Help the Small Businesses: Suka Kafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon Ponders on Vegetarianism

“To Be or Not to Be”, Shakespeare’s soliloquy in Hamlet poses the big question and in this case for me, the question is whether to become a vegetarian. 

More and more studies show that the carbon footprint (the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere which affects the global environment) of meat production is much larger than that of grain or vegetable products, not to mention the negative effects of methane released in the rearing of livestock.

By choosing a vegetarian diet instead of one loaded with animal products, individuals can dramatically reduce the amount of land, water and oil resources that they consume and the amount of pollution they otherwise might cause. 

I certainly cannot get on my soapbox to preach. I am an avid carnivore. I love my meat as much as the next person. And my fish too. 

But meat today is often laced with hormones, antibiotics and whatever other additives the animals are given. And fish are now often full of microplastics and heavy metals. 

Unless you buy organic (where to buy organic fish?). Or become vegetarian!

I know I will continue on my carnivore’s path but once in a while I come across a vegetarian restaurant like Suka Kafe to make me wonder if I could become one.

Opened only at the beginning of 2020, Suka Kafe had the misfortune of having to close during MCO but since its relaxation, have been doing takeaways and deliveries. Now, the dine-in service too is in full swing with proper SOPs in place.

Eggs are served at Suka Cafe. But these are not ordinary eggs. Their eggs are unfertilized, certified cruelty-free, non-caged with no antibiotic residues and are usually reserved for 5-star hotels and high-end restaurants (see pic). Their main supplier has a farm in Kampar with a main base in Johor Bahru. So is that special or Is That Special? And they taste special too.

Eggs served at Suka Kafe

Vegans of course can request for no eggs.

We first had their Roti Bakar, with homemade kaya and SCS salted butter. The kaya was fragrant and not overly sweet. Made the traditional way in a double boiler (a lot of work!!), the bread was sliced thicker than in the traditional coffee shops but crispy nevertheless. RM4.50.

We then shared their Mee Jawa, yellow noodles served in a mildly spiced soupy sauce, potato cubes, fried bean curd sheets, half a boiled egg and topped with sliced green, fried shallots and cut chillies. If more spice is needed, ask for their homemade sambal which packs quite a kick. RM7.50.

Mee Jawa

Their Hakka Mee was delicious, the noodles cooked ‘al dente’, with a chopped ‘meat’ topping made from shitake mushrooms and soya protein. You would never know it’s not meat if you were not told. RM11.50.

Hakka Mee

Nasi Lemak came next, served with the usual trimmings of a fried egg, cucumber, peanuts and vegetarian ikan bilis. The rice was fragrant and redolent with santan. The sambal was for me the one ingredient that gave it ‘star’ status. Not too sweet, not overwhelmingly spicy but still packs a punch, all homemade. RM6.50.

Nasi Lemak
Mushroom Pastry Cup

The Mushroom Pastry Cup, a flaky pastry vol au vent case, filled with a cream based white sauce with tuscany button mushroom and flavoured with garlic. Yummy and worth returning for. RM6.50.

Noticing something on the menu that I have been meaning to try ever since it arrived on our shores, the Beyond Meat Burger piqued my curiosity. A burger that looks and tastes like the real thing? My sceptical mind has always denied its advertising hype. So here was the opportunity to sate my curiosity. 

Beyond Meat Burger

Arriving at the table looking exactly as a burger should, the trimmings were all there—a small salad with cherry tomatoes, corn, lettuce, organic cranberry, accompanied by hash browns; the only thing missing was the ketchup! The burger itself really tasted like meat, but more grainy because it is plant based, using peas and mushrooms and other ingredients. Missing was the meat aroma and the redness of medium rare meat which is the way I like my burgers. Also at RM48.00, I’ll stick to my high fat, high cholesterol real meat version. 

Sorry about that, proprietor Lam Kar Weng. I love the rest of your food though. And your wife’s sauces. 

