Tuesday, December 28, 2021

[Year 2021] Food Hunting- of Cafes/ Must-Eats @ Ipoh, Perak.

Ipoh remains as a popular destination for a quick respite, especially for Penangites... mainly due to its location and its vibrant food scene. The city has seen a booming in terms of new cafes and restaurants, this particular guide provides an insight on some of the latest Ipoh offering instead of the traditional, widely known tourist spots. 

1) Fujiwara Tofa Shop 藤原豆花店
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10 am. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 019- 970 2692

Fujiwara Tofa Pudding (Rm 4.90 each/ with either Ginger Sugar or Pandan Sugar)

No trip to Ipoh is complete without having a bowl of Ipoh Tofu Fah and one of the latest popular spots to have one is Fujiwara Tofa Shop... found at Palo 101 Ipoh, a new commercial area with a few new cafes and restaurants in the heart of Ipoh town. Fujiwara Tofa Shop was made known due to its name (from Initial D) and there are a few Initial D-inspired cars constantly on display. The Tofu Fah specialist does not only offer the smooth Beancurd dessert but some mains and side dishes as well. The signature Fujiwara Tofa Pudding comes in 2 different types of Sugar- either Pandan Sugar or Ginger Sugar. The Ginger Sugar was bolder in flavor as compared to Pandan Sugar, the latter one was just with a faint Pandan aroma. The Tofa Pudding was brimming with Soy flavor and the texture was silky smooth, ideal for those who prefers good parking, air-conditioned and enjoy Tofu Fah comfortably in slower pace. 

2) Ba Dai Mu Japanese Souffle 八代目日式舒芙蕾松饼
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Thursdays. 
Contact Number: 016- 518 8285

Toffee Japanese Souffle (Rm 13.90)

Right next to Fujiwara Tofa Shop at Palo 101 is Ba Dai Mu Japanese Souffle, a cafe specializes in offering Japanese Souffle. The menu also consists of some Western mains but we did not get to try for this round. We were there solely for their Japanese Souffle, we tried their best seller- Toffee Japanese Souffle and was surprised with the airy-pillowy texture, even with the cream, it was not sweet but in fact, with a faint milky flavor as well as a salty touch. The Toffee was found on the top layer of the Souffle, not exactly bold in flavor but offered the essential sweetness. to the dish. The accompanying Brown Sugar Tapioca Pearl Bubbles was a nice touch but the combo did not turn out as well as we would have hoped. 

3) Red Mountain Sun Yin Loong White Coffee 紅泥山新源隆
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Thursdays. 
Contact Number: 018- 578 6119

Purple Rice Roll (Rm 7)

Floating Cloud (Rm 12)

Hainanese Toast (Rm 6)

Paper Wrapped Chicken Wing (Rm 3.50)

Sparkling Old School Sour Plum (Rm 10)

You will need navigation app to bring you to Red Mountain Sun Yin Loong White Coffee- the place is located in an industrial area out of Ipoh town. But the place is picturesque- spacious, quaint and in shades of wood. The menu is equally interesting, with a blend of local flavors and some creative twists... but affordably priced that would not put a dent on your wallet. We had one of their signature mains- Floating Cloud, something similar to Ipoh Hor Fun but served with various toppings like Beancurd, Fish Balls, Sprouts etc. The broth was clean and light on the palate, a perfect dish to start the day with. We recommend trying Purple Rice Roll, something similar to the Taiwanese Ci Fan (Stuffed Rice Roll)- the chewy Purple Rice wrapping savory element like Chicken Meat Floss, Omelette, Sausage and a refreshing crunch like Cucumber... served with a little Mayonnaise. The sweet-savory combo with chewy texture can be quite addictive. Despite the distance, this place is worth traveling to. 

