SeeFoon Is Blown Away by Onyx Gourmet Menu   

Onyx Premier Dining

I was recently invited to an exclusive dinner together with some of Ipoh’s ‘who’s who’ to the Infinite Room at the top of Regalodge where Onyx Premier Dining was launched.

The who’s who

I had reservations about accepting given our pandemic situation, and the idea of mingling with a large group filled me with trepidation. My fears were soon allayed as I entered the room and discovered that a very long and beautifully laid out table was set for 14 people, each seat socially distanced but close enough for conversation across as well as on both sides. 

The table

The host for the evening Madam L.C. Ng, a most affable and gracious lady, lawyer by profession but a gourmet at heart, had been nursing a desire to launch a fine dining venue and what better place to have one than in Regalodge, a small, centrally positioned hotel in Greentown which her husband Steven Yeoh, acquired two years ago. 

Host Madam L.C. Ng and Dato Ding
Karaoke time with Dato Gan, Anita Phang and SeeFoon
Puan Sri Datuk Sandra joining in the fun

And what a successful launch it was. A beautifully printed information kit at each place setting heightened my anticipation of a good evening to come. And I was not disappointed. 

The stellar menu was curated by Jeff Yeoh, the young and innovative Sous Chef who has packed more than 18 years experience in operations for renowned restaurants with the last 10 years in Singapore, including 5 years as Sous Chef in Marina Bay Sands Singapore in his last posting before returning to Ipoh. He is proficient in numerous cooking techniques and cuisines, with a talent for working with ingredients from countries around the world. General Manager, Christopher Wong was the one responsible for sourcing and bringing in all the gastronomic delights. 

The specially curated menu that evening was a masterpiece, both in gastronomic and artistic terms. With skillful sourcing, the marriage of ingredients worked perfectly for each dish and the result was as well a feast for the eye as the palate. 

Paired with specially selected wines from Geovinum Sdn Bhd, Edward Chong, who is a Spanish Wine Scholar candidate with 8 years of experience in the wine industry, was on hand to brief us on each wine as we worked our way through the extensive menu. Geovinum is an exclusive distributor of many boutique wineries as well as iconic winemakers like Carlos Moro, Alvaro Palacios, Maria Luz Marin, Peter Sisseck, Mariano Gracia, Yves Cuilleron and Gérard Gauby. The creme de la creme of the evening in addition to the various wines served was the Cognac Pierre De Segonzac “Extra” Selection 1st Cru 50 years Grande Champagne, smooth like honey and velvety caramel going down my palate. 

Specially selected wines

We had an extravagance of appetizers to start. The first was tuna tartar cubes with Osetra caviar on a buckwheat blini, topped with a quail egg and a delicate lattice of spinach puree crisped by molecular magic into a lacey wafer. Edible flowers completed the plating and I felt almost guilty breaking up the alluring presentation. Paired with a Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rose Brut 2004, this first appetizer augured well for the dishes to come.

Osetra caviar and tuna served with buckwheat blini, quail egg

The second appetizer was an imported Japanese shrimp: the amaebi, a high-end ingredient in Japanese restaurants. Cooked in the shell to a degree of perfection (slightly under-done), the meat was sweet, yielding and umami. Served with Romanesco broccoli (or cauliflower as some call it) fresh flown in from France, which has a similar but milder, sweeter, and nuttier flavor than both broccoli and cauliflower. It is also almost impossible to get in Ipoh and is highly prized and highly priced. Avocado, cucumber rolls and a mango relish complete the dish. Paired with a Chateau Bonnet Blanc AOC EDM 2017.

Sweet Shrimp with Avocado & Mango Relish

The third appetizer was fresh Sea Urchin, the Bafun Uni (red in colour) flown in direct from Hokkaido with Hokkaido Scallop and slivers of Black Truffle from Italy. This was a totally decadent flirtation of torched scallop with velvety smooth uni and the earthy aromatic dimension of truffle, the flavours shimmering on your tongue, darting between the elements of earth and sea. Paired with Vina Soledad Reserva 2006.

Sea Urchin with Hokkaido Scallop and Black Truffle

Now for the fourth appetizer (they just kept on coming!!), White asparagus with lemon and served with Orange Beurre. White asparagus is a delicacy which I haven’t had in years and certainly not in Ipoh. The few that I have come across in high-end supermarkets in Kuala Lumpur were usually sad and withered-looking as most people would never pay the high price demanded. So there it was: all five pieces of shimmering white, fat asparagus decorated with edible flowers sitting on a bed of orange butter. Juicy, succulent and fresh, the orange butter adding a citrusy touch. Paired with a Margan Aged Release Semillon 2009.

