Dim Sum Paradise: SeeFoon is Mooning over Mooncakes

Mid Autumn Festival is fast approaching on October 1 and my dear readers, before you go dashing out to buy your mooncakes, for the durian lovers amongst you, have you considered trying Durian mooncakes?

I don’t mean the ones with a hint of durian flavour or a small dollop of the paste. I am referring to a filling that is pure unadulterated top grade Musang King paste hiding in a snow skin casing, molded into mooncakes and creating frisson(s) of ecstasy amongst the durian diehards like myself. 

If you’re one of these durian diehards, hurry to Dim Sum Paradise and buy their 

Snowy Musang King Mooncake. They have fresh supplies every day right up to the Mid Autumn Festival and beyond. 

Prices are as below:

  • 4 pieces – RM158 (pink box)
  • 4 pieces – RM168 (red box)
  • 8 pieces – RM238 nett (before 10% discount *pink box*)
  • 8 pieces – RM268 nett (before 10% discount *red box*)

 

*Purchasing your first 8 pieces entitles you to a 10% discount.

*Purchasing 2 boxes of 8 pieces entitles you to a 15% discount.

Dim Sum Paradise
48, 50, Lengkok Canning, Taman Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh
05-541 7738

Help the Small Businesses: Lubiantan

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon discovers a ‘roadside stall’ 

Called Lubiantan (meaning ‘roadside stall’), this is a relatively new eatery situated upstairs of a shop specialising in Musang King and other durians where they sell the fresh variety as well as durian desserts. Owned by the same people, the two work synergistically where you can eat your mains and savouries upstairs and go downstairs for desserts. Perfect for our durian-lovers and sweet tooth readers.

Lubiantan is a tiny eatery serving only about 20 people at a time. Very strict about their SOPS, places are marked off with big X’s where you’re not allowed to sit. It’s a place where you go and eat your plate or bowl of your choice and quickly go downstairs to enjoy their desserts or fresh durian as you wish, just like you would do at a roadside stall. It’s not a place to linger and chit chat as they have to serve the next customer.

The menu is a simple one, with their signatures featuring their special handmade Teochew Style Bamboo Noodles, “KAO” noodles and the Pahang Bentong Homemade Tofu Pok

The Teochew Style Bamboo Noodles are distinguished by the irregular shape of the handmade noodles and a hint of saltiness. They are made without any preservatives and produced the traditional way by sun-drying the noodles and steaming them on a tray lined with coconut leaves. 

“KAO” Noodles are handmade noodles also known as Teochew “Mee Sua”. Served with the springy, irregular shaped noodles are mushroom strips, minced pork, house-made dried shrimp sambal and poached egg. First, dig into the poached egg, then mix the noodles well. When you eat it, every bite of the minced pork, the smoothness of the egg and a hint of spiciness will make you fall in love with this dish. 

Pahang Bentong Homemade Tofu Pok is famous among Malaysians and it is also a must-buy when visiting Pahang. The texture of this tofu pok is fluffy and soft and can be stuffed with a meat farcie. These can be ordered as a side dish or added to the various noodle dishes. Lubiantan’s mission is to bring the best to their customers, so it is a MUST in their Curry Noodles.

The day we were there, the special of the day was the Mah Lat braised chicken in Szechuan style. Mildly spicy, with a faint hint of the Mah Lat or Szechuan peppers which numb the tongue. Served with rice, vegetables and “Tsoi Po” fried egg. RM8.80.

Malat braised chicken in Szechuan style

Their signature dishes are their dry and wet Curry Noodles. We tried both, with the dry Curry Noodles arriving first. Using handmade noodles from Pangkor, these were quite al dente and I could tell they were handmade owing to their uneven thickness. The thick curry sauce was piquant and can be spiced up with the very tasty sambal served with it. Topped with the Pahang Bentong Homemade Tofu Pok which tasted soft and absorbed the gravy nicely, smallish prawns, long beans, bean sprouts, fried scallions and roast pork slices, this curry noodle is a tasty mouthful. RM9.80.

