Subscribe to my RSS Feeds

Motormouth From Ipoh

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hoi Seng Restaurant @ Ipoh Garden

A new Chinese diner opened its door to business recently (15/8/09) at a most strategic spot in Ipoh Garden, directly facing the roundabout nearest to the post office. Not exactly 'new' per se, given the fact that Hoi Seng seemingly originates from another Hoy Seng (notice the difference in spelling?) in Batu Gajah Perdana, near to Pusing in Perak.

Seemingly because I did not manage to confirm the rumour, as the whole place was buzzing with activities, almost catering to a full-house crowd on the evening we had our dinner there. An impressive feat, as the restaurant can seat up to a grand capacity of 50 tables of guests, if there's any function or occasion being celebrated at the premise.

Spacious, grand and bright decor - A perfect setup for a wedding dinner

Jusco Kinta City is still suffering from the spreading-like-wildfire rumours (or truth, I can't determine for sure) about the devastating pandemic hitting the departmental store since weeks ago. People are being wary, thus staying away from enclosed public places such as shopping complexes, schools, gatherings, and even offices.

But much to my chagrin, restaurants, eateries, kopitiams etc are still patronized by the masses, as if everyone's brandishing the devil may care attitude. How cool. It was drizzling that weekday evening, but Hoi Seng was doing such brisk business, one may be forgiven for thinking that this restaurant has its own loyal following for some time now.

Special Pot Rice - RM14 for small, RM28 for big portion

A plus point when it comes to ordering at Hoi Seng, in comparison to other similar Chinese diners, is that they have a simple, two pages menu, printed and laminated. With plentiful of pictures, prices clearly printed, and with English translations to boot, turning your order into a more convenient and hassle free affair. I do not advocate for the 'asking the waiters for the special dishes nonsense', as I doubt all the waitering staff have the same exact knowledge of the restaurant's specialities and dishes. Unless they've been working at the same place for a respectable amount of time.

Therefore, it was a simple point and order system, coupled with the staff's recommendations. But the swelling crowd was rather overwhelming, we were fearing that our food would arrive an hour or so later. But the waitress was reassuring, minus the empty promises, but instead admitted that they're still new to the scene, and still coping with the exceptionally good customer flow.

Mini Buddha Yum Pot @ RM28

The Special Pot Rice came in a small portion for the 6 of us, barely sufficient but was exactly what we requested as carbo = extremely filling stuff. With a treasure load of ingredients, such as shrimps, 'char siew', waxed sausages, mushrooms, French beans(kacang buncis), silver anchovies, celery, and such, the sticky, fragrant rice was presented in a huge wooden/steel bucket. Reminded me of claypot chicken rice, sans the smoky aroma. Still a better bet than the common glutinous rice or fried rice served at the end of a wedding dinner.

The Mini Buddha Yum Pot (yup, it was named as such, and definitely not my intepretation) is a layman's version of the highly-prized Buddha (or Monk) Jumping Over The Wall. Lesser ingredients at a fraction of the price (RM28 standard portion), the sliced abalone, mushrooms, dried scallops, chicken and dried fish maws rendered the soup a distinctive umami flavour, but a little thin (read : diluted) and bland, in comparison to its many-folds pricier counterpart. Of course, you get what you give. :)

Deep-fried Lotus Roots with Salted Egg @ RM10

An addictive and novel snack-cum-vegetable in the form of fried crispy lotus roots with salted egg coating, the concept may not be ground-breaking, yet worked wonders. The salty flavour complemented the bland but crunchy lotus roots so well, you may be wishing for a pint to appear miraculously to go with the savoury snacks. Order this for the children, and guaranteed they'll be eating their greens with glee! (Erm, not really greens, but okay lah ...).

Shanghai Special Pork Ribs @ RM16 (small). RM32 if big portion.

Initially craving for some Guiness Pork Ribs, we were disappointed they were not being served that evening. But at least the staff knew their kitchen well, instead of running to the kitchen and back to your table to confirm.

Settled for second best (or probably the better choice, given the front page placing of the dish on the menu) instead, we had the Shanghai Pork Ribs, served with blanched 'Siu Pak Choy' and fluffy 'mantou' (steamed buns). Not bad, with generally leaner cuts of meat (pork RIBS, ok?), but still remaining tender and marinated well. The dark and thick gravy just begged to be wiped clean with the 'mantou'. But take note that only 5 pieces are being served, and this was clearly stated by the staff taking our orders.

Hoi Seng Special Tofu @ RM9 (small), RM18 if big portion.

Smooth, egg-y beancurd served with plentiful of gravy, topped with generous garnishings of julienned crabsticks and beancurd sheets (foo chuk). Homely stuff, suits the tastebuds of the young and the older generation.


