A Local’s Guide to Ipoh: Where To Eat

28 September 2016

There’s more to food in Ipoh than nga choy kai, kai si hor fun and white coffee. Here are five other places for you to try in the Silver City.

Many of Ipoh’s best culinary gems are hidden in nondescript locations, have no air-conditioning or boast fancy menus. Take down these addresses and set forth on a weekend foodie trip!

Medan Selera Dato' Sagor

Since the ‘70s, this food court has been a magnet for office workers who flock here from nearby Old Town for the wide selection of affordable nasi campur stalls. But for a lot of Ipoh-ites, Medan Dato’ Sagor is a sentimental favourite because it’s where many had their taste of roti goyang, a dish of soft-boiled eggs on a bed of buttered and toasted Hainanese bread. So named because of the way the egg jiggles (goyang) on the bread, this humble dish was recently hailed as a “must-try dish” by the Ipoh City Council, with Ipoh mayor Zamri Man recently declaring Medan Dato’ Sagor as the place where the dish originated. Testifying to its popularity, at least five stalls at Medan Dato’ Sagor serve this specialty, but our go-to favourite is number 10 because it also makes a mean teh tik kopi, another Ipoh-centric drink that involves lacing milk coffee with several drops of tea – the perfect way to wash it down.

 

Restoran Goodshed

This solitary part-wooden, part-tile shack across a busy railway is the unlikely location of one of Ipoh’s most celebrated Indian-Muslim culinary institutions that counts politicians and royalty as fans. Restoran Goodshed has a rich history - celebrating its centennial anniversary in a few years, it is Ipoh’s first nasi kandar outlet. Curries and dishes are cooked in the kitchen at the back, while Indian rotis are prepared in the dining area, where diners sit amidst the cool breeze afforded by the shady trees that surround the building. For lunch, order ayam ros, curry crab and prawn sambal. If it’s a snack you’re after, the roti bawang and murtabak are perennial favourites. Head cook and owner Encik Akhbar, who presides over every pot of curry, is a walking encyclopedia of interesting stories.

 

Mun Ji Restoran Makanan Laut

With a large Cantonese-speaking Chinese population, Ipoh is spoilt for choice when it comes to tai chow (literally, ‘big fry’, referring to dishes cooked in woks over roaring fire) restaurants, from the more gentrified Sun Lee How Fook (that’s also popular as a wedding venue), to the more nostalgic Wong Koh Kee in the now-revitalised Kong Heng enclave.

Unless you’re a hardcore foodie and local, you’re unlikely to have read about Mun Ji. And once you’ve braved the long drive from the city centre to get here, you might be put off by the rambunctious din, the aromas of cooking food that engulfs the non-air-conditioned premises, and minimum one-hour wait. Why so long? Mr Phoon, the restaurant owner, also happens to be the only chef in the house.

Nevertheless, order a pot of Chinese tea and grit your teeth because your patience will be rewarded with truly spectacular dishes at shockingly affordable prices. Two dishes you’ll find on every table are fish head curry that features generous chunks of garoupa, okra and brinjals served in a sizzling claypot of aromatic coconut-milk gravy, and a unique-to-Mun-Ji blanched spinach dish, bathed in a gravy of egg, century egg and salted egg that’s good enough to drink as a soup. Other popular dishes: steamed wu sou kai (whiskered chicken), pai kwat wong ( succulent deep fried pork ribs in a sticky-sweet sauce) and tong poh yoke (braised pork belly in soya sauce).

 

Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Desa Rishah

While food blogs and even locals may recommend the popular Tai Shue Keok, the best places to eat liew fun are found in Ipoh’s outskirts, such as this nondescript coffee shop. For the uninitiated, liew fun is a popular breakfast meal that combines ‘liew’ (the local jargon for yong tau fu, Hakka vegetables stuffed with meat, then deep fried or steamed) and ‘fun’, the Cantonese word for noodles. The usual repertoire of fish balls, stuffed beancurd, stuffed chillies and deep fried foo pei (beancurd sheets) are very good, but make stomach room for sar kot liew, a variant of yong tau fu unique to Ipoh. The deep-fried fritter of yam bean, fish paste and bean curd is so ridiculously addictive that you’ll find it hard to stop at one or two. The shop also serves a mean bowl of beef noodles, which goes superbly with gingery beef tendon balls and ngau lam soup (tender cuts of beef brisket, tripe and radish in a hearty broth).

 

Tammy’s Kitchen

Opened by a mostly self-taught baker who loves experimenting in the kitchen, this eponymous seven-year-old neighbourhood café still packs in the crowds despite the advent of other more Instagrammable cafes in town. The secret is comfort Western food cooked with quality ingredients, generous portions, and lots of love. Classic Western fare such as pastas, sandwiches and salads are available, but Tammy’s real forte is in her baked goods. Her legendary quiches - available in salmon, sausage and ham, or mushroom fillings - are so decadent that you’ll need two naps to recover from. Her cakes are imaginative flights of fancy you won’t find in any chain or franchise. For the health-conscious, there’s an array of nutritious breads too.

 

Find these places at:

Medan Selera Dato' Sagor

Add: Jalan Dato' Sagor, Ipoh (Behind Ipoh City Hall)

Business Hours: 5am - late evening

 

Restoran Goodshed

Add: 49015, Jalan St. John, Ipoh

Business Hours: Breakfast until late evening

 

Mun Ji Restoran Makanan Laut

Add: 1 Laluan Rasi Jaya 48, Taman Rasi Jaya

Tel: 016-543 7707

Business Hours: 5.30pm – closing (dinner only)

 

Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Desa Rishah

Add: 3 Persiaran Desa Rishah 1, Taman Desa Rishah 

Tel: 05 281 0668

Business Hours: 9am – 3pm, Tuesdays - Sundays

 

Tammy’s Kitchen

Add: 7, Hala Bandar Baru Tambun 18,  Desa Tambun Indah

Tel: 017-487 3728

Business Hours: 12pm – 5pm, Wednesdays - Sundays

 

By Alexandra Wong

Photos by Zaim Rosli

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