Restoran Ikan Air Tawar Chai Chee @ Jalan Pasir Puteh, IpohMay 2, 2014 | 3,166 views
Steamed Saito Fish (Wolf Herring) Belly in Spicy Bean Sauce (MYR9.00/USD3 for 100g; this portion for 3 – 4 pax was priced at MYR72.00/USD24) – Very fresh catch; the prized belly parts are used in steaming to a velvety smooth/gelatinous texture; then liberally doused in a spicy bean sauce.
Pasir Puteh hosts an astonishing number of noteworthy Chinese eateries; from small hawker stalls to coffee shops and food courts, wet markets with delicious finds to full-fledged restaurants and then some. But more importantly, spending the first 12 years of my life growing up within this neighbourhood has created strong memories in my mind that last until this very moment.
Back for the lengthy weekend on a break; my initial plan to dine in Bercham (I’ll leave that to Sunday instead) had to be shelved at the last moment; giving way to a quick feast in Pasir Puteh for we had other errands to run in tandem. And so, this slightly rusty food hunter’s mind connected into overdrive mode and came up with few solutions; either a fish ball noodles fest or one of the many ‘chu char’ places around the neighbourhood.
Since I have yet to find one exceptionally good steamed fish place in Klang Valley (not that I invested much time and resources into finding one, by the way), the craving for a serving was ever so strong. Thus, off we ventured to Restoran Ikan Air Tawar Chai Chee in Shatin Park. The name’s unfamiliar? Read on.
Stir fried Tai Wong Choy (some call this Wong Tai Miu?) or literally translated into King’s Vegetables with Garlic (MYR8/USD2.50)
Dad used to work around this place; and this restaurant (air-conditioned with seating capacity of about 60 – 80 pax) apparently draws fish lovers (especially fresh water fishes hence the name “Ikan Air Tawar”) from all over town. And one word of caution; since the fishes here are very fresh and some rather premium species are also available, do ask for the price before ordering the fanciful ones. Some fish can cost you more than MYR100 each!
Only after the meal did we discover that Chai Chee originated from a stall opposite the road; at Kafe Pasir Puteh that’s a favourite among freshwater fish aficionados. Hence, the constant line up of luxury cars parked along side the main road of Jalan Pasir Puteh – Jalan Bunga Raya; despite the shady outlook of the restaurant overgrown with skyscraping trees.
Fu Yong Egg Omelette (MYR8/USD2.50) – Studded with prawns, pork and onions, this satisfies the kid in me.
About 3 years ago, they moved from the stall to their own restaurant space across the road; though slightly hidden from clear view from the main road. Still dabbling in various seafood and freshwater fishes; the steamed flower crabs, freshwater prawns (udang galah) and various interesting sounding fishes are of top notch quality here.
We opted for the lesser found Saito Fish Belly (wolf herring; usually made into fish paste or fish balls) steamed in a spicy bean paste sauce that was absolutely fabulous; save for some irritating (and mind you, rather hazardous) bits of small bones embedded into the flesh. The spiciness was well-tampered for the local taste buds (we Ipohans have been deceptively assumed as non-chilli eaters by some, but not true I can assure you that), and their concoction of sauce (a complex cross between conventional ‘cheong jing’ sauce of bean paste/tau cu mixed with sambal or maybe XO sauce; with bits of red chillies) suited the fish to a tee. The fish belly was slightly rubbery especially the skin part but the tender; almost gelatinous texture of the flesh was very fresh and sweet.
Steamed Wine Kampung Chicken (MYR25/USD8) could have been late grandma’s favourite dish of the evening.
The other dishes we had were all passable; the steamed wine kampung chicken (free range chicken) was a comfort food done right here at Chai Chee; the use of cooking wine was controlled well; lending a subtle perfume and kick to the chicken; which was every right bouncy like how good kampung chicken should be. We were tempted into ordering their famed Yue Wat (fish paste) cooked in a variety of ways; yet ended up with orders of Fu Yong Dan (egg omelette with onions, prawns and pork) and Tai Wong Choy (a type of leafy green with a smooth; almost sticky texture).
The meal came to almost MYR120/USD40 for the 3 of us; a premium price to pay for ‘chu char’ in Ipoh no doubt, but most of the amount was contributed by the fish (MYR72/USD24). Still, this should be a place to look out for; especially if you’re craving for a dish of steamed pak sook gong or Sultan fish.
RESTORAN IKAN AIR TAWAR CHAI CHEE
No. 11, Lebuh Shatin 7,
Taman Shatin, 31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Tel No : +6016-563 0817, +6012-5095970
Opens from 12 pm – 10 pm. Closed on alternate Thursdays.
GPS : 4.56253,101.07623
*Same side as Shatin Food Court and opposite of Shell station.