Fresh-Water (Knife Fish) Fish Balls @ 70 cents each

A feeling of deja vu swept over me, as we were served with a plate of their signature fishballs. Probably reminded me of the Lenggong's episode not too long ago. But the bouncy (QQ) texture, and sweet flesh of the Saito/Wolf-herring fish (Ikan parang, doubtful it's called Knife Fish as stated in their menu) shone through, requiring no dipping sauce at all. Though a bowl of chilli sauce was provided on the side.


Sliced Fish with Wine in Claypot @ RM12 for 100g of Grouper fish fillets.

And last but not least, the fillets of grouper served in the Chinese wine concoction, with wood ear fungus (mook yee), and mushrooms was no difference from the chicken in wine commonly served to women in confinement. LOL.

Though the thick and sweet flesh of the grouper provided much flavour in its own, when dunked and cooked inside the strong broth, somehow the texture became much firmer, and may not be to everyone's liking. Stick to the chicken instead, if you're in the mood for some 'Kiong Chau Kai'.

The 1st Page - Signature dishes. Wanted to order the 1st platter on the top left, but must book in advance. Shucks .....


And the second and last page. Easy right? No need to tear your hair (or the waitress'), trying to make up your mind on what to order on the spot

That meal explained the abundance of people patronizing this restaurant on a weekday's evening. And the many rave reviews from friends and neighbours. We'll probably return for the other dishes, and the platter of Cold Salted Four Seasons Pork (RM68) that we've been eyeing, but sadly required advanced booking for a taste.

The meal came to RM118 for the 6 of us, with white rice being charged at RM1.20 each, and Chinese tea at RM1 per head. Almost too reasonable, given the setting that resembles a higher class Chinese restaurant.

Location : Restoran Hoi Seng Ipoh @ No 86, Jalan Dato Lau Pak Khuan, Taman Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh Perak.
Tel No : +605-548 2272
Opens daily from 11.30am - 2.30pm, and 6.00pm until 10.30pm.
Parking's a breeze come night time, while a bit tricky in the day, for the post office is situated directly next to the restaurant.
Here's a GOOGLE MAP to the restaurant.

36 comments:

Big Boys Oven said...

hmmmm food in Ipoh sounds like getting more expensive this days :) Am I right?

Selba said...

It looks like a nice restaurant with lovely fish balls :)

pigpigscorner said...

The special pot rice looks amazing!

New Kid on the Blog said...

new place?

reanaclaire said...

haha... so u finally went, waiting for this post, wanna see what u ordered so that i can try too next time... the salted egg lotus will be in my menu..i love that, correction, my kids n i love that, but we didnt see it the other day when we went.. so the "mini monk" was not so good? i tot of trying that, the one 58rm one.. and the claypot rice is a must too next time..ok ok.. now my stomach is growling..it is 8.30am now.. time for my breakfast...
have a nice day!

soo sean said...

Thanks for recommending this. A new place to try when i go back for a weekend. :)

SimpleGirl said...

is it the one beside post office in Ipoh Garden?

sc said...

the rice pots looks mouth watering..yums.. decent pricing indeed, and yes, the menu is great.. dont need to ask the waiters for anymore 'recommendations'. hahaha

ai wei said...

almost the same price as in KL but the portion seems large in this restaurant!!!
this is for how many ppl?

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

for less than 20rm per pax and getting a sip of abalone mushroom etc soup..thats quite a good deal d la..

email2me said...

Wow .... very reasonably priced premium food.

Derek, MJ Chai said...

How was the food??? I heard from few of my friends saying that it was not so nice! They all went separately with their own family.

Any recommendations for a birthday dinner??

Wilson Ng said...

deep fried lotus is very unique, never tried it before...

the special rice also looks interesting!

kampungboycitygal said...

another place to bring parents for dinner :)

iamthewitch said...

I've always only gone to the Tung Hoi restaurant. Now I have another alternative. :)

thule a.k.a leo said...

hey, write this place down on where to bring thule go next time he comes to ipoh with the family... hahahaha!!! I have weakness for good Chinese dai chow... it seems taht every dishes hit the right note for you! which is good enough

CUMI & CIKI said...

excellent place to bring my clients.. makes a change from overseas and manjung:P

afwl said...

Yep you got your facts right. They were originated from Hoy Seng in Batu Gajah Perdana. Closed their outlet there last month and moved to Ipoh Gdn in Aug. The new outlet definitely is much nicer than their old outlet and fortunately for them, the food still taste the same.

J2Kfm said...

BBO : erm, depends on the place loh. like this type of restaurants, considered rather reasonable liao, with most dishes below RM20.

Selba : post setting, but serve lowly fishballs. :)

pigspigscorner : presentation wise, yes. tastewise, not bad.

