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.
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), RM17.90; fresh 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.
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.
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.
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.
51, Jalan Bercham, Medan Bercham Selatan, 31400 Ipoh, Perak
11.30am-11pm, opens daily