Two more items for me to rave about. The Homemade Banana Roll topped with icing sugar was totally delish and the Kelava ice cream cup, sourced from KL, which uses soya and coconut milk, was totally divine at RM9.00 per cup. Suka Kafe is the only restaurant in Ipoh serving this and is good news for vegans and vegetarians alike.

Homemade Banana Roll
Kelava ice cream cup

Suka Kafe is Muslim friendly. In fact, the chef is a Muslim and there is no alcohol, MSG, added chemicals and the food is left as natural as possible. Their soy protein is certified non-GMO and deliveries or takeaways are served in biodegradable bags or boxes. Their juices too are fresh squeezed and healthy.

On the subject of takeaways, do try their sourdough bread which I can vouch for. Their multigrain sourdough is sold at RM17.00 a loaf. I took mine home and froze it, taking it out and slicing myself  a piece whenever I felt the urge to have a snack. This way it keeps almost forever and toasted with slathers of butter makes me a happy bunny.

While I love the food at Suka Kafe, on second thought I’ll stick to a balanced diet, occasional vegetarian meals and going light on the meat and fish. In the meantime, Suka Kafe has found a fan in me.

 

Address:
50 Lorong Cecil Rae, Jalan Lee Kwee Foh, Taman Canning, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
9am-4pm; Closed on Mondays
Takeaways available
Free delivery for orders within Canning Garden and Ipoh Garden areas

For inquiries:
012-501 7111 

Help the Small Businesses: Doreen Kam

SeeFoon Recommends 

My dear readers may not believe this but I am a picky eater. Like I seldom eat bread. When I do, it has to be sourdough. The reasons are many. I am a borderline diabetic and I watch my sugar and carbohydrate consumption very carefully. Hence: sourdough, which often has a lower glycaemic index than that of other breads – meaning, it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically. 

Sourdough bread contains the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus in a higher proportion to yeast than do other breads. More Lactobacillus means higher production of lactic acid, which means less of the potentially dangerous phytic acid. And what does that mean? More mineral availability and easier digestion! 

Acetic acid–which inhibits the growth of mold, is produced in the making of sourdough. So, sourdough naturally preserves itself. 

So I always welcome newcomers to the sourdough scene in Ipoh. 

One person in Ipoh who has entered the home food production scene is Doreen Kam. A home Chef who used to work for private clients in Kuala Lumpur,  Doreen, an Ipohite,  has returned to Ipoh since the MCO and finding herself at loose ends, decided to offer her specialties to the public. 

One of them is sourdough bread, in various forms to cater to different palates and tastes.

Having sampled her sourdough, I am happy to add Doreen to the list of up and coming bread makers in Ipoh who are making their mark on  the local culinary scene, despite COVID!

Crusty multi seeds sourdough

Crusty multi seeds sourdough, RM18.00 a loaf.

Soft wholemeal sandwich sourdough

Soft wholemeal sandwich sourdough, RM15.00 a loaf.

Order 2 days in advance for bread and pick up after 2pm. 

Doreen also makes Kimchi, that delectable Korean pickle that’s full of yummilicious friendly bacteria and probiotics, kind to your digestive system and credited with many health benefits including lowering cholesterol. 

Kimchi

Available once a week on Wednesdays. RM22 for 500gm.

She also makes Ham Choy or Preserved Mustard Greens (which I adore) without artificial preservatives. Unlike commercial Ham Choy which I don’t trust (sealed in plastic and who knows what lurks inside the bag?), there are additives like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), colouring, preservatives and sometimes soy sauce (with wheat). Caveat: Not all.

Ham Choy

I love Doreen’s Ham Choy as I know she doesn’t use any preservatives and you need to cook with it within a week after you pick up.

Ham Choy, RM8.00 a pack around 200-250g.

Do call Doreen. She is always coming out with new goodies. 

