Help the Small Businesses: Zui Le Xuan

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Zui Le Xuan

SeeFoon finds herself in “Love at First Bite”

We have all heard about love at first sight but has anyone ever fallen in love at first bite? I am not referring to your dining companion nor Dracula but falling in love with the food. 

I first tasted Zui Le Xuan’s Dim Sum two years ago, fell in love with the quality and freshness and I have remained enamoured ever since. 

Proprietress Lam May Foong (Ah Foong) has become a friend and we chat nineteen to a dozen whenever I go there, she being solicitous and introducing new items or urging me to try this or that. For Ah Foong, it’s never a case of totting up a big bill but rather her sheer joy at watching people enjoy her tasty morsels. 

And tasty they certainly are. 

It is rare to find a Dim Sum restaurant where they make their own Dim Sum rather than steam or fry up prepared ones from a factory. Zui Le Xuan is one of these. And Dim Sum is hard to make, what with the variety of items, the need for freshness and the delicacy of the various fillings, pastries and wraps. But this is all a snap for the owner Chan Kam (Ah Foong’s hubby) as he comes from years of experience in Dim Sum making, having worked as #1 chef at Foh San for many years.

The variety here is endless with items changing every day. All the classics of Har Gao, Siew Mai, Char Siew Pau and Wu Kok are here and are top notch but it’s the specials which I found exciting. My favourites like the large Phoenix Balls, redolent with 5-spice powder, and generously lardy for a smooth mouthfeel, RM5; ginger chicken pao (see video) which was excellent at RM2.50 each; Tsang Fah Gao (orange flower ball) or meatball rolled in rice krispies and deep fried, RM4; Gai Woh (Chicken Nest) Pao with glutinous rice, black mushrooms, carrots and chicken, RM5; excellent fish balls at RM4.50 for two; Steamed Minced Pork topped with century egg, RM5. And the list goes on and on. Each one is as good as the one preceding. Changing daily.

Phoenix balls
Orange flower ball (Tsang fah gao)

This time after MCO and not having been there in more than 5 months, I was immediately presented with their new items, like the Heong Sai Gao dumplings with prawn, mushroom, and meat, RM6; chive dumpling (I loved this one so much I ordered some to take home, froze them and steamed up again and they were just as good as eating in the shop), with chopped chives, with meat and prawns. The pastry was thicker than a Har Gau pastry and the filling was umami and beautifully seasoned, RM6.

Heong sai gao

Another dumpling that blew me away was the Black Garlic Siew Mai at RM6. The black garlic, which is renowned for its health giving properties, was strong but umami and combined with the fillings of meat and very fresh and succulent prawns was positively ambrosial. 

The Pei Dan Guen, black century egg combined with fish pastry and deep fried, was interesting; crispy on the outside, springy from the fish paste. The century egg added a new dimension, its earthy, ammonia-ey smell masked by the slices of pickled ginger added inside the roll. I love century eggs so it was perfect for me but some of my dining companions were not so keen, RM5.

Pei dan guen

The meat pie (Gai Sou), another new item, was lovely; slightly sweet minced meat, encased in very crumbly and fluffy pastry, RM2.50. Worth ordering home.

Gai sou (meat pie)

Then came a pao like no other. The first and only one in Ipoh, this was a pao filled with cream cheese that oozes out as you break it apart (see video). Not too sweet, it was an appropriate ending to our groaning table, RM2.50.

For a refreshing mouthfeel, we ended with the Osmanthus Jelly (Gwai Fah Go), chock full of goji berries, longan and other goodies. Not too sweet and certainly a great way to end the meal, RM4.50.

Osmanthus jelly

Zui Le Xuan does a lot of catering and if you go for their Dim Sum, do “TaPau” your favourite items. If Ah Foong has them available she will even let you take home the uncooked item and give you cooking instructions.

 

Address:
28 Jalan Ng Seong Teik, Taman Pertama, 30100 Ipoh, Perak.
(First Garden next to GP Food Court)
N 4° 36.262, E 101° 3.368


Business hours:
7am-2pm, closed on Tuesdays

For inquiries:
012-486 0883

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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!

