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Motormouth From Ipoh

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Motormouth has moved !!! (

Thanks fellow bloggers, faithful readers of Motormouth From Ipoh since day one (you know who you are!!) and those who had stumbled upon this highly infectious/viral yet humble blog of mine.

I have successfully ended my run over here at Motormouth From Ipoh (erm, version 1?), and from now on, will be permanently blogging over at my own domain :

So, what to do next?

1) PLEASE click the link above, hop over and have a look at my new "home"

2) Drop a comment over THERE, at, indicating you've seen Motormouth's transformation/evolution, and most important of all ...

3) UPDATE YOUR BOOKMARKS, LINKS, BLOGROLL, and whatever else necessary. Why?

Because I won't be updating this blog here anymore, but instead continue to spread my poisons over at  

Thanks again everyone !!! So what are YOU waiting for? :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bangkok Street Food - Grilled Fish @ Pratunam

Third and last (LAST?!!!) day of the 3-Days-Long-Weekend here in Perak. Time flies when you're minding your own business, chomping on some good grubs here and there (delightful Big Tree Foot/Dai Shu Geok's  Fried 'Liew' aka Yong Tau Foo comes to mind, naturally. Just had 10 or so pieces of those absolutely scrumptious stuffed fish paste deep-fried to oily/greasy perfection!), attended a "Thankfully-we-survived the 3 years in service" feast over at Mun Choong Restaurant in Pasir Puteh , Ipoh yesterday night, and mentally preparing myself for the impending doom (aka work+travels+meetings) on the subsequent 4 days. 

And the much-dreaded thought of working during Raya, which to our dismay, might come into fruition after all, and high probability of shattering our dreams of a 4 days long weekend on the week after next. Shucks, BIG time .....


Grilled Tilapia, rubbed with salt and wheat flour, and served with a side dipping of fiery & tangy dipping sauce

Highly recommended by both Jason and sc, this was without a doubt, one of the top must-try in our itinerary. And the strategic placing of the rows after rows of stalls lining the side of the street between Central World and Platinum Shopping Mall in Pratunam, made it all better, since we're staying somewhere around the area and dining at eateries inside the malls can be a rather taxing affair.


If you're wondering how to locate these stalls, selling delightful and cheap grilled seafood and meats when for one, you probably can't read Thai, and two, the stalls do not even have any signboards for a start. Don't worry, as this glutton row of Bangkok cheap eats is directly outside of Central World Shopping Centre, coming out from the Isetan exit, walking towards Platinum Shopping Mall, which is directly behind Central World, across the river.


Our order consisted of a grilled whole fish (tilapia), which was encrusted with sea salt and wheat flour on the outer layer of the skin, then subsequently grilled over charcoal-fuelled fire. The skin is not meant to be eaten (who would, after some serious charring over the grill?!), but the sweet and firm flesh underneath is the glorified loot, to be dipped into the fiery dipping sauce concocted from cili padi (bird eye chillies), lime juice, etc. Though came with a mild earthy tone, typical characteristic of a river fish, we devoured the tilapia like a hungry pack of wolves. All the while sipping/guzzling on some much-needed Coke. (The soft drink, mind you).

The other dishes paled in comparison, with notable exception of the kerabu chicken feet salad, otherwise known as glass chicken feet salad, referring to the translucent, gelatinous layers of skin incorporated into the piquant appetizer. 

The Tom Yum was a meagre affair, lacking in both taste and presentation departments. A little too bland to our liking, as we expected a more robust flavour, given the fact that this is after all, a thorough street food feast. The fried rice was passable, being at the right balance of fluffiness, though a little more ingredients thrown in would be a welcoming touch.

The meal came to 540 baht/RM54 for the four of us, a reasonably-priced feast, and we were eating alongside the locals which were considerably more than the number of tourists/foreigners dining there, which is a good sign in itself.


Appreciate the remaining hours of the holiday, fellow bloggers/readers .....

For it's almost unheard of in other countries, to be granted with so many public holidays back to back, within the span of a month.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Eccentric Bangkok

Previous installment - Once Upon A Time in Bangkok ....

