The town of Ipoh is renowned for its juicy and succulent pomelos, the large Chinese temple built into the side of a cave, tasty chicken rice, crispy taugeh (beansprouts), and last but not least pretty girls.
The reason for all of the above (apart from the temple) is the quality of water enhanced by the limestone deposits & minerals from the limestone caves around Ipoh. When taugeh plants drink and absorb the Ipoh water, they become remarkably healthy, thick-stemmed and crunchy, when kampung chickens are fed with this water and are free to roam, they end up on your dinner plates in the form of delicious chicken rice (read airasia's numerous restaurant tips for more on this) and of course, it is rumoured that the prettiest girls in Malaysia are all from Ipoh, because when they were young, they must have drunk a lot of good quality Ipoh Mineral Water.
Don't believe me? Visit Ipoh and check it out yourself!!
I couldn't get a picture of the pretty girls, as most of them seem to have moved to Kuala Lumpur and beyond! so instead, I have featured a picture of delicious chicken rice with a side dish of taugeh.
Ipoh was formerly a tin-mining town. Its natural lime-stone caves were also useful in mining for marble and quarrying activities which are used in cement making.
During the days of English colonialisation, this was the first place where British miners and planters drove and owned cars. This is why the car registration plate numbers start with "A". By comparison, the next state to have any car owners was Selangor, which starts with "B". Nowadays, it's the local businessmen who drive the big cars. Where the Brits had their Rolls, the locals favourite is the Mercedes Benz, as can be seen from the picture.
Driving through the older part of Ipoh town, close to Jalan Tokong, I noticed that there were many used car yards lining the street (immediately after the Chinese temple). While the usual second hand Protons, Hondas and Toyotas could be found here, many car yards featured Mercedes Benz, BMW's and a few up-market Four Wheel Drives such as Pajeros and Range Rovers.
When you visit Ipoh, friends & relatives will inevitably ask you to buy a pomelo for them. While the prices of pomelos are not necessarily cheaper in Ipoh, the fruits here are fresher and therefore juicier. Apart from eating it cold and fresh, you can also make a delicious and healthy salad using pomelo.
Here's a recipe for you.
Delicious Pomelo Salad - A Recipe
- slivers of Pomelo (peeled and chillled in the fridge)
- finely chopped / pounded roasted peanuts
- lime juice
- white sugar
Toss the above ingredients and top the salad off with fresh mint leaves before serving
I tried the pomelo salad at a fusion restaurant near Plaza Damansara and managed to replicate it successfully at home.
The second picture shows a pomelo which has been peeled. As you can see, it is a citrus fruit that is in the same family as oranges, lemon and grapefruit. However, it tastes quite different from either of those. About the size of a small football, it has a thick green skin and its flesh is white or orange-pink.
A good fruit must always be juicy and can either taste sweetish sourish, or lightly sweet. It may also have a slight bitter after-taste which is due to the thin skin that sticks to the pulp.
Best to peel away the thick outer skin pop it in the fridge and serve it chilled.
In general, they cost around RM8-12 each and are considered a seasonal fruit because they are more popular during the Chinese New Year period.
The name "Dim sum" (also spelt "tim sum") translates to "tiny hearts". Basically it is a type of snack or tiny bites of food, where variety is of the essence. For those already familiar with Spanish Tapas, dim sum is a similar concept, but of course, tastes very different! LOL
Dim sum is popular around the world-whether you are in Hong Kong, at Sydney's Chinatown, Toronto, Singapore and of course, right here in Ipoh, Malaysia.
There are generally two ways to order tim dum. One is from a menu, which presuposes a knowledge of what's what. I find that personally quite difficult, as the names of the dishes are usually quite fancy and may have nothing to do with the food itself. For example, if you order "golden phoenix claws" you'll end up with "braised chicken feet" (which incidentally is a personal favourite of mine.)
The easier way (in order to avoid chicken feet if this is not your cup of tea) is to just point to what you like when the push cart comes around. The waitress will then put a stamp onto your table card, and from that, they will calculate the cost when you are done.
In Ipoh, the price should be approximately RM2-4 per dish, while in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, you'd expect to pay RM4-6 per dish at a normal Chinese air-conditioned restaurant and RM8-15 at a 5 star hotel. In Sydney, we have always enjoyed a fixed price All-You-Can-Eat dim sum.
Anyway, do enjoy some Dim Sum when you are in Ipoh.
Let it be known. I'm by no means a coffee drinker (rather a coca-cola guzzler).
I'm told I must try the local coffee while in town, a local specialty known throughout Malaysia and indeed the world - Ipoh White Coffee. I decided I couldn't leave town without trying it. All the coffee beans used in the brew are harvested locally, roasted with margarine and served with condensed milk. The result is delicious one, both smooth and creamy with a distinct aftertaste akin to cinema popcorn.
I spoke with Amy, one of the managers at Ipoh Central Cafe (address: Jalan Raja Ekram), who shared with me the reason her cafe made the best coffee in town. "We do not mix beans!" she exclaimed. "In America, or Europe, people mix beans together. We use only local harvest." Amy tells me that she has been working at this cafe for a period of six years, and the establishment itself has been in business for over thirty years. Open from 6am -> 6pm, I went there six times in two days to find it packed to the brim, buzzing with energy, each and every time.