Help the Small Businesses: Uncle Long

Uncle Long

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon treats herself to charred and sticky sweet perfection.

Char Siew literally means “fork roasted” (siu being burn/roast and cha being fork), named after the traditional cooking method for the dish where long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire.

Cantonese in origin, the pork meat is marinated and then roasted in the oven to a charred and sticky sweet perfection. 

It’s ubiquitous in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, where Cantonese cuisine predominates and here in Ipoh, where our cuisine is more eclectic, it’s quite rare to find a restaurant dedicated to roast meats. 

Uncle Long is one of them. 

Opened barely a year ago, this restaurant in Ipoh Garden South already has quite a following, judging from the queue at lunchtime waiting to “tapau” (takeaway). 

Uncle Long also sells roast duck and chicken, as well as their own Siew Cheong (sausage) and roast pork, all home roasted by the proprietor Ray Lim Tze Kee who has a long history as a chef, doing just this: Chinese roasting.

The signature here is the Char Siew, so popular that he sells up to 30kg a day! 

I am fussy about my Char Siew. Not for me the lean and dry slices you often get in noodle soups or curry mee. Those are for people obsessed with their cholesterol or weight. 

Give me a Char Siew with a proportion of 40:60 of fat to meat, oozing oil from its glistening sides, the honey or maltose glaze charred in sections, and the marinade flavors shimmering on my tongue. 

This is the Char Siew at Uncle Long.

Char siew, Roast Pork & Siew Cheong (sausage)

The rest of the roast meats pale in comparison but nevertheless make for good companions to the star dish.

The Roast Pork had the requisite crispy skin and went well with their homemade chilli sauce that was tart, not too sweet (perfect for my non-sweet tooth) and spicy, ameliorating the high fat mouthfeel of the pork. A perfect match. RM7.50 for 100g, RM37.50 for 0.5kg, RM75 for 1kg.

The Roast Duck (RM13-50 depending on portion size) and Roast Chicken (RM10-36 depending on portion size) were moist and the soya sauce eggs (RM3 for 2 pieces) as a side order were great with both the duck sauce and the sauce on the plate.

Roast Chicken & Roast Duck

To go with all the roasted goodies, we had a choice of rice or noodles and we ordered one of each. The rice was fluffy and flavoured exactly the way a chicken rice should be: umami and fragrant. RM0.70 for small; RM1.30 for large. My noodles came as a surprise. It was the broad wonton noodle which I miss and often look for but alas seldom available. Here it was in front of me, al dente, coated in sauce and paired perfectly with the delectable Char Siew. RM1.50 as an add-on.

Char siew with rice
Add-on Noodles

They also sell a bottled chilli sauce (RM13) manufactured from a personal recipe with no sugar, no preservatives and no MSG, but alas they were out of stock on the day we were there.

While waiting for our food to arrive, we snacked on their “Suin Choy” (braised mustard greens), tart and tangy with quite a kick to it. RM5(S); RM8(L). 

We also had their Acar which was a special of the day.

Suin Choy (braised mustard greens), Soya Sauce Eggs & Acar

 

Address:
15, Lebuh Taman Ipoh, Taman Ipoh Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
10am-6pm daily, but will close if meat is sold out earlier
Closed on the first to third days of the Chinese New Year (Chor 1-3)

Takeaways available
Delivery available through Foodpanda and GrabFood 

For inquiries:
05-216 8836

Help the Small Businesses: Chow Yang Vegetarian Restaurant

Chow Yang Vegetarian Restaurant

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon goes Vegetarian. Again.

I did mention in an earlier article that my inclination towards vegetarianism is getting stronger by the month especially with this lingering pandemic. Not that I believe that being a vegetarian is healthier (in fact some vegetarians I know are distinctly unhealthy with their large amount of carbs and sugar) but cutting back on fatty meats and eating more greens and other vegetables is certainly a good idea. And certainly a healthier option.

But being vegan is a little tougher. No eggs, no butter (no animal fats period), no cheese, no garlic or onions. For some Buddhists, especially monks and Lamas, it is felt that garlic and onions interfere with meditation.

Despite these limitations, at Chow Yang Vegetarian Restaurant, they seem to manage very well, producing dishes that are not only delectable and tasty but have the mouthfeel, look and feel of the original carnivore’s item.

As in the Curry Mutton, mock mutton chunks made from mushroom stems (yes, mushroom stems!) cooked in a dry curry sauce with ladies fingers, long beans, potatoes and served on a bed of lettuce. If you weren’t told that you were eating mock mutton, you would think this was the real McCoy! And yes, the smell was missing but the meat texture was there. The sauce was robust, hearty and while it wasn’t the searing full-on Indian masala of the banana leaf variety, it was mellow, nuanced and mild enough for my two chilli averse Chinese colleagues. RM13-26 depending on serving size. 