NKOTB : yeah, rather new. only 12 days old.

reana : thanks to your post and prices. got me believing the hype. :) the salted egg lotus makes a good snack, though some may find it rather dry and salty.

soo sean : yeah, indeed. make sure you go early though. i wasnt expecting the crowd as well.

simplegirl : yeah, this is the one. sorry no full shot of the exterior as it was raining.

sc : yeahlah, some more when they rambled off a whole range of signatures, we'd have forgotten whatever they said.

ai wei : for 6 of us. the portions were not big actually. we merely took the SMALL ones.

J2Kfm said...

Joe : canned, sliced abalone. :) the soup lacked flavour and oomph though.

email2me : surprised us as well. expecting the RM50 per head charge or something.

Derek : really? but overall, my family found most of the food to be good. bday dinner? erm, the time we were there at least 3 tables of patrons were celebrating bdays!

Wilson Ng : me neither. thats why i pointed to the dish the instant she walked over and took our orders.

kampungboycitygal : yeah, aside from the usual seafood and dai chow? :)

iamthewitch : tung hoi in ipoh garden south is not so good.

thule aka leo : yeah, one not bad.
not every dish though, the soup missed the spot, and the ribs were not exactly alluring either.

cumi n ciki : clients go all the way to IPOh? or Ipoh clients? :) never knew you run Ipoh's retail scene as well.

afwl : oh so they closed the BG outlet? good business decision.

fcoe said...

ahhh....looks good!
i love the lotus roots with salted egg!i must try and i think i know who to suggest this place to..hahaha..

J2Kfm said...

fcoe : who? who? your ex-colleagues ah? ;)
hahahahah .....

D-Tourist said...

Hmm..i just visited the joint yesterday and had the salted egg fried lotus roots as well as the garoupa chinese wine....
taste seems like too hastily done up...perhaps too hastily dished up to serve the unusually large crowd there.

offers something new & interesting to the ipoh market.

but taste wise... i still go for ipoh garden east ocean...

haf u tasted the east ocean's old mandarin peel pork ribs? if not u should try. :)

D-Tourist said...

Hmm..i just visited the joint yesterday and had the salted egg fried lotus roots as well as the garoupa chinese wine....
taste seems like too hastily done up...perhaps too hastily dished up to serve the unusually large crowd there.

offers something new & interesting to the ipoh market.

but taste wise... i still go for ipoh garden east ocean...

haf u tasted the east ocean's old mandarin peel pork ribs? if not u should try. :)

JENCOOKS said...

Type of place where you look what other tables have whilst you enjoy yours too, so many varieties. Pretty decent price for such a good meal. I would have enjoyed it!!

FoOd PaRaDiSe said...

the foods seem not bad!

thule a.k.a leo said...

I am not a fussy eater...

foodbin said...

have not eaten sliced fish cooked with wine before-better than chicken?

Shell (貝殼) said...

The deep-fried Lotus Roots with Salted Egg looks delicious and also new thing for me .

fufu said...

buddha yum pot?? never heard this dish before though =p

thenomadGourmand said...

Wow...I luv tai chows and the one pot rice is really callin me!! ;p
(I luv fried rice or anythin w rice ;p )
Anything w salted egg is good too!

Must plan ipoh trip...hhmm

YilingL said...

whatever cooks with salted egg is sure yumm but the lotus root dish is really new one to me!

foongpc said...

Haha! When it comes to food, people always throw caution to the wind, H1N1 or no H1N1! LOL!

The food here certainly looks very yummy! : )

J2Kfm said...

D-Tourist : really? that's really bad for 1st time impression matters most. Tung Hoi in Ipoh Garden South disappointed us a few times liao, and heard that the outlets in menglembu and chemor much better. is that true?

jencooks : true. but least they list them all out.

thule : i'd believe THAT. :) ahhahaa ...

foodbin : no, i think chicken still better. as fish became rather dense and harden after cookin in such harsh condition.

fufu : translated loosely to a poor man's 'Fatt Tiu Cheong' ...

TNG : rice and bread, right? :) simple, effective, filling.

D-Tourist said...

yeah heard the same thing about the menglembu one is better also.
But seldom go there unless for wedding banquet/functions. Hmm but so far the food for banquet was only ok...

Jane Kaylor said...

Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it. Fresh or frozen local abalone is cheaper but will never give the same taste, flavor and texture as canned abalone. I love the flavor and taste of canned abalone and one day I want to eat abalone like 'abalone kings' do: braised in sauce and served whole, like a steak, washed down with a good white wine. Cut with a knife and fork of course. Meantime, it's still cheaper to slice abalone thinly and share with the family. I love this dish. It's such a special treat