White asparagus, Lemon served with Orange Beurre

For the main course, I opted for the Tournedos Rossini, served with imported Foie Gras from France, Truffle and a Madeira Sauce. The tenderloin, a piece of Wagyu M9 was so tender, you can almost cut it with a fork and the very generous piece of foie gras was pan fried to perfection, its fragrance heady and mesmerising. Topping it with slices of black truffle was really the “icing on the cake” as I lingered on the last slice, hoping it would last forever. Paired with Bodegas Roda Cirsion Rioja 2009 and Bodegas Matarromera Pago Las Solanas 2001.

Tournedos Rossini served with Foie Gras, Truffle & Madeira Sauce

For dessert, the Double Boiled Bird’s Nest with Coconut Milk was a pure delight. 5th grade 5A birds nest double boiled for 4 hours topped with coconut milk, an ambrosial offering fit for the Gods. Paired with the Cognac Pierre De Segonzac “Extra” Selection 1st Cru 50 years Grande Champagne which was smooth and mellow, a fitting ending for an unforgettable meal. 

Stewed Birds Nest with Coconut Milk

Onyx Premier Dining can host a maximum of 20 people and surprise, surprise, a minimum of 2. 

According to GM Christopher, someone actually booked the room, arranged a sumptuous meal and proposed to his girlfriend. Now with a menu like the one I’ve just described, can any girl say no?? 

The meal is priced at RM300-RM900 per pax depending on the menu preselected, excluding wine pairing where the sky’s the limit.

 

Address:
Regalodge Hotel
131, Jalan Raja Ekram, 30450 Ipoh. 

Business hours:
7am-10pm, opens daily  

For inquiries:
05-2423241

For Onyx Premier Dining, call Sherry Chan: 019 510 5925

Help the Small Businesses: ES Kitchen

ES kitchen

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon expands her coterie of fave western restaurants

Ipoh has always been known for its local food, be it hawker or its “Tai Chau” places, and it was only when Julie Soong opened Indulgence Restaurant & Living 20 odd years ago, followed shortly by Simon Lee and Erica with Citrus, that Ipoh began to develop a collection of western restaurants that can step onto the world stage. 

A slew of ‘wannabes’ followed and failed, their downfall related to hired chefs and a difficulty in hiring service staff. 

I have always maintained that the restaurants that stay the course and remain successful are those that are opened by couples, with one half in the kitchen doing the cooking and the other out front serving guests. 

That is why I’m putting my money on ES Kitchen, opened by Chef Eric Soong and his wife, Irene Koh. In addition, their daughters Amanda and Alisha help out during their school holidays. 

I first met Eric when he was Executive Chef at Weil Hotel when it first opened. He subsequently left and went to Guangzhou where he was at Langham Guangzhou as Executive Chef for 3 years, only returning last year in October 2019. He started his restaurant ES Kitchen in May this year, after the MCO was lifted. 

Having just established himself and the restaurant, and with September showing an encouraging return, Eric now has to cope with the CMCO and the fear preventing customers from patronising his restaurant. 

I can vouch for Eric and Irene being fastidious in following the SOPs. Also, the restaurant, which is spaced over two shop lots, has their tables VERY well spaced out and are well marked with allowable or non-allowable seating. I was impressed the moment I stepped in: a quiet serene ambiance where you, my dear readers, may dine in peace. 

As for drinks, because they have yet to obtain their liquor licence, one may BYO where they charge an RM35 corkage fee—but for lunch that day, I settled for their non-alcoholic beverages. 

The Blueberry Yogurt drink blended from a mix of fresh and frozen blueberries from the US was refreshing and cooling, while their Iced Chocolate was smooth and not too sweet (my natural aversion to sweet drinks!!). The Peach Soda had a lovely fizz and combined with the canned pureed peach at the bottom of the glass, left a delightful lingering taste in the mouth. All it needed was a dash of champagne and we would have a Belleni in our hands. All at RM14.80.

Our first course was the Cobb Salad, a meal on its own with generous portions of bacon, ham, egg, avocado, cheese, tomato and grilled chicken, served with Eric’s special homemade ranch dressing, a creamy yet tangy dressing that lifted the simple ingredients to a gourmet level. RM27.80.