It's a long, 3-days weekend, therefore I'll spare you the endless rantings, and instead let the pictures do the talking ..... 

Theme for the day? Bangkok, best described as Quirky, Wacky & Eccentric? ......=)


#1 - The Relentless Traffic Jams - 5 lanes vs 1 lane?


#2 - Talking Eggs searching for lurve Loft in the mall ....


#3 - Fans cheering for the guys & gals doing the Macarena


#4 - Dun pray pray .... Eyelashes longer than your fingernails !!

Collage Anime

#5 - Of Knights and Wizards ... POSERS.

Collage Anime2

#6 - How nice if our politicians dress down sometimes, and live out their fantasies like the Thais ....


#7 - Fairer than your SKII/Shu Uemura/Bedak Sejuk ambassadors

Collage Anime3

#8 - Want some of my BALLS? No thanks, my hands are stuck to my cap. The politically-incorrect, WHITE Michael Jackson

Collage MK Steamboat

#9 - Even the staff of the restaurant were dancing for no reason! Wui, mogok ah?!!


#10 - MK Platter - Lacklustre at best. C'mon, they thought we're dumb enough to fall for the fish-impostors?!!

Collage MK Steamboat2

#11 - Green, mean and lean noodles, Saviour in the form of the spicy/tangy dipping sauce, and the pot of vegetables in clear (bland) broth

MK Steamboat Restaurant has many chains all over Thailand. One of their most famous chain,alongside Fuji Japanese Restaurant, and Bar-B-Q Plaza, which one can find in most major shopping centres in KL.

At 12.30pm sharp (not sure about the other 'performance' hour), the whole restaurant will come into a standstill, with every single staff dancing to the music, with some tongue-in-cheek, and rather cringe-worthy moves. FOC, don't worry. They don't ask for donations either.

The meal was rather disappointing, with an almost tasteless soup base. The set with mixed seafood and meats, as well as another that came with an array of vegetables, were nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Total damage = 492baht/RM50 for the four of us, which although was reasonable, but left us craving for more.


#12 - Get your Sugar Fix Here .... Khanom Buang @ 10baht each (MBK Shopping Complex)


#13 - Trudge Strut along the Walk of Fame .... Siam Paragon-style.

And with that, Happy Weekend everyone. 

P/S : This has gotta be my shortest post ever.

*Ahem, I see you clapping back there .... !!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seng Kee - The Ipoh's Heong Peng Story

Heong Peng, or Heong Peah, or Heang Peah (literally translated to Fragrant Biscuits) is one of Ipoh's most famous pastry (if not THE most famous), widely marketed and commercialized thanks to the commendable efforts of Yee Hup, one of the most popular brand of Heong Peng originating from Gunung Rapat.

"Sweat ... sweat .... why this fella snap my picture one?!! Now lemme stack em up and build a Twin Tower from the biscuits, fit for a Spiderman from France ..."

I unabashedly admit that I grew up on Yee Hup's traditional Heong Peng (those crispy/flaky pastry skins with sticky and sweet maltose + shallots filling) produced by broiling/roasting the biscuits in an enclosed oven-like clay jar (think how they make Naan bread, and you'll get a rough idea), fuelled by burning coconut shells.

The production site - See those cute, round-ish biscuits 'attached' to the walls of the oven? And the dried coconut shells as fuel to broil those pastries.

But as time goes by, success breeds contempt, and after awhile, contempt turns to greed. Nolah .... just that Yee Hup was doing such brisk business, it's practically unpractical (aiks, metaphorically speaking?) to mass produce the well-loved biscuits the traditional way from home, with orders and walk-in customers pouring in relentlessly.

On a side note, ironically, another confectionery is facing the same problem as of now. Sin Eng Heong (click HERE for the review) that produces delectable kaya puffs is on the receiving end of customer's wrath day in and day out, for they're trying desperately to cope with the huge amount of orders, and constantly mistaken for being arrogant for turning people away. Soon, they're gonna go the machinery/modernized route, and then we'll see another long-lost tradition in the making.

