1070
William Yap Chef | Owner for ordering (in Cantonese only): 017 421 6523

Business hours: 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Takeaway last order: 7:30 PM