4) Lanna Thai Restaurant
Service Charge: Yes 5%
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 12 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Thursdays. 
Contact Number: 012- 333 0329

Tom Yum Seafood (Rm 38/ Regular)

Minced Chicken Meat with Basil Leaves (Rm 18.50/ Regular)

Pad Thai (Rm 13.50/ Regular)

Papaya Salad (Rm 17/ Regular)

Lanna Thai has been around for quite some time- strategically found at SOHO Ipoh (adjacent to Ipoh Parade) and is known to churn out some authentic, delicious Thai food. It is easy to spot the Thai restaurant, it occupies a prominent lot right next to AIA office Ipoh. It is a cozy restaurant with standard setting... it offers a big Thai menu featuring all timeless Thai classics. The price points are on the higher side by Ipoh's standards but they commensurate with quality. Our favorite goes to their Tom Yum Seafood with a generous amount of Seafood- it has a balanced medley of Sour, Spicy and Sweet notes. The Minced Chicken Meat with Basil Leaves was nicely done as well- the Basil Leaves added an essential flavor to the dish... a little salty on its own but perfect spooned over rice. Pad Thai and Papaya Salad were great too, a meal that we found ourselves truly enjoying. If you yearn for good Thai food in Ipoh, this should be the top of your list. 

5) Greenfield Dim Sum Cafe
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 11 am to 8 pm on Weekdays, 11 am to 9 pm on Weekends. Closed on Tuesdays. 
Contact Number: 012- 501 8966

Home-made Kuih (Rm 1.50 per piece)

Fried Fish Balls (Rm 6.50)

Fu Chok Rolls (Rm 6.50)

Chicken with Glutinous Rice (Rm 6.90)

If you would prefer to enjoy your Dim Sum in a quiet place, check out Greenfield Dim Sum. Located in a residential area (a neighborhood built as a retirement village), the restaurant is slightly off the usual route and would require a 15 minute drive from Ipoh town. The restaurant is quite hidden and would need to go through the gated security just to get in the place. The restaurant offers a comfortable dining space with a Hakka menu, featuring some Dim Sum dishes as well. It is a popular family dining place during the weekends. The Dim Sum selection is small and none of the dishes were unique and would worth the time to travel all the way here for Dim Sum but if you wish to try their Hakka dishes, it may worth a look. The plus point here is its quiet, cozy atmosphere... which gives a quick respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. On a special note- the place offers home-made Kuih on weekends and they are worth trying. We had a few pieces and we thought they were quite good. 

6) Jordan Hong Kong Restaurant  佐敦冰室
Service Charge: Yes 6%
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 8 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily. 
Contact Number: N/A

Spicy Pickled Vege Noodles (Rm 14.50)

Signature Soy Sauce Fried Noodles (Rm 13.90)

Curry Fish Balls (Rm 7.90)

Jordan Hong Kong Restaurant is one of the latest chain restaurants that offers Hong Kong delights and is made popular by the spokesperson- Hong Kong actor Kenneth Ma. This particular outlet at SOHO Ipoh is one of the very first outlet. The menu features an array of familiar and popular Hong Kong dishes- from Dim Sum dishes to small bites, Rice, Noodle dishes and even desserts. Most food items are affordably priced which becomes their competitive edge over its competitors. We were there on a Sunday evening and many items were sold out and not available. So be there earlier if you wish to savor their best sellers like Wan Ton Noodles. With limited options, we had to go for their Signature Soy Sauce Fried Noodles which was surprisingly good- expertly seasoned with good Wok Hei. The remaining ones- Spicy Pickled Vege Noodles and Curry Fish Balls were nothing out of the ordinary, not that they were bad but nothing special. Worth checking out if you are fond of Hong Kong delights. 

7) Galanggal Cafe
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 3 pm to 10 pm. Closed on Sundays. 
Contact Number: 019- 241 5034

Grilled Saba Fish (Rm 23)

Fettuccine Al Funghi (Rm 26)

Mediterranean Chicken (Rm 20)

Gnocchi Garden (Rm 28)

Baba Ganoush and Toasted Bread (Rm 8)

Tebu Mojito (Rm 6.50/ left) and Bushtucker Mocktail (Rm 8.50/ right)

Slightly off the beaten track, Galanggal Cafe can be found out of Ipoh town and would require a 15 to 20 minute drive from town but its playful and creative menu would appeal to adventurous eaters (at least it worked on me). Manned by a team of young Chefs, the menu comprises of a mix of international cuisine with some playful twist. But the beautiful part is it does not cost an arm and a leg dining here- the serving portions are generous and the price points are affordable. 

