On Ipoh Food: Restaurant Moon Flower

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

SeeFoon’s Brain Boggled by Big Hotpot

Actually, the word “Big” doesn’t do justice to the hotpot they serve at Restaurant Moon Flower on a slip road off Jalan Kuala Kangsar. “Humongous” comes close, as the pot is easily 16in in diameter and that is just for the “small” version.

I had gone the first time to have dinner with four persons including my Foodie Kaki Ginla Chew; and Jan Ching, the co-proprietor told me that the hotpot was way too big for us and to come back with at least eight people.

So we settled for the small dishes as recommended by Jan. As we waited for the rest of the food to arrive, we had a plate of fried salmon fish skin coated with salted egg which was perfect for our cocktails, RM25.

The first dish to arrive was Steamed Lala with Baby Shark. This was piping hot and straight from the steamer, the baby shark pieces juicy and redolent with ginger which took away any chances of there being any fishiness. The broth from the steaming is most slurp-worthy, RM55.

Next came a tureen of braised pig’s trotters, the meat well infused with the sauce and the skin velvety, gliding down my throat like well-oiled panna cotta. The added chicken feet lent extra gelatine to the sauce and to go the whole collagen route, ask for pig’s tendons to be added. Hints of dried cuttlefish brought the whole dish to a new level, making this, one of the must-order dishes here. RM43 without tendon/RM88 with tendon.

To go with the dishes, instead of plain rice which is the norm, they offer the most swoon-worthy lard rice. This childhood staple, when Mum or Grandma didn’t have time to cook, is so deceptively simple, yet dear to so many Chinese hearts, is simply hot rice with a raw egg in the middle and flavour supplied by the fresh lard, soya sauce and topped with crispy, crunchy lardons. Heaven in a bowl, RM6.

We finished that first meal with Japanese Ramen, fried with cabbage, scallions, bean sprouts, prawns and pork and topped with, what else . . . to give flavour to any dish . . . more lardons!! RM10 per portion.

As we were too few in numbers to try their signature dish the first time around, I soon gathered my foodie group for lunch a few weeks later where we ordered their ‘Soon Tak Big Bowl Fish’, a huge flat-bottomed hotpot served on a portable gas burner with everything already in so there is no necessity for cooking your own goodies. Just fish for them.

Chef Ah Sang is generous with the ingredients. In addition to choosing your own fish from a choice of grouper, patin, bak sou gong (catfish), shark, sang yu (snakehead), or hong mei (red tail), fishing in the yummilicious broth will produce noodles made from fish meat, squid, large prawns, tomatoes, fish maw, taro, shiitake mushrooms and ham choy or pickled cabbage. A cornucopia of deliciousness.

Depending on the seasonal price of the whole fish chosen, the prices for the Big Pot begin at RM138 for 8-10 people: ample if you order other dishes, going up to RM308 for the more pricey fish and will easily feed 12 pax.

Other dishes to order include their big squid (wong kai lon) with paku vegetables in a mildly spicy style. Seasonal price as squid prices vary. Similarly for the large prawns cooked in an Indonesian style, slightly spicy with a hint of santan.

Restaurant Moon Flower is definitely going to be my ‘go-to’ restaurant in the future. Go with a minimum of five people, order just the “small” big pot and a bowl or two of lard rice to share and come out RM30 lighter in your wallet if you split the cost but much heavier in gourmet satisfaction.

Proprietors: Deric Leong 012 672 8767 and Jan Ching 012 568 3382
60/62 Laluan Tawas Damai
Anjung Tawas Impian, 30010 Ipoh.
Business hours: 11am-3pm and 5pm-10.30pm
Closed:  first Monday and Tuesday of the month.
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