The Palace Steamboat in Soho

At the Palace Steamboat, which opened on December 31, 2019, this was the scene as a group of us sat down for a pre-pre Chinese New Year feast

SeeFoon Gets Steamed Up Again; This Time in Soho

I love SteamBoat or Hotpot. Sitting at the table and watching the slow bubbles making its way o the surface, your pot slowly coming to the boil and everyone is sitting patiently, poised to dunk in their choice of delectables. Then the fun begins.

As ladles, scoops and chopsticks enter the pot with loud hollers of, “who’s got my meatball”, or “my slice of lamb has disappeared”, the steam opening up all the pores on one’s face, (so don’t wear makeup ladies!) and serious eating ensues.

Interior of restaurant

At the Palace Steamboat, which opened on December 31, 2019, this was the scene as a group of us sat down for a pre-pre Chinese New Year feast recently. Situated on top of Lanna Thai and accessible by lift, this bright and spacious restaurant has ample seating with table spaced comfortably apart. Each table comes equipped with its own built-in stove and 3 private rooms seating up to 10 each, provide privacy.

To whet our appetites we ordered two of their casserole rice dishes which arrived piping hot and wafting steam as we raised the lid. Of the two, my preference was for the Chicken Rice, cooked with marinated free-range chicken, dried red jujubes, goji berries and topped with scallions, hints of Chinese wine permeating the whole pot. I couldn’t get enough of this! And I am not much of a rice fan. The Lap Mei Fan is no competition to the intense Chicken Rice.

Meanwhile, all the raw ingredients for the steamboat were being laid out on the table, paper-thin slices of Sakura pork belly which absolutely melt in your mouth (RM10); very tender slices of Australian lamb (RM20) and beef (RM22); homemade fish ball (RM10); homemade tofu (RM5) and crispy tofu rolls (RM14).

Homemade Noodles

I highly recommend their homemade meatballs which were umami and tantalisingly taste worthy, RM16. As is their handmade noodles, long rolls of wheat noodles made broader than most (almost 3cm) and when cooked still had that tooth resilience which is for me, the measure of a great noodle, RM8.

Vegetables range between RM5 and RM6 with a few like the Chinese yam and crystalline ice plant going at (RM8). We had tong hou or chrysanthemum greens, choi sum, lettuce, lotus pod; enoki mushrooms and two very health-giving dried fungi which I was delighted to find on the menu.

We’ll begin with Tricholoma Matsutake, Japan’s answer to truffles. Once available only to the well-heeled, the Pine Mushrooms are highly sought after and in Japan fresh ones can cost up to US1000 per kilo. I was thrilled to find this on the menu here, albeit the dried form and from where else? China of course.

Tricholoma Matsutake

Nevertheless, these mushrooms have a sensory adventure in them, spicy and fruity taste with a hint of sweet cinnamon. And lends the broth an earthy intense aroma, adding yet another layer to the already complex soup base. They are touted to be a natural anti-cancer remedy, that doesn’t have unwanted side effects as well as having antioxidant/free-radical scavenging activity/anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to being chock full of vitamins and minerals, RM28.

The other fungus we had was the Cordyceps flower, a type of parasitic fungus with its medicinal value similar to that of the much more expensive Cordyceps Sinensis It is thought to provide an array of therapeutic benefits such as protecting the lungs, nourish the kidney, increase blood production, anti-depressant, anti-ageing and has anti-bacterial properties. It is also known medicinally to be a strong anticancer and anti-asthmatic agent. Tastes a bit like enoki mushrooms but with more bite, RM28.

Cordyceps Flower

Now that I have introduced the two health-giving fungi, I must go back to the beginning: to the broth. This is the first thing to order as there is a choice to be made. We chose the pork tripe stewed free-range chicken broth (RM58 – S, RM88 – L) which was robust and umami to begin with. After the addition of all the other ingredients described above, the resulting broth was ambrosial, each sip a drop of nectar.

During this over-indulgent festive Chinese New Year season, this will be a healthier option for me. In fact, just order up a small broth, add some fungus, vegetables and some homemade noodles and share that with a couple of friends and voila, good food and good health. What more can one ask for?

