Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ipoh Tuck Kee - the hyped Yuet Gong Hor and Wat Tan Hor specialist

Restoran Ipoh Tuck Kee is not to be confused with the Tuck Kee in Pasir Pinji which dishes out famous roast duck and char siew and Chinese reataurant styled cuisine. First of all, Restoran Tuck Kee is NOT AIRCONDITIONED, and you definitely not bound to find a single grain of rice here. This is because their forte is fried noodles! Quite a number of my friends who visited Ipoh will think of this place for dinner or supper, apart from the famed Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken. By the way, Ipoh Tuck Kee is situated at the golden triangle which houses the overrated Onn Kee and Lou Wong. Opened from 5pm onwards, you better come before 7pm to secure a seat, slightly earlier if it's weekends.

So what's the hype over this eatery? After deciding on what you want, hand over the order chit and the kitchen will try its very best to ensure food will be served at the minimum time possible. The poor chap is the only one frying the noodles in the kitchen, with some assistants to prepare and pass him the ingredients. In the midst of waiting, why not quench the raging hunger with some side dishes? The herbal stewed egg and stewed taufu is priced at RM1 each. The pork meatballs is at RM3 for a small serving of 5 pieces. The plump and juicy beansprout featured in the photo is at RM3 for a small portion. All these items are very reasonably priced and fast to be served as they are either ready or require minimal cooking skills (prepared by foreign workers)

The stewed chicken feet (RM5) is one worth mentioning apart from the side items. Braised to perfection, the meat/skin can practically fall off easily without much effort. One can easily pop the whole feet inside the mouth and spit out the bones at one go. The gravy has mild tinge of herb and it is not too salty. Mom said this dish has high profit margin as chicken feet is only around 20 cents PER PAIR!

 On the other side of the mouthfeel scale, you can always go for a chewing spree with the Blanched Baby Octopus (single serving at RM10). Please do not get me wrong that it is very chewy, but you do get to exercise your jaws since the eating the stewed chicken feet is not much of a task right? Blanched and topped with fried garlic, you are served with a tangy chilli sauce with crushed peanuts. I feel the fried garlic did a better job in complementing the octopus. And my personal preference is still the version served in Friend Snow Beer - whereby the blanced octopus is tossed in lime juice, generous amount of onions and bird's eye chilli (kerabu style)

Of the myriad of noodles choices, the standard pricing goes for single serving (small) is RM5, medium (RM10) is meant for 2 person and large (RM13) is meant for 3 eaters. One of the 3 single serving picked is the Moonlight Kuay Teow or fondly termed as “Yuet Gong Hor” in Cantonese. Kuay Teow is stir fried in a slightly wet and greasy. Upon serving, a whole egg is cracked on top, thus giving this dish its name. The raw egg yolk looks like the reflection of the moon on a pool of water (egg white). The flat noodles should be piping hot and once you mix up the whole dish, the egg will be cooked from the “heat” of the noodles. The single serving for Yuet Gong Hor is RM6, slightly pricier than the rest.

Those being lesser adventurous can opt for the Wat Tan Hor which is handled with utmost perfection. The "wok hei" (breath/heat of the wok) is present in every mouthful. Thick gravy with traces of egg strands coupled with the flat noodles resulted in a smooth finishing touch. The amount of accompaniments is quite reasonable for its pricing – you get a few shrimps, slices of pork and a few stalks of greens. Oh yes, how I could forget to mention fried lard which adds the extra “oomph”. This is my dad's personal favourite and it should be highly recommended though "tourist" might be attracted by the Yuet Gong Hor gimmick. The Wat Tan Hor is definitely da bomb!

The Dai Look Mein deserves personal mention which is my love at first sight. The “hokkien udon” is braised to a right texture and in slight greasy dark soya sauce gravy. The flavour from the sauce is absorbed by the noodles - a clear evidence from the small remaining amount of gravy. Coupled with almost the same ingredients as other fried noodles, I find this being very savoury and appetizing, thanks to our fried lard.

