Musings on Food
By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
When your speciality of the house is Cod fish head, people sit up and take notice. After all we’re used to Grouper, Snapper, Salmon or even Tenggiri fish head but Cod? So when Ginla Chew mentioned Cod Fish Head Assam Curry, I jumped at the invitation. It was a group of us that descended on Bali Assam House in Jalan Medan Ipoh 1E and promptly ordered up a storm.
First of all, I like the way their menu is organised. It’s very straightforward with different categories of food, the styles of preparation and priced accordingly either by weight as in fish head and prawns or by portion size for other types of food as in sotong or squid, chicken, eggs and vegetables. This makes ordering a lot simpler as one can sit down and decide on whether its going to be fish, prawns or whatever and go straight to the category and decide on the style and size.
The cod fish head comes in three sizes S for 250g, M for 400g and L for 550g; and three styles of preparation, assam curry, ginger steamed or black bean sauce steamed. Having a spicy palate, I naturally opted for the Assam Curry which arrived in a claypot, the cod fish head cut into pieces and an ample amount of soupy assam curry gravy filled with ladies fingers and tomatoes. This is of course best eaten with rice as the gravy was velvety smooth, umami, creamy and not too spicy so that those with less spicy palates can eat this with ease. S – RM19.80, M – RM29.80, L – RM39.80. Other types of fish head are also available at the same price.
Prawns are again sold by weight at 170g/250g/330g portions and seven types of preparation of which I tasted two, the Sambal Petai Prawn and the Prawns with dried prawns and spices. Both noteworthy – RM19.80/RM29.80/RM39.80. Other styles include Salted Egg prawns, Tom Yam prawns and Western Butter prawns.
I am particularly fond of squid and on two occasions, I managed to sample two of their eight preparation styles. I recommend their Salted Egg Sotong which was light and fluffy while their salt and pepper squid (or what they called spiced salt sotong) tended on the dry side. I made a mental note to try their Western Butter Sotong the next time – S/L: RM12/RM20.
When it comes to chicken, we’re spoilt for choice at Bali. With nine cooking styles to choose from, I find myself always opting for the Pandan Leaf Chicken which is priced differently from the other chicken dishes. At RM10 for three pieces and RM16 for five, the portions are generous. The chicken is well marinated and comes to the table after deep frying in the pandan leaf, still succulent and moist. This is a must-have dish as can be witnessed by the fact that every table in the establishment orders it. Other chicken dishes include the Thai Style Crispy Chicken (good but a tad sweet for my taste), Salted Egg Crispy, Kung Poh, Black Pepper, Lemon Crispy, Ginger and Spring Onion, and Yam and Curry Chicken which piques my culinary curiosity. S – RM12 & L – RM20.
All in all Restoran Bali Assam House gives good value for money, with a meal for 6-7 people averaging RM130. In today’s age of spiralling food prices, I would keep coming here for a reasonable and satisfying meal. Bring earplugs though as the decibel level here can be deafening! Its what I would call an ‘eat and run’ place.
Restoran Bali Assam House16 Jalan Medan Ipoh 1E, Medan Ipoh Bestari, Ipoh.GPS: N 04° 37.164’ E: 101° 07.033’Business Hours: 10am-9pm. No reservations.Closed 1 day every two weeks. Call 016 506 2122 to find out.