Musings on Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

I have always lived by the motto that I will go anywhere for special food. And when my foodie friend Ginla Chew mentioned Larut Matang Seafood, my first thought was...“now that’s going to be quite a trek so we’ll need to leave early” but to my surprise, I found it right on our doorstep, in the now popular hub for restaurants and good eats – Medan Ipoh to be precise.

So gathering a group of friends, we descended on the restaurant.

Larut Matang is, as its name implies, an offshoot of a similar seafood restaurant in Matang and all its seafood comes from there. I have lingering taste memories of one of the most impressive food items I have had in Matang the last time I was there and that was the Shark’s Liver. The first thing I asked of chef/proprietor Tan Swee Hooi on arrival was whether he had some and to my delight he said yes. That made my day.

While some of my friends shuddered at the idea of Shark’s Liver, yet when it arrived all but one of them tried it and liked the taste. It had none of the fishiness that one would have expected, melting in the mouth, velvety smooth as it slides down the gullet, evoking nuances of Foie Gras or goose liver – RM60 per kg.

Next came the Seafood Congee, a steaming claypot chock full of fresh crab, prawns, large fish balls and fish slices. This was delectably umami and as far as my allergic body can ascertain, had no or minimal MSG as I didn’t have a reaction later in the day. The congee is as à la carte as it comes, where one can choose the type of seafood one wishes to put in and the price will vary depending on what one orders. Of course, you can also choose to have it with noodles or glass vermicelli (Tung Fun). A plain tureen with fish balls and fish slices is RM20 while crabs cost RM55 and prawns RM70 per kg.

Next came the Steamed Pomfret, absolutely ocean fresh, done in the Cantonese style with scallions, garlic and soya sauce which we devoured in a flash. Pomfret RM80 per kg. Other fish are available depending on the catch of the day and the steaming styles are also optional. I personally prefer a Chao Chou style of steaming with sour plums and ham choi (preserved cabbage) and promised myself to return to sample this.

Their fried homemade seafood bean curd was delectable, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the seafood paste lending an umami sweetness to the cubes – RM14(L), RM10(S).

This was followed by their Sardines (Tsai Yu Tsai) friend to an edible crisp where the heads, tails and most of the fish can be eaten.

We then had a plate of Sautéed Clams which were very fresh but unfortunately they were slightly overcooked so do make sure dear readers, to make a point to the chef when ordering this dish – RM15.Next came the Steamed Squid, tender just cooked morsels of baby squid with hints of garlic – RM45 per kg. For greens, we had the pick of the day (Choi Sum) which we had sautéed and it arrived on the table fresh and still crunchy.

As all the seafood comes from Matang, it is advisable to call in advance to ask what is fresh in for the day. One of the dishes that I look forward to but was unavailable the day I was there is  the fried oyster omelette which Tan assures me is occasionally obtainable. So that is an occasion I shall bear in mind when next I go out for a meal.

Larut Matang Seafood Restaurant
22 Jalan Medan Ipoh 1B
Medan Ipoh Bistari.
Tan Swee Hooi: 016 503 2718
GPS: N04° 37.082’ E101° 07.045’
Business Hours: 11am-10pm
Closed Tuesdays