An average meal for 3 would cost around RM30 (inclusive of drinks) although 1 serving of noodles is RM5 only,  as you wont resist the reasonably priced side dishes. The shop could cater to around 10 tables only but there are definitely more tables outside at the road side. Be warned that there is another shop next door called Sun Tuck Kee. Sources say that Sun Tuck Ke is handled by the "father" while the son inherited this former lot which has gastronomic history of a few decades. Even Lee Chong Wei and Koo Kien Kiet also could not decide whether to eat at Ipoh Tuck Kee or Sun Tuck Kee, so anyone of you would like to verify which shop is your pick? :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Limestone Fine Dining, Regalodge Hotel

Finally, I have managed to find a good deal in Groupon for The Limestone. I knew I would hardly visit such places unless there is really a special occasion or with that someone special. Most of my friends also agreed and we were delighted to grab this chance of paying RM33 to enjoy a 3 course European Fine Dining in Hotel Regalodge.

The interior is very cosy despite being quite small. It could hardly cater to 20 tables at the most and there are mostly table for 2 and table for 4. Being the first few who arrive at around 7pm+ on a Saturday evening, we were lucky to be given fullest attention of service by the crew, which comprised to 5 waiter/waitresses only.

My camera could not perform at its best in this lighting, so do bear with the slightly grainy and poorer quality pictures. And coincidently, my friend forgot to bring macro/wide angle lenses, only long focus as we went hunting for Hong Kong TVB artists. More on that later, I will upload a few photos of the cast of Triumph in The Skies, mainly my crush Fala Chen! ^^

Before we begin the dinner, we spent a few seconds observing and giving a few thoughts on the cutlery on the table, as there were 2 of each - fork, knife, spoon. And the order should be from the outer to the inner, so I guess we were right when the first item was served.

We were served with complimentary bread. It is served with a slice of salted cheese. The bread is some sort of sourdough bread I suppose, which has a texture of cream puff but with a crusty exterior. Excellent to be eaten on its on, the slice of cheese made this a great starter even the soup came AFTER the bread. We have 3 Groupon sets, so we managed to try all 3 items from the starters.

The first is Ceasar Salad - Fresh Romaine lettuce is tossed in a tangy and creamy Ceasar dressing with generous serving of croutons, beef bacons amd some baby tomatoes. The hardboiled egg at the centre added some weightage which nearly elevated this appetizer to be a main course but it was a bit out of place in terms of art of food presenation. I love the garnishing of Parmesan spinkles and olive slices around the salad. Overall, we agreed that the salad is refreshing and tasty, kicking start our engine for a heavy meal ahead.

The second appetizer was the Veloute Champignon Bois Le Duc, in simple wild mushroom and spring onion soup. I find the soup a bit salty and very overpowering for appetizer. It's slightly oily or rather too creamy to my liking. I would anytime go for a second serving of Ceasar salad than drink this. A few tablespoon is okay... but finishing the whole bowl is quite... dreadful.

The last item on the appetizer list is the Ratatouille Soup. If you were to search Wiki for the definition, please omit the link the film, Ratatouille is actually a French mixed vegetable stew. Here, the soup is made from a blend of paprika and tomato puree. Slightly better than the mushroom soup, I would prefer a slice of bread to go along with this. The best thing about eating in group is that you wont be too jelak if you encounter such type of soup. Yeah, although we have 3 Groupon vouchers, one person FFK "last minute" and two of us were trying our very best to finish 3 sets.

There are 5 main course to choose from - and we left out Chicken Cordon Blue (too stereotyped) and Spaghetti Scallopine Di Pollo (Nope, nothing to do with scallop but it is actually a breaded chicken chop with a huge serving of angel hair pasta in bolognese sauce. We picked a fish dish, a lamb dish and a pasta dish....

