By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
SeeFoon is seduced by STG
Picture a beautifully renovated bungalow, resplendent in its own ample garden, generous parking, stepping up into a posh reception foyer and well laid out tables in comfortable spacing and you feel like you have stepped back in time.
Into the halcyon days of leisurely tea parties, dainty sandwiches, scones with strawberry jam and cream and the low murmur of muted conversation. And it's all here at STG, a restored bungalow built in 1937, in the days when opulence was the norm. And opulent it is today.
A beautiful bungalow
Aside from the dainty high tea served all day, STG boasts a surprisingly extensive menu with offerings to tempt every palate. Ranging from Western to Asian with an irresistible choice of sweet temptations that even someone like me, who is not too fond of all things sweet, was seduced into having not only one or two spoonfuls but actually almost finishing whole portions!
Let me begin with their Chicken Rice. Having just completed my review on various outlets in Ipoh on this very same item, I was delighted to discover that their Chef de Cuisine used to work in Singapore at the Mandarin Hotel in Orchard Rd where I was addicted to their chicken rice. Now here he is in Ipoh! And his chicken rice is superlative, with all the sauces which I consider ‘de rigueur’; the chilli sauce, tangy with a hint of garlic; the ginger sauce, thick and fragrant and the dark black soya sauce which is a must. And let’s not forget the bowl of soup which was umami and chock full of cabbage; RM24.
Try also their Char Kway Teow with duck eggs, which was generous in their big prawns and arrived full of ‘wok hei’; RM24. Another dish worthy of mention is their soft shell crab with pasta; the soft shell crab crisp and crunchy, topping al dente spaghetti tossed with salted egg yolk. Yummilicious . . . RM38. Also do try their Sicilian Scallop Pasta, with slow-fried garlic and Serrano peppers; the large US scallops pan-fried to perfection, the Serrano peppers which are very mild and fried garlic lending not only their flavour but also providing a crunch with the pasta; RM36.
The list of goodies is endless and host Alvin Wan, co-founder and director was the perfect host, insisting I sample as many items as possible. As space is limited, I will list here the dishes I found delectable and worth returning again and again for.
I had to return for a second tasting as I saw French Escargot on the menu. For those who don’t know the French term, these are snails and are a very rare offering in Ipoh. So I immediately pounced on these as I haven’t had these in a long time. Baked with butter and garlic and parsley in their shells, the escargots here were delicious . . . not dry or chewy but just right. Dip bread into the garlic butter to mop up the sauce makes for a superb appetiser, RM24.
Their Wagyu Beef Burger is a Big Mac, but what a difference! Two juicy patties of chopped wagyu beef, cooked medium-rare, spilling over with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and held by a sesame bun. No additional saucing was needed as I bit into the well-seasoned pattie feeling I was in burger heaven; RM38.
I can recommend their Rosemary Lamb Rack, Australian thick-cut chops served with roasted potatoes which were very tasty. Do specify your degree of done-ness though, as they may tend to cook them too well done for local tastes; RM78.
They have fish, steaks, chicken and lamb galore in many guises and styles but time and space limit me. Try their Pan Fried Seabass fillet with a Herb Cream Sauce, RM28, or their Tea Smoked Chicken with a tea infusion with honey, a dish that is perfect for children, RM25.
Salted Egg Yolk Cheesecake
And I haven’t even talked about their teas and their desserts with especially one pièce de résistance, their incredible ‘Durian’ special, a look-alike confection of cream, cheese and the Malaysian obsession, durian. The taste is one of what I call the “died and gone to heaven” variety, creamy, fragrant and out of this world. The small one can feed probably four small eaters, RM25. And one can order the big 8-inch one for RM280 which will likely feed 8 to 10 or more people.
Patissier Zimone Foong is a wizard at her job. She, as Pastry Leader of her team, whips up the most delectable temptations like the Salted Egg Cream Cheesecake, RM16 per slice, or the San Sebastian Cheesecake and a host of other delicacies which you can order to take home. Or host a tea party on their premises for any occasion. Just call her (number below).
And now we come to the teas. STG is the acronym for Sabah Tea Garden, a homegrown tea plantation, producing and packaging a large variety of teas for both the home and export markets. Their tea menu is extensive ranging from the organic Borneo Rainforest, RM16 per pot; their regular Sabah Tea, RM12; their naturally fragranced teas like the Lavender Sabah Tea, RM15; French Rose Oolong (beautifully uplifting); their Golden Osmanthus (soothing), RM15, are all worth trying. Also, try their Passion Fruit Iced Tea. Fragrant tart and sweet, RM10.
STG will from now onwards be my go-to place for a leisurely meal, a sip or two of wine and perhaps if I am tempted, a dessert or two to share. They now sell wine in mini bottles like wine from Chile the Luis Felip Edward sauvignon blanc, and the red wine Carmenere. RM24 per bottle which is probably around one and a half glasses each.
Alwin Wan (centre) with his team
STG has other locations in Ipoh. They have one in Old Town and they also run the Little Elephant opposite Pantai Hospital. As they work from a central kitchen, the desserts will be the same for sure but the a la minute dishes may vary depending on the chef who’s cooking so I cannot vouch for the others. They also have one outlet in Taiping and one in Kuala Lumpur.
STG has come a long way from their early days. I was taken there once and the food was so appalling that I made my mind up to never go there again until very recently when I was totally surprised at the total turn around in their culinary presentations. Bravo STG! May you go from strength to strength.STG (Pork free)
2 Jalan Taman Kinta, Chateau Garden, 30250 Ipoh.Tel: 05 255 0116 or 05 255 0188Zimone Foong Pastry Chef to order pastries: 012 519 8116F & B Manager: Kenny Lam 012 3920116Business hours: 11am-11pm 24/7