Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jom Makan, Ipoh Mali



Many friends will ask me to take them back to Ipoh for a food trip. Its silly to compare Penang food with Ipoh food, they are so different. When I was growing up, there were ZERO bak kut teh stalls in Ipoh, except for one sole coffee shop that brews one large pot only on Sundays, and I still remember buying back for my grand-dad almost every other week. You need to be in Ipoh for 2 full days to sample the important eateries. I cannot quite provide exact directions to all, the city is so small, just ask and you will get there in no time. Had to steal the photos from the many wonderful food bloggers cause I don't really go around snapping photos. So here are my top must-go spots:

1) This coffee shop called Xin Quan Fang sells Ipoh famous dry curry mee. It’s located at 174 Jln Sultan Iskandar Shah, Ipoh. Business hour: 7am to 2pm. The very thick curry sauce comes in a small extra bowl if you ask for it that way. Its the heady mix of siu yoke, char siu and chicken and...

2) Once you have found Xin Quan Fang, walk ten steps to the corner shop and sample the best Hakka mee and taufoo. The chilli and garlic sauce is a dream. Also for break-fast only.

3) Now walk back up the road towards the police station, turn right and you will spot Yong Suan coffee shop. Go for lunch for the infamous nasi ganja, apparently it was so good and addictive that the rumour was that they sprinkled ganja into their sauces. Get the deep red dry curry slathered chicken pieces. This nasi kandar is really different from what you get in KL or Penang, just the many differing curry sauces they guy lathers onto your rice will be enough to make your taste buds dance, and get the juicy tender huge beef slices are magnificent too.

4) The Aun Kheng Lim Salt-Baked Chicken Restaurant is not your regular restaurant. There are no tables or chairs for anyone to dine in, it is in fact a 100% takeaway restaurant! You have to be good operating a coffee shop sized restaurant with no sit down diners and selling just one item! Aun Kheng Lim Restaurant is famous for producing the best salt-bake chickens to date. Opens around 5pm onwards till the chickens all sold out. The chickens are smallish and not overly salty but packed with the necessary herbs, meat tears off the bone like a good lamb shank. Good to tapau for the trip back.

5) Head to old town and ask for Nam Heong or Sin Yin Loong coffee shops - the best white coffees are served at these outlets. The many stalls selling food here are very good as well. In particular, the charkwayteow at Nam Heong and the chue cheong fun stall. Oh, get the memorable nostalgic tarncha (egg tea) as well.

6) The usual Lou Wong nga choy kai, although there used to be a much better one at Cowan Street but the operator died a few years back, sigh. Guess this will do. (Oops, a reader just informed me that they guy did not die, just had a bypass but the shop did close for a couple of years. Apparently now his daughter is helping out as well, gotta try again sometime, its literally been years!!!).
About 20 steps away from Lou Wong is the hugely popular Funny Mountain, the best taufoofar and soya bean in town. They are only open during late afternoon around 3pm till sold out. I guarantee you one bowl not enough. Be a local and ask for hak-park, ... soya bean mixed with leongfun... or be even more local and ask for a park-park,... soya bean mixed with taufoofar.


7) At night, ask for directions to Main Convent the school. Opposite is a long row of hawker stalls. The second or third stall sells the best ngau lam, ngau yoke yuen, ngau gun mee and the over the top chilli sauce. Cannot miss cause the lady and her daughters are all very very very skinny.

8) Further down the stalls, there will be many curry mee stalls but don't go for the mee, go for the liu, ask for foochook, foopei, sarkot etc served in curry soup.

9) The popiah at Kong Heng. Its good because of the crispy dried prawns and shallots.

10) Breakfast at Ming Kok for dimsum. Matches the best on offer in HK or Sydney. To me, its better than Fusan.

11) Have dinner at Wong Koh Kee, situated in a narrow romantic looking alleyway. Its better known as yeelaihorng (concubine's lane). Just ask the boss to name their top 5 dishes and have them with rice. Too good to name all.

12) While many go to Ipoh for the white coffee, it amazes me that many never mention the good old kopi-o, its always good at any coffee shops. Be a local and ask for kopi-shuet, not kopi-ping, the latter is used everywhere but not in Ipoh.

There are plenty more spots for good food but these are top of my list. Enjoy.


10 comments:

Alex said...

Dear Dali,

The operator of Cowan Street Nga Choy Kai did not die a couple of years ago. I think he had a by-pass only. I had a chance to dine there a couple of months ago and now I saw his daughter help out on the business as well.

True enough this shop was "closed" for quite a period of time a couple years back. I was devastated by the prospects of having my Nga Choy Kai at only Lou Wong or Ong Kee. Fortunately, Cowan St. Nga Choy Kai reopened and better still the next generation (his daughter) seems eager to take over. This reminds me of the foodie show "Chua's choice" showing on Astro and how Chua lament at the prospects that all the traditional good food is disappearing from family run restaurants.

