Issue 80- Musing On Food
SeeFoon finds ‘jewel’ in Pasir Pinji….
Ipoh is a treasure trove of food jewels especially in its cache of tucked-away ‘Tai Chao’ literally translated to mean ‘big sauté’ stalls which grow into biggish air- conditioned restaurants.
As I’m always on the lookout for new culinary adventures, my friends have been most obliging in leading me on new explorations, exposing me to taste treats I could never find on my own. One such discovery came from my friend Ginla Foo who introduced me to a new jewel, the Sun Poh Poh restaurant in Pasir Pinji.
Literally translated, the name means New Precious Jewel, a big bright air-conditioned restaurant that, judging by the open kitchen in the front, must have evolved from its ‘Tai Chao’ open-air stall in its early days, to what it is today.
Unlike most other restaurants where the service staff are staring into space and looking at their watches at 11.pm, Sun Poh Poh is one of the few restaurants where you can get a hearty meal late into the night as they stay open till 1.30 a.m. So showing up at midnight for a feast or snack is not an issue. Proprietor Wong Ah Hing is also the Chef and between him and his wife, one is assured of a great meal at all times.
The decor is basic, the room spacious, with tables well spaced out. The usual plastic chairs provide adequate seating and tables have table cloths. Specialties written out in Chinese and pasted in strips on the walls are useful guides for the Chinese reader but otherwise, Mrs Wong will make the recommendations. The service is prompt and efficient as the dishes arrive in quick succession.
Eclectic and Extensive Menu
The menu at Sun Poh Poh is eclectic as well as extensive. While it is essentially a Chinese restaurant, one of its specialities for which its supporters praise highly is their Indian Mee, which is not unlike a Mee Goreng from any Indian hawker stall. This Indian Mee however while spiced with a similar pungency as its street cousins, is a sophisticated version, having sliced fish cake, cuttlefish, tow foo pok or fried bean curd, and a generous helping of prawns, served with limau kasturi, the small local limes – RM10.
A signature dish is their Kwai Lum Heong Woo Kuen or Fried Saito fish roll mixed with taro and given a crunch with water chestnuts. This dish has to be ordered at least a day in advance. Wu Tao Mun Pai Kuat or Spare ribs braised with taro is worthy of note as is their taro braised with dried prawns, the latter served almost as a paste with the bits of dried prawns providing texture.
Unusual dishes here include their frogs legs done two styles, either steamed with chicken’s essence, Kai Chap Tsing Teen Kai or Kung Po style which is spicy and laced with aromatic curry leaves; their yellow eels braised in soya sauce and their Yi Heong Ngan Yu Tsai Chow Fan, an interesting fried rice heady with the aroma of Thai Basil, and fried with tiny white anchovies and long beans.
Other meat dishes include their many styles of presenting spare ribs including the Fo Yim Pai Kuat, their marinated fried spare ribs, drunken chicken, Marmite Chicken and their Chui Pei Heong Siu Kai, Crispy Skinned Fried chicken which is available only on Saturdays and Sundays. Their steamed pomfret, which are medium sized, are very fresh and steamed to perfection. Vegetables include their Ham Dan Keh Tsee or brinjals fried with salted egg and their Kwai Tao Choi Po, baby long beans fried with preserved turnip.
Prices at Sun Poh Poh are reasonable with an average dinner working out at around RM15-20 per head depending on what has been ordered. Of course, for those looking for a late night bite, a plate of fried noodles or fried rice will set you back a maximum of RM5-8 per person. Good value for good food at those times when you’re hankering for food and most restaurants are closed.
Address: 1334-1335 Jalan Pinji, Pasir Pinji, 31650 Ipoh. Tel.: 05 2537273. Open: 5.30 p.m.-1.30 a.m.
Closed: Mondays – every fortnight.