Mandarin Kitchen (唐人食坊) in Falim is probably one of the most popular Chinese Restaurants in Ipoh. The food served is classic Chinese food while some dishes have a creative twist to them. I think there are three major factors that contribute to the perpetual state of full house – excellent food, big portion and good price !
You might think that dinner at 6.30 pm is early and you should get plenty of seats, oh you are so wrong ! The restaurant gets packed by 6.30 pm on a weekday; I can’t imagine how it’s like on a weekend ! The first time we visited, we made a reservation for 6.30 pm, and we had to wait for about an hour before the food arrived. The second time we went, we learnt the lesson and we went at 5.30 pm (that’s one crazy early dinner right !). We were the first ones there, but not for long because by 5.45 pm, people started streaming in, fast, and the restaurant was filled in no time. The moral of the story is that if you want good food, either you go really early, or be prepared to wait.
Anyway, on the first occasion that we went, we spent RM 96.90 on 5 dishes, 4 rices and tea (inclusive of GST).
The Sweet and Sour Pork (冰鎮咕嚕肉, “gu lou yoke”, RM 16, small) was so addictive ! I’m sure everyone must have had “gu lou yoke” at some point of their lives, but I bet you’ve never had the “ICED” version. The pork was placed on a bed of ice, which hardens the cramelized gravy that coats the pork， giving the bite-sized pork a crispy texture. It was an adventurous twist to the classic dish. The downside was that since ice was involved, the meat was lukewarm (and it got colder as it sat longer on the ice). Do take note that you need to preorder this dish; it is not readily available if you walk in.
Since we already pre-ordered the Iced Pork, by right one pork dish was enough, but we could not let go of the “Dongpo Pork” （東坡肉， RM 19, small), so we ordered one more pork dish ! No regrets because the pork belly was braised till tender, and smothered in flavorful gravy.
The Steamed Tilapia (醬蒸金鳳魚, RM42.90) was flawless – perfectly steamed with fiery spices. Our fish was a whopping 1.3 kg for our party of 4, which was apparently the smallest they had on the day.
The Green Dragon Vegetable (青龍菜， RM 10, Small) was elegantly stir-fried with mushrooms; while the use of dried squid strips was ingenious because it was not only visually appealing, but it also immediately added a taste of umami to the vegetables.
Try the delectable Minced Meat Tofu (菜脯肉碎豆腐, RM9, Small) if you are looking for something homey.
When we revisited Mandarin Kitchen on a second occasion, we spent RM 75.2 on three dishes, one rice and tea.
Normally, sea cucumber is not a dish we would order because most of the time it’s pretty expensive. When we saw it at Mandarin Kitchen, the braised sea cucumber (紅燒海參) was only RM 35 ! The classic dish had everything right – the meaty mushrooms, tender cucumbers and broccoli all came together in a happy medley.
The Ice Cream Pork Ribs (雪糕排骨 RM 14, Small) didn’t taste as peculiar as it sounds. In fact, the ice cream paired so well with the pork ribs I wondered why did nobody else think of this combination before ? The pork ribs were well marinated and topped with a scoop of herb-laced vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was immediately melted by the sizzling-hot pork ribs and it became a delightful, buttery, creamy sauce.
Another interesting dish was the Fried Milk with Prawns (大良炒鮮奶， RM18, small). How the hell do you fry milk ? The dish sure sounded strange enough to pique my curiosity. It turned out that super-fresh prawns were stir-fried with a smooth batter, then topped with prawn roe. So that’s how you do it ! What was more baffling was that it was only RM 18 – anything with this much of prawns would easily cost RM 25 and above !
The restaurant has two floors; both were packed to the max when we visited.
Would I visit the restaurant again ? Surely I would, for its affordability, and all the other creative dishes that I am yet to try (blueberry prawns, I am coming for you !)
Mandarin Kitchen Ipoh Facebook
Address : 11&13 Laluan Perusahaan Menglembu 2, Kawasan Perusahaan Menglembu (Located behind Old Town Kopitiam in Falim)
Opening Hours : Opens daily for lunch and dinner.
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