Tag Archives: chinese food in ipoh

SeeFoon tackles 15 dishes in one sitting

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musings on food - food reviewsMusings on Food

By See Foon Chan- Koppen

When Dato’ Daniel Tay called, it was supposed to be a casual get-together, a relaxed meal with family, kids and friends, T-shirts and shorts being the order of the evening as the venue was a fan cooled outlet.

Relaxed it was indeed but little did I expect (nor my two friends whom I invited along), to be tucking into a total of 15 different dishes which were shared between eleven of us. Mind you, the dishes were not humongous but they just kept coming.

Jale Inn Restaurant is an unpretentious ‘Tai Chao’ restaurant on Gopeng Road, shortly after the turn-off to the Swimming Club on the way to Simpang Pulai and beyond. It is a corner shop lot with the name prominently displayed and coming from town it is hard to miss.

Jale Inn-4

Although the decor is nothing to write home about, the dishes that come steaming out of the kitchen certainly is. Usually with restaurants like these, there will be some hits and some misses and while I usually only recommend the hits, I will sometimes comment on the misses for being too sweet or too sour, etc. But in the case of this Tai Chao restaurant, every single one of the dishes that I tried were hits!

We began with a steamed Tilapia (Kam Fong) smothered in a chilli bean sauce, the flesh smooth and soft and the sauce with just the right balance of flavours. As we were so many at the two tables (we were passing dishes back and forth) we ordered another fish which was the catfish or Pak So Kung which came redolent with ginger cooked in a claypot. The catfish was extremely fresh with none of the muddy taste that sometimes come with this fish.

For the fishermen amongst my readers out there, it is useful to note that they will also steam any fish that you bring along and charge RM16 per fish and up, depending on the size. So if you happen to catch a fancy sea or river fish, this is a good place to bring it to as their steaming techniques and recipes are good.

We then had the Claypot Lamb which was robust in a thick dark sauce oozing with the fragrance of ginger. This was followed by the Baby Romaine lettuce with salted whitebait or Ngan Yu Tsai, the greens still crisp to the bite.

Other dishes then came in quick succession. The Tse Tsap Pai Kwat, soya sauce spare ribs were tender while the vinegared Pig’s Trotters were succulent, juicy with the right balance of vinegar and sugar. Fried Sotong or Squid chunks were crispy on the outside, fresh and tender inside.

Jale Inn is famous for their frogs and we ordered two styles of preparation, one with dried chilli and the other steamed with essence of chicken and wine. Each preparation had its own inherent goodness and the frog legs were very fresh, velvety smooth on the palate and worth going back for more.

Jale Inn-2We also ordered another dish of Sek Pan or Garoupa Fish Head cut in chunks and steamed with a thick black bean sauce, the fish pieces extremely fresh and the sauce was robust and tangy.

Jale Inn-5

Home cooking Chinese style was represented by the next dish, the steamed minced pork with salted fish, one of my favourite comfort foods. The one at Jale Inn was perfect, the pork well marinated with the salted fish aroma permeating the whole dish.

Jale Inn-1

Fried kangkong or convolvulus fried with sambal belacan arrived piping hot and full of ‘wok hei’ a Chinese accolade for dishes that have been well fried in high enough heat, retaining the goodness of the greens and melding the rest of the ingredients in a fragrant melange. So were the Fried French beans with onions and minced pork, the beans still crisp on the bite and the minced pork lending its umami presence to the beans.

Jale Inn-6

It certainly was a fishy evening for another fish dish arrived, this time the fried Black Pomfret topped with preserved mustard greens. The black pomfret which lends itself to frying or spicy sauces was fresh and the mustard greens with its sauce provided the perfect touch of salty and tart notes to set off the fish.

Jale Inn-3

As each dish only allowed for one morsel for each person to taste, we continued with our feasting, this time moving on to the rice and noodles, ordering three different dishes. The first of these was the Mee Goreng, with a distinctive Indian flavour but embellished with fried soft tofu instead of the harder one found in the Indian version. This was spicy with good wok hei but it was  the Fried Rice that won the evening, delectable in taste and texture, each grain of rice separate and not too oily.

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Suggested Dishes:

  • Steamed Tilapia with Bean Paste (by weight) – RM35.60
  • Ginger Claypot Catfish – RM35
  • Claypot Lamb – RM12
  • Frog Legs Kung Po – RM28
  • Frog Legs Chicken Essence and Wine – M35
  • Vinegared Pig’s Trotters – RM12
  • Fried Kangkong with sambal belacan – RM6
  • French Beans with minced pork – RM8
  • Spare Ribs any style – RM12
  • Black Pomfret with mustard greens – RM28
  • Garoupa Fish Head with black bean sauce (seasonal) – RM30
  • Baby Romaine lettuce with whitebait – RM7
  • Steamed minced pork with salted fish – RM12
  • Fried Rice – RM8
  • All Noodles per one person portion – RM4.50

 

Jale Inn
150 Jalan Gopeng, Ipoh.
Tel: 05-312 1398 or 019-557 2080
GPS: E 101 39.7” N 4 34’ 27.9”
Open: 6.30pm-2am; Closed 2 days a month.

