Musings on Ipoh Food

By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Over the years of living in Ipoh, I have often heard of Caterbest Restaurant in Bercham as a shining example of Halal Chinese food but somehow it never made it to my list of ‘to try’ places. Recently however, a Muslim visitor was lamenting to me about the fact that while Ipoh is awash with great food, there are very few places to enjoy Halal Chinese/local dishes.

Which was what prompted me to visit Caterbest, very conveniently located on the main road of Bercham. The restaurant has two levels and the evening I was there, a party was happily breaking fast upstairs while down below, all the tables were full with families doing the same in air conditioned comfort.

Caterbest is one of those old fashioned restaurants that is fast disappearing in today’s fast food or specialised restaurant scene. This is one place where you can drop in for a Wat Dan Hor (broad flat rice noodles cooked in a velvety soupy sauce with vegetables, chicken and floating bits of egg white) RM6 for a medium portion; a chicken chop in a choice of mushroom or black pepper sauce RM15; a lamb chop RM36 or a New Zealand steak RM38. Or if a full meal is on the cards, then there is a wide choice.

The evening I was there we had their Curry Fish Head which is listed as a House Specialty. The gravy was well blended, flavourful, mild with ladies fingers, Tao Pok (beancurd puffs)  and curry leaves and the fish head pieces were very fresh. RM18 small and RM36 large. What I particularly loved was their Kerabu Pucuk Paku, blanched jungle fern served cold with a dressing of spicy sambal belacan paste with hints of coconut. RM9 small; RM18 large.

Their Inchikabin Chicken deserves mention, well marinated chunks of chicken (I always ask for the drumstick or wing portions as I find the breast meat too dry) deep fried to a well done but still juicy tenderness and topped with good quality keropok or prawn crackers. RM18 small and RM36 Large.This was followed by their Asam Prawns, very fresh large sea prawns in a tangy tamarind sauce, laced with onions and spices. RM20 small; RM40 large. Other cooking styles for the prawns include Nestum or the Butter Prawns, the latter comes smothered in a nest of fine slivers of something (I have never discovered the chef’s secret for this recipe which I suspect is milk powder) interlaced with curry leaves.

All in all Caterbest is a great restaurant for a reasonably priced meal. With prices having gone up the way they have, a meal here for 5 or 6 people need not cost more than RM100. And with good tasting and quality food to boot. And the best news is: they also cater. Hence the name!

Restoran Caterbest (Halal)
74 & 74A Jalan Bercham
Taman Seri Dermawan, 31400 Ipoh.
Tel: 05 547 8622. Wong Swee Kok 012 510 8022
Business Hours: 11am-3pm; 6pm-11pm