Help the Small Businesses: De China Restaurant

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon will come back again and again

Fresh. Homemade. Delectable.

What more can anyone ask for when it comes to food? Especially when you cook at the table for yourself.

I have seen the sign many a time, on my way to and from places in Bercham. But unless someone, somewhere on my chat groups or social media raves about a place, I often don’t make the effort to check it out. 

My lawyer friend Philip Leong is a different kettle of fish. He will check out any restaurant or signboard that excites his fancy. And thanks to him, I discovered De China Restaurant.

Thinking it would turn out to be another “Tai Chau” mixed menu restaurant, I traipsed along expecting the ‘same old’ food. To my surprise and delight, I discovered a Hotpot restaurant that is truly superlative.

Proprietor Chow Yau Ming is Mr. Affability himself. An old ACS boy, he was so taken by Philip that our first lunch lasted till way past 3.00pm.

I have to confess to a grave omission on my part as after four visits I have ordered the same soup base!! This is the Tricholoma Matsutake Pork Tripe Stewed Chicken

Firstly, I adore pork tripe. Add that to chicken stock which has simmered for a minimum of 6 hours and with fresh free range chicken added, then you have a meal on its own. My favourite is the one with Matsutake already added.  

Cordycep flowers and dried Matsutake mushrooms

Matsutake are called pine mushrooms, mainly because of their habit of growing near pine trees. The Japanese revere them. The mushrooms have a distinct flavor and are credited with a host of health benefits including being a cancer preventive. Fresh Matsutake can cost up to US$2,000 a kilogram but fortunately we now have dried ones available. At De China they cost RM28 per portion, but if you order the soup base with chicken, pork tripe and  Matsutake, the whole pot is RM88 and replenishment of the soup stock is included. Chicken and pork tripe on its own is RM58.

Another healthy ‘mushroom’, the Cordycep flower, is not technically a flower but rather a cultured cordycep fruiting body that is a fungus. It is touted to be helpful for seasonal allergies with cough symptoms, beneficial for emphysema and bronchitis, anti-aging, improves cardiovascular disease, and helps reduce fatigue. RM28.

Wow! With all those benefits, how can you not order these additions? And they taste good, to boot.

The rest of the ingredients you can order and add to the hotpot is a cornucopia of deliciousness. 

Lets begin with the fresh seafood, like Har Wat (fresh prawn mixed with meat), RM17.90fresh whole sea prawns, RM28; abalone on the shell, RM8 per piece (there is also canned abalone slices at RM18); big scallop, RM29; and sea cucumber, RM33. All highly recommended.

Meatballs and fresh sea prawns
Abalone
Big scallop

Moving to the meat choices: Australian lamb slices, tender and requires minimum cooking, RM20; beef slices, sliced in the kitchen when ordered, RM20; Sakura pork belly, RM10; and divine melt-in-mouth Iberico pork belly (you’re bound to order two portions!), RM21.90.

Iberico pork slices

Homemade additions include very well-seasoned meatballs (RM16) and Gyoza (RM10 for 10). Both of these require longer cooking time so dunk these in at the beginning and enjoy the rest after.

For choice of vegetables, we had the Sai Yeong Choi or watercress, which were young and tender, RM6; and chrysanthemum leaves or Tong Ho, RM8; sliced lotus root, RM6; and a mixed mushroom platter of shiitake, oyster, and white button mushrooms

Of course the most important ingredient for a Hotpot other than the soup base is the chilli sauce, and at De China this too is homemade and yummilicious. Spicy, not too sweet (I detest sweet chilli sauces), mildly garlicky and perfect with all the yummy ingredients.

Finally for those who like rice with their meal, instead of ordering white rice, check out their Lap Mei Fan which comes in a claypot, redolent with the fragrance of Chinese Lap Cheong sausage. RM15.

