Help the Small Businesses: Red Inn Hotpot

Red Inn Hotpot

I had visited Red Inn Hotpot in early 2019 when they opened their first outlet in old town on Jalan Sultan Yussuff and within a year, this entrepreneurial trio comprising Fly Wong (founder cum director), Seng Yung (CEO) and Desmond having gained favour with many diners, had opened their second outlet in Ipoh (they have two other outlets in Bukit Mertajam and Penang), this time inside the Octagon. 

Private room

Sadly by the time I was ready to write this review, the pandemic had struck and MCO put paid to all established or fledgling food and beverage businesses. Only now following SOPs has the new outlet opened its doors serving their special brand of Hotpot. 

Hotpot is the raison d’être to come here. First you choose your soup base. Order your soup singly for RM30, Twin for RM50 or go the whole hog and have the Four Seasons combo choosing  four out of their choice of six broths. There is Ma Lat (the Szechuan red pepper) broth which has the distinctive tongue numbing effect to ameliorate the chilli burn; the Signature Sake broth; a fresh tomato soup; the ubiquitous Pork Bone soup; the Green Pepper Soup; and the pièce de résistance, their Fresh Clam Soup (Fresh Lala on the menu). Their pots are able to hold four different soup bases so it’s a great opportunity to order a mixture so your guests can choose to suit their palate. Top-ups are included.

Now the fun begins. There is a choice of 10 sauces for dipping with the main ones of Szechuan, satay, signature and sesame to which can be added spring onions, coriander, garlic, birds eye chillies and lime wedges; all of which are lined up in a help-yourself fashion and replenishments are unlimited.

The handmade options include pork, beef, lamb and shrimp meatballs, large, round and juicy. Particularly yummy are their pork and shrimp meatballs (from RM10-RM18 for half and full portions). We had a mixed platter of the meatballs and they were juicy, well seasoned and their respective cooking times were all listed on the menu. A choice of handmade spinach or tomato noodles (RM5-9 half/full) makes for a very wholesome bowl of noodle soup. Throw in a meatball or two, some vegetables and voilàyour own self-curated bowl of homemade goodness. 

In the meat section, the specials here are their Iberico pork slices (RM26-48 half/full) and their Wagyu Beef (marbling 6/7 RM58-98 half/full) while the usual pork belly, lamb loin, chicken breast and (unusual) duck breast is on offer.

Naturally, there is a cornucopia of other goodies like fried snacks while you wait, from fish skin (RM5-12) to pork belly (RM10-18); a selection of fish, a wide range of vegetables, other noodles and other exotic offerings like pig’s kidneys and liver and the list goes on.

I like the idea of hotpot as it is a hygienic meal, the various ingredients are cooked to your degree of doneness and you are assured there are no lingering pathogens on your food. The use of chopsticks and ladles specially for use in the pot is especially essential and we should insist on extra serving utensils. Thankfully at Red Inn Hotpot, these are readily available.

Worth a visit. A quiet relaxing meal and quiet enough for conversation. Quite rare in Ipoh!

 

Premium Outlet: 

Address:
Unit L2-02, Wisma Octagon Ipoh, Jalan Raja Ekram, 30450 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours:
1pm-10pm daily 

Main Outlet: 

Address: 
124, Jalan Sultan Yusof, 303000 Ipoh, Perak.

Business hours: 
6pm–3am daily

For inquiries (both outlets):
012 3130124 (WhatsApp preferred)

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For more Ipoh eats recommended by SeeFoon, check out The Foodie’s Guide to Ipoh’s Best Eats 2, available for purchase at a special discounted price now! Message us on Facebook for inquiries and orders!

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?

PALACE STEAMBOAT
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.

Address:

RESTAURANT MOON FLOWER

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

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

Original article published at : https://www.ipohecho.com.my/v4/article/2019/09/01/on-ipoh-food-restaurant-moon-flower

Red Inn – SeeFoon Stumbles Across a Secret Temptation

There is no signboard anywhere. I thought I was in the wrong place. But Foodie Kaki Ginla Chew who is my ‘recce food scout’ gave me the correct address. What she forgot to mention was to just push on the unpretentious wooden door and walk right in.

It reminded me of that mouldy oldie, Hernando’s Hideaway (and I know this betrays my vintage), The Pajama Game….I know a dark secluded place….Just knock three times and whisper low…. (google the lyrics)

And what a hive of activity I stumbled upon. Nothing illicit mind you. In fact, it is one of the new “must go” places, if not for the food, then for the drinks, music and ambience.

