SeeFoon Savours a Whiff of Normandy in Ipoh

Musings on Food
By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
When you have your own private Polo ground as a backyard, and the most extensive chain of laboratories and diagnostic clinics in the country, you may be excused for wanting your own private kitchen as well. No not your ordinary private home kitchen. Rather a French Fine Dining kitchen helmed by an authentic French Chef who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and who is keen to introduce his brand of creative cuisine to Ipohites with deep pockets.
I am referring to Dato’ Beh Chun Chuan, the founder and Chairman of the BP Healthcare Group of companies who is a polo champion in multiple international tournaments and whose dream to dream bigger is now leading him to venture into the world of ‘Haute’ cuisine.

The brainchild of his youngest son Garvy who is still in University in the USA, the eponymous restaurant, Garvy’s In The Park, is raising the bar on fine dining in Ipoh with Chef Bruno Delamare’s exquisite compositions. I use the word compositions very deliberately, as each plate delivered to your table is a work of art in itself, pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate. I am almost reluctant to destroy the masterpiece on the plate as I lift fork or spoon to savour the creation in front of me.
The menu changes every three to four days with an average of three items for each course from Appetizers, First Courses, Mains followed by Desserts. Priced at RM128 for 2 courses (can be Starter and Main, or Main plus dessert) RM158 for 3 courses and RM238 for 4 courses, per person, the pricing may appear to be stiff to some but when you compare it to fine dining restaurants internationally, its par for the course.
The menu beckons with drool inducing items, written in plain English so there was no need for a translator to be present. I will only describe here a few of the items which I have had the pleasure to taste on two occasions. Chef Bruno, who has worked in a few Michelin-Star restaurants in Europe, believes in buying organic wherever possible and insists on the freshest of ingredients. When certain items are not available locally, he’ll even have them flown in. A case in point are the Tsakarya oysters which are flown in from Normandy, Chef Bruno’s home territory. This was a first course with an almost raw oyster perched on a poached scallop cocooned by a frothy lime foam and served with an avocado tartare, embellished on the plate with both a red bell pepper and a green herbal couli. Absolutely divine.

Another time I had the Escargots BonBon, escargots (French snails) encased in a ball of potato mash, and complemented by cress and featherlight beetroot foam. Of special note is the extraordinary garnish which was a square of chicken skin, dried in a dehydrator and fried to a crisp. A brilliant and delicious touch from Chef Bruno.
Garvy’s is probably the only restaurant in Ipoh to have a ‘Sous Vide’ machine in its kitchen. This allows a chef to cook something in a bag in a water bath for many hours at a controlled low temperature. The result is meat or fish that turns out perfectly every time while retaining all the umami goodness of its juices in the bag. I had the delightful treat of the Tasmanian Trout cooked sous vide. This was wild-caught trout, freshly flown in from Tasmania and served with chickpea puree flavoured with turmeric, wheatgerm squid black ink pasta and a lemongrass Beurre Blanc (white sauce made with fish stock and cream) with hints of kaffir lime. The trout was velvety smooth, melt-in-mouth tender without being mushy, the pasta perfectly al dente and the Beurre Blanc lending a velvety and umami mouthfeel to the pasta and the fish. I cleaned the plate and wished there was more of the sauce to slurp up with the bread which I had forgotten to mention, is all made on the premises and is delicious.

Not being much of a sweet eater, I wasn’t particularly waiting on tenterhooks for dessert but on both occasions, the desserts I sampled were superb. The warm Raspberry Souffle with marshmallow and raspberry ice cream was a visual treat and I was loathe to break up the perfectly risen souffle with my spoon but was sure glad I did as each mouthful of that smooth featherlight souffle went down my gullet in rapid succession.
Similarly for the second dessert the Valrhona Chocolate Douceur, an irresistible medley of mousse, cake, parfait each with its inimitable flavouring from hazelnut to Grand Marnier; soil (the edible kid that is so much the rage these days) all made from Valrhona Chocolate, a French luxury chocolate coming from Hermitage, a wine-growing district near Lyon in France.
Chef Bruno is a stickler for detail. Not for him any store bought item for the restaurant. Every item on the menu is painstakingly made on the premises from the dehydrated organic flaxseed crackers in the Amuse Bouche, to the homemade marshmallow, to the purees, the coulis, and the foams.
Garvy’s is certainly raising the bar on fine dining in Ipoh. Ipohites should be proud to have this high level of cuisine here. Well done Dato’ Beh.

Garvy’s In the Park French Dining275 Jalan Permaisuri Bainun, (Kampar Rd) Ipoh 30250.(Between BP Clinic and Perak Community Specialist Hospital)Business hours: 12pm-2pm & 6.30pm-10pm. Closed Mondays. +(60)5 255 8082

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