Help the Small Businesses: Suka Kafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon Ponders on Vegetarianism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eggs served at Suka Kafe

Vegans of course can request for no eggs.

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

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

Mee Jawa

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

Hakka Mee

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

Nasi Lemak
Mushroom Pastry Cup

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

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

Beyond Meat Burger

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

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

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

Homemade Banana Roll
Kelava ice cream cup

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

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

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

 

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

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

For inquiries:
012-501 7111 

Help the Small Businesses: Doreen Kam

SeeFoon Recommends 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crusty multi seeds sourdough

Crusty multi seeds sourdough, RM18.00 a loaf.

Soft wholemeal sandwich sourdough

Soft wholemeal sandwich sourdough, RM15.00 a loaf.

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

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

Kimchi

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

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

Ham Choy

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

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

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

 

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

Help the Small Businesses: The Happy 8 Cafe and Restaurant

Pictures by Gisele Soo

The Happy 8 Cafe and Restaurant

SeeFoon is feeling Happy and Healthy at Happy 8 

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

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

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

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

Signature Steam Grilled Salmon

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

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

Curry / Infused Kampung Chicken

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

Dancing Kampung Chicken

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

Beautifying Mushrooms with Cherry Tomatoes

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

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

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

Avocado Special

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

Vietnamese coffee

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

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

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

The Happy 8 Cafe is pork-free.

 

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

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

For inquiries:
012-511 1488

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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!

Healthy Food Do Taste Good

In pic: Dawson Tham (proprietor of De cafe & Resthouse), Tan Shi Peang (nutritionist and founder of One Platform Resource), Louisa Loh (chef of the event, an artist of Numerology and Mandala Art), Neo Chow Cheng (wife of Tan Vooi Yam, proprietor of 1200 °C) and Tung Siew Hoe (owner of Centainnel Agriculture based in Siputeh, Ipoh)

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen and Gisele Soo
Pictures by Gisele Soo

There is a general belief out there that healthy food doesn’t taste good. De Cafe & Rest House Dawson Tham, Numerology and Mandala Art artist Louisa Loh and nutritionist Tan Shi Peang who founded One Platform Resource in 2019, is out to shatter this belief in a one-of-a-kind event titled ‘Healthy Food Do Taste Good’ which was attended by people from all walks of life. Present were the sponsors Langit, Centainnel Agriculture and Twelve Hundred C (1200°C). 

“The talk was aimed at promoting healthy eating and lifestyle, supporting local products and proving that healthy eating can taste good as well,” said nutritionist Tan. 

Greeny green juice

We were all given an appetite-stimulating Greeny Green Juice which was blended with four types of greens: bitter gourd, ambra (also known as ambarella), cucumber and mint leaves. There was no added sugar and was most refreshing. 

Guests were served  a full 4-course meal at the two-hour event. We began with Bruschetta (pronounced as Bru-Sketta)  an Italian appetizer or snack that is served before a meal. Usually served on a toasted slice of white bread, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, Louisa who curated the menu and actually prepared it with the help of Dawson’s kitchen staff, was persuaded by our Ipoh Food Diva, SeeFoon to use sourdough, who avers that it is “more digestible than standard white flour and less likely to cause food intolerance”. (SeeFoon’s whole discourse on sourdough in the previous writeup on Yin’s Sourdough Pizza can be read  here.) Bruschetta in its original form of bread drizzled with olive oil has now evolved into a wondrous number of variations with toppings ranging from mushrooms to salami to cheese and in this particular case, grilled tomato and Thai Basil.   

Bruschetta

Next on the menu was the Rainbow Wrap which was filled with shredded purple cabbage, black fungus, bean sprouts, carrot, lettuce and prawns wrapped with Vietnamese rice paper. It came with two different sauces: the first one consisted of peanuts blended with chilli, Bunga Kantan and lemon while the second one was with yogurt, mint and dried grape.

Rainbow wrap

The third dish was their Local Delight made of Langit’s organic white rice (beras Adan), black rice (beras Keladi) and red rice (beras Sia) with a piece of chicken thigh accompanied with two types of sauce: pumpkin and thai basil sauce. The pumpkin sauce was rich with no sugar added, allowing the natural sweetness of the pumpkin enhanced with white onions, to lend its flavour to the chicken while the Thai basil sauce with chilli and Langit’s black pepper endowed it with a mild fiery tang.

