By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
This is one restaurant that is best for the intrepid Foodie – one who will brook no obstacle, burn up the tyres in search of this backwoods simple Tai Chau restaurant that is open only for lunch somewhere in Batu Gajah.
With this not so encouraging introduction, let me begin by warning my dear readers to arm themselves with GPS or waze on their smart phones and head towards Batu Gajah going either via Pusing or the usual route, which according to Kumar my road-smart driver, the latter is longer than via Pusing.
The restaurant which doesn’t have an English name is Foong Loy (transliterated from Chinese) and is up some dingy stairs, over a car accessories shop (see pic). While the premises are certainly not palatial – in fact it’s your usual lower-end run-of-the-mill ‘Tai Chau’ restaurant – the food quality can certainly beat many of the more upmarket establishments that abound in Ipoh and the prices to boot.
Where else can one get a live ‘Soon Hock’ (Marble Goby) fish albeit a smallish one for RM38? Plus it was steamed to perfection, the sauce seasoned delicately to complement the sweet and juicy flesh. With only 4 or 5 tables in the place, the fish tank is understandably small but enough to house two to three fish which vary from day to day depending on the supply.
We were a total of 5 people that day and our total bill for 11 dishes came to RM209, which included very fresh and very well pan fried Tualang Prawns or Udang Galah. They were smallish but absolutely delectable – RM52.
Tofu fried with dried prawns were crispy and fragrant – RM8 and the chicken that followed (kampong chicken) was also steamed and redolent with ginger. The meat was tender and juicy and seasoned with just the right amount of salt and soya – RM18.
The Duck that came next was aromatic, cooked in the style of the famous ‘Gow Tsai Ngap’ or Puppy Duck of Pusing’s Ming Feong Restaurant. Now lest you animal lovers out there start protesting, the recipe contains no dogs, puppies or four-legged animals of any kind. It is just duck braised in a dark soya sauce and laced with oodles of young ginger and ‘sar keong’ or kencur (Malay), aromatic ginger or sand ginger – RM16.
Fried Catfish with basil was unusual and delectable at RM16 as was the Sayur Paku fried with ikan bilis, shallots and chillies. RM10 (seasonal). The clams that followed were very fresh RM18 but it was the last dish that blew me away.
Fresh oysters (small ones) braised with pork belly with slivers of dried squid was one of those old recipes that is hardly ever found on menus these days. Here at Foong Loy, the oysters were fresh, the pork chunks braised to quivering exquisiteness and the squid slivers lent its smoky fishiness to make this dish the paragon of culinary excellence. It’s a pity that most restaurants have dropped some of these exquisite recipes from their repertoire – RM16.
All in all, every dish I had here was well above average, in fact, most had the best ‘wok hei’ or in Cantonese, the aroma from the wok.Foong Loy Restaurant#4A, Jalan SM1, Taman Saujana Mega31000 Batu Gajah, PerakTel: 016 5996443; 016 5385425GPS: E 101” 1’ 19,8” N 4” 29’ 32,5”Business Hours: 12pm-3pm. Closed evenings.