Wednesday, March 20, 2019

[Year 2019] Food Hunting- of Cafes/ Must-Eats @ Ipoh, Perak.

Ipoh, the capital city of Perak, makes a great destination for a quick getaway from Penang. Merely an hour half drive from Penang, Ipoh is blessed with many delicious food. Our previous food guide was in Year 2016, this post on the other hand, features the latest cafes and trendy eats in Ipoh; not only showcasing the local food scene, cafe trend but also proper restaurants suitable for occasions.

1) Woong Kee Bean Curd 旺记祖传豆腐花
Pork Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 291, Jalan Bercham, Taman Desa Kencana, 31400, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 12:30 pm to 7 pm. Opens Daily.

Tau Fu Fah (Rm 1.60 per bowl)

No trip to Ipoh is complete without having a bowl of warm, silky smooth Tau Fu Fah. Ditch the over-rated yet crowded brands in town and make your way to Bercham, a quiet township out of central Ipoh (likely to stop by if you are heading back to North). Woong Kee (旺记祖传豆腐花) is known to the locals and the street vendors in front of 7-Eleven Convenient Store along Jalan Bercham is one of the usual afternoon snacking place for the folks staying nearby. There are plenty of stalls selling Penang Assam Laksa too... if you must know. On Woong Kee's Tau Fu Fah, the texture is amazingly silky smooth with rich Soy Bean flavor. Unlike Funny Mountain Tau Fu Fah in town (known for saccharine sweet Sugar syrup), Woong Kee's offers spot-on amount of sugar syrup. The Soya Milk is a nice addition to cool down too. The only downside of this place is that you will need to be seated along the corridor... in which if the weather gets a little too hot, you might not find the meal enjoyable.

2) Jln Theatre Coffee
Pork Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 76, Jalan Theatre, 30300, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 11 am to 6 pm. Opens Daily.
Jalan Theatre Coffee Facebook Page

Burnt Cheesecake (Rm 18)

Right smack in town, Jln Theatre Coffee is quick gaining its popularity... not only does the place offers an Instagrammable, minimalist-sort of elegance but the cafe excels in serving delicious cakes as well. Expect to see fresh bakes like Burnt Cheesecakes, Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Moist, Cupcakes on offer... along with an array of beverages like Coffee, Tea and Chocolate. Complementing the food would be the cozy-comfy atmosphere; the place is definitely suitable for friends or couples to chill out for the afternoon. 

3) Canning Dim Sum
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: Yes 6%
Address: No. 1, Lebuh Cecil Rae, Taman Canning, 31400, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 6:30 am to 2 pm. Closed on Wednesdays.
Contact Number: 605- 541 5556
Canning Dim Sum Facebook Page

CNY Special: 4-colored Dumplings 富贵平安 (Rm 25)

Deep Fried Fish Balls (Rm 5)

Steamed Fish Balls (Rm 5)

Deep Fried Prawn Rolls (Rm 6)

Steamed HK-styled Chee Cheong Fun (Rm 5)

Steamed Shanghainese Dumplings (Rm 6.50)

It's quite uncommon to find Halal-certified Dim Sum restaurants around (except hotels) but Canning Dim Sum is one of them. The place is frequented by both Muslims and Chinese, visit the place during lunch hours and you will see groups of white collar workers enjoying their lunch there. The variety is surprisingly great... the familiar items are all available here. The friendly servers will push the carts over and offer you the Dim Sum dishes; otherwise, you may place your orders and they will serve you shortly. If your visit is early in the morning, you can get a table at the garden; the entire place is beautifully-decorated... fully air-conditioned and comfortable seating. Though we cannot find fault on the Dim Sum dishes, they somehow did not quite excite us.... as though we were having some disappointingly-average dishes. Not bad for the dining atmosphere though.

4) Canning Garden Fried Chicken 林青霞炸鸡 @桂和园
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 27, Lorong Cecil Rae, Taman Canning, 31400, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 3 pm. Opens Daily.

Signature Fried Chicken (Rm 3 per piece)

Canning Garden's Fried Chicken has gaining a lot of attention lately due to a famous Hong Kong actor paying his pilgrimage visit to this place solely for its Fried Chicken; this has been reported over many major news publications. The place is already popular amongst the locals (before the visit of this Hong Kong actor), till today, many locals still frequent the place on working days. The rice stall sells plenty of Chinese dishes (economy rice) but the star dish is its Fried Chicken, almost every customer would take the Fried Chicken to his/her plate. We had our share and found that the Fried Chicken was indeed very tasty, though towards the salty side, it would make a nice addition to a plate of economy rice. If you are keen to try it out, make sure you arrive before noon and preferably... on a weekday to avoid long queues.

