Meal On Monday: Welcome Cafe

by KT Leong

A while ago, I met with an organiser for the recent Zombie Run event at Kampar, Mr. Jacky Hung.

We met at a place called Welcome Cafe for a “yum char” session. But this wasn’t my first time at this cafe. I was actually introduced to this place by Mr. Soo Ying Chow, the president of the Senior Citizens Club of Perak.

Located at 65, Laluan Tasek Timur 3 Pusat Perdagangan Tasek Indra, Taman Tasek Indra, 31400 Ipoh, Perak, Welcome Cafe is found just behind the Lotus’s Bercham (formerly Tesco Extra Bercham), where there is ample parking space.

The thing that caught my eye with this particular cafe is the sheer variety of foods available here. The thing is, at many cafes, the choices available are pretty much the same. It could be any combination, perhaps a Wan Tan Mee stall along with a Pan Mee stall or Kai Si Hor Fun stall, with the occasional outliers. But it’s mostly all the same foods, so we end up going on hunts for the “best” Kai Si Hor Fun or the “best” Char Kuey Teow.

But Welcome Cafe is a treasure trove of variety that deviates from that norm.

Sarawak Kolo Mee

On my first visit to Welcome Cafe, I decided to try out the Sarawak Kolo Mee. Rm7.00

I first had Sarawak Kolo Mee while visiting a friend in KL. He took me to a little out of the way place where we had a light brunch before I took off back to Ipoh. Since then, I’ve had it a few times, but not often. I’m sure there are quite a number of them in Ipoh, but they’re not that common.

The noodles are similar to the dry type of Hakka Mee, but instead of pork lard, it’s a more conventional sauce along with toppings of Char Siew (roasted pork). As far as Sarawak Kolo Mee go, this place was pretty adequate. I wouldn’t say it was great but the taste was fine. I enjoyed it. And I was happy to have the opportunity to enjoy that texture once again.

If you’re looking for something a bit unusual, you can try this stall.

Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun – RM6 to RM7

But the thing that caught my eye was definitely the Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun. Just look at their menu. It’s filled with variations of this otherwise common dish. I knew that on my next visit, I’d have to at least try the red coloured one.

So on my second trip to Welcome Cafe, I brought along my family and we ordered the Red Yeast Rice Chee Cheong Fun and the Black Fungus Prawn Chee Cheong Fun.

The Black Fungus arrived and on first tasting, it certainly has a different taste from your typical Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun. It’s kind of mild and subtle though, but certainly there.

Then the Red Yeast arrived and well, it pretty much tasted like your typical HK Chee Cheong Fun. Perhaps the texture was a little less smooth, but it’s such a minor difference, I could have been imagining it.

As I switched between the two Chee Cheong Fun, the tastes blended together and it all pretty much tasted like your typical HK Chee Cheong Fun. Smooth, a touch salty and quite tasty. But not the foreign taste I was hoping for.

Nonetheless, you should definitely visit and try out the varieties. Perhaps just try one variant at a time though. If nothing else, it’s a perfectly competent HK Chee Cheong Fun.

Smoked Duck Wan Tan Mee – RM6.50 to RM7.50

For my most recent trip, I was aiming to try out their Kai Si Hor Fun, but I’ve been having a hankering for Wan Tan Mee. Upon arrival, I decided to take some pictures of the various stalls for this article and I noted that the Wan Tan Mee stall, similar to the Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun stall, had a wide variety of Wan Tan Mee. So I changed my mind and ordered the Smoked Duck Mee.

The price on the menu said RM6.50 but when I made my order, the cook asked me if I wanted Wan Tan, I said yes and the price came up to RM7.50. So I guess, strictly speaking, the menu listed it as Smoked Duck Mee, not Smoked Duck Wan Tan Mee. It’s a RM1 add-on for the Wan Tan. That said, I do recommend getting the add-on.

Taste-wise, the sauce and noodles are on the mild side. Texture’s okay. Luckily, the green chilly is quite sour and therefore adds enough of a kick to make the noodles enjoyable. The smoked duck seems to be store bought, so while tasty, it tasted more like ham than duck. Having said that, I do love ham, so I’m not complaining.

The Wan Tan are silky smooth with a bit of bite to the mince meat. Size is a bit small but for an additional RM1, it’s better value than getting a RM1+ piece of sushi.

Iced Coffee
I ordered the always reliable Kopi Suet (Iced Coffee) and I liked it. It’s quite bitter but tasty, and of course, that’s offset by the sweetness. That said, it’s a bit too sweet. I would recommend ordering “little less sweet” when you’re there. Not so much for health reasons but in order to strike a better balance between the bitterness and the sweetness.

In Conclusion
I certainly plan to re-visit Welcome Cafe whenever I swing by the area again. What I’ve shown you is just the tip of the iceberg. The stalls here either offer something uncommon or have a wide variety of otherwise common dishes.

The taste of everything I’ve sampled has been fine so far. Yes, I’m not necessarily raving about them but I’m hardly complaining. They’re overall good and they’re different. That’s a thumbs up in my book.

The pricing is also quite reasonable, given our current economy and rate of inflation.

The stalls start to close by around 1.30 pm, so it’s a good place for breakfast, brunch or lunch, for your pre/post-shopping at Lotus’s.

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