Dim Sum Yuen

SeeFoon Enjoys Dim Sum in Peace and Quiet

Dim Sum Yuen, latest morning breakfast spot

How often do we get to have any Chinese meal in peace and quiet? Not often enough I say. Somehow the Chinese in groups, especially those speaking in Cantonese, when confined within tiled walls exacerbated by tiled floors, manage to reach decibel levels that border on deafening. And I am one of the guilty ones contributing to the noise level as my main spoken dialect is Cantonese.

With 9 tones compared to the 4 in Mandarin and more cacophonous by nature, and since most Chinese spoken in Ipoh is Cantonese, Chinese and especially dim sum restaurants are noisy. Not one of the places you would go for a cosy tête-à-tête.

But I found a quiet haven in Dim Sum Yuen.

Ipoh Breakfast at Dim Sum Yuen
And they steam their dim sum in square wooden boxes instead of the common bamboo baskets or in some eateries, plastic ones.

A recent change in ownership and management with a complete facelift of the premises of the old Kao Lee and just a stone’s throw from the Echo office, I have been meaning to check it out when to my delight, I received an invitation to lunch from my lawyer friend William Balasingham who has made this his new fave place. William’s reason? The tables are well spaced out and you’re not elbow-to-bum with the next person and you can actually talk and be heard!

We were quite a crowd that day and could therefore order a lot of different goodies. But being the diehard foodie that I am, I had to make sure I didn’t miss out on any item and hence went back a second time with my tribe.

One stand out feature of Dim Sum Yuen is their creative presentation of some of their offerings, as in the case of their water chestnut jelly, which for the cafe crowd, is certainly Instagram worthy (see pic). Most of their dim sum offerings are priced between RM4.50-RM5.50 with a few dishes using prawns like the Hong Kong Prawn roll going up to RM6.50. But in general, the average savoury plate starts at RM4.50 with desserts being slightly lower.

Dim sum is dim sum wherever you eat it. What sets one eatery from another is the quality, the range of items, and the specials. And each one has their specials. In Dim Sum Yuen’s case, the notable ones aside from their chef’s skill with pastry (see the pumpkin – with date paste; and piglets – one with red beans and other with an interesting corn custard) is their “Lo” or soya sauce series.

Everything of the pig’s innards from the ear (divinely tender, with a thin layer of fat lining both sides of the cartilage), stomach, large and small intestines are available here, paired with similarly braised tofu or boiled egg. A veritable offal haven. They also have the braised chicken in the same sauce as well which you can order whole or in a chicken rice set. And let’s not forget the braised chicken feet.

Boon Tong Gao at Dim Sum Yuen

Another unusual dim sum offering which is one of their signatures is the Har Gao served in individual small bowls in a clear soup. A cross between a “Boon Tong Gao” and the traditional Har Gao, the soup is umami and the Har Gao filling of prawns was fresh. I must also mention their Hor Yip Fan or glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf, umami and cooked to perfection.

Desserts are another item to rave over. Aside from the painstaking decorative art involved in their presentation, as in the aforementioned water chestnut jelly of two birds sitting in their birdcage, the pumpkin lookalike is filled with bean paste, not overly sweet and a delightful mouthful. Their fried sesame balls are crisp; their oozy salted egg custard pao to dream about and their jellies like wolfberry and osmanthus refreshing and soothing.

Piglet Pao

Do go and browse their very extensive menu. You won’t regret it. And enjoy your meal in relative peacefulness.

Yinzo Kopi

Everyone knows Sin Yoon Loong and its counterpart Nam Heong across the road. Here you’ll have to jostle with the crowds, and (for me) drip with sweat as in a sauna as you wait patiently for a table.

Now with the opening of Yinzo Kopi, one can snack in cool comfort in an ambience reminiscent of a bygone era.

Yinzo oldtown ipoh
Yinzo Kopi in oldtown Ipoh

The brainchild of Foo En Lin, scion of one of the eminent Foo Family, who has bought over the kitchenware shop that had been operating for over 40 years, directly opposite Sin Yoon Loong; Yinzo Kopi has been open for all of two months. Many friendly advisors helped En Lin and manager William Oh in their preparations for the opening. These included Mr Shum from Foh San, Dato’ David Tan of Katong Laksa fame and other F&B maestros who gave their input into Yinzo.

