For most of my life, the quiet little town of Ipoh registered on my radar as barely more than a short pitstop on the way to Penang, a place for a quick lunch halfway through the 4-hour drive. Lunch was always inevitably bowls of sar hor fun, rice noodles in a clear but rich prawn broth, served with shredded steamed chicken, peeled prawns, and slivers of garlic chives.
Yes, it was tasty, but I didn’t think it was that outstanding compared to anything my own KL could dish up. What else could make Ipoh so famous for its food?
A lot, as it turns out. It took love (and a beloved Perak native) to open my eyes.
Of course, this list barely scratches the surface of what Ipoh has to offer. That would require many more trips back, but for now, these are the best things I’ve eaten there so far.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Ipoh’s bean sprouts, or tauge, are a thing of legend. Unlike their stringy, watery counterparts outside of the valley, these beansprouts are impossibly stout, juicy, and crisp. Locals will tell you the secret lies in the calcium-rich water that flows down from the limestone hills that surround Ipoh. Beansprout farmers will tell you that it’s the water, combined with a rigorous watering schedule. The exact amount of water needs to be delivered to the growing sprouts at the exact same time every single day. This goes on for five days, and then they go from little hard bean to fresh market-ready sprouts.
To see how the bean sprouts really shine, order a plate alongside another one of Ipoh’s star dishes– steamed chicken. After a split-second dip in boiling water to blanch, the sprouts are tossed with soy sauce, pepper, and some delectable combination of garlic and chicken oil. You’ll never look at beansprouts the same way again.
Where to go: Onn Kee Restaurant, 49, Jalan Yau Tet Shin Taman Jubilee 30000, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.