Local Delight

Interested readers may scan Langit’s promo QR code which is valid until July 31, and key in YUMMY to get RM6 off for any orders.

In addition, the food was served on crockery sponsored by Twelve Hundred C. whose proprietor Tan Vooi Yam and wife, Neo Chow Cheng believe that beautiful crockery enhances the taste of food. 

Crockery

All the vegetables came from Centennial Agriculture which are raised bio-dynamically (coming soon an interview with Tung Siew Hoe, owner and passionate Engineer turned organic farmer) who also gave a talk to the group on his farm. 

Louisa Loh

“Louisa came up with the menu and I advised on the types of ingredients that fit the five-Rainbow concept, which is to serve and eat food with 5 colours of the rainbow.” Tan Shi Peang explained in her talk on nutrition.

Asked what drives her passion to go healthy, she described that it is not merely to improve her appearance and health (the average weight loss of her clients is approximately eight kilograms in two years) but it also boosts her confidence. She further highlighted that what keeps her going is the health improvement of her clients and she hopes to raise awareness on the significance of a healthy balanced diet.

There are plans to add the dishes onto De Cafe’s weekend special menu, though nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Let’s all be patient and in the meantime, check out Ipoh Food Diva to know more about De Cafe & Rest House.

A small display of all the sponsors’ products was set up in the lane out of De Cafe where attendees could purchase the products used during the demonstration and lunch.

Langit rice

De cafe & Rest House is located at 35, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, 30000 Ipoh. One may contact them at 05-2461010.

Go healthy everyone! Another event of a similar vein have been planned as follow:  

Healthy Meal Cooking Class 1.0

It’s a bliss to have someone prepare your meals. It’s also a bliss to be able to cook for someone you care about. Learning to cook a meal that’s delicious, yet with balanced nutrition will be a memorable experience.

  1. Rainbow Wrap
  2. Local Delight

Date: August 2, 2020 (Sunday)
Time: 10am to 1pm
Location: One Platform Resources, Ipoh
Fee: RM180 per pax (limited to 5 pax)
Instructor: Louisa Loh
Nutritionist: Shi Peang

 

 

Help the Small Businesses: Vintage Cafe and Guest House 

Vintage Cafe and Guest House

Trendy, comfortable and right in the heart of the tourist belt of Old Town. This is Vintage Cafe, offering fusion fare with a twist that surprises and pleases. 

I did have to remind the service staff about wearing masks, though (as we will all have to do so as often restaurants get lax). 

Davin Sidhu, Director and Suren A/L Kamalanathan who is both head Chef and Restaurant Manager were on hand to chat about their menu, with new ideas contributed by Suren who joined Vintage Cafe about a year ago.

Not only do they keep their prices low in general, but they really care about frontliners and the sacrifices they have made during the MCO. So in a tribute to them and to show they care, all frontliners who show their credentials are entitled to a 15% discount. This is applicable for GrabFood/Foodpanda drivers too, as well as doctors and nurses. A nice gesture, I thought.

Mint coffee

For drinks we were recommended their Signature Coffee with mint syrup, sugar (optional) and milk. Voluptuous texture and the mint syrup lent a freshness, RM10.90.

We started our meal with a Caesar salad; lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and crispy croutons topped with grated parmesan in a mild garlicky dressing. Four 7-minute egg halves served as garniture. Crispy and fresh, RM9.80.

Roman Caesar salad

This was followed by a most unusual pizza, the BBQ Donald Duck Pizza; sliced smoked duck topping a pizza base not of wheat flour but a Mexican tortilla usually made with cornmeal. The sauce was also unusual in that it was barbecue sauce instead of the usual tomato-based one. The tortilla base was nice and thin and very crunchy. They were extremely generous with the Mozzarella and parmesan cheese topping, and the smoked duck imparted its smokiness. RM21.80.

BBQ Donald Duck Pizza

Another Fusion dish of Curry Carbonara spaghetti with smoked duck (you can choose to have chicken instead too) won raves at our table. The curry was mild but made with the proper masala with cherry tomatoes added, and the curry leaves exuded their special fragrance. The Carbonara was thankfully not smothered in cream but instead, creaminess provided by egg yolk. RM15.80.

Curry carbonara
Fried chicken waffle sandwich

Next was a Fried Chicken Waffle sandwich served with sweet potato fries which were slightly caramelized with a teeny-weeny amount of icing sugar making them nice and crispy. The chicken was still crispy at the sides and teamed with the slightly sweet waffle, lettuce and mayo dressing, made for an interesting and large helping of food. A reasonably priced and fulfilling meal in itself, RM15.80.

