When it comes to Ipoh, none is more famous than their chicken rice and those sweet, crunchy bean sprouts. While many places offers the same dish all over town, tourists and locals alike will often congregate around middle of new town for this dish over lunch.
ipoh pak kong chicken rice
One of such place that is favored by the locals is none other than Restoran Nasi Ayam Pak Kong, a stone’s throw away from the more famous Ong Kee (often packed with tourists).
The shop offers quite a good selection of dishes you’d often associate with chicken rice – roast chicken, steamed chicken, roast pork, bbq pork, bean sprouts, and some of the other dishes you don’t usually find at these sort of establishments, such as sambal petai, acar, spicy sour vege, and more.
chicken, pork, and most importantly, petai side dish
Prices at Pak Kong is more “local friendly” compared to the more touristy shops at the intersections, dishes here are very good as well, I particularly love their chicken (either version), and really lovely charsiu (bbq pork), the wild card here is their sambal petai, if you like them pungent and full of aroma, this is is not one you’d want to miss.
Roast pork and spicy sour vege would be something I skip the next time around and perhaps order a big plate of bean sprout instead. (and more of those petai!)
It is a bit of a custom to bring back some food whenever you travel, right? And none better than those type that can be kept for a week or three before consuming, when it comes to Ipoh, the default for such item would be these Ching Han Guan pork floss biscuits.
Ching Han Guan biscuit shop, Ipoh
The shop is located at the epicenter of Ipoh town, in fact, just a stone’s throw away from the Aun Kheng Lim salt baked chicken that I penned just a couple entries ago on this blog. Ching Han Guan can command quite a queue especially on weekends, so bring your mask and prepare to wait if you don’t call ahead. If you can call in advance, you’ll have your order prepared to be picked up without having to line up, so do that.
pork floss biscuit from top left – original, pandan, bakwa, salted egg yolk
These biscuits aren’t exactly biscuits, but pork floss wrapped in thin, fluffy layer of pastry that oozes a mixture of umami and porky goodness, they are savory and sweet at the same time, and goes super well with a cup of black coffee. The biscuits come in four different flavors – original (with only pork floss), pandan, bakwa (sweetened dried pork), and salted egg yolk.
My favorites are between the bakwa and salted egg yolk, and I suppose it is due to them carrying a slight saltiness that brings out the sweetness of pork floss even more.
Ching Han Guan biscuits are individually packed
If you’re in Ipoh and look to bring back some handy food gifts, be sure not to miss this.
Right after announcement of the easing of movement control order, I made a plan to travel up North for some long overdue family time, and on the way back, stopped by Ipoh for a bit of R&R. And since it was already late afternoon by the time we were heading back, I thought it was probably a good idea to have dinner packed from Ipoh “sekaligus”.
The choice for dinner was Ipoh’s famous Salt Baked Chicken at Aun Kheng Lim, located right in old town Ipoh – right by Jalan Theathre.
Aun Kheng Lim Salt Baked Chicken
Aun Kheng Lim is somewhat of an institution and a bit of a tourist attraction in itself, there’s only one item on the menu – chicken stuffed with some Chinese herbs, baked in coarse salt, aka salt baked chicken (fresh or frozen, RM 21 a pop in year 2020). You only get to order to go, the shop does not have any dine in area, or do they offer any fancy side dishes. You line up, asks for the number of chicken you want, take them, and eat at your own leisure.
whole salt baked chicken, tender enough to tear off by hands
You can have the chicken at room temperature, but warming it up with a microwave oven for 2-3 minutes is my preferred method of serving. The chicken is probably just a little over 1 kg, not terribly big, and perfect for 2 person of moderate appetite if you’re going all paleo and without rice. The combination of herbal note and those saltiness brought out the taste of the bird, so satisfying to gobble down with a glass of ice cold water (or beer) to go with.
If you’re in Ipoh, you owe it to yourself to tapao a few birds back home.
P/S: there’s another shop selling the same thing, and to my untrained tongue, they tastes pretty similar.
When it comes to food in Ipoh, the most famous of them all has got to be chicken rice with bean sprout, and for those who love this dish, there’s no other place that is more popular than Restoran Tauge Ayam Ong Kee right in the heart of Ipoh town, which was where we stopped by for lunch on New Year’s day.
Ong Kee Ipoh Chicken Rice
If you get to Ong Kee on weekends of during public holidays, getting there in itself can sometimes be a problem, and parking too can be quite a challenge. After all those, you may still end up spending a bit of time waiting for a vacant table. Though thankfully, food usually doesn’t take too long to be served, so there’s that.
innards, bean sprouts, poached chicken
The menu choices are simple, there’s poached chicken, innards, bean sprouts, and there’s also pork balls should you want to indulge yourself in some non-avian meat.
Most popular eateries get the “used to be better” and “overrated” labels quite a bit, but honestly speaking I do find Ong Kee’s chicken right on par with expectations. They are tender, not overly complex, and soak in properly balanced cocktail of soya sauce. The bean sprouts too is of rather good quality, as with most bean sprouts from Ipoh, probably due to the water quality.
the amount of chicken they sell each day is astounding
Overall, lunch proved to be quite a satisfying affair, and at RM 36 including drinks, it was quite an affordable option as well. Happy eating!
It is often said that art is essential in any civilisation, it tells us what our culture is, and defines the era that we live in. In Malaysia, we’ve seen the emergence of street arts in recent years, particularly in wall paintings and murals.
At Ipoh, OLDTOWN white coffee partners with renowned Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic to create the ‘Art of OLDTOWN’, who is painting murals to celebrate Ipoh, the birthplace of white coffee.
Like many Malaysian, coffee is pretty much essential to my life. It is the beverage of choice every morning (especially on working days), without a cup of good coffee I wouldn’t know how to start the day.
OLDTOWN 3in1 White Coffee within reach
One of the simplest and most convenient way to achieve this is by making myself a cup of OLDTOWN 3in1 white coffee.
I keep some at the office and at home for the time when I need a bit of a boost to continue working, with the only problem being that some of my colleagues tend to come asking for them from time to time.
OLDTOWN art at Jalan Bijih Timah
Anyway, back to the art project initiated by OLDTOWN at Ipoh.
The first piece was done at Jalan Bandar Timah by Ernest Zacharevic as a teaser back in April, the project will showcase seven different murals in Ipoh honoring this birthplace of white coffee.
OLDTOWN art in Ipoh, by Ernest Zacharevic
The artist expressed how he was amazed by people of Ipoh in the way they are humble yet proud of their hometown, and how he is touched and inspired by the local architecture, culture, food, and people. He also mentioned that it was an honor to work with OLDTOWN, who’s grown successful and yet never neglect its root, heritage, and the people who helped it succeed.