Issue 77- Musings On Food
SeeFoon visits an old favourite…..
My girlfriend and fellow Ipohite, Ella Macdonald of Filipino decent, is not a foodie, nor does she speak Cantonese. To her lunch is a desultory picking of what’s put in front of her, company and conversation taking precedence over food. Yet whenever she suggests lunch, the first place she opts for is Sin Hup Kee.
It certainly isn’t a conducive environment for conversation but since they went up market and put in air-conditioning as well as acoustic mufflers on the ceiling, the noise level has diminished considerably. Company and conversation aside, the reason this is her favourite is that this is one restaurant that tickles her taste buds!
New Family Affair
Sin Hup Kee has been in operation for over 30 years. Formerly situated on Jalan Raja Musa Aziz (Anderson Road), it moved to its present premises on Leong Sin Nam Street 12 years ago. The name which means new collaboration or joint venture, was actually coined when they first started operating as a partnership under the name Hup Kee. When Chef Lau Wah Hoy his wife Tan King Bee decided to go on their own, they added the “Sin” which means “new” to the name.
Today the name is synonymous with home-style cooking at reasonable prices. Judging by the popularity of the restaurant, tables are best reserved in advance However, if you show up on a whim, they make a quick turnover as service is fast and people leave the moment their meal is over and the wait for a table is never more than a few minutes or so during which time, one can order one’s food.
The menu is in handwritten Chinese, so for the non-Chinese speaker, ordering can be somewhat daunting but for readers out there, I’ve included all the Cantonese phonetics, so give it a go.
The dish for which Sin Hup Kee is famous is their Kon Jeen Kai or Honey Chicken. RM7/12/18 for S/M/L. These are chunks of chicken cut Chinese style (on the bone), marinated and dry fried. Every delicious morsel of chicken is generously coated in an almost-black honey-flavoured sauce which clings to the meat and not languishing on the plate as is often the case when this dish is not well executed. The chicken was tender and cooked to perfection…..not too dry and not soggy.
Next to arrive was their Sam Wong Dan literally translated to mean the 3-King Egg. RM5/7. This dish while simple in its method of preparation – the fresh eggs are beaten, mixed with water, salted egg yolk and chopped century black eggs, seasoned and steamed till just set – requires quite a bit of skill in getting the proportions and timing absolutely spot on. The dish arrived velvety smooth with a generous addition of both salted and century eggs.
Then came the Ham Yu Fah Lam Po a sizzling claypot of pork belly sliced paper thin, with onions, dry red chillies, and the piece de resistance salted fish, whose aroma came wafting towards our table even before the dish arrived. RM12. I couldn’t stop picking at this dish throughout the meal and even took an extra spoon of rice to soak up the delectable sauce at the bottom.
The other dishes then came in rapid succession. Their signature Assam Fish Head, cut pieces of fish head peeking out from a tangy, well-blended tamarind sauce that had bite but not spicy enough to intimidate those with timid palates. RM25.
Next to arrive was another signature dish, their Tow Kok, Ai Kwa, Ha Mai, Choi Po special, a fried concoction of long beans, brinjals, dried prawns, preserved turnip and garlic. RM7/8/12. Eaten hot off the wok, this dish is one of the reasons Ella and I keep returning to Sin Hup Kee.
Winning Loyal Fans
Other dishes for which this restaurant has won its fans include their Tong Po Yoke, soya-braised belly pork, RM18/28, This was one of the tastiest braised pork belly I’ve had in a long while. Another equally popular dish is their Vietnamese Curry Chicken or mixed seafood, a pungent dry curry fragrant with curry leaves. RM12/15/22 and their individual portions of Kai Lap Fan a rice dish topped with a sauce made with chicken cubes – RM4 – is certainly value for money.
Sin Hup Kee is open both for lunch and dinner and on weekends, to cater to more people they open up their second floor which in effect doubles the seating capacity. As for me, I prefer to avoid the crowds and if I’m hankering for good old-fashioned Cantonese fare, I’ll just call, place my order and ‘Tah Pau’ or takeaway to enjoy in the comfort of my own home.
Restoran Sin Hup Kee
Address: 17 Jalan Leong Sin Nam, 30300 Ipoh
Operating time: 11.30 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.; 5.00 p.m. –
10 p.m. Closed: Tuesdays