Lap Mei Fan

De China is now one of my go-to restaurants and I haven’t even explored the rest of the menu which also features individual cooked-to-order dishes like the fried Mantis prawns which Yau Ming insisted we try

Address:
51, Jalan Bercham, Medan Bercham Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak 

Business hours:
11.30am-11pm, opens daily
Takeaways available 

For inquiries:
05-541 6660

Help the Small Businesses: Dim Sum Paradise

Pictures by Gisele Soo

Dim Sum Paradise

SeeFoon is in Paradise 

Ipoh appears to be going through a renaissance in Dim Sum appreciation. Most established Dim Sum restaurants like Ming Court, Yoke Fook Moon, Foh San, Dynasty Palace and others have devotees who will defend their favourite as the best. In my case, I have always touted Zui Le Xuan as the creme de la creme. 

But recently, I have to let in a newcomer and say “Move over Zui Le Xuan, there is a new kid on the block”. While I will always be faithful to Zui Le Xuan for their special old time favourites which are not available anywhere else like their “Foong Wong Kao” and their Ginger Chicken Pao and many others, the recently opened Dim Sum Paradise in Ipoh Garden, (former Kao Li premises just behind Wooley Centre) is now wowing diners with their finesse and delicacy in offering up these dainty morsels. 

I had a nostalgic moment remembering the Dim Sum I was spoilt with living in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. But guess what dear readers? The Dim Sum served up at Dim Sum Paradise can give some of the Hong Kong Dim Sum I have had a run for their money!

But Dim Sum is Dim Sum, I hear some of you saying. And I totally disagree. There is Dim Sum and there is DIM SUM. I usually judge the quality of Dim Sum by 3 dishes: their Har Gao, Siew Mai and the Cheong Fun (in particular their Tsa Leong or the rice roll wrapped around the Chinese fried “cruller”). 

Deep Fried Youtiao Cheong Fun

And Dim Sum Paradise did not disappoint. The skin of the Har Gao and the Cheong Fun has to be translucent, very thin and still pliable. The prawns in the Har Gao must be springy and big enough to enjoy the mouthfeel and texture. For the Cheong Fun, the rice wrapper must also be translucent and even more smooth and velvety than the Har Gao skin. In the case of the Tsa Leong, the filling of Youtiao must be crispy. 

They were all these and more, the flavour needing no enhancing with Chilli sauce or soya. Plus they were all in bite sized portions, delicate and refined and very yummy. All without the use of MSG, with everything steamed or fried upon order. 

To my delight, I discovered they had one Congee which I was searching high and low for in Malaysia. This is the Teng Tsai Jook or ‘Sampan Congee’, a thin rice porridge with seafood bits in it like cuttlefish and other goodies, a comfort food I developed a taste for in Hong Kong.

Teng Tsai Jook or ‘Sampan Congee’

The Restaurant is family-run, led by Leong Chee Ming and his wife Ann. Their daughter Leong Kah Yui helms the front of the house taking orders and seating diners while Mum and Dad act as affable hosts, watching solicitously over the diners.

All dishes are handmade and homemade by Ann’s brother who picked up his Dim Sum skills under the tutelage of a HK masterchef while working in a 5-star hotel in the UK. With 51 items to choose from, I was dazzled by the assortment and ordered my favourites as well as checked out their specials. Everything is freshly made on premises and dishes are only prepared upon order. The added attraction for me was the promise of no MSG which guarantees my repeat business.

Char siew sou (honey char siew puff)

Must try Dim Sum here include their Char Siew Sou (honey char siew puff), RM5.10; Hoi Sin Mai (seafood dumplings), RM6.20; King Prawn Cheong Fun, RM6.60, the prawns ocean fresh and springy to the bite; Deep Fried Youtiao Cheong Funwhat The Hong Kongers call Tsa Leong, RM5.60, the fried dough super crispy served with a special dip, highly recommended and yummilicious; Har Guin (fried prawn bean curd rolls), RM6.10; Fish Dumplings or Yu Mai that had a nice springy bite to them, as did their Fried fish balls, RM4.80. There were also the Pan-fried Prawn and Pork with Chives Dumplings, RM5.10, which were a special treat for me as I haven’t had these since my Hong Kong days; Scallop and Prawn Dumplings, RM6.20; Deep Fried Char Siew bun with their homemade char siew, RM5.40 and their Har Mai (prawn dumplings) at RM5.80.