Imagine if I'm not restrained, I would've popped a few at one go ..... Nothing beats hot & fresh Heong Peng from the 'ovens'

Back to the Heong Peng story, Yee Hup proceeded to expand successfully, with branches opening left and rights, but the modernized method of baking the pastry in ovens, losing the traditional touch, as well as the authentic, smoky fragrance of the Heong Peng from days of yore. Not that I'm THAT old, mind you.

But along came Seng Kee Food Trading, an exclusively-hidden gem in Gunung Rapat, STILL producing and selling the delightful biscuits in the same, old way (in the compound of a house), and had yet to venture towards the commercialization route, aka the BANE of tasty & traditional foods (Yik Mun's pau, anyone?) and drinks (think Old Town White Coffee).

You'd probably wheeze past without even noticing what-in-the-world they're selling!

Coincidentally, this is not the first time I'm writing about Seng Kee. Citygal was the 'culprit' (Hehe .... much, much grateful for the recommendation!) who brought me and Jason over to this house on Lorong Gunung Rapat 3, after a food run at Kwong Hong Yong Tau Foo/Yeong Liew, and Kee Poh Laksa. (Salivating? Click HERE for the post)

The array of local delicacies, from biscuits to snacks, and 3-in-1 beverages to their very own products @ Seng Kee Heang Peah Enterprise. The upper right is the nicer, individually-packed Heong Peng, at RM6.50 for 9 pcs.

But back then, I was not aware of their other shop (a REAL shoplot, a short distance away) in Ipoh Jaya, which opens for business daily except Wednesdays, and far easier to locate than the house I mentioned previously.

Now comes in two forms - The normal Heong Peng, and the low-sugar option, for the healthier ones. Both retail for RM6 per packet, but the low sugar version comes in a much bigger pack

Say, if you're lost in Gunung Rapat trying your desperate best in search of the house (Seng Kee Food Trading) manufacturing these sweet babies, don't lose hope just yet. Return to the main road, and within minutes ...Voila! You'll find Seng Kee Heang Peah Enterprise at a corner of a row of shops in Ipoh Jaya.

The shop has been opened since August of 2008, and sells other products aside from the ubiquitous Heong Peng of Gunung Rapat. Other confectioneries produced by Seng Kee include the 'Yat Hau Sow', a crumbly cookie-like creation not unlike 'Hup Tou Sow' aka Walnut Biscuits.

Smooth, almost flawless 'skin' that's flaky, crispy and delectably sweet & addictive

Words can't describe the exact sensation or taste of the Heong Peng produced utilizing the old, broiled with coconut shells method. The roasted, smoky fragrance is evident (that's why they're called HEONG peng, I supposed?), and the pastry remains crispy even after a few days. Sesame seeds are sparsely sprinkled atop the biscuits, and the sticky, almost too sinful filling of maltose, shallots, sugar and oil is irresistible.

Full monty in action - Fully-clothed, Half gone. And discovering the sickeningly-sweet/tooth-numbing filling in the centre. The word BLISS comes to mind, naturally.

Have them for breakfast, or tea time with a cup of tea or coffee, and watch the hours flowing by, effortlessly. Aaaah ...... I'm soooo in the weekend mood NOW.

Location : Seng Kee Food Trading (the house) @ 177, Lorong Gunung Rapat 3, Gunung Rapat, 31350 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel No : 605-312 0972. H/P No : 6012-507 0728.

Location : Seng Kee Heang Peah Enterprise (the shop) @ No 2, Selasar Rokam 11, Taman Ipoh Jaya, 31350 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel No : 6012-563 0717.
Opens daily except Wednesdays. From 9am until 7pm. On Mondays, the shop closes at 9pm, due to the night market in the area.

Here's a GOOGLE MAP to both places, within the vicinity of Gunung Rapat in Ipoh, Perak.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Men Lok Seafood @ Hutan Melintang, Perak

Hutan Melintang in Perak remains as a mystery to most. Not exactly a forest, although not without its fair share of palm oil plantations lining the trunk roads leading to Sabak Bernam and Bagan Datoh. A small town in the Hilir Perak district in southern Perak, this town had us keeping our fingers crossed, all the while scratching our heads and wondering; "How did Hutan Melintang got its name?!"