Block E, 2-6, Soho Ipoh 2
Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh.

019 573 3198 or 05 210 9198

Business hours:
Open 24/7
11.30am-3pm; 5.30pm-10pm.


Hotpot Restaurant Moon Flower

Actually, the word “Big” doesn’t do justice to the hotpot they serve at Restaurant Moon Flower on a slip road off Jalan Kuala Kangsar. “Humongous” comes close, as the pot is easily 16in in diameter and that is just for the “small” version.

Restoran Moon Flower Jalan Kuala Kangsar ipoh

I had gone the first time to have dinner with four persons including my Foodie Kaki Ginla Chew; and Jan Ching, the co-proprietor told me that the hotpot was way too big for us and to come back with at least eight people.

So we settled for the small dishes as recommended by Jan. As we waited for the rest of the food to arrive, we had a plate of fried salmon fish skin coated with salted egg which was perfect for our cocktails, RM25.

The first dish to arrive was Steamed Lala with Baby Shark. This was piping hot and straight from the steamer, the baby shark pieces juicy and redolent with ginger which took away any chances of there being any fishiness. The broth from the steaming is most slurp-worthy, RM55.

braised pig's trotters
braised pig’s trotters @ RM43 / RM88

Next came a tureen of braised pig’s trotters, the meat well infused with the sauce and the skin velvety, gliding down my throat like well-oiled panna cotta. The added chicken feet lent extra gelatine to the sauce and to go the whole collagen route, ask for pig’s tendons to be added. Hints of dried cuttlefish brought the whole dish to a new level, making this, one of the must-order dishes here. RM43 without tendon/RM88 with tendon.

lard rice
Lard Rice @ RM6

To go with the dishes, instead of plain rice which is the norm, they offer the most swoon-worthy lard rice. This childhood staple, when Mum or Grandma didn’t have time to cook, is so deceptively simple, yet dear to so many Chinese hearts, is simply hot rice with a raw egg in the middle and flavour supplied by the fresh lard, soya sauce and topped with crispy, crunchy lardons. Heaven in a bowl, RM6.

Japanese fried Ramen
Japanese fried Ramen @ RM10

We finished that first meal with Japanese Ramen, fried with cabbage, scallions, bean sprouts, prawns and pork and topped with, what else . . . to give flavour to any dish . . . more lardons!! RM10 per portion.

hotpot @ Restoran Moon Flower Ipoh
Hotpot @ Restoran Moon Flower Ipoh

As we were too few in numbers to try their signature dish the first time around, I soon gathered my foodie group for lunch a few weeks later where we ordered their ‘Soon Tak Big Bowl Fish’, a huge flat-bottomed hotpot served on a portable gas burner with everything already in so there is no necessity for cooking your own goodies. Just fish for them.

Chef Ah Sang is generous with the ingredients. In addition to choosing your own fish from a choice of grouper, patin, bak sou gong (catfish), shark, sang yu (snakehead), or hong mei (red tail), fishing in the yummilicious broth will produce noodles made from fish meat, squid, large prawns, tomatoes, fish maw, taro, shiitake mushrooms and ham choy or pickled cabbage. A cornucopia of deliciousness.

Depending on the seasonal price of the whole fish chosen, the prices for the Big Pot begin at RM138 for 8-10 people: ample if you order other dishes, going up to RM308 for the more pricey fish and will easily feed 12 pax.

big squid

Other dishes to order include their big squid (wong kai lon) with paku vegetables in a mildly spicy style. Seasonal price as squid prices vary. Similarly for the large prawns cooked in an Indonesian style, slightly spicy with a hint of santan.

Restaurant Moon Flower is definitely going to be my ‘go-to’ restaurant in the future. Go with a minimum of five people, order just the “small” big pot and a bowl or two of lard rice to share and come out RM30 lighter in your wallet if you split the cost but much heavier in gourmet satisfaction.



Proprietors: Deric Leong 012 672 8767 and Jan Ching 012 568 3382
60/62 Laluan Tawas Damai
Anjung Tawas Impian, 30010 Ipoh.

Business hours: 11am-3pm and 5pm-10.30pm
Closed: first Monday and Tuesday of the month.

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