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!

Dynasty Palace: SeeFoon tracks down best “Wu Kok” in Ipoh

Having lived in Hong Kong for an extensive period of my life, “yum cha” (in English to drink tea) was a common experience that probably occurred at least once a week. No I’m not referring to the tea with milk variety served with petit fours and cucumber sandwiches but the gustatorial feasts of delectable plate upon plate and steam basket upon basket of small, sweet or savoury dishes, each one a “light touch on the heart” which is what Dim Sum means.

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumThis culinary tradition is said to have begun thousands of years ago when those who travelled along the ancient Silk Road through China would often need a place to rest before continuing on their journey. In response to the increasing amount of people passing through, teahouses opened up along the roadside of southern China. It was later discovered that tea aids digestion, so teahouse owners began offering bite-sized snacks as an accompaniment, and thus yum cha was born.

Finding a foothold in Hong Kong was easy and from there, Dim Sum was a hop step and jump to all the locations in the world where the Chinese settled and missed their culinary traditions.

Since living in Ipoh, my heart has not been “touched” much as I have had difficulties finding the definitive Yum Cha or Dim Sum (often used interchangeably) place to either whet or sate my appetite for delectable morsels.

But now all that has changed with my rather late discovery of Dynasty Palace, a gem of a ‘Yum Cha’ restaurant that has eluded my foodie ‘tentacles’ because it is somewhat off the beaten track for me.

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumDynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsumSituated in Station 18 directly opposite Aeon, the restaurant appears small when you look at the entrance but on entry I discovered that it is very spacious, occupying two shop lots. And this is where I found the best ‘Wu Kok’ in all of Ipoh.

Having been spoilt for choice all those years in Hong Kong, my definitive Wu Kok (a taro paste-deep-fried-dumpling with meat filling), is crispy, with lace tendrils flying, tongue-burning-straight-off-the-oil fresh, crunchy on the exterior, followed by a velvety smooth taro pastry and filled with beautifully flavoured meat farce.

And this they had in Dynasty Palace. As well as a host of unusual Dim Sum delicacies not found elsewhere in Ipoh.

Not surprisingly, on chatting with proprietor Tim Lee and partner Chef Ben Lew, I surmised that their Dim Sum is all “homemade” unlike some other Dim Sum establishments who are supplied by factories. And the biggest surprise of all is that Chef Ben learnt his craft in the UK under the tutelage of a HK ‘Sifu’ or Master Chef.

So it is UK’s loss and Ipoh’s gain as this pair has come home to roost, bringing with them years of training with some of the best chefs that HK has lost through migration.

For the purposes of this review, I shall only concentrate on the unusual items, those which I consider the well worth trying items on their menu which is very extensive. All of the other typical Dim Sum items are there but as space is limited I shall only dwell on the ones that impressed my palate.

Aside from the Wu Kok, the ‘must trys’ are their Bean Curd Skin Cheung Fun, a delicate steamed rice pancake wrapped around deep fried bean skin; deep fried Char Siew Pao (their steamed ones are good too); Siew Mai which is ubiquitous but especially good here; Pan Fried meat and vegetable PaoLoh Hon Chai Cheung Fun which is rice pancake wrapped around vegetarian stir-fry; their chicken feet both the deep fried (hot) and their Thai Style, boiled, deboned and spicy (cold) versions; unusual Spinach and Goji berry dumplings; their spinach and prawn dumplingsChives and prawn dumplings; pan fried vegetarian pao; steamed spare ribs which were well seasoned and tender; and last but not least their small delicate custard tarts which are melt-in-your-mouth yummilicious.

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsum

I am told by Tim that their bean skin is imported from Hong Kong as is their Pao flour, which may explain why they’re particularly good.

Expect to pay on the average of RM5.10 per portion with most around RM4.80 and RM5.10  with the odd item as high as RM6.30 and you’ll be more than satisfied with the tally at the end of the meal.

All in all, a brunch here at Dynasty Palace is worth the drive to Station 18.

Dynasty Palace
16-18 Medan Station 18/11
Station 18, 31650 Ipoh.
Business hours: 7am-2.30pm
Tel: 05 321 6419. Off days: Call to check.
GPS 4’ 32 38.81  N  : 101’ 4’ 16.86” E

Dynasty Palace Ipoh, dimsum