Easter Egg! If you have been following our food trails, you would have noticed that we were rediscovering some of the older Foodie Places that have existed for around 60 years old in conjunction with our Malaysian National Day. You can read more on our postings of these establishments of Kedai Kopi Yong Suan and Cathay Mee Stall. So we now come to the 61 year old Hoong Tho Restaurant, dishing out hearty, sumptuous meals since 1957, located in the city’s Old Town area, several doors down from Nam Heong Ipoh. Renowned locally as one of the oldest Chinese restaurant serving tasty noodles, homemade fish paste, fried wanton (dumplings), sang har meen (braised egg noodles with fresh prawns), and wat tan hor (stir fried flat rice noodle with mixed meats and vegetables). Besides their bowls of delectable noodles, they are noted for their savoury local confectioneries such as egg tart, traditional biscuits and some mooncake biscuits.
We were lucky enough to catch Mr. Andy Yuen Chi Onn, the Yuen family’s 3rd generation, as he told us that he has been serving customers for 12 years now after learning, in an effort to continue his father’s legacy, keeping the tradition and safe guarding their “secret recipes” for the enjoyment for generations to come. He does this by churning out popular traditional dishes that have been served at the restaurant running for a little over six decades. According to Yuen, since taking the reins, they continue to refine their recipes in appealing to modern taste buds via their dishes. This includes Yang Chow Fried Rice, Hoong Tho Noodle, Sang Har Meen (River Prawn Noodle) Gui Hwa Glass Noodles, Fried Wanton and Dumpling Soup.
Signature Wat Tan Hor
Mixed Meat Fried Bihun
BBQ Pork Fried Rice
Fried Spring Roll
A little local Ipoh background (since we are all from Ipoh!) ….. Hoong Tho is infamous (errr, well known la) for long queues during dinner from 7.00pm, so our family members scrambled to leave the office early, heading straight in hopes of a table in the Halls of Traditional Food Glory (think Emperor’s Castle!). Unfortunately, this was not meant to be as it was already full of people. Their employees pointed at a table on the five foot walkway. Lesson learnt : recommend arriving early, early; if one is planning to enjoy a pipping hot meal in the Halls of Hoong Tho, especially true for weekends and public holidays. Already disappointed for not beating the crowd, seated by the road side, with our make up flaking; we were quickly handed a menu (!). In a place like this? A Menu? Traditionally, Chinese restaurants tend to write their signature dishes on the wall for their customers to choose from, or if you don’t read Chinese (Banana Alert!) you may ask for a recommendation from their employees… but today was surprising – they passed us a menu consisting for 3 pages in English and Chinese when formerly, they had none! Kudos Mr. Yuen, you really did refine your trade in keeping yourself updated!
We were already super hungry, so did not dare to take too long due to emanating sounds from our stomach. We settled for Wat Tan Hor, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Fried Bihun with Soy Sauce, Fried Wanton, and Fried Spring Roll (Signature!). Fried Wanton came after 10 minutes of waiting (all good things come to those who wait) and was accompanied with their homemade concocted sauce giving it that sweet and sour taste and a tinge of spiciness. Wat Tan Hor not long followe suite, a “thick broth” noodle made with with streaky silky egg and their signature fish paste. As one of their regular patrons, the plate of Wat Tan Hor served this day was a little tasteless compared to their ‘normal’ servings which kind of disappointment me. By normal, meaning; the broth is heavier tasting, thicker and with a little more salt. Their version of Yang Chow Fried Rice serves with BBQ pork cubes, egg julienne, topped off with loads of chopped scallion definitely brings a delicious aroma which, as expected, if it smells good, it tastes good as well! The apex of our evening at Hoong Tho and the main reason we chose this place is because they make one of the most interesting Spring Roll steeped in tradition; pork caul fat (lace fat : the thin membrane which surrounds the internal organs) packed with of minced pork, chopped carrots and Chinese coriander; this was accompanied with the same sweet, sourish and spicy sauce that was served with the Fried Wanton earlier. As we tucked into the highlight, the crispy skin at first bite gives way to the pungent aromatic herbs used; filling our nostrils and finally the combination of fat and meat oozes richly from our lips … smackingly hot and delish! However combined with the plain looking sauce, the Spring Rolls develop a more robust yet complex flavour as the sauce does not mask the ingredients but acts in harmony with it. This is a recommended must try at Hoong Tho!
Being typically Malaysian, the last and perhaps most important question is ……….. how much? Is it reasonable? Will it break the bank? On the norm, a Chinese Restaurant, have different prices for the size of the dishes (normally they will go by Small, Meduim and Large). At Hoong Tho, price ranges from RM8.00 to RM15.00 depending on the portion ordered, which is inline with the local standard pricing around Ipoh Town …. so it’s reasonable and won’t cost you an arm or a leg. Our ratings? we’re giving it 3 out of 5. Surprised? Our rating is in part due to our prior experience eating here, and during this review, the noodles were a tad tasteless (every one has their good and bad days, but our review cannot be biased). Overall though the highlight was the Fried Spring Roll, it was a decent meal as we only spent about RM52.30 on 3 main dishes, 2 snacks and 4 drinks. As in Art, food is extremely suggestive and we’ll coin the cliché (is it really), “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” … or improvised to our version, “Tastiness lies in the mouth of the beholder….” ….. hic hic hic…..
20, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak.
H/P No: +6016 555 8858 (Mr. Andy Yuen Chie Onn)
Opens daily from 10.00am-9.30pm (Close on Tuesday)
NOTE : We do not eat for free, nor were we paid for this review. We ordered and paid for everything that we consume. This review is a general summary from feedback provided by all members of the M Boutique Family who partook in the Food Review.