When I first saw the signboard Lama-Lama of this restaurant in Falim (coming from Jalan Menglembu turn into road that leads to the Lumut Highway and from Lumut Highway, vice versa) I thought I was walking into a restaurant catering to Tibetan Buddhists as the name Lama is an honorific given to recognised teachers in that tradition. I soon realised that it had more to do with the Bahasa word for long time and translated from the Chinese expression of forever.
Putting aside my fascination with names, I sat down with friends to enjoy a most delectable feast; as usual recommended by my foodie friend, Ginla Foo who blazes a trail across the length and breadth of Ipoh and its surrounds in search of good eats.
The dishes on offer at this restaurant are extensive. Proprietress Madam Leong makes the recommendations and details all her signature dishes some of which required a second visit for me to do justice to the wide choice.
On my first visit we had dishes which I would classify as more ubiquitous: Asam Sotong, fragrant, tangy not too spicy with generous sized portions of sotong (squid) cooked with ladies fingers RM12; live Tilapia steamed with spicy bean paste, soft flaky flesh that just comes off the bone, RM18; chunky portions of bean curd first deep fried and then lightly braised with Si Gua (a type of vegetable marrow), RM8; French beans sauteed with salted egg, RM8, and an interesting deep-fried pork patty redolent with the fragrance of salt fish which is ideal as an appetizer while having drinks waiting for the rest of the dishes. Their Kon Tseen Kai (dried fried chicken) with a coating of dark soya sauce, was delectable and even the breast meat which is usually dry and hard, was succulent and tender, RM12.
The foregoing dishes were merely the foot soldiers in this battle for gustatory supremacy. The heavy artillery came in the next two dishes which came in heaping big tureens. First the ‘wusou’ chicken (whiskered chicken…a favourite breed amongst the Chinese who prefer its meat) cooked in homemade yellow rice wine and flavoured with a variety of herbs; a post-partum delicacy that has caught on as a regular item on many menus. The one served here was perfect, not too sweet as is often the case, the chicken tender and the wine and herbs fragrant, RM28 for a large tureen.
Similarly for the Pig’s Trotters cooked in black vinegar, yet another post-partum dish (not that any of us at the table were in that condition!) that is cooked to perfection here – according to my taste buds that is – not too sweet and not too tart, the pig’s trotter chunks tender and succulent, informed by the fragrance of ginger and garnished with Mok Yee (wood ear fungus), RM15.
Signature Dishes Worth Second Visit
By this time, I had already made up my mind that I had to return to savour their other signature dishes, a task I performed with alacrity two days later at lunch. Here I will only mention the dishes which impressed me beginning with their Wu Tao Fish Head, a bubbling tureen of well braised viscous taro, permeating the fried fish head chunks with their inimitable fragrance and lending a perfect coating to their otherwise dry surface, RM25.
Another dish of note is their ‘Puppy Duck’ a name made famous by the restaurant Ming Feong, essentially a recipe that consists of braising cut pieces of duck in ginger, dark soya sauce and spices and chillies (which was how they used to cook dog meat in days of yore). This was as good as what I remember of the its eponymous dish in Pusing; in fact the duck pieces were meatier here and more tender here and the saucing perfect. S/M/L RM12/15/20.
Next came the Rendang Chicken, again the Wu Sou Kai smothered in a rich ‘lemak’ sauce redolent of lemon grass, turmeric and all the wonderful spices that make rendang such a delicacy, RM23. We ended the meal with a plate of their Shanghai Noodles, Sang Meen (egg noodles known for their ‘al dente’ quality) fried with small prawns, bean sprouts, eggs and fried dried squid which was absolutely delectable. RM5 for one portion enough for two or three especially after a heavy meal.
Makanan Laut Lama-Lama Restoran
#12,14 Laluan Perusahan Menglembu 1
Taman Falim Indah, 31450 Menglembu, Perak.
Tel: 05 2821031
Open: 11am-2.30pm & 5-10pm
Closed: Not often; usually either Tuesday or Thursday
GPS: N 04 34 736 E 101 03 502