5) Atas Speakeasy
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 183 A (1st floor), Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, Taman Jubilee, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 6 pm to 1 am. Closed on Tuesdays.
Atas Speakeasy Facebook Page

Tambun Takeaway (Rm 24)

La Dua Freeca (Rm 34)

There are not much speakeasy bars in Ipoh and one of the hottest ones would be Atas Speakeasy... can be secretly found on first floor and the entrance is between a food vendor stall and a cafe. It will take a while to locate the exact entrance, not only that the entrance seems odd (to be in between both food sellers), the place does not carry any signage, making it even tougher to locate the place. Once you found the entrance, traipse up the stairs and you will yourself in a mysterious, dark space with soft background music. You will then be approached by friendly servers whom will escort you to your seat... which can be casual seats or comfortable couches (suitable for long-hour hangouts). On the Cocktails, Atas offers 3 major types... the lighter ones, the heavier ones and the ones for novelty experience. Our attempts- Tambun Takeaway was a light, refreshing concoction of Rum and citrus fruits... packed in an old-school "takeaway" tub; the other one was La Dua Freeca... with Brandy mixing with fruits as well as a hint of Pandan (the local touch). It felt very refreshing and did not feel like drinking alcohol, the concoction was light on the palate and the sweet-sourness was well-balanced... pretty addictive I must say. Delicious Cocktails and attentive services (the servers kept replenishing the complimentary snacks throughout the evening)... definitely a great place for a sip (not too expensive too).

6) Seong Man 上文
Pork-Free/ Vegetarian
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 124, Jalan Sultan Iskandar, Taman Jubilee, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 2 pm to 7 pm on every Thursday and Friday, 11 am to 9 pm on Saturdays, 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays. Closed on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Atas Speakeasy Facebook Page

Black Sesame Jelly

Cheese Cake

Iced Pu Er Latte and Red Dates Tea (additional Rm 4 for cold drinks)

Tea Set 1 (Rm 32)

Opened for a little less than 2 years, Seong Man 上文 was previously located at a shop lot across the street but has since relocated to the current location. It is one of the uncommon vegetarian cafes in Ipoh town, the place adopts Chinese cafe style where it offers diners a great variety of Chinese Tea as well as its local-Chinese snacks for its afternoon tea package. There are some options for mains too but the variety is less-impressive. 

Step in the place and you will feel intimated by the familiar Chinese setting... with wooden antiques and old-school Chinese knick-knacks adorning the compound. It gets a little busy on weekends and the opening hours are rather odd... so do plan your trip accordingly. We went for their Set A which comprises of 2 drinks, a cake, a serving of Black Sesame Jelly and a small plate of nuts. The portion was more than good enough for the 2 of us. The Cheesecake was lovely and creamy-rich, while the Black Sesame Jelly was gently-sweetened with bouncy texture; we washed 'em down with their signature Tea. A pretty relaxing place to spend the afternoon.

7) The Deck Gastrobar @ Weil Hotel Ipoh
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: Yes 6%
Address: Rooftop (13th Floor) of Weil Hotel Ipoh, 292, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 5 pm to 12 am on every Sunday to Thursday, 5 pm to 2 am on Fridays, Saturdays and Public Holidays.
Contact Number: 605- 208 2228
The Deck Gastrobar Facebook Page

Escargot Ala Bouruignonne (Rm 35) 

Bakso French Onion Soup (Rm 16)

Grilled 6 Secret Spice of Ipoh Chicken Tikka (Rm 20)

Perak Snapper (Rm 38)

Fresh House-made Bread (open food)

One of the tallest restaurants in town, The Deck Gastrobar can be found at the top of Weil Hotel Ipoh... on the roof top to be precise. The height offers amazing view... overlooking the bustling Ipoh town. Guests get to choose if they would prefer to be seated outside for a more outdoorsy ambiance or the fully air-conditioned inside... equipped with comfortable seating and cozy atmosphere. The menu features a great range of Western-European choices, alongside with some Malaysian-influenced international dishes. The Chef's specials are good options for those who are new to the place. The budget-watchers would be glad to know that the price range is definitely affordable, with reasonable prices and generous serving portion.

Warm your tummy with Bakso French Onion Soup.... thick Onion soup with Bakso, meat balls served over a Cheese-topped Toast. The Onion soup is beautifully cooked with a generous amount Onions, so the outcome is a sweet, thick concoction while the meat balls offer a meaty, satisfying bite and complete the dish. A more exquisite choice for starter- the Escargot is cooked using its house-made Butter, served over a piece of Garlic Bread.