Dry curry noodles

The wet Curry Noodle with Hor Fun rice noodles and yellow mee had a slurp-worthy thick curry soup, tangy and again can be spiced up with sambal. It is served with large sea-fresh prawns, tofu pok, squares of tender fried pigs skin and topped with mint leaves. RM9.80.

Wet curry noodle

The Special Pigs Trotters in Soy Sauce served with white rice or noodles was well braised, the trotters tender and the sauce well blended in its light and dark soya sauces. RM12.80.

Special Pigs Trotters in Soy Sauce

We followed this up with a clear Lettuce and fish paste (Yu Wat) soup (ours came without the noodles as we were quite full). Umami with a clean taste, the fish paste was soft and fresh tasting with dried squid added in to further lift the flavour. RM7.80.

Lettuce and fish paste soup

And for a pre-dessert treat, we finished our meal upstairs with the Classic toasted bread with premium butter and kaya. Sliced thin, the bread was crispy and the homemade kaya not too sweet, which suited my tastebuds. RM3.80. 

Classic toasted bread with premium butter and kaya

Service was fast at Lubiantan to facilitate a quick turnover. Soon we were headed downstairs to the Musang King dessert shop where we just had to finish our meal with a slice of durian burnt cheesecake (RM28) which was quite dense and very filling so we shared one between four of us. We did not get to try the layered durian cake (RM18.80) but promised to return.

Durian burnt cheesecake
Layered durian cake

For those who eat upstairs at Lubiantan, there is a 10% discount at the dessert shop when you show your receipt within the same day of issue. Don’t worry if you don’t think you can stomach the desserts after a hearty meal; you can still get a 5% discount up to a month after the date when your receipt is issued. The outlet downstairs is open from 10am-10pm.

 

Address:
56a, Jalan Theatre, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
Mon-Thurs, 8.30am-4.30pm; Fri-Sun, 8.30am-10pm
Takeaways available
Delivery available within town area for orders with more than 3 items

For inquiries:
012-591 8175

Help the Small Businesses: Laksa Leaf Cafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon Loves Laksa

I am a big fan of Laksa. In all its manifestations, be it Lemak (with coconut milk), Assam (with tamarind) or as I have recently discovered, even a dry variety without soup. 

All this and more. And all can be found in one place! At Laksa Leaf Cafe.

Located in a small bungalow on the main road of the easily accessible Jalan Canning Estate, the cafe is spacious, bright and airy and air conditioned. Which makes eating a very comfortable experience—and now with all the SOPs in place, even more comfortable with spaces where you are not supposed to sit clearly marked on the table.

The menu is uncomplicated. Under the Noodles section are three types of Laksa, a Curry Noodle Soup and a Fish Ball Noodle Soup.

To order, you first choose which Laksa you would like. Then decide on the type of noodle. The choice is between Lai Fun or Laksa noodle, the thick white rice noodle; BeeHoon, the thin rice vermicelli; yellow noodles; or Hor Fun or Kway Teow noodles. 

Because I like to graze, I always go with my troupe from the Echo office so we can order a variety and share a bit of each type. This not only gets me to taste a large selection without getting too full, but it allows me to sample as much of the menu as is possible in order to give a fair review.

Which is what we did. Beginning with the Nyonya Laksa, I found the thick rice noodles very appealing. Slipping smoothly down the gullet, these were really velvety and unless you slurp them down and risk ruining the front of your clothes, the best way I found was placing them onto a spoon and eating them this way. The sauce was slightly “lemak” (with coconut milk), tangy and had quite a bite from chillies. It came with fish balls and the two large prawns served with it were very fresh. Slivered cucumber and onion shavings with “Taufu pok” or fried bean skin rolls with an accompanying yummy sambal belacan paste completed the dish. RM10 (R) and RM15 (L).   

Nyonya Laksa

We then had the Assam Laksa, served with “Haeko” or black prawn paste (a very Penang touch) with sliced lettuce, slivered cucumber and onions. Chunks of fish which is the base stock could be detected and hints of Bunga Kantan or red ginger flower topped it off. RM RM8 (R) , RM10 (L).

