Friday, May 13, 2016

[Year 2016] Food Hunting- of Cafes/ Must-Eats @ Ipoh, Perak.

The fast-changing food scene at Ipoh is especially attractive for foodies like us, especially with more and more exciting cafes mushrooming in the district. On our 2 Day 1 Night trip this year, we have managed to visit a good mix of both cafes and classic local eats. 

1) Nam Chau Coffee Shop (南洲白咖啡)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 54, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. Closed om Wednesdays.



Ipoh Dry Curry Mee (Rm 6)


Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun (Rm 5.80)

One of the busiest coffee shops around the old town area would be Nam Chau Coffee Shop. The shop is famous for its Ipoh Curry Mee- cooked Yellow Noodles and Vermicelli Noodles heavily doused with thick and rich Curry Paste. It was something similar to the Curry Chicken sauce we have here but the flavors were robust. Squeeze in some Lime juice for the extra acidic tinge... to cut through the richness of the Curry. Nam Chau was very generous with the Chicken Meat, though beautifully cooked, we thought the dish was standard-average with a very weak "wow" factor. 

If you would prefer something light and easy to kick start the day, go for their Chicken Hor Fun, served with a dash of Shrimp Oil. We have had something similar before but Nam Chau's possessed a peculiar fishy smell which we did not know how to appreciate. 



2) Famous Ipoh Buntong Chicken-Bean Sprouts Hor Fun (文冬口老字号驰名芽菜鸡)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: Yes 6%
Address: 849, Jalan Guntong, Buntong, 30100, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Contact Number: 6017- 578 7251


Soup Noodles (Rm 1.80/ bowl)


Blanched Bean Sprouts (Rm 3.50/ small)


Deboned Chicken (Rm 13/ small)

If you are bored of the famous tourist traps (for Chicken Hor Fun/ Chicken Rice) at Ipoh Old Town, try Buntong's. The place is rather secluded and housed within a housing area, the drive takes approximately 10 minutes from town center. The Hor Fun was pretty standard-average but the real draw was the clear but delicious soup. It was light on the palate yet robustly flavored. The Chicken was good, though can be smoother and more tender. The highlight however, goes to the tangy home-made Chili sauce with a dash of grated Ginger. The combination introduces a gentle heat, the heat that can be accepted by all range of diners. We enjoyed our Chicken-Hor Fun combination with some crunchy-plump Ipoh Bean Sprouts. For the quality and amount of food we had, we thought this might be a better place to enjoy Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun rather than those throat-cutting tourist traps.

Special thanks to my friend- Claire (Ipoh Blogger whom writes at Reanaclaire.com) for introducing the place to me. 



3) Dessert Street a.k.a Tong Sui Kai (糖水街)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Jalan Sultan Ekram, Taman Jubilee, 30300, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 6 pm till late. Opens Daily.


Sweet Herbal Tea with Egg/ 蛋茶 (Rm 3.80)


Prawn Crackers spread with Rojak Sauce (Rm 1 per piece)


Cuttlefish with Chinese Watercress/ 鱿鱼蕹菜 (Rm 8/ small)

Tong Sui Kai is a pilgrimage site for many, one of the must-visits for foodies in Ipoh. The street has a long stretch of hawker stalls (though some are repetitive), some of the dishes are not to be missed. One of the items that is hardly seen in Penang... Sweet Herbal Tea with Egg, though not many would know how to appreciate the bitter-sweet tea, yours truly found it particularly comforting. It was not monotonously sweet, it comes with a peculiarly addictive bitter-end. It resembles Gui Ling Gao... in liquid form... and probably sweeter. The Egg serves no purpose, purely for the sake of filling stomach space.

Ipoh's Cuttlefish with Chinese Watercress is not the same as ours. I was told that some would even include Pumpkin into their sauce but this particular version carried bold Curry flavor. Our untrained taste buds struggled to appreciate the dish.



4) Tuck Kee Restaurant (德记炒粉)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 61, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, Taman Jubilee, 30300, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 5 pm to 2 am. Closed on alternate Tuesdays.
Contact Number: 605- 253 7513


Stir Fried Lou Shu Fan (炒老鼠粉/ Rm 6/ small)


Stir Fried Hor Fun topped with Egg/ Yut Kong Hor (月光河/ Rm 7/ small)


We have visited Sun Tuck Kee on our trip in 2015, so we decided to Tuck Kee this round... which said to serve (arguably) some of the best Wan Ton Hor in Ipoh. There seems to be some connection between Tuck Kee and Sun Tuck Kee but let's just leave it there, we shall not elaborate on this matter. The menu seems to be smaller than Sun Tuck Kee's and some dishes were not available on our visit. To put on a fair comparison, we had to order their signature Yut Kong Hor... Stir Fried Hor Fun topped with a raw Egg. Tuck Kee's rendition had lesser Pork Lards and probably more fragrant than Sun Tuck Kee's. The beautiful marriage between Pork Lard and Dark Soy Sauce worked perfectly well. 

