Restoran Lil Ipoh – Gathering Famous Local Hawker DelightsApril 11, 2012 | 6,524 views
Satay Dataran – An unmistakably Malaysian delight of marinated chicken and lamb skewered and grilled over charcoal fire, served with raw onions, cucumber and ‘ketupat’ (boiled packed rice dumplings), and a slurry of thick, spicy peanut sauce (RM1.00 for chicken, RM1.20 for lamb)
A decade ago, had you told me that hawker food (or street food) is supposed to be eaten in an air-conditioned environment, with free Wifi and tagged on with 6% government tax and 10% service charge, I would have gladly gotten you a doctor. Or a shrink.
Lil Ipoh – Occupying half of the old premise of Antap Cafe (the other part is still a stronghold of Citrus Wine & Dine‘s); this restaurant was crowded during dinner on a Saturday.
But then again, time has changed. It is not unusual to see people paying close to RM10 (USD3+) for a plate of Char Kuey Teow or Nasi Lemak in kopitiams (Old Town and Pappa Rich being good examples), close to what we were paying for in hotels a decade ago.
The convenience factor comes into play, coupled with the fact that the younger generation nowadays simply can’t fathom the thought of crouching by roadside or back alley while digging into a piping hot bowl of noodles, or having to endure the heat of dining in a coffee shop cooled by creaking antique fans.
So, what’s that got to do with this new place aptly named Lil Ipoh in Ipoh Garden East?
Black Pepper Smoked Duck (RM12.90/USD4.30) – Slices of aromatic smoked duck with bits of fats left on for flavour, and speckles of black pepper for that pungent kick.
I have not heard about Lil Ipoh before although seemingly, I was informed by readers on All About Ipoh that this has been heavily promoted through the mainstream media lately. Proof is in the pudding, I guess. As the restaurant was crowded to its maximum capacity on both nights over the last weekend.
For those in their secondary school years back in the late 90’s, this place will definitely hold a very special place in your heart. To reminisce on those late nights spent chilling out with friends at Antap Cafe!
Shouldering a reasonably skeptic outlook, I unwillingly trudge along with my family over for a simple dinner, since this restaurant is a mere 5 minutes drive away from our home.
It was barely 7pm, and already we witnessed a parade of cars lining up the lane in front and around the building. Parking’s a cinch here, for not only you don’t have to pay but there are ample spaces within the vicinity. (Just remember to avoid blocking the gates of the houses)
The restaurant is separated into two sections; the inner portion able to seat a crowd of about 50 pax; and fully air-conditioned. The open air dining section holds even more promise; with tables placed in a semi-circle surrounding what used to be a pond in the middle of the compound. The stalls line the perimeters of the compound; just like any other food courts or hawker centres.
Clockwise from top left : Mee Rebus (RM4.50/USD1.50), Fried Prawns (RM13.20/USD4.40), Fruit Cake (RM1.90/USD0.70) and Lou Shu Fun with Minced Meat (RM2.90/USD1 for Small, RM3.60/USD1.20 for Big)
The menu looked impressive. In fact, if you’re expecting the usual suspects of nasi lemak, curry mee and other fares offered in most kopitiams, you’d be surprised. There were chee cheong fun, lou shi fun (rat’s tail noodles, or more ‘intelligently’ referred to as silver needle noodles), turf club laksa (Assam laksa AND Siam laksa), Lok-Lok, Satay, Hakka Mee, Dry Curry Mee, and Black Pepper Smoked Duck all within the same page!
Grilled Fish (Ikan Bakar) with Sambal Sauce (RM7.90/USD2.70)
Everything was priced below RM10, except for the smoked duck and the fried prawns (you can also choose to have fried squid or fried chicken cubes, yet you cannot opt for a mixed platter …. shucks).
Cheap? Not really, but affordable given the setting of the restaurant, and I daresay the rental here can’t be dirt-cheap as well. Citrus is within a stone’s throw away, and this is on the main road connecting Ipoh Garden East to Sunway City, Tambun.
A minor trade-off must be expected however. The portions are FAR from ideal, or even comparable to what the common hawker stalls are serving. I wouldn’t say that you can wallop three portions of each with ease; the Lou Shu Fun appeared to be sized into three spoonfuls, yet the Chee Cheong Fun was more than substantial for a light bite. The chunks of meat on the skewers (Satay Dataran) are of reasonable cuts, but at RM1.00 per stick (the chicken satay), you’d probably expect at least an authentic Kajang satay experience/size.
The Smoked Duck had to be outsourced (or prepared much earlier, since this requires lots of preparation), and for the price paid (RM12.90) the 10 or so slices might come across as being a side dish than actual main.
The “Chee Cheong Fun” (steamed rice noodles with sesame seeds and fried shallots, and for this we had the chili and sweet sauce combination) (RM3.40/USD1.10)
Although some had experienced less than stellar experiences at Lil Ipoh, I still have to give them credits for coming up with a very 1Malaysia concept of a hawker food centre; albeit a non-Halal one. Soon to come in the menu will be Ipoh famous ‘nga choy gai’ (bean sprouts chicken).
I managed to sneak in a short conversation with one of the owners of the place. A Chinese lady who’s new to the F&B business, yet came up with this concept of gathering famous street fares all around Ipoh and serve them from a laid-back, cafe-like setting at affordable prices.
The Menu @ Lil Ipoh
If you ask me, can this replace any of the established (old-timer, or ‘lou jiu pai’) hawker stalls of Ipoh? Definitely not. But then again, if the idea of searching high and low for famous hawker delights scattered around town seems unpalatable, or ordering the same old nasi lemak and toast at Old Town sounds like a broken record, why not give Lil Ipoh a try?
RESTORAN LIL IPOH (formerly Antap Cafe’s location)
No 48, Laluan Ipoh Perdana,
Taman Ipoh Perdana,
31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Tel No : 012-506 9805, 016-507 0822
Business hours : 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 11.30pm
*Refer to the map of Citrus Wine & Dine to find Lil Ipoh. They are adjacent to each other.