Location is the best thing about French Hotel.
This newly-refurbished boutique hotel is situated right smack in the center of Ipoh town and you could get to most places of interests (food wise) on foot. It costs about RM125 for a windowless, superior king room per night and I think it’s fair as long as you know what you’re getting.
The room is spacious enough just to accommodate the two of us, any smaller it’d be slightly uncomfortable. It includes the basic amenities, some which are essential to kill time such as the 32″ LCD TV with 5 Astro channels and complimentary Wifi. Breakfast is optional and you could choose either a Western or local set from the menu. We did not bother ordering any because we’re in Ipoh and there are plenty of places to eat!
Cowan Street Ayam Tauge‘s famous bean sprouts chicken is hailed to be the best in Ipoh and it has probably been blogged to death. But surprisingly many people are still not aware of this shop and they continue to patronize Onn Kee and Lou Wong.
Just to be clear I have nothing against them because I quite liked Lou Wong in my last visit. Maybe they are not the best in the eyes of the locals and ‘Nga Choy Kai’ aficionados but at least you could count on them to be open for most of the time.
The reason I say that is because the business hour of Cowan Street Ayam Tauge is quite erratic. In fact, it is highly advised to call the boss ‘Ah Meng’ to check whether they are open before venturing here (we did that). And if you are thinking of eating here soon, I have some bad news for you.
Before I left the restaurant he told me that they are going to be closed from October until 2014’s Chinese New Year because he’s going overseas. So, plan quickly. That being said, both the ‘Nga Choy Kai’ and ‘Hor Fun’ here do live up to their reputation. If you haven’t eaten here before, there’s simply no reason not to.
When I went to Guan Heong biscuit shop, I also had the privilege to witness first-hand how their traditional mooncakes are made. I am always inclined to learn how food is made because it leaves me with a renewed and greater appreciation for the things I eat.
The most basic ingredients for a mooncake are the dough and filling and both of them are equally important. There are two types of dough involved here and when directly translated, they are called the ‘crispy skin’ and ‘oily skin’. The main difference between them is that one contains water while the other does not.
Apparently this is a common practice when it comes to Chinese pastries. Well, I never knew that. Anyway, according to Mr Sitt (the sifu) the general gist for having two different dough is to create the texture of the mooncake’s crust.
Then, a lotus paste log is cut into chunks and weighed before being molded into balls like these. Guan Heong only uses high quality lotus seeds and they grind them into paste at the back of their shop using a stone-made grinding mill. Lard is traditionally added into the paste for the extra fragrance but modern consumers are getting more health conscious. Since then they have switched to use vegetable oil instead.