If you’re looking for excellent Chinese Malay food on the Gold Coast, look no further than Ipoh Satay House – one of our oldest and arguably our best Malaysian restaurant.
Thomas and Meelin Hoi came to the Gold Coast from Malaysia in 1980, establishing their first restaurant, Banga Raya, opposite Jupiter’s Hotel and Casino soon after.
Their second restaurant, Ipoh Satay House, opened a few years later. A more modest establishment, it has been situated in the Waterways Shopping Centre for over twenty years, gathering a loyal clientele.
Recently, Ipoh (named after the second largest city in Malaysia) has enjoyed a new lease of life. The shopping centre has undergone a renovation and, though the interior of the restaurant remains unassuming, the ambience of the alfresco dining area has dramatically improved.
Although Thomas and Meelin’s children had always helped in the restaurant, it was time for them to play a more prominent role, Sam taking over more of his father’s role as chef, and Theresa managing front of house.
Ipoh has an extensive menu of Chinese and Malay favourites with some Thai food – Tom Yum and Green Curry – thrown in for good measure.
Most interesting are the menu divisions – over twenty in total which, in our view, defy logic! Courses (Soup, Entrée, Dessert), main ingredient (lamb, chicken, seafood), and cooking style (Salt and Pepper, Kong Po and Sizzling dishes) sit beside Specialties and Hawker Style Noodles (a section which also includes Laksa).
It’s a small criticism; the sort of incongruity that probably only strikes first time diners. In essence there’s so much to choose from, so many varieties and styles of dish, but somehow we jump the menu hurdles and decide on our order.
We begin with Roti Chanai, which in this case has been pre-cut into handy bite sized pieces. It’s deliciously crisp and soft, accompanied by an aromatic curry sauce complete with potato cubes and a few peas – a great starter.
The San Choy Bow is less of a hit with us. The filling of BBQ pork, baby shrimp, chicken and broken omelette served in a crisp iceberg lettuce leaf seems bland, lacking in both texture and flavour. Dominated by the egg, the dish lacks the crunch of bamboo shoots, the spicy finish of shallots or ginger; it’s not even lifted by an accompanying sauce. Though freshly made, it’s still our least favourite dish.
Mains of Roast duck with star anise scented sweet plum sauce and Rendang Beef are delicious. Served with perfectly crunchy green beans, the Rendang is on the wetter side, but its rich curry sauce begs to be mopped up by the accompanying rice, a wonder in itself, scented with ginger and chicken. The beef is tender and juicy yet still holding its shape – a really good rendition of the dish.
It takes a second visit for us to conquer the restaurant’s ‘pièce de resistance’! It’s Hainanese Chicken, cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, in a soy sauce with ginger and shallot and chilli sauce accompaniments. It’s arguably Thomas’ bestselling dish.
With almost all mains priced between $15 – $20, Ipoh provides highly affordable dining. The venue is licensed, with BYO wine a simple task due to a bottle shop almost next door.
Ipoh Satay House is a little suburban gem which you’d only be likely to find out about from friends. Its extensive menu demands many return visits to fully explore. There are so many influences in Chinese-Malay cuisine that there’s something to please everyone – a great place to dine with a group, sharing dishes and flavours so that each person could compile their own list of favourites.
Shop 5, Waterways Village, Cnr Karbunya St & Sunshine Blvd., Mermaid Waters Ph: 07 5572 5911
Open: Tues – Sun 5.00pm – 9.00pm
NOTE: This review has also been published on Blank Gold Coast.