Help the Small Businesses: Uncle Long

Uncle Long

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon treats herself to charred and sticky sweet perfection.

Char Siew literally means “fork roasted” (siu being burn/roast and cha being fork), named after the traditional cooking method for the dish where long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire.

Cantonese in origin, the pork meat is marinated and then roasted in the oven to a charred and sticky sweet perfection. 

It’s ubiquitous in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, where Cantonese cuisine predominates and here in Ipoh, where our cuisine is more eclectic, it’s quite rare to find a restaurant dedicated to roast meats. 

Uncle Long is one of them. 

Opened barely a year ago, this restaurant in Ipoh Garden South already has quite a following, judging from the queue at lunchtime waiting to “tapau” (takeaway). 

Uncle Long also sells roast duck and chicken, as well as their own Siew Cheong (sausage) and roast pork, all home roasted by the proprietor Ray Lim Tze Kee who has a long history as a chef, doing just this: Chinese roasting.

The signature here is the Char Siew, so popular that he sells up to 30kg a day! 

I am fussy about my Char Siew. Not for me the lean and dry slices you often get in noodle soups or curry mee. Those are for people obsessed with their cholesterol or weight. 

Give me a Char Siew with a proportion of 40:60 of fat to meat, oozing oil from its glistening sides, the honey or maltose glaze charred in sections, and the marinade flavors shimmering on my tongue. 

This is the Char Siew at Uncle Long.

Char siew, Roast Pork & Siew Cheong (sausage)

The rest of the roast meats pale in comparison but nevertheless make for good companions to the star dish.

The Roast Pork had the requisite crispy skin and went well with their homemade chilli sauce that was tart, not too sweet (perfect for my non-sweet tooth) and spicy, ameliorating the high fat mouthfeel of the pork. A perfect match. RM7.50 for 100g, RM37.50 for 0.5kg, RM75 for 1kg.

The Roast Duck (RM13-50 depending on portion size) and Roast Chicken (RM10-36 depending on portion size) were moist and the soya sauce eggs (RM3 for 2 pieces) as a side order were great with both the duck sauce and the sauce on the plate.

Roast Chicken & Roast Duck

To go with all the roasted goodies, we had a choice of rice or noodles and we ordered one of each. The rice was fluffy and flavoured exactly the way a chicken rice should be: umami and fragrant. RM0.70 for small; RM1.30 for large. My noodles came as a surprise. It was the broad wonton noodle which I miss and often look for but alas seldom available. Here it was in front of me, al dente, coated in sauce and paired perfectly with the delectable Char Siew. RM1.50 as an add-on.

Char siew with rice
Add-on Noodles

They also sell a bottled chilli sauce (RM13) manufactured from a personal recipe with no sugar, no preservatives and no MSG, but alas they were out of stock on the day we were there.

While waiting for our food to arrive, we snacked on their “Suin Choy” (braised mustard greens), tart and tangy with quite a kick to it. RM5(S); RM8(L). 

We also had their Acar which was a special of the day.

Suin Choy (braised mustard greens), Soya Sauce Eggs & Acar

 

Address:
15, Lebuh Taman Ipoh, Taman Ipoh Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
10am-6pm daily, but will close if meat is sold out earlier
Closed on the first to third days of the Chinese New Year (Chor 1-3)

Takeaways available
Delivery available through Foodpanda and GrabFood 

For inquiries:
05-216 8836

SeeFoon Visits an Old Man

Some of us have jaded palates. I admit to being one of them. It’s not that I am ungrateful when my friends invite me for roast suckling pig, Tualang prawns or fresh crabs. I enjoy them thoroughly but often I find myself yearning for some of the dishes my Grandma used to make. Or a simple plate of Char Siew.

Hence when a new signboard went up in Ipoh Garden, a few doors down from my favourite Chinese grocer, Choy Company and a short distance from Ipoh Echo’s new premises on Jalan Dato Lau Pak Khuan, I took notice and promptly went for a taste test.

From the Chinese Lo Chiew Pai, they have translated it into “Old Man”, an unpretentious fan-cooled restaurant serving wholesome dishes, just like Grandma used to make. I was optimistic that here I would find that ineffable taste of my childhood and I was not disappointed.

A lot of their dishes are cooked and served in clay pots; complex blends of herbs and condiments resulting in dishes that are quite compelling while some of their other specials are classic and not often offered nowadays.

I am fussy about Char Siew (that ubiquitous red pork you see hanging from some stalls) and I don’t often eat or buy it home unless it measures up to my specifications. Here at Old Man, it does, all homemade, succulent, tender and with enough fat to make eating Char Siew worthwhile. Here it is served fusion style with a small salad, RM13.

Next, we had the Sek Pan or Garoupa smothered with ginger chunks, Dong Quai or Angelica, Goji Berries and Mook Yi or wood ear, served wrapped in foil with a liquid fuel burner below. We were told to wait exactly 12 minutes which they time and on the dot they come over to your table and lift the foil, the liquid fuel having burnt itself out. Unusual and well timed as the fish was perfectly steamed. Market price and depending on type of  fish.

I had forgotten all about this soup until it arrived, evoking memories of my childhood. Coconut Chicken Soup has a quarter chicken, steamed for six hours in an old coconut with Chinese herbs like Yuk Juk (Solomon Seal), ginseng tails, goji berries, Wai San or Chinese Yam, nuances of coconut permeating the soup and blending with the rest of the herbs. Umami and delectable; RM25.