Yinzo Cafe in Ipoh Oldtown
Yinzo Cafe in Ipoh Oldtown

Yinzo Kopi stands for the Silver State which is Perak. In the 1920s it was a school, then became a restaurant, after which it was a kitchenware shop for more than 40 years until taken over by the Foo family. Now decorated in an eclectic retro Chinese style, with old pieces picked up here and there, the ambience is welcoming, tables well spaced out; the old wood ceilings and wooden shuttered windows doing a great job in noise reduction, unlike many tiled-from-roof-to-ceiling Chinese restaurants where the cacophony of chatter is unbearable.

Yinzo Kopi is a place where you go for small eats, well presented and very tasty, some dishes evoking the nostalgic tastes of yesteryear, and just like Grandmother used to make.

chicken braised with black bean and bitter gourd at Yinzo Kopi oldtown Ipoh
Chicken braised with black bean and bitter gourd @ RM10.80

Like their chicken braised with black bean and bitter gourd; umami, salty, bitter gourd soaking up the black bean sauce, served with white rice; RM10.80. Shareworthy or grab it all. Dry Curry Pork Rice at RM13.80 was delicious. The curry was different, cooked without santan (coconut milk), the pork tender on the bite and the sauce aromatic without being overly spicy.

Nam Yu Fried Chicken Wings
Nam Yu Fried Chicken Wings @ RM9.50

We then had their Nam Yu Fried Chicken Wings, piping hot wings, marinated with preserved bean curd, tender and juicy inside and crispy crunchy outside, served with a sweet chilli sauce. Move over KFC! RM6 for 3 pcs or RM9.50 for 6 pcs.

Their Cheong Sau Meen topped with minced pork and topped with Chu Yau Tsar or crispy pork lard was yummilicious, not unlike our famous Ipoh Hakka Mee. Served with a sunny side up egg and a good Szechuan chilli sauce; RM7.80.

We had their Nasi Lemak served in three styles, plain, with curry chicken or fried chicken. Good rice and sambal; RM7.80 plain, RM9.80 with curry chicken, RM15.80 with a whole fried chicken leg.

Curry Mee at Yinzo Kopi

We then tried the Curry Mee which was a disappointment and I gave my feedback and true to the spirit of wanting to do their best and giving customers the best experience, they have changed their recipe.

I was therefore promptly “summoned” for a second tasting, this time to try their new Curry Mee and their new Dim Sum menu. The curry mee now has a new presentation which can satisfy my occasional hankering for this dish. Spicy, umami, the curry sauce cooked without Santan; RM10.80.

Kon Jeen Loh Mai Fan
Kon Jeen Loh Mai Fan

Their DimSum selections are small and deliberately so for as William explains, “We want to concentrate on quality so we keep choices limited and we can prepare them fresh as and when they are ordered. A ‘must try’ is their Kon Jeen Loh Mai Fan, glutinous rice that is pan fried with various garnitures and topped with egg slivers, the edges and base of the rice crisped from the frying (fan chiew) Delicious, the rice not too soft and the taste umami. Listed as “Authentic Glutinous Rice” RM6.80 per portion. They also have the ordinary Lo Mai Kai which is steamed glutinous rice at RM4.80.

Fried Mini BBQ Buns
Fried Mini BBQ Buns

Other ‘Must Try’ include their Fried Mini BBQ Buns, essentially Char Siew Paus (famous Chinese Roast Pork) deep fried to a golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with the Char Siew or roast pork oozing from the centre; RM5.80 fried; RM4.80 steamed. And let’s not forget their delectable fried Prawn Dumplings and their Ham Sui Kok or their Dried Prawn Pastry. Both incredibly light, the skin, made from glutinous rice flour is crispy on first bite and the prawns whole and ocean fresh while the one with the dried prawns has that sweet/salty umami quality that makes you swoon; RM5.80 for fresh prawns 3 pcs and RM4.80 for the dried prawn version.

Address

YINZO KOPI

No. 1 & 3 Persiaran Bijih Timah, 30000 Ipoh.
Tel: 019 556 1393 or 05 241 0571 (ask for William Oh)
Business hours: 8.30am-5.30pm
DIM Sum from 8.30am-11am and 3.30pm-5pm

Original published in : https://www.ipohecho.com.my/v4/article/2019/07/16/on-ipoh-food-yinzo-kopi