Baba Ganoush with crispy Toasts was a good start albeit a little on the sour side. Gnocchi Garden caught my attention when I was browsing the menu- the Gnocchis were home-made but they were pan fried and served on a bed of greens. The texture was a little rubbery and a tad too dry to my liking, I am still the purist who prefer my Gnocchi served in luscious creamy sauce. 

I was looking forward to try their hand-kneaded pasta- the Fettuccine Al Funghi was delicious but it would be better if the Fettuccine did not clump together. We left the dish aside for photography and it was clumpy. Flavor-wise, it was nicely seasoned and everything was perfect. Grilled Saba Fish was interesting with 2 pieces of Onigiri served; but it did not quite hit the spot as expected. The Saba Fish was a little over-seasoned and the Onigiri was a little dry. A place worth discovering especially for those who appreciate home-made food. 

8) Ding Feng Tau Fu Fah 頂豐潮州豆花
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Business Hours: 10 am to 4:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 011- 1889 2632

Black Sesame Soy Glutinous Rice Balls (Rm 6.90)

Longan Soy Pudding (Rm 4.80)

Teo Chew Tau Fu Fa (Rm 4)

Sea Bird Nest Soy Milk (Rm 4.50)

Ipoh is known for its Tau Fu Fah due to the good qualities of spring water found in the district and for visitors touring the tourist district near Concubine Lane can check out Ding Feng Tau Fu Fah 頂豐潮州豆花 which said to specialize in offering Teo Chew-styled Tau Fu Fah. While there is no significant difference between an ordinary Tau Fu Fah and Teo Chew version, the only small difference is that the Teo Chew version serves their Sugar differently... instead of Syrup, just sprinkles of them (raw) on the Tau Fu Fah so the texture changes as well. Not exactly very special but since the place is within walking distance from the tourist spot and the place offers comfortable dining space, it is a good spot to rest your feet while recharging yourself over a bowl of silky smooth Ipoh Tau Fu Fah. 

9) Restaurant Sun Kim Aik (Dim Sum) 新锦益点心茶楼
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: No. 297, Jalan Lahat, Falim, 30200, Ipoh, Perak. 
Business Hours: 6 am to 12 noon. Closed on Wednesdays.
Contact Number: 05-282 2634

Fish Ball Dumplings

Beancurd Yong To Fu

Fish Balls

Prawn Dumplings

Dim Sum Breakfast at Sun Kim Aik (Rm 48 for 2 including Tea)

One of the oldest Dim Sum joints in Ipoh- Sun Kim Aik Dim Sum is believed to start their businesses back in the 1970's and it is one of the go-to places for locals when it comes to Dim Sum. There is no fancy setting nor the place is air-conditioned, but rather a simple, casual space for Dim Sum. There are some old school items that are uncommon to the usual Dim Sum scenes, items like Fish Ball Dumplings where they stuff Prawn and Meat into the Fish Balls or classic Fish Balls with Dried Mandarin Peels (which I really enjoyed). You will not find any Dim Sum carts being pushed around but instead, the servers will hand-carry the Dim Sum from table to table, checking if the diners need any extra orders. A place where you will find solid Dim Sum dishes and avoiding the tourist crowd. 

10) Hin Loong Chicken Rice 興隆海南雞飯
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: 33, Jalan Ali Pitchay, Taman Jubilee, 30250, Ipoh, Perak. 
Business Hours: 11:30 am to 3 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 012- 436 4212

Poached Chicken (Rm 16/ quarter)

Beansprouts (Rm 3)

Kerabu Chicken Feet (Rm 3)

Acar-Acar (Rm 4)

Oil Rice (Rm 2.50)

Love to have some Ipoh Chicken Rice but not keen to visit the tourist traps? Skip those famous chains and check out Hin Loong Chicken Rice 興隆海南雞飯, one of the oldest Chicken Rice joints in the heart of Ipoh. Regular patrons also enjoy their side dishes like Kerabu Chicken Feet and Acar. Hin Loong's Chicken Rice is the most classic version you can find- oiled rice and poached Chicken served with Soy sauce. No fancy frills, just boil down to the basics. The Chicken may not be as smooth as compared to some Chicken Rice joints but one can taste the Chicken-meat aroma sans the bloody-water oozing out from the Chicken. The best way to enjoy is to serve it with their home-made Chili sauce and of course, some fat, juicy Beansprouts. 

Have Fun Exploring Ipoh! 

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