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!

Mad Ramen in Old Town

SeeFoon Gets Mad about Ramen in Old Town

I love noodles. It’s my Achilles heel. No amount of willpower or determination can keep me from guzzling noodles if it’s staring me in the face and taunting me. Even if it means blowing my low-carb regime.

Which brings me to being mad about Mad Ramen Bar.

This newly-opened restaurant in the thick of old town right opposite Plan B has all the makings of a carb lover’s paradise. Ramen in all its guises served in various broths and topped with a large selection of condiments and garnishes are the stars of the show here.

Don’t look for sushi or sashimi here. Look instead for freshly pan-fried Yaki Gyoza, homemade pork and cabbage dumplings with grapefruit ponzu dipping sauce RM11.80 for 5 pcs. They also have a deep-fried version called Age Gyoza served with a Sriracha mayo for RM9.80

Don’t look for French fries here. Look instead for Porky Fries, thin strips of pork luncheon meat appearing on my table looking for all the world like sweet potato fries (which I thought they were) until I took the first bite. All my childhood memories of Ma Ling or Spam luncheon meat came flooding back and I was transported. Umami strips of meat, slightly crisped on the outside and tender on the inside. Great as a snack to go with their speciality Craft beers while waiting for your meal; RM10.80.

Porky Fries
Takoyaki Balls

Other nibblers or appetizers included the Takoyaki Balls, a very special rice-batter ball filled with bits of octopus, laced with Japanese sweet sauce and topped with Bonito flakes. You must be very careful biting into this ball as it arrives piping hot and can certainly burn your tongue; RM7.80 for 5 pieces.

While still on appetizers, we had a platter of their Yakitori skewers, ranging from Australian beef slice, pork belly, chicken, button and king oyster mushroom, bacon enoki and mixed vegetable. There is a two skewer per order minimum with prices ranging from RM3.80 to RM5.80 each and a Mad Ramen platter of one of everything for RM28.80. Dipping sauce is not necessary as each skewer is well seasoned.

Mad Ramen platter
Black Tonkotsu

Then we moved onto the Ramen. The menu lists items under the heading of Tonkotsu Ramen and Hokkaido Ramen. Tonkotsu Ramen is distinguished by its robust pork broth, simmered over 8 hours for a thick creamy result, definitely a labour of love! This ramen is a speciality dish from Fukuoka, Kyushu Island. From the Tonkotsu menu, we had the Black Tonkotsu, black garlic (extremely beneficial for health) and black sesame broth served with pork Chashu (a special roast pork) black fungus, braised egg and spring onions; RM19.80.

This was followed by the Pork Rib Black Shoyu, another robust broth with Black Shoyu, a huge braised pork rib, black fungus, braised egg and spring onions. The rib (ask for gloves to eat) was fall-off-the-bone tender and the broth divine. Definitely THE signature and must-have dish here; RM21.80.

Pork Rib Black Shoyu

Then one of my group suggested we sample the Hokkaido style Ramen, which he said was lighter and not as satiating. The Shio Ramen, one from the Hokkaido ramen series, a salt-based soup in chicken and vegetable broth with light and refreshing notes. With Ramen, pork Chashu, wakame, nori, braised egg, corn bamboo shoots and spring onions. Definitely lighter but equally umami; RM16.80.

On a previous occasion, I sampled their Chili Miso Ramen, served with the same condiments as the Shio ramen except that the Chili Miso lent a piquancy to the broth which I found delightful. And if the Scoville unit is not enough for you, you can always add the readily available sprinkle which they’ll be happy to supply; RM16.80.

Mad Ramen is a full bar, and their drinks menu is worth investigating. Their Craft Beers are certainly special as is their house Draft from Suntory, with a price of RM18.80 per glass and RM78.80 for a set of 5.

Sake Bomb

Worth having fun with is their Sake Bomb (they have an extensive range of Sakes) where you get a shot of sake and a beer. The shot of sake is placed on 2 chopsticks across the top of the beer mug and with whoops and much banging on the table, the shot of sake is encouraged to drop into the mug of beer. For those who fail, they’ll just have to buy another round!