But of course, mentioning waffles, how can we ever not have the Signature dessert waffle smothered with blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. A sweet lover’s heaven in a mouthful, RM11.80.

All dishes served to us have been kindly up-sized for sharing. For an idea of how much they offer for a single portion, visit their Facebook page.

Vintage Cafe is also a guest house upstairs but it is not open for guests yet while training and sanitizing is going on. Opening is scheduled for August. 

 

Address:
21, Jalan Market, 30000 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
Tues-Sun. (Closed on Mondays)
11am-9.30pm (Last call at 9.30pm)

Delivery available at a RM5 flat delivery fee
Pork/Lard free, Muslim friendly

For inquiries:
012-668 0272

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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: Yin’s Sourdough Pizza and Cafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Yin’s Sourdough Pizza and Cafe

SeeFoon Loves Pizza

Yes I do but often it doesn’t love me back. Bloating, acid reflux and general malaise are the consequences of my gorging on pizza. Whether it’s a combination of the dough base or the cheese, I am often leery of this high fat and high carb meal. 

But now with Yin’s Sourdough Pizzas I can indulge in one of my favourite foods with impunity. Because a sourdough base, which is more digestible than standard white flour, renders the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance. It is also more nutritious.

Sourdough is the oldest and most original form of leavened bread. The oldest recorded use of sourdough is from the Ancient Egyptian civilizations and as most things, it was probably discovered by accident. There appears to be a renaissance of sourdough bread popularity here in Ipoh and I am ever grateful for it. 

Commercial Bread

So what are the reasons for this resurgence in popularity? What’s wrong with commercial bread? Well for starters (pun intended), commercial bread has been reported to contain a few ‘nasties’, as in chemical additives and preservatives. Additives like potassium bromate an oxidising agent; Azodicarbonamide (ADA) a dough conditioner to improve the texture and strength of bread dough, which received tremendous media attention when the sandwich chain Subway announced it would remove ADA from its bread dough due to its potential harmful health effects. Partially hydrogenated oil which contains trans fats that everyone knows by now, are dangerous to the heart; sugar; Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) an antioxidant which prevents rancidity, used as a preservative; and the list goes on.

And then there is the big question of gluten intolerance and sometimes celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.

What makes sourdough bread so special?

Sourdough often has a lower glycaemic index than that of other breads – meaning, it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically. Hence, it is a better choice for diabetics or people who are borderline diabetic. Sourdough bread contains the friendly bacteria Lactobacillus in a higher proportion to yeast than do other breads. More Lactobacillus means higher production of lactic acid, which means less of the potentially dangerous phytic acid. And what does that mean? More mineral availability and easier digestion! Easier digestion is made even more possible by the bacteria-yeast combo working to predigest the starches in the grains. Predigestion by sourdough equals less digestion for you.

Acetic acid–which inhibits the growth of mold, is produced in the making of sourdough. So, sourdough naturally preserves itself. Rather wonderful considering the toxic preservatives thrown into the food supply today. Additionally, these bacteria control yeast population in the gut, so yeast overgrowth and infection is less likely to occur.

Health Factors

Sourdough is so complex that it contains a host of goodness in terms of nutrients. In sourdough, you can find vitamins B1-B6, B12, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium (some of these in fairly tiny amounts) – in addition to uniquely balanced proteins and fatty acids. This is in contrast to most commercially produced breads, which maintain only a fraction of their original nutrient content after all the processing they undergo.

Sourdough fermentation may also help make wheat bread easier for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to digest. One study found that sourdough bread made with a long fermentation time produced fewer symptoms (such as bloating and gas) than conventionally made bread.

In a study comparing the effects of sourdough bread with commercial bread, researchers reported that sourdough bread significantly lowered serum glucose and insulin responses and gave greater satisfaction than other breads.Researchers in Sweden at Lund University have noted that the fermentation process that’s involved in the creation of sourdough utilises carbohydrates, lowering the carbohydrate level in the dough as it’s transformed to lactic acid. The result of this process means that sourdough bread can aid in ensuring that your blood glucose level remains in line, helping to guard against various diseases especially diabetes.

So enough with the health information and back to Yin’s Sourdough. The restaurant is conveniently housed in a bungalow on Jalan Lasam, very accessible and has ample parking spaces. Adhering to strict SOPs means that the tables are spaced far apart and the whole ambiance is light and airy.