The Roast Scottish Lamb Leg Yorkshire (the dim warm yellow lighting is an enemy to digital compact cameras... and the slightly poor presentation of this dish made the lightings a good ally) looks like a familiar Chinese restaurant stew pork dish right? Hehehe... okok, lets not spoil the mood of dining like one of the upper strata of society. I try to mind my table manners by using just light strength to handle the lamb leg... Not very tender but thank goodness not much effort from the fork and knife were needed. The brown gravy was very hearty but nowhere near the brown sauce from the Lamb Stew I had in Oz Outback Roast Chicken (my previous review). The photo in Groupon was indeed for illustration purpose only. I do not find this dish very appealing, to be honest - quite sloppily done.

Alright, our next main course is Fettuccine Alfredo Con Scampi Mederitano which literally translated into marinated king prawns with fettuccine pasta served in creamy alfredo cheese sauce. Besides 2 pan-grilled huge and juicy prawns, there were also generous serving of boiled deshelled shrimps. Best for sharing, not because the portion is big, but the sauce is quite creamy if you were to wallop this whole plate on your own.

To our utter surprise, the third main course was not a fish dish but suitably classified under a pasta category. Although in the menu, the name given was Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Dill Hollandaise Sauce, the creamy pesto linguine seemed to be the "main tenant" of this plate. Perhaps its a Groupon set, so the Salmon was actually quite a small piece, in comparison with the GENEROUS serving of pasta. For RM60+ in the ala carte menu, perhaps you will get a bigger piece of salmon. Perhaps the second and third dish bear some resemblance, so we did not really enjoyed the main courses chosen.

For dessert, there is NO option at all. In the Groupon voucher, it was clearly stated CAKE OF THE DAY. At first I thought we can pick from the sliced cakes on display... but later on to be told it was only Fruit Crumble which is served. I requested takeway for 2 portions as we were quite full. The dessert missed in ending the meal on a relatively high note by delivering dry, overly sweet crispy crumbles.

In conclusion, the RM33 was worth paying for the food an a chance to embrace the classy and cosy dining setting since there are really limited "fine dining" choices in Ipoh, many of them abusing the term "FINE DINING". If you have yet to try Limestone, come here only if it's your girlfriend's birthday or anniversary, else... wait for a worthy Groupon deal. My humble opinion, that is.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Restoran Samy, Chemor: A sleep inducing lunch affair

This is not a sight from a normal mamak shop. Spot those ceramic pots which contains a plethora of sinful pleasures? This photo depicts the business inside a Indian curry house, not to be confused with Indian Muslim operated mamak eateries. Mamak is generally associated with maggi goreng, roti canai and their curry dishes ala Nasi Kandar. A good example: Remember the infamous Nasi Kandar Line Clear in Penang which I blogged about last year?

But in an Indian curry house, you get this! Yes, both meals in a typical mamak and indian curry house are sleep inducing, but the latter has its rice served on banana leaf. Another significant difference from mamak is all the items in a banana leaf set is refillable! Yes, you can call for your second (or even third) serving of rice, vegetables sides and papadam for your bottomless pit! This is the modus operandi in a typical Indian curry house, if there is one significant trait you have to remember, take note of this: EAT TILL YOU DROP! No signs of Rasam, but there is this soup served in small stainless steel cups which tasted like soup bunjut paired with masala spices.

Another noticeable difference is traditional Indian sweets/candies. It's not a common sight nowadays in Ipoh. Little India in Ipoh old town area is the only place which comes to my mind when there is cravings for this traditional delicacies.

Talk about Indian banana leaf rice and you will think of Old Andersonians Cafe and Sri Asoka's Corner (the addictive Nasi "Ganja" Vanggey should not be classified under the same category as its considered Nasi Kandar). Hence, there is not much places to get your banana leaf rice fix (I remember my cravings for it during my uni days and I will head for Sri Paandi if you are in Klang Valley). Else, take a slightly longer drive to the sleepy town of Chemor. Behold the pride of this town - Restoran Samy.