Men Lok Seafood Restaurant - A small gem amidst the quaint fishermen's village

Literally translated to 'Horizontal Forest', the moniker may sound unflattering at times, and makes an exceptionally worthy joke whenever someone's behaving like an ape; Throw him to Hutan Melintang ... and never be seen again .... Muahaha!!! (How I wish)

To get to this town, that connects Teluk Intan in Perak, and Sabak Bernam of Selangor, one must resort to trunk roads as no highways serve the route. Of course, you can't even travel on highway to Teluk Intan, although widely recognized as one of Perak's larger town (after Ipoh, Taiping and Seri Manjung).

Ginger Chicken

A reader of Motormouth From Ipoh once recommended Men Lok Seafood in Hutan Melintang, a Chinese seafood restaurant that has been operating for a good 30 years, situated right before the river banks of Sungai Bernam, lining the borders between Perak and Selangor.

Since work took us to Teluk Intan and Hutan Melintang today, we grabbed this opportunity and wondered over to Men Lok Seafood (Makanan Laut Men Lok in Malay), a humble one-storey shoplot on the main road, right before the road curves to the right, leading to Bagan Datoh.

Stir-fried Kailan with Salted Fish

Arriving a little before lunch hour, the place looked a tad deserted, with only a few tables seated with patrons. But do take note that after awhile, the capacity swelled to its fullest, and evidently, most customers this afternoon were not locals, judging from their outlook.

Of course, I spoke for ourselves as well; all decked in shirts and suits, and having lunch in a coffee shop-like ambience, which exudes a certain nostalgic charm & tells of its legacy throughout the years.

Claypot Grouper Fish Fillets with Spicy Sauce

Almost every table had a portion of either fish head, fish fillets, or even baby shark's meat served in claypot, a signature dish of Men Lok's. We chose the grouper (Sek Pan) fish fillets, which came in abundance in a claypot, cooked with some dry spicy sauce resembling 'sambal' but with a generous amount of caramelized onions, bird's eye chillies, and garlic, and probably curry paste. Though I find the dish a little dry on the whole, without sufficient gravy, the sambal went really well with the thick, succulent pieces of grouper.

Their signature Crispy fried mantis prawns and baby squids in a slight piquant sauce

But do remember to order the mantis prawns, or baby squids or a combination of both (which we had today) cooked in their Special method. Deep-fried mantis prawns and baby squids resulted in a very crunchy, almost snack-like dish, then lightly stir-fried with the sweet and spicy sauce, almost resembling 'Kung Pow' style.

"Don't be such a baby ...."

The chicken for the Ginger Chicken dish was filleted, a welcoming touch as I don't prefer my chicken with lots of bones. The dark & thick gravy belied its true flavour, which was punctuated with slight nuances of ginger slices and chopped scallions. The greens for the meal came in the form of stir-fried kailan with salted fish, a homely approach at best.

Don't write them off, yet.

The meal came to a reasonable RM58.50 for the four of us, including rice and Chinese tea. They serve various other seafood dishes as well, in the form of prawns, crabs, and such. But we held our horses this afternoon, not wanting to see someone's lips in an exaggerated, hyper-allergenic mode. ;)

Location : Men Lok Seafood Restaurant @ No 21, Main Road, Hutan Melintang, Perak.
Tel No : 605-6411484.
Opens daily from 12pm until 9pm. Closes on Fridays.

Here's a GOOGLE MAP of Men Lok Seafood.

And to burn off some calories, we went for a short, VERY short leisurely walk over to the banks of the river ....... about a stone's throw away. LOL. Wait, you can't expect us to stroll all over the place under the scorching sun now, can you?!

Pakcik in a fishing mode. He caught some prawns in a net soon after.

A fishery village in Hutan Melintang - We embraced the serene lives of the fishermen, really.

Sometimes, all we need in life is a moment of reflection.
(Selangor is on the other side of the banks)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Breakfast in Kampar, Tapah or Tanjung Malim?