MAD RAMEN BAR
3 Jalan Panglima, 30000 Ipoh.

Tel:  05 210 8866

Opening Hours
Weekdays:  12pm-3pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm (5.30pm-12am Thu & Fri)
Weekend:    Saturday (12pm-12am), Sunday (12pm-10.30pm)
Day off:        Tuesday

SeeFoon explores Chinese New Year options – Classic Dining, Sato Kitchen, Moonlight Treasure

“The whole family is home, the relatives are all here and OMG what am I going to cook for the festivities?” is a typical lament that all my Chinese friends wail as they wring their hands and fret over the coming 15 days of this very auspicious period in the Chinese calendar.

As for me, as I ease myself into the TLC of my dear friend Susie in either Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, I am not deserting my dear Chinese friends in Ipoh but rather I have done my research in advance and here in today’s Musings column are suggestions to ease your burden, either take the family out or order home.

These are neither your enduring restaurants as detailed in the cover article but all “new kids on the block”. Restaurants that strive to provide some fusion, some home cooking and some special recipes that Mom used to make.

CLASSIC DINING

You cannot miss it if you drive along Fair Park Road especially at night. Living up to its name, the facade is very classically Chinese with eye-catching lanterns hanging from the tile awning making a bold statement for all to see, literally proclaiming, “Welcome, Come in, Check Us Out”. And check them out we did on a few occasions as their menu is so diverse and extensive that it was impossible to taste all their dishes.

The interior looks like a set from a Kung Fu movie, with classical Chinese motifs adorning the walls including a bank of Chinese wine urns and bronze serving and drinking goblets.  Upstairs where one can host small dinners is equally elaborate with more lanterns to transport oneself into that fairytale land of the old-fashioned teahouse.

Classic Dining Ipoh

The menu is equally gargantuan, with everything from Tong Po Yoke (braised fatty pork served with steamed mantou); Wu Tao Kow Yoke, belly pork braised with taro to wonderful tsong or dumplings, to yummilicious Kampong Chicken from Sungkai braised in yellow Chinese wine.

The menu is too extensive to list here but if readers would like to see more, please go online to http://www.ipohecho.com.my/v4/ to view the whole range of their dishes. In fact, if you don’t want to cook at all this coming festive season, just pick up the phone and order up a storm including their pièce de résistance this Chinese New year – their Poon Choy or their ‘all the goodies you wish to eat” as I call it, in one big tureen. This is a dish that will feed 10 (or more) and eaten layer by layer. Beginning from the top, you start with the large ‘Meng’ prawns and the abalone, the velvety black mushrooms, moving downwards till you get to the more saucy bits. This Poon Choy at Classic Dining comes as a set with their excellent glutinous rice tureen and a ‘tong sui’ or sweet soup, the classic Chinese dessert. RM688 for the whole set.

Classic Dining IpohClassic Dining Ipoh

Classic Dining Ipoh
 
CLASSIC DINING
2-15 Jalan Kamaruddin Isa, Fair Park, 31400 Ipoh.
GPS:  4°36’22.2″N 101°05’38.2″E
Tel:  05 543 0153 or 018 273 0188
Business hours:  11.30am-4pm; 6pm-10pm daily.

 

SATO KITCHEN

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

For a change of pace over the festive season and if you’re getting a surfeit of ‘Lo Sang” and Chinese food, check out Sato Kitchen, a modest Japanese restaurant that dishes out unusual fusion dishes.

Like French Foie Gras with Smoked Duck Breast served with mashed potatoes drizzled with truffle oil and salad – RM49.90. Another version is Foie Gras and Tai Kabayaki with an Asian Vinegar sauce – RM38. I found intriguing their Sato Pizza, listed on the menu as a crispy tortilla skin topped with fresh tuna and salmon, cherry tomatoes and a special sauce and made myself a promise to order it the next time – RM28.