 As shown earlier, you get a huge serving of banana leaf rice and sides of the day. There's only 3 side dishes - pickled cucumber, shredded cabbage and mashed potato curry (a typical filling for Puri). I wished they could have 1 or 2 more variety - I remember having some mashed spinach dish and fried bittergourd while I had mine in KL. Hmmm.. the curried potatoes is damn good - adding on more calories to the humongous portion of rice. A meat dish is near compulsory else you will end up having plain vegetarian rice. This is the curry mutton...

 ...and this the curry chicken. I really loved the mutton curry which had a slightly thicker curry gravy compared to the chicken curry. The curries are not thumb numbing hot, but is still spicy. One small serving could be shared among two, unless you are a meat lover. Or you don't mind burning a hole in your pocket. Mind you, the meat dishes are never cheap in an Indian curry house. The total bill for 4 of us (with 1 serving of curry chicken and 1 serving of mutton curry plus 3 limau ais) came to RM47. If you don't mind spending "a bit" more, be a bit adventurous and try their curry prawns and curry flower crabs. I assure that you will find it satisfying despite coming with a price, a hefty one that is.

Apart from watermelons, the dessert of the day was this Pumpkin Sago Dessert. Served warm, it may be too sweet and rich for certain people but a single serving is fine for me. In fact, I loved to take another serving but the huge portion of calories taken in prior to the dessert is too much for a working adult which have another half day in office. There's bits of sago, almonds, raisins and the bright hue of orange coloured puree might be a mixture of pumpkin, milk, ghee and spices like cardamon and saffron (just taking a wild guess). I totally loved this dessert!

There you have it, Restoran Samy in Chemor town (almost 15 minutes drive from my work place in Tasek Industrial Area) serving authentic Indian curries and banana leaf rice - leaving you to be in a groggy state on a sleepy Friday afternoon. Well, we don't term it as sleep inducing lunch for no apparent reason :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Oz Aussie Outback Roast Chicken & Fusion Cuisine

Oz Aussie Outback Roast Chicken is a new kid in town located in the same row (opposite Hokkaido Japanese Restaurant) as the lousy Spices of Penang, Red Com computer shop.  I heard that the have been in operation since April this year but I just discovered it recently thanks to All About Ipoh Facebook page. From the limited amount of photos available, I was skeptical on how serious or passionate about serving Australian food or is it just another moniker for generic Western cuisine... Well, curiosity kills the cat... most of the time but not always.

My curiosity is rewarded with The Aussie Slow Cooked Lamb Stew (RM20.90), which deserves special mention. The meat is so tender that it can fall of the bone without much effort from your fork and knife.  The thick gravy is very robust, hearty and flavorful which further proves that the lamb is stewed for a reasonably long period of time. The gravy is a similar resemblance of a good old bowl of Oxtail Soup. Roasted potatoes, a scoop of coleslaw, to ensure it is a complete meal. A slight small preference of mine is have a side of mashed potato or better still... a piece or two of garlic bread for me to polish the gravy, which comes with carrots, peas and onions! The presentation in the photo maybe a bit sloppy but rest assured this is a recommended dish!

This is the Chicken Mushroom Pie (a main course from the 3 options available in the Set Dinner) which comes with a side of coleslaw. The pie and its filling are served piping hot.

They are not skimpy with the portion as you can find chicken breast meat, mushrooms and onions in it as the creamy sauce oozes out. Despite being a pie, it is just right for dinner and may be too much for light eaters during lunchtime.

This is the Chicken Chop with BBQ sauce. It comes with their baked rice (a bit mushy though) and a side of coleslaw. The BBQ sauce is blended well and I'm sure the chef had gone through a lot of trial and errors to come out to a near perfect concoction which brings out the smoky aroma to the well grilled chicken drumstick.

