Ipoh: A cultural and culinary guide to Malaysia’s rising tourism star

(CNN)Sometime following the tin slump from the 1980s, Ipoh earned a status as a retirement destination, or simply a pit stop in order to Penang.

“Before, there wasn’t somewhere people collected,” states Julie Song of Burps & Giggles, a coffee shop that’s led to the city’s new face.
“Now, everybody who comes makes Old Town their first stop.”
    However the capital of Malaysia’s Perak condition has always possessed the characteristics which make places like Penang so compelling to travelers: a wealthy architectural, cultural and culinary heritage — but with no crowds. (Though the weekend is another story.)
    Not only this. Encircled by Paleozoic limestone hulks, Ipoh is another gateway towards the area’s beautiful caves and hot springs.
    Here are a few suggestions on things you can do in Ipoh, plus some dining and hotel recommendations.

    To Determine

    Kong Heng Square

    A couple of years back, landscape architect Ng Seksan and the buddies required over this block, breathing new existence into Old Town.
    “We would have liked to help keep that old tenants, like the Kong Heng kopitiam and also the Indian barber,” Ng states.
    Today, these establishments exist alongside chic cafes, boutique hotels and fashion and craft stalls.
    “It is the greenest urban block in Ipoh,” states Law Siak Hong from the Perak Heritage Society.
    Trees remain to develop over and inside structures, creepers tumble over rooftops and flaking walls.
    Yasmin at Kong Heng Museum (open weekends only) showcases the flicks from the late Malaysian director Yasmin Ahmad, noted for her moving explorations of race.
    Between a colourful crew of restaurants and shops, “Concubine Lane” is really nicknamed since the late tin magnate Yau Tet Shin apparently stored his second wife here.

    A full time income architectural museum

    Many structures in the colonial era, spanning a variety of styles in the Medieval towards the Modern, still stand.
    One of the most visible would be the century-old Railway Station, developed in the British Raj style, and also the stately old Town Hall over the road.
    For quaint shophouses, just walk around Old Town.
    Highlights range from the Sinhalese Bar, founded in 1931, using its cowboy-style swing doorways. It’s an excellent place to savor a beer before transporting on.
    You will find murals by Ernest Zacharevic — the Lithuanian artist frequently credited with making street art trendy in Malaysian metropolitan areas — and native artists like Eric Lai.
    Trail maps can be found in the local Ipoh tourism office.

    “The Vale of Tin and Crime”

    Ipoh lies in the centre of Kinta Valley, when the world’s wealthiest tin-producing field.
    It attracted an exciting mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European fortune seekers, growing from the river village into certainly one of British Malaya’s wealthiest towns.
    To discover a brief history of tin and just how miners resided once they were not working, visitors can book themselves directly into visit Han Chin Pet Soo.
    The museum was formerly the place to find the Hakka Tin Miners’ Club, founded in 1893, which in the beginning was open simply to men — a location to socialize, smoke opium and gamble — though exceptions were created for “dancing women.”
    Out around Kinta Valley are former tin-mining towns along with other historic attractions to understand more about.
    A led tour can include Papan, Batu Gajah, Gopeng, the Tanjung Tualang tin dredge and Kellie’s Castle.
    K. Rajasegaran (+60 12 524 2357) and V. Kuppusamy (+60 12 508 6429) offer custom tours around Ipoh and Perak.
    Law Siak Hong (+60 17 506 1875) from the Perak Heritage Society from time to time leads tours.

    Masters of tradition

    Tan Khar Mee (Kin Teck, 4 Tingkat Pasar +60 12 455 3242), 73, continues to be making lion dance heads in excess of 40 years.
    Also, he labored around the group of the 1999 film “Anna and also the King,” and it is available to teaching visitors the craft.
    Teh Wing Liang (Zhong Shen Buying and selling, 59 Jalan Bunga Saroja, Pasir Pinji +60 12 452 3287), 42, continues to be making lion heads since he was 15 and states his style is much more modern.
    “I paint each one of these differently in the next. I recover it when i complement,Inch he states.
    To determine how Ipoh’s famous heong peng biscuits are baked — in concrete well-formed ovens, fueled by coconut husks — it is best to go to the house at 362 Jalan Gunung Rapat each morning.
    Yao Cai Yu in the Central Market (Jalan Dato’ Onn Jaafar) makes wooden clogs, and Lau Chee Wah (Lau Hooi Kee, 15 Lorong Bijih Timah) makes traditional bamboo blinds.
    John Lee of Ipoh Secrets offers custom tours which help break with the language barrier