 

Doreen Kam
42, Jalan Chow Kai, Canning Garden.
Call or Whatsapp +6016-5559496

Help the Small Businesses: Purple Cane Tea House

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Purple Cane Tea House

 

SeeFoon loves Par-Tea-ing

Hew Choi Foong (manager)

At Purple Cane Tea House, everything is about tea. The manager of Purple Cane, Hew Choi Foong, is a walking encyclopedia on tea and there is nothing about tea that she cannot explain.

And when I was invited by retired veterinarian cum artist, Dr. Goh Hue Lang, for a meal at Purple Cane, I was surprised to discover that they are celebrating their 10th anniversary of operations this year. 

I was under the impression that it was purely a tea shop specialised in selling teas and that food was a secondary consideration. 

Was I ever wrong!

Not only is the food served here painstakingly curated, but the dishes on offer here are wholesome, with a clean taste and delicious! More vegetarian than meaty, using only free range chicken and some fish, there are dishes to suit all palates. 

And all of them contain TEA. Tea in all its myriad varieties, from Black, Green, Scented, Red both fermented and non, and semi. Each one lending its inimitable characteristics to the dish being presented. Tea is a topic which will be covered in another article but suffice to say that in general, the benefits claimed for tea are as follows: 

Tea contains antioxidants; Tea has less caffeine than coffee; Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke; Tea may help with weight loss…Tea may help protect your bones. And the list goes on and avid tea drinkers can most likely add to the list.

We had a very mellow Puer Tea, a fully fermented tea which is suitable for drinking daily. 

Our first course was naturally the iconic Loong Jing Lei Cha, “Lei” meaning to grind or pound in a pottery mortar with grooves. This is what is done to the green Long Jing tea, mixed with other herbs into a paste, water added and boiled to make a soup. This soup is served with a variety of crunchy and chewy vegetables (pumpkin, sweet potato leaves, carrots, kailan), nuts, grains or rice and tofu, all making a healthy meal. RM 17.80 for the set.

Long Jing lei cha rice set

The burdock root with Oolong tea and chicken soup was umami without the oolong tea being overpowering. Burdock had been used in TCM for centuries, chock full of antioxidants and touted to remove toxins as well as inhibit certain types of cancer. A clear, clean, healthy soup without MSG or other additives. RM8.80 per serving.

Burdock chicken oolong tea soup

The curry chicken with black tea, made without coconut milk and thickened with ground cashew at RM15.80 was superb. The curry mixed vegetable soup with lychee black tea was equally umami and thickened, delicious and a good deal at RM13.80. I could just eat the gravy like a soup, velvety smooth, with no MSG. I was transported. This can be paired with their handmade noodles (RM3.20) to create a curry mee. And slurp up the soup at the end. Also eaten with the steamed bun made with ground tea leaves is another perfect match, RM16.80.

Curry chicken with black tea and handmade noodles
Curry mixed vegetable soup with black tea
Steamed bun

I loved the Oolong mushroom ginger ball, made from mushroom stalks, ginger and moulded into balls with glutinous rice flour; these balls were fragrant, chewy and irresistible, RM11.80.

Oolong mushroom ginger ball

This was followed by fried pumpkin with salted egg yolk and ground tea, delectable morsels, crispy on the outside, the pumpkin soft and squishy inside, RM11.80.

And the dishes kept coming, Dr. Goh wanting me to taste almost the whole menu! The abalone mushroom in tea and lime sauce was lovely, the mushrooms fried to a crispy finish with vegetarian ham and curry leaves and the lime/tea sauce, with the right degree of tartness lifting up the whole dish, RM13.80. Similarly their Dory fish, in black tea, lightly fried, the batter coating crispy at RM15.80. A good accompaniment for these is the green tea rice at RM2.50.