Last but not least, a visit here without ordering their signature roasted chicken is no different from dining in KFC and ordering Fish Burger only. Their Quarter Outback Roasted Chicken (RM17.90) comes with customizable sides and gravy. For the gravy, there are BBQ sauce, Herbed Bread Sauce, Onion Sauce to name a few. A wide variety of sides also awaits the diner: Mashed Potatoes, Roast Potato, Coleslaw, Ceasar Salad, Rice, French Fries, Onion Rings - and your job is to pick 3 out of them! The chicken is roasted to perfection, still tender with slightly crisp and charred surfaces. It comes with apple and bacon stuffing, the apple being caramelized and soft :) The meat however is not heavily seasoned so you may need to rely on the sauce if you do not like slightly bland tasting meat. The Onion Sauce which I took is actually a derivative of a brown sauce, which is a bit too thick too my liking and if the chicken is served hotter instead, it would score a 10/10 in my scale.
Currently, they are running a promotion for the month of July. Senior Citizens (55 years and above) are entitled to a 50% off on their second set meal purchased for both lunch and dinner. The Set Dinner is priced at RM14.90 which includes a drink (mango cordial/guava cordial/barley) and dessert. The Chicken Chop and Mushroom Chicken Pie shown earlier are part of the set.

 Photo above grabbed from their Facebook page

 This is the Lemon Cheesecake - minute serving but I must commend their effort in giving quality desserts other than watermelon or single scoop ice cream in most other places' set meals. For a RM14.90 set, I couldn't ask more for rich cheese cake but the lemon tinge ended the meal on a refreshing note.

 The Banana Pudding was on the slight letdown but like I said, for this price, I won't ask for more. Perhaps, they could omit the coloured rice decoration which kinda made the desserts look a bit "kiddy". If you are dining here, go for the cake instead.

All in all, the food here exceeded my expectation and my family left satisfied. Definitely not a wannabe new kid in town considering the simple decor involved and despite this place not being air conditioned (think about failures like Sakai Cafe and Warm Snow Beer - which are always on Groupon). The storm created by the chef coupled with the friendly and attentive nature of "cowboys" (waiters wearing hats) will ensure the Oz received warmly by the people of Ipoh. 

Now, do them a favour, try it for yourself and if it appease your tastebuds, spread the word around (and my blog post too). Happy weekend peeps! :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Falim House Exhibition

Let's take a break from food.... at least for 1 post shall we? Just after a kopitiam setting brunch in Lim Kopi, I took a stroll down memory lane in Falim House. This huge mansion, located along Jalan Lahat once belongs to tycoon Foo Nyit See. This mansion will be preserved though the land surrounding it is en route to development into a commercial centre called Tin City. Currently, there is an exhibition going on themed "A Tin Mining Family".

It has been opened to public since mid of May and this exhibition is scheduled to go on until early August 2013.

I brought my parents on my second visit a few weeks later and nostalgic memories were recalled when they look into the items of yesteryears. I'm sure our parent's generation will be able to relate well to the photos on display, the list of name of philanthropist who played a vital role in Chinese education in this city, or town back then.

Photography is allowed but with user's discretion on no intentional copying. Posing is okay. But I do admit we are guilty of snapping many close up photos. But surprisingly, there are not many shots taken on the tin mining equipment.

But more on colourful items on display which are a rare scene, or even near non-existence.

Kerosene lamps of yesteryears. There are also stuffs like opium pipes, gambling gadgets, stamps, automobile parts collections and tin mining tools.

Do make full use of certain photo corner which never fails to draw camwhorers like me!

Okay, I can relate to this. Faint and fond memories of the "ting ting" man last time. But the tradition is dying off even when I was a kid, where by McD and Dominos drivers seems to be taking over the unsung heroes of yesteryears who never fail to bring a smile to kids back then, be it a simple ais krim roti or sponge cakes or chocolate wafers.

Camwhore spotted ^^

The flyers of movies of the 60s. Ticket price used to be RM2 that time and it was considered quite posh to bring a girl to a movie date that time.

So there you have it, I can't really describe much on antiques or art gallery compared to food. Why not you drop by before the exhibition is over? It's opened daily from 10am to 5pm. Admission is FREE and if you sign the guest book, you will get a complimentary bookmark as shown above. So, you have something to do over this weekend besides eating :)