In conjunction with Visit Perak Year 2017, Ewe Paik Leong goes food-hunting in Ipoh, the capital of Perak
EEL SOUP, RESTORAN NASI LEMAK AYAM KAMPUNG, JALAN ALI PITCHAY, IPOH
Though nasi lemak (with farm chicken, squid, cockles or prawn) is the restaurant's speciality, eel soup is another crowd favourite. A glass tank filled with eels at the entrance of the restaurant is your guarantee of freshness. My bowl of soup comprises pieces of eel, tomatoes, onions and scallions. The soup teeters on the edge of peppery heat but tomatoes and onions bring it back to savoury comfort. The eel meat is firm and tender.
ABC, STALL NO 12, JALAN SULTAN EKRAM, IPOH
Offering both halal and non-halal fare, the row of hawker stalls facing SRJK Sam Tet is a popular supper spot. It has also earned the moniker "Dessert Street" due to the varieties of dessert found here. It includes leng chee kang, bubur cha cha and dessert soup such as red bean, black bean, sesame seed and sago.
This stall's ABC (ais batu campur/mixed shaved ice) comes with springy grass jelly, firm sago balls, vermiform cendol, red beans, crunchy nuts and smooth ice cream.
The medley of textures and flavours is refreshing and stimulating.
3. MEE REBUS, RESTORAN MEE REBUS RAMLI, JALAN KUALA KANGSAR, TAMAN TASIK JAYA, IPOH
This restaurant is still worth a visit although it's located on the fringe of the city. Apart from mee rebus, it also sells chicken chop, lamb chop, chicken rice and kway teow goreng.
Though the mee rebus ingredients are standard, the gravy bursts with exceptional depth of flavour. A fine balance between the potato and tomato aromas in the gravy leaves a savoury after-taste in my mouth, and a squirt of lime bolsters its tanginess.
Last, but not least, the restaurant is clean, bright and spacious.
4. CURRY MEE AT KEDAI KOPI NAM CHAU, JALAN BANDAR TIMAH, IPOH
Dry curry noodles and curry noodles soup are the crowd favourites here. Also available are lam mee, glass noodle and shredded chicken rice noodles. The curry noodles soup is based on a blitz of moderate heat from spices and aromatics from mint leaves. The curry feels heavy in the mouth, and there's a nutty-citrusy flavour from the cumin and coriander. For a more fiery taste, add the chilli paste.
Rating: 4half / 5
5. SHREDDED CHICKEN RICE NOODLES, RESTORAN IPOH KONG HENG, JALAN BANDAR TIMAH, IPOH
Can't get a table at the ever-popular Thean Chun for shredded chicken rice noodles (a.k.a. kai si hor fun)? Your next-best alternative is Kong Heng. The ingredients used are standard: rice noodles, slivers of prawns and shreds of lean chicken meat. The soup is infused with every bit of flavour that has been coaxed from boiling prawn shells for hours.
6. PASEMBUR, KEDAI KOPI FATT KEE, JALAN TUN SAMBANTHAN, IPOH
This coffee shop is anchored by Rojak Ipoh Padang and a cendol stall. On offer are pasembur, rojak mee, mee goreng, mee rebus, Maggi goreng, kway teow goreng and beehoon goreng. Additional squid is optional. The pasembur gravy tingles my taste buds pleasantly amidst the contrasting textures of the crunchy beansprouts, moist jicama, cool cucumber, crackling prawn fritters and chewy beancurd.
7. POPIAH TKK, MEDAN SELERA TAMAN KANAK-KANAK, JALAN DATO TAHWIL AZAR, IPOH
Both fried and wet popiah are available. My order for both types come under a carpet of chilli sauce, bits of scrambled egg and scallions. The filling comprises julienned jicama, beansprouts and carrot. The wet popiah has a savoury crunch with sweetspicy flounce. The fried version is slightly chewy at the start but fireworks explode again with vibrancy from the sauce.
8. SATAY ENDUT, ANEKA SELERA, IPOH GARDEN, IPOH
A household name in the City of Bougainvillea, Satay Endut offers chicken and beef satay. Nasi himpit is optional. My chicken satay comes with charred edges and the skewer ends are clean. My first bite sans gravy reveals a firm texture and a hint of lemongrass. My next bite of gravy-drenched chicken testifies to a master-class in the balance of spices. Add nasi himpit to the culinary equation and I slap a delicious high-five with the satayseller!
9. NASI KANDAR AYAM MERAH, KEDAH KOPI YONG SUAN, JALAN YANG KALSOM, IPOH
This stall is stationed inside a fan-cooled coffee shop. There's always a queue during lunch break. Ayam goreng merah, fish curry, squid curry, salted eggs and okra are available.
I go for the standard dish which consists of a piece of ayam goreng merah, half a salted egg, dollop of curry paste and slices of cucumber.
There's a slight crackle when you bite into the chicken and you taste the chilli spice from the curry. The turmericheavy curry paste makes the dish more intense.
10. BEANSPROUTS CHICKEN, RESTORAN TAUGE AYAM ONG KEE, JALAN YAU TAT SHIN IPOH
Choose from either rice or noodles to go with your beansprouts chicken, and there are meatballs, too. The short, fat and crunchy beansprouts come with the punch of pepper and light soya sauce. The chicken is smooth on the outside and sweetish-moist on the inside. Oh-la-la, the dense meatballs are also bouncy. However, a "C" grade for the restaurant's cleanliness from Ipoh City Hall prevents me from giving full marks.