A show stopper (also a signature dish), the Grilled 6 Secret Spice of Ipoh Chicken Tikka is basically a deconstructed Chicken Tikka Briyani... save that the Rice is being replaced with mashed Potatoes. The in-depth flavor of the Chicken Tikka is beyond amazing and the mashed Potatoes is a lovely complement to the rich, thick and flavorful curry. The Chef uses Chicken Thigh in lieu of breast... and thus, offering a plump yet meaty bite. A perfect item for sharing, in case you are worried that it may be a little too heavy.

Equally delicious is Perak Snapper.... skillfully cooked Snapper topped with a winning Nyonya-together with the firm-fresh Snapper, the combo is most lovely and delectable. On a side note, guests will be served with their in-house baked Bread... an outside-crisp and inside-fluffy Bread, to be enjoyed with their home-made Herb Butter.

8) Yuk Sou Hin 玉壽轩 @ Weil Hotel Ipoh
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: Yes 6%
Address: 1st Floor of Weil Hotel Ipoh, 292, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 7 am to 11 am for Breakfast, 11 am to 2:30 pm for Lunch, 6 pm to 10 pm for Dinner. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 605- 208 2103
Yuk Sou Hin Facebook Page

Signature Smoked Duck with Lychee Wood 招牌茶叶荔枝木烤熏鸭 (Rm 45/ half bird)

Steamed Cod Fish Deluxe Dumplings 鳕鱼帝皇饺 (Rm 12/ 3 pieces)

Steamed Crab Meat Dumplings 蟹肉水晶饺 (Rm 12/ 3 pieces)

Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings 香斋八宝袋 (Rm 7/ 3 pieces)

Deep Fried Chives Dumplings with Prawns 鲜虾韭菜角 (Rm 10/ 3 pieces)

Signature Baked BBQ Honey Glazed Chicken Bun 招牌雪山包 (Rm 12/ 3 pieces)

Steamed Rice Rolls with Prawns and Asparagus 芦笋鲜虾肠粉 (Rm 12)

Pan Fried Chinese Pancake with Red Bean Paste 酥皮豆沙锅饼 (Rm 12/ pax)

Chilled Avocado Puree with Sago 牛油果西米冻 (Rm 12/ pax)

While Ipoh is blessed with many Dim Sum outlets and Chinese restaurants but this particular restaurant housed in Weil Hotel Ipoh is top of the notch. Yuk Sou Hin 玉壽轩 is a restaurant that deserves a Michelin Star! Being one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in town, Yuk Sou Hin has a bible-thick menu that has something to satisfy everyone- it serves Dim Sum dishes in the morning and classic Cantonese dishes the rest of the day.

Start with the various beautifully cooked Dumplings, there are plenty of options to choose from (in terms of fillings), even some for vegetarian diet. Another worth-trying item would be their Signature Baked BBQ Honey Glazed Chicken Bun... almost similar to famous Michelin-starred Dim Sum restaurant- Tim Ho Wan's but unique in its own way (cheaper too!). 

But the must try item would be their (at least for me) Signature Smoked Duck with Lychee Wood... a dish that cannot easily be found elsewhere (non-existence in Penang). The Smoked Duck comes with crisp skin and juicy meat. The flesh is cleverly imbued with a unique, second to none smokiness. The Duck is more than good enough on its own but if you would prefer a little sour-sweet touch, the Plum sauce would be a nice addition. Before you end the meal, complete it with a sweet ending by having the Pan Fried Chinese Pancake with Red Bean Paste and Chilled Avocado Puree with Sago; the former one comes with crisp-flaky pastry skin sandwiching lightly sweetened Red Bean paste while the latter choice satisfies the palate with its refreshing but alluring flavor.

9) Hong Kee Mah Chee 芳记麻芝(花生糊)
Pork Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 550 A, Jalan Queen, Taman Pasir Pinji, 31650, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 1 pm to 6 pm. Closed on Thursdays.

Mua-Chee (Rm 3)

Peanut Dessert (Rm 3)

Down the street from Ming Yue Confectionery at Pasir Pinji is Hong Kee Mah Chee 芳记麻芝 (花生糊), a stall right in front of a private residence. The locals travel here for their freshly cooked Mua-Chee and Peanut Dessert. The former one carries a chewy, bouncy texture but the Sugar-Peanut dust can be a little sweet... best to be enjoyed with a bowl of hot, rich and creamy Peanut Dessert. More for a pit-stop to have light snacks, there are no proper dining tables and chairs (though there are benches around) and it can be a little uncomfortable especially under sultry hot weather.