Deep Fried Char Siew bun
Pan-fried Prawn and Pork with Chives Dumplings
Scallop and Prawn Dumplings
Har Guin

Need I mention that their Siew Mai, consisting of pork with a bit of prawn (RM6.20) and Har Gao (Crystal Prawn Dumplings), RM6.20, were really at the top of their class.

The creme de la creme was yet to come: their egg tarts. Now Ipoh is famous for their egg tarts which we can buy from a few well known locations, but these egg tarts were bite-sized, the pastry melt-in-mouth flaky and to die for. 3 for RM4.80.

Bite-sized egg tarts

I must also praise the chef for their homemade chilli oil/sauce. A nostalgic reminder of what used to be served in HK as XO sauce (but in most places you had to pay for it), here at Dim Sum Paradise, you can request for their precious sauce, where I could taste dried prawns, garlic and other secret ingredients, for free.

Our dear readers will be pleased to know that if they show this article on check out at Dim Sum Paradise, a bill of  more than RM60 will get you a 5% discount and RM120, 10%. So what are you waiting for? Go for breakfast, morning tea or lunch…their last order is at 2.30pm.

 

Address:
48, 50, Lengkok Canning, Taman Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
6.45am-3pm, 2.30pm last call
Open daily
Takeaways available for uncooked Dim Sum (their staff will instruct on how to cook them at home)

For inquiries:
05-541 7738

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!

Little Tiger Char Koey Teow

SeeFoon wallows in all her childhood hawker foods. Newly-opened restaurant Little Tiger is a call to the Foodies of Ipoh and beyond, that there is a restaurant that can hold its own in our highly diverse food paradise and where local palates are mercurial and extremely critical.

SeeFoon wallows in all her childhood hawker foods

Pictures by Yugin

The tiger is one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals. People born in the year of the tiger are thought to be competitive, self-confident and brave.

For Sally Wong to call her newly-opened restaurant Little Tiger is a call to the Foodies of Ipoh and beyond, that there is a restaurant that can hold its own in our highly diverse food paradise and where local palates are mercurial and extremely critical.

But Little Tiger can definitely hold its head up high and soon count itself among the luminaries in the Ipoh hawker food scene.

For me, the fact that it is air-conditioned is already a plus point. The decor is cheerful with tropical beach scenes along one wall complete with coconut palms and when you take a photo beside the wall, people will think you’re at some idyllic beach location. The tables are clothed in batik, topped with glass and the serving bowls are all porcelain. Not that that matters of course when it comes to eating out. It’s the quality of food that counts and here it doesn’t disappoint.

Also, their pricing is reasonable . . . and yes you can get the same dishes outside for less but consider the heat, the jostling for tables and the waiting, not to mention the hygiene; and Little Tiger wins hands down.

With a partner/Chef Raymond Khoo who hails from Penang, their Char Kway Teow (one of my fave hawker dishes) comes with cockles, Chinese sausage and fresh medium-sized prawns. Fried just the way I like it . . . dry, not sweet, with oodles of chilli sauce fried with the noodles and not on the side, lots of bean sprouts and the pièce de résistance, a generous topping of chu yau char or fried lardons, RM9.90. The last time I ordered this I emphasised to the chef to make it extra hot but still it wasn’t spicy enough. I guess people don’t realise what an insane chilli palate I have!

Social media and also some of my friends were not impressed by the food when they went in the early days of opening (only around two months) but they have certainly picked up speed and most of the items I tasted a week ago were “must come back to eat again” quality.

Like the Vinegar Trotters, not too sour, not too sweet, the trotter chunks braised to the right degree of tenderness, the skin clean and without hair, RM15.90.