    Close up with limestone hulks

    Once the Chinese found Kinta Valley, they built temples in limestone caves.
    Perak Tong, dating in the 1920s, has probably the most beautiful interiors, full of colorful murals of deities. Additionally there is a hilltop pavilion with views over the city, though visitors will have to climb greater than 400 steps to achieve it.
    Mike Poh Tong, apparently discovered with a monk within the 1890s, is a touch dilapidated, nevertheless its gardens come with an enchanting, wild quality. It’s faded terraces, a turtle pond along with a striking red temple out back.
    Tambun Cave has prehistoric works of art of males and creatures, plus abstract shapes available on its high cliff face.
    The Gua Tambun Heritage Awareness Project runs tours around the first Saturday of every month.

    To Consume

    Their list concentrates on Ipoh’s specialties as opposed to the usual Malaysian staples.
    For Western food, there’s Kong Heng Square or even the string of bars and pubs on Jalan Lau Ek Ching.
    Most hawkers open in early mornings and shut after lunch, or as lengthy as stocks last.
    Malaysians generally have heavy breakfasts, so go early. Some hawkers also take irregular slow days.

    White-colored coffee and toast

    First, a fast run-lower from the white-colored coffee varieties.
    “Pak kopi” includes condensed milk and evaporated milk. “Pak kopi C” with evaporated milk and sugar.
    “C kosong” with evaporated milk with no sugar. “O” with sugar with no milk. And add “peng” towards the finish if you would like it iced.
    The espresso beans are roasted with margarine, without sugar, giving the coffee a lighter color.
    For any light breakfast, it’s combined with margarine toast capped with half-steamed eggs.
    Sin Yoong Loong (15A Jalan Bandar Timah/Leech St), founded within the 1930s, is considered the most popular places to locate this local treat.
    Chang Jiang (7 Jalan Windsor), a contemporary coffee shop that traces its origins to some 1970s kopitiam, serves equally good white-colored coffee.

    Nga choy kay

    Reputed to become Ipoh’s essential dish, nga choy kay means “beansprout chicken”, truly describes three dishes — kway teow (flat grain noodles) soup, poached chicken and peppery beansprouts.
    You can find for just one, but they’ll be offered individually.
    Ipoh’s bean sprouts are stated to become crunchier and juicier because, it’s believed, the nearby limestone hillsides provide the water a unique quality.
    Lou Wong (Jalan Bandar Timah/Leech Street) is most widely used with vacationers, however the local favorite is perhaps Cowan Street Ayam Tauge &amp Koitiau (44 Jalan Raja Ekram +60 12 520 3322), that also does scrumptious braised chicken ft.
    It’s reputed to possess irregular opening hrs, but Thursday to Sunday nights appear a secure bet.

    Kai see hor fun

    Kai see hor fun is another kway teow soup, however the difference is incorporated in the prawns. The broth comes with an orange sheen produced by boiling chicken bones with prawn shells.
    And everything is available in one bowl — capped with poached chicken slices, prawns, beansprouts and spring onions.
    Thean Chun’s version (73 Jalan Bandar Timah/Leech Street) is among the best.
    Restoran Moon De Moon (148 Hala Wah Keong, Simee) — closed on Mondays and Tuesdays — can also be touted because of its kai see hor fun, in addition to curry mee, a spicy noodle dish.

    Curry mee

    People flock to Xin Quan Fang (174 Jalan Sultan Iskandar) for Ipoh curry mee, which has a tendency to tight on milk inside it. Additionally there is a dry curry version.
    “My grandfather’s recipe includes Indian spices, like star anise,” states owner Kok Wai Bing.
    We advise ordering the curry mee soup together with your noodle of preference, along with a mixed bowl of roast and barbecue pork, prawns, chicken and beansprouts.
    Remember their special gravy, apparently a combination of curry oil, garlic clove, pork lard and lime.

    Hakka mee

    Paris Restaurant (164 Jalan Sultan Iskandar/Hugh Low Street) has moved into its third generation of cooks.
    It focuses on perfectly springy, flat egg noodles, capped with bean sprouts and minced meat caramelized with soy sauce and fish sauce, by having an accompaniment of chilli and garlic clove-ginger root sauce.
    You can also order it having a bowl of soup with meatballs and fishballs.
    On weekends, it is best to arrive prior to 11 a.m. They offer out fast.

