The dilemma is, very often, if the place serves oriental food and is halal, their western food leaves much to be desired. It is difficult to do both east and west with quality.
However, help is at hand for I have discovered a restaurant in Meru Raya which satisfies all of the above. Plus the chef has had 15 years of experience in the west.
Meet Chef Am, head chef and co-founder of Cottage 75. Chef Am who has spent 15 years working in Ireland, is from Selama Perak and together with a partner, opened Cottage 75, in Meru Raya, serving good wholesome dishes both western and oriental at prices that won’t break the bank.
So for example, if you go with the whole family or a group of six for a meal, they have a special on their menu which is great on taste and satisfaction. For RM120, you get soup, 2 sets fish and chips; 2 sets chicken chop; 2 sets lamb chop and 1 steak set. Included also are onion rings, potato wedges, garlic bread, side salad, a jug of soft drink and dessert of the day. Now if that isn’t value for money, I don’t know what is. Certainly beats KFC and McDonald’s hands down. And this is not fast food. You are served at your table with proper cutlery and napkins. And the dishes come artistically plated too.
We had their Warm Duck Breast Salad, RM15, and went on to sample a variety of their mains. The one issue I had with all their pasta dishes was that the pasta was too soft and not al dente (springy to the bite) as I and all Italians like it. I have often found this to be so in a lot of the cafes and restaurants I have patronised here in Ipoh. When asked if I could have my pasta al dente, I usually get the answer of “sorry but pasta is cooked ahead of time”.
But it is how most Ipohites like their pasta. Some places where they serve pasta al dente, there are often complaints that the pasta is not cooked properly! So I reckon it’s a question of pleasing the majority and when someone with a picky palate like me comes along, that’s too bad.
So back to the pasta which is aplenty on the menu. Other than the pasta being too soft, the taste of the various sauces was good. The salmon on pasta was well done, the salmon still slightly pink on the inside. The Butter Prawn Cream Spaghetti was smooth and velvety and a very filling dish indeed; RM19; while the Seafood Aglio Olio was chock full of green NZ mussels, large prawns and squid rings, again a very generous portion; RM17.50.
Moving onto the oriental dishes, there is a wide variety of rice and noodle dishes. The Cottage Special Fried Rice was interestingly spiced, served with an omelette, Ayam Goreng Kunyit (fried turmeric chicken), keropok (prawn crackers), sambal and served with a spicy soup; RM18. And if this is too pricey, then the Nasi Goreng Kampungku fried with ikan bilis, vegetables, a fried egg on top and served with sambal belacan gives more value at RM7.
The Lamb Shoulder Chops Atok Kambing Bakar came with a Soup Kambing, redolent of herbs and spices. ‘Atok’ which stands for grandfather implies that is an old traditional recipe; RM25.
Finally the Chef Special Mee Rebus Tulang, a meal in itself, had a creamy soup base made from sweet potato and prawns, spicy, with chunks of lamb leg bone-in and served with boiled egg, potato cubes topped with chillies on a bed of yellow noodles was yummilicious; RM10.
Cottage 75 (Halal)
76 Jalan Meru Impian A1
Pusat Perniagaan Meru Impian, 30020 Ipoh.
Chef Am: 011 2635 8305
Business hours: 5.30pm-12am; 5pm on weekends