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

I love fish head, any kind and when grilled Japanese style, I will always order it. Here we had the grilled Salmon Head Shioyaki with a smidgen of teriyaki topping which I told them to hold as I usually don’t like the sweetness of teriyaki sauce. Well grilled, the salmon head was meaty and fresh tasting.

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

Next we had the Sapporo Sushi Roll,  filled with white tuna, avocado, spicy crab meat, salmon and tuna with ebiko and crispy bits lending texture. Beginning at RM25 per roll, there is a whole selection with slightly higher prices depending on the filling. Or you can throw caution to the wind for Chinese New Year and order their Sultan Roll consisting of shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber inside and topped with whole unagi, foie gras and (wait for it) gold flakes! Now doesn’t that sound like a dish befitting royalty? RM88.

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

The menu at Sato Kitchen is extensive with the full complement of sushi and sashimi platters ranging in price according to taste and choice. Their mains range from NZ Rib Eye Steaks RM49.90 to Australian baby Lamb Chops RM29.90 to salmon to chicken. We had a lovely roast chicken topped with a creamy salted egg sauce redolent with the fragrance of curry leaves. From RM18.90.

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

Giant tiger prawns and Kuruma prawns as well as seasonal crabs can be ordered in advance. Bento boxes are also available for takeaway. And everything is pork free.

So this Chinese New Year, pick up the phone and order up a storm of the freshest sushi, sashimi and bento boxes and wow your friends and family.

Sato Kitchen Ipoh

SATO KITCHEN
22-22A Jalan Medan Ipoh 4, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh, Ipoh.
Tel:  05 545 0085
GPS:  4° 37’ 3.4716’’N 101° 7’ 11.2188’’E
Business hours:  12pm-3pm; 6pm-10pm (Mon-Fri), 12-10pm (Sat and Sun). Tue off.

 

Another restaurant to check out over the festive season which I can vouch for and due to space constraints I am unable to write a full review is the following:

MOONLIGHT TREASURE

This restaurant deserves a full review and as its name implies, a real treasure trove of unusual dishes. Check out their homemade bean curd ‘Futput’ deep fried and topped with your choice of meat, squid, prawns or whatever topping suits your fancy. Or the Chef’s homemade special of marinated, pickled kembong fish cooked with DaoSi. Delicious and special.

[Watch this space for full review in the next issue.]

MOONLIGHT TREASURE
105-107 Jalan Chung Ah Ming, 31650 Ipoh.
GPS:  4°34’51.5″N 101°04’57.8″E
Tel:  05 242 2666 or 016 526 1517
Business hours:  11am-2.30pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm daily.

SeeFoon Feeds Her Love of Japanese Food

DOZO IpohThe DOZO sign has been up for almost six months and each time I drive past DeGarden I make myself a promise to check it out as I love Japanese food. After all, what else could a sign like Dozo signify?

It does not have a real meaning by itself, but it connotes both “please/go ahead” when you are offered food, or a gift, or when someone is holding the door for you, they will say ‘dozo’.

‘Go ahead’ is the advice I would give to all you fans of Japanese cuisine as this latest addition to the culinary scene is well worth exploring.

On initial entry, it’s very easy to just assume that this is yet another sushi bar springing up here, there and everywhere. Situated right in the front of DeGarden Mall and facing busy Tasek Road, the entrance is surprisingly user friendly: no steps, no drains to negotiate and no labyrinthian inside passages to traipse through to reach your destination, as is the case in many of the outlets in DeGarden Mall. They even have their own toilets inside the restaurant! Which for me is truly a blessing as my dear readers will know by now, how scathing I am of the usual ‘facilities’ in most of our local restaurants.

Not having a clue as to who was behind the restaurant nor who the Chef was, I had cajoled my hostess Kanna Jeyaratnam to try out the place as I’m always keen to check out new outlets.