Cobb Salad

Next to arrive and meant as an appetiser were the Crispy Risotto Balls or arancini (Italian), served with a balsamic tomato compote on the side. These six balls were divine and the first I’ve had in 30 years, since the last time I was in Italy. They were so good that I almost wanted to eat the whole plate but refrained since I had to share with my colleagues! When served, the balls look deceptively simple to make but making delicious arancini requires skills that only can come from a seasoned chef. 

Crispy Risotto Balls

To make these Sicilian cheese-filled snacks, you first have to make risotto (we all know how difficult that is as you have to stand over the stove and stir till the rice is cooked, adding stock and cheese in small dribbles); then use the risotto to make cheese-stuffed balls, then coat them with breadcrumbs and deep-fry them. It’s a labor of love, which is reason enough to make this dish a must-have. It is also worth making this one of your favourite takeaways during this CMCO. RM19.80.

Both the soups that we tasted and shared were delicious. I usually avoid soups as often they taste like dishwater especially in the hands of a novice chef. But in Eric’s able hands, both the Roasted Pumpkin Soup topped with smoked duck breast and croutons (RM15.80) and the Field Mushroom Soup served with bacon bits, buttered croutons and drizzled with truffle oil (RM18.80) were robust, ambrosial and lifted beyond the ordinary. 

Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Field Mushroom Soup

The Chicken Cordon Bleu was surprisingly juicy and tender considering it was breast meat. Stuffed with cheese, breaded and fried, it was served with a creamy mashed potato and mixed vegetables. I wish it had more cheese inside, though, as I like it really oozing! RM28.80.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

For the main course, Eric suggested we taste his signature dish which is the ES Signature Iberico Pork Ribs, a slab of juicy ribs marinated and basted with Eric’s own barbecue sauce and served with corn salsa. The ribs weigh around 700gm and he uses the DeRaza brand of Iberico, a specific breed of true blue, purebred Iberico, feeding primarily on acorns and roaming freely in the regions of Extremadura, Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha, in Spain. 

ES Signature Iberico Pork Ribs

The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and, because they were Iberico, imbued with their own special inimitable taste and fragrance. Enhanced by the homemade barbecue sauce, this was a feast for at least 2-3 people and at RM168.80, was worth every mouthful.  

For dessert, we shared an Irish Cream Tiramisu, an alcoholic’s delight with ladyfingers (the biscuit, not the vegetable) soaked with coffee and liquor, sponge cake and layered with Mascarpone cheese (this is the legitimate layering ….not whipped cream) doused with Bailey’s Irish Cream. Heaven in a mouthful. RM18.80.

Irish Cream Tiramisu

I promised myself to come back with a group of friends to experience their Tomahawk set, consisting of 1.2kg of grilled Australian Stanbrooke Black Angus M2. This comes with the arancini or risotto balls starter, salad, pumpkin soup and sides of rosemary potatoes, garlic broccoli, sauteed field mushrooms, a red wine shallot pepper sauce and a dessert of their Bailey’s Tiramisu—at RM688.80 per set. Given that their portions are generous, and although this is a set meant for 4, I reckon that 6 friends can happily share this meal and leave satiated and content.

Another item that caught my eye was one of their specials of the month. The Sanchoku Wagyu Burger (only 127 portions available) comes with pan-fried lobster tail, foie gras, smoked cheddar, port wine onion marmalade on a brioche bun, and a serving of truffle steak fries. RM188.80.

ES Kitchen is definitely on my list for many a revisit. 

Address:
148 & 150, Jalan Tasek Timur, Pusat Perdagangan Tasek Indra Bercham, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
12-2.30pm (Lunch), 6-10pm (Dinner)
Closed on Wednesdays
Takeaways available
Deliveries available between 2.30-6pm

For inquiries:
012-223 9489

Help the Small Businesses: La Formule Bistro

La Formule Bistro

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon has nostalgia for France and finds it in La Formule 

A Formula for my Parisian blues? Perhaps. La Formule Bistro, a newly opened French restaurant near Symphony Hotel just may assuage some of that yearning of sitting at a sidewalk cafe sipping a Pastis, eating Croque Monsieur, or in a bustling bistro tucking into escargot or beef bourguignon. 

