By See Foon Chan-Koppen
Ipoh Garden South is one of my favourite haunts, whether it’s a trip to Kuku Spa for my manicure and pedicure, or a bowl of pork soup at Cong Yin or my occasional yearning for something vegetarian like the Lui Cha at Chor Kee. And many a time I have driven past Yam Yam with its sign saying Restoran Makanan Laut and not once have I considered checking it out until my peripatetic foodie friend Ginla Foo invited me and a group of friends for dinner one evening.
Yam Yam is an unassuming coffee shop with a bright yellow sign that you cannot miss especially at night when it is all lit up. Basic though it may be, on that evening they did put up a red tablecloth for us (thanks to Ginla). And to my surprise and delight, their menu is extensive, ranging from the simple home-cooking that many of us with Cantonese backgrounds grew up with to the delectable fresh-caught river fish, a specialty that requires good connections to local fishermen or suppliers as these are hard to come by – especially a fresh-caught Sultan Fish or Jelawat which was on the menu that evening.
Sultan Fish can be wild or cultivated and this particular one that we had was wild which made it even more of a treat as it is one of my favourite local fish and rarely available. It arrived steamed to perfection, complete with scales which help to keep the flesh moist and succulent during the steaming process. Sultan Fish is known for its fat content particularly around the collar and stomach and many folks avoid it for this reason, for reasons of weight gain. As for me, I tucked in with relish for the natural Omega 3s which is an oil that maintains heart health and lowers triglycerides. At RM130 per kilo, this is not a fish that one eats every day, but this one was well worth every gram that we paid for it, weighing in at 1.2kgs – RM156.
The Fried Mantis Prawns were shelled, in bite sized morsels, with a crispy cereal batter topped with tendrils of fried milk. Crunchy, sweetish and scrumptious – RM16.
Next we had Steamed Frogs Legs in Essence of Chicken, the frogs legs tender and juicy with the essence of chicken imparting its flavour to the otherwise bland meat. For those who like their food ‘Tsing’, (Cantonese expression for light taste as opposed to pungent or robust), this is the purest way to eat frogs legs – RM33.
Chicken in Chinese Rice Wine was sweet and as my readers know by now, I’m not partial to sweet savoury dishes but my friends at the table enjoyed it and vouched for its superiority – RM24.
The lamb braised with ginger, water chestnuts, bean curd sheet and snow peas was more appealing to my tastebuds; robust and well coated with sauce that goes well with white rice – RM15.
The next two dishes though were right up my alley, tickling my tastebuds and bringing back childhood nostalgia for dishes at grandmother’s kitchen. The ‘Tsang Cheong’ (pig’s fallopian tubes) sautéed with dried prawns and chillies was just the way I like it…the meat springy with a nice bite, the dried prawns lending their inimitable aroma and the chillies providing the necessary oomph to the dish – RM12.
This was followed by one of my favourite childhood dishes, the steamed meat paste done Hakka style with dried squid and dried prawns. Absolutely delectable and merits a revisit – RM16.
Other signature dishes here at Yam Yam which we didn’t get to taste include their ‘Wat Dan Hor’ (smooth egg rice noodles) – RM 5.50 and their Salt Baked chicken. Half – RM23; whole – RM45.
With food this tasty I’ve promised myself a revisit.
Restoran Makanan Laut Yam Yam
9 Lebuh Raya, Taman Ipoh Selatan. Hoe Chee Wah: 012-5651510
Open 10.30 a.m – 3.00 p.m.; 5.00-10.30 p.m.