Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ganja Rice Lunch @ Yong Suan Restaurant Ipoh
There's plenty of parking space across the road (just saying)

Over the years, this little restaurant in Ipoh has created such a name for itself that the authorities have gone in to try to shut it down before because of the choice of words used for the waggey rice. Yes, our authorities get jumpy over small issues like that (making a mountain out of a mole hill) while bigger issues that affect the national interest get swept under the carpet. All because the people that patronized the place calls the food Nasi Ganja or Ganja Rice. Now, it's also because of all the brouhaha by the authorities and the media that actually elevated the popularity of the place. What was once well known among the residence of Ipoh and the surrounding town has also become popular with local tourists from other states.

Naturally, the traffic grew and lines start to form, I still remember the first time I ate there many many moons ago, there's no such thing as a long line queuing up to order take away or standing crowd within the restaurant to get a place to seat. My family/friends and I could just walk in, grab a seat and food served within minutes of ordering, and there was also more varieties to choose from!

Crazy crowd that's constantly flowing in...

These days, the operation are more focused on a few items on the dish, the preparation at the counter became more mechanical, just walk up to them (if you are ordering take-away) or let the waiting staff knows how many packets or plates of rice and you'd see the team put everything together for you in seconds.  3 guys at the food station never stopped working, 1 guy would constantly scoop rice onto a plate, 1 guy would scoop the curry and chilly paste while the 3rd guy would place the salted eggs and chicken(s) onto the plate. I stood there watching them work while waiting for my friends and everything moves at a fast and constant pace. The waiters are the ones that had to be vigilant as the plates once receiving all the necessary ingredients are placed on the counter top and it gets crowded if the waiters aren't fast enough to keep up.

Now, before we talk about the dish itself, let us get one thing clear, do not expect the place to be as tidy as a 5 star restaurant, with a nice airy environment with comfortable seats. If you are looking for those kind of place, there's plenty of other restaurants out there. The place is gritty, it has been around for years, the plates are messy with all the delicious sauce and meat. Want a place to seat? Work smart, go in (you don't have to line up), scan the environment, look for the table that is finishing their meal and stand there so that other patrons will know that you have marked that table for you and your mates. If you are there alone, just inform the waiters, they will find a chair to slot you into any of the tables that has available space. It's as simple as that. 

Waiters kept on their toes as the factory churns out plates after plates of nasi ganja

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest as I overheard a family that was well dressed, next to my table, complaining that the place is dirty, the plate doesn't look clean and the chairs are uncomfortable. The head of the family told the wife and children that this is how it has always been (I guess he's the local boy) while the wife constantly wiping every fork and spoon that was served with wet towels and what not. The children constantly complaining that the plate of food doesn't look tasty and what not. I got upset simply because they were quite loud about it. Patrons know what they are asking for eating in this restaurant, if you are unprepared to face the reality then better to find a place you prefer to eat at and stick to it rather than be adventurous to enjoy the varieties of food available across Malaysia because 80% the places serving old school style food looks like this.

Now, on to the food. The texture of the rice was just right, they have mastered the science of using the right amount of water to cook the rice. Not many restaurants in KL could do that consistently. The curry and chilly paste was super spicy! I sweat buckets and downed plenty of drinks just dealing with the spiciness. I ordered the 2 fried chicken because it was yums! You can also order squids but I never knew how to appreciate the rubbery texture of the cephalopod. The price per dish (without the squid) was quite reasonable, 5 plates of Nasi Biasa (the standard order) sets us back less than RM40 which is way cheaper than same order in KL. Mind you, I even ordered extra chicken! The same dish would set us back easily RM8 per plate in KL.

Salted Egg, Fried Chicken and some green decorative which was discarded to my friend's plate after this photo was taken

Now if you are wondering why the name of the restaurant is Yong Suan if it's serving waggey rice? Well, this is one of the typical "Muhibbah" kind of restaurant. Where everyone comes together to serve the community, irregardless of race and religion. The premise and drinks are operated by the Chinese family, while the serving staffs are Malays while the Nasi Ganja was made by the Indians. 1Malaysia. If I could only sit around longer, I'd definitely enjoy the scene before me as the restaurant team works seamlessly together serving every customers that came their way. The 30 minutes I was there, aside from the sound of clashing fork and spoon to plates, there's no clashing of plates and glasses with the floor as the waiters serving drinks and the waiters serving the food move around each other seamlessly without needing to give much signals to each other.

Best time to go? Before 12, that's when everything is piping hot, if you like your food served that way. Not to say that the food isn't hot if you visit after 12, just that the kitchen completes the 1st round of cooking before that and the aroma that floats across the restaurant is just amazing. That's something I always like irregardless of which restaurants I go to, to get there at just the right time when the food has just been cooked, the steam that snakes out of the dishes basically fills the room/area with a nice warm aroma that makes our mouth water.

There's no individual dish rating here compared to my other food posts simply because they only serve 1 dish, it's either you take it or leave. Personally, I'd stop by this place whenever I am in Ipoh, just for the fried chicken. I'm pathetic when it comes to spicy food so unless I'm here with friends, alone, I will just order the chicken and enjoy ravaging it in the car like a neanderthal before I reach my Ipoh home. So if you wonder why I only put the food at 3/5 since I sing highly about it, well, it loses a star because it's too spicy for my pathetic palate.

Nasi Ganja @ Yong Suan

4, Jalan Yang Kalsom, Taman Jubilee, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
Tel. : +60 18-662 7668






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Blogs about Dance, Travel and Food, Photography and gadgets that he purchases for work. Am available to do reviews.


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