Vinegar Trotters

Their Chicken Curry was excellent, with their own distinctive blend of curry paste and served with potatoes in the gravy, RM8.90. This curry can be eaten with plain rice or their toasted bread which was crunchily crispy and is also part of a set with half-boiled eggs or it can be eaten with their Nasi Lemak served with either blue (from blue pea flower) or turmeric rice.

Nasi Lemak with the chicken curry

The sambal in the Nasi Lemak set was delicious, in the old sambal belacan style, the rice had adequate santan but the only disappointment was their ikan bilis and peanuts, (why did they add sugar?) and the ikan bilis was not crispy, RM13.90.

Their homemade Lobak (meat paste wrapped in bean skin and deep-fried) was tasty, redolent with 5-spice powder and actually for my taste, quite lean. Fat averse eaters will be pleased to know this, RM9.90.

Lobak

Two of my favourite noodle dishes followed. The first, a Fried Prawn Mee was yummilicious. Soaking in prawn broth yet, fried to a point to allow the broth to be absorbed into the mix of meehoon and yellow mee, the prawns were medium-sized, with bits of pork, greens, egg, and served with a superlative dry sambal which imbued the noodles with an extra layer of yum. And need I mention chu yau char . . . a generous topping of them, RM9.90.

Fried Prawn Mee
Prawn Mee

 

Equally laudable was their soup Prawn Mee, the stock simmered with prawn shells and pork bones, again embellished by the addition of their delicious dried prawn sambal, served with bean sprouts and kangkong and good-sized prawns which were very fresh. With the NO MSG sign printed on their menu, I found I could dare slurp the soup with equanimity, RM9.90.

They also have Tai Luk Meen, a thick wheat noodle pan-fried with a dark soya sauce with the usual garnitures, RM9.90.

Tai Luk Meen

Then came the desserts, a tempting plate of Kuih Muih to choose from. The selection will vary from day to day and as these are all homemade, the taste and texture were all superlative. It was a hard decision but as we were a fair-sized group we managed to select a sampling and tucked in. I particularly enjoyed the Kueh Talam and the Ubi Kayu (tapioca) topped with coconut, RM1.50-RM2 each.

Kuih Muih

Address:
LITTLE TIGER CHAR KOEY TEOW
98 Jalan Raja Ekram, Kampung Jawa, 30450 Ipoh.
Tel: 012 516 9833

Business hours:
Daily (8am-4pm, 6pm-10pm)
2 days off every 2 weeks.

 

Little Village: SeeFoon goes Pubbing

Little Village IpohPubs used to have the most boring food. Some peanuts, a bowl of potato chips or other nibbles and that’s that. Today, with the competition becoming increasingly intense, pubs have become a lot more innovative, and serve interesting food to seduce their customer’s palate. So instead of customers coming in for an evening cocktail or two, before heading somewhere for dinner, they can now come in for a cocktail or two or three and stay right there for dinner. Especially when the menu is temptation itself.

Little Village is just one of these pubs. Located on a corner lot in the busy Ipoh Garden East area on Jalan Medan Ipoh 5, this pub is not only tempting customers with its karaoke and drinks menu but is moving strongly into the restaurant business with its food offerings.

Little Village IpohTheir menu is an extensive one, complete with snacks, appetisers, mains both western and oriental and of course their very big drinks menu with many beer offerings at very competitive prices and my favourite, apple cider Somersby available in draught form, at RM15 for one pint and RM36 for 3 pints.

Some of my dear readers may not be much into drinking. In that case, worry not, as Chong Teik Kee or simply Kee as he is called, the young proprietor, has taken that into consideration and has provided for a large covered outdoor patio complete with ample fans for you to sit out and enjoy dinner before the loud music begins. So bring your kids and your grandparents too to enjoy the food. And who knows, maybe your ‘grans’ or parents may even enjoy the music and sing a song or two!

For starters, their egg and bacon salad is jolly good, with a very smooth, sesame flavoured dressing, generous on the bacon (real pork) and topped with toasted sesame seeds; RM12.

Little Village Ipoh

Or have it with duck breast (same preparation); RM18. Another “picky” as I like to call them, meaning finger food, is the fried chicken wings, crispy on the outside and juicy and succulent inside (eat your heart out KFC!), and served with a tangy chilli sauce; RM14.