Assam Laksa

Next came the Fried Laksa, an unusual offering wrapped in an omelette, with all the flavours of an Assam Laksa: slightly tart, spicy and served with the rest of the usual garnitures including the “Haeko” and the sambal belacan. I actually prefer this to the soup version although you can actually order a bowl of the Assam soup to go with it. A great choice at RM9. Assam soup comes at an additional RM2.

Fried Laksa

I loved their Nasi Lemak. Their blue rice coloured with the blue pea flower was redolent with santan, hints of serai and pandan and the chicken rendang was delicious with a thick sauce served with the usual condiments of sambal, half a boiled egg and crispy ikan bilis and peanuts. Yummilicous at RM10.

Nasi Lemak

Additional fishballs (RM1 for 2pc), taufu pok (RM1 for 2pc) and asam laksa fish soup (RM2) may also be ordered.

Then came dessert time. 

Bubur Cha Cha is highly recommended. Thick santan, chunks of taro, sweet potato and pinto beans. Not sweet and absolutely to my taste. RM4.

Bubur Cha Cha

Or you can have the Ice Kacang. A lavish mound of shaved ice with sweet corn, peanuts, grass jelly and laced with gula melaka. And there is also the irresistible Cendol with santan, cendol, pinto beans and sago. Some at my table thought it wasn’t sweet enough at which you can always ask for more gula melaka but for me, it was perfect. Both at RM6.

Ice Kacang
Cendol

As there were four of us, we ended our meal with the Yuzu Aiyu Ping, consisting of yuzu syrup and jelly; the syrup tart and fragrant, with aiyu and lemon jelly at the bottom. RM6.

Yuzu Aiyu Ping

*Laksa Leaf Cafe is pork and alcohol free

 

Address:
43, Jalan Canning Estate, Taman Canning, 31400 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Business hours:
10am-6pm, closed on Wednesdays. Last order at 5pm.
Delivery and takeaway available through Foodpanda

For inquiries:
05-549 2818

Help the Small Businesses: De China Restaurant

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon will come back again and again

Fresh. Homemade. Delectable.

What more can anyone ask for when it comes to food? Especially when you cook at the table for yourself.

I have seen the sign many a time, on my way to and from places in Bercham. But unless someone, somewhere on my chat groups or social media raves about a place, I often don’t make the effort to check it out. 

My lawyer friend Philip Leong is a different kettle of fish. He will check out any restaurant or signboard that excites his fancy. And thanks to him, I discovered De China Restaurant.

Thinking it would turn out to be another “Tai Chau” mixed menu restaurant, I traipsed along expecting the ‘same old’ food. To my surprise and delight, I discovered a Hotpot restaurant that is truly superlative.

Proprietor Chow Yau Ming is Mr. Affability himself. An old ACS boy, he was so taken by Philip that our first lunch lasted till way past 3.00pm.

I have to confess to a grave omission on my part as after four visits I have ordered the same soup base!! This is the Tricholoma Matsutake Pork Tripe Stewed Chicken

Firstly, I adore pork tripe. Add that to chicken stock which has simmered for a minimum of 6 hours and with fresh free range chicken added, then you have a meal on its own. My favourite is the one with Matsutake already added.  

Cordycep flowers and dried Matsutake mushrooms

Matsutake are called pine mushrooms, mainly because of their habit of growing near pine trees. The Japanese revere them. The mushrooms have a distinct flavor and are credited with a host of health benefits including being a cancer preventive. Fresh Matsutake can cost up to US$2,000 a kilogram but fortunately we now have dried ones available. At De China they cost RM28 per portion, but if you order the soup base with chicken, pork tripe and  Matsutake, the whole pot is RM88 and replenishment of the soup stock is included. Chicken and pork tripe on its own is RM58.

Another healthy ‘mushroom’, the Cordycep flower, is not technically a flower but rather a cultured cordycep fruiting body that is a fungus. It is touted to be helpful for seasonal allergies with cough symptoms, beneficial for emphysema and bronchitis, anti-aging, improves cardiovascular disease, and helps reduce fatigue. RM28.

Wow! With all those benefits, how can you not order these additions? And they taste good, to boot.

The rest of the ingredients you can order and add to the hotpot is a cornucopia of deliciousness. 