Abalone mushroom in tea and lime sauce
Green tea glutinous rice balls

Sweet potato balls with green tea dipping sauce (RM8.80) and green tea glutinous rice balls with black sesame paste inside and coated with ground peanuts at RM8.80 were some of the desserts we tried. What I enjoyed most were their velvety smooth Tea House Four Seasons Dessert (set of 4 at RM20.80). With Green tea pudding (Summer), Oolong jelly (Autumn ), Jasmine jelly (Winter ) and Rose romance pudding (Spring), different teas matched with the seasons and with very low sugar content.

Tea House Four Seasons Dessert

The lunch was an incredible feast and I vowed to return. Next time, for a detailed discussion on the merits of different teas with Choi Foong and enjoy a tea ceremony with her in the tea shop next to the restaurant. Meanwhile my readers may like to know that they have two Tatami private rooms where they can take their time in tasting the various varieties of tea and titillate their taste buds with items from the menu.

One of the tatami rooms

Purple Cane Tea House is Pork-free.

*Purple Cane Tea House is expecting to update their menu soon. Any relevant changes will be added to this post when we receive the information.

 

Address:
No.2, Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar (Osborne Street), 30300 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours:
11am-10pm, no breaks
Takeaway available
BYO available

For reservations and inquiries:
012-668 3090 or 05-2533090

Help the Small Businesses: Hing Kee Grilled Fish @ Fooh Singh Cafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Hing Kee Grilled Fish

SeeFoon Feasts on fresh seafood

I remember when I first arrived in Ipoh 25 years ago, we had to travel to get fresh seafood. Like  Pantai Remis or Nibong Tebal or Bukit Tambun. Today, it’s all available at our doorstep. 

Just take a stroll down Jalan Medan Ipoh behind Kinta City and Tesco Ipoh Garden East and the sign boards present a dizzying display of coffee shop names, food served and the stalls that cook and serve them, doing a roaring business.

The evening my troupe and I arrived, they had just started setting up the tables and chairs on the slip road in front of the stalls. This was at 6.30pm: a good time to go before the hordes arrived. As it was during RMCO, there was only a sprinkling of customers but the pace picked up shortly.

Hing Kee, the seafood stall at Fooh Singh Cafe that I wanted to check out was all ready, with mini aquariums dotted amongst the display, burbling away and holding a tempting array of live seafood. 

All my favourites and more were here. As in live mantis prawns, not the giant variety but medium sized around 6 inches (heads and tail included); live flower crabs with Roe; live cockles sorted by small medium large, large white prawns; clams; NZ mussels; spiny conch; live swimming conch (in the same aquarium as the mantis prawns); fresh abalone about two and half inches in size; and a plethora of very fresh fish, all cleaned and ready to be grilled or cooked whichever way you fancy.

I chose the Ikan Pari, the stingray, a fish I love if fresh, but alas in most places where I have ordered it, they were not. Here at Hing Kee, it was…ocean fresh and served with two sambals, a concoction with dried shrimps that lent a certain pungent, robust oomph to the fish, while the other side was liberally doused in a spicier and sourish chili sauce. If the sauces are not enough, you will still get saucer plates of condiments made up of finely-blended cili padi, and a squeeze of calamansi. Because the stingray all come in small/medium size, it is safe to order the whole fish. Served sizzling hot on a banana leaf. In fact all their dishes are served on banana leaves, a hygienic move which I applaud. RM18-20 depending on size.

Ikan pari

The Mantis Prawns swimming in the tank caught my eye. Not the giant ones found in some restaurants which can cost up to RM60-70 each but medium sized ones for RM10 per piece. They were grilled and served with a sourish chilli sauce. I love Mantis prawns, preferring their meat to the regular sea prawns. These were as I anticipated: umami sweet and ocean fresh, having just been fished out from the tank. I savoured every bite of whatever little flesh there was given their smaller size. Definitely a must-have and good value for money.