We were a very large group that day so we had the opportunity to try many different dishes. Of these I would recommend the following:

Their Iberico spare ribs are second to none. Marinated very simply as explained to me by Kee’s mother Ngai Yee Kun, who is the main chef in the kitchen, these ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, juicy and utterly delectable. Eaten with fingers of course (!!), gloves are provided so you won’t have to end up with grease all over. RM128 will serve 3-4 pax.

Little Village Ipoh

And using the same Iberico pork their homemade Char Siew is similarly yummilicious. Dripping with honey, fat marbling throughout the meat, the slices melting as they slide down your gullet; RM48 for a serving for 2.

They also have a pizza menu at very reasonable prices from a Margarita to the Bacon and Boiled egg; RM10-RM16. But the piece de resistance came when my foodie kaki Ginla Chew challenged Kee to produce a “Chu Yow Char” (pork lardons) pizza. Kee rose to the challenge and sure enough, there it was, oozing with cheese and topped with these crunchy bits of rendered pork fat. Totally satisfying to those with pork-raised taste buds. In fact, it was voted unanimously by all at our table as a “must have’ at Little Village. Must order in advance; RM16.

Little Village Ipoh

Now for some of the Asian offerings. Kee’s mum is a formidable cook, dishing out home recipes with an inimitable flavour as in their “Lo Kai”, a soya sauce braised chicken leg with flavour that permeates to the bone, the sauce a rich umami coating quite unlike the thin soup found in other places; RM13. We also checked out their fried bihun, rice vermicelli fried with the usual garnitures and served with their homemade sambal; very tasty and the sambal lent the perfect touch; RM12. The same sambal used to fry rice is also delectable. RM12.

Other mains worthy of mention include their Chicken Chop, the fried chicken still slightly crispy at the edges and a choice of sauces from Black Pepper to Mushroom. Also, their Mongolian Chicken Chop, spicy with sesame seeds and a tinge of sweetness is delicious. All RM19 each. While their Pork Chop with onion sauce at RM22 is particularly good.

So bring the family, have an early dinner and leave when the music gets too loud. And for the clubbers and younger people, don’t bother with dinner reservations elsewhere. Spend your evening at Little Village and eat, drink and be merry all evening.

Most family-run food and beverage outlets thrive because of the closeness and loyalty of the family unit. In Little Village’s case, with mum in the kitchen, Kee out front and dad Chong Ah Kong keeping a keen eye on things, Little Village will be around for a long time. Keep up the good work Kee.

 

Little Village
Jalan Medan Ipoh 5, 31400 Ipoh.
Tel: Chris 018 288 2142 for reservations
Business hours:  Sunday-Thursday 4pm-1am; Friday/Saturday 4pm-2am
Open: 24/7

GLK Restaurant: SeeFoon goes fishing in Vivo Square

I am often asked by my readers, where I find all these restaurants that I write about. My stock reply is, “When you have different groups of friends who are all Foodies, each group will have their own preferences and naturally gravitate to discovering their particular type of cuisine. And I am the lucky beneficiary of their explorations.”

The latest discovery was made by Francis Raj a fellow Foodie Kaki of Ginla Chew, my intrepid explorer friend of all good things culinary.

At two months old, the restaurant called GLK Restaurant is located in the newly-opened Vivo Square on Jalan Kuala Kangsar. Although relatively small inside, the open space outside facing into the square is ample.

Proprietor Mr Foong Ngei Jee explained his main reason for opening the restaurant. “I supply frozen wild caught river fish to many restaurants, some of them hard to come by and all caught by Orang Asli. The fish is immediately frozen and delivered to my regular restaurant clients. However, I have been toying with the idea that I can do a better job at cooking and serving up some of this fish in my own kitchen and my own restaurant. Hence, I took the plunge and opened GLK restaurant,” he declared.