Lets begin with the fresh seafood, like Har Wat (fresh prawn mixed with meat), RM17.90fresh whole sea prawns, RM28; abalone on the shell, RM8 per piece (there is also canned abalone slices at RM18); big scallop, RM29; and sea cucumber, RM33. All highly recommended.

Meatballs and fresh sea prawns
Abalone
Big scallop

Moving to the meat choices: Australian lamb slices, tender and requires minimum cooking, RM20; beef slices, sliced in the kitchen when ordered, RM20; Sakura pork belly, RM10; and divine melt-in-mouth Iberico pork belly (you’re bound to order two portions!), RM21.90.

Iberico pork slices

Homemade additions include very well-seasoned meatballs (RM16) and Gyoza (RM10 for 10). Both of these require longer cooking time so dunk these in at the beginning and enjoy the rest after.

For choice of vegetables, we had the Sai Yeong Choi or watercress, which were young and tender, RM6; and chrysanthemum leaves or Tong Ho, RM8; sliced lotus root, RM6; and a mixed mushroom platter of shiitake, oyster, and white button mushrooms

Of course the most important ingredient for a Hotpot other than the soup base is the chilli sauce, and at De China this too is homemade and yummilicious. Spicy, not too sweet (I detest sweet chilli sauces), mildly garlicky and perfect with all the yummy ingredients.

Finally for those who like rice with their meal, instead of ordering white rice, check out their Lap Mei Fan which comes in a claypot, redolent with the fragrance of Chinese Lap Cheong sausage. RM15.

Lap Mei Fan

De China is now one of my go-to restaurants and I haven’t even explored the rest of the menu which also features individual cooked-to-order dishes like the fried Mantis prawns which Yau Ming insisted we try

*Check out our feature video of De China Restaurant by Gisele Soo here!

Address:
51, Jalan Bercham, Medan Bercham Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak 

Business hours:
11.30am-11pm, opens daily
Takeaways available 

For inquiries:
05-541 6660

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. RM7.80 per serving.

Burdock chicken oolong tea soup

The curry chicken with black tea, made without coconut milk and thickened with ground cashew at RM13.80 was superb. The curry mixed vegetable soup with lychee black tea was equally umami and thickened, delicious and a good deal at RM9.80. 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 (RM2.80) 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, RM6.00.

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, RM10.80.

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, RM12.80. 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 RM2.20.

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

Sweet potato balls with green tea dipping sauce (RM6.80) and green tea glutinous rice balls with black sesame paste inside and coated with ground peanuts at RM6.80 were some of the desserts we tried. What I enjoyed most were their velvety smooth Tea House Four Seasons Dessert (set of 4 at RM15.80). 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: 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: Zui Le Xuan

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Zui Le Xuan

SeeFoon finds herself in “Love at First Bite”

We have all heard about love at first sight but has anyone ever fallen in love at first bite? I am not referring to your dining companion nor Dracula but falling in love with the food. 

I first tasted Zui Le Xuan’s Dim Sum two years ago, fell in love with the quality and freshness and I have remained enamoured ever since. 

Proprietress Lam May Foong (Ah Foong) has become a friend and we chat nineteen to a dozen whenever I go there, she being solicitous and introducing new items or urging me to try this or that. For Ah Foong, it’s never a case of totting up a big bill but rather her sheer joy at watching people enjoy her tasty morsels. 

And tasty they certainly are. 

It is rare to find a Dim Sum restaurant where they make their own Dim Sum rather than steam or fry up prepared ones from a factory. Zui Le Xuan is one of these. And Dim Sum is hard to make, what with the variety of items, the need for freshness and the delicacy of the various fillings, pastries and wraps. But this is all a snap for the owner Chan Kam (Ah Foong’s hubby) as he comes from years of experience in Dim Sum making, having worked as #1 chef at Foh San for many years.

