For something Lite, yet Desire-able? (Lite Desire @ De Garden, Ipoh)November 12, 2010 | 3,635 views
A very healthy looking dish, aesthetically-pleasant as well with blanched ‘lai fun’ aka rice noodles, braised in a light stock with bean sprouts, julienned carrot, and basil. The slices of grouper fillet were succulent with no fishy aftertaste, garnished with black sesame seeds on top. (RM12.80/USD4.20)
Pardon the cliched title of the post. But Lite Desire did bring to mind another one of those cafe-cum-kopitiam-cum-bistro that serves nothing but deep fried snacks readily available from supermarkets, nasi lemak without the santan (coconut milk) = Blasphemy, say you?!, various pre-mixed white coffee masquerading as the real brew, and diluted soup from the can.
Goji Longan Chrysanthemum Tea (RM5.80/USD1.90) – The first sip was awkward, as I tasted sweet chrysanthemum tea, but with the aroma and essence of wolfberries, and the sweetness of dried longans. Then it dawned on me that the combination might work wonder for healthy purposes.
But I was wrong. This quaint, homely cafe (still refuse to categorize this as a restaurant given the tight space with a cozy ambience) parked on top of Pappa Rich at De Garden in Ipoh (YES, there IS an eatery on the first floor!) has been around for 9 months now.
And I definitely would not have paid this place a visit had it not been recommended by a few readers, and a friend of my family’s. Read on to find out why this restaurant deserves to be mentioned alongside the other eateries at De Garden, and still hold its head up high ….
Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken (RM7.90/USD2.50) – The mass of sambal on top right was actually mashed chili tuna, highly suspected to be from cans. But somehow, I was not complaining much.
And so we were at lost at what to eat one fine evening. De Garden does not promise any particularly memorable restaurant for those seeking for a simpler (and maybe healthier) meal without the need to splurge. Something basic like a plate of fried rice, noodle soup or even porridge.
But Lite Desire actually cooks up a rather enviable array of homecooked dishes; from specials like Red Wine Mee Suah (surprise, surprise), Thai style Fried Udon and Salted Chicken with Rice, to classics like Nasi Lemak with a choice of different meats, Char Kuey Teow, and simple porridge with century egg.
This would please any grandma, grandpa, or the elderly in you. Herbs And Salted Chicken Rice @ RM10.80/USD3.50
Pricing-wise, I wouldn’t say it’s comparable to your typical hawker fares around Ipoh. In fact, the foods here are in the league of cafe prices and kopitiam fares.
But there ends the similarity. For Lite Desire does make up with ample portions, wholesome and not sloppily cooked/presented dishes, as well as changing their specials from time to time.
Yes, we even heard the next table asking for roti canai, but sadly they decided not to serve the Malaysian famous Indian flatbread that evening. Imagine having roti canai in a Chinese restaurant; in an enclosed seating arrangement with air-conditioning.
Even the soup was screaming HEALTHY FOOD. Floated on the surface was some wolfberries (goji/kei zhi) and chrysanthemum.
The Nasi Lemak was not laden with coconut milk, but with a faint hint of a pleasant ‘pandan’ (screwpine leaves) aroma mixed with a slightly creamy taste from the santan. Healthier than the usual? No sambal was served, but instead they chose to serve mashed chili tuna, a whole sliced boiled egg, curry chicken with a distinct kick, crispy anchovies and peanuts as well as a few pieces of papadom crackers. Though not the best nasi lemak you can find out there, but still passable and definitely better than Old Town’s or Pappa Rich’s.
The first picture depicted the most memorable dish of the evening; an aptly-named Tri Color Fillets with Lai Fun. Very healthy combination of short rice noodles, various vegetables and sumptuous slices of grouper fillet garnished with black sesame seeds.
Meanwhile, the Herbs And Salted Chicken could be a favourite of anyone’s, from the young to the old. Just imagine a whole chicken thigh, salted and marinated with herbs then smoked/roasted ala Ipoh’s famous salted chicken. Served with white rice, a dipping sauce and a bowl of soup with chrysanthemum and wolfberries.
They pride on their coffee, NOT brewed from 3-in-1 sachets. And they offer a variety of healthy brews, like the Goji Longan Chrysanthemum Tea in the second picture, and Pu-Er tea above.
Although at one glimpse, the menu consists of the usual Asian-Western cuisine widely available in other similar kopitiams, you will be amazed at how different Lite Desire really is.
The couple running the restaurant came back from Canada, and planned to start this venture 9 months ago. Very ambitious and taking some calculated risk, given the fact that renting a lot at De Garden costs a few thousands per month at least, and the retail outlets on the upstairs are not exactly parked at the most strategic of location.
But I do admire their perseverance and determination in standing out from the crowd;an amalgam of influences such as fast food chains, regular kopitiams, snack kiosks and big time restaurants populating De Garden.
The next time you’re at De Garden and seeking for a simpler and fuss free meal, give Lite Desire a try. The tranquil surrounding alone is worth a visit.
LITE DESIRE RESTAURANT
L1-R-16, De Garden,
No 3, Persiaran Medan Ipoh,
Taman Medan Ipoh,
31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Telephone : 605-545 4002.
Opens : Sun-Thurs : 10am-10pm, Fri-Sat : 10am-1am.