Ipoh’s Gourmet Square – Humble Street Foods & Passion-Driven HawkersNovember 2, 2012 | 8,724 views
Grilled Stingray with Signature Sambal Sauce & Grilled Squid with Mixed Vegetables
I went back to Ipoh for a grand total of THREE times last October. All of them for work, nonetheless. The glaringly-obvious observation was that; new eateries are opening up left and right. Yet, at a slower rate compared to last year. Maybe restaurateurs realized that fusion cafes/kopitiams do not work as charmingly as street food vendors.
Or the undeniable fact that Ipohans DO have very picky tastebuds. Read : Damn hard to please. With expectations set sky high for promising new restaurants, the stake is no doubt equally as high for the owners. New ventures cashing in only on the festive crowd (come CNY, and you’ll see why) usually do not last for more than half a year. Good examples? De Garden‘s F&B ventures.
At the end of the day, the sturdy old-timers still survive the intensive scramble for food lovers in Ipoh. Case in point? The hawker stalls at Gourmet Square (now known as Kam Wan Restaurant). Read on for insights on what to eat at this oldest food court in Ipoh.
At one far corner of the square, Mee Poh Ikan Bakar has been grilling the umpteenth piece of fish for years, and still drawing a string of loyal fans.
The last I wrote about food in Gourmet Square in Ipoh was eons ago. The entire stretch of stalls comprising famous Ipoh’s hawker delights are opened throughout the week, with intermittent off-days between the operators; ensuring a steady stream of customers 7 days a week.
Gourmet Square in Ipoh Garden has been renamed to Kam Wan Restaurant. Previously known as Medan Aneka Selera, nothing much has changed since the last visit. Except maybe the worsening congestion around the area weekend evenings.
Either Ipoh’s getting really famous with tourists, or the locals are getting hungrier.
Mee Poh Ikan Bakar is easily one of the most talked about stalls when one mentions about Tung Koo Thing (the food court has always been fondly nicked as Mushroom Stands). Still proudly serving three items on their limited menu; the Ikan Bakar, Sotong Bakar and Udang Bakar.
What you should do is; walk over to the counter and pick your fish. They have a few varieties, at different sizes and obviously, different price tags. For 3 pax, we chose the stingray at RM14/USD5, left to be grilled and served with their signature sauce on banana leaf. To fully maximize the experience, we added another serving of Grilled Squid too.
The Ikan Bakar aka grilled fish was expertly done; retaining the juice within while the exterior of the fish was grilled to a charred finish; even crispy at the sides. The marinade and the rendang-like sauce on top added flavours and dimension to the fish; the amalgamation of tastes; spicy, savoury and briny (from the bits of dried shrimps in the sauce) was delicious.
Optional (though it’s almost compulsory!) squeeze of the lime added zest to the seafood, while the spicy and sour dipping sauce made up of chili, chopped onions, blended coriander and lime juice was redundant, yet appetizing enough to stand its ground.
The Sotong Bakar aka grilled Squid with four-angled beans, long beans and even wild ferns (paku-pakis) fared less impressive though, the sambal belacan sauce muted to a sweetish nuance rather than packed with a piquant punch.
Satay Endut is the other highly-revered names in the same league as the grilled fish stall, and of course, Meng Wa seafood that serves their prized seafood and shells cooked in a myriad of manners.
A few stalls down the stretch, 15 sticks went for RM12/USD4. Slightly pricier than most satay stalls in Ipoh, yet the quality of the satay was undeniable.
Skewers of chunky meat sans the fat, marinated in a sweeter marinade then grilled and fanned over charcoal fire. The peanut sauce was a pleasantly chunky one that was not spicy at all.
Capping off the feast with a serving of Gyoza (RM4.50 for 5 pieces); or pan-fried dumplings stuffed with minced pork and chopped chives, and a bowl of Leng Chee Kang (also known as Cheng Pou Leong in Ipoh) with snow fungus, dried longan, lotus seeds, barley and sweetened/dried persimmon.
One rule of thumb here; do NOT order too much of food from any one stall. Spread out the feast with a variety of choices from different stalls, and remember to share with your fellow diners! This is how one should enjoy street foods in a right environment.
For more information about Gourmet Square, read my previous post – Medan Aneka Selera – Everything Under One Roof
KAM WAN RESTAURANT (GOURMET SQUARE aka “Tung Koo Thing”)
Ipoh Garden, 31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
GPS : 4.611158,101.110297
Some stalls are opened for lunch and dinner, while some only during either session.
Next to Woolley Food City in Ipoh Garden.