Mention the words “Malaysia” and “Food” in the same sentence, and people usually think of Penang, or perhaps Kuala Lumpur. Well, the next time you are visiting Malaysia and driving from KL to Penang, why not make a stop at Ipoh? This quiet town has, surprisingly, much to offer, especially in terms of food. At practically every turn and junction, you will find quaint coffee shops that are crowded throughout the day. The local dishes offered at these places are quite generic, but having tried several places during my stay, I can vouch for the overall high standard of food at cheap prices throughout Ipoh.
Amongst the numerous dishes we tried, the following is a list of the 5 best eats in Ipoh.
Nga Choi Kai (Bean Sprouts Chicken)
This dish consists of three separate parts: the beansprouts, soy sauce chicken, and a bowl of the famous Ipoh hor fun (rice noodles). This dish appears plain and unimpressive at first glance, but good nga choi kai will leave you highly impressed. Rumour has it that the minerals in Ipoh’s pristine water make the beansprouts so juicy and sweet. Alongside this is the tender, slightly salty chicken, together with the silky and smooth hor fun. Even the soup has a subtle delectable taste to it. This simple dish appeals to everyone, and will most definitely leave you craving for second servings.
This is another noodle dish not to be missed. It is somewhat like Laksa, but relatively less milky. The aroma of spices wafting from the bowl is immensely appetizing, but the taste of the curry itself is even more flavourful.
Tau Fu Fa (Bean Curd)
While the pudding-type bean curd craze goes on in Singapore, the traditional-style bean curd in Ipoh is simply out of this world. Soft, melt-in-your-mouth, and not overly sweet, it can be enjoyed as a snack at any time of the day. And the best part? It’s unbelievably cheap. At RM 0.90 for a bowl, it’s definitely a dessert not to be missed.
Chee Cheong Fun
Most of us are accustomed to the rolled up rice noodles known as chee cheong fun, but Ipoh’s version uses its famous thin hor fun, the same one used in nga choi kai. Given the high standards of Ipoh hor fun, I had high expectations for this dish, and was most definitely not let down. The same thin and smooth noodles feature here with copious amounts of sweet sauce on top. My verdict is that it’s even better than the traditional chee cheong fun!
Kaya Glutinous Rice
You may be thinking: “What?! How could Kaya and Glutinous rice possibly go together?” Well, I too, had the same reaction. To my surprise, the subtle saltiness of the sticky rice complemented the sweet kaya perfectly in a somewhat “sweet and savoury” fashion. Upon chatting with the stall owner, I found out that the coconut jam (otherwise known as kaya) is usually homemade, unlike the ones found on supermarket shelves. This unique dish was probably the most interesting find on the trip, and I loved the kaya so much that I purchased two jars to bring home.
Having gone on a gastronomic adventure, it is probably advisable to take a walk and perhaps explore one of Ipoh’s many caves and limestone formations. Also, the mountains in Ipoh are beautiful and comparable to those in Guilin, China. Those of you willing to make the climb up will be rewarded by the breath-taking views offered at the top of these mountains. While Ipoh may not have many large shopping malls for entertainment, there is still much to see and do. In my opinion, it is the perfect place for a quick respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, and I would definitely recommend visiting Ipoh when you are in Malaysia.
About the writer:
Amanda is a Singaporean with a passion for good food, fashion, and travelling. She is currently attending boarding school in the United Kingdom, and looks forward to many such new experiences after she begins university next year. Follow her adventure on instagram.