Four young partners make up the proprietors with YH Liew as the primary manager and Edwin Lau also in the operations manager capacity. Liew who took care of us the moment we arrived and after the de rigeur temperature taking and sign in, proceeded to recommend some of their signature pizzas and dishes.  

Liew recommended that we try their homemade kefir which is something I love as the probiotic bacteria in kefir is so healthy for one’s gut. All drinks are prepared without sugar utilising the natural sugars in fruits as in the Avocado Banana Kefir, a drink which I found totally delicious but which the sweet lover amongst our dear readers may find a bit bland.. (I am sure they’ll bring you sugar if you so wish) RM15.

Matcha latte

Others at my table ordered an Apple orange paleo smoothie (RM11) and a Matcha latte (RM12) which they all found to be yummy.

Then came the pizzas….what I had been looking forward to. Liew’s favourite which he insisted we had to try was the Satay Chicken Pizza, RM30, with chicken satay drenched in  peanut sauce on sourdough base. An interesting combination.

The next pizza was even more unusual: a banana/kaya pizza which they call Golden Indulgence. Again it was interesting and combined with the sourdough base, slightly burnt in parts, lending a crisp touch to the taste, RM23.

Golden Indulgence (Banana kaya pizza)

I wanted to try a simple Margarita Pizza which arrived topped with cheese and with the sourdough combination was utterly delightful, RM23.

Margarita pizza

More sourdough in the form of a bagel made into a sandwich. With homemade luncheon meat, the bagel topped with poppy seeds and the sandwich stuffed with a slice of cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Crispy, crunchy and well worth the RM10.

Bagel luncheon

We next had the Alaskan pollock sourdough burger with blossom fries, crispy fillets of fish served in a sourdough bun and an interesting papaya and tomato jam, RM20. 

Alaskan Pollock sourdough burger with blossom fries

Moving away from the sourdough for a bit, we had the Chicken Cordon Bleu, chicken breast stuffed with cheese, rolled in sourdough breadcrumbs and deep fried. Served with blossom fries which are sweet potato strips fried…crisp and yummilicious, RM23.

Chicken cordon bleu with blossom fries

This was followed by the Angel Hair pasta with grilled veggies, with fresh homemade pesto and the pasta al dente, RM16.

Grilled veggie pesto

We were then served a platter of different slices of their daily mix of sourdough bread with a mix of different spreads of the day, RM6. On that day we savoured their peanut butter spread, cheesy kaya and their papaya nutmeg with marmalade. The peanut butter spread is available for sale at RM13 a jar. Almond spread, as well as pineapple and lemongrass jam are also available at times. 

Mixed toast platter

Their sourdough bread is available for takeaway everyday till sold out and they have quite a variety to choose from. While their loaves are available daily, their specialty breads are mostly made to order. Their breads change from day to day so make your selection when you pick up.

For me, on the subject of sourdough, I would like to leave my dear readers with the following quote “The Whiter The Bread, The Sooner You’re Dead.” So for me it’s only going to be SOURDOUGH!

 

Address:
43, Jalan Lasam, Pusat Perdagangan Greentown, 30450 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
Tues-Sun. (Closed on Mondays)
12-7pm, takeaway available until 7pm

For inquiries and reservations:
011-1300 4868

 

*Yin’s Sourdough Pizza and Cafe is pork free.

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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: Galanggal Cafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Galanggal Cafe

SeeFoon is Blown Away by Chef’s culinary flair

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

Fikri Jalil

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

Interior of the cafe

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

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

Going where few western cuisiniers dare to tread. 

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

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

Galanggal Duck Confit

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

Fettuccine Bolognese

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

Arrabbiata Lamb Shanks

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

Chicken Harissa with Burnt Hummus

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

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

Let’s help the small businesses.

 

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

019-241 5034

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

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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: dé Cafe and Rest House

Pictures by Gisele Soo

dé Cafe and Rest House

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

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

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

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

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

Like his Nasi Lemak.

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

Mantis prawn nasi lemak
Photo by Louisa Loh

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

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

Seafood petai nasi lemak

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

Pesto spaghetti

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

Fuyu pasta

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

Yam cake
Photo by Louisa Loh

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

 

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

05-246 1010

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

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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!

Lodge 163 Cafe

SeeFoon drops in on Lodge 163. The facade jumps out at you as you drive down Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah or Hugh Low St. as locals still call it.