 

SeeFoon finds yet another ‘Tai Chao’ Gem in the heart of town

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musings on food - food reviewsMusings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

They say that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ and in my case, I am blessed to have found my ‘flock’. My group of Foodie friends are always the first to try out a new restaurant or in many instances discover little gems that often we walk or drive past without even a second glance.

Wu So Peng is a case in point. Discovered by my peripatetic foodie ‘scout’ Ginla Chew, this is another of the Tai Chao (meaning ‘Big Fry-Up’) restaurants with unprepossessing exterior but harbouring big ambitions in the kitchen. It even has a fancy printed menu featuring close to 200 dishes.

But menus aside, we all know that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, so a group of us traipsed off to give the restaurant a try. For a start I have to give the proprietors full kudos for being innovative. The restaurant is not air-conditioned but they did go to the trouble of setting up a cooling water drip system on their canopy to help relieve some of our extreme heat. There are ample tables with loads of space in between, not squashed in as some smaller restaurants tend to be.

Looking at their extensive menu, we decided to leave it up to them to bring their signature dishes one by one to the table. And bring it one by one by one by one they did – to a total of 13 dishes in all!

We tucked in first to the Sayur Paku (jungle fern) fried in sambal belacan and dried prawns. This had good wok hei or wok aroma and had a nice bite to it, the dried prawns providing a slight crunchy texture to the crisp Sayur Paku. Everyone was offered a bowl of the Lai Tong or soup of the day which, on the day we went, was a brown marrow or Lo Wong Kwa, umami and clear.

Other dishes came in quick succession, a Claypot Catfish fried dry in soya sauce, with scallions and garlic; Eggplant with minced meat which was delectable although a tad too oily; Tong Poh Yoke or pork belly braised in dark soya sauce was tender; Wu So Kai or whiskered chicken smothered in ginger paste and scallions; Marmite Chicken which was too sweet for my palate but others loved it and Sweet Sour Pork Ribs which were done just right – neither too sweet nor sour and the ribs tender inside.

Wu So Peng-4

The Pork Knuckle came next, a generously sized knuckle deep fried to a crisp, and almost falling off the bone. This was served with two different sauces, a Thai style sweet and sour with cucumber and onions almost raw and the other a dried Wai San, Gei Ji or Chinese Yam and Goji Berries sauce that was dark, robust and very umami. This was a delectable treat, the skin crispy, the meat tender and the gelatinous bits from tendons and some fat alleviating any tendency to dryness of the whole knuckle.

Wu So Peng-5

Next came the Asam Fish Head, cut into pieces, cooked with ladies fingers (okra), tomatoes, long beans and onions. This was tangy, not overly sweetened, the tamarind sauce with just the right note of acidity and the fish head pieces very fresh.

Wu So Peng-3

This was followed by a dish of pig’s Fallopian Tubes or Sang Cheong fried with dried prawns, scallions, garlic and oodles of my favourite Chu Yau Tsar (crispy chunks of rendered lard). I love offal and this came at the end which was a pity as I could have eaten more, the whole dish being so satisfying and appealing to my taste buds with the fallopian tubes rubbery (its an acquired taste), the rendered lard crispy, and the rest of the condiments and garnishes serving up a cornucopia of taste and textures.

Wu So Peng-1

By this time we were a group of very satiated diners but ever the inquisitive foodie, I needed a taste of something ‘Tsing’ (clear or pure in the sense of food) and promptly ordered a congee with frog’s legs and minced pork. We had to wait 15 minutes for it as it was done a’la minute but it was well worth it. The congee was delectably umami, the frog’s legs tender and succulent and the minced pork lending its flavour to the broth which we all slurped up with alacrity.

Wu So Peng-2

We promised ourselves to return on another occasion to check out their noodle and rice dishes as well as their specialty steamed fish which was listed with seasonal prices on the menu as were their crab and prawn dishes. This time we were happy to stick to the home-style dishes.

Wu So Peng-6

  • Sayur Paku (small) – RM6
  • Lai Tong (soup of the day) – free
  • Claypot Catfish – RM38 per kg
  • Eggplant (small) – RM7
  • Wu So Kai or whiskered chicken (half a chicken) – RM25
  • Marmite Chicken (small) – RM12
  • Shanghai (Sweet Sour) Pork Ribs (small) – RM12
  • Deep-Fried Pork Knuckle – RM40
  • Asam Fish Head (small) – 20
  • Fallopian Tubes or Sang Cheong (small) – RM10
  • Frog’s legs – RM30 per kg

Kedai Makanan Laut Wu So Peng
7 & 7A Plaza Kinta, Jalan Dato’ Tahwil Azar
Tel: Ah Choy 012-559 7840, Shop: 05-255 8840
Hours: 11am-10.30pm
GPS: N 04° 35.515; E 101° 05.019
Closed 2 days a month Wed/Thurs.

