By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Some of us have jaded palates. I admit to being one of them. It’s not that I am ungrateful when my friends invite me for roast suckling pig, Tualang prawns or fresh crabs. I enjoy them thoroughly but often I find myself yearning for some of the dishes my Grandma used to make. Or a simple plate of Char Siew.

Hence when a new signboard went up in Ipoh Garden, a few doors down from my favourite Chinese grocer, Choy Company and a short distance from Ipoh Echo’s new premises on Jalan Dato Lau Pak Khuan, I took notice and promptly went for a taste test.

From the Chinese Lo Chiew Pai, they have translated it into “Old Man”, an unpretentious fan-cooled restaurant serving wholesome dishes, just like Grandma used to make. I was optimistic that here I would find that ineffable taste of my childhood and I was not disappointed.

A lot of their dishes are cooked and served in clay pots; complex blends of herbs and condiments resulting in dishes that are quite compelling while some of their other specials are classic and not often offered nowadays.

I am fussy about Char Siew (that ubiquitous red pork you see hanging from some stalls) and I don’t often eat or buy it home unless it measures up to my specifications. Here at Old Man, it does, all homemade, succulent, tender and with enough fat to make eating Char Siew worthwhile. Here it is served fusion style with a small salad, RM13.

Next, we had the Sek Pan or Garoupa smothered with ginger chunks, Dong Quai or Angelica, Goji Berries and Mook Yi or wood ear, served wrapped in foil with a liquid fuel burner below. We were told to wait exactly 12 minutes which they time and on the dot they come over to your table and lift the foil, the liquid fuel having burnt itself out. Unusual and well timed as the fish was perfectly steamed. Market price and depending on type of  fish.

I had forgotten all about this soup until it arrived, evoking memories of my childhood. Coconut Chicken Soup has a quarter chicken, steamed for six hours in an old coconut with Chinese herbs like Yuk Juk (Solomon Seal), ginseng tails, goji berries, Wai San or Chinese Yam, nuances of coconut permeating the soup and blending with the rest of the herbs. Umami and delectable; RM25.

The Wu So Gai or whiskered chicken was braised in Chinese wine and chestnuts, the sauce reduced to a thick and robust coating over all the bits and pieces; RM28.

Yat Pun Po, the one-pot stew, with duck, pigs tail, chicken feet, intestines, pig’s tripe, mushrooms and bean curd skin was a clay pot full of collagen rich goodness, the taste robust, and flavour unforgettable. Definitely worth a re-order; RM28.

Old Man Seafood Restaurant is definitely one of the places I will use as my ‘canteen’ whether its during or after office hours. Being so conveniently situated so close to the Ipoh Echo office gives it preferential status!

Old Man Seafood Restaurant
60 Jalan Dato Lau Pak Khuan, Ipoh Garden, 31400 Ipoh.
4° 36’ 42.6996’’N 101° 6’ 27.3996’’E
Business hours: 11am-11.30pm; Monday closed
Tel: 012 480 2759; 016 499 0905