Mantis prawns

Fresh Abalone grilled on the shell was next on our menu, tender and caramelized around the edges. They were served with calamansi and the same chilli sauce, although I had no need for it as the abalone was umami on its own and needed no extra dressing. RM75 a portion of 6 pieces or RM13 each.

Fresh abalone

We then feasted on grilled King sea prawns or Ming Har, again absolutely fresh, sweet and resilient to the bite. RM80-100 for a set of 12.

King sea prawns

The grilled Flower Crab which was also swimming in the tanks was delicious and filled with roe. I congratulated myself for being there at the right season because these crabs only have roe seasonally. For me, flower crabs don’t need seasoning as the flesh is very sweet and umami, and the Roe which I fished out from the carapace went down like caviar! RM48-52 per portion.

Flower crab
Crab roe

As everything we had was grilled, I decided to have our cockle sauteed, this time with four angled beans in one of their sambal sauces. I love cockles and despite admonitions about hepatitis etc, I will eat them depending on whether they open up when displayed showing that they are still alive. They were, so cockles were ordered. Utterly delectable and I was in heaven. 

Cockles

Lobster is also available but not on the day we were there. Selling at RM180 per kg. I promised myself to return and try this special one evening.

Naturally as with all fresh seafood, all prices depend on availability and market price. 

 

Address:
16 – 18 Jalan Medan Ipoh, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
*This area is behind Kinta City and Tesco Ipoh Garden East. There are a lot of eateries within the area.

Business hours:
6pm onwards until about 2-3am. Opens daily.

For inquiries:
016-598 5373

================================

Check out The Foodie’s Guide to Ipoh’s Best Eats 2 for more Ipoh eats recommended by SeeFoon, available for purchase at a special discounted price now! Message us on Facebook for inquiries and orders!

Help the Small Businesses: Dim Sum Paradise

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Dim Sum Paradise

SeeFoon is in Paradise 

Ipoh appears to be going through a renaissance in Dim Sum appreciation. Most established Dim Sum restaurants like Ming Court, Yoke Fook Moon, Foh San, Dynasty Palace and others have devotees who will defend their favourite as the best. In my case, I have always touted Zui Le Xuan as the creme de la creme. 

But recently, I have to let in a newcomer and say “Move over Zui Le Xuan, there is a new kid on the block”. While I will always be faithful to Zui Le Xuan for their special old time favourites which are not available anywhere else like their “Foong Wong Kao” and their Ginger Chicken Pao and many others, the recently opened Dim Sum Paradise in Ipoh Garden, (former Kao Li premises just behind Wooley Centre) is now wowing diners with their finesse and delicacy in offering up these dainty morsels. 

I had a nostalgic moment remembering the Dim Sum I was spoilt with living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. But guess what dear readers? The Dim Sum served up at Dim Sum Paradise can give some of the Hong Kong Dim Sum I have had a run for their money!

But Dim Sum is Dim Sum, I hear some of you saying. And I totally disagree. There is Dim Sum and there is DIM SUM. I usually judge the quality of Dim Sum by 3 dishes: their Har Gao, Siew Mai and the Cheong Fun (in particular their Tsa Leong or the rice roll wrapped around the Chinese fried “cruller”). 

Deep Fried Youtiao Cheong Fun

And Dim Sum Paradise did not disappoint. The skin of the Har Gao and the Cheong Fun has to be translucent, very thin and still pliable. The prawns in the Har Gao must be springy and big enough to enjoy the mouthfeel and texture. For the Cheong Fun, the rice wrapper must also be translucent and even more smooth and velvety than the Har Gao skin. In the case of the Tsa Leong, the filling of Youtiao must be crispy. 

They were all these and more, the flavour needing no enhancing with Chilli sauce or soya. Plus they were all in bite sized portions, delicate and refined and very yummy. All without the use of MSG, with everything steamed or fried upon order. 

To my delight, I discovered they had one Congee which I was searching high and low for in Malaysia. This is the Teng Tsai Jook or ‘Sampan Congee’, a thin rice porridge with seafood bits in it like cuttlefish and other goodies, a comfort food I developed a taste for in Hong Kong.