SeeFoon drops in on Lodge 163

Lodge 163 Cafe

The facade jumps out at you as you drive down Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah or Hugh Low St. as locals still call it. The signboard is hand-painted in a whimsical retro style, with a tinge of shabby chic and the big number 163 jumps out at you in a mauve red.

163 is as its signboard says, both a lodge and a cafe. The lodge upstairs has 10 rooms with one accommodating up to four and another five persons in one room. Very reasonably priced from RM80 for double, a group of friends or family can easily split the costs which works out to an average of RM40 per pax. All rooms have their own attached bathroom and are air-conditioned. This makes it perfect for backpackers and students and travellers looking for good clean, comfortable accommodation and it’s right in the heart of Ipoh town.

A 5-person room

The cafe downstairs is pleasantly decorated again with whimsical touches and booths and open tables make up the seating area. The cafe opens at 8am where the lodgers can have breakfast and throughout the day the cafe serves very interesting dishes all home prepared by proprietor Mdm Shirley Chong.

Whimsical wall adornment

This is not your usual “Tai Chau” restaurant but a very comfortable cafe serving individual portions of various noodles and dishes, mostly meant for one. But as is the usual habit with me, I was there with my troupe and we ordered up a storm and tried many items on their menu.

Lodge and Cafe163 is a whole family effort with father Stanley Tham (a Feng Shui Master) presiding, mother Shirley Chong in the kitchen curating the dishes aided by a chef de cuisine; brother Tham Kuen Wei who is also a Feng Shui Master and two sisters Elizabeth and Evaynne Tham. Together and with mum Shirley as the creative chef behind the dishes, the team serves up an impressive array of dishes, with one of the largest selection of vegetarian and vegan selections I have seen, mixed in with meat dishes. So it’s a haven for groups with different dietary habits to enjoy a meal together, without one group having to accommodate the other.

The best thing on the menu is the promise of NO MSG and add clean toilets and air-conditioned comfort to boot and Lodge 163 cafe has a fan in me.

I am not much of a veggie fan but I enjoyed their vegetarian Bibimbap, the famous Korean Rice speciality which you mix yourself at the table, RM8.50; and their Malat Spicy Noodles, a borrowing from Sichuan cuisine using the Sichuan pepper sauce which is mixed into the noodles to give a slightly tongue-numbing peppery impact, RM9.50. An interesting veggie snack dish is their crispy sweet potato rolls, RM8.

Malat Spicy Noodles @ Lodge 163 Cafe
Malat Spicy Noodles
Black Vinegar Pig’s Trotters

Naturally, the carnivore that I am immediately gravitated to the meat dishes, the excellent Black Vinegar Pig’s Trotters or Tsu Geok Tsou which was seasoned perfectly with the right blend of vinegar to soya to sugar ratio, the trotters braised to a tender but chewy texture and the sauce, a touch of ambrosia, RM12.

 

Crispy Pork Lard Rice

Crispy Pork Lard Rice with fried ikan bilis was heavenly given that I love crispy pork lard done any which way, RM8.50; as was the Rice with Curry Mutton and fried crispy bean curd, RM13.50.

 

We also tried the Giant Curry Noodles and Beehoon (you can have both or singly), a heaping bowl with roast pork, fried and boiled fish balls, pork balls, fried wonton, char siew, fried bean curd and pigskin complete with yummy curry sauce and vegetables. Unless you have a humongous appetite, this one dish which I will recommend that you share amongst four if you have a normal appetite, RM25.

Tom Yam Noodles

Finally (there are many many more items on the menu), which I cannot possibly write about given my space limitations, I can recommend the Tom Yam Noodles which come with fish paste, tao fu pok, fu pei, roast pork, egg and large prawns: tangy and mildly spicy but can be made more so with the addition of the thick chilli paste which they give you, RM13.50.

Lodge 163 Cafe is a great place to pop in for a snack, meal or even just a drink, with my favourite being the blue-pea-flower tea which you can have with lime and sugar. And did I mention that they have a high tea which is served all day? The traditional fancy three-tier high tea tray chock full of a mixture of sweet and savouries and served with your choice of English tea on fine China.

Hi-Tea Set

LODGE 163 CAFE

No. 163, Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah, 30000 Ipoh.

Tel: 05 253 1888 (Lodging) (Food & Cafe Ordering) 016 5434 262/016 5477 510

Open daily except Wednesdays (8am to 4pm)