By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
Every now and again, sitting at the Ipoh Echo office, I find myself at a loss for what to eat at lunchtime and feel the nudging of my taste buds for something wholesome, fresh and light. Asking around the office for what‘s good, what’s new, I stumbled upon Basileuo Salad, a relative newcomer to the restaurant scene quite close to the Echo office in Greentown and in fact almost within walking distance.
Proprietor Chan Kin Mei, explained the concept behind Basileuo and also the significance of the rather complex name which in my mild myopia I had read to be Basilico, meaning basil in Italian. Apparently she is a huge salad lover, a passion shared by her husband and together they decided to dedicate a whole cafe to serving salads and also baked potatoes, a specialty of the house using a special oven just for roasting potatoes. This oven can be seen perched on the counter when you enter the cafe where a few potatoes are baking in the lower part with a few warming on the upper deck. This is what makes the oven special – the ability to bake and keep warm at the same time in one cute little oven.
The name is a biblical one meaning ‘to exercise the highest influence’ or ‘to reign’ as in kingly power, an aspiration which the couple hopes to achieve in converting more Ipohites to the love for salad and to set up a chain of baked potato stalls throughout Malaysia.
The Basileuo Palette, Salad Toppings, Dressings and Hearty Add-ons, as it says on their menu, is the most extensive list I’ve ever seen and a glance at their salad counter with its colourful array of options is dazzling indeed. This is not your usual salad bar with the often desultory bits of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes but a humongous array of 46 ingredients to choose from.
These include: orange, honeydew, green apple, guava, mango, grapes, edatsuki or green soya, green peas, tofu, coral grass, black jelly, wood fungus, olive, chickpeas, sweetcorn, kidney beans, cherry tomato, French bean, lotus root, purple cabbage, celery, turnip, beetroot, pea sprout, carrot, sweet pea, cucumber, white and red onion, capsicum, boiled egg, crab stick, young corn, water chestnut and enoki/shimeji mushroom. Two sizes are available Junior size with simple greens and 5 ingredients (RM7) and Mixed Greens with 5 ingredients (RM9). For the regular size, one can have a choice of 10 ingredients with simple and mixed greens at RM12‑15. The addition of what they call Hearty Add-on is another option for another RM3-4.50. These include: Turkey Ham, Smoked Duck, Homemade Chicken Patty, Homemade Beef Patty and Smoked Salmon.
Premium ingredients, for which an extra charge of RM2 applies for each, include: Cashew Nut, Almond Flakes, Chia Seed, Sunflower Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Sesame Seed, Dried Cranberry, Dried Black Currant, Raisins and Feta Cheese complete the mind boggling selection.
After choosing the ingredients for the salad, one has now to turn one’s mind to the choice of dressing which presents another quandary as there are so many to choose from, each one more delectable than the next and all concocted by Kin Mei herself. Tossing up whether to have the Basileuo Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Classic Caesar, Hot Wasabi, Japanese Sesame, Miso, Pesto, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Tangy Peach, Tzatziki Yogurt, Fresh Cranberry Yogurt or Spicy Thai can create quite a headache. My personal recommendations? Raspberry Vinaigrette, Spicy Thai and Japanese Sesame.
Naturally their baked potatoes are a must-have. Soft and fluffy on the inside with the skin gently crisped on the outside, these russet potatoes are topped with a sauce which changes every day and is listed on the board near the cashier. The day I was there the potato came with a mushroom sauce topped with mock bacon which is turkey ham done to a crisp, lending a delectable crunch to the soft potato. This is a meal in itself as the potatoes are large – RM8.
Despite Kin Mei’s wish to convert Ipohites to salads, she has had to succumb to popular tastes and now has a good range of pastas, sandwiches, wraps and a few stews to satisfy most taste buds. And the one most delectable item I will recommend here is her Hot Chocolate, served in a choice of Dark, Milk or Hazelnut chocolate, a generous chunk of Belgian chocolate on a stick which you slowly stir into the hot milk in the mug. Heavenly at RM13.50.Basileuo Salad (Pork Free)3 Persiaran Greentown, Greentown Business Centre, Ipoh.
Business Hours: 11am-9pm closed MondaysTel: 05 241 4239 Kin Mei: 012 519 0300