Photos by Gisele Soo
You either love to cook or you’re doing it just to survive. Vicky Ooi definitely loves to cook. And she is one of those who pours a lot of love into her food.
When you learn from your mother and have done so from a very young age, your food exudes that je ne sais quoi (a quality that cannot be described or named easily) quality that goes beyond superlatives. Sounds better in French doesn’t it….oo la la the French!!
Like Vicky’s Hainanese Chicken Rice and her Siamese Laksa and her Nasi Kerabu with Rendang Tok. Now those names should baffle the French! We’re talking about culinary skills here and skills learnt at mother’s side from young can’t be beat.
I have had the good fortune to savour most of Vicky’s specialties both at RPS Corner where she serves dine-in (now) and takeaways six days a week and also at private catered dinners where she comes and cooks up a storm.
Let’s start with her regular fare at RPS. Siamese Laksa is one of her culinary best. Hearty, robust soup, chock full with fish chunks; tangy with spices I won’t even attempt to identify, each mouthful ambrosial, leaving a yearning for more; paired with velvety slurpy Laksa noodles and bean sprouts, topped with pineapple, more fish slivers, Thai basil and cut chillies. Need I say more? RM8 per portion.
Nasi Kerabu is blue pea rice served with a piece of fried Chicken Berempah, a green salad and a wonderful Achar that is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before….very addictive. You can also specially order or be fortunate to hit on a day when Vicky serves it with her Beef Rendang Tok and half a salted egg. The combination just works so well together, one taste complementing the other to produce a symphony of deliciousness. From RM9.
Moving to her Hainanese Chicken Rice, I had heard so many rave reviews from friends and I was so determined to taste it that I organised a small dinner party just to feast on chicken rice. And I was not disappointed.
Vicky had bought a whole Whiskered Chicken (Woo Sou Gai) that was steamed to perfection. She deboned it and made a soup with the bones, cooked the rice in the steaming broth and the result was totally swoon-worthy. I normally eat very little rice but on this occasion I made an absolute pig of myself by having two bowls! For me, the chilli that accompanies chicken rice is the end all and be all to eat chicken rice in the first place, and Vicky’s homemade chili sauce with the ginger was divine. If chilli sauce and chicken rice can rate a Michelin Star, this one does. Price varies with size of chicken and numbers but there are occasional days when she does serve it at lunch at RPS.
There were other goodies in store for my small dinner party. A bitter gourd salad that defies deconstruction, crunchy slices mixed with her secret sauce, topped with chopped nuts and fried shallots. This was gobbled down in a jiffy.
And then came the jumbo Prawn Sambal with Petai, the sambal chunky and redolent with serai, belachan and whatever secret spices went in to her recipe; the prawns fresh, huge and crunchy (she had gone out shopping that morning) and the petai fresh-picked and crisp. Market price.
RPS is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for a satisfying and economical lunch. Air cooled, the giant fan moves air around very efficiently and one feels like one is sitting in the great outdoors.
Here is the usual schedule for Vicky’s specialties:
- Monday: Soto ayam, RM7
- Tuesday: Siamese laksa, RM8
- Wednesday: Prawn noodle, RM7
- Thursday: Chicken hor fun, RM7
- Friday: Siamese laksa, RM8
- Saturday: Nasi kerabu, RM9–25 (order with Rendang Tok if available)
RPS Corner is pork-free.
Jalan Lim Bo Seng, Kampung Jawa, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
Tel: 011-2651 1927
Opening hours: 8am-4pm, closed on Sunday