Wednesday, June 12, 2024
HomediningEat your way through Ipoh: Harry Potter cafe, vending machine salted chicken,...

Eat your way through Ipoh: Harry Potter cafe, vending machine salted chicken, delicious dim sum and more

What do Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh, crunchy beansprouts and limestone caves have in common? They are all proudly made in Ipoh, the capital city of Perak.

The third largest city in Malaysia, it lies between the bustling cities of Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and is a one hour and 10 minutes flight from Singapore. In its heyday, Ipoh made its fortune in tin mining over the last two centuries, until the depletion of tin mines in Malaysia and the collapse of tin prices in the 1980s led to a slowdown in tin production.

These days, Ipoh is best known for being a foodie’s haven and a booming tourist spot. Its popular street food includes the famous ngah choi gai or beansprout chicken. It is eaten with slippery thin hor fun or rice, with the quintessential short and fat beansprouts fortified by the lime water from the Kinta Valley. Google “Ipoh chicken rice”, and tourists’ faves like Lou Wong and Onn Kee will never fail to pop up.

However, there’re many more eateries in Ipoh that deserve your belly space too. After visiting Ipoh multiple times over the last decade, we have tried all the tourist faves as well as local hide-outs. Here is a list we have curated with a range of options to keep everyone in your travel group happy.

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FOR A HEARTY LOCAL BRUNCH: RESTORAN YANG GUANG

Sure, you can join the hordes of tourists queuing for a table at Internet-famous coffee shops like Nam Heong, where Old Town white coffee originated. But if you want good and cheap fare that the locals eat, the humble Restoran Yang Guang makes for a tasty experience.

There are 12 stalls here hawking a variety of noodle dishes like prawn mee and pan mee, steamed buns and roti canai. We like the interesting variety of steamed buns which start from just RM1 (S$0.29) for a sweet potato mantou. Our favourite, a sinfully fatty pork belly bun marinated with fermented beancurd (RM3), is umami and a level up from the usual kong bak bao (stewed pork belly bun).

We always go with our trusty faves: Har kow, siew mai, taro croquette and prawn cheong fun. Every dish was fresh, delicious and the service was efficient. Prices go from RM6 to RM7.50 per dish – not the cheapest but reasonably priced. One of their bestsellers is their freshly baked egg tarts, with a wobbly centre set in a flaky pastry shell. Definitely order this for dessert to round up your dim sum.

One of their biggest draws is their Cuisines restaurant, which has an international menu of western and Asian dishes. Their pan-grilled New Zealand lamb rack with green beans and cherry tomato salad comes with black pepper or mushroom sauce on the side and is perfectly cooked. Tender, juicy, and without a whiff of gamey taste at all, it seems pricey at RM80 but with the strong Singapore dollar against the Malaysian ringgit, makes this a decent deal compared to what you’ll pay in Singapore.

We have been patronising them for over a decade and often buy multiple packs to last us a few days. This is because they are only open from 9am to 5.30pm (or while stocks last) and are closed on Monday. So, what’s a salted chicken fan to do?

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