Tag Archives: Ipoh chinese food

SeeFoon goes from North to South in her Foodie quest


Musings of Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

The one lament I have about being introduced to ‘Tai Chau’ (literally translated to mean ‘big fry’) restaurants is that the dishes in each are, as the Americans would put it…‘same old, same old’. Meaning that they all serve the same dishes and have similar items on their menus. The only variations are in the preparation styles and the skill of the ‘wok’ person in the kitchen and the flavours he/she coaxes out of the food. And that is what separates the wheat from the chafe. And what brings in the customers like myself and my foodie friends.

For eat we must and daily. And while our eager group will check out any small nook and corner with any new opening bringing one or two of our curious ones to check it out, on the whole, we end up returning to some perennial favourites or adopting some new ones that we discover. While some of these may have been operating for years, like Lo Tian Seafood Restaurant which is in the north of Ipoh close to Jelapang, serving folks from Silibin, First Garden and Taman Rishah, some others like Restoran Likarli are relatively new, catering to up-and-coming communities like the burgeoning one in Seri Botani in the south, close to the Simpang Pulai toll.

In this review, I shall cover both outlets in one go as the menu items are similar and I will highlight only those items that impressed me.

Restoran Likarli 1Restoran Likarli

This is a two-shoplot restaurant with well spaced out tables and one side fully air conditioned. The service is brisk and friendly and they are happy to make recommendations.

One of their specialties here that they recommend to everyone is their Mun Cheong chicken, a 90-day old (most market chickens are slaughtered at around 40-45 days) bird of the Wu So Kai or ‘whiskered’ chicken variety. This is steamed and served with a ginger/scallion paste. As the chicken has had sufficient time to grow, the meat is more hearty and voluptuous without descending into stringy toughness which some old birds are prone to do. At an average size of 3kg and above, the serving is huge and it’s advisable to request for half portions if the group is smaller.

Restoran Likarli 5

The homemade pumpkin tofu served with tung fun or bean thread noodles and garlic had a velvety texture and was scrumptious, as were the green peppers and black beans, the peppers still crisp on the bite with the black beans lending its smoky saltiness to the dish.Restoran Likarli 3

Venison Kway Teow or flat rice noodles was delicious, the venison well seasoned and tender, imbuing its gamey flavour to the bland white noodles and raising it to culinary heights. Similarly, the salted egg yolk added to the batter of the fried sotong or fresh squid, lifted this ubiquitous denizen of the depths to another  dimension.

Restoran Likarli 4

Restoran Lo Tian 1Lo Tian Seafood Restaurant

This is another one of my foodie friend, Ginla Chew’s peripatetic finds and considering that its so close to where I live I will be eternally grateful. Apparently, this is a coffee shop that has been open for quite some time specialising in river fish and white pomfret which is always available. As white pomfret is one of my favourite fish, I shall certainly consider making it my local ‘canteen’.

The night we went, we had the wild river fish head which came in a claypot and was absolutely mouth-watering fresh and certainly a dish I would recommend. Next came the soft shell crabs fried with salted egg yolk-crispy and umami morsels that just melt in the mouth.

Restoran Lo Tian 3

Restoran Lo Tian 4

The Dong Por Yoke or pork belly braised in dark soya sauce was wobblingly delectable albeit a tad too sweet for my palate. However, the next dish of Ikan Bilis Szechuan style made up for it with its sizzling spiciness tempered by the tofu cubes, long beans and onions.

The Salt Baked Kampung Chicken was average with the smokiness overpowering the subtle flavouring but the wonton noodles fried with chunks of roasted pork was tasty and excellent value at RM10. As was the Tom Yam Fried Rice. For a finishing touch we had fried Umeji mushrooms and pea pods or ‘mange tout’ embellished with crispy bits of dried sotong or squid. One dish that we didn’t get to try was their Hot Plate Har Gao or dumplings on a hot plate which I promised to return to sample on another day.

All in all, Lo Tian with its very friendly lady proprietor Choong Poh Foong, is one place I shall frequent.