The variety here is endless with items changing every day. All the classics of Har Gao, Siew Mai, Char Siew Pau and Wu Kok are here and are top notch but it’s the specials which I found exciting. My favourites like the large Phoenix Balls, redolent with 5-spice powder, and generously lardy for a smooth mouthfeel, RM5. This is hardly found anywhere else as the “fashion” in Dim Sum has changed over the years, and nobody remembers them nor do they ask for them. Other favourites like ginger chicken pao (see video) are excellent at RM2.50 each , minced ginger oozing from the centre as you bite into it; Tsang Fah Gao (orange flower ball) or meatball rolled in rice krispies and deep fried, RM4; Gai Woh (Chicken Nest) Pao with glutinous rice, black mushrooms, carrots and chicken, RM5; excellent fish balls at RM4.50 for two; Steamed Minced Pork topped with century egg, RM5. And the list goes on and on. Each one is as good as the one preceding. Changing daily.

Phoenix balls
Orange flower ball (Tsang fah gao)

This time after MCO and not having been there in more than 5 months, I was immediately presented with their new items, like the Heong Sai Gao dumplings with prawn, mushroom, and meat, RM6; Chive Dumpling (I loved this one so much I ordered some to take home, froze them and steamed up again and they were just as good as eating in the shop), with chopped chives, with meat and prawns. The pastry was thicker than a Har Gau pastry and the filling was umami and beautifully seasoned, RM6.

Heong sai gao

Another dumpling that blew me away was the Black Garlic Siew Mai at RM6. The black garlic, which is renowned for its health giving properties, was strong but umami and combined with the fillings of meat and very fresh and succulent prawns was positively ambrosial. 

The Pei Dan Guen, black century egg combined with fish pastry and deep fried, was interesting; crispy on the outside, springy from the fish paste. The century egg added a new dimension, its earthy, ammonia-ey smell masked by the slices of pickled ginger added inside the roll. I love century eggs so it was perfect for me but some of my dining companions were not so keen, RM5.

Pei dan guen

The meat pie (Gai Sou), another new item, was lovely; slightly sweet minced meat, encased in very crumbly and fluffy pastry, RM2.50. Worth ordering home.

Gai sou (meat pie)

Then came a pao like no other. The first and only one in Ipoh, this was a pao filled with cream cheese that oozes out as you break it apart (see video). Not too sweet, it was an appropriate ending to our groaning table, RM2.50.

For a refreshing mouthfeel, we ended with the Osmanthus Jelly (Gwai Fah Go), chock full of goji berries, longan and other goodies. Not too sweet and certainly a great way to end the meal, RM4.50.

Osmanthus jelly

Zui Le Xuan does a lot of catering and if you go for their Dim Sum, do “TaPau” your favourite items. If Ah Foong has them available she will even let you take home the uncooked item and give you cooking instructions.

 

Address:
28 Jalan Ng Seong Teik, Taman Pertama, 30100 Ipoh, Perak.
(First Garden next to GP Food Court)
N 4° 36.262, E 101° 3.368


Business hours:
7am-2pm, closed on Tuesdays

For inquiries:
012-486 0883

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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: Red Inn Hotpot

Red Inn Hotpot

I had visited Red Inn Hotpot in early 2019 when they opened their first outlet in old town on Jalan Sultan Yussuff and within a year, this entrepreneurial trio comprising Fly Wong (founder cum director), Seng Yung (CEO) and Desmond having gained favour with many diners, had opened their second outlet in Ipoh (they have two other outlets in Bukit Mertajam and Penang), this time inside the Octagon. 

Private room

Sadly by the time I was ready to write this review, the pandemic had struck and MCO put paid to all established or fledgling food and beverage businesses. Only now following SOPs has the new outlet opened its doors serving their special brand of Hotpot. 

Hotpot is the raison d’être to come here. First you choose your soup base. Order your soup singly for RM30, Twin for RM50 or go the whole hog and have the Four Seasons combo choosing  four out of their choice of six broths. There is Ma Lat (the Szechuan red pepper) broth which has the distinctive tongue numbing effect to ameliorate the chilli burn; the Signature Sake broth; a fresh tomato soup; the ubiquitous Pork Bone soup; the Green Pepper Soup; and the pièce de résistance, their Fresh Clam Soup (Fresh Lala on the menu). Their pots are able to hold four different soup bases so it’s a great opportunity to order a mixture so your guests can choose to suit their palate. Top-ups are included.