While the sidewalk sitting is out of the question in our tropical heat, the connected bar next door is a very conducive location for intimate tête-à-tête (s), albeit drinking only beer as they haven’t yet got their liquor licence, which they hope to get shortly.

Opened in December 2019, La Formule suffered the usual fate of closing down during MCO and is now slowly getting back on its feet to welcome customers. 

Sam Chin, an Ipoh girl who has spent 20+ years living in Singapore is no stranger to the F&B business, having owned and managed two French restaurants in Singapore which she sold two years ago to return to Ipoh to be closer to her parents.

Imbued with a passion for French Cuisine, Sam wants to share her love for French food with the people of Ipoh. Bringing with her all the skills she garnered while running her own restaurants in Singapore, she is all set to woo Ipoh diners with French dishes cooked the traditional way. 

And served in a setting that pleases the eye as well as the palate. In fact I found the decor warm and welcoming, elegant and very pleasing to the eye. In warm shades of tangerine and reds, the walls adorned with framed labels and corks of some great French wines and vintages, the whole ambience is French Bistro style, an enveloping cocoon that beckons.

And the menu is French Bistro for sure. All the items you would look for in an authentic French Bistro.

Like French Onion Soup, chock-full with onions and topped the traditional way with a piece of toast crusted with emmental cheeseumami and satisfying. 

Burgundy escargots with parsley butter and bread toast

Next came the Burgundy Escargots with parsley butter and bread toast. Now these are the French snails that you either love or hate. Most people shun them purely based on conjuring up visions of slimy slithering creatures but actually, they are delicious and here in Asia they come out of a can, then seasoned and served. Eschewing the snail shells and paraphernalia that come with eating escargot (the snail tongs are notoriously difficult to manage and many a snail have ended up on neighbouring tables!!), La Formule serves their snails on special plates which come straight from the oven to the table. Each snail is smothered in garlic butter and chopped parsley, topped with a round of crispy toast which is used to “mop” up the sauce at the bottom of each indentation where the snail sits. The snails were tender and for me six was not enough!! 

Another starter was the Croque Madame, one of the most ubiquitous snacks you can find all over France. Cynics may disdain this as ham and cheese toast but a good ‘Croque’ (meaning crunch) has quite a few steps to its preparation including good French ingredients. Sam told me that she only uses the best authentic ingredients for all her dishes and this includes French butter, French imported ham, homemade Bechamel sauce, emmental cheese and her homemade sourdough bread. Compared to a Croque Monsieur, the only difference is the addition of a fried egg on top with oozy egg yolk serving as a bit of sauce. 

Croque Madame

The result? A savoury crispy bite of French deliciousness.

We were four persons and we all chose different dishes to share, which meant that we had the final starter which came in the form of Chicken Liver Pate with Toast. This was made with pork belly and hand-chopped chicken liver redolent with herbs. This is the type of farmer’s pate that I personally enjoy instead of the spreadable paste variety, the liver and pork bits still visible and crumbly, the belly fat lending smoothness and the herbs imbuing its aromatic touches. Robust and hearty, it was complemented with the homemade sourdough made by Sam herself using a sourdough starter which she had kept from her Singapore restaurants. 

Chicken Liver Pate with Toast

For mains, we shared a Pork Loin with a homemade lemony mustard sauce and french fries, the fries crispy and done just right.

This was followed by Pan-fried Sea Bass paired with mango salsa and flavoured rice, served with vegetables laced with a tangy touch.

Panfried Sea Bass

My favourite main course was the Beef Bourguignon with dill, microgreens, carrots and button mushrooms and served on a bed of yummilicious mashed potato, creamy and irresistible. Bacon bits rendered its smoky saltiness to the sauce and the meat was juicy and tender. 

Beef Bourguignon

Then we came to the desserts, one of which was to me the highlight of our meal. 

The Creme Brulee which appears to be easy to makejust a custard with a caramelized sugar topping using a blow torchwas spectacular. I have had Creme Brulee innumerable times around the world but this one is one of the reasons I will come back for more at La Formule. It was smooth and velvety, the French cream which Sam uses distinguishing it from others and the sugar topping crumbly and light.

Creme Brulee

Chocolate Lava Cake made with 61% dark chocolate was served with a strawberry sauce and homemade vanilla ice cream. A tinge of Grand Marnier (sweet orange liqueur) lifted the flavours even further.