    “Nasi Ganja”

    Resistant to the name, there aren’t any suspicious substances within this grain dish. It is simply great.
    The nickname is becoming inextricably from the Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah stall in the Yong Suan kopitiam (2 Jalan Yang Kalsom), founded within the 1950s.
    Request the typical — biasa — and you will get a plate of fluffy steamed grain offered using their niche ayam merah (a red-hued fried chicken), okra, salted egg, cucumber along with a generous dollop of chilli and curry sauce.

    Sar kok liew

    This can be a patty of yam bean and fish paste, folded in a bean curd sheet, and fried.
    It’s Ipoh’s signature variation of yong liew — vegetables full of fish or pork paste, that also come steamed.
    If you want yours crispy, visit Dai Shu Geok (“Big Tree Feet”, Jalan King, Pasir Pinji) and also have it having a bowl of assam laksa.
    Otherwise, Ipoh Echo food columnist SeeFoon Chan-Koppen recommends Kwong Hong (684 Jalan Besar Gunung Rapat): “It’s many types of eco-friendly vegetables, and also the dipping sauce is tasty.”

    Yu kong hor with steamed octopus

    Tuck Kee (61 Jalan Yau Tet Shin) only opens within the nights.
    Suggested may be the wat tan hor — kway teow immersed inside a creamy egg gravy, peppered with pork slices, prawns, vegetables and lard fritters — or yu kong hor, the dry version capped having a raw egg after which stirred in.
    In either case, it is not complete with no steamed octopus doused in garlic clove oil and soy sauce.

    Kaya puff

    Crime Eng Heong (4 Jalan Mustapha Al-Bakry) is symbolic of Ipoh’s famous kaya puff — full of a jam created using coconut milk and egg — as well as on weekends you will see a lengthy line outdoors the loaves of bread all day long.
    However, the founder’s boy has opened up their own shop, Sin Eng Hoe (50 Jalan Yau Tet Shin), nearby and assures he uses exactly the same recipe.

    Tau fu fa

    This can be a dessert made from soybean curd, usually slurped hot and typically sweetened with ginger root sugar syrup.
    Funny Mountain (49 Jalan Theatre) may be the name on everyone’s lips, but Woong Kee (32-38A Jalan Ali Pitchay) is another firm favorite.

    Places To Stay

    Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

    This is actually the spot to come for any luxurious breaking of the bread with nature among limestone hillsides — however it’s only a 15-minute drive in the city.
    Each rental property features its own plunge pool with water piped in in the hot springs, and you will find four communal garden pods.
    Non-visitors will pay to make use of the facilities.
    They incorporate a pool, a steam and sauna cave, as well as an air-conditioned cave to unwind in. You can also dine within the cave cellar, that have an extensive collection of wine.
    A brief walking trail leads straight to the Lost World of Tambun amusement park.

    Foundation Hotel

    This latest boutique hotel is styled with a mixture of contemporary Chinese and Western details.
    “We’ve the very best beds and also the best rocks,” Debbie Ng states.
    Your bunk beds are imported, and her family people are ardent rock collectors. Their finds are displayed round the hotel, as well as the rooms.
    Each room includes a Nespresso coffee maker, with complimentary pods.

    Sekeping Kong Heng

    Certainly one of Ng Seksan’s Sekeping assortment of qualities dotted around Malaysia, this hotel produces the illusion of the “retreat” in the center of all of the action.
    The primary quarter is situated over the Kong Heng kopitiam with what used to be a hostel patronized by Chinese opera troupes.
    A lot of the initial building remains, combined with open brick and reclaimed wood, wire fencing for bed bases and concrete sheets for walls — melding the commercial and natural without compromising on style.
    There are other rooms within an annexe nearby and over the Container Hotel, in addition to a pool along with a rooftop hangout.

    Sarang Paloh

    This boutique guesthouse resides inside a former Art Deco-style bank building that goes back towards the 1930s.
    Sarang means nest, and every room is known as following a different bird present in Malaysia.
    The interiors are mainly furnished in wood and accented with antiques, combined with modern details and amenities.
    All 11 rooms are air-conditioned with en-suite bathrooms.
    There is a common diner cast in sun light and shadow, along with a peaceful courtyard around the second floor.

    27 Concubine Lane

    This homestay inside a restored 1908 shophouse is a member of a Malaysian-British couple.
    It maintains many original features, along with other parts — home windows, floorboards, latticework — sourced from the salvage yard.
    “It isn’t the Hilton. People come for the heritage,” states John Lomax.
    You will find three private doubles with ac, as well as an open loft with six beds. Bathrooms are shared.
    Among the bustle Concubine Lane, still it seems to seem like just a little hideaway.

    Find out more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/21/travel/what-to-do-ipoh-malaysia/index.html

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