Claypot Fish & Bullfrogs @ Fook Seng, Slim RiverDecember 15, 2009 | 15,606 views
If you somehow have not heard of Slim River before, I don’t blame you. Instead of imagining a most constricted, eroded and (I’ll be damned) polluted river running across the wilderness, Slim River is in fact, a small town to the south of Perak. Constantly on the rise, Slim River seems to be developing rapidly in tandem with Tanjung Malim‘s flourishing industries, for I have heard of houses costing as much as (even more than) Ipoh’s landed properties.
Situated about 100km from Ipoh, Slim River can be reached using the expressway (PLUS – North-South Highway), about an hour or so of driving south of Ipoh. Coming from Kuala Lumpur’s direction, Slim River is about an hour plus as well. So you know where to go for a good bite if you’ve already been there, or done that. Or worse, disappointed by the atrocious Halal pau. These places are within the same district in southern Perak, so you can either go for a full-blown food crawl, tea break of yam puffs at Pun Chun, then pigging out on the Choy Kee’s pork knuckle, followed by a taste of Yik Mun’s Chicken Curry Pau.
Not sure if you realize this fact, but I never wrote about food in Slim River before, reasons being – (a) I do not know where to start with, and (b) There isn’t any MUST-TRY food in Slim River either. To which I beg to differ now.
A Google search of “Slim River food” revealed some disappointingly non-food related results. Though thanks to posts from EatingAsia‘s and Rasarasa‘s, a restaurant named Fook Seng popped up and the detailed reviews of this simple, Chinese style of ‘Tai Chow’, or ‘Zhu Zhar’ restaurant had me salivating at the prospect of sampling their signature Ikan Tapah (“Nim Yue” in Cantonese, or scientific name of Wallago attu), and the scarcely-found “Tin Kai” or bullfrogs stir-fried in a variety of manners.
Sadly, the famed Ikan Tapah was not available that afternoon, hence we picked the “Sek Pan” or Grouper to be cooked in their special claypot style. The fish arrived in a most sizzling manner, cooked in a rather thick and brownish gravy that complemented ourserving of rice perfectly. The flesh was sweet, firm, and thankfully devoid of those fishy or muddy taste. You may find it weird that a whole fish can be cooked in a claypot, without risking the flesh turning dry, losing the sweet essence of the fish to the harsh cooking condition. But in reality, the fish retained its original flavour so well, you’d be wondering whether the fish was steamed lightly, then placed in the claypot before being served. The garnishing of green onions, red chillies, and even some dried orange peels completed the ensemble, punctuated with a faint hint of Chinese wine in the gravy.
Another one of their famous dish is the bullfrogs’ legs cooked in various methods. The Ginger and Scallions style of cooking was the most reasonable choice, for the delicately sweet and tender flesh of those muscular thighs of the bullfrogs’ should not be overwhelmed by strong-tasting sauces, in my opinion. It’s been some time since I have nibbled on frogs’ legs, which are usually from those scrawny species with retracted muscles syndrome cooked in porridge. But the ones served at Fook Seng were pleasantly fat; You might even be forgiven for mistakenly thinking that they’re meat from a small chicken!
The “Seng Kong Tofu” or braised beancurd in a savoury gravy, with a mish-mash combination of vegetables, chicken meat and shrimps thrown in for good measure. The type of dish that can please the younger ones as well as the erm … young-at-hearts. 😉
For your choice of compulsory fibres (we were brought up to eat our greens anyway), there’s no need to indulge in a full-blown carnivorous mode for Fook Seng cooks up a mean Sambal Belacan Pucuk Pakis (Wild Fern Shoots stir-fried with spicy fermented shrimp paste). Contrary to popular notions that the Pucuk-pakis is a type of wild greens that resemble the “Kangkung” (Water convolvulus), the fern shoots served here differ from the usual fatter varieties. Scrawny may be an understatement, but the fern shoots at Fook Seng offered a slightly addictive bite – Almost crunchy, with a faint metallic, bitter aftertaste. May not bode well with those accustomed to hydroponic-grown greens with possibly more chemicals than desired, but personally, I like my petai (stinkbeans), pucuk pakis and any wild greens all the same.
The meal came to about RM15 per person. Reasonable enough, for the claypot grouper fish and bullfrogs are not exactly your average, homely dishes. A price I’m willing to pay, for nearly 20 years of legacy, and a trip down memory lane.
Address & Contact Number :
Restoran Fook Seng
17 Jalan Mahsuri, Taman Aman
35800 Slim River
Tel No : 605-4528698
Directions : As you exit the toll at Slim River, turn left at the traffic lights. Go towards the town’s direction. This restaurant is on the main road itself, on your RIGHT side. If you reach Hospital Slim River on your left, then you’ve gone a bit too far.