I have been hearing the name of Sauk being bandied around for quite awhile from my friends who have been promising to take me there and finally like all these social arrangements which take time to organise, we got a group together one Sunday morning and followed the leader in a procession of cars heading towards Kuala Kangsar.
Sauk is a Chinese new village located between Kuala Kangsar and Lenggong. We followed the North-South highway from Ipoh and exited at Kuala Kangsar toll. It took us only forty minutes to reach our destination.
‘New Old Street’
The restaurant is easy enough to find. Situated on the main road right next to a huge arch proclaiming “Kampung Baru Sauk”, the Restoran Baru Lau Kai (meaning ‘New Old Street’) is on a corner lot with only a few tables and spilling onto the pavement in the evenings no doubt.
Wild Caught River Fish
Sauk is famous for its freshwater fish, usually brought in by local fishermen who fish the rivers for wild freshwater fish. On the day we were there, the freshly caught fish of the day was the Jelawat or Sultan fish which we promptly ordered. A word of caution here: do ask for the price of the fish before ordering or you may be caught with a whopping big bill.
Our Sultan fish that day which was big enough for our group of eight, came steamed to perfection with just soya sauce and ginger. It was steamed with scales on, keeping the flesh inside juicily tender and melted in my mouth instantly. Sultan fish is known for its extra fattiness and the parts around the stomach and fin are particularly yummy. RM70 for 1 kilo.
Not content with one fish, we took the pro-prietress’ recommendation and ordered the steamed Belida belly. This is yet another very fatty fish and the belly is the best part. This came steamed with a ‘tauchu’ (fermented bean paste) sauce of garlic and chillies. RM40.
Next came their signature dishes, the homemade Yin Yang fishballs, one deep fried and the other steamed, each one succulent and bouncy (measure of a good fish ball by Chinese gourmet standards) RM1 each; followed by their pièce de résistance, the ‘Ham Dan’ sotong or salted egg fried squid. Usually just battered and deep fried, or done with salt and pepper, squid is not an easy ingredient to prepare well. This dish was far from the often over-fried, stringy and dry offerings of many other restaurants. This squid was springy, the salted egg adding just the right degree of texture and salt to the light batter and fried just enough to done-ness without turning rubbery. This dish alone was worth the drive to Sauk. RM 15.
By this time we were all ‘fished out’ what with yet another fishy dish, the Indonesian prawns, following (lightly curried, mild and the prawns very fresh). So we ordered the Pig’s stomach sautéed with onions, chillies and pineapple, very tasty with the pineapple lending a touch of sweetness to the fiery chillies. Topping up the whole meal with a Sayur Paku (jungle fern) fried with sambal belacan, RM7, and the dry fried ‘kuay teow’ or flat rice noodles, RM15, brought our group to happy satiation as we wended our way slowly back to Ipoh.
Our only regret at the end of the meal was missing out on the braised giant frog’s legs which apparently during the season from mid October onwards, can reach up to 6-8 inches long. We promptly made a resolution to return when the time was right!
Restoran Baru Lau KaiNo. S-22, Kampung Baru Sauk
33500 Kuala Kangsar, Perak
Tel: 012-793 9670 or 012-527 1319
Opens daily from 10.30am to 10pm
Two off days per month (not fixed)
Call before arriving to confirm