Restoran Lo Tian 2

Restoran Likarli
44 Jalan Lapangan Siber 10, Bandar Cyber, 31350 Ipoh.
Tel:  016 529 0298
Business Hours:  noon-2.30pm; 5.30-10.30pm
GPS:  N 04° 32.528’ E 101° 06.543’

Restoran Lo Tian Seafood Restaurant
11, Jalan Raja Perempuan Mazwin, Taman Rishah, 30100 Ipoh.
Tel:  05 528 3575
Madam Choong:  012 556 6557
Business Hours:  5pm-midnight
Closed every fortnight Wednesdays
GPS:  N 04° 36.6’ E 101° 03.32’

Musings on Food – SeeFoon gets environmentally friendly


musings on food - food reviewsBy See Foon Chan-Koppen

Nowadays, as a result of the popularity of the Ipoh Echo as ‘The Voice of the Ipoh Community’, my column appears to be widely read and perfect strangers come up to me at restaurants and eating places to either tell me that they have tried some of my recommendations, or to make some recommendations of their own.

Musings on Food - See Foon Chan-Koppen

My tailor Alan, while not a stranger to me, did just that recently when I went to him for some tailoring work. He pointed to a corner shop across the road (Ipoh Garden East past Citrus)  and asked me if I had eaten there. Always on the alert for new culinary delights, I jumped at the opportunity and pumped him for more information.

Faux Sharks Fin

Alan quickly reeled off a list of dishes that this restaurant Sam Poh is famous for and one dish made me prick up my ears. Faux (as in fake) Sharks fin that tastes like the real McCoy. Now I have always loved Sharks fin…yes you greenies out there…I am admitting to this heinous crime…but lately owing to pressure from friends, friends’ friends, and particularly, from friends’ children, I have not been ordering this dish. It does not mean that I can shut off the hankerings, so when Alan mentioned Faux Sharks fin, I felt compelled to satisfy my taste buds.

Musings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food - See Foon Chan-KoppenTwelve of us descended on Sam Poh one Sunday evening to find it busy to overflowing. As I had taken the trouble to book earlier, we found ourselves on the pavement at an extra large table complete with (oh what a treat!) red table cloth.

Corkage Charged

A sign posted on the wall warned us that alcohol brought to the premises would be charged a corkage fee per bottle. After much to-ing and fro-ing we agreed on being charged a flat fee of RM20 for all the bottles we brought, for which we were rewarded with two large bottles of water, ice and glasses.

The dishes arrived in rapid succession. Starting with the Fish Head curry, grouper head cut into chunks in a mild very tasty ‘lemak’ curry sauce, smooth with ladies fingers, and other vegetables. RM34. This was followed by the ‘Fatt Put’ a fried mashed taro basket filled to the brim with a mixture of vegetable – french beans, mushrooms, carrots. The yam basket was crisp on the bite and soft and smooth inside, the vegetables which are sauteed separately and then placed into the yam ring, were also crisp and full of ‘wok hei’ a sure sign of good Chinese stir fry. RM13.

The next dish to arrive was so scrumptious that we all unanimously voted to order a second portion. This was a large grilled squid, the tentacles crisped at the edges, the body gently charred to release that inimitable grilled squid fragrance, topped with a mildly flavoured abalone sauce. Utterly delectable. RM22 per portion. Egg plant with salted fish came next, well braised, with hints of salted fish flavours, RM9.

Almost the real McCoy

Pork belly slices, fried crispy and topped with a sweetish teriyaki/barbecue sauce was a hit at the table especially with the westerners who were with us that night. RM15. Then came the reason I was there in the first place: the Faux Sharks fin which came braised with silky bean curd and oyster mushrooms. I was expecting some soggy strands of jelly passing off as sharks fin but I was delightfully surprised to discover some thickish, quite springy strands of  look alikes that actually tasted almost like the real thing. The addition of black vinegar brought back memories of the bowls of the real stuff I used to eat in my pre-ecological days. A yummy ecological and economical substitute at RM12.

Another dish worthy of mention was the braised pork leg with pig’s tendons. Hints of Shao Tsing Chinese rice wine permeated the succulent chunks of meat, bones, tendons and skin; velvety smooth, gliding down one’s gullet with a slurp and a swallow. RM15.

The Ham Dan (salted egg) chicken was a tad on the salty side but nevertheless delectable, liberally coated with salted egg yolk that was more of a sauce than a batter. RM18. We finished our meal with one of the best Hokkien fried noodles, a dish I have not eaten in a very long time, Singapore being the only place where I’ve ever had it (other than when my mother used to do it). What is special about these yellow noodles which arrived looking very bland and anemic is the almost soupy consistency which in the best of traditions is usually fried with squid, pork belly and prawns and bean sprouts. The soupiness comes from prawn stock which lends its distinctive flavours to the whole dish. RM12.

