Ipoh is the capital city of the Perak state, known for its great food, tin mines and limestone mountains and caves. The name Ipoh originated from a local tree known as the pokok Ipoh. This particular plant is known for its tree sap, which is poisonous and was traditionally used by the Orang Asli (aboriginal people) in their blow darts. Ipoh is also known as san seng which means "city surrounded by mountains" in Cantonese. Ipoh is located in the rich tin bearing valley of the Kinta River. It grew up as a mining town. During the British Colonial Era, Ipoh was the second city of Malaysia. Its railway station is an excellent example of the architecture of this period. It is situated in the "Old Town" of Ipoh.
Ipoh's growth has stagnated ever since the development of the country and the closure of the tin mines. This stagnation has prompted many residents to move to other parts of Malaysia, particularly Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh has since been called a dead city and a good retirement city. In spite of this, Ipoh still remains one of Malaysia's largest cities, with a population of 637,200 (2004) and urban area population of 798,800 (2004), placing it in the top five cities in Malaysia by population. Ipoh's food is famous, and comparable to that from Penang. Many people, some from as far as Singapore, actually travel to this city just to taste its variety of great food. There are numerous dishes worthy of gluttons but visitors to Ipoh should make it a point to taste the local fare. Chances are the cuisine here is more varied and likely to be tastier than many other places in Malaysia. When in Ipoh, be sure not visit these places of interests:-
- Muzium Darul Ridzuan is an interesting historical museum of Perak, located in a pretty former tin-mining tycoon's mansion near the Anglo-Indian railway station of Ipoh.
- The Railway Station has recently been renovated. In front of the railway station is an Ipoh tree.
- St. Michael's Institution is an architectural wonder. Established in 1912, it is one of the premier schools in Ipoh.
- Mari Amman Temple, an old temple located on the banks of river near bridge on Sungai Pari Road, is kept very clean. It has sannidhis of pilliyar, muruga and navagrahas dieties.
- Walk around the relatively old city and look at the classy late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings Ipoh is justly proud of.
What & Where to Eat in Ipoh?
Ipoh is famous for its Chinese food.
Malay/Indian Food can also be found everywhere in Ipoh
- Ipoh bean sprouts chicken, which consists of chicken meat, assorted chicken innards and bean sprouts boiled in hard water and served with soy sauce and sesame oil. Ipoh's bean sprouts are very fat, short and tastier than those produced outside Ipoh, thus Ipoh's bean sprouts also receive orders from other states. Famous bean sprout chicken noodles include Onn Kee and Lou Wong Restaurants－ both located at the junctions of Yau Tet Shin Street and Osbourne Street.
- Ipoh Sar Hor Fun, which are rice flat noodles prepared in hard water and served in clear chicken and prawn soup with chicken shreds, prawns and spring onions. Famous sar hor fun include Thean Chun and Kong Heng Restaurants - located along Leech Street in the old town.
- Ipoh Chicken Rice. The famous Ipoh Chicken Rice can be found in Bak Gong restaurant located near the Foh San restaurant in city centre. ( Opens afternoon )
- Dim sum, fish balls, fried stuff, dumplings, buns, served in small quantities. Foh San restaurant, located nearby the taugeh ayam outlets, is a famous dim sum restaurant. Yuk Fook Moon Lau (Opens in the morning and also at night), located behind Excelsior Hotel, sells excellent dim sum too. Ming Kok which is just opposite is the best dim sum restaurant in Ipoh.
- Beef noodles. There is one famous beef noodles restaurant called Buntong beef noodles restaurant, sells very delicious beef noodles, beef balls and yong tau foo. There are three restaurants in Ipoh famous of its Beef Noodles, run by three brothers originally from the Buntong Village of Ipoh. The restaurants are located at 1) Kong Meng Restaurant in Old Town Ipoh (morning till noon); 2) Taman Rishah Restaurant, between First Garden and Menglembu (noon till evening); 3) Jalan Theatre, near the Rainbow food court, in the Ipoh city. (Evening till night).
