Help the Small Businesses: Chow Yang Vegetarian Restaurant

Chow Yang Vegetarian Restaurant

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon goes Vegetarian. Again.

I did mention in an earlier article that my inclination towards vegetarianism is getting stronger by the month especially with this lingering pandemic. Not that I believe that being a vegetarian is healthier (in fact some vegetarians I know are distinctly unhealthy with their large amount of carbs and sugar) but cutting back on fatty meats and eating more greens and other vegetables is certainly a good idea. And certainly a healthier option.

But being vegan is a little tougher. No eggs, no butter (no animal fats period), no cheese, no garlic or onions. For some Buddhists, especially monks and Lamas, it is felt that garlic and onions interfere with meditation.

Despite these limitations, at Chow Yang Vegetarian Restaurant, they seem to manage very well, producing dishes that are not only delectable and tasty but have the mouthfeel, look and feel of the original carnivore’s item.

As in the Curry Mutton, mock mutton chunks made from mushroom stems (yes, mushroom stems!) cooked in a dry curry sauce with ladies fingers, long beans, potatoes and served on a bed of lettuce. If you weren’t told that you were eating mock mutton, you would think this was the real McCoy! And yes, the smell was missing but the meat texture was there. The sauce was robust, hearty and while it wasn’t the searing full-on Indian masala of the banana leaf variety, it was mellow, nuanced and mild enough for my two chilli averse Chinese colleagues. RM13-26 depending on serving size. 

Curry mutton

The Assam Fish arrived next, wrapped in seaweed for an oceanic flavour, fried to achieve a crispy “skin” and doused with an Assam sauce, mildly spiced, tangy and served with ladies fingers, tomato chunks and long beans. RM11, 16, 22 for S/M/L. We had a small and hankered for more. 

Assam fish

The Spicy Petai with Prawns was dry-fried with a wonderful crustacean flavour provided by the vegetarian dried prawn. The “prawns” themselves were soft, being produced from konjac, which also provided a textured crunch to the whole dish. Ginger slivers added more aromatic dimensions to the dish. RM11-22.

Spicy petai with prawns

We also tried the Butter Prawns which were deep fried with a batter (which I suspect was made with custard powder) coating each prawn. They were also crispy and from Taiwan. Although too sweet for my taste, my other table mates devoured them with relish. RM13-39.

Butter prawns

Satay Tofu arrived next. Crispy on the outside and beautifully soft and velvety on the inside,  these tofu chunks were topped with a thick satay sauce chock-full of crunchy peanuts and sweetened and toned down for the non spicy palate. RM10-20.

Satay tofu

The Siew Yoke (RM13-26) that arrived next blew my mind. Although in general too sweet for my tastebuds, each piece of the mock pork belly was perfect in its simulation including the layer of “fat” in between the “meat” layers. Quite a feat in manufacturing, which is again in Taiwan. In fact, Chow Yang is the only vegetarian restaurant in Ipoh to carry this product, a tidbit that Managing Director Derek Lee was happy to share with me.

Siew yoke

He also told me that Chow Yang has been operating since 2006 and when asked about MSG (my big bugbear), he assured me that they use the minimum and in fact I suffered very little afterwards and the next morning. 

Considering there appears to be no end in sight for the current pandemic, Derek shared an innovative move which the restaurant is promoting. 

They are now selling packs of frozen food which require a defrosting period of 3-4 hours before they can then be steamed/boiled or reheated in microwave-safe containers. (See pic of the list of takeaways frozen packs.) They are vacuum packed, sterilized and all made and packaged in-house. RM12.90-13.90.

Takeaway frozen packs menu

Chow Yang is definitely the place to go for your ready-to-eat take home food. And if you’re not inclined to make the trip yourself, put in an order on Foodpanda for a delivery straight to your doorstep.

 

Address:
198, Jalan Bercham, Taman Ria, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
11am-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm; opens daily
Takeaway & delivery available through Foodpanda

For inquiries:
014-974 3191

Help the Small Businesses: Suka Kafe

Pictures by Gisele Soo

SeeFoon Ponders on Vegetarianism

“To Be or Not to Be”, Shakespeare’s soliloquy in Hamlet poses the big question and in this case for me, the question is whether to become a vegetarian. 

More and more studies show that the carbon footprint (the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere which affects the global environment) of meat production is much larger than that of grain or vegetable products, not to mention the negative effects of methane released in the rearing of livestock.

By choosing a vegetarian diet instead of one loaded with animal products, individuals can dramatically reduce the amount of land, water and oil resources that they consume and the amount of pollution they otherwise might cause. 

I certainly cannot get on my soapbox to preach. I am an avid carnivore. I love my meat as much as the next person. And my fish too. 