Curry mutton

The Assam Fish arrived next, wrapped in seaweed for an oceanic flavour, fried to achieve a crispy “skin” and doused with an Assam sauce, mildly spiced, tangy and served with ladies fingers, tomato chunks and long beans. RM11, 16, 22 for S/M/L. We had a small and hankered for more. 

Assam fish

The Spicy Petai with Prawns was dry-fried with a wonderful crustacean flavour provided by the vegetarian dried prawn. The “prawns” themselves were soft, being produced from konjac, which also provided a textured crunch to the whole dish. Ginger slivers added more aromatic dimensions to the dish. RM11-22.

Spicy petai with prawns

We also tried the Butter Prawns which were deep fried with a batter (which I suspect was made with custard powder) coating each prawn. They were also crispy and from Taiwan. Although too sweet for my taste, my other table mates devoured them with relish. RM13-39.

Butter prawns

Satay Tofu arrived next. Crispy on the outside and beautifully soft and velvety on the inside,  these tofu chunks were topped with a thick satay sauce chock-full of crunchy peanuts and sweetened and toned down for the non spicy palate. RM10-20.

Satay tofu

The Siew Yoke (RM13-26) that arrived next blew my mind. Although in general too sweet for my tastebuds, each piece of the mock pork belly was perfect in its simulation including the layer of “fat” in between the “meat” layers. Quite a feat in manufacturing, which is again in Taiwan. In fact, Chow Yang is the only vegetarian restaurant in Ipoh to carry this product, a tidbit that Managing Director Derek Lee was happy to share with me.

Siew yoke

He also told me that Chow Yang has been operating since 2006 and when asked about MSG (my big bugbear), he assured me that they use the minimum and in fact I suffered very little afterwards and the next morning. 

Considering there appears to be no end in sight for the current pandemic, Derek shared an innovative move which the restaurant is promoting. 

They are now selling packs of frozen food which require a defrosting period of 3-4 hours before they can then be steamed/boiled or reheated in microwave-safe containers. (See pic of the list of takeaways frozen packs.) They are vacuum packed, sterilized and all made and packaged in-house. RM12.90-13.90.

Takeaway frozen packs menu

Chow Yang is definitely the place to go for your ready-to-eat take home food. And if you’re not inclined to make the trip yourself, put in an order on Foodpanda for a delivery straight to your doorstep.

 

Address:
198, Jalan Bercham, Taman Ria, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
11am-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm; opens daily
Takeaway & delivery available through Foodpanda

For inquiries:
014-974 3191

Help the Small Businesses: Hainan Kia (HBR Cafe)

Hainan Kia (HBR Cafe)

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon Enjoys an Oxymoron and other specialties

Fried Porridge struck me as an oxymoron (a self-contradicting word or group of words) and an interesting one which immediately piqued my curiosity.

This happened at the newly opened Hainan Kia (they opened in January) which of course had to close during the MCO but since reopening, is now doing a roaring business. 

I reckoned there must be lots of Hainanese in Ipoh, all pining for a taste of the food that Grandma used to make, long lost in the mists of time. Now they are all queuing for a taste of their own history, made possible by a group of four young partners who joined forces to bring the authentic Hainanese taste to Ipoh. 

Hainan Kia, which means “Hainanese Child”, is located in a small bungalow on Jalan Haji Eusoff. It was bustling on the day I went there, and even though it was late (1.45pm) there were still people arriving. 

Naturally the first item on the menu that I asked for was their Fried Porridge. How can you fry porridge which is liquid, I asked. It was then explained to me that the porridge (congee) was made first and the ingredients that go in are fried “a la minute” as per order. 

Hainan is a Chinese island province in the South China Sea, about halfway between southern China and Vietnam. The food is lighter, less oily, and more mildly seasoned than that of the Chinese mainland. Seafood predominates the menu, as prawn, crab, and both freshwater and ocean fish are widely available.

Malaysian Hainanese is a hodgepodge cuisine, a product of the country’s history as a colony. Hainanese Chinese were among the last to make their way to British Malaya, beginning in the late 1800s and continuing into the early 20th Century. By that time, Cantonese, Teochew, Hokkien and Hakka clan associations, which were established to help new arrivals find work and housing, had taken most employment opportunities. So many Hainanese people ended up taking positions as cooks in British military camps and in the homes of British expatriates and wealthy Chinese, where they learned to churn out perfectly cooked roasts, make cream of mushroom soup, boil eggs just so, fry up crispy chops and knead dough for bread and pastries. 