All in, our bill for 12 people came to RM223 and as we left all groaning from the surfeit, we promised each other to return and do it all over again.

Sam Poh Restaurant
17 Persiaran Bandar Bahrun 16
Desa Tambun Indah
Tel.: 016 5516869 Elliza: 016 501 9345

ipoh echo issue 143, musings on food, see foon chan-koppen, ipoh chinese food

SeeFoon discovers an oldie but goodie


See Foon Chan-KoppenMusings on Food

By See Foon Chan-Koppen

ipoh echo issue 143, musings on food, see foon chan-koppen, ipoh chinese foodipoh echo issue 143, musings on food, see foon chan-koppen, ipoh chinese foodipoh echo issue 143, musings on food, see foon chan-koppen, ipoh chinese foodipoh echo issue 143, musings on food, see foon chan-koppen, ipoh chinese foodIpoh Garden South is one of my favourite haunts, whether it’s a trip to Kuku Spa for my manicure and pedicure, or a bowl of pork soup at Cong Yin or my occasional yearning for something vegetarian like the Lui Cha at Chor Kee. And many a time I have driven past Yam Yam with its sign saying Restoran Makanan Laut and not once have I considered checking it out until my peripatetic foodie friend Ginla Foo invited me and a group of friends for dinner one evening.

Yam Yam is an unassuming coffee shop with a bright yellow sign that you cannot  miss  especially at night when it is all lit up. Basic though it may be, on that evening they did put up a red tablecloth for us (thanks to Ginla). And to my surprise and delight, their menu is extensive, ranging from the simple home-cooking that many of us with Cantonese backgrounds grew up with to the delectable fresh-caught river fish, a specialty that requires good connections to local fishermen or suppliers as these are hard to come by – especially a fresh-caught Sultan Fish or Jelawat which was on the menu that evening.

Sultan Fish can be wild or cultivated and this particular one that we had was wild which made it even more of a treat as it is one of my favourite local fish and rarely available. It arrived steamed to perfection, complete with scales which help to keep the flesh moist and succulent during the steaming process. Sultan Fish is known for its fat content particularly around the collar and stomach and many folks avoid it for this reason, for reasons of weight gain. As for me, I tucked in with relish for the natural Omega 3s which is an oil that maintains heart health and lowers triglycerides. At RM130 per kilo, this is not a fish that one eats every day, but this one was well worth every gram that we paid for it, weighing in at 1.2kgs – RM156.

The Fried Mantis Prawns were shelled, in bite sized morsels, with a crispy cereal batter topped with tendrils of fried milk. Crunchy, sweetish and scrumptious – RM16.

Next we had Steamed Frogs Legs in Essence of Chicken, the frogs legs tender and juicy with the essence of chicken imparting its flavour to the otherwise bland meat. For those who like their food ‘Tsing’, (Cantonese expression for light taste as opposed to pungent or robust), this is the purest way to eat frogs legs – RM33.

Chicken in Chinese Rice Wine was sweet and as my readers know by now, I’m not partial to sweet savoury dishes but my friends at the table enjoyed it and vouched for its superiority – RM24.

The lamb braised with ginger, water chestnuts, bean curd sheet and snow peas was more appealing to my tastebuds; robust and well coated with sauce that goes well with white rice – RM15.

The next two dishes though were right up my alley, tickling my tastebuds and bringing back childhood nostalgia for dishes at grandmother’s kitchen. The ‘Tsang Cheong’ (pig’s fallopian tubes) sautéed with dried prawns and chillies was just the way I like it…the meat springy with a nice bite, the dried prawns lending their inimitable aroma and the chillies providing the necessary oomph to the dish – RM12.

This was followed by one of my favourite childhood dishes, the steamed meat paste done Hakka style with dried squid and dried prawns. Absolutely delectable and merits a revisit – RM16.

Other signature dishes here at Yam Yam which we didn’t get to taste include their ‘Wat Dan Hor’ (smooth egg rice noodles) – RM 5.50 and their Salt Baked chicken. Half – RM23; whole – RM45.

With food this tasty I’ve promised myself a revisit.

