I spent last weekend in Ipoh and scratched Perak off of my Visit Malaysia project.
Well, I didn’t know much about Ipoh before heading there. The most common thing I’ve heard when people talk about Ipoh is its food–hor fun (white flat noodles) and white coffee.
I tried doing research on sites in Ipoh but the four-pages of description in guide books made me underestimate the place. I didn’t even bother jotting down sites to see (except Kellie’s Castle). Luckily, Lilian did her research and informed me of some interesting places.
Instead of a travel guide book, I brought along a food guide instead. (Typical YQ.)
The guide was helpful not only as a food map but for me to coordinate myself on the grid. Sometimes my human compass skill fails me and Lilian would step in and ask for directions. (I am still allergic to asking for directions. Problem of being an ISFP?)
Ipoh white coffee
I love coffee so I decided I must try white coffee at the original Old Town white coffee shop–Nam Heong. It sells 3-in-1 coffee mix and has a chain of restaurants.
Later at a souvenir shop, the salesgirl promoted another brand of instant white coffee mix. She noted that it was from the shop opposite Nam Heong–Sin Yoon Loong. Being me, I made it a point to try both shops, consecutively of course.
Between Nam Heong and Sin Yoon Loong, I prefer Sin Yoon Loong better because there were less people at the shop and it serves tea time food as opposed to Nam Heong’s heavier meals.
Freshly made white coffee as a drink is much better than its 3-in-1 siblings. Compared to normal local coffee, it tastes slightly different. There is less bitterness and not as sweet but I can’t tell much about the caffeine level as my tolerance is quite high.
Other must-trys at Sin Yoon Loong are the kaya toast and lamb curry bread set.
Unlike cheap kaya toasts in Singapore which are made from cheap airy bread, the SYL toast was firm and crunchy. The kaya and butter had the right sweetness too. Lip smackingly good.
When the tauke recommended his lamb curry set, I wasn’t too sure about it. Seriously, lamb curry? But when it came, Lilian and I were glad we ordered it.
The curry tasted like something from a tin. That’s actually a complement because from my childhood memories, tinned curries were the best thing on earth. (Although I don’t think the boss would be too happy with this comparison.) The curry sauce was thick enough to be mopped up with toasted bread and the lamb was well marinated.
I also happen to love chicken very much and I needed to try Ipoh’s very famous beansprout chicken.
The shop we went to was the famous Lou Wong. The chicken was like regular steamed chicken but the meat more tender. We ate it with Ipoh’s famous horfun. Maybe rice would be a better companion.
The beansprouts were fat and juicy too.
Along the way to Lou Wong, we picked up a salt-baked chicken from one of the stores. The chicken was wrapped in wax paper and was supposedly baked with salt. We ate it with our bare hands while we watched Johnny English Reborn on my netbook. It was a great feast.
Salt-baked chicken has a coloring like steamed chicken but the skin is crispier. (Unfortunately, much of our chicken skin was stuck to the wax paper.) The meat is tender unlike baked chicken and more like steam chicken. We enjoyed it too much to take a photo of the poultry.
I missed the recommended Funny Mountain (LOL) soybean shop but had a bean curd somewhere near Lou Wong. The shop claimed that there is no gypsum in its beancurd. I ordered the gula melaka version and enjoyed the warm beancurd very much.
Our guidebook had a mysterious entry on sar kok liew. From the photo accompanying the feature, it didn’t look very appetizing but the book raved about how Ipohians love it.
Miss Beancurd told us a shop at the end of the road which sells sar kok.
We ordered one sar kok each along with our breakfast beef noodles. It tastes like Chinese carrot cake but wrapped in beancurd skin and fried. I’m not that big of a fan of turnip cakes so I wasn’t terribly impressed with sar kok.
Regular char kway teow from Nam Heong. Not as good as what we had in Penang.
This bowl from Nam Heong has loads of yong tau foo goodies, including sar kok liew which got too soggy.
An interesting chee cheong fun we had. Instead of the regular soy sauce version, this had laksa as its sauce. Interesting but not really my type of food.
PS Why didn’t I search for Ipoh cuisine on Wikipedia before I went?