Despite the signature dish, most of us thought that their Stir Fried Lou Shu Fan fared better. The texture was slightly chewy-bouncy and the dish was expertly seasoned, cooked to perfection. The "wok hei" further enhanced the dish by introducing a smoky dimension to the dish. 



5) Gui Ling Tong (龟宁堂)
Pork-Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 72, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, 30300, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 12 am. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 605- 241 4815


Herbal Jelly with sweet Soya Milk/ 豆奶龟苓膏 (Rm 8.80)


Matcha-flavored Steamed Custard Egg/ 抹茶炖蛋 (Rm 4.80)

Assuage the guilt of over-indulgence of heaty-food with a serving of cooling-invigorating Herbal Jelly. We did not want the usual Herbal Tea but we settled for a novelty Herbal Jelly with sweet Soya Milk. The combination was fun and would only be suitable for the adventurous. The Herbal Jelly carried a hint of bitterness while the Soya Milk possessed a creamy-sweet Soya flavor. Not particularly mind blowing but more than pleased to be eaten as late supper. 

The usual Steamed Custard could no longer satisfy us so we opted for something new and naughty. The Matcha-flavored Steamed Custard Egg was served chill and was especially comforting to combat the sultry hot weather. The Matcha flavor though weak, can be still discerned. Sweetness was well-balanced but we thought the dessert was rather monotonous and may be a little too much for one to finish it entirely. 



6) Kong Heng Coffee Shop (光兴茶室)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 75, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 7 am to 5 pm. Closed on Wednesdays.


Chicken Hor Fun/ 怡保鸡丝河粉 (Rm 6/ small)


Beef Noodle Soup/ 牛腩面 (Rm 8.60/ with Beef Balls added)


Original Salted Egg Yolk Bun/ 原味流沙包 (Rm 4.90 for 3)


Sweet Peanut Bun/ 花生包 (Rm 4.90 for 3)

Kong Heng Coffee Shop is strategically located in city center and the latest tourist attraction- Concubine Lane at Ipoh. The Coffee Shop is right opposite Concubine Lane and could be easily noticeable from far... thanks to its clamoring cloud. There are a handful of note-worthy eats here, one of which would be their Beef Noodle Soup. The Soup was clear and light on the palate; though reasonably seasoned, it carried a nary of Beefy flavor. The ingredients were toothsome, we love the doneness of the Beef and the bouncy home-made Beef Balls. If you are an exotic eater, go for the Beef innards and most importantly, request for more of their tangy well-spiced Chili sauce.

Equally tasty would be their Chicken Hor Fun; unlike Nam Chau's, Kong Heng's rendition possessed lesser Prawn flavor. With that being said, milder Prawn-stench too; but the seafood-sweetness was not compromised. 

If you are visiting on a weekend and the luck is on your side, be sure to check out a humble stall outside of the Coffee Shop that sells Liu Sha Bao/ Chinese Molten Salted Egg Bun. The stall sells quite a few unique flavors that are hardly seen elsewhere, some of the notable ones are Pandan flavored Liu Sha Bao, Black Sesame Liu Sha Bao, Matcha Liu Sha Bao etc.



7) Ming Yue Confectionery (明裕食品)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 50, Jalan Peh Kee Koh, Taman Kampar, 30250, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 605- 255 4128


Cantonese is one of the largest Chinese ethnic groups in Ipoh, hence, the Cantonese-pastries are not to be missed too. One of the best places to get freshly baked pastries would be Ming yue Confectionery, a stone's throw distance away from the famous Pasir Pinji Yong Tau Foo. The place draws both local crowds and tourists from all over Malaysia... for its Kaya Puff and Peanut Candies. The Kaya Puff was most delicious- with flaky-fluffy skin and fragrant-sweet Kaya filling. We did not get to try the Peanut Candies though, the patrons were forming a snaking-long queue. Other items available are Salted Egg Pastry, Lou Poh Peng, Biscuits with sweet Mung Bean filling etc.



8) Cafe De Eight (八号咖啡洞)
Non-Halal
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: No. 8, Jalan Koo Chong Kong, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Thursdays.
Contact Number: 605- 241 2758


The 3 Little Pigs (Rm 17.50)


Fruit Juices (Rm 11/ glass)


Matcha & Black Sesame Mousse Cake (Rm 12) and Creme Brulee Caffe Latte (Rm 11)


Earl Grey Creme Brulee (Rm 9.50)

A short walk from Nam Chau Coffee Shop will land you at Cafe De Eight, a curious cafe that is named after the address of the shop lot. Step in the cafe and you will be welcomed with a huge wall. Customers can purchase the postcard at Rm 1.50 nett (additional Rm 1.50 nett for postage) to be mailed to someone (can be yourself, friends or family) in the future (or at least, present day). There will be dates indicating there (clearing stating months and days) so you wish the postcard to be mailed on a particular day, just dump it in the pocket with the right date indicated.