Happy Merdeka everyone !!! A little late, but better be late than never, right? A rather eventful journey back from KL moments ago, with a 10 cars pile-up on the highway heading north, creating a helluva ruckus, mainly from the slowed down vehicles no thanks to the over-eager and caring crowd (read : nosy), and the traffic on the opposite side that's heading south snaking from Ipoh all the way to the accident scene at around Tapah.

Goes to show how united we Malaysians are, especially in such dire situations (or interesting, depends on which side of the fence you're on), as people from all walks of life, from the young 'rempits' to the old-timers, we never failed to come to a halt on the roads, and express our 'concern' towards such unfortunate incidents befalling others. 1Malaysia indeed ....

Breakfast @ Medan Selera Kampar, beside Kampar's morning wet market

Shivering from the inevitable 'balik kampung' exodus yet? No fret, as if you're not fond of the highways, go for the trunk roads instead. Not that I'm giving my words suggesting there won't be any traffic jams on the significantly longer and tedious journey on the one-lane roads from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur, but at least one can stop over for a leisurely breakfast in various smaller towns, and be amazed by the sheer quality of the simpler, hawker food, aside from the possibly more fruitful and entertaining journey along the way.

Just be sure to endure the incessant "Are we there yet?" nonsense from the young ones, as the rural outlook of the towns and whatever else sandwiched in the middle between the towns may get to a child's nerve pretty fast. Especially if one's tailing a lorry or roadhog at 40km/h.

Kampar is a developing town about 30km south of Ipoh. Previously only famous for the 'Chicken Biscuits' (Kai Jai Peng), Claypot chicken Rice (coincidentally, I wrote about the origin of claypot chicken rice HERE before) and Curry Chicken Bread, Kampar has been transformed to a bustling town complete with a hypermarket, a university, and new residential areas sprouting to cater to the growing population.

For breakfast, hop over to Medan Selera Kampar adjacent to Kampar's wet market that houses an impressive number of stalls selling a delicious array of hawker fare, from the hearty pork porridge and famous glutinous rice to Kampar famous 'Lou Shu Fan' and Char Kuey Teow.

The Char Kuey Teow (fried noodles with eggs, prawns, and waxed sausages) was served on a sheet of banana leaf, and a welcoming half a calamansi lime for extra zing. A respectable portion, enough to feed a big eater (Mr Z had them, not me ... LOL), the noodles was fried with enough 'wok hei' or fire from the wok, hence ensuring a satisfying plate of greasy noodles for breakfast. At RM3.30 per plate, considered a steal if you ask me.

The Nasi Pulut or Glutinous Rice (Stall No 42) was ever so satisfying, with the usual slices of Char Siew, and peanuts, with optional curry gravy, and garnished with chopped spring onions. At a mere RM1.70, one pack or plate may not be enough. Just be sure to arrive early as they finish rather fast especially on weekends and public holidays.

Skip the Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun though, for the taste was a little off, with an evidently pungent taste emitting from somewhere (probably the steamed rice noodles was soaked in some foul liquid).

Location : Medan Selera Kampar @ Jalan Pasar, Kampar, Perak.

Thick, fragrant Roti Telur with a piping hot cup of teh susu @ Anjung Ria in Tapah

Not fond of the crowd? Don't fret. Make your way further down south (from Ipoh's direction) to Tapah, for a fulfilling breakfast of Roti Telur and Teh tarik from Anjung Ria Restaurant, facing the Tapah bus station on Jalan Raja.

Previously, I blogged about Roti Telur at Restoran Haji before, the two-lots mamak restaurant next to Restoran Anjung Ria. But once I've tasted the crisp on the outside, warm and perfectly-cooked egg omelette on the inside Roti Telur from Anjung Ria, I was hooked. They also serve Roti Sardin, albeit in a different manner. The chunks of sardine is served at the side, instead of in between the layers of dough (roti canai).

Location : Restoran Anjung Ria @ 16, Jalan Raja, Tapah, Perak. Opposite the bus station in Tapah. Jalan Raja is the road parallel to Jalan Stesen, which leads to Tapah Road, and subsequently Teluk Intan.

