Makan Nyonya has always been one of my favourite ‘go-to’ places whenever I felt the hankering for a mix of local dishes. At Makan Nyonya, I get dishes that Grandma used to make as well as yummilicious local specials all in one place without traipsing all over town. I can graze all in one place!
Like moving from Nasi Rendang Chicken(RM7), mixing it with the Pork Nasi Rendang (RM10), then dipping into the Lemak Nyonya Laksa (RM6). In between, nibble on Cucur Udang with its mega-sized prawn and the great dipping sauce, RM3 each. Follow this with Lam Meen (RM6), Pan Meen (RM6) as well as a tasting of their butter cakes: carrot, marble, fruit and banana, and you’ll be staggering from the table. RM3.50 per slice; RM18 per loaf.
With oodles of goodies to share and take small taster bites from, Makan Nyonya is certainly a place to go to, whether to dine in now with RMCO or to ‘tapau’ or takeaway. Also the prices are so reasonable that you can either go with a group or order up a storm to take away.
Since the MCO started, Jason Chai the proprietor very quickly adapted to the situation and set up a buffet spread of dishes to choose from ala economy rice style where you can, from his daily Facebook posts, order the takeaways you want and pick up from the shop.
His culinary touch is reminiscent of home and dishes which your Mum or Grandma used to make. They now even sell homemade ‘Ham Choy’ at RM15 per packet (very good and no additives) which I snapped up immediately and have subsequently cooked it. Excellent taste…not sweet, not salty but just perfect. I was also given a ‘Ham Dan’ or salted egg to taste but sadly that was not for sale. What a pity because I worry about salted eggs from local markets, not knowing what additives or preservatives have been added.
Address: 57, Laluan Tasek Timur 3, Pusat Perdagangan Tasek Indra, 31400 Ipoh, Negeri Perak
Business hours: Tues-Sun. (Closed on Mondays) 7am-3.00pm, 2pm last order
To book or order: 017 469 1228 (Kane) via Whatsapp
The eponymous restaurant has been around almost 30 years and Bee Gaik is still at it, preparing and serving her famous Nyonya dishes to an appreciative clientele. With recipes handed down from her mother, Bee Gaik has been cooking up a storm all these years and the restaurant is holding its own amongst the plethora of new eateries opening (and closing) around her.
Looking like something one is more likely to find in Malacca rather than in the middle of Ipoh Garden South, Bee Gaik Restaurant is definitely old style, its imposing facade complimented with old memorabilia inside, creating the ambiance of a Nyonya Baba teahouse.
And the menu is certainly more Malaccan than what is commonly available here in Ipoh. Especially when it comes to the Perut Ikan, a specialty of the house that is so rare these days and finding one that is well prepared even more precious. Pickled fish intestines that many a squeamish would find abhorrent, is cooked with a mix of vegetables and spices resulting in a dish that looks unappetising on the plate, nevertheless in the masterful hands of Bee Gaik, turns into a taste sensation on the palate, RM12/19/24 S/M/L.
Phuah Bee Gaik is a Nyonya chef from the old school preferring to do things the old fashioned way than to succumb to modern shortcuts. Like her Ju Hu Char, that distinctive Nyonya dish that requires hours of labour-intensive cutting and slicing to produce the fine chiffonade of yam bean (machines cannot compete) which is fried with tau cheong or preserved bean paste (only the merest hint) and topped with slivered dried squid. The homemade chilli sauce is dolloped onto the yam bean, which you wrap in lettuce leaf, is a mouthful of heaven, RM12/24 S/L.
Another delightful treat is the Tung Po Yoke, quivering pork belly, braised to a jelly-like consistency and served with mantou, steamed Chinese bread. This requires a lot of skill and patience to slowly braise the pork which high heat will render stringy and tough. Totally melt-in-mouth divine, RM18.
For those looking for a quick bite, check out the Nyonya Asam Fish slices noodle soup. The fish slices were Garupa, firm and fresh in texture, combined with brinjal chunks and redolent with the aroma of kaffir lime leaves.The whole dish is tangy without being overly spicy, the spices well blended for a deliciously slurpy soup/sauce, RM8.50. And while eating that, share an Otak Otak, a very typical Nyonya egg/seafood custard made with coconut milk, spices, redolent of lemon grass with slices of fish and steamed in a cocotte.
Salted Fish Achar was interesting. Pickled onions, whole shallots, ginger, whole garlic, chillies, salted fish and rempah, not overly spicy but with enough kick to go beautifully with white rice and the other dishes, RM12/18/20.
Chicken Kapitan was coated with a thick coconut milk laden gravy, the spices well blended, and the chicken chunks tender, RM17/26/34 for S/M/L and we finished off the meal with the Pork Belly Malacca, thinly sliced pork belly, sautéed with onions and topped with loads of scallions.
