By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Tambun village has always been a sleepy place. Cars whizz by on their way to either Sunway, Lost World, Haven or Banjaran and no one pays any attention to the dilapidated houses on both sides of the road.

But someone did. The enterprising owner Rizal, of Pakeeza fame, has bought two of these shophouses and at great expense, transformed them into a casual eatery which is named Moss Eatery. Relying on his own creative ideas, Rizal faced the difficult task of restoration and manages to pull it off; with a decor that is both industrial and shabby chic in accent. Having spent more than a million ringgit in refurbishment, Moss Eatery opened for business very recently.

Moss Eatery, is now impossible to ignore especially at night when it is all lit up. The only attractive signage along that stretch of Tambun road, you’d have to drive like a demon to miss it. Ample parking is available in the back, the tables are well spaced out and there is a general feeling of spaciousness with high ceilings that have been left exposed and the original beams left intact, as are most of the walls.

The menu is small which in my opinion is a good way to begin a restaurant to allow the chefs to perfect their recipes, adding new items slowly as popularity grows.

For starters, we had Cucur Udang Kuah Kacang, the ubiquitous prawn fritters which are everybody's favourite snack. They were delicious, crispy on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside, the prawns large enough to not require a magnifying glass to find them as is the case in other establishments. It came with a satay-like sauce but due to my preference for non-sweet things, I used the sambal belacan dip instead. I had great difficulty restraining myself from eating more as I knew there were loads of other dishes to come; RM7.

The main signature dishes here at Moss Eatery are their Nasi Kukus: rice perfectly steamed in their individual packets with accompanying ikan bilis and salted peanuts. This is offered with a choice of Ayam Goreng Berempah which is a big chunk of chicken, marinated in the ‘berempah’ style, redolent with lemongrass, galangal, cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger; Beef Curry, small pieces of beef in a light curry sauce with coconut milk; and the Fish Rebus, braised fish in a mild curry sauce. The same sauce is used for all three Nasi Kukus and extra sauce is available on the side. Berempah: RM7.50; Beef and Fish RM8.50.

Aside from the choice of Nasi Kukus, their Mee Rebus Tulang is excellent. Seldom have I eaten a mee rebus in Ipoh that is not overladen with sugar and not thickened with cornstarch. This Mee Rebus is the real thing, the thick gravy is made by reducing broth along with a mix of spices, aromatics and sweet potatoes. Using yellow egg noodles, slurping them wrapped in the gravy together with sliced tofu, bean sprouts, boiled egg and a dash of calamansi was a total delight. The departure here from the usual mee rebus served outside was the addition of a piece of meat on the bone. Tender and juicy, the meat lent an extra layer to the complex taste of the gravy; RM10.

Other dishes worth exploring are their Tahu Goreng or fried tofu with a sweet Thai sauce, the tofu crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside, RM8.50, and their Rojak Buah or Fruit Rojak, our inimitable Malaysian fruit salad, unlike anything the west has ever seen. Chunks of pineapple, cucumber, sang kuang (a local turnip) are slathered with a thick sauce made from chilli paste, chopped lemongrass, dark soya sauce and belacan powder. This is topped with chopped peanuts and the most yummilicious crackers which are homemade. This combination of taste and textures makes this a must-have dish; RM9.

For that final sweet touch do try their Aiskrim Goreng which is their fried ice cream: Vanilla ice cream wrapped in a batter and deep fried, with the ice cream still solid when you bite in. Apparently, this is one of their most popular dishes here; RM7.

I saw an item on the menu that looked awfully interesting and that was the Spaghetti Sambal Udang. To begin with, their sambal belacan was delicious so I reckon their Sambal Udang should be equally good. That is an item that is next on my tasting menu as there was no more room for anything else the night I was there.

Moss Eatery, a welcome addition to the Halal food scene.

MOSS EATERY (Halal)
No 11 & 13, Jalan Besar Tambun,
31400 Ipoh, Perak (4.87 mi)
+6017 553 5074
Business Hours: 11am-11pm every day.