By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
It was a gargantuan meal. As were the portions. Ever the generous and affable host, Edward Foo and his charming wife, my foodie kaki Ginla Chew, were hosting some friends from the UK, Teddy Yip, his wife Wendy and their three grown children. There really is no better place than the private room at Kok Thai on Tasek Road where the parking is easy and the room accommodates two tables easily.
And the food is guaranteed to impress even the most jaded palates (Teddy owns restaurants in London).
We started with the soup, a brimming tureen of clear broth teeming with goji berries, pork ribs and surprise surprise, Loong Dun Tao or giant grouper head, a fish prized for its thick gelatinous skin (good news for the ‘ladies who lunch’ “cos it’s full of collagen that keeps the wrinkles at bay!”). The soup was beautifully clear and umami, no doubt a result of double boiling with all kinds of delectable ingredients that go towards a ‘supreme’ broth and the pork ribs cooked to a fall-off-the bone texture with none of the stringiness that can come from overcooking of meat. RM150 for a table of 10.
The next dish was a delightful take on how to bring suckling pigs up to the next level. Now there’s suckling pig and there’s SUCKLING pig. In some restaurants the piglet is already too old and too big but here at Kok Thai, the one served was just perfect, the skin crisp and crackly and the meat with only a hint of fat. The creative part which I found delightful was that instead of serving it with the usual scallions, the dish was accompanied by a plate of sliced green apple, jackfruit, rose apple and Chinese pear. Added to the Man Tou bun, with a touch of the dark plum sauce, the slice of pig skin in the middle, it made the best Chinese sandwich I’d ever tasted. RM258 for one suckling pig.
Our next item on the menu was a sight to behold as well as an enormous feast for the palate. A humongous platter covered on one side with a whole side of Ibérico Pork Ribs and the other with glistening large prawns, the dish brought oohs and ahhs from all around the table. Unlike some of these gaudy elaborate edifices often presented at fancy banquets, this dish came with no embellishments other than the ‘what-you-see-is-what-you get’ taste and freshness of the ingredients.
Iberico pork delivers flavour and texture like no other – delicate, nutty, with melt-in-your-mouth marbling, the Black Iberian Pig, more commonly known by its Serrano name of Pata Negra or Black Hoof, is the newest contender on the culinary scene with the most serious pedigree. The Ibérico feasts on a diet of acorns and other indigenous plants, which is what gives the Ibérico pork its unsurpassed taste and quality recognised around the world. The ribs at Kok Thai were no exception. Tender and succulent with minimal marinating, the ribs fell off the bone owing to Pata Negra's own genetic ability to store fat inside of, not just around muscle tissue, that produces its uniquely tender, rich, rosy meat – almost beefy – with a high degree of marbling. RM180 for the ribs. The prawns or Meng Har that were served together were ultra fresh and fried to perfection with soya sauce on a bed of scallion – RM200.
The steamed fish that followed was surprisingly reasonable at RM132 for a live Lo Fu Pan or Tiger Garupa. Steamed with a soya sauce topping, the fish was perfect both in its delicacy of the meat and its freshness.
On another occasion I tried their Crab meat, Sang Kwang stir fry served with lettuce leaves which I found most pleasing RM30 for 10; followed by their Fried Rice redolent with Bentong ginger and topped with generous helping of julienned lettuce – RM28 (for 10).
I spoke to the owner of Kok Thai who shared with me that as he owns other restaurants, he rotates his chefs around and this latest one Ah Keat is currently the one responsible for the culinary delights mentioned here.
Ann Ong who is the current manager is ever helpful and will suggest menu items according to one’s taste and desires.
I have also in the past (February 1, 2013 issue 159 Ipoh Echo) reviewed their yummilicious Poon Choy here at Kok Thai which is also available on preorder. The price of RM580 is good value for money considering there are 18 different ingredients that go into this delectable one-pot dish which is discovered and savoured layer by layer. Preorder in the morning will ensure you get this at night. A minimum of 5 pax at RM58 per person is required.
Restoran Kok Thai (Tasek) Sdn Bhd37-49, Laluan Tasek Perdana, Medan Tasek Perdana.Tel: 05 5422 181/182Captain Ann Ong: 010 211 9011GPS: E 101° 5’ 42.0” N 4° 38’ 28.3”