When it comes to food in Ipoh, the most famous of them all has got to be chicken rice with bean sprout, and for those who love this dish, there’s no other place that is more popular than Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee right in the heart of Ipoh town, which was where we stopped by for lunch on New Year’s day.
Ong Kee Ipoh Chicken Rice
If you get to Ong Kee on weekends of during public holidays, getting there in itself can sometimes be a problem, and parking too can be quite a challenge. After all those, you may still end up spending a bit of time waiting for a vacant table. Though thankfully, food usually doesn’t take too long to be served, so there’s that.
innards, bean sprouts, poached chicken
The menu choices are simple, there’s poached chicken, innards, bean sprouts, and there’s also pork balls should you want to indulge yourself in some non-avian meat.
Most popular eateries get the “used to be better” and “overrated” labels quite a bit, but honestly speaking I do find Ong Kee’s chicken right on par with expectations. They are tender, not overly complex, and soak in properly balanced cocktail of soya sauce. The bean sprouts too is of rather good quality, as with most bean sprouts from Ipoh, probably due to the water quality.
the amount of chicken they sell each day is astounding
Overall, lunch proved to be quite a satisfying affair, and at RM 36 including drinks, it was quite an affordable option as well. Happy eating!
A couple weeks ago we were invited to a food review session that promises a good dosage of “Dong Po” (東坡肉) pork belly, and since that is one of my favorite dishes of all time, it was an easy decision to not miss this one.
Secret Garden Chinese Restaurant, PJ
The restaurant is Secret Garden at Taman Megah nearby Wolf Modern Dining and almost a walking distance from our previous home in PJ, but alas, this time around it was a bit of a drive, which was fine for some a porking promise.
The restaurant is stunning, with vertical garden, beautiful wooden long table, and tastefully use of empty space. I’m going to go on a limb here to say that it is most likely attributed to the fact that the founders include an interior designer, a fine art illustrator, and a mural artist.
When the surrounding is awesome, appetite also increases, kan?
crispy fried prawn cracker
Anyway, let’s get on the food.
For the review session, we got to sample quite a few dishes from the menu, starting with the appetizer – crispy fried prawn crackers. This is not your typical prawn cracker, but rather thin layer of pastry stuffed with plenty of prawn meat in between, best enjoyed with a dip of Thai chili sauce. I had white wine to go with this, but beer would make for excellent liquid to wash this down.
home style Taiwanese chicken soup w pickled pineapple & bitter melon
Any Chinese restaurant worth it’s salt should serve up a decent bowl of hot soup.
At Secret Garden, the choice was a simple and comforting home style Taiwanese chicken soup with pickled pineapple and bitter melon. I love myself a good bowl of soup, and this version checked the box as well as any with simple everyday ingredients done right.
steamed free range duckweed fed chicken w homemade sauce
Up next was steamed free range duckweed fed chicken with homemade sauce. You can taste the difference in duckweed fed chicken meat compared to the normal wet market/hypermarket variety, the meat is firmer and the skin springier. With the condiments it makes for a good meal by itself with a bowl of rice.
If you love pork, you gotta try this dish named after the famous Chinese poet Su DongPo (蘇東坡) . The interpretation of this dish at Secret Garden is very, very good, and only made better when you have it with their super soft steamed bun. Can I get this combination for breakfast, please?
grouper fish head in yellow curry with fresh milk
Perhaps to demonstrate the range of dishes this kitchen is able to come up with, we had grouper fish head in yellow curry with fresh milk next.
If really spicy and rich Indian or even Nyonya style curry is your cup of tea, this may disappoint, but if you enjoy milder curry with all the necessary ingredients with a much gentler assault on your taste buds, then this yellow curry may fit the bill. I’m a Penang boy who loves me some really spicy curry fish head, so it was just a tad underwhelming for me.
pan fried fresh king prawn with soya sauce
Pan fried fresh king prawn with soya sauce was my favorite seafood dish of the day. Instead of the usual tiger prawns or “meng har”, this version uses fresh water king prawns, which has big and juicy prawn head to suckle on (human cholestorel isn’t from what you eat, right?). I liked it, and wished I had some rice to go with this.
(btw I’ve published a recipe to my version here, if you care to cook your own)
homemade organic black soya bean tofu in pumpkin gravy, & the hungry bunch
The last dish I got to try before we had to leave due to another appointment was the homemade organic black soya bean tofu in pumpkin gravy. I was told the tofu is made in-house, and it certainly tastes fresh as can be with the texture that’s almost like tofufar, it was nice, and pumpkin gravy certainly served as a good contrast to the salty and savory bits on top of the tofu.
our menu, and some live seafood for your picking too
Overall it was a more than satisfying dinner, and certainly an experience that is made unforgettable thanks to the beautiful dining area and excellent companions we had.
Secret Garden is current modelling the upper level and will be offering Private Dining. You give them a budget and number of pax, and the chef will come up with a menu from carefully chosen ingredients available. There’s currently no set price for Private Dining, I suppose the more you are willing to pay, the more exotic the dishes get.
Thank you Jessica for the invitation and for hosting us!
A week or so ago I went to KK for a short working trip. Of the many places my career brought me, KK has always been one of my favorite spots, so I was glad that I had the chance to visit the city again after some 7-8 years since I last stepped foot on it.
I was incredibly blessed to have awesome friends from KK for brought me to lunches and dinners while I was there the entire time. After all, you can’t get any better than having local food guides who knows the city in and out.
Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi, Kota Kinabalu
On the second day, Nelson, whom I got to know through some weird circumstances revolving a possible purchase of Aprilia motorcycle suspension (you can meet people from all sorts of settings kan?), came to my office and took me to the best chicken rice stall in KK for for lunch at Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi.
steamed chicken, charsiu, and the unique pyramid shaped rice
Since there were only two of us, we ordered the steamed chicken and chasiu (bbq pork) with a side of vegetable to go with some rice.
The chicken rice here is served in a distinctive pyramid shape, which was kinda cute though it doesn’t contribute to the way it tastes, obviously. The steamed chicken though, was smooth and quite delicious, with the chasiu tasting pretty decent as well.
As for the often neglected vitamin C entry, this vegetable dish was rather good. In fact, over my stay at KK I’ve found that the vegetable here tasted so much fresher, crunchier, and juicier than their peninsular counterpart.
For those who complains about the lack of good hawker food in KK, this is one place to check out. Thank you Nelson!
Address: Wiya Nasi Ayam dan Kedai Kopi Block F, Lot 4, Jalan Padas, 88000, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah GPS: 5.983967, 116.074422 Tel: 088-214 378
The pasar malam at Taman Megah operates every Sunday evening from about 6pm to almost midnight and conveniently located only about one kilometer away from where I stay, hence eliminating the pesky problem of having to find a parking spot when one goes to pasar malam.
Even then, it is not a pasar malam I often go due to the relatively lack of good food.. or so I thought.
Evidently, things have changed for the better, and here are the three stalls we found from the visit last Sunday that I thought worth a try for any foodie.
char kuih kak at Taman Megah Pasar Malam – legit!
First and foremost, there’s char kuih kak!
Char Kuih Kak is one of the Penang dishes that aren’t easily found in Klang Valley. There isn’t many stalls out there, and prior to this, my only go-to char kuih kak stall would be the one at Jalan Sayur in Pudu. So when I saw the stall here, I had to give it a try.
finally I found a good version of char kuih kak outside Penang
The RM 3.50 worth of char kuih kak turned out to be rather good, perhaps the best version I’ve tried in Klang Valley. The radish cake is chopped to tiny pieces with the two metal spatulas so that it’s well coated with oil and dark soya sauce. There’s also plenty of “choi pou” and chili, I love it.
The fact that the operator spoke perfect Penang Hokkien definitely help too, I think. 😀
BBQ oysters and seahum? yeap!
I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there’s oysters at pasar malam, so obviously we had to give it a try.
A set of 3 oysters go for RM 10 here, and you can choose from any combination of three flavors – spicy, cheese, and garlic. The oysters took some 10-15 minutes before they were ready, and tasted more than decent.
RM 10 for three oysters, RM 6 for those juicy cockles
Of the three, I prefer the garlic version, and will probably avoid the cheese next time around unless I bring my own cheese.
The BBQ cockles go for RM 6 per portion. They were rather juicy and certainly went well with the accompanying homemade chilli sauce.
steamed chicken with chrysanthemum, pretty satisfying
Last but not least, there’s the steamed chicken with chrysanthemum. Since it was something I’ve never even heard about before, we gave it a try.
The steamed quarter chicken (RM 8) came with plenty of mashed garlic, ginger, and chrysanthemum flower. The skin smooth and chicken meat was well salted. The flower certainly gave it a unique taste but not something that is overpowering, worth a try, and certainly fills the stomach.
Address: Taman Megah Pasar Malam Jalan SS 24/8 Taman Megah, Petaling Jaya GPS: 3.113745, 101.611061 Hours: 6-11pm every Sunday
The eating culture in Malaysia is so rich that even after some 9 years of writing about it, there are still many famous and well established eateries within Klang Valley I’ve yet to explore.
Kedai Kopi dan Makan Sin Ban Fatt, also known as Ngau Kei
A few days ago after another routine invisalign appointment with the good people at My Dentist, I was invited to join them for lunch at a nearby restaurant by the name of Kedai Kopi dan Makan Sin Ban Fatt, or more commonly known as Ngau Kei on Jalan Ipoh.
The proprietor of My Dentist, a massive foodie in his own right, explained that Ngau Kei have been in business for almost 6 decades at the exact same location, and is still a favorite among locals.
salted steamed kampung chicken
Parking situation around this old shop isn’t the most ideal, hence getting there before the peak of lunch time is recommended. Waiting time too can be rather long as it is almost always packed, this is not a place to visit if you’re in a hurry.
For the four of us we ordered only three dishes for sharing.
Our first dish was their signature salted steamed kampung chicken. I’m usually not a fan of kampung chicken due to it’s much tougher texture, but this version at Ngau Kei was absolutely delightful. It was tender while not fatty, and carries that flavor of kampung chicken which I really enjoy.
vegetable, deep fried garupa with sweet and sour sauce
For fish, they usually serve it either steamed or deep fried. We tried the deep fried garupa with sweet and sour sauce. The seafood was fresh, and deep fried to perfection with the outer layer and fins crispy but the meat still steamy hot and tender. The sweet and sour sauce pairs well with the fish and was a great with steamed rice.
The simple fried vegetable with garlic dish dish was our last dish, and while not exciting, it certainly did not disappoint.
a plate of fruits is served at the end of meal
There’s also a plate of fresh fruits at the conclusion of the meal. I’ll certainly be back to try their other famous dishes such as fried fish fillet with salted vegetable, steamed eggs, prawns with dark soya sauce, and fried binjal.
Address: Kedai Kopi Dan Makanan Sin Ban Fatt 647, 4th Miles, Jalan Ipoh Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.195444, 101.679899 Tel: 03-6258 2839