SeeFoon has memories of Milan in Ipoh

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Issue 76 – Musings On Food

SeeFoon has memories of Milan in Ipoh

I love Italian food. And I love Chinese food. I just love food. Period. In fact I don’t believe there is any cuisine in the world, no matter how unsavoury, where I cannot find at least one dish to enjoy.

musing_Issue76Loving Italian food as I do, I occasionally hanker after one fish preparation from a pescheria I used to frequent in Milan, back in the days when I used to go there often. Now that I live in Ipoh, I have tried a few times to reproduce this much loved dish Branzino salato al’forno (salt baked seabass) at home but alas without much success. By chance I was introduced to a new restaurant recently that serves a dish quite similar to the Milanese version I so miss. The best surprise is that this is a Chinese restaurant, newly opened in Ipoh.

Soon Fatt – 15 years young

Located on Jalan Seenivasagam, Soon Fatt has actually been around for about 15 years. Started as a ‘Tai Chow’ stall at the food court opposite the Excelsior Hotel, the restaurant is operated by a young couple, Chong Tack Ming and his wife Chan Foong Ho. Enterprising and dedicated, this committed duo will not allow any glitches to get in the way of their running the business. The day I was there, Foong Ho had brought her young daughter into the restaurant because her baby carer was indisposed and she played happily on a blanket on the floor behind the cashier’s counter while her mother was busy serving guests.

Extensive Menu

The menu here is extensive with more than 100 items.  Lunch items are very popular, with noodle and rice dishes beginning at a very reasonable RM3.50 per dish. Their service is friendly and efficient especially from Johnny a young Indian who speaks perfect Cantonese.

Salt Baked Fish “a’la Milanese”

The Soon Fatt version of my favourite salt-baked fish uses live Tilapia and is served on a bed of deep fried crispy cellophane noodles giving it its Chinese flavour. Understandably, Tilapia being a farm raised fresh water fish, can occasional-ly have tinges of muddiness but Foong Ho assures me that they make all efforts to keep the fish alive in pure water for a few days before serving, to reduce the chances of getting a muddy taste. The fish is encrusted in a thick layer of salt and baked, with skin and scales. When serving, the waiter will remove the salt and when finished with the top half, he’ll come back to expose the underside for you, to avoid the risk of getting too much salt on the flesh. RM20 for the whole fish and highly recommended for those on a low fat and low carbohydrate diet…..not low salt however.  I do miss the extra virgin olive oil that the Milanese version serves with their fish though. I used to love drizzling it on my seabass. Perhaps Soon Fatt may consider serving this on the side as an option?

Loss Leader

For the past three months, Soon Fatt has very cleverly promoted their sharks fin soup in individual tureens at the incredible price of RM8.00 per portion. At that price, I was expecting heavy starch, surima or synthetic crab, and maybe even synthetic sharks fin but to my delight, the soup was thick without being too starchy, with chunks of chicken and real chunks of sharks fin! This, in the F&B business is known as a loss leader….one dish sold below cost to draw in the customers. When I was last there, it was certainly working. Not many ordered the sharks fin but they must have been lured in previously and found the food to their taste and kept coming back.

House Specialties

Some house special-ties worthy of mention at Soon Fatt are their smoked chicken or Yin Wu So Kai, juicy and succulent chicken lightly smoked whole and cut in chunks for serving – RM25 for half a chicken; kale braised with whole pig’s trotter, Kai Choy Mun Chu Sao – RM25; Taro braised with spare ribs, Wu Tao Mun Pai Kwat – RM10; Mantis Prawn done either Gong Po – RM10 (dried chillies, dark soya, sugar, cashews) or Lai Yau – RM12 (butter, fried,) style; and their frogs legs with fried ginger – RM20.

Two noodle dishes worthy of mention are their Tai Lok Meen, fat Udon noodles fried in dark soya sauce with pork and lardons thrown in and their fried meehoon or vermicelli that comes like a pancake, slightly crispy at the edges and laced with meat, prawns and vegetables.

Soon Fatt is a biggish restaurant, able to seat about 400 people. There are 3 private rooms downstairs and 2 big ones upstairs, each able to accommodate 2 tables each. When opened up, the downstairs room can accommodate 4 tables and the upstairs, 5. A recent lunch in a private room there saw us sitting 15 at a table (the largest table they can muster) and all my friends were delighted at the new taste treats that were being introduced. All in all a welcome addition to the Ipoh food scene.

RESTORAN SOON FATT

42 Jalan Seenivasagam, 30450 Ipoh

Tel: 05-2436864

11.00 a.m.-2.30 p.m.   5.00 p.m.-10.30 p.m.