Bercham’s Famous Curry Fish Head @ San Chai Restaurant, IpohApril 7, 2011 | 6,205 views
Bercham San Chai’s famous Curry Fish Head (RM38/USD13) – A gigantic grouper fish head immersed in the fiery red elixir with a piquant tang, yet not overly spicy until you sweat buckets at the end of the meal. Loaded with beancurd skin (tau fu pok), sweet onions, fresh tangy tomatoes, ladies fingers (okra) and a handful of mint leaves for extra fragrance, perhaps?
And yes, yesterday I was back in Ipoh for a very very brief period. Kind of happened in a breeze, a whirlwind drive to and back within 24 hours, yet dinner was an instant no-brainer since I have been craving for a taste of San Chai’s curry fish head since ages ago.
This restaurant at a corner lot in Bercham (facing the field where you can find various hawker fares being sold in the afternoons) has been operating at least a decade or so. Or maybe not that old, since I remember clearly before this, this corner premise was occupied by a steamboat-cum-BBQ buffet restaurant; having the same modus operandi like the classic 2 Plus One (now opposite of Tesco Extra; formerly Makro) and K-Kai Corner on Jalan Lahat.
Sweet and Sour Pork (RM10/USD3.30) – Yes, this is the BIG child in me making the calls yesterday evening!
Memories of the last post on something remotely reminiscing of curry fish head happens to be the one on Yang Kalsom road named Up & Up; a restaurant soooo inconspicuous you wouldn’t dare to walk up the stairs of Wisma Kinta had it not been a relative’s, friend’s or this blog’s recommendation. Trust me, as I myself wouldn’t have trudged along the dreaded lines between home-cooked fares extraordinaire and dodgy dilapidated premise if I had not heard raving reviews from the older generations.
Anyway, ramblings aside, San Chai used to be one of the better places for curry fish heads, and glad to say …. they STILL serve a mighty fine version of the famed dish.
Wonder what these beans are called in English, but should be a slimmer version of the French beans. Seen here stir-fried with dried shrimps. (RM7/USD2.70)
Slightly spicy with an invigorating fragrance of curry paste, fresh tangy tomatoes with ample servings of ladies fingers and beancurd (tau pok), the grouper fish head came in a rather large portion for four. Fleshy, sweet, firm and fresh, I had no laments aside from … well, the lack of brinjals and long beans? But I can’t ask for too much right?
Surprisingly, the sweet and sour pork (Gu Lou Yuk!) served was delicious too. Not of the extra crispy yet laden with corn flour type, but lean bites of pork coated lightly in the batter then deep-fried before being served in the sweetish tomato-based sauce. Slightly smaller portion than normal, but enough to go around since the fish head diverted most of their attention away.
I can imagine myself coming back again, with double portions of white rice. And no other dishes necessary. Join me?
Now, now …. Where else in Ipoh can you find GOOD curry fish head? Don’t come to me with Kari Kepala Ikan Salim, because I have tasted that, and that’s way out of the league.
Already losing out to the newer, swanky restaurants and cafes with mass appeal, San Chai still commands a loyal following. But for how long?
SAN CHAI RESTAURANT – FAMOUS CURRY FISH HEAD
2, Persiaran Bercham Selatan 8,
Taman Desa Kencana,
31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Google Map to San Chai Restaurant
GPS Coordinates : 4.631124,101.127707
Opens for dinner. Closed on Mondays if I’m not mistaken.