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IPOH – Foh San dim sum restaurant – 2016 review

While there has been a lot of flak on Foh San after their relocation, with many reports of the ever sliding south quality of food, uncomfortable dining environment coupled with unhelpful and brusque service.

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I’ve personally been a patron of Foh San twice, once at their old venue and once again at the new. Needless to say, my experience at the new Foh San was entirely different from the old, and the same can be said about the quality of the service and food.

Today I stepped in to Foh San again, for after publishing a post on 18 best dim sum restaurants in Ipoh (post HERE), I thought I should dine at Foh San again for the sake of comparison.

Understandably things can get chaotic on a weekend morning, so I took precaution to arrive nice and early.

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At 7am, service was pleasant, food was fresh and the situation was overly bearable; none of the rudeness or badly made food as reported.

However, as we were leaving at 8.30am, we did detect a slight rise in chaotic-ness and tension in the air as the cars started to choke up the streets and the crowd poured in.

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Anyhow, I must admit that my dining experience wasn’t at all as bad as I thought it would be.

Now, that doesn’t mean I would elevate Foh San to my list of “best dim sum in Ipoh“, as the top 6 is still (as of April 2016) (1) Zui Le Xuan alongside (2) Dynasty Palace, (3) Chooi Yue, (4) Lok Hin, (5) Sun Kim Aik and (6) Sun Kok Kee.
For HALAL, there is only one which is Greentown Dim Sum. I personally won’t recommend Greentown to anyone, but like I’ve said before, it is the only halal dim sum option available.

Now, let’s us focus on Foh San.

Your first task after the initial hurdle of getting a parking space would be to grab a table.

Leave your dining mates to “chop” (reserve) the table and bring along the order sheet (from the table) to the 2 main “service counters” near the front entrance; one for the steamed and another for the fried varieties.

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Select the items you wish, and the lady will record your dim sum in your order chit and assemble your orders (dim sum baskets) on a tray.
Once done you take back your order chit, grab your tray of dim sum and head back to your table.

The soft moist Red Bean Cake with sweet red bean filling goes perfect with warm Pu Er tea. I

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Repeat this as many times as needed until your gang of diners are satisfied and ready to leave.

I observed that sometimes a wait staff would assist a customer with their trays, sometimes not.

Tableside service is minimal, as there will be only one or two carts coming your way, and those are of minor dim sum, not the whole steamed or fried variety.

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We spent about an hour in Foh San on a Saturday and we enjoyed ourselves.

Food was decent at best (we definitely had better dim sum in Ipoh) but all in all, the dining space was comfortable (until the crowd descended on us after 8:30 am), the toilets clean, the portions standard (in comparison with other dim sum outlets in Ipoh), the variety fair and the service acceptable.

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But when I paid, I felt a jolt as the bill was at least 30% more than the average dim sum bill in other Ipoh dim sum restaurants for more or less the same items.
I’ve eaten at almost 14 dim sum restaurants in Ipoh, air conditioned or otherwise and thus I believe that I’m in a fair position to compare prices.
Besides, I usually order these same 6-7 items.

Well, I guess rental for a 2 storey building is being accounted for huh?

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Our dim sum as above was almost RM40.

At a “more modest” outlet this would have been about RM25 – 30, since an average basket is RM4.00 – RM5.50.

Anyhow, here is the breakdown of what we had.

The Phoenix Claws (chicken feet) were delish.
According to Foh San’s site, these were first marinated overnight in a variety of seasoning and spices (star anise, chili, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and black bean) and cooked for hours in a 3-step process – fried, braised, and simmered in sauce.
As expected the chicken feet was tender and flavor-packed.

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Next, the har kau aka ‘Supreme Prawn Dumpling’. The prawns were fresh and firm, but the thick skin was a turn-off.
Same for the other dumplings dish (the brown one).

The fish balls were decent while the 2 baos (custard and char siew) were fluffy and plump with ingredients so we enjoyed both baos. The char siew one deserves mention for not being too saucy or sweet.
Another plus was the amount of meat versus fat.

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In conclusion, my Foh San dim sum breakfast wasn’t as terrible as I’ve thought it would be.
The key is to arrive early and you would be able to enjoy a leisurely dim sum feast as expected.

The prices are higher than other dim sum restaurants within Ipoh, and frankly the taste and portion were not much better.
While I wouldn’t personally recommend Foh San as Ipoh’s best dim sum option, it isn’t terrible.

If you do visit, you will find that Foh San offers more than just dim sum. For lunch there is a menu of noodles, rice and claypot dishes (over 20 rice dishes!) which might be worth checking out.
Personally I think the Pumpkin Pork Rib Porridge sounds promising.

http://www.fohsan.com.my/home/menu_noodle_ramen OR http://www.fohsan.com.my/home/menu_rice

Once, everything about dim sum in Ipoh was centered on Foh San. Until today, the legacy continues.
However, I think even the Foh San family realized that the times are changing and they can no longer rely on their “long standing reputation” to get by.
The new menu is an indication. The friendlier and brisk service is another.

Other items to try at Foh San:

Bamboo Charcoal Yam Paste Pau is the black one as below.
There was another Layer Lotus Pau with Salted Egg Yolk that I wanted to try but didn’t manage to.

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Egg tarts, freshly baked buns and pan-fried buns.

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The fried variety:

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Some local kuih.
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Cold desserts:

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Foh San Dim Sum
51, Jalan Leong Sin Nam,
30300 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Waze: “Restoran Foh San”.

Tel: + 605-254 0308
Daily dim sum: 6.30am – 2.30pm
Daily lunch: 12.00pm – 2.30pm
Off day: Tues.

More choices: http://www.fohsan.com.my/home/menu_dimsum1.html