With many of us unable to travel overseas, a short local getaway is ideal when the travel bug bites. Ipoh (Perak) is an ideal destination for Penangites... with merely a short 1.5 hours drive away. The town is especially suitable for foodies to explore and has recently welcomed a spate of new cafes and eateries. These are some of the places that have never been featured on our Ipoh food blog entries:
Sam Ma Chicken Rice 三妈芽菜滑鸡饭 is definitely one of Ipoh's best kept secrets. While many tourists flock to the popular Chicken Rice establishments, the locals are returning to this Chicken Rice joint... near to the AEON Mall at Kinta. The place opens at 6 pm for dinner and by 7 pm, there are already long queues waiting outside for their tables. The menu is simple and straight-forward... offering steamed Chicken and various sides. Serving portions are generally very generous and the price points are modest. We loved how clean-tasting the Ipoh Hor Fun broth was and how silky smooth was the noodles. The Chicken was alright, not as smooth and tender as we would hoped but the accompanying soy sauce was spot on. Definitely worth putting it on your Ipoh food list.
Probably one of the busiest cafes in town, Girlie's Cafe dominates the social media platforms with its eye-pleasing sweet treats and seemingly convincing main dishes. This popular cafe is a short walk away from the tourist attraction- Concubine Lane. It has the standard cafe setting, the ordering counter has a display corner proudly showcasing the pastries and sweets of the day while the main dishes are listed on a menu. We were there at noon and some of the cakes were already sold out, so plan your trip here accordingly. We were very pleased with both our orders- Korean Garlic Cream Cheese Bread and Niko Neko Matcha Mont Blanc; the former one had a hard crust but the inner part was soft and filled with the right amount of Cream Cheese... it was good for sharing and may be overly surfeited for one to finish entirely. Also, the crust was not as crispy as we would have hoped. The latter choice was lovely, the Matcha flavor was bold but did not overshadow the Chestnut flavor, the Crust was beautifully done as well- thin, flaky and buttery. We washed them down with a refreshing serving of Watermelon Juice.
Found near to the AEON Mall Kinta, 草根六两 is one of the rare places that does not have an English name (despite us trying different possible avenues). The place gives us a false impression that it offers Hong Kong-influenced dishes but in fact, it has a Bak Kut Teh-focused menu. Most of the main dishes revolve around Bak Kut Teh... as well as various sides. The place has a very nice classic Chinese restaurant setting with huge window allowing natural lights to flood in. The whole dining hall feels very warm and accommodating. We had the Bak Kut Teh Noodles with Beef Briskets, which was basically Wan Ton Mee served over Bak Kut Teh broth and topped with braised Beef Briskets and Chinese Fried Crullers. The broth was amazing and packed a serious herbaceous punch. The accompanying side orders were good either, we especially enjoyed the Pickled Radish and Carrots... which sort of cuts through the Bak Kut Teh and offered a refreshing touch to the meal. Contenting portion at reasonable price points.
Opened in early August 2020, Être Patisserie has quickly become one of the trendiest spots for a relaxed afternoon tea. Housed in one of the bungalows at Canning Garden, the new kid in town appealed to cafe hoppers due to its clean, minimalist interior setting as well as its aesthetically pleasing range of food offering. It does not offer a main menu though... only a range of pastries, cakes and desserts. We were there late at 5 pm and many items were sold out, we did not get to choose much but only the Early Grey Pound Cake and Cinnamon Roll. The Pound Cake was alright- moist and soft with a bold Earl Grey aroma, Cinnamon Roll on the other hand, could be stronger in flavor. The Cinnamon factor was quite weak but the pastry skin was perfectly flaky and thin. Definitely a place worth putting on your to-visit list.
If you would prefer to experience Dim Sum in a quieter way, make your way to Fulin Dim Sum restaurant, a short 10 minute drive away from the city center. The Dim Sum place is relatively new and it especially popular amongst the local residents. The place has an old-school Dim Sum restaurant setting... but it completes the entire dining experience, an experience that may have lost in time. On its food offering, Fulin offers quite a number of no-frills, classic Cantonese Dim Sum dishes. Price points are mid-range but the serving portions are generally quite large. Do expect longer wait than usual Dim Sum restaurants as the Dim Sum items are not steamed on carts, every single item is steamed to order at the kitchen. Having said that, the orders are guaranteed to be served piping hot. Recommended items are the Stuffed Tofu with Pork and Fish Paste, Seafood Prawn Dumplings and Steamed Fish and Pork Paste with Ginger Sauce. Worth checking out if you are searching for basic, no-frills Dim Sum restaurants.
Probably one of the few places in Ipoh where you get to find Mille Crepe, Vanilla Mille Crepe does not originate from Ipoh but has quite a number of outlets across the central region in Klang Valley. It has not made its appearance up north yet but there are a couple outlets in Ipoh. As the name of the brand would suggest, it specializes in offering Mille Crepe... in fact, quite a number of familiar as well as unusual flavors. We had the original Vanilla, which appears to be one of their best sellers and signature flavors. We thought it was quite good- creamy, rich and cleverly sweetened. The Uji Matcha on the other hand, was paled in comparison. The flavor was rather artificial and we did not like the powdery texture of the Matcha powder. Not a place that I would go all the way out to try their food but if you yearn for Mille Crepe cake, this is one of the go-to-places.
Strategically located at Persiaran Bijih Timah, where the famous Nam Heong Coffee is... Yinzo Kopi poses great competition to Nam Heong. Though Yinzo is relatively new, their interior decor is much more comfortable to dine-in amidst the tropical weather. The menu is simple and features an array of proud Ipoh delights as well as some familiar Malaysian dishes. Prices are generally very affordable... expect a main to cost a little less than Rm 10 here at Yinzo. We recommend to try their Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun, topped with a layer of Shrimp Oil. The Chicken soup is flavorful and has a thin layer of Shrimp Oil added... which introduced a hint of crustacean sweetness to the soup.