Although Foong still supplies his fish to restaurants, he hopes that he can entice new individual customers to come and try his delectable wild-caught river fish at his restaurant.

Of course, other Chinese dishes are also on the menu like Free Range Chicken cooked in rice wine and ample slivers of ginger with the usual accompaniments of wood-ear fungus in a sweet broth, redolent of ginger and wine. RM38 for a half chicken and his 3-Cup chicken, made with sweet soy and oyster sauce RM22 (small). And for me the ‘offally’ good pigs fallopian tubes fried with dried prawns; RM22.

But let me get to the fish as this is really a speciality fish restaurant. Their homemade Saito Fish (Wolf Herring) fish balls were bouncy and firm to the bite (the way fish balls are meant to be) and at RM1.20 per piece, was a good way to start the meal.

We followed this with another fish dish the Hong Mei Mao in cubes, braised in a clay pot. This fish had no bones, very tender to the bite and one of my favourites of the evening. Locally known as Bawang Merah; RM7 for 100g.

The whole steamed fish complete with its scales which can be eaten or deep fried was the Kerai Putih from Pahang at RM12 for 100g. This fish had smooth and sweet flesh but one had to be careful of the bones. It would certainly be interesting to come back and ask for the scales to be fried. That would certainly be a new taste sensation for me – the ever curious foodie.

We then had the Saito Belly steamed with a sweetish, assamy, spicy sauce (but you can choose whichever style you’d like it cooked) which I found a tad too sweet but the fish was fresh to my taste buds; RM60.

We had a lesson in wild-caught river fish. From his freezer, Foong took out two humongous fish. The smaller of the two was a Tapah Kuning, a giant catfish-like fish which sells for RM120 per kg. And the next was this giant Hoong Kat Loh or Kelah Merah which sells for RM250 per kg. The Ikan Kelah Merah or Red Mahseer has been crowned the “king” of the Malaysian river not for no reason – the expensive and elusive fish is the dream catch of any angler or the sought-after dish of any gourmet.

 
GLK RESTAURANT
Vivo Square, 1 Jalan Lang Jaya 2,
Pusat Komersial Jaya, 30010 Ipoh.
Tel:  011 1193 6038
GPS:  4.634458, 101.089710
Opening hours:  11.30am-9.30pm

This Noodle Shop In Ipoh Doesn’t Need Little Fresh Meat To Win Your Heart

When the proprietor Bryan Tai of this new restaurant wrote to us to invite us to come and taste his food, I was sure he had made a spelling mistake in the choice of a name. Surely Little Meet Fresh should be Little Meat Fresh? I thought.

To my surprise, there was no mistake to the spelling at all. Bryan wanted his restaurant to be a meeting place where fresh food is served. So there Ms Proofreader! *Little Fresh Meat (xiao xian rou) is an internet buzz word in China used to describe handsome young males. It is most commonly used for celebrities, particularly a rising star.

The menu is small (which is a good thing as it makes decisions so much easier) with most of the items based on soup. The soup stock is based on three fragrances: ikan bilis, pork bones and Chinese wine. Depending on what you order and the different combos, the resultant soup will taste different from bowl to bowl.

For starters, choose from fried fish cake, fried wonton, fried tsui gao (the bigger dumpling) or their homemade Acar (very good), each at RM5.60. For me, I had their Red Oil Dumpling, spicy, smooth-skinned with a well-balanced filling of pork, wood ear and given a crunch with added sengkuang. Other ways to have their tsui gao is fried or in clear soup.

Other starters are their Bursting Meatball, a springy pork ball with a surprise filling of flavoured minced pork inside. Six pieces for RM8.80. Be careful when you bite in though; when it’s hot you can burn yourself.

Then we turned our attention to the main bowls. Here you can choose from a choice of noodles from meehoon, flat rice noodles, yellow noodles to silver thread noodles and mi xian for which you pay an additional RM1.50. You can have yours with a spicy soup which is also homemade for an additional RM0.50. The choice of topping is tantalising. From minced pork with pork liver to liver and pig’s tripe (my favourite) combos, with added vegetables, these bowls are hearty meals. Varying in price from RM7.50 for the pork mixes to RM17.50 for their mixed seafood which includes two large prawns, grouper slices and homemade fish paste all of which tasted fresh.