Restoran Makanan Laut Yam Yam
9 Lebuh Raya, Taman Ipoh Selatan. Hoe Chee Wah: 012-5651510
Open 10.30 a.m – 3.00 p.m.;  5.00-10.30 p.m.
Closed Mon/Tues

SeeFoon checks out newest restaurant in Chemor


By See Foon Chan-Koppen

As I mentioned in my last column, I don’t review an outlet unless it’s been highly recommended by my foodie friends or if I find the taste to my liking. My friends, Christine and Chris DiGiovanna being the true foodies that they are, were driving back to Bandar Sri Klebang when a new sign on a corner restaurant caught their eyes and promptly dropped in for a tasting.

The following Sunday saw me with a group checking it out on their recommendation. The congratulatory bouquets were still on display when I went to Chemor’s newest restaurant. Situated on a corner shop house laid back from the main Jalan Kuala Kangsar just a few hundred metres before the petrol station where you turn left to head towards Jelapang, is Wong Kee, a family restaurant that has been in business in Chemor for 23 years but owing to a fire in their old premises, had to relocate to their present one; a fortunate set of circumstances in my view for I would never have discovered it otherwise.

A family restaurant it certainly is with Chef Wong Chorng Jyh in the kitchen and brother Chorng Ming in front taking care of customers. Mother, Father, sisters-in-law and a host of other relatives cater to the bustling clientele who know a good place when they taste one.

As did I.

The first dish to land on the table was the Fried Frog’s Legs, tender chunks of succulent frog legs which had been marinated in their special concoction and deep fried with masses of thinly sliced ginger. Judging by the size of the frogs they get at this time of the year (Dec-Feb) which Ming insisted on showing me (see pic) ours were small in comparison and hence the price of RM40 for our dish. According to him the big ones can cost up to RM100 per kilo and one can have a choice of cooking styles depending on preference. They can serve frog’s legs with ginger and scallions, steamed with ginger or chicken stock, ‘Gong Pao’ with dried chillies and a dark sauce, or Drunken which is their most expensive style as he claims he uses good wine.

The next was their signature dish, their Ikan Haruan (Snakehead) Fish Broth, which according to the Chinese is widely believed to speed up wound healing. This was a large tureen of bubbling broth with a whole fish, the head and bones fried, and the meat in plain slices jostling for attention amidst red dates, wolf berries, wood ear (mook yee) fungus, coarsely ground pepper, and dowsed with a generous dollop of Shao Hsing wine. The option for this dish is to eat the soup with just the fish head/bones and serve the fish meat fried with ginger and scallions – RM45.

As usual we went overboard with the ordering. Squid and cuttlefish served sizzling on a hot platter came next sauced with sambal belacan, tomatoes and onions; the softer squid presenting a nice contrast to the chewy cuttlefish – RM15. In rapid succession we had Salt-Baked Roe Crabs which they can do in any variety of styles, very tasty – RM38 for 4

smallish crabs; Bitter Gourd with Spare Ribs – RM15; the Four Heavenly Kings, that ubiquitous vegetable dish of brinjals, long beans, ladies fingers but minus the petai and with winged bean instead, this time with the addition of prawns – RM12.

As we sat groaning from the surfeit of food, our mouths still watered as we watched plate after plate of interesting looking dishes waft by, destined for other tables. We promptly made a promise to return to savour more of their infinite menu.

This we did with alacrity a week later and had the following dishes which I can recommend. We had their Kampong Chicken, in the same style as the fried frog’s legs, which is equally succulent and tender for RM18 for half a chicken; their Fresh Eel done ‘Gong Pao’ style which I enjoyed as it was not sweet as in a lot of other restaurants; their Sweet Meats Fried Rice and their Thai-Style Fried Tilapia. This is not as sweet as I had anticipated and the tilapia had no muddy taste or smell; in fact the meat was sweet and succulent while the bones were fried to a nice crunch. Thin slivers of cucumber, onions adorned the fish which lent a freshness to the whole dish – RM30.

After chatting with the chef, we discovered that more taste treats were in store and promised to return to savour their Sambal Lo Shi Fun which piqued my curio-sity; their deep fried octopus; their fried egg with dried shrimp, their crab meehoon and a host of other delectables that space constraints prevent me from listing.

Restoran Wong Kee
24 Laluan Sinaran, Desa Chemor Sinaran, Chemor.
Tel.: 012-5182686/019-5561870
Open: 10.30 a.m.-2.30p.m. & 5.30-11.00 p.m.
Closed every fortnight on Tuesdays.