If you were to inquire about the best restaurants in Ipoh for bean sprout chicken aka ngah choi kai (芽菜鸡), you will almost always hear of Lou Wong and Onn Kee. I grew up eating Lou Wong and Onn Kee bean sprout chicken and they were definitely the best that you could find in Ipoh. But, those were the days when they served excellent smooth poached chicken, juicy blanched bean sprouts along with rice or silky smooth flat rice noodles in chicken broth, which was produced from the long hours of simmering the chicken bones.
Well, the quality in both restaurants have somewhat deteriorated about 6-7 years back, when more and more tourists started frequenting them. As they rush to meet the demands of more customers, occasionally the chicken may be overcooked, resulting in tough and dry meat texture. Not only that, the chicken is no longer doused with generous amount of sesame oil and soy sauce, thus giving only minimal fragrance to the dish. The broth on the other hand, no longer has its natural sweetness from the chicken bones and contains more MSG, which results in excessive thirst after the meal. However, some people may still find that Lou Wong and Onn Kee are the best, especially those who are not originally from Ipoh. This post is not written with ill intention, but merely to share my personal opinion.
Anyway, as time passes by, there are newer shops and stalls selling this famous and authentic Ipoh dish. One such stall is located inside the Yew Foo Food Centre in Bandar Seri Botani. Few people actually know about the existence of this stall, simply because it is located in a residential area, whereby, he caters mostly for the community there. Though it is just a small and humble stall, its quality is guaranteed to be excellent. It’s undoubtedly the best ngah choi kai I’ve tasted in Ipoh in recent years.
It’s undoubtedly the best ngah choi kai I’ve tasted in Ipoh in recent years.
A simple menu can be seen posted on the wall, where one has the option for whole or half chicken, and free range or conventional chicken. Simply place your order with him and he will prepare your meal for you exactly the way you specify. He surely has an enviable memory to be able to remember all the orders made by his customers. Despite how busy his business is, the longest waiting time is only approximately 15-20 minutes.
Each plate of chicken is poached to perfection – juicy and tender, doused with the fragrant sesame oil and soy sauce, served with lots of sliced cucumbers, scallions and corianders as garnish. We only ordered half chicken, but its portion was more than sufficient for four of us, as we had to struggle to finish them up.
Surely, nothing beats eating the poached chicken with Ipoh’s famous crunchy bean sprouts. Such crunchy bean sprouts are hard to find nowadays, as most of the time, they will either be undercooked or overcooked. Each plate of bean sprouts is garnished with generous amount of fresh spring onions and crunchy fried onions, doused with soy sauce and sesame oil along with a few dashes of white pepper. You can choose to have the bean sprouts served in 3 different portions, priced at RM2, RM3 and RM5 respectively.
What is this dish if there it is not served with Ipoh’s famous flat rice noodle. Each mouthful of smooth and silky noodle followed by a sip of the broth is simply heavenly. Its broth is totally different from the others (Lou Wong and Onn Kee), in which each sip of it is rich with the natural sweetness of the ingredients used. If you are not into noodles, you can opt for rice which is readily available with a bowl of chicken broth.
Additionally, the stall also sells stewed chicken feet and meatballs. I honestly don’t think there is anything special about these dishes, but they surely can satisfy the cravings of some customers.
By the time we finished, we were so full to the extent we may have overeaten. Nonetheless, we left the place happy and satiated with a full belly. Its portion is huge, price is reasonable and the best thing is there’s no 6% GST. Well, the only downside of eating over here is the lack of ventilation inside the shop. So, there are days when it can be stuffy and warm in there. Alternatively, you can enjoy the natural cool breeze by dining al fresco, provided it doesn’t rain.
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