A little commercialization never hurts ... their pockets. But ours did.

Okay, so if you're heading northbound, and breakfast in Kampar or Tapah sounds like a far-fetched idea, why not stop over in Tanjung Malim instead, for a taste of the traditional Yik Mun Pau?

Coincidentally (again), I blogged about them HERE. In a short span of few months, they're renovated, giving the shop a modernized, cleaner look. But in exchange, the old school, authentic kopitiam decor from the olden days is lost.

The quality of the pau remained mediocre, with highly-processed minced meat (chicken or beef) dominating, with a rather run of the mill curry paste. At RM1.60 per piece, a little exorbitant in a small town like this. The thick toast with kaya and butter (Roti Kahwin) @ RM3.00 per portion fared much better, as the sides remained crispy while the bread was soft, and warm, sandwiching blocks of butter and kaya. The beverages were nothing to shout about though, bordering on being diluted, tasteless liquids.

Still wondering where the charm from the yesteryears has disappeared to? Sigh ....

Location : Yik Mun Famous Tanjung Malim Pau @ 6043, Jalan Slim River, Tanjung Malim, Perak. Tel No : 05-4596380.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kok Beng Chicken Rice @ Taiping, Perak

Purpotedly one of the Top 10 BEST Chicken Rice in Malaysia (featured exclusively on a ntv7 and Guang Ming Daily's joint hunt for the best in Malaysia, back in 2007), Kok Beng Chicken Rice has been gracing the grounds and gourmet scene in Taiping for a good 16 years.

Sinful, caramelized goodness on the hangers

Previously operating from another lot, Kok Beng has since relocated to this new outlet on Jalan Kota in Taiping in 2000, and has been doing rather brisk business on a daily basis.

Ong Kok Beng is the proprietor of the chicken rice, a friendly chap probably in his late 30's, or 40's. An estimation of course, but given his cheerful demeanour and approachable aura, he could well be in his 50's without people realising it. :)

Prove of their worth - Kok Beng being featured on several media portals

A simple coffee shop without much glitz nor glamour, Kok Beng is easily noticable from the streets, thanks to its bright orange-yellow coloured signboard with a chicken as its mascot. The place can easily seat a capacity of 50 or so customers, though the time we were there, most preferred the take-away option.

The traditional, homemade blended chilli sauce with ginger and garlic

Serving poached chicken, roasted chicken and barbecued marinated pork (Char Siew) with rice and soup of the day, one never needs a menu at Kok Beng's.

The roasted chicken, the smooth poached chicken and Char Siew, and the chicken rice

The fluffy grains of rice had a mild hint of oil from the chicken (not that gross, trust me), not too oily and suits those healthy-minded ones. The chilli sauce deserves a mention, for staying true to its Hainanese moniker, using only fresh chillies, and ginger, grinded to a pulp-ish yet smooth concoction, with a slightly spicier kick than the usual watered-down version from the bottles.

The poached chicken was a little disappointing in my opinion, though firm and tender, but not the pleasantly smooth type. Of course, I'm not suggesting that one must go all out for raw, smooth and slithering down one's throat version sometimes served by some of the big names in Ipoh (Lou Wong comes to mind).

The roasted chicken fared better, though the skin was not of the crispy kind. But the star of the show was undoubtedly, and surprisingly, the Char Siew. The homemade variety, without the artificial reddish hues, and served with a sweet and salty caramelized dark sauce.

The chicken rice is priced at RM3 per plate, though ours which came in a combination of two meats came to about RM5 per plate. A meal for two including drinks and soup came to RM12.80.

Location : Kedai Kopi Kok Beng Chicken Rice @ 38, Jalan Kota, 34000 Taiping, Perak.
Tel No : 6012-505 6697 or 6012-522 6697.
Opens daily from about 11am until 2 or 3pm, or until the food's finished for the day.
Closed on every other Monday, hence call in advance before arriving.
Want some other views on Kok Beng Chicken Rice? Here goes :
cynthia's a gal who had been frequenting the shop since her younger days. loved the Char Siew as much as we did.

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.