Located on the corner of Jalan Sultan Yussuf, opposite the Bajet Hotel, diagonally opposite Market Place on Jalan Market, Red Inn Hotpot is the go-to place for deluxe hot pot downstairs and ingeniously curated cocktails upstairs.

Memories of Ancient China

Aiming to evoke nostalgic memories of Ancient Shanghai, the decor is in the current rave “shabby chic“ Ipoh style, with unplastered walls and old-style Chinese furniture and loads of ‘orientalia” scattered about the restaurant and the bar upstairs. The word scattered is used loosely here as there is focused intent in creating the ambience of nonchalance.

Raison D’être

But there is nothing nonchalant in the food they serve nor in the drinks menu upstairs.

Hotpot is the raison d’être to come here. First you choose your soup base. There is a choice of Ma Lat (the Szechuan red pepper) broth which has the distinctive tongue numbing effect to ameliorate the chilli burn; the Signature Sake broth; a fresh tomato soup; the ubiquitous Pork Bone soup and the pièce de résistance, their Fresh Clam Soup. The price per soup is RM20 with a special of “four for the price of three” and Clam Soup is RM40. Their pots are able to hold four different soup bases so it’s a great opportunity to order a mixture so your guests can choose to suit their palate. Top ups are included.

Fun Begins

Now the fun begins. There is a choice of 10 sauces for dipping with the main ones of Szechuan, satay, signature and sesame to which can be added spring onions, coriander, garlic, birds eye chillies, lime wedges; all of which are lined up in a help-yourself fashion and replenishments are unlimited.

The handmade options include pork, beef, lamb and shrimp meatballs, large, round and juicy. Particularly yummy are their pork (RM7-RM12 half/full portions) and shrimp meatballs (RM10-18) half/full. And you have a choice of handmade spinach or tomato noodles (RM5-9 half/full). In the meat section, the specials here are their Iberico pork slices (RM26-48 half/full) and their Wagyu Beef (marbling 6/7 RM58-98 half/full) while the usual pork belly, lamb loin, chicken breast and (unusual) duck breast is on offer.

Naturally, there is a cornucopia of other goodies like fried snacks while you wait from fish skin (RM5-12) to pork belly (RM10-18); a selection of fish, a wide range of vegetables, other noodles and other exotic offerings like pig’s kidneys and liver and the list goes on.

 

Upstairs Bar

And I haven’t even talked about the bar upstairs! The drinks upstairs are nothing short of superlative. Here the cocktails steal the show.

Using mundane ingredients which we all take for granted, Desmond the star mixologist combines it with ordinary brands like Beefeater Gin and produces a delight with Dou Fu Fa (soya milk), Vanilla syrup and elderflower liqueur, tops it with a chrysanthemum flower and serves it in a Chinese tea mug. Deliciousness itself. Not too sweet even for my non-sweet tooth, RM28.

The next drink had me swooning with nostalgia to see my childhood cough syrup and treats served with such ingenuity. Pei pa koa, also known as loquat syrup, is a herbal remedy which has historically been used by the Chinese for coughing and sore throat. Having grown up with this and the Ga Hing Tse (plum liquorice) as a treat to soothe childhood tantrums, I was delighted to see it combined with bourbon, triple sec, orange peel, and served in an elegant Chinese wine pourer with the delicate wine cups rimmed with sour plum powder. Kudos for creativity (see pic above).

The next drink was Ha Gu Cao (Prunella) honey, ginger, lime and gin. Tangy and interesting. And the list of other interesting cocktails do go on. All RM28 with the exception of the champagne cocktail at RM58. I did want to taste some of their more unusual gins and tried their Botanist Gin on the rocks which came with fresh basil and cucumber. Tantalising, fresh and uplifting.

Star mixologist Desmond Beh, an Ipoh boy who has worked in Singapore for nine years (and still does), together with his Ipoh mates Fly Wong and Seng Yung Khuat (both chefs and manager who helm the food part downstairs), started Red Inn in Ipoh only just a few months ago. It is so heartening to see young people return to Ipoh and this enterprising trio appear to be onto a good formula, judging from the people waiting on the pavement outside.

Welcome to the Ipoh Food scene. Long may you create and prosper.