- Fish ball noodles /yong tau foo. Some of the recommended outlets are Nam Fatt in Jalan Kampar, Tai Kar Lok the best one in city centre near Hotel Excelsior, and also one stall located in Pasar Pasir Pinji (Open nights only).
- Hakka noodles. There a few restaurants around the city sell delicious Hakka noodles with yong tau foo. The most popular Hakka noodles is offered by Yin Yau Kui at Hugh Low Street (Jalan Iskandar). This shop specialises in noodles rather than its yong tau foo. Another lesser known favourite, known to local old-timers is located at Majestic Food Centre at Osbourne Street (Jalan Tahwil Azar). This stall offers much better yong tau foo compared to Yin Yau Kui but Yin Yau Kui's noodles are superior. There is one near the Mun Zhong restaurant in Jalan Pasir Puteh (Only opens in the morning), one in a food court behind the Olympia College or Jalan Yang Kalsom (Only opens in the morning).
- Salted chicken or Yim Kok Kai. The chicken is baked in salt in such a way the skin and meat is so delicious when you eat it and you will finished it all. Whole chicken are wrapped in "oil paper" and then baked in large woks filled with heated salt. The restaurant that sells salted chicken is Aun Kheng Lim Restaurant, located at Theatre Street, opposite Martell house or near Bak Gong restaurant in the city centre. It is so popular that you must call to order before you drop in.
- Roasted duck. The duck is roasted in such a way the skin of the duck is so crispy, smells great when you eat it and the meat is delicious to be eaten. Recommended famous restaurants that sell roasted duck: Yeong Wai restaurant in Greentown Business area and Tuck Kee restaurant in Pasir Pinji, Ipoh. There's also a restaurant called Kedai Hong Kong in the Tasek area. The chef famously studied his duck preparation in Hong Kong. A couple of ex-staff have opened their own duck restaurants in adjacent restaurants.
- Curry noodle. There is one restaurant in old town Ipoh, called Sin Seng Fatt, which is located near Kong Heng restaurant in Market Street, sells very delicious curry noodles. The curry paste of the curry noodle is so good that it's packed and sent to franchises in Hong Kong.
- Prawn mee or Hokkien mee. This is also another noodle that is same as Penang's Hokkien Mee. The soup of this noodle taste spicy and sweet. Recommended prawn mee stall is the roadside stall on the road between Yik Foong complex and Super Kinta shopping centre (Only opens at night and until early morning).
- Clay pot Chicken Rice. This hot and delicious chicken rice cooked in a clay pot together with the chicken is quite popular in Ipoh. The Ipoh famous one is located at Bercham village area (Opens only at night).
- Laksa Perak This is a noodle dish which is similar to Penang's famous Assam Laksa but with a different taste. Laksa in Ipoh tastes a bit sour and spicy but not as sweet as Penang's Laksa. The ingredients of the noodle soup include prawn paste. There is one Laksa stall in Farlim, Ipoh (opposite the Setapak driving institute, on the way to Menglembu from Ipoh) sells very good Laksa (Only opens on Sunday afternoon). The other one would be the Laksa stall in Kong Heng Restaurant.
- Cuttle fish. Served with kangkung or water convolvulus vegetable and a sweet and spicy sauce on top of it.
- Soup and fried rice. Try Darus sup in Tawil Azar stalls in Ipoh town-simply, it's delicious. The best soup in Ipoh.
- Samosas. There are great samosas and other great foodstuffs to be found in Little India.
- Food courts. If you just want to eat a variety of good Ipoh food in just one place that would be Anika Selera or Gourmet Square and Wolley centre in Canning Garden. The other two great food courts are Rainbow City food court opposite Sam Tet primary school in Ipoh and all the street food stalls in Menglembu old town. (All opens at night). You can find a lot of choices of good Ipoh food in these food courts.