I’ve passed D North Star ‘s unassuming frontage a million times but never bothered to check the restaurant out, because our goal is to withdraw money from Maybank Canning Garden Ipoh next door. Zip and go.
A few weeks ago when I was by myself, I felt a sudden stab of curiosity and went in. I ordered the Siamese laksa to try, since it’s mum’s favourite dish.
Now RPS Corner has been our gold standard for Siamese laksa for a while now, but D North Star’s version gives it a serious run for its money. Superb rich broth, with a heaped topping of bunga kantan, shallots, cucumber and two types of fish! (Though upon subsequent dinings, some friends said it is a little too thick for their taste. Personal preference)
A rare find
My pulse quickened when I sighted stuffed sambal ikan cencaru (hardtail mackerel) on the menu, a compact collection of classic Nyonya and Hainanese dishes. This is a dish that rarely features on menus, even Peranakan restaurants.
Though considered a cheap fish, ikan cencaru transforms into something else when you cook it this way. Fry it till golden brown outside, stuff a layer of pungent, savoury and spicy sambal underneath the skin, and drizzle with a squeeze of lime juice – omg! For the uninitiated, ikan cencaru is also nicknamed “ikan jacket” because you can peel off its hard skin after frying.
That very night, I came back with my folks. The ikan cencaru arrived beautifully presented on a generous bed of okra and long beans. All that plus a bowl of rice totalled an unbelievable RM15!! If you are a small eater, you can add one more bowl of rice. From the dark red of the sambal, you KNOW it’d be good.
Best Hainanese chicken chop
For Dad, I ordered the Hainanese chicken chop, since he can’t handle too spicy. Shockingly, D North Star’s version was, hands down, the best I’ve had to date. Yes, even beating all the other famous places in Ipoh, KL and Penang.
The fillet was (pounded?) thin enough that the marinade penetrated right through. A big plus point – the batter coating the chicken chop was thin (some places make it too thick to the point of bready) and still wonderfully crispy when it arrived at our table.
It’s a small place, so I believe the dish is delivered the instant it’s cooked. In bigger eateries, I find that the chicken chop has become a soggy mess by the time it arrives – usually from sitting at the kitchen counter too long; the batter got soft from absorbing the generous sauce. Believe me, even the best establishments eff this up.
Another thing going for it? D North Star is elderly-friendly. A sloping ramp just one shoplot away at Maybank lets you push a wheelchair up. At the shop, you only have to climb up one step to enter, which is a boon for people with limited mobility. The interior is cosy and simple, or what we’d call family-style. Nice for everyday dining.
At the end of the meal, mum declared approvingly, “This one can promote.”
Point to note
Having read old Google reviews, I’ve seen negative reviews of the place in the past. Let me state from recent experience that the current D North Star is run by a new management – and the food is absolutely stellar. Oh Mum spotted an elderly gentleman in the kitchen. Not sure if he is the chef, but if he is, that would explain the quality of the food 🙂
108, Jalan Canning Estate,
Business hours: 11am-9pm Monday-Sunday