The revival of Old Town Ipoh has seen the introduction of a number of exciting outlets in recent years, and the up-scaling of some older well-loved places too. On our first visit we were charmed by the creative crew at Burps and Giggles, and at the same time enamoured by the ageless fare at Kong Heng and Thean Chun. We’ve made it a point ever since to keep returning – whether on a day trip from Kuala Lumpur, or a delicious break in a journey on the way to Penang.
STG Boutique Cafe
Upon each subsequent visit, there’s always been something fresh to explore, and on this stop we find ourselves in STG Boutique Café. Inspired by Sabah Tea, the acronym STG, stands for Sabah Tea Garden, and is actually the second outlet by the group in Ipoh. As you might suspect, afternoon tea here is a specialty, but there’s much more than just tea and sweets to tempt the hungry. Open from 11am until 11pm, hearty lunches and dinners are on the cards too.
Private Dining Hall
The menu seems to be a mish-mash of Asian and European cuisine, and that, coupled with design reminiscent of an elegant old bungalow complete with white linen-dressed tables, wooden floor boards, mosaic tiles, exposed beam ceilings and numerous chandeliers, the overall ambience is distinctly colonial. In fact, the double story building with its grand dining hall, central courtyard and multiple private dining rooms, resembles a house, one where every room encloses an intimate eating area.
Pleasant Dining Area
It’s midday, and we’re looking for something hearty to carry us on our journey back to KL, so try a selection across lunch menu.
Richly flavoured mushrooms are given a quick blend producing a soup that is creamy, yet still retains some of the lovely texture of the fungus in the Mushroom Soup (RM13). Zig-zagged with a line of cream and crested with a slice of garlic bread, it’s a positive start.
Tea Garden Salad (RM16) is a fresh jumble of greens dressed with tea vinaigrette and tossed with tea dust and olive oil. Black olives, walnuts, kidney beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion slices and yellow and green capsicum boost the ingredients. The seasoning is mildly sweet and seesaws more towards the smooth oil side rather than the acidic tang of vinaigrette – perfect for many of my Italian buddies who prefer to dress their salads with olive oil alone without the sharpness of vinegar.
Tea Garden Salad
One of STG’s signature dishes is the Tea Smoked Chicken Whole Leg (RM25). The meat is dark, rich and flavourful. The house made tea sauce lifts the plate turning a humble leg of chicken into something rather special.
Tea Smoked Chicken Leg
French Duck Confit (RM30) features two succulent duck legs, cured with salt and cooked in their own fat. A tower of vegetables looks like a pretty block tower on the side, and a stripe of orange sauce adds a sweet smack.
A plump cut of Tenderloin Steak (RM68, 200gm) is cooked exactly as ordered: perfectly pink in the middle and wonderfully tender. It has a nice balance of tasty fat and melt-in-the-mouth meat. A mustard shallot sauce, while a toothsome addition, is not needed as the beef has ample flavour of its own.
A vegetarian dish is found in the Tea Vegetable Lasagna (RM28). An obviously freshly made tomato based sauce is seasoned with fresh herbs, light and delicious. A thin crusting of béchamel is shyly layered in, allowing the brightness of the tomato and hint of tea to be the highlights. It’s a must-order whether you’re vegetarian or not.
Tea Vegetable Lasagna
After viewing a video on STG’s Facebook page featuring a young Japanese lass shrieking joyful squeals of delight upon exposing the rich volcanic ooze from the Chocolate Lava Cake (RM15), we deem it a must-order. Made a la minute, remember to allow 15 minutes for this one to be ready. A creamy cold ball of vanilla ice cream mixes with the warm chocolate liquid evoking mmms and aahs from us both.
French style rich custard is topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel in the popular Crème Brûlée (RM10). A tap tap crunch of our spoons exposes a creamy treat beneath, and despite the quantity of food we’ve just consumed hubby manages to scrape the bowl clean.
Tea lovers can rejoice, as the list of tea is comprehensive. Most are proudly Malaysian and there’s a range of black, flavoured, green and organic leaves to choose from. Sabah Tea (RM14) naturally flavoured with geranium comes highly recommended, and we find it a cleansing ending paired well with our heavy desserts.
The non-tea-converted however will be happy with some well executed espresso based drinks such as the Cappuccino (RM11) with 3D art, or a rich Hot Chocolate (RM12) made from premium Italian powder, also with its own creative cap.
Cappuccino with 3D Coffee Art
We’d drop by STG Boutique Café again for sure, but too look forward to discovering their first outlet, a bungalow and garden a little out from the city centre. Stay tuned for more on that in future editions of The Yum List.
Reasons to visit: Tea Vegetable Lasagna; Tea Smoked Chicken Whole Leg; Tenderloin Steak; STG Tea; an elegant and very pleasant setting for both small and large groups.