Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Perak Food Trip!

Before writing this food post, I had to remember the symphony of flavors of a Malaysian Cuisine, specifically all the wonderful food we had in Perak. 

Now, the closest I have to remember everything is to prepare a hot bowl of Maggi Kari instant noodles that I bought in bulk during our last night in Malaysia. Like how they do it in Perak, I served my noodles in a bowl with a spoon and chopsticks. Hay, if only I have more colorful bowls and plates! As I slurp the rich taste of this soup, I think I teared up a little partly because I got sentimental -- but mostly because it's sooo spicyyy!!! 

Ipoh, the capital of Malaysian state of Perak, is very famous and proud of their food culture. They have a good mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian influences in their dishes, reflecting the multi-ethnic composition of their population. I'd say our group is also lucky to have a great tour guide (Paul or @ap2surf on Instagram!) who created a really good food itinerary for us. We were able to try a variety of cuisines during our whole stay in Perak.

Because Malaysia shares common cultures and geography with Singapore and Indonesia, you will also discover some commonalities in their food such as laksa, chicken rice, satay, rendang, and sambal. Meanwhile, Ipoh white coffee is most probably their most popular export. During our tours, there was never a day that we didn't have coffee!

With my travel buddies Erica, Jolo, Jaypee, and a representative from the Tourism of Malaysia:

Buffet Breakfast in Hotel Excelsior Ipoh

I know that hotels don't necessarily serve the most authentic cuisine of a country, but with all the breakfast buffets we had at the Dulang Coffee House in Hotel Excelsior Ipoh, I realized that they also serve distinct Malaysian dishes like Nasi Lemak, noodles, and mantou. I usually get the egg and hashbrown, and dip them in Maggi Cili... yum! 

Hotel Excelsior Ipoh, 43 Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil, 30300 Ipoh, Malaysia

Coffee Breaks

I fell in love with Malaysia because they love their coffee breaks as much as I do! There's a mutual understanding, and there's no denying it! No wonder whenever a friend or a family comes home from Malaysia, the usual pasalubong (souvenir) includes sachets of white coffee (Old Town). This brand is so big in Malaysia! I was amused to see a huge Old Town White Coffee cafe one afternoon in Kuala Kangsar. But aside from Old Town, Ipoh has its own white coffee that you will love. Served in a plastic cup filled with ice, it's the perfect drink on a hot tour day.

Plan B looks like one of the popular third wave coffee shops in Makati. Located in Ipoh, it is the perfect stopover after checking out its surrounding art streets and murals. We went there hopefully to try one of their brews, but we just had coffee during lunch! :p

Anyway, according to online reviews, Plan B also serves good Asia-Western fusion dishes and shaved ice desserts. It's a plus that the place also looks artsy and very Instagram-worthy, something worth visiting again next time!

Plan B, 75 Jalan Panglima, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

We also tried Nam Heon's coffee during one of our lunches. I ordered mine in black:

Nam Heon, 2 Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

And of course, we just had to experience dining in this huge Old Town White Coffee cafe. Our tour guide Paul told us he frequents this branch during downtime. If I live in the area, this coffee shop looks like an ideal meet-up point or a place for me-time.

Love these group photos because hinabol ko pa, but you will notice that all our glasses are already empty HAHA!

Old Town White Coffee, 1998 Jalan Daeng Selili, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia

... Or Tea?

During day one, we chanced upon this van when our driver Lim bought a small cup of the drink they are selling. They asked who wants to try, and of course I can't resist! I am always curious about these things, and basta walang meat, GO! Tawaran Baru is actually hot tea, but with a mild salty taste.

We also passed by the Ho Yan Hor Museum, featuring Malaysia's oldest and most trusted brand of herbal tea.

This heritage project includes an education corner with story boards, the biography of Dr. Ho Kai Cheong, documentary videos, display of antiques and artifacts, and a tea bar to serve Ho Yan Hor tea to the guests. A piece of Ipoh's history, this site is where this product began.

Even though I am not familiar with the brand, the museum made me appreciate their natural products more because of the health benefits they presented. The Ho Yan Hor tea can heal common cold, early symptoms of flu, boost immune system, and allows self-healing and prevention of illness. Ahhh, the tita in me was pleased!

Unfortunately, they do not sell these boxes in the museum. But Ho Yan Hor is available in leading drugstores and groceries in Malaysia. Check out the list HERE.
Ho Yan Hor Museum, 1, Jalan Bijeh Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. Entrance is FREE. Follow them on FACEBOOK.

Another interesting tea tour that we had was at the Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng. I had no expectations going there since we just came from white water rafting and caving, but the place is so beautiful! 

By the entrance is their neat store, featuring original HOGA (from the Holistic Gaharu tree) products. They have tea, soup, noodles, cookies, and even soaps, lip balm, and shower gel.