Soon they put this experience to use in their own restaurants and coffee shops, where they combined their own cooking styles with what they learnt from the Brits and the local cuisine. Thus, Malaysian Hainanese cuisine was born. 

Seafood Fried Noodle

I had the privilege of enjoying the services of a Hainanese cook when I got married many years ago in Singapore and I still remember the taste of his curries, and his various delectables that he would serve up.

For those going to Hainan Kia expecting to find the popular and renowned Hainanese Chicken Rice, you’ll be in for a let down. They do NOT serve that here. Instead they serve some of the very authentic A Dou Mee and Bao Loh Fun, the latter dish which they claim they are the only cafe in the whole of Malaysia that serves, a must-try street food back in Hainan island.

Most of the noodle dishes at this cafe uses their homemade Zu Sheng Noodles, the dough being not hand-rolled but rather utilizes a unique method of kneading with a bamboo pole which the chef uses like a lever between his legs (watch accompanying video). The noodles after cooking will have a springiness to them (al dente in Italian) attributed to the bamboo “kung fu” rather than lye water which is commonly used in other noodles with the same springiness. 

(Video courtesy of Hainan Kia)

Undoubtedly, the secret to producing such unique noodles also largely depends on the process of rolling. The noodles which can be purchased from the restaurant (when they have extra) come in three flavours of egg, pandan and spinach.

A Dou Mee is a traditional noodle dish, its name meaning “grandmother” in Hainanese dialect. It appeals to most palates with a clean fresh broth and comes with sotong, fish paste, bean curd with optional cockles, and is served with a special homemade curry paste. Hence the degree of spice can be controlled by yourself, adding more if you’re into spicy food like me. RM12.90.

Bao Loh Fun (a type of noodle like our local Lai Fun), is one of the top four Hainanese noodles, originating from Hainan Island. Usually eaten for breakfast, the very thick and starchy gravy is the essence of the dish, cooked with minced meat and sour vegetables or Ham Choy” and “Mui Choy” or preserved vegetables. Boiled peanuts are added to the dish, as are slivered carrots and lettuce. The uniqueness of the taste seems to have impressed many people as they can rarely try this elsewhere throughout Malaysia. RM12.90.

Bao Loh Fun
Seafood curry noodles

The Seafood Curry Noodles are headily aromatic, each bowl finished with a touch of santan, the noodles vying for attention with large prawns, fish chunks, squid and a few greens. Add sambal if the need for extra spice arises, though the soup is already slurp-worthy and spicy on its own. RM16.90.

The same Zu Sheng Noodles also come stir fried with mixed seafood or in clear broth for those who are looking for a non spicy taste. 

Next to arrive was the Slipper Lobster Claypot Porridge, a large tureen of porridge (congee) that was hearty and crowd pleasing, the slipper lobster taking centre stage, embellished with Chinese crullers and fried dried slivered sotong imbuing the dish with its characteristic fragrance. Served with a garlicky, spicy sauce. RM38.80.

Slipper Lobster Claypot Porridge

Another claypot dish came in the form of the Tung Fen Hai or Claypot Glass Noodle Crab. Dominated by an extra large flower crab with the carapace on top, the noodles were accompanied by celery, carrots, ginger slivers, loofa rounds and an omelette. A very umami broth made this a very refreshing item. RM38.80.

Claypot Glass Noodle Crab

And before I forget, did I mention that the Chicken Chop here is one of the best I have ever tasted? It brings back memories of my Hainanese cook who did this perfectly, crispy on the edges and tender on the inside, smothered with a Lee and Perrin anchovy-based sauce that was superlative! RM13.90.

Chicken Chop
Kaya Toast

By this time, we were all suffering with a surfeit of food but we had to push ourselves and taste their Kaya Toast. Served with premium butter and the bread sliced thin, the homemade kaya was fragrant, making this a most satisfying dessert. RM4.50. 

The kaya is available for sale so don’t forget to pick up a jar. 

*Hainan Kia is pork-free.

 

Address:
48, Jalan Haji Eusoff, Perumahan Jalan Kampar, 30250 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
8am-6pm, opens  daily
Takeaways available
Delivery available through Foodpanda and GrabFood 

For inquiries: 
011-5501 6295

 

Help the Small Businesses: Stone Pot Kitchen

SeeFoon gets a brain tune-up 

Finding fresh pig’s brain is almost a rare occurrence these days. Most of the younger folk are squeamish about it and it’s only oldies like myself and some of my friends who appreciate its taste and texture which is like soft Tofu when cooked. 