Bee Gaik Dining Place & Buffet Catering10-10A Tingkat Taman Ipoh 11Ipoh Garden South, 31400 Ipoh.Tel. & Fax: 05 546 8601Business hours: 11.30am-3pm; 6pm-10pm; Closed on Tuesday
My first fish head curry on arriving in Ipoh more than 20 years ago was at the Up and Up restaurant on Jalan Yang Kalsom. Then I used to traipse up the dingy steps or take the rickety lift to the top floor of Wisma Kinta and tuck into my two favourite dishes, the fish head curry and the petai prawns, ignoring all the while the less than salubrious surroundings.
I still do that occasionally now in an ambiance that is a much more appetising one in Ipoh Garden East. Now Up and Up has changed ownership and I was there recently to sample its fare. I have been to the same restaurant under the old management and found myself somewhat disappointed in the quality and so when my friend, lawyer Angie Neoh invited me and my Foodie Kaki Ginla Chew, I was not over-enthusiastic.
To my surprise who should greet me enthusiastically was Andy Boy (Lee Yoke Kai) hairstylist, beautician and tattoo specialist (eyes and lips) extraordinaire who together with his elder sister, has taken ownership and with a new chef, is cooking up a storm.
“Boy, I didn’t realise you’re into food,” I exclaimed, “I thought only in beauty and rejuvenation.’ It turns out that he was very much into food, directing his artistic flair into creating exquisite, unusual and delicate drinks and desserts that are pleasing to both the eye and the palate. For example, his dried tangerine skin which he makes himself is a labour of love. Using fresh tangerine skin, he steams, then dries in the sun and repeats the process nine times and then he mixes in liquorice root powder. The resultant drink which he makes with the skin and freshly squeezed lemon was refreshing and cooling.
Let’s go back to the Fish Head Curry, the signature dish that has made Up and Up renowned and the number one go-to choice for many in Ipoh. Here the curry is mild, tangy, neither too sweet nor too sour, laden with ladies fingers and tomatoes; the fish head market-fresh with sweet flesh. Market price.
Andy’s chef is a different chef from the old management. Ah Po as he is called, has a distinctive flair as every dish that we had was superlative. We started with something that in a Nonya restaurant would be called a Ju Hu Char, finely julienned sang kuang or Mexican Yam Bean and carrots stir-fried with fine slivers of dried squid and chicken served with fresh lettuce cups and a lovely chilli paste. RM14 small, RM21 medium, RM28 large.
The combination bitter melon and pumpkin, called in Chinese Seen Fu Hao Teem (meaning bitter first, finishing with sweetness) finger-size chunks coated in batter and salted egg yolk, was succulent inside and delicately crispy on the outside. RM16 small, RM24 medium, large RM32.
They also do a Fried Chicken in the same batter which is tender, succulent and yummilicious – small RM20, medium RM30, large RM40.
This was followed by the Petai Prawns, easily one of the best I’ve ever had; the thick sambal coating fragrant with belacan, the petai firm and the prawns, large, firm and ocean-fresh – RM28 small, RM42 medium, large RM56.
The Si Yow Wong Gai which is chicken chunks dry braised in dark soya sauce with garlic, onions and topped with scallions. The chicken was tender and succulent and cooked to the right degree of doneness. RM16 small, medium RM24, large RM32.
On another occasion I went totally porky. I was told to try the braised Pork Belly with Chinese shiitake mushrooms, which arrived in a thick brown gravy and best eaten with Man Tou (Chinese steamed buns). The pork was tender with the fat quiveringly jelly-like. Heaven in a mouthful. RM30 small, large RM60.
Another pork dish which is one of those ‘die die, must try’ dishes is the Ham Yu Fah Lam Po or Pork Belly with salted fish. Its one of those dishes that you almost have to eat with white rice just to soak up the sauce which is so aromatic and redolent with the salted fish flavours. Small RM18, medium RM27 and large RM36.
For desserts, there are two light specialties of the house. The first is their Tao Fu Fa or soya bean curd, a fairy light curd, smooth as silk and glides down your throat like a cloud of soothing goodness. The serving wooden tub is a delight to behold and the bean curd comes with a choice of two syrups, ginger and gula melaka (small RM8, big RM16).
The next is an ‘Andy Boy’ special, an intriguing golden square of jelly (the collagen is extracted from two hours of stewing fish scales). It is available in two flavours, guai fa (made of kei chi or goji berries and flesh of longan) and lemon (made of lemon, lemon peel, chan pei (tangerine peel)). The guai fa jelly is best eaten on its own just like that while the lemon one is served garnished with peppermint leaves and lemon slice topped with lemon juice and some salt. Delectable and light – RM4 per slice.
Up and Up Restaurant 33 Jalan Medan Ipoh 10 Bandar Bahru Medan Ipoh 31400 Ipoh Perak. Tel: 05 549 2588 Business hours: 10.30am-3pm and 5.30pm-10.30pm (closed on Tuesdays).