Teng Tsai Jook or ‘Sampan Congee’

The Restaurant is family-run, led by Leong Chee Ming and his wife Ann. Their daughter Leong Kah Yui helms the front of the house taking orders and seating diners while Mum and Dad act as affable hosts, watching solicitously over the diners.

All dishes are handmade and homemade by Ann’s brother who picked up his Dim Sum skills under the tutelage of a HK masterchef while working in a 5-star hotel in the UK. With 51 items to choose from, I was dazzled by the assortment and ordered my favourites as well as checked out their specials. Everything is freshly made on premises and dishes are only prepared upon order. The added attraction for me was the promise of no MSG which guarantees my repeat business.

Char siew sou (honey char siew puff)

Must try Dim Sum here include their Char Siew Sou (honey char siew puff), RM5.10; Hoi Sin Mai (seafood dumplings), RM6.20; King Prawn Cheong Fun, RM6.60, the prawns ocean fresh and springy to the bite; Deep Fried Youtiao Cheong Funwhat The Hong Kongers call Tsa Leong, RM5.60, the fried dough super crispy served with a special dip, highly recommended and yummilicious; Har Guin (fried prawn bean curd rolls), RM6.10; Fish Dumplings or Yu Mai that had a nice springy bite to them, as did their Fried fish balls, RM4.80. There were also the Pan-fried Prawn and Pork with Chives Dumplings, RM5.10, which were a special treat for me as I haven’t had these since my Hong Kong days; Scallop and Prawn Dumplings, RM6.20; Deep Fried Char Siew bun with their homemade char siew, RM5.40 and their Har Mai (prawn dumplings) at RM5.80.

Deep Fried Char Siew bun
Pan-fried Prawn and Pork with Chives Dumplings
Scallop and Prawn Dumplings
Har Guin

Need I mention that their Siew Mai, consisting of pork with a bit of prawn (RM6.20) and Har Gao (Crystal Prawn Dumplings), RM6.20, were really at the top of their class.

The creme de la creme was yet to come: their egg tarts. Now Ipoh is famous for their egg tarts which we can buy from a few well known locations, but these egg tarts were bite-sized, the pastry melt-in-mouth flaky and to die for. 3 for RM4.80.

Bite-sized egg tarts

I must also praise the chef for their homemade chilli oil/sauce. A nostalgic reminder of what used to be served in HK as XO sauce (but in most places you had to pay for it), here at Dim Sum Paradise, you can request for their precious sauce, where I could taste dried prawns, garlic and other secret ingredients, for free.

Our dear readers will be pleased to know that if they show this article on check out at Dim Sum Paradise, a bill of  more than RM60 will get you a 5% discount and RM120, 10%. So what are you waiting for? Go for breakfast, morning tea or lunch…their last order is at 2.30pm.

 

Address:
48, 50, Lengkok Canning, Taman Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
6.45am-3pm, 2.30pm last call
Open daily
Takeaways available for uncooked Dim Sum (their staff will instruct on how to cook them at home)

For inquiries:
05-541 7738

Help the Small Businesses: The Happy 8 Cafe and Restaurant

Pictures by Gisele Soo

The Happy 8 Cafe and Restaurant

SeeFoon is feeling Happy and Healthy at Happy 8 

When you are a Food Scientist and a lecturer on Food Science at UTAR you have an ingrained fascination with food in all its aspects, health, taste, appearance, and in the case of Chung Kok Heung, actually being in the kitchen to do the cooking. Many lecturers preach but not practise, but Kok Heung loves doing both. Additionally he wears another hat as a consultant to entrepreneurs setting up or running restaurants. 