Beef noodles, beef slice as shown at pic below

 Beef slice

 Tomato fish noodles with fish paste

 Pork noodles with pork cake

 Pork stomach

 And you can add any of the other ingredients to your bowl of choice for an additional amount. This is one restaurant I will certainly return to again for a quick bite or a longer meal.

 
LITTLE MEET FRESH
17 Jalan Medan Ipoh 6, Taman Ipoh Timur, 31400 Ipoh.
(same row as 1919 and two doors down from Sun Yeong Wai)
Tel: 011 5338 2800 Bryan Tai:  018 6622 800
Open: 11am-8.30pm.  Off every Tuesday.

Ipoh Boy’s Cooking Got Approved By The Thai King

It’s been open only six months and already garnering a coterie of fans, especially those who like the clean wholesome taste of Cantonese cuisine and its very light saucing.

I don’t know how Chef/Owner William Yap does it but his soups and his sauces are inimitable. And the name of the restaurant says it all. Called Hao Xian Wei which when translated to ‘excellent fresh taste’, is exactly what you get here.

When the chef personally chooses the fish, sources his sauces and titivates the sauces and marinades himself to add extra layers of flavour, you know you’re onto a good thing. Chef William, an Ipoh boy who has spent over 10 years in Thailand and has received recognition from the Thai King himself, is bringing his special brand of culinary skill back to his hometown and is already creating a stir amongst the foodies here.

With the escalating prices around the type of fish one orders when entertaining friends and the game of one-upmanship is played, to order Siakap is about as downmarket as it comes, tantamount to committing social suicide. Siakap (Barramundi) is a common fish placed probably just above the ubiquitous Tilapia on the snobbery scale. Yet the Siakap belly, cut in pieces and steamed to perfection with a divine soya sauce was as good as any expensive fish you get elsewhere. From RM13 small and RM20 large.

It’s all in the saucing. William personally goes to market every day and buys all his fish and meat. He buys the big Siakap choosing those at a minimum of 4kg. This he then cuts into the various sections and dishes out whatever customers want. You can choose tail, belly, head, fins, you name it, and decide if you want it in soup (superlative, with no MSG, simmered with fish bones, ikan bilis, dried fish), plain steamed or even Thai-style (not my favourite). He even gets fresh “Fah Gao” or fish bladder from the fish he buys and serves that if you wish. Knowing how expensive Fah Gao is dried, I found the fresh version totally satisfying. Price is seasonal so ask first.

Another surprise is his steamed black pomfret. This lowly fish is usually relegated to the curry pot and yet under the masterful eye of William and his special secret sauce, it comes out superlative. 1kg RM60 We also had blanched Squid (Wong Ka Lon) which arrived springy and resilient but not tough. RM20

 All this talk of fish and I forgot to mention the starter which was an ice plant salad (now the latest rage vegetable), dressed in thousand island and topped with fried black and white sesame seeds. RM25. Wonderful.

Having raved on about the fish, I must mention the meats. Although limited, each meat dish is special, like the Woo So Kai, or bearded chicken as it says on the menu was steamed: tender, juicy and utterly delectable. Eat it with their two sauces, garlic, chilli, onions, coriander and their ginger sauce (all fresh made) and you’ll swoon. RM30/60 S/L.

Now we come to the pork. Two styles of doing pork belly and both yummilicious. On one occasion I had their pork belly done Korean-style, marinated in a Korean sauce and coated with Hong Kong Ham Har Cheong (salted prawn paste), then deep fried to perfection, the fatty bits melt in your mouth; RM20.

Another style of serving pork belly is braised, the sauce thick and sweetish, each morsel a mouthful of heaven. I won’t even venture to guess what went into the sauce. Suffice to say it was delectable. They make only six portions of this a day so it is wise to order in advance; RM30.

