Ipoh old-fashioned kopitiams

TALK about food in Ipoh and the older generation will mention Old Town across the Kinta River, with its fan-ventilated kopitiams serving sar hor fun, char kway teow, satay, nasi kandar and egg tarts. But for the younger folks, these eateries are passé! The food scene has changed in the former tin-mining city and the happening place is now Greentown, Ipoh’s latest commercial district.

In particular, Greentown Business Centre has developed to become the Ipoh version of Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, while the adjacent Greentown Square is fast becoming packed with boutiques offering Malay clothes. Both complement each other, creating the city’s hottest eat-drink-and-shop spot.

One of the most popular halal restaurants here is Restoran Laksamana Cheng Ho, which also happens to be the first Chinese Muslim eatery in Ipoh, with its strong element of Chinese décor and tables covered with red cloth.

The menu is divided into western favourites, rice favourites, hawker favourites, breakfast special, laksa, pasta, snacks, salads, snacks, soups, pasta, teppanyaki, burgers and sandwiches and dessert. The best part is, the restaurant caters to all budgets.

Fried Rice & Laksa

After a seafood salad, I had an excellent Laksamana Cheng Ho Fried Rice. The rice, fried with squids, prawns and green peas, was garnished with two sticks of satay and crackers. Excellent!

I also had the laksa — the ingredients were unique. Apart from shredded pineapple and cucumber, there were pieces of fu chok (dried beancurd), hard-boiled egg and fish paste. The gravy was watery and tasted like diluted mee rebus gravy with a light fishy aroma.

If you come in a group, it’s best to pick one of the set meals. Set B, meant for five-six persons, really excited me. For RM78.80 nett, you get rice with crispy chicken in plum sauce, deepfried siakap fish with Thai sauce, beef ginger with spicy onion, nonya style prawn sambal, sizzling Japanese tofu and Chinese tea. That means you get Chinese, Japanese, Thai and nonya fare in one sitting.

Variety, Variety

Another prominent pork-free restaurant is Restoran The Mouth with a menu of 114 items. Dishes are priced from RM4 to RM12 and include Thai Style Chicken Chop, Mongol Chicken Chop, Mongol Venison Rice and Black Pepper Hor Fun.

Maria’s Café should appeal to cake lovers. It’s like Starbucks and Coffeebean, and serves cakes, coffee, floats and more floats!

Kimberley Café offers Chinese food. Its specialities are Emperor Chicken (chicken cooked with herbs) and Boneless Chicken with Dried Chili.

There are two Japanese restaurants — Ten-Good and Jyu Restaurant. For curry dishes, go to Jyu which serves Tori Curry Rice, Katsu Curry Rice and Ebi Curry Rice.

For a taste of traditional Western food, go to Ye Old English.

Old Town White Coffee has a strong presence in Greentown, occupying the top and ground floors of a corner lot.

For basic kopitiam fare, pop over to Restoran F&B Station which is famous for its honey roasted chicken wings and popiah. Want tosai, capati and teh tarik? You will find them in Salam Corner and Restoran Nasi Kandar Pesanjung.
Steamboat & Booze

Another highly recommend eatery is Chatter Place. The variety of food is impressive and reminds me of Kuala Lumpur’s Kim Gary. I ate Oriental pork chop and a mildly spicy tom yam bihun.

For a little action, go to Persiaran Greenhill’s Mamamia Steamboat Restaurant where, displayed buffet-style, are items like squid, fish, chicken, mantis prawns, noodles, cabbage and lots more. Outside, a teppanyaki cooking station adds to the dining pleasure. Pick your food and the cook will fry it for you.

Boozers are spoiled for choice in Greentown. Stairway Pub & Bistro opens early for its Happy Hours. Its state-of-the-art karaoke facilities upstairs are extremely tempting. Mike’s Place blasts the night away with live band performances and its electrifying music is bound to set your feet on fire! 11 Pub and Bistro lures a funky crowd with its cool draughts and soothing décor.

Greentown also caters to pre-dinner and post-dinner activities. The more action-oriented can indulge at J-Box Karaoke or Greentown Snooker Centre.
From Zegna To Jubah

Women can pamper themselves in Angel Spa for some slimming and beauty treatments, Pusat Reflexology Everhealth for Tibetan Huo Long Treatment and even Y&K Nail Studio.

While the husband is chilling out with a beer, the fashion-conscious missus can pick up the latest designs in Liv Fashion Design, Glamour Boutique, Zegna Collection Boutique and Ru Ru Boutique. Swanky and classy are the keywords here.

In Greentown Square, you’ll find the latest in baju kurung, sarung and jubah at Kedai Kain Syakirah, Fesyen Wor Idaman and Angur Collection.
How To Get There

Greentown is located at Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, near Ipoh Parade and Majlis Perbandaran Ipoh. It is best to park your car and explore the area on foot. But remember that parking space is limited, so come early.