Pig’s brain

So when I found out Stone Pot Kitchen had brains on the menu, I went with alacrity to eat a delicacy whose taste memory has been relegated to the recesses of my mind. RM18 (order at least a day in advance). 

I grew up with the Chinese belief that eating organ meat helps the particular organ in one’s body and therefore Pig’s brains are highly prized. So I did some research: 

According to Medical News Today brain meat contains omega 3 fatty acids and nutrients. The latter include phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine, which are good for the nervous system. The antioxidants obtained by eating brain meat are also helpful in protecting the human brain and spinal cord from damage.

Organ meats are sometimes referred to as “super foods” because they are dense sources of vitamins and nutrients, including: vitamin B, iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. 

And there are organ meats galore on Stone Pot Kitchen’s menu. Items like Duck Tongue (very hard to come by); Duck’s blood; Duck intestines; Chicken kidneys; chicken testicles (rare!!); pig’s tripe—altogether 9 items of offal on the menu, not to mention a very unusual item, Yoke Ngan Gun or pork fillet tendon. 

As its name implies, Stone Pot Kitchen serves all its soups in large stone pots imported from China, which boils fast and keeps its warmth well and very evenly. They are touted to bring out the flavours of the various ingredients.

Aside from the stone pots, the main attraction of this restaurant is its soup base: Pure coconut water. Huge piles of young coconuts in the back testify to the freshness and purity of this “soup” base. 

Studies show that  coconut water acts as a digestive. It helps in quick digestion and prevents bloating after meals. Regular consumption of coconut water also helps in maintaining the electrolyte balance in your body and thus, keeps your blood pressure under control. It is also brimming with potassium and magnesium, acting as a natural sports drink. It is a brilliant idea to use it as a soup base.

There are 13 soup bases to choose from, 6 of which use coconut water. The rest are made with chicken stock. Our group had the Chicken with coconut water base (RM49). Herbs are added to the raw chicken in the stone pot, then followed by the coconut water. This is then brought to a rolling boil, and once it can be turned down to slowly simmer, it is time to eat the chicken pieces first before adding in other ingredients.

The soup can be topped-up regularly as it cooks down, and if the coconut water becomes concentrated and may become too sweet, ask for the chicken soup top-up which is what I did. 

The usual ingredients are available including Iberico pork, Wagyu beef slices and seafood, though these must be pre-ordered before your visit as Stone Pot Kitchen only serves them fresh. 

On the daily menu, on the other hand, the list is endless with many health-giving dried mushrooms (12 types). The most interesting part of this is their homegrown mushrooms with a good range of different types to choose from. These are grown in the shop and range in colour from woodsy to yellow and pink. Presently blooming are their Oyster mushrooms, with the common Abalone mushroom being the cheapest (RM12), followed by the yellow variety at RM20 and the rarer and more delicate pink variety at RM22. 

Common abalone mushroom (RM12)
Pleurotus citrinopileatus (RM20)
Pleurotus djamor (RM22)

Vegetables are also abundantly (25 items) on offer, ranging from RM5-RM7 with the most expensive being Asparagus at RM10 and Crystalline iceplant at RM12.

Handmade meatballs

The handmade meatballs were tasty at RM12 for 8 pieces. But my favourite was the Handmade Pork paste which came on a plate topped with a raw egg. Water chestnuts, wood ear fungus and scallion livened up the delicious meat mixture with crunch. RM12 and a must have.

Handmade pork paste

More prepared pastes, this time the minced prawn, came in delicate bamboo holders which you then scoop into the broth, spoon by spoon. RM15 for two bamboo ladles-full. 

The handmade dumplings were large and flavourful at RM10 for 6 pieces, and by this time after adding in the mixture of vegetables we were stuffed to the gills.

Handmade dumplings

I must also commend them on their sauces on offer. A homemade chilli sauce is served for every person but there is also a combination which you can mix yourself. 3 small tubs of minced chillies; chopped kencur or Sah Geong (sand ginger), an aromatic ginger belonging to the Galangal family; and a full tub of Calamansi or Limau Kasturi are provided for you to make a sauce to your taste with the soya sauce. I loved the inclusion of the kencur which is not sufficiently appreciated here and not used as often as the other gingers. There is also a sweet and sour mustard sauce for those looking for less heat. 

I will definitely be back for more especially now that their mushrooms are blooming. This is definitely a first for a restaurant in Ipoh. Fresh off the “mother” (whatever is the name of the medium on which they grow), these mushrooms have to be better than the store bought variety and I want to taste them. The mushrooms were not blooming when I was there last.

 

Address:
8 Jalan Seenivasagam, 30450 Ipoh, Perak

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

For inquiries and reservations:
017-3280782 | 012-4678999

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. 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. 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: 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