Now the fun begins. There is a choice of 10 sauces for dipping with the main ones of Szechuan, satay, signature and sesame to which can be added spring onions, coriander, garlic, birds eye chillies and lime wedges; all of which are lined up in a help-yourself fashion and replenishments are unlimited.

The handmade options include pork, beef, lamb and shrimp meatballs, large, round and juicy. Particularly yummy are their pork and shrimp meatballs (from RM10-RM18 for half and full portions). We had a mixed platter of the meatballs and they were juicy, well seasoned and their respective cooking times were all listed on the menu. A choice of handmade spinach or tomato noodles (RM5-9 half/full) makes for a very wholesome bowl of noodle soup. Throw in a meatball or two, some vegetables and voilàyour own self-curated bowl of homemade goodness. 

In the meat section, the specials here are their Iberico pork slices (RM26-48 half/full) and their Wagyu Beef (marbling 6/7 RM58-98 half/full) while the usual pork belly, lamb loin, chicken breast and (unusual) duck breast is on offer.

Naturally, there is a cornucopia of other goodies like fried snacks while you wait, from fish skin (RM5-12) to pork belly (RM10-18); a selection of fish, a wide range of vegetables, other noodles and other exotic offerings like pig’s kidneys and liver and the list goes on.

I like the idea of hotpot as it is a hygienic meal, the various ingredients are cooked to your degree of doneness and you are assured there are no lingering pathogens on your food. The use of chopsticks and ladles specially for use in the pot is especially essential and we should insist on extra serving utensils. Thankfully at Red Inn Hotpot, these are readily available.

Worth a visit. A quiet relaxing meal and quiet enough for conversation. Quite rare in Ipoh!

 

Premium Outlet: 

Address:
Unit L2-02, Wisma Octagon Ipoh, Jalan Raja Ekram, 30450 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours:
1pm-10pm daily 

Main Outlet: 

Address: 
124, Jalan Sultan Yusof, 303000 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours: 
6pm–3am daily

For inquiries (both outlets):
012 3130124 (WhatsApp preferred)

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

Help the Small Businesses: Star Mansion

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Star Mansion

Looking for a corporate meeting space or a quiet lunch or dinner and where the kids can run around and where social distancing is possible and available? Look no further than Star Mansion, where the large garden is safe and private, the inside cool and air conditioned, and the kiddies can ooh and ahh at the humongous teddy bear and other toys at the entrance. 

The menu is large and eclectic, covering a range of cuisines from Japanese, to local to western to pizza to burgers appealing to all tastes and palates. 

The tendency of the kitchen is for most dishes, aside from desserts, to be on the sweet side, so tell them to ease off on the sugar if sweetness is not on your palate. Their flower tea is sugar optional though, and has a very clean taste to balance any heaviness in the food.

This restaurant is pork free so Muslims can dine here freelywhich is quite often, as proprietor Christine Tan Lai Yee shared. On her choice of the name for the restaurant; she said, “Stars symbolise hope, joy and fun. I wish to make Star Mansion a fun and joyous mansion for all my customers.” And stars there are galore.

Blooming flower tea

Christine takes pride in their teas, some simple like the Lanhua Xiang (RM8) which promises no additives, or the Oolong Tie Guan Yin (RM6) which has slimming properties, to the spectacular Fancy Corbeil Blooming Flower tea (see pic) which starts as a dried up leaf ball, suddenly blossoming into this magnificent art in a glass after a few minutes. The bonus to this flower is the fact that it still tastes good even to the 10th re-steeping!! Although who would drink that much tea in one sitting is beyond me! But if you’re looking for a place and a beverage to sit with your friend to natter, gossip or share experiences, then Star Mansion and the Blooming flower tea is your answer. RM12.80 per bloom/pot.

And the tea list goes on and on, not to mention the shakes, juices, mocktails, and cocktails.

Savouries are a huge list. I had the feeling we tried most of their items at one sitting! Their Ayam Berempah is marinated for two days using lemongrass and Bentong Halia or Bentong Ginger. Served with their homemade sauce,rice and pickles, RM19.90.