Currently helming the kitchen at the Cafe at the Happy 8 Hotel, that beautifully quaint and whimsical boutique hotel on Market Street and brainchild of owner Tan Kai Lek, Kok Heung gives vent to his creative culinary skills and produces small gems of daily specials that not only look good and taste good but are healthy as well. 

I went to the Happy 8 Cafe when they first opened where for the first time I tasted and fell in love with their ice-drip coffee, introduced by the lovely Jessica, Kai Lek’s wife who sources all the coffee beans from Taiwan (still does). Their coffee menu is extensive and all the concoctions are robust and fragrant. 

We began with their Signature Steam Grilled Salmon, served with pasta and umeiji mushrooms, and interesting garnitures of mixed salad, homemade kimchi and pickled pumpkin, RM36.

Signature Steam Grilled Salmon

The garnitures are the same for all the main courses and worthy of mention. The homemade kimchi was not as tart as the store-bought variety and the pickled pumpkin slices were a yummy novelty. I thought they were pickled papaya at first which is quite commonly available but pickled pumpkin was a new taste treat, crunchy, slightly sweet and sour and went well with the salmon sitting on a bed of grilled young sweet corn. As did the very refreshing salad with sesame dressing. 

Another plate with Curry / Infused Kampung Chicken came with 3 types of rice, self hulled brown rice, purple mixed with black rice and regular white rice (all natural colouring), topped with cashew, sultana, black beans and pistachio and black sesame seeds. All in a colourful palette of colours and taste sensations. The Kampung Chicken was tender, mildly spiced and flavorful, RM22.

Curry / Infused Kampung Chicken

The Dancing Kampung Chicken was a soya braised, topped with bonito flakes and served with the same set of accompaniments, RM24.

Dancing Kampung Chicken

The last dish was the Beautifying Mushrooms with Cherry Tomatoes: yellow and red cherry tomatoes, with umeji, shimeji and button mushroom. Deliciously umami and healthy to boot with all the healthy colours of the rainbow on one plate, RM18.

Beautifying Mushrooms with Cherry Tomatoes

A complimentary soup of the day is served with every main course order.

Kok Heung was keen to share that he uses only Himalayan pink salt for his dishes as it contains minerals accumulated from millions of years in salt caves versus the usual store bought table salt. Also no MSG is ever used in his cooking and all dishes can be appreciated for their natural umami mouth feel.

Drinks are aplenty in the Happy 8 Cafe and the choices are all on display on the blackboard. 

Avocado Special

The Rich chocolate (RM16) and Avocado special (RM18) were particularly yummy; the Aloe Sparkling extra refreshing (RM18) and I had their Vietnamese Coffee which was divine (RM17).

Vietnamese coffee

For dessert we had their Earl Grey Burnt Cheesecake which was smooth, caramelly and satisfying, RM17/slice.

Finally some nutrition advice from our Food Scientist Kok Heung. “For a balanced diet, try to eat foods from all colours of the rainbow and reduce consumption of red meats and fats especially if you have diabetes or hypertension. Follow a plant based diet instead.”

So if you are in Old Town and want to eat healthy, visit the Happy 8 Cafe. You won’t be disappointed.

The Happy 8 Cafe is pork-free.

 

Address:
46, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Negeri Perak
Entrance is located at Third Concubine Lane (Lorong Pasar)

Business hours:
11-10pm, Closed on Mondays
Last orders for takeaways are 30 minutes before closing

For inquiries:
012-511 1488

================================

Check out The Foodie’s Guide to Ipoh’s Best Eats 2 for more Ipoh eats recommended by SeeFoon, available for purchase at a special discounted price now! Message us on Facebook for inquiries and orders!

Help the Small Businesses: Grove Diner

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Grove Diner

SeeFoon makes merry in a marble manor

When your family is in the marble business, it’s natural that all your decor highlights would be in marble. But when your floors, table tops, bathroom basins and a whole flight of stairs are in large slabs of marble, then you know that this restaurant is a “no-expense spared” venture, funded by people with deep pockets. 