Chocolate lava cake

The last dessert was the Coupe Colonel, a refreshing lemon sherbet and if a shot of vodka is added for an additional RM6, the lemony tartness juxtaposed with the bitterness of the vodka will lift it to new dimensions.

Homemade sourdough bread

La Formule works from two Set menus only, one at RM68+ and one at RM98+ per person. There are ample choices in each of the categories and I found that sharing the dishes gives you an opportunity to experience more variety. 

Sam has given much attention to detail in the decor and her love of all things French, coupled with her desire to share her culinary knowledge to people in her hometown Ipoh, makes this a restaurant that we Ipohites must help support. Don’t let the per person price for the menu put you off. In some other restaurants in Ipoh that I have experienced, just one dish can cost you RM68 or even RM98!

I love their Vision and Credo (printed in their menu) which states: 

Vision:
Our company aims to provide customer service that is not just the best, but legendary. 

Credo:
Customers are the most important resources in the service industry. Striving to provide the best service along with a relaxed yet refined ambience is our topmost mission. 

I hope they will live up to it. 

 

Address:
17 & 19 Lapangan Symphony Business Park, Jalan Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah, 31350 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
For the bistro:
Tues-Fri from 6pm, last order at 10pm
Sat-Sun from 12pm, last order at 2.30pm; 6pm, last order at 10pm
Closed on Mondays 

For the bar lounge:
Tues-Sun from 4.30pm, last order at 11pm
Closed on Mondays 

*Takeaways available but not recommended
*Deliveries not available

For inquiries:
05-318 2298

Help the Small Businesses: Leaf Garden Cafe

leaf garden cafe

SeeFoon Wants More No-MSG Restaurants

Maybe it’s the Covid pandemic but I find myself leaning towards eating less meat and meat products and instead enjoying vegetarian food. Hitherto, I generally avoid vegetarian restaurants here as they tend to use a lot of MSG which gives me an immediate and intermediate reaction. My initial reaction is to feel very thirsty followed by tiredness which makes me want to go to sleep. Then by the next morning my ankles and calves would swell up like elephant trunks. 

Today, new vegetarian restaurants are popping up like mushrooms and most promise no MSG. Hallelujah! 

One such new restaurant is Leaf Garden Cafe in Ipoh Garden South, a bright, cheerfully decorated restaurant abiding strictly to the SOPs. 

Host Christine Lam is out front, taking orders and making suggestions while husband Ho Swee Lim is the Chef and creative menu designer in the kitchen. Together they have created a lovely vegetarian haven, a respite from the carnivorous world outside.

The menu is quite extensive and the portions generous. Just any selection from the appetizer section is enough to satisfy young palates or adults for that matter, particularly the Cheesy Bites, thin crust pastry oozing with cheese and a choice of marinara, white or pesto sauce. Scrumptious and satisfying. RM11.90 for the first two and RM12.90 for the pesto which is homemade.

Cheesy bites

For drinks, we first had the Signature Leaf Garden Fruit Tea. The tea is steeped with 11 types of fruits (passionfruit, dragonfruit, lemon, blueberry, watermelon, green apple, pineapple, mango, orange, strawberry and kiwi) and the longer it is steeped, the more the fruit taste is infused. Plus you get to eat all the fruits. Wellness in a glass! RM15.90.

The was followed by Fizzy Ribena with Ice Cream at RM10.90 and my favourite, the Avocado Milkshake, made using a type of barista milk and sweetened with homemade syrup used sparingly. RM15.90.

Fizzy ribena with ice cream
Avocado milkshake
Kimchi pancake

For mains, we focused on their Korean-style dishes starting with their Kimchi Pancake where I could actually taste the homemade Kimchi, mildly tangy at RM17.90. This was followed by their Cabbage Kimchi Soup made with fresh button mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, Korean potato starch noodles, tofu, and tteokbokki, the Korean dried rice sticks. Simmered for two hours, tart and umami, the Kimchi imbuing its goodness and mushroom granules enhancing flavour, this is a complete meal in a bowl. Served with rice at RM19.90.

Cabbage Kimchi soup

The Mouth-watering Szechuan style King Oyster Mushroom with its characteristic springy bite was scrumptious, requiring no meat enhancement, the spicy sauce providing all the excitement it needed. RM10.90.

Mouth-watering Szechuan style king oyster mushroom

We were a large group that day at lunch and the dishes kept coming. 