The Wu So Gai or whiskered chicken was braised in Chinese wine and chestnuts, the sauce reduced to a thick and robust coating over all the bits and pieces; RM28.

Yat Pun Po, the one-pot stew, with duck, pigs tail, chicken feet, intestines, pig’s tripe, mushrooms and bean curd skin was a clay pot full of collagen rich goodness, the taste robust, and flavour unforgettable. Definitely worth a re-order; RM28.

Old Man Seafood Restaurant is definitely one of the places I will use as my ‘canteen’ whether its during or after office hours. Being so conveniently situated so close to the Ipoh Echo office gives it preferential status!

 
Old Man Seafood Restaurant
60 Jalan Dato Lau Pak Khuan, Ipoh Garden, 31400 Ipoh.
4° 36’ 42.6996’’N 101° 6’ 27.3996’’E
Business hours: 11am-11.30pm; Monday closed
Tel: 012 480 2759; 016 499 0905

Musings SeeFoon’s Capon Caper in Falim

It’s that time of year again as Chinese New Year approaches, when Ipohites find themselves craving for Capon. Larger than a chicken, a bit smaller than a turkey, but more flavourful than either, a Capon is a castrated rooster, fed and nurtured for four to six months and weighing between 4-7lbs. Called Yeem Gai in Cantonese, they are hard to come by and expensive to boot. Capon is prized for its fragrance, its juicy meat and best of all its springy yellow skin and fat. The Chinese prefer their capons Pak Cheuk which means ‘white blanched’ or steamed and served with a grated ginger and scallion paste on the side.

Usually, in most of the local restaurants (if they have them in the first place), capon has to be ordered whole and unless one has a table of ten, a whole capon is a monumental feast for any less than that number. And it is pricey, costing between RM250-350 or more per bird.

However, at the newly-opened Restaurant Kim Wah in Falim, very close to Taman Mas, you can eat to your heart’s delight even if you’re just 2 or 3 people as they will serve you a quarter bird for RM60, a half for RM118 and a whole bird for RM228. And the bird we had was easily 3kg. According to my Foodie ‘kaki’ Ginla Chew, who as usual, discovered the restaurant in her peripatetic food explorations, these are exceptionally good prices for Yeem Gai. And the quality is good too. The meat, firm yet succulent and the skin resilient with just the right amount of fat beneath. In fact, the whole chicken we had was surprisingly lean so we could ‘have our skin and eat it too’!

Naturally the Chinese New Year season is the best time to get the best capon as all the farms that rear these birds focus on getting as many to market as possible at this time. Kim Wah is open throughout the festive season so do get your capon fix during this period.

But it’s not only the capon at Kim Wah that deserves praise, other dishes are outstanding too. Head Chef Teoh Hock Eng, a true-blue Ipoh boy has come home to roost after 20 years in Kuala Lumpur heading up the kitchen at my favourite Overseas restaurant in Jalan Imbi. Ably assisted by Choong Kwet Thiam, Chef Teoh dishes out some impressive temptations. Like his Char Siew (sweet roast pork) which is melt-in-mouth succulent and tender, marbled with fat to which you throw admonitions about cholesterol to the wind and begin wolfing down the whole plate. RM22 – S; RM36 – M and RM48 for a large plate.

Another porky dish which our group enjoyed was the braised pig’s elbow, chunky cuts of elbow, the skin and tendons braised to a mucilaginous tenderness in a light sauce fragranced by ginger and dried cuttlefish slices. Comfort food at its best – RM22.


But I am jumping ahead. We began the meal with the obligatory Yee Sang or the ‘prosperity toss’. Yee Sang comprises thin slices of pickled vegetables and other ingredients which are enhanced by its special sauce which imparts a distinctive flavour. The popular custom is for all round the dining table to toss the ingredients high in the air with joyful exclamations of Loh Hey (toss high) to wish for abundant luck and happiness for all. RM38 – S and RM63 – L with salmon.

The wild mushroom soup which was served in individual tureens was clear, the dried mushrooms coming from Yunnan, China which is renowned for its abundance of various wild mushrooms, was a variety I have never seen before, imparting its fragrance to the soup which was light and umami – RM10 per portion.


Kim Wah is a branch of their original restaurant which is based in Tanjung Tualang. Their fish tanks attest to their Tualang origin, with udang galah in varying sizes waiting to be selected. So naturally we had to have our Steamed Udang Galah, more commonly called the Tualang prawns. Now we don’t have to drive to Tualang for them. We had the medium-sized prawns which arrived just a shade overdone but nevertheless sweet and umami. RM90 – small; RM120 – medium; RM150 per kg for the large prawns.

The Loong Dun or giant grouper, a fish that has seen a phenomenal rise in popularity in the past few years prized for its firm flesh and the delectable jelly-like skin; was braised to perfection with taro in a claypot, and saw all of us at the table scrambling to scoop up the last drops of thick sauce. The essence of that dish was still lingering in my gustatory memory bank when I went to bed that night; such was the impact it had on my taste buds – RM120 per kg.

 
Restaurant Kim Wah
1, 3, 24 & 26 Jalan Mas 3
(approach either from Jalan Kledang Utara or the Lumut Highway)
Tel: 05 2828 882/2822 228
Business hours: 10.30am-2.30pm; 5.30-10.30pm.  Open year round.
GPS:  E 101º 3.243’  N 4º 34.75’