If you’re like me and you’ve never before been to the hometown of Malaysian pop queen, Siti Nurhaliza, you can always count on the trusted wikipedia to give you a little description:
Kuala Lipis was a gold-mining center before the British arrived in 1887. In 1898 it became the capital of Pahang until 1953.
During this time, grand colonial buildings, such as the imposing District Offices and the Clifford School, and the Pahang Club were built. The hilltop house of the British Resident is now a hotel and museum.
The town grew and prospered with the coming of the railway in 1924. However, in 1953, the state capital was shifted to Kuantan, and Kuala Lipis fell into a decline. It is now a sleepy and picturesque town with reminders of a once important past.
It was great to be invited along on one of Cumi&Ciki‘s Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan Adventures to this sleepy town. Tourism Malaysia should endorse them. They would make great ambassadors of our great nation, both to international and local tourists.
After our lawatan-sambil-belajar (educational trip) to Sunshine Chicken Farm, it was time to sample their famed produce. The ladyboss at a local Chinese restaurant presented us a HUGE capon (about 6kg) which was slowly-steamed until the skin was golden. I really couldn’t believe how yellow it was. Almost looked like somebody coloured it with a florescent highlighter. But Mr. Ong proudly assured us that it was the product of his winning chicken rearing formula which includes feeding corn to the capons. Even the oil from the skin and the meat juices had this unreal shade of yellow. Speaking of the juice, this has got to be the sweetest I’ve tasted.
The capon meat was juicy and delicious as promised. Indeed, the meat had retained the “real chicken” taste, which are often lacking in mass produced chicken. However, the meat texture was very chewy and wasn’t as tender as I have expected. I was told that this was because the we’re tasting the Ma Lai Kai (Free-range village chicken) type instead of the über tender Fah Loh Kai (Colour Bird) variation which some of the bloggers had the privileged of tasting before this. The surprise, however, lies in the the skin. I’ve never been a fan of the gelatinous skin on a steamed chicken, but this one here got me snacking on them. Its texture was insanely tout and crunchy.
The rest of our lunch consisted of dishes showcasing the chef’s capabilities to churn out a good meal. Freshly hunted Wild Boar Cooked with Ginger & Scallion (RM12.00) was easily the best dish of the afternoon. I’ve never had wild boar cooked this way before back in Kuala Lumpur (the other K.L) due to the gamy taste of its meat. But here, the meat was fresh, sweet and tender and didn’t need much external flavour to mask it. We also had another wild boar dish, Dry Curry Wild Boar (RM12.00) which was rather spiced.
Another noteworthy dish was the freshly caught Steamed River Silver-Catfish (RM8.00 for cooking services), or better known locally as Patin, came courtesy of Thule_leo. I’ve never seen a patin this fat or big in my life. The fish surprisingly had an absence of muddiness which is often associated to it. Instead, we were treated to its sweet tasting flesh, even after the dish has cooled down significantly. Kudos to the chef for steaming the fish to perfection.
I’m not sure if its just me, but I find small town dishes much tastier. Perhaps its the “homecooked” taste that’s evident in the cooking or it’s the quality of its ingredients. Even simple dishes like 4-Angled Bean with Dried Shrimp (RM10.00) and Belacan Tapioca Leaves (RM10.00) tasted perfect.
We also managed to savour two original chef creations, the Jade Wheatgrass Tofu (RM25.00) and Butter Short Ribs (RM22.00). I didn’t fancy the bland but unique tofu dish, but I absolutely loved the ribs which were marinated with nam yue (red fermented beancurd) and covered in a sinful milky butter sauce. I’m pretty sure the butter-loving Nigella Lawson would approve of this too.
Alas, there were some misses too. The Crispy Roast Duck (RM20.00) wasn’t fresh and tasted like it was re-fried, and the Ginger & Scallion Saito Fish (Wolf Herring or Ikan Parang) Paste (RM35.00) albeit being a tasty dish, the fish paste itself fell off the mark. Tasted more doughy than fishy.
While Fung Seng Lao Restaurant may not necessary be the best restaurant in town, you can still count on them for a good Chinese feast. I can definitely see why they are very popular among the locals.
Thanks to Babe_KL, Cumi and Gerald for arranging this trip and for pre-booking our lunch. And a special thanks to Thule_Leo for that wonderful fish you’ve gotten for us. Definitely worth the journey.
FUNG SENG LAO RESTAURANT
5K, Bangunan Paradise, Jalan Pekeliling
27200 Kuala Lipis, Pahang Darul Makmur.
Tel: 09-312 5072