Imagine my surprise when I entered and found myself face to face with Chef Cheong Kam Hon, who being the affable guy that he is,  greeted me like a long lost friend. He immediately brought out his well thumbed copy of the 16 Nov 2015 issue of the Ipoh Echo where I had given him a rave review on his culinary wizardry when he was working at Shinjuku at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel.

Well today he has spread his wings and is now Head Chef and part owner of Dozo and I am about to give him yet another rave review on his culinary finesse.

As those of us who love Japanese food know, it is the freshness and quality of the produce and ingredients that matter the most; with deftness of the knife (as in sashimi) and culinary skills second. However, the freshest of ingredients coming together with divine saucing brings the dish to sublime heights.

That is what Chef Hon San, as he is fondly called, brings to the table. Chef Cheong trained under that inimitable master chef, Nobu Matsuhisa with his ‘new style’ Japanese cuisine, the trademark and foundation which won him the first Michelin Star in London and which has spawned a chain of Nobu restaurants around the globe, about which Madonna had this to say, “You can tell how much fun a city is going to be if Nobu has a restaurant in it.”

Well Ipoh can’t boast a Nobu restaurant but we have the next best thing in Chef Hon San, who prior to returning to Ipoh, was trained in the Nobu tradition in Beijing for more than four years and before that in Tokyo in the Ginza district for 11 years. Earlier, Chef Hon San cut his Japanese teeth in London also working in Japanese restaurants for a total of nine years.

So you can well imagine my delight at finding him now at Dozo, serving up his special cuisine using the freshest fish which is flown and delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays (so Wednesday and Saturday lunch and dinners are your freshest bets). And not only fish but he has added Iberico pork to his menu and under his skillful alchemy he transforms this naturally tasty Spanish black pig (fed on acorns) into the most delectable temptations.

As we all know, Japanese fare does not come cheap and as I proceed to describe the dishes we had, please bear in mind that it is possible to set an approximate price for your meal and allow Chef Hon San to perform his magic. This is called ‘Omakase’ (to entrust or I’ll leave it up to you) in Japanese where you are served whatever is fresh and on menu for that day. But do order minimum 24 hours in advance.

DOZO IpohOf course there is also the usual revolving belt device where you can pick dishes off the belt and you know what you pay for as all the dishes are priced according to the plate colours ranging from RM2.30 to RM8.30 per plate depending on the ingredients.

So moving on to the dishes which I had, all of which were yummilicious:

The Guruma prawns (from Hokkaido, Japan) arrived in a most spectacular arrangement, an Ikebana piece of art, each prawn ocean fresh and firm. The second course was a mixed appetizer of Hamachi (yellow tail) belly, Otoro (the best part of the Tuna) which we’re encouraged not to dip into wasabi and is served with a special soya sauce and raw Botan prawns (again from Hokkaido). Delicate, fine morsels of the best in Japanese fare.

Next, the Japanese tacos were a delight, consisting of chopped raw salmon sashimi mixed with Hon San’s secret sauce, held in mini taco shells and garnished with crispy onion slivers. Creative fusion of crunch and velvet textures.

DOZO Ipoh

DOZO Ipoh

The Spare Ribs which followed were tender, well marinated, the coating sauce a complement to the succulent meat which literally fell off the bone without much effort.

DOZO IpohThe Grilled Cod was pleasing to both the palate and the eye, a work of plating art with one stem of young ginger draped jauntily, interspersed with five dollops of sauce. The cod was grilled to perfection and hardly needed the sauce for flavour.

Our last dish was the Iberico pork belly, thinly sliced and served with fresh Imeji and Shitake mushrooms, presented on a charcoal hibachi that kept the pork warm throughout our meal.

DOZO Ipoh

Our bill for all the dishes above came to slightly over RM500 which considering the quality of the food and the freshness of the specially-flown-in ingredients, and we were four of us, came to just over RM110 per person.

DOZO
DGR-1 Ground Floor Zone D, De Garden
#1 Persiaran Medan Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 543 0666
Business Hours: Mon-Thurs 12pm-2.30pm; 6pm-10.30pm
Fri/Sat/Sun 11.30am-10.30pm