Soon, I believe my children's generation will all dine in those lousy fast food chain.....:(

KoSong Cafe said...

Maybe my friend, Bayi, did not notice this post yet. He knows much about good food too.

Anyway, my wife and I are not eating out regularly, usually when we have friends from out of town. But, after some 'trial and error' we have our own favourites for different times.

I would not vouch for Kong Heng's popiah because the loud lady retired and her replacement is not up to the mark. Too much sauce within the popiah is our main complaint.

For a connoisseur of ngau yoke meen, I am surprised at your recommendation. The one near to the former Yau Thet Sin market is still good, though no need to take numbers since some time ago. The chau liu was a sham.

The nasi ganja had a bad reputation of its source of chicken many years ago, and with this in mind, I have never tried it.

I am not one for joining queues, no matter how good the food. So, any substitute which is ok will do.
After price, the ambience and comfort are my priorities. Sometimes, a bit of discomfort for the cheaper price is ok.

My favourite wantan noodles is the one in Menglembu, on the right, diagonally opposite Magnum (road from Ipoh-Lumut highway). For single noodles, wantan and sui kou, it is only Rm3.40. For slightly heavier meal (lunch up to 4.30pm) our favourite is Pin Sum which is nearby, same row as Wah Chai, on the way to Farlim, Ipoh. Quarter roast duck is exactly Rm8, based on whole at Rm32.00. My wife likes vegetables and her favourite is seong thong yuen choi, a soup which comes with pieces of century egg.

We would not mind travelling to Lawan Kuda for dinner at Kwee Hoe (almost the last restaurant on the main road to the village).

For seafood, our favourite is still Luen Fong in Tg. Tuallang. After all these years, we still get the same good taste in their steamed prawns, fried rice and thai sek tau foo (I think).

We have just discovered Rainbow restaurant, also in Menglembu, for dinner. Related to Public Restaurant on Jalan Horley, good food at cheaper prices.

Having eaten seafood porridge at a restaurant in Matang, my recent bowl at Lucky Restaurant in Pasir Puteh seems a rip-off. For one person, four pieces of fish(incl. one part of head and another part of tail) and two prawns the size of my thumb (average lah), costed Rm15! In Matang, we could even get shark's liver which is a rare commodity.

For someone who does not eat out often, I think I have said more than expected!

Salvatore_Dali said...

thanks kosong cafe,

agree with most of yr comments... there was a period where i had to go to gopeng frequently n never fail to go to the restaurant at lawan kuda, very good indeed... but hard to give instructions to go there la..

agnos said...

hi all i also hail from ipoh but have relocated to KL.

not going to feature any shops here but just a general comment.

food is still tasty but price increase is not proportionate to the food portions.

the food stall is charging KL prices but the food portion is Ipoh portion which is small. Unlike Penang which is still cheap in proportion to the portion.

The Man said...

there use to be a very good prawn mee stall operating near the market at nights only. Always have to line up! but it has been missing for a while now. anyone knows what happened?

BursaTheme said...

Hi, searching around investment blog and feeling hungry with this article... I miss the dim sum there actually.. :P

ninja turtle said...

Beware!,the Cowan street Nga Choy Kai is very expensive.It is just next to the Excelsior hotel. As an Ipohite, it's the best compared to the other famous names. The Sar Hor Fun is really EXTRA SMOOTH. Nearby in the Leong Sin Nam street is a shophouse selling the Chow 'Kap Tai' mee. It is only open at night from 9.00pm to 4.00am, but patrons will sit around the tables by 8.00pm! You have to wait at least 1 hour to get served. The method of cooking is similar to Tai Look mee, using the normal mee, but definitely much more aroma and flavour. I have yet to come across this in KL shops.

Reina said...

I believe a lot of people didn't know that the uncle operating Cowan Street Nga Choy Kai has a brother, who is also in the same business. His shop is located near Medan Kidd and next to the main bus terminal (Ipoh people will know). The shop is called "15 lau" (15 floors) Nga Choy Kai because opposite the place you can see a 15-floor flat.

I have tried the Cowan Street quite some time back but I still prefer his brother's cooking, specially the chicken feet. Those friends which I brought them there who initially said they don't eat chicken feet ended up finishing one plate after another.

They don't sell much variety, though. But it's enough for a very satisfying dinner. They serve chicken, nga choy, hor fun and the famous chicken feet. Their hor fun soup is different from the normal ones we had. I still couldn't find any other hor fun soup that tastes that good! It is only open at night around 7pm until 12am. However, crowd will only start after 8pm because the chicken feet will only be ready after 8.30pm!

ronnie said...

Mr Dali,

Thank you for sharing your favourite food stalls in Ipoh. Whih hotel do you recommend ?

Maldini said...

For more info on Ipoh Food

Wikitravel Ipoh Food