Beyond Conventional Chinese Dining @ AEON Ipoh Station 18 – Dragon-i & Canton-iFebruary 11, 2013 | 2,808 views
The captivating part about Ipoh food is that … good food are in abundance almost 24/7 and there would always be something new to discover during every visit back to my hometown. This, in spite of the nearly three decades of my life spent growing up, educated and even worked here.
And close to 5 years of writing food and travel stories on this blog.
But, and that’s a huge B-U-T, I find it a struggle to embark on any food hunt during Chinese New Year. Yes, only this particular Achilles heel-of-a-festive season in the entire year whereby either most of the good hawker stalls are closed for a few days (some up to a week!) or the ones opened are cashing in by increasing prices and compromising on quality/quantity.
Shrewd business acumen ma …… More grandfather stories ahead.
Thus, until Chor Sam (the 3rd day of Chinese New Year), we usually eat at home. Rather eat simply than get slaughtered right? More often than not we would have leftovers from the reunion dinner; or the prayers on the eve.
Or, we choose to patronize restaurants with fixed pricing and printed menus.
Okay lah … at least menus without red stickers all over the prices to justify for the 50 cents or more inflation due to ‘festive pricing’ ….
Okay lah, cut a long story short, this is a combined post of two separate Dragon-i and Canton-i visits; both restaurants under the same umbrella and located adjacent to each other at AEON Station 18 in Pasir Puteh, Ipoh.
Although the two names are not unfamiliar to Malaysians; especially the Klang Valley folks (Dragon-i started more than 5 years ago, I believe), to the Ipoh community, they are relatively new brands to become accustomed with.
We first visited Dragon-i late last year, although the menu was not as complete that moment. They did not have (or maybe ran out of) my favourite crispy eel coated in a sweet and sticky sauce. Hence, we opted for a leisure Chinese feast with a few dishes and white rice. Of course, with a free portion of Xiao Long Bao on the side; privilege of being an HSBC credit card user.
Canton-i on the other hand, opened its door not too long ago next to Dragon-i. If you’re pointing fingers and proclaiming travesty/copycat/plagiarism …. don’t. They are one of the same.
While Dragon-i concentrates more on Shanghainese-inspired cuisine; including various la mian (pulled noodles), xiao long bao, dumplings and other savoury dishes, Canton-i is a self-explanatory venture.
Think Hong Kong-inspired Cantonese cuisine including wanton noodles, damn smooth to an almost creamy texture congee/porridge, dim sum and even steamed rice with various toppings.
And no … the resemblance to Kim Gary stopped some miles away. No cheese baked rice, Borsch soup or French toast. Sorry, almost but not the same.
In particular, I would recommend Dragon-i for a more complete dining experience (more communal dishes to be shared over rice) while Canton-i’s strengths are in their roasted meats (duck, chicken, roast pork and char siew) and bouncy egg noodles.
Having said that, this was the first time I had Canton-i’s Shrimp Roe Noodles (Har Chee Meen) but I was not impressed the slightest. Okay, kudos to the plump, juicy prawns but what’s with the thickened gravy with mushrooms, carrot and celery anyway?!
And the roasted meat with rice now comes with half a salted egg instead of a fried egg? Hmm. Interesting although how far this goes in the long run still remains to be seen …..
In any case, their Fried Radish Cake with XO Sauce (a staple in BOTH the restaurants) is still a safe bet, and reasonably priced at around RM12/USD4 per portion. Canton-i’s prawn wanton and Char Siew (barbecued marinated pork) are still some of the best in town, while Dragon-i easily triumphs above competition when it comes to Xiao Long Bao and la mian noodles.
Pricing-wise, expect to pay anywhere from RM20/USD7 and above per person. If you are ordering dishes (‘chu char’ style), then your bill may come close to RM30/USD10 or so per person. A bit steep, but when you’re already paying slightly lesser for generic nasi lemak and nasi goreng from the random kopitiams out there, I’d rather fork out slightly more for warm, cooked-on-the-spot food. What do you think?
Dragon-i & Canton-i Restaurants (non-Halal)
Ground Floor, AEON Ipoh Station 18,
31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Opens everyday as per the shopping mall’s business hours.
For more info, click HERE.