Red Inn Hotpot
124 Jalan Sultan Yussuf, 30000 Ipoh.
Business hours:  Wednesday-Saturday: 12pm-2pm; 6pm-2am
Sunday:  5pm-2am; closed Monday & Tuesday
Phone: 012 313 0124

 

SeeFoon goes in search of Teochew Food

Musings on Food

by SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Call it Chaozhou, Teochew, or Teochiew as in the case of the Teochiew Restaurant on Maxwell Road but I drive past it almost daily and the name has caught my eye but like most other restaurants that my eagle foodie eye notices, I don’t dare make a move to try it until my intrepid Foodie frontrunner Ginla Chew has checked it out and decided it is worth reviewing that I venture forth, to eat, to taste and to write.

Such is the case with Restoran Teochiew. In the day, it looks nondescript enough but at night, its a bustling hive of activity as local foodies congregate to eat, drink and make merry in this restaurant with its open space next door.

As is typical, this is a fan-cooled-only space but they do lay on the red table cloths if you call to reserve a table. On the day we went, we were a group of six and my foodie friend Ginla was already there when I arrived with my two guests, one an American from Hong Kong and the other from USA.

We had come here specially for the Steamboat or Hot Pot which ‘legend’ (or what passes as legend in Ipoh, which is word of mouth) has it, is very special and very reasonably priced. This we immediately ordered and it arrived with a steaming tureen of bubbling stock and many  plates of goodies to dip into the soup.

Unlike the usual steamboat stock one finds in other steamboat restaurants, this soup is your typical Teochiew one, with preserved mustard greens (Ham Choy), tomatoes and other unknown ingredients. I suspect this stock remains on the stove and is continuously replenished with fresh ingredients, not unlike some Hong Kong chefs who allegedly use the same superior broth that is preserved for decades (according to popular media). I wondered if this restaurant did the same thing but all attempts to get an answer was to no avail.

The ingredients that go into the tangy broth are not your usual off-the-factory-shelf ones. The standard set costing RM40 had nice fresh medium-sized prawns in the shell, chicken slices, jelly fish, homemade minced pork scoops, tofu, regular fish balls and unusual meat-stuffed fishballs. These latter ones are very typically Teochiew and not easily available. The ones here were springy with the minced meat inside providing a burst of umami texture when biting into them.

Vegetables were minimal and we decided to order separately, calling for a big helping of watercress which were young and crispy. We could have re-ordered extra portions and make the hotpot our main meal but we chose to try other dishes instead and waited patiently for them to  arrive.

Other dishes came rapidly, the Keong Nga Kai or Ginger Chicken was well coated with a generous amount of ginger and had good ‘wok hei’ (pan fire), the chicken tender and juicy. Black vinegar trotters followed, not too sweet or sour and the trotter pieces cooked to the right degree of tenderness.

Mustard greens or Ham Choy came next, well married with roasted pork leg and stewed till tender. We then had the Fried Tofu, crispy morsels of soft tofu served with an interesting garlic, chilli and coriander or Chinese parsley sauce.

The two dishes of distinction had to be the following: the Thai Style ‘Otak Otak’ which was tangy, spicy and full of flavour. Made from mixed seafood, the paste that binds it all together was irresistibly fragrant, hints of Thai basil appearing above the melange of other spices and the coconut milk lending its creaminess to the mixture.

This was followed by pork ribs braised in a whole pumpkin, with peanuts providing texture and dried prawns lending their inimitable aroma, elevating the whole dish to new heights. The pumpkin was sweet, tender and juicy and eaten with the stuffing, I found myself in culinary heaven. Something so basic, simple home cooking raised to divine levels.

We finished the meal with the ‘de rigueur’ noodle dish with on this evening and a specialty of the house, was the Kon Lo Meen or the dried fried noodles. This was done just right, with the usual prawns, egg, and green accompaniments; the noodles dry but well coated.

This is one restaurant I would go back to again, a friendly place where the beer is cold, the food hot and some dishes, divine!

Suggested dishes:

Steamboat Set – RM40
Thai Style Otak Otak – RM25
Honey Ginger Chicken – RM12
Black Vinegar Pork Trotters – RM12
Fried Teochiew Tofu – RM8
Pumpkin Pork Ribs – RM26
Braised Mustard Greens with roasted pork – RM16

Teochiew Restaurant
10-Q Jalan Tun Abdul Razak (Maxwell Rd)
Tel: 05 506 3299
Business Hours: 10am-2.30pm and 5pm-midnight
Closed Tuesdays