By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
The eponymous restaurant has been around almost 30 years and Bee Gaik is still at it, preparing and serving her famous Nyonya dishes to an appreciative clientele. With recipes handed down from her mother, Bee Gaik has been cooking up a storm all these years and the restaurant is holding its own amongst the plethora of new eateries opening (and closing) around her.
Looking like something one is more likely to find in Malacca rather than in the middle of Ipoh Garden South, Bee Gaik Restaurant is definitely old style, its imposing facade complimented with old memorabilia inside, creating the ambiance of a Nyonya Baba teahouse.
And the menu is certainly more Malaccan than what is commonly available here in Ipoh. Especially when it comes to the Perut Ikan, a specialty of the house that is so rare these days and finding one that is well prepared even more precious. Pickled fish intestines that many a squeamish would find abhorrent, is cooked with a mix of vegetables and spices resulting in a dish that looks unappetising on the plate, nevertheless in the masterful hands of Bee Gaik, turns into a taste sensation on the palate, RM12/19/24 S/M/L.
Phuah Bee Gaik is a Nyonya chef from the old school preferring to do things the old fashioned way than to succumb to modern shortcuts. Like her Ju Hu Char, that distinctive Nyonya dish that requires hours of labour-intensive cutting and slicing to produce the fine chiffonade of yam bean (machines cannot compete) which is fried with tau cheong or preserved bean paste (only the merest hint) and topped with slivered dried squid. The homemade chilli sauce is dolloped onto the yam bean, which you wrap in lettuce leaf, is a mouthful of heaven, RM12/24 S/L.
Another delightful treat is the Tung Po Yoke, quivering pork belly, braised to a jelly-like consistency and served with mantou, steamed Chinese bread. This requires a lot of skill and patience to slowly braise the pork which high heat will render stringy and tough. Totally melt-in-mouth divine, RM18.
For those looking for a quick bite, check out the Nyonya Asam Fish slices noodle soup. The fish slices were Garupa, firm and fresh in texture, combined with brinjal chunks and redolent with the aroma of kaffir lime leaves.The whole dish is tangy without being overly spicy, the spices well blended for a deliciously slurpy soup/sauce, RM8.50. And while eating that, share an Otak Otak, a very typical Nyonya egg/seafood custard made with coconut milk, spices, redolent of lemon grass with slices of fish and steamed in a cocotte.
Salted Fish Achar was interesting. Pickled onions, whole shallots, ginger, whole garlic, chillies, salted fish and rempah, not overly spicy but with enough kick to go beautifully with white rice and the other dishes, RM12/18/20.
Chicken Kapitan was coated with a thick coconut milk laden gravy, the spices well blended, and the chicken chunks tender, RM17/26/34 for S/M/L and we finished off the meal with the Pork Belly Malacca, thinly sliced pork belly, sautéed with onions and topped with loads of scallions.Bee Gaik Dining Place & Buffet Catering10-10A Tingkat Taman Ipoh 11Ipoh Garden South, 31400 Ipoh.Tel. & Fax: 05 546 8601Business hours: 11.30am-3pm; 6pm-10pm; Closed on Tuesday