But meat today is often laced with hormones, antibiotics and whatever other additives the animals are given. And fish are now often full of microplastics and heavy metals. 

Unless you buy organic (where to buy organic fish?). Or become vegetarian!

I know I will continue on my carnivore’s path but once in a while I come across a vegetarian restaurant like Suka Kafe to make me wonder if I could become one.

Opened only at the beginning of 2020, Suka Kafe had the misfortune of having to close during MCO but since its relaxation, have been doing takeaways and deliveries. Now, the dine-in service too is in full swing with proper SOPs in place.

Eggs are served at Suka Cafe. But these are not ordinary eggs. Their eggs are unfertilized, certified cruelty-free, non-caged with no antibiotic residues and are usually reserved for 5-star hotels and high-end restaurants (see pic). Their main supplier has a farm in Kampar with a main base in Johor Bahru. So is that special or Is That Special? And they taste special too.

Eggs served at Suka Kafe

Vegans of course can request for no eggs.

We first had their Roti Bakar, with homemade kaya and SCS salted butter. The kaya was fragrant and not overly sweet. Made the traditional way in a double boiler (a lot of work!!), the bread was sliced thicker than in the traditional coffee shops but crispy nevertheless. RM4.50.

We then shared their Mee Jawa, yellow noodles served in a mildly spiced soupy sauce, potato cubes, fried bean curd sheets, half a boiled egg and topped with sliced green, fried shallots and cut chillies. If more spice is needed, ask for their homemade sambal which packs quite a kick. RM7.50.

Mee Jawa

Their Hakka Mee was delicious, the noodles cooked ‘al dente’, with a chopped ‘meat’ topping made from shitake mushrooms and soya protein. You would never know it’s not meat if you were not told. RM11.50.

Hakka Mee

Nasi Lemak came next, served with the usual trimmings of a fried egg, cucumber, peanuts and vegetarian ikan bilis. The rice was fragrant and redolent with santan. The sambal was for me the one ingredient that gave it ‘star’ status. Not too sweet, not overwhelmingly spicy but still packs a punch, all homemade. RM6.50.

Nasi Lemak
Mushroom Pastry Cup

The Mushroom Pastry Cup, a flaky pastry vol au vent case, filled with a cream based white sauce with tuscany button mushroom and flavoured with garlic. Yummy and worth returning for. RM6.50.

Noticing something on the menu that I have been meaning to try ever since it arrived on our shores, the Beyond Meat Burger piqued my curiosity. A burger that looks and tastes like the real thing? My sceptical mind has always denied its advertising hype. So here was the opportunity to sate my curiosity. 

Beyond Meat Burger

Arriving at the table looking exactly as a burger should, the trimmings were all there—a small salad with cherry tomatoes, corn, lettuce, organic cranberry, accompanied by hash browns; the only thing missing was the ketchup! The burger itself really tasted like meat, but more grainy because it is plant based, using peas and mushrooms and other ingredients. Missing was the meat aroma and the redness of medium rare meat which is the way I like my burgers. Also at RM48.00, I’ll stick to my high fat, high cholesterol real meat version. 

Sorry about that, proprietor Lam Kar Weng. I love the rest of your food though. And your wife’s sauces. 

Two more items for me to rave about. The Homemade Banana Roll topped with icing sugar was totally delish and the Kelava ice cream cup, sourced from KL, which uses soya and coconut milk, was totally divine at RM9.00 per cup. Suka Kafe is the only restaurant in Ipoh serving this and is good news for vegans and vegetarians alike.

Homemade Banana Roll
Kelava ice cream cup

Suka Kafe is Muslim friendly. In fact, the chef is a Muslim and there is no alcohol, MSG, added chemicals and the food is left as natural as possible. Their soy protein is certified non-GMO and deliveries or takeaways are served in biodegradable bags or boxes. Their juices too are fresh squeezed and healthy.

On the subject of takeaways, do try their sourdough bread which I can vouch for. Their multigrain sourdough is sold at RM17.00 a loaf. I took mine home and froze it, taking it out and slicing myself  a piece whenever I felt the urge to have a snack. This way it keeps almost forever and toasted with slathers of butter makes me a happy bunny.

While I love the food at Suka Kafe, on second thought I’ll stick to a balanced diet, occasional vegetarian meals and going light on the meat and fish. In the meantime, Suka Kafe has found a fan in me.

 

Address:
50 Lorong Cecil Rae, Jalan Lee Kwee Foh, Taman Canning, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Business hours:
9am-4pm; Closed on Mondays
Takeaways available
Free delivery for orders within Canning Garden and Ipoh Garden areas

For inquiries:
012-501 7111