I pass by Tambun road often, on my way to the Echo office and have noticed this well decorated facade of a bungalow set back from the main road with the name Grove Diner emblazoned across the front. Intrigued, I have promised myself to check it out but was put off by friends’ negative feedback.

Until recently, after MCO when I was determined to help the restaurants that were languishing and decided to give Grove Diner a go. First of all, I was put off by the name Diner which is more suited to a downtown shopfront with banquet seating and quick fast food items. 

The marble staircase, a popular photography spot

Not in this luxurious space though, with marble everywhere.

But of course, a well decorated restaurant does not guarantee satisfied diners. It’s the quality of food that counts and where and how well the Chef was trained. 

Well I was in luck. 

Proprietors Andrew Koo and wife Sharon Chew had just hired a new Chef who had been there only for two months. Trained in western cuisine and having worked in Singapore for more than 8 years, the Chef is turning out superlative dishes, delicate and in fine dining fashion, each dish beautifully curated and plated.

We started with the Tagliatelle Alfredo, cooked the way I like it, al dente, and each strand coated with creamy Alfredo sauce owing more to egg than cream. Velvety smooth, the pieces of bacon adding texture and umami, a real delight. RM33.

Tagliatelle Alfredo

Next came the Chilean Cod, crusted with chopped walnut, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper. This is their signature dish; a lightly roasted piece of cod, the skin crisped and crusted, and served with Peas Puree and sauteed vegetables. The cod which is hard to come by, was flaky, done to the right degree, and had a smooth mouthfeel, contrasting nicely with the crispy crust. RM98. 

Chilean Cod

Another signature dish followed, this time the Lamb Rack, a tender and juicy rack of lamb from New Zealand, again crusted with a similar mix as the cod, cooked medium well and good to the last bite as I nibbled the bone. Done a’la sous vide (constant temperature immersion) the lamb was amazingly tender, served with Provencal vegetables and lamb jus. RM79. 

Lamb Rack

The last main course for the four of us was the Chicken Roulade. This was chicken thigh with spinach stuffing, served with carrot puree and a black pepper sauce. Now I usually find chicken dishes on menus quite boring as it is so ubiquitous, but here in Grove Diner I found the Chicken Roulade utterly irresistible. It was tender and juicy, owing probably to its sous vide beginnings. RM35.

Chicken Roulade

Naturally we had to have dessert. The piece de resistance was the Tiramisu, homemade by Andrew’s mother who is an avid baker, followed by the Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake

The Tiramisu was outstanding. With a base of biscuits and nuts, Madeleine biscuits and sponge cake soaked in coffee and coffee liquor, and mascarpone cheese in between the layers, topped with cocoa powder, the whole confection is worth the trip just to have this on its own for tea or coffee. RM28.

Tiramisu

And if Tiramisu is not to your taste, check out the Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake with orange peel, almonds, and cheese filling. Soft, smooth and delectable, RM5

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake

There are two private rooms in Grove Diner seating 12 and 14 people respectively. An event hall upstairs can fit up to 30 people for functions complete with a sound system and projector. 

One of the private rooms
Event hall

The whole restaurant is a showcase in marble with pottery and crockery made of marble for sale dotted around the restaurant. This is all local marble from the Perak Hills around Simpang Pulai where their marble factory is located.

Grove Diner, the new Fine Dining Venue.

 

*Grove Diner is not Pork Free.

Address: 
144, Jalan Tambun, 31400 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours:
12-3pm, 6.30-10.30pm
Closed on Mondays 

BYO corkage charges:
RM20 for wine, RM40+ for hard liquor 

Takeaway available
Delivery only available for desserts

For inquiries: 
05-210 8012

================================

Check out The Foodie’s Guide to Ipoh’s Best Eats 2 for more Ipoh eats recommended by SeeFoon, available for purchase at a special discounted price now! Message us on Facebook for inquiries and orders!