A Boxing Day trip to Ipoh to attend my cousin’s wedding saw the fam and I looking for spots to eat where there wasn’t a crazy crowd. Fortunately, we stumbled across Cheong Long Cafe in Taman Hoover, which offered a nice surprise with its eager-to-please service and decent food.
Cheong Long offers fusion fare, with rice, noodles, and some Western fare on the men. Prices are average for a cafe. But I like the fact that they are less crowded than the other two cafes in the vicinity, which have long queues.
The decor blends modern and traditional elements, with walls awash in green adorned with classical Chinese paintings, while large red lanterns hung from the ceiling. Staff members were young, but friendly and welcoming. Big thumbs up to the lady staff with short hair, as she was helpful, pleasant, and very attentive to our needs.
Iced milk tea, which tasted a lot like Thai milk tea. Sweet and milky, but not cloying.
The Bro had the cafe’s signature Nasi Lemak, which he deemed “tasty but not spectacular.” The rice portion was quite small, so it wasn’t enough to satisfy his appetite, and although the chicken had good flavour, the meat was apparently quite dry.
The Hubs had the unagi rice. Served to the table was a fat slab of grilled unagi basted in a sweet sauce and sprinkled over with sesame seeds, alongside kimchi, bonito flakes, lettuce, and rice. Tried a bit of the unagi and it was pretty good. Unagi is difficult to get right, as it tends to have an overwhelmingly fishy taste if not prepared correctly, but they did it just right.
The Pops, however, was not happy with his curry noodles, as he said the noodles were soggy and overcooked.
PS: Funny thing that happened; while I was placing the order, I wrote that he wanted ‘kuey teow’ (flat rice noodles) The waiter came back to me to verify if this was ‘hor fun’, which is how they call it in Ipoh. I always forget this when I go to restos 😛
The Moomins had salt and pepper chicken with rice. We were expecting these to be boneless chicken cutlets, but they turned out to be actual chicken wings and drummets. These were really good. The chicken was nicely coated in a savoury seasoning of salt, pepper, and chilli; the meat was juicy on the inside, and it had a crispy exterior.
I was the hungriest, but I got my food last. The wait staff was apologetic about it, as she said the owner/chef was the only one cooking, and they don’t usually get a high volume of customers.
But it was worth it, as the smoked duck rice I ordered was easily the best dish of the day. Generous portions aside, the duck had great flavour; savoury with a hint of sweetness from the caramelized onions they were served with. I don’t know about you, but the chewy fat underneath the duck’s skin? Chef’s kiss.
All in all, some hits and misses, with room for improvement. But I really enjoyed the Moomin’s and my dishes. Our meal for 5 came up to about RM85, which I think is much cheaper compared to a cafe with a similar setting in KL.
CHEONG LONG CAFE
52, Jalan Foo Eng Lin, Taman Hoover, 31650 Ipoh, Perak
Opening hours: 9am – 4pm (Closed Tuesdays)