I haven’t tasted Ham Har Cheong in years and the prawns coated with it came last and it brought back memories of my time in HongKong. The prawns were very fresh and firm to the bite and the prawn paste added another layer of taste to the dish.

A final word about the rice. I am not much of a rice eater but this fragrant Thai rice topped with a generous portion of Japanese garnish of seaweed, sesame and bonito really make it so tempting that I finished a whole portion by myself!

Welcome home, William. I love your passion for curating the best dishes in your restaurant.

 
Restoran Hao Xian Wei
11 Jalan Medan Ipoh 6, (a few doors down from 1919 in the corner)
Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh 31400 Ipoh.
Patrick Cheong: For reservations: 012 431 1070
William Yap Chef/Owner for ordering (in Cantonese only): 017 4216523
Open:  12pm-9pm
Closed:  2 days a month; Tuesday and Wednesday (not fixed).

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

 

Yuk Sou Hin: SeeFoon Discusses Dishy Options for Chinese New Year and Beyond

With Chinese New Year (CNY) around the corner, it’s time to start booking restaurants or suffer the consequences of tardiness. Of course, we know that all the good Chinese restaurants will be full to overflowing and if you haven’t yet booked your reunion dinner for Chinese New Year’s Eve on February 4, now is the time to pick up the phone.

One restaurant that is well ahead in its planning is the Yuk Sou Hin at WEIL Hotel. The whole Chinese kitchen is being moved to their ballroom where they can easily accommodate 600 people. Packages priced from RM668 for four and beginning at RM1288 to RM2998 for a table of 10, the latter offering two head Australian abalone, American lobster and Australian coral grouper, (all high-value items). All packages naturally feature Yu Sheng and their famous Tea Smoked Duck, with its light crispy skin, the delicate lichee wood smoke permeating both the meat and the skin, dipped into a mildly sweet plum sauce, is heaven in a mouthful.

I had my first “Lo Hei” (Yu Sheng) of the season here, the tossing of fine tendrils of white radish, carrots and a cornucopia of other titbits including a choice of Pak Fan Yu (whitebait) salmon fish skin, jellyfish, soft-shell crab and abalone starting with salmon at RM78/98 S/L, and going up to abalone at RM148/RM228. Affable and chatty KC Tong, who is back in charge after a long hiatus (hurray!), was waxing lyrical about Chef Chan’s new offerings for CNY.

I had just returned from Hong Kong, touted to be the zenith of Cantonese food and I have to admit that without pork (pork-free restaurant), Chef Chan Kong Tung has curated dishes on par with any of the top ones there.

There is an indefinable taste, texture, aroma and mouthfeel to superlative Cantonese dishes, relying primarily on the freshness of ingredients, skill of the Chef and the “wok hei” or “spirit of the wok”; unlike other regional Chinese cuisines which tend to be heavier on their saucing, spices and other devices. This is achieved by Chef Chan, especially when I tasted their Crystal Prawns, ocean fresh and umami, with pine nuts, celery, carrots, cloud ear, water chestnuts and celery, lending contrasting taste and textures.

For fish with a difference, instead of the usual steamed fish, KC suggested the Lo Dun or giant grouper slices steamed with garlic and interestingly, thinly sliced dried tangerine peel, lending a novel zest to the otherwise bland fish, prized for its velvety thick skin.

Waxed meats are de rigueur at this time of the year and surprisingly, all the waxed meats in the Fried Rice are specially ordered and made from duck, lending its sweet smoky flavours to the rice which was fried to grain by grain perfection.

To end the meal we had the Nian Gao only served during this season, a glutinous rice cake sandwiched between taro and sweet potato slices and fried to oozing yummydelicousness. A “died and gone to heaven” dish that I couldn’t resist having a second portion. Be careful of biting down too soon as the melted rice cake is a volcanic eruption in the mouth and it can burn!

So don’t wait, eat these dishes before CNY.

 

Yuk Sou Hin @ WEIL Hotel

292 Jalan Sultan Idris Shah.

Tel: 05 208 2103