Revisiting SSTC (Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe) @ Medan Ipoh BistariMay 9, 2014 | 3,070 views
Turkey Ham Aglio Olio (MYR20.90/USD7) – Strips of pan fried turkey ham served with al dente spaghetti tossed with olive oil and weird enough; spring onion as garnish. Oh well.
Back in October 2008, I wrote a review on SSTC (short for Spaghetti Sweet Tea Cafe); an above average dining experience yet I could not help but wondered aloud;
“How can an outlet serving pasta and risotto priced at above MYR20 per portion, plus tiramisu at MYR15 and coffee at almost MYR10 survive among the giants of Ipoh; hawker delights at a fraction of the price?”
Mind you, aside from Indulgence, Citrus and Brewster’s (back then was operating in old town, then moved to Greentown and now closed), not many cafes could survive 6 years ago with prices like that. And after a deluge of new yet lacklustre cafes in Ipoh recently, I have almost given up hope on dining in boutique cafes until I stumbled upon SSTC again.
Like a rendezvous with an old friend, the revisit after 5 and a half years came up to be a bittersweet experience. Read on to find out why.
The bar where you can see how the waitress (the only one doing all the running around, serving customers and cashiering) brew your coffee. Just don’t expect exceptionally speedy services when you’re here.
Upon walking in into SSTC, a strong sense of deja vu rushed over me; the interior layout was never touched or even if they did, the minor adjustments were not obvious at all. The entire cafe was exactly like how I remembered it to be back in 2008. Including the pictures of the proprietor-cum-chef with Wolfgang Puck and Martin Yan, the chandelier from the ceiling and pans as decorations on the wall.
The place was still kept to tip-top condition, we could barely sense ageing in the ambience or the furnitures; primarily rectangular or long wooden tables suited for communal dining.
The decorations and layout of SSTC did not change over the years, yet this was not a reason to complain. The interior design screamed timeless; and the soft lighting from the chandeliers lent an aura of comfort and class to the meal.
The menu thankfully, has been tweaked slightly. Although still printed on cheap papers with fading letters, the selection of pasta is still the most fascinating; with toppings like salmon, stewed lamb, seafood, turkey ham, mushroom, potatoes, dory fish, etc. The pasta can cooked in your favourite sauce; be it carbonara (white sauce), aglio olio (olive oil) or marinara (tomato-based sauce). SSTC still serves risotto though you need to order in advance. No pizza or lasagne still, as those are considered ‘fast food’ (just quoting based on previous experience), and at SSTC, he focuses more on ‘slow food’ cooked from the heart.
Turkey Ham Bruschetta (MYR8/USD2.50) – Sizeable serving of turkey ham strips tossed in a very tangy tomato sauce with chopped onions and dill pickles. Not your idea of a light starter, that’s for sure.
Mashed Potatoes Chicken with Garlic Sauce (MYR22.90/USD7.50) – Boneless fillet of chicken grilled to a light charred finish on the outside, yet tender and juicy within, seated atop a bed of mashed potatoes generously scooped over with garlic sauce.
Grilled Dory Fish (MYR28.90/USD9) – Served with a bed of blanched fusilli and mixed greens with a bowl of vinaigrette; the fillet of dory was passable, yet the sour balsamic vinegar dressing did not seem to go well with the salad nor the fish.
Pizza Spaghetti (MYR28.00/USD9) – Hefty portion of spaghetti baked with cheese, sausages and tomato sauce; sprinkled with parmesan powder and garnished with baby tomatoes. A creative idea but executed rather poorly – the entire ‘pizza’ was too dry and could have done with a side plate of sauce (marinara maybe?)
I had vague recollections of how SSTC managed to impress with their carbonara, but the risotto was a disappointment. This time around however, the pastas (both aglio olio and the spaghetti pizza) were not up to mark; the former was a tad too salty while the pizza was a bit too much to stomach; too rich from the cheese, rather bland and very dry. I only managed to down half the portion. If executed well, this could be a signature dish of SSTC that will stand out or hard to find elsewhere. Including cafes in Klang Valley.
On the contrary, the grilled chicken with garlic sauce was excellent; though they could have reduced the mountain of mashed potatoes and instead focus more on the chicken. The grilled dory fish was passable too; the charred marks were exemplary of good grilling techniques.
Latte to end the meal with; they use Illy coffee beans. Though at MYR11/USD3.50 per cup, I expected more coffee and less milk; or at least some effort in simple coffee arts.
The cafe sits in the middle of a row of shops that go dead by sundown, aside from Serai Sate Kajang (yes, still there!) that opens later than SSTC.
The meal for 4 came to slightly more than MYR150/USD50 and we did not even have desserts. We expected better service or at the very least, improve on their signature creations – the fresh Italian pastas. The dearth of good Italian outlets in Ipoh since the closure of Italia Mia (the original one) is felt greatly. Is Mariani’s really that good? 42 Foodies did not manage to impress the last round, but have they picked up the pace?
SPAGHETTI SWEET TEA CAFE (pork-free)
21, Jalan Medan Ipoh 1E,
Medan Ipoh Bistari,
31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Tel No : +605-548 8832
GPS : 4.620314, 101.117261
“Motormouth will be traveling down under the entire next week, so if you’re hungry for more food stories, try going through my Best of 2013 – Top 13 Dining Discoveries or Best of 2012 – Motormouth’s Top 12 Food Finds. And wait for my incredible food tales from Sydney next Sunday. Or the days/weeks/months after?”