10) Big Mom Beancurd 靓妈豆花店
Pork Free
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 24, Jalan Yang Kalsom, Taman Jubilee, 30250, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 5 pm. Closed on Thursdays.
Contact Number: 016- 533 3210
Big Mom Beancurd Facebook Page

Superstar Tau Fu Fah (Rm 3.50)

Tau Fu Fah with crushed Peanuts (Rm 2.10)

Special of the day- Ginkgo Barley Tau Fu Fah with Chrysanthemum Sugar (Rm 4)

Grass Jelly Tau Fu Fah (Rm 2.10)

Prefer toppings on your Tau Fu Fah? Feeling adventurous? Try your luck here at Big Mom Beancurd 靓妈豆花店, in the heart of Ipoh. The Beancurd specialist has garnered an appreciate following throughout the years, the place is as busy as it gets even on weekdays so do plan your visit accordingly. Though the classic version is available, many come here for the extra toppings. Watch out for the specials of the day or you may opt for the Superstar Tau Fu Fah... which carries most of the toppings. The Tau Fu Fah is silky smooth with firmer texture than some, the addition of sugar is spot on (unlike some famous tourist brand in Ipoh). No air-conditioners if you must know, just a casual space for a quick fix. 

11) Hoong Tho Restaurant 鸿图酒楼
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: No. 20, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 3 pm, 6 pm to 9 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Contact Number: 05- 254 9873

Hoong Tho Mee (Rm 8.50/ small)

Fresh Water Prawn Noodles (Rm 15/ small)

Fish Fillet Char Hor Fun (Rm 12/ small)

Gui Hua Glass Noodles (Rm 8.50/ small)

One of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Ipoh- Hoong Tho Restaurant 鸿图酒楼 has been dishing out Cantonese dishes for more than half a decade; the stir-fries are well-received even by the locals. The main menu features quite an extensive list of Cantonese dishes but do not miss out the display counter at the entrance... displaying some old-school Cantonese pastries. Prices are generally quite reasonable, with good quality. Our recommendations would be their Fresh Water Prawn Noodles and Gui Hua Glass Noodles.

12) Chooi Yue Dim Sum 翠月楼港式点心
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: No. 2, 4 & 6, Tingkat Taman Ipoh 12, Taman Ipoh Selatan, 31400, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 7 am to 2 pm. Closed on Thursdays.
Contact Number: 05- 541 7997

Prawn Dumplings (Rm 4.80)

Prawn Rolls (Rm 5.60)

Prawn HK-styled Chee Cheong Fun (Rm 6)

Yong Tofu (Rm 4.80)

Steamed Fish Balls (Rm 5)

Fried Fish Balls (Rm 4.60)

Dumplings (Rm 4.80)

A short drive from Ipoh South Toll will land you at Taman Ipoh Selatan, a neighborhood blessed with plenty of food eateries. Amongst the food outlets in that area, Chooi Yue Dim Sum 翠月楼港式点心 is one of the popular ones. It is known to serve some of the best Dim Sum dishes in town and its definitely one of the more established brands. Despite our visit at noon, the place was packed to the brim; certain Dim Sum dishes were not available (sold out) but regular patrons were still coming in. Food quality certainly met the expectations and we were pleased with the generous serving portion. Amongst the dishes we had, the Steamed Fish Balls and Prawn Dumplings stood out the most. The place is air-conditioned and provide a comfortable dining space, especially if you are visiting with seniors and juniors.

13) Hawker Chan Chicken Rice 
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: No. 26-3, Jalan Theatre, 30300, Ipoh, Perak.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 8 pm (or sold out). Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 605- 246 0908

Braised Chicken- Rm 20 (half bird)

Duo Meat Platter- Rm 15

Plain Noodles- Rm 2

Bean Sprouts- Rm 5

Known as the cheapest Michelin-starred food in the world, Hawker Chan was awarded a one Michelin Star in the Michelin Guide Singapore 2016. Many would flock to Singapore just to have a taste of it but the Ipoh-born proprietor has made a bold move in early 2019, opening up a new branch back in his hometown. The new shop can be found at the tourist-packed Jalan Theatre… right next to a few famous Ipoh Chicken establishments. The Ipoh branch basically has more to offer… not only the signature meats, rice and noodles but also added a variety of sides. To my surprise, it tasted better than the one I had in Singapore… even better sans the hour-long queue. Worth checking out if you happen to be in Ipoh.

Have Fun Exploring Ipoh!

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