“The whole family is home, the relatives are all here and OMG what am I going to cook for the festivities?” is a typical lament that all my Chinese friends wail as they wring their hands and fret over the coming 15 days of this very auspicious period in the Chinese calendar.
As for me, as I ease myself into the TLC of my dear friend Susie in either Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, I am not deserting my dear Chinese friends in Ipoh but rather I have done my research in advance and here in today’s Musings column are suggestions to ease your burden, either take the family out or order home.
These are neither your enduring restaurants as detailed in the cover article but all “new kids on the block”. Restaurants that strive to provide some fusion, some home cooking and some special recipes that Mom used to make.
You cannot miss it if you drive along Fair Park Road especially at night. Living up to its name, the facade is very classically Chinese with eye-catching lanterns hanging from the tile awning making a bold statement for all to see, literally proclaiming, “Welcome, Come in, Check Us Out”. And check them out we did on a few occasions as their menu is so diverse and extensive that it was impossible to taste all their dishes.
The interior looks like a set from a Kung Fu movie, with classical Chinese motifs adorning the walls including a bank of Chinese wine urns and bronze serving and drinking goblets. Upstairs where one can host small dinners is equally elaborate with more lanterns to transport oneself into that fairytale land of the old-fashioned teahouse.
The menu is equally gargantuan, with everything from Tong Po Yoke (braised fatty pork served with steamed mantou); Wu Tao Kow Yoke, belly pork braised with taro to wonderful tsong or dumplings, to yummilicious Kampong Chicken from Sungkai braised in yellow Chinese wine.
The menu is too extensive to list here but if readers would like to see more, please go online to http://www.ipohecho.com.my/v4/ to view the whole range of their dishes. In fact, if you don’t want to cook at all this coming festive season, just pick up the phone and order up a storm including their pièce de résistance this Chinese New year – their Poon Choy or their ‘all the goodies you wish to eat” as I call it, in one big tureen. This is a dish that will feed 10 (or more) and eaten layer by layer. Beginning from the top, you start with the large ‘Meng’ prawns and the abalone, the velvety black mushrooms, moving downwards till you get to the more saucy bits. This Poon Choy at Classic Dining comes as a set with their excellent glutinous rice tureen and a ‘tong sui’ or sweet soup, the classic Chinese dessert. RM688 for the whole set.
CLASSIC DINING 2-15 Jalan Kamaruddin Isa, Fair Park, 31400 Ipoh. GPS: 4°36’22.2″N 101°05’38.2″E Tel: 05 543 0153 or 018 273 0188 Business hours: 11.30am-4pm; 6pm-10pm daily.
For a change of pace over the festive season and if you’re getting a surfeit of ‘Lo Sang” and Chinese food, check out Sato Kitchen, a modest Japanese restaurant that dishes out unusual fusion dishes.
Like French Foie Gras with Smoked Duck Breast served with mashed potatoes drizzled with truffle oil and salad – RM49.90. Another version is Foie Gras and Tai Kabayaki with an Asian Vinegar sauce – RM38. I found intriguing their Sato Pizza, listed on the menu as a crispy tortilla skin topped with fresh tuna and salmon, cherry tomatoes and a special sauce and made myself a promise to order it the next time – RM28.
I love fish head, any kind and when grilled Japanese style, I will always order it. Here we had the grilled Salmon Head Shioyaki with a smidgen of teriyaki topping which I told them to hold as I usually don’t like the sweetness of teriyaki sauce. Well grilled, the salmon head was meaty and fresh tasting.
Next we had the Sapporo Sushi Roll, filled with white tuna, avocado, spicy crab meat, salmon and tuna with ebiko and crispy bits lending texture. Beginning at RM25 per roll, there is a whole selection with slightly higher prices depending on the filling. Or you can throw caution to the wind for Chinese New Year and order their Sultan Roll consisting of shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber inside and topped with whole unagi, foie gras and (wait for it) gold flakes! Now doesn’t that sound like a dish befitting royalty? RM88.
The menu at Sato Kitchen is extensive with the full complement of sushi and sashimi platters ranging in price according to taste and choice. Their mains range from NZ Rib Eye Steaks RM49.90 to Australian baby Lamb Chops RM29.90 to salmon to chicken. We had a lovely roast chicken topped with a creamy salted egg sauce redolent with the fragrance of curry leaves. From RM18.90.
Giant tiger prawns and Kuruma prawns as well as seasonal crabs can be ordered in advance. Bento boxes are also available for takeaway. And everything is pork free.
So this Chinese New Year, pick up the phone and order up a storm of the freshest sushi, sashimi and bento boxes and wow your friends and family.
SATO KITCHEN 22-22A Jalan Medan Ipoh 4, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh, Ipoh. Tel: 05 545 0085 GPS: 4° 37’ 3.4716’’N 101° 7’ 11.2188’’E Business hours: 12pm-3pm; 6pm-10pm (Mon-Fri), 12-10pm (Sat and Sun). Tue off.
Another restaurant to check out over the festive season which I can vouch for and due to space constraints I am unable to write a full review is the following:
This restaurant deserves a full review and as its name implies, a real treasure trove of unusual dishes. Check out their homemade bean curd ‘Futput’ deep fried and topped with your choice of meat, squid, prawns or whatever topping suits your fancy. Or the Chef’s homemade special of marinated, pickled kembong fish cooked with DaoSi. Delicious and special.
[Watch this space for full review in the next issue.]MOONLIGHT TREASURE 105-107 Jalan Chung Ah Ming, 31650 Ipoh. GPS: 4°34’51.5″N 101°04’57.8″E Tel: 05 242 2666 or 016 526 1517 Business hours: 11am-2.30pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm daily.