Cheong Loy Rice Shop @ Ipoh Old Town Flats – Seven Decades StrongDecember 23, 2011 | 5,308 views
Unfamiliar sights of Ipoh tucked hidden beyond the flats in old town; a stone’s throw away from the famous stretch of coffee shops specializing in Ipoh’s famous white coffee.
Remember this post on the Hidden Gems Beyond Ipoh Old Town Flats? We missed the potentially “tear-jerker” of a nostalgic lunch at Cheong Loy Rice Shop. They barely call these places restaurants back then, simply named “Fan Dim” for the crowd of tin miners and traders would be hastily wolfing down rice or porridge with simple dishes like salted egg, preserved vegetables stir-fried with roasted pork or plain steamed fish with a soy sauce dip.
Braised of Porky Goodness. Pig head’s skin, intestines and tripe braised in a light yet flavoursome soy sauce-based broth infused with fragrant nuance of spices, and a pungent kick from the homemade chili sauce with a dash of vinegar.
And you know me. I don’t give in that easily. The week after that, I was back in Ipoh again; and here’s the story that I want to share with you. Oh, not so Christmas-y alright …. but in Ipoh, it’s best to eat what the locals love. And for more than 70 years, Cheong Loy has stood adamant against the tides of time.
The ‘open’ kitchen concept, with a counter that’s best suited for butchery in a wet market. Oh, this place is named Pasar Jalan Patrick (the street’s name in English, before officially switched to Jalan Bijeh Timah).
They open only for lunch. A mere 3 hours daily without fail. We thought we were early, arriving sharp at 12pm, but the place was already packed with hungry patrons eagerly awaiting for their fix of rice or porridge served with their signature Teochew-style dishes. You don’t get to browse their menu, nor will you have any inkling on what they’re good at.
But from my observation, most tables had a pot of soup (with preserved sour vegetables, and some with bitter gourd and pork), and a serving of fish. Oh, there were the single diners happily lapping up their bowls of porridge (or congee), with a salted egg or two, and some greens.
And it cost only about RM2.00/USD0.70 for one uncle whom had two bowls of porridge, salted egg and a small serving of vegetables. Seriously.
Stir-fried Clams (La La) with chopped spring onion (scallion) in a spicy bean paste sauce and black beans.
Best to ask for recommendations, but be aware that the people there are not the type of personnel with a mild mannerism. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t get reprimanded for contemplating and taking your own sweet time … but patience will run thin and either you make up your mind quick …. or risk getting a frown.
To be safe, just believe whatever they suggested. Don’t expect fancy dishes like butter cream etc, salted egg crabs, fusion creations like cheese-baked nonsense etc.
If you wonder what your parents, or grandparents have been eating back in their heydays, you’re at the right place. Cheong Loy STILL cooks them with passion and a strong urge to resist modernization and commercialization.
Stir-fried Leeks with Roasted Pork
I daresay that the execution of the dishes was top notch. Every single dish had this very simple combination of flavour with no contrasting or overwhelming clashes. Yet, not bland enough to warrant a miss. Take for example, the stir-fried la la in a spicy fermented bean sauce. One look and you’d be tempted to write this off as just another generic, half-hearted attempt of a seafood dish.
But one bite into the sweet morsels of fresh clams, with a gravy that’s best described as tasty with a mild punch from the bean paste, I was hooked. You can also choose to have the clams steamed simply with ginger and scallion.
The Stir-fried Leeks with roasted pork came with copious amount of gravy; best to lap up your rice with. I remember how much I used to hate leeks and bitter gourd back when I was a kid. Now? Can’t get enough of them. Amazing how the human palate can change drastically over the course of maturing.
Fried Black Pomfret braised with “Ham Choy” (preserved salted vegetables), soft white beancurd, scallions and tomatoes.
And don’t miss the black pomfret (“hak chong”) lightly fried until crispy on the exterior, then cooked in a braised gravy with abundance of salted vegetables, tomatoes and scallions. The freshness of the fish shone through with a moist, juicy texture instead of being deep fried to smithereens. Reminded me of Concubine Lane’s Wong Koh Kee’s braised fish head (“Hoong Siew Yue Tau”).
In case you want a quick fix and not suffer through the 25 minutes or so waiting time (we did), settle for porridge or rice with a side of braised pig’s offals. The chili sauce made all the difference, with a spicy, sweet and sour amalgamation of flavours, complementing the braised parts pretty well.
We packed some vegetables readily available at the counter (reminded one of “Kai Choy” or preserved greens cooked in a sour and spicy broth), and a serving of absolutely delicious pork belly slices with yam.
Still the same after 37 years here, and 70 years since the first day they operated in old town.
The feast for four (including the dishes we took away for grandma at home) came to RM59/USD20. Including unlimited Chinese tea (that came in a kettle) and rice. A steal, considering we had more meats than greens, and black pomfret and pork ain’t that cheap now either.
CHEONG LOY RICE SHOP (non-Halal)
@ Pasar Jalan Patrick, behind of the old town flats,
off Jalan Bijeh Timah (Ipoh Old Town)
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Business Hours – 12pm – 3pm daily.
Closed only on major Chinese festivals.
For directions, refer to the end of THIS POST