On the menu, it has a standard cafe-Western menu but we did nto manage to try everything. The 3 Little Pigs was unique, 3 petite burgers were all different. The meat patties were marinated differently, one of which was marinated with "Mui Hiong" Salted Fish. While they were rather special, we did not think they were of something praise-worthy.

The sweet treats were not any better either, the Black Sesame Matcha Mousse Cake was moist and carefully sweetened but the flavors were weak. The Oreo-cookie base overpowered the whole cake and the Matcha-Black Sesame combo did not turn out as overwhelming as expected.



9) Burps & Giggles and Buku Tiga Lima
Pork-Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: Yes 6%
Address: 93 & 95, Jalan Sultan Yusoff, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 10 am to 6 pm on every Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 8 pm on Weekends. Closed on every Tuesday.
Contact Number: 605- 242 6188


Gigantor (Rm 23)


Cempedak Gelato (Rm 14) and Cendol Gelato (Rm 14)


Cake 11 (Rm 11)

Ipoh's Burps & Giggles is on the same status as to Penang's China House; it's one of the most well-known cafes. The location could not be more strategic, it is within walking distance from the old town area. There two cafes housed under the same place- Burps & Giggles and Buku Tiga Lima; separated by a "living room". The "living room" sees a stall selling knick-knacks on weekends and public holidays (such as name-engraved key chains, name tags etc).

Many would prefer to dine in at Buku Tiga Lime... for the more comfortable and chilly air conditioner. The place was thronged with crowd over the weekend and we did not get to choose but to settle with Burps & Giggles. Both cafes share the same menu.

The Gigantor seems like a decent choice for brunch. The hearty portion contains a foot-long Chicken Sausage, slivers of Turkey Ham, a Spinach Cake, 3 Cheese-Toast, Stir Fried Button Mushrooms and a piece of Tomato. The Chicken Sausage was standard-average but the Spinach Cake was a disappointment. The Buttery-aroma overpowered the fragrance of Spinach and it carried a nary of Egginess. Salinity was compromised either. The only item we found worth-eating was the Button Mushrooms. They were carefully seasoned though a tad oily to my liking.

Sweet endings were mere letdown. The home-made Gelato may seem interesting, with some playful flavors such as Cendol Gelato and Cempedak Gelato but they were way past my sugar tolerance level. For the hefty price tag of Rm 14 per scoop, we thought they were highly priced (not that other items on the menu were inexpensive anyway).



10) Hello Elvis [Cafe]
Pork-Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 124, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 2 pm to 11 pm on Mondays to Thursdays, 1 pm to 11 pm on Fridays to Sundays. Closed on Tuesdays.
Contact Number: 6017- 634 7720


Little Red Riding Hood (Rm 8.50)


Curious Churros (Rm 9.50)

We were worn out during our trip, partly due to the sultry hot tropical weather but in one of our serendipitous finds at Ipoh, we bumped into Hello Elvis. When asked who is Elvis? The server replied with a grin. Hello Elvis' offering is not complicated- Soft Serve Ice Cream with various of add-ons and condiments. We asked for recommendation and we were introduced to Little Red Riding Hood- Vanilla Soft Serve with Red Velvet Brownie brittle. The Soft Serve was light and easy on the palate, delicately sweetened and somehow resembles the characteristics of McDonald's Sundae Cone (less-sweet version) but it was not something that could leave someone with a deep impression, we reckon. 

Curious Churros requires at least 15-minute wait. The waiting time was worth-while though, the Chocolate Soft Serve was chocolaty and carried a bitter-aftertaste. It paired beautifully with the sweet Churros (with sprinkles of Brown Sugar). The bitter-sweet combination was well-received by many of us.



11) Sabah Tea Garden STG Boutique Cafe 
Pork-Free
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Government Tax: Yes 6%
Address: 20, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 11 pm on every Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 11 pm on Sundays. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 605- 243 3116


Afternoon Tea for two (Rm 58)


Belgium Waffle (Rm 15)

Ask an Ipohan on where to find decent Afternoon Tea and many would introduce Sabah Tea Group (STG), available in few locations. One of which would be the strategically located STG Boutique Cafe, within the heritage zone. The setting is most convincing, with seemingly classy and sophisticated layout... same goes to the menu.

The actual offering however, was a huge disappointment. The Afternoon Tea Set consists of some Scones (stale), a piece of Cake, Brownie, some Macarons, Truffles as well as Sandwiches. None of them managed to impress us and we were left underwhelmed.

The joke of the day was however, their Belgium Waffles. Not only they were ordinary Waffles (a misnomer, not even close) but they were badly done. The Waffles were served to us in a soft, slouchy and greasy texture. They were then topped with a scoop of Magnolia Ice Cream (suspicious). The texture was a nightmare, as though we were having some uncooked Waffles. We took a few bites and we threw the white flag. All in all, our experience at STG Boutique Cafe was somewhat bad, a contrary to those positive comments over the net. 


Tea that comes with the Afternoon Tea Set/ Top up Rm 2 for Sabah Tea


Iced Chocolate (Rm 13)


Lemon Lavender Mocktail (Rm 14)