The Spaghetti with Pesto Sauce and Pine Nuts topped and baked with mozzarella cheese was yummy at RM23.90, while the Spaghetti with Portobello Mushrooms in Sesame Sauce was a tad on the sweet side for my taste but the pasta was nice and al dente. RM18.90.

The piece de resistance came last in the shape of the OmniMeat burger. Sandwiched between a charcoal bun, this vegetarian burger tastes like chicken. Together with the homemade burger sauce, sesame sauce and signature black pepper sauce and topped with a cheese slice, it was a delectable meal in itself. Move over Big Mac, I’d rather eat this any time! RM24.90.

OmniMeat burger

 

*Leaf Garden Cafe is Muslim friendly, Vegan and MSG-free

Address:
11, Jalan S. A. Lingam, Taman Ipoh Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
10.30am-3pm, 5-9pm, Closed on Tuesdays
Breakfast is available from 8-10.30am on the 1st and 15th days of the Chinese calendar
Takeaways available
Delivery available within 10km of their shop for orders amounting to RM30 and more

For inquiries:
05-517 4356

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!

Help the Small Businesses: Grove Diner

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Grove Diner

SeeFoon makes merry in a marble manor

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

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

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

The marble staircase, a popular photography spot

Not in this luxurious space though, with marble everywhere.

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

Well I was in luck. 

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

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

Tagliatelle Alfredo

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

Chilean Cod

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

Lamb Rack

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

Chicken Roulade

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

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

Tiramisu

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

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake

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

One of the private rooms
Event hall

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

Grove Diner, the new Fine Dining Venue.

 

*Grove Diner is not Pork Free.

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

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

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

Takeaway available
Delivery only available for desserts

For inquiries: 
05-210 8012

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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: 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: Made by Jang 

Made by Jang

Carolyn Tan and Peter Lee

Twenty-eight-year-old Carolyn Tan decided to take up her mother’s interest in baking tiramisu to continue her delicious legacy. Tan, who is now running the business with her husband, Peter Lee, are working hand-in-hand to create the melt-in-your-mouth treat.

“The recipe is passed down to us by Carolyn’s mother, Jang who has been making tiramisu for the past eight years. That’s how the name ‘Made by Jang’ came about,” said Peter.

While hoping to establish a brand presence in the local market, the couple’s focus is on sharing the goodness of authentic Italian tiramisu in Ipoh. 

“Authentic!” Carolyn exclaimed when asked on how she would describe her tiramisu in one word.

“Due to higher cost, many bakers tend to substitute with cost-effective ingredients to minimise expenditure,” she remarked. “Thus, it often results in mediocre quality,” she added. 

What makes her tiramisu unique is the distinctive ingredients, which consist of cocoa powder, Mascarpone cheese and Ladyfingers biscuits dipped in rum and coffee and topped with rich cocoa powder. 

Initially sold at The Happy Eight Cafe, the couple had to come up with other alternatives to keep thriving and stay competitive in the pandemic. 

According to the mother of one, one has to keep the ball rolling and persevere through challenges. “Hence, we’ve set up an online platform to keep the passion alive,” she described. 

Despite being a widely recognised dessert, most people mistake tiramisu as a taste or flavour.

“Tiramisu is not just a taste, but it’s about how you make it, say, the type of ingredients you use and the process of producing it that will determine the quality of the tiramisu,” she highlighted. 

“Having a hint of the flavour doesn’t necessarily justify it’s authenticity. However, for most cases, it would still be labelled as ‘tiramisu’.” she elaborated.

Hungry for dessert? Need a fix for your sweet tooth? Treat yourself to a slice of Carolyn’s authentic tiramisu! 

The tiramisu can be made without alcohol for Muslims. It is priced at RM19 per box with a RM5 delivery fee within Ipoh area. Free delivery for orders above RM38.

To place an order, you may visit their Facebook page at https://web.facebook.com/madebyjang or on Instagram at @madebyjang. One may also Whatsapp them at 016-3117008.

A word from our Echo Food Diva SeeFoon: “It's yummilicious. The rum was immediately evident on first bite and the use of mascarpone lent it a smooth mouth feel. Most places replace this with whipped cream which is a no-no. It's worth paying a bit more for this lavish use of authentic ingredients. A RM19 per portion, is probably enough to satisfy 4 persons. Go for it, sweet eaters.”

 

Gisele Soo

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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!