I gave a box of HOGA Tea to my dad after finding out its many health benefits, from treating insomnia, balancing uric acid, and regulating blood sugar level. Actually, I also need this product as I always sleep at around 3am (earliest!). :p

I thought that tour ends at the store, but I was surprised that we were taken to a van ride to further learn about the brand and their products. You can take this educational tour for only RM10, a small token to maintain the plantation in an organic way (free from pesticides and chemical fertilizers).

Have you been to a Hugging Park? Part of Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng's tour is this area where painted gaharu trees release negative ions, said to reduce fatigue, stimulate the nervous system, and stabilise emotions. It is also said that hugging a gaharu tree is auspicious, in short it will bring luck and prosperity!

Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng's guide demonstrating the hug, while Paul was already posing at the back for the picture! Hehehe.

I tried it myself, of course! My hippie heart is happy. Hoping that luck will be on my side before the year ends...

And lastly, another highlight at the Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng is seeing this large 300 acres of Gaharu plantation and 200,000 special hybrid Aquilaria trees. Very nice view, I also learned that several movies were shot here:

Aside from learning about their products, this tour made me more aware of the importance of sustainable preservation and cultivation of these Gaharu Trees. With all its benefits and healing properties known since time immemorial, these trees are being harvested by others to the edge of extinction. Glad that plantations such as the Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng exists!

Photo op before going back to the store. Again, we weren't ready for this tour, still wearing our rafting clothes, hehehe. Worth it, though!

Tried their ice cream cone before hopping back on the van for our next destination:

Gaharu Tea Valley Gopeng, Lot 9840 Mukim Teja, 31600, Gopeng, Perak. Visit

 Snacks and Desserts

In between the meals, here are some of the treats we tried while in Perak.

Ipoh is the home of many savory pastries, with egg tarts as the most popular. Tried one with white coffee in Kedai Makanan Nam Heong, created fresh right in front us! 

Nam Heon, 2 Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

I'm so sorry I wasn't able to get how they call this kind of street snack cart (help!), but the vendor sells assorted chips, nuts, and fried noodles, and pack them in clear plastic bag to-go. I like this a lot, and even my sister messaged me if I can bring some home after seeing my post about it! Haha!

Vendor located in front of the Ipoh Railway Station

Again, as long as it is vegetarian, I love trying anything a local will recommend! At a random bakery we passed by before dinner, our tour guide pointed at the flaky golden kaya puffs and told us it is a favorite in the country. I had to try it!

A lot of locals were waiting for their turn to have a loot of these pastries. It is simple, but fresh.

Ais Kacang is like our very own halo-halo. It literally means "mixed ice". This Malaysian shaved ice dessert has distinct nuts and fruits combination that mix well with everything, ang fresh fresh nya! It was served along with our dinner, but we happily gulped down to the last drop because it wasn't too sweet and hindi sya nakakasawa.

Before heading back to KL for the airport, we had a final stop-over along the way. I've never heard about this before, but Malaysia is actually known for this brand of CHOCOLATES!

Beryl's Chocolate Kingdom offers high quality chocolates that you can give to your family and friends back home. They are packed for transit, tastes superb, and has different varieties for different tastes. I prefer the milk chocolate and the truffled, a bit pricey but super worth it.

Beryl's Chocolate Factory, Jalan Utara, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Like any tropical country, Malaysia offers a variety of fresh fruits like durian, jambu merah (or macopa), or the langsat aka the lanzones.

Ipoh is also popular for their pomelos, and so we visited the Go Chin Pomelo Nature Park. Basically, they have an open orchard where you can go around, and a shop where you can purchase a variety of this fruit. Pomelo is said to be good for asthma, migraine, and to recuperate the endocrine.

They have two types of pomelo in Malaysia, sweet and sour, which you can assess based on the fruit's skin texture:

Go Chin Pomelo Nature Park (Tambun), 158258A Jalan Ampang, Tambun, 31400 Ipoh, Perak

Perak Cuisines

And finally, I am down to the last part of this post - the meals. Perak locals are very proud that they are big foodies. Whenever I go in restaurants, hawkers, or cafes, there's this vibrant feel that's both welcoming and intriguing. When in Perak, you will never go hungry. And I can say this even as a vegetarian!

First stop: Gerbang Malam - a packed night market that sells clothes, accessories, gadgets, and even food. Market starts at 9PM till midnight. You can choose any restaurant here for dinner, and you're guaranteed to have authentic Perak cuisine.

Along Gerbang Malam is the popular Restoran Tauge Ayam Lou Wong, where we had our first dinner in Perak. It was a nice very-local experience. Our host ordered everything for us, so we were served with the poached chicken, Ipoh's famous bean sprouts, meatballs soup, and yellow rice. I also love all the fruit juice we had in Ipoh, like the sour plum from this meal. Very fresh flavor, and something that I haven't had anywhere!

