By See Foon Chan-Koppen
Yum Yum was one of the first restaurants I was introduced to when I first arrived in Ipoh 17 years ago. I became an instant fan, for nowhere had I tasted such an interesting blend of Nyonya, Thai flavours with Chinese influences thrown in. Essentially the style of cooking is Peranakan and over the years, embellished by the creativity of the chef.
A meal at Yum Yum is incomplete without the Asam Fish Head which arrives usually as half a head, absolutely fresh from the market, swimming in a delightfully colourful soup/gravy punctuated by chunks of ladies fingers and tomatoes. The sauce is robust, acidified by asam or tamarind which gives it its eponymous name, tangy without being fiery, well seasoned and umami.
I am a creature of habit and will tend to order my favourite dishes whenever I go there. Aside from the Asam Fish Head, the must-haves for me include the Asam Petai Sambal Prawns, again that ubiquitous ingredient, asam or tamarind blended with belacan or shrimp paste, shallots and chilli and sautéed with a mixture of petai and prawns. Petai has earned its nickname ‘stink bean’ because its strong smell is very pervasive. However, it is touted to be very good for health and many locals love it.
Another dish here that I invariably order, especially if I have friends from overseas, is their Pandan Chicken, well marinated morsels of chicken, wrapped in coconut leaves and deep fried. These tasty titbits are great as appetizers.
One dish that appears innocuously simple, the fried eggs topped with minced meat, for some reason of kitchen wizardry, never fails to appeal to my taste buds, the fried egg with its yoke still intact and not totally hard, topped with well seasoned sautéed minced meat. Another of my favourites is their soft tofu topped with minced meat, the tofu, silky smooth contrasting with the grainy texture of the minced meat.
I especially like to go there on Fridays when they have their special Siamese Laksa. Unlike the Asam Laksa which is found everywhere and different from the curry mee which is equally common, a lemak laksa is hard to find in Ipoh. The one served here at Yum Yum is fragrant, creamy, and the sauce coaxed from a generous boiling down of fish bones and flesh.
Also on Fridays, they may have other specials. Ask for them. They are usually yummy at Yum Yum.
Gulai Tumis Style or Fish Curry without coconut milk – 400g RM26 onwards
Assam Fish Head Curry – 400g RM26 onwards
Assam Petai Sambal Prawns – RM15 (S)
Yum Yum Pandan Chicken – RM3.60 per piece
Thai Kerabu Mango – RM9 (S)
Yum Yum Fried Eggs with Minced Meat – RM9 (S)
Yum Yum Fried Brinjal – RM9 (S)
Friday Special Siamese Laksa – RM6 per set
Hot Dessert (Fried Fu Pei)
Yum Yum (Pork Free)
5 Persiaran Greenhill (New Town)
Tel: 05-253 7686
Business Hours: noon-3pm and 6pm-10pm; closed Wednesdays
GPS: 4° 35.953’N, 101° 5.283’E