Nasi ayam berempah
Okonomiyaki chuka idako

We also tried their Okonomiyaki chuka idako, a very popular Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients in a wheat-flour-based batter. At Star Mansion it is topped with  cabbage, teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, wakame, baby octopus and onion, RM14.90.

The made to order Hawaiian Cheese pizza had a crispy base and was very generous with the cheese, RM12.90.

We then tried the Cheesy style abalone and shrimps fried rice where the rice was first fried and then baked with a cheese topping. Tasty at RM19.90. Eating this together with the Cordyceps flower coconut chicken Soup (which usually comes with its own serving of rice) was an interesting experience. Slightly sweet with black bean, red date, brown date, and the chewy cordycep flower with its bright orange hue boiled with coconut water. Very delicious, RM12.80.

Cheesy style abalone shrimps fried rice

Lemongrass chicken on skewers Chiangmai style, were redolent with guess what, lemongrass of course, which gave the minced chicken loads of flavour. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, the skewers of lemon grass stalks needed no additional sauce. Available at RM16.90 for 5 pcs, it’s great as a starter or a snack at any time of day.

Lemongrass chicken mince

You can have an all day American breakfast for RM23.90, as well as their High tea set of chocolate mousse, ganache tarts, macarons, cream puffs, cake, steamed buns, and croissants. The price for the high tea set varies depending on the accompanying beverage, starting at RM19.90 per person.  

For dessert we savoured their Ginger sticky rice served with a combination of kelapa palut (desiccated coconut) and fried gula melaka as well as some sambal sauce. An interesting blend of sweet and savoury, RM9.90. This was followed by the Thai sticky rice flavoured with pandan, served with mango, coconut milk, and desiccated coconut, the classic Thai dessert that everyone who visits Thailand will seek out, RM9.90.

Thai sticky rice with pandan

Address:
161, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, Greentown, 30450 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
Open everyday
11.30am-10pm, last order at 9pm
Takeaway and delivery available. 

For inquiries:
018-328 1168

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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: Makan Nyonya

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Makan Nyonya

SeeFoon goes back to old favourites

Makan Nyonya has always been one of my favourite ‘go-to’ places whenever I felt the hankering for a mix of local dishes. At Makan Nyonya, I get dishes that Grandma used to make as well as yummilicious local specials all in one place without traipsing all over town. I can graze all in one place!

Nasi rendang chicken

Like moving from Nasi Rendang Chicken (RM7), mixing it with the Pork Nasi Rendang (RM10), then dipping into the Lemak Nyonya Laksa (RM6). In between, nibble on Cucur Udang with its mega-sized prawn and the great dipping sauce, RM3 each. Follow this with Lam Meen (RM6), Pan Meen (RM6) as well as a tasting of their butter cakes: carrot, marble, fruit and banana, and you’ll be staggering from the table. RM3.50 per slice; RM18 per loaf.

Lemak nyonya laksa
Pan meen
Lam meen
Cucur udang

With oodles of goodies to share and take small taster bites from, Makan Nyonya is certainly a place to go to, whether to dine in now with RMCO or to ‘tapau’ or takeaway. Also the prices are so reasonable that you can either go with a group or order up a storm to take away. 

Since the MCO started, Jason Chai the proprietor very quickly adapted to the situation and set up a buffet spread of dishes to choose from ala economy rice style where you can, from his daily Facebook posts, order the takeaways you want and pick up from the shop. 

His culinary touch is reminiscent of home and dishes which your Mum or Grandma used to make. They now even sell homemade ‘Ham Choy’ at RM15 per packet (very good and no additives) which I snapped up immediately and have subsequently cooked it. Excellent taste…not sweet, not salty but just perfect. I was also given a ‘Ham Dan’ or salted egg to taste but sadly that was not for sale. What a pity because I worry about salted eggs from local markets, not knowing what additives or preservatives have been added.

 

Address:
57, Laluan Tasek Timur 3, Pusat Perdagangan Tasek Indra, 31400 Ipoh, Negeri Perak

Business hours:
Tues-Sun. (Closed on Mondays)
7am-3.00pm, 2pm last order

To book or order:
017 469 1228 (Kane) via Whatsapp 

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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!