My favorite, of course, is the bean sprouts dish which I found out is "very Ipoh". I like that they're bigger and crunchier than the usual toge that we have here in Manila. I can definitely finish a plate, haha!

49, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Although the building looks outdated, Kedai Makanan Nam Heong offered one of the most unforgettable meals I had in Perak. We all ordered the Hor Fun, a type of flat, white Chinese noodles made of rice. I like its nice thickness and texture, and although I've already tried different noodles in my life, I never had anything like this. And with the simple clear soup, the whole meal is actually filling and satisfying.

Bowls of Hor Fun, and our iced coffee. Looking back on my real-time Instagram post, I fearlessly described this noodle soup as "potential comfort food", not thinking that I may not find anything like it here in Manila, huhu.

2, Jalan Bandar Timah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

The white water rafting activity at the Gua Tempurung Outdoor Camp left us all tired, so I was a hungry wolf upon seeing this dining set-up back at the camp. When they introduced us to the lady who cooked all these authentic dishes for us, I had glittery eyes and was grateful for the treat. The second memorable dish I had in Ipoh was from this meal: The Curry Puffs

And it was not even included in this photo! Haha! Curry Puffs are small pies with deep-fried baked shells filled with curried potatoes. The group also enjoyed the curry and the beef rendang, and of course, flavored rice is always my weakness!

Kampung Gunong Panjang, 31600 Kampar, Perak, Malaysia

Before availing the attractions at the Lost World of Tambun (Ipoh), they gathered us for dinner at a special, quiet function room at the theme park. Before the meal, we were warned to take-in just a little food as it's better to go to the hot springs with light tummy. But lo and behold, we were served dishes upon dishes! Our host Ms. Mazian jokingly told us that "This is how light snack is for us!"

I later on figured out that they served to us samples of what they sell in their own "Ipoh Street" - a lane of food stalls. And as usual, everything's good!

2, Persiaran Lagun Sunway 1, Sunway City Ipoh, 31150 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

When I entered Teratak Warisan Kampung for a lunch in Kuala Kangsar, I felt unbelievably at home. Not only because of the welcoming set-up where the buffet stretches with all sorts of food that you might be craving for that day, but also because the people are all friendly. We chanced upon the owner heading out, and he was smiling while frying eggplants and ikan bakar (fish dish)! 

Teratak Warisan Kampung serves THIRTY different traditional Malay dishes daily, no wonder there's no shortage of vegetable options for me. Thank you!

Jalan Seri Maju 2, Taman Perindustrian Seri Maju, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia

For our last night, we aptly dined in Tong Sui Kai, Ipoh's own hawker food lane. Located in Jalan Sultan Ekram leading to the main road of Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, Tong Sui Kai or "Desserts Street" has about 50 food stalls open at night. Other than desserts, they also serve other gastronomical meals from noodles to salads which will be served to you wherever table you may be seated. One of our best meals in Perak!

Where we ordered the Ais Kacang featured earlier:

This stall is popular for their noodle soup:

What I had: A yummy thick noodles dish mixed with tauge and egg. Tastes great with the chili sauce on the side!

Fresh cucumber and pineapple salad, dipped in shrimp paste with nuts:

We ate everything while enjoying each others' stories from the past days, skipping from salad to noodles, dessert, back to the salad again! It was heavy, but a fun dining experience with the group. I also learned a little about each one of them, and although all of us just met for the first time because of this trip, Perak had been the perfect host for this new family.
Jln Sultan Ekram, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

So hard to pack my luggage with all the Malaysia treats I bought for my family and friends, haha! I got different types of coffee, nuts and chips, a bottle of Maggi Cili, and packs of this Maggi Kari:

I think it's core-memory level again when everyone felt so full from the dinner and decided to walk from the hawker back to our hotel. I was hesitant at first, but hey! Last night! We said good bye to Lim our driver, and Paul accompanied all four of us back to Hotel Excelsior.

Weather was cool, crossing the streets was a struggle because of the different orientation we had in Manila, and everyone seems to want to extend the night before our departure. Again, we talked non-stop about social media, a little about our lives, and of course about this simple yet beautiful state in Malaysia that we call Perak.

Simple but memorable, like all the meals we had during this trip. Mix all these elements, Perak figuratively left a really good taste in my mouth.
Till the next food trip!

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Read more of my Perak Malaysia posts HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Sobrang comprehensive ng food post na to! I'm craving for toge right now. Nahanap ko na pala yung tawag sa cucumber and pineapple + shrimp paste and nuts! It's Rojak. Ganda ng name no?


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