Ipoh Bites - Where To Eat In Ipoh Old Town

What to eat & drink in Ipoh that isn't chicken rice or Old Town coffee

While I'm all about the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - or rather "I'll fix it if I only need to use duct tape or WD40" - I am not at all adverse to introducing crazy newfangled ideas to areas where the classics have already stood the test of time. So, in the spirit of the 'something old, something new' of Ipoh Old Town's new retro revival and the 'modern treehouse meets historical house of decadence' of Sekeping Kong Heng, I'm rounding up my Ipoh blog posts with five alternative eateries beyond the city's already-established street food and hawker stalls. 

This delightful eatery, which also shares its space with a craft shop selling hand stitched leather goods in a dizzying array of colours, occupies a colonial-era building with a whimsical garland strewed tree in the front. Happily, Burps & Giggles has substance to match its style - the menu is as eclectic as the decor (curry chicken pasties topped with pear salad jostle for attention alongside ice-creams with distinctly Malaysian twists - gula melaka and lychee, anyone?) yet even the more straightforward dishes like a classic hamburger doesn't fail to elicit, well, burps and giggles. 

If you like your classic Malaysian dishes served with a side of shabby chic decor, you'd be missing your marbles not to check out this charming little place. Blink and you'll miss it - Missing Marbles is tucked away behind a wall of ivy crowding over former optical store Syarikat Cermin Mata Star. The restaurant is small but there's plenty to see, least of all the marbles dotted about the place for you to find. I had a Malaysian classic - nasi lemak with fried chicken - and enjoyed glimpses of Kong Heng Square through the back of the café where I watched scenes of Old Town life play out.

Throughout restaurants and cafés in Old Town you'll see signs saying "No Ice Ball" - either chiding you for even thinking of bringing in that dripping mess of a dessert or declaring that no, we don't serve that Ipoh classic. If anything, it piques curiosity about this mysterious sphere-like entity - what is this elusive, dreaded ice ball? What it says on the cover, really - shaved ice rolled into a ball, flavoured with sticky syrup and eaten out of brown waxed paper. A great place to try this sweet sensation is at Bits & Bobs in Kong Heng square, where ice snacks like Bandung Giler and Ms Sparkles have been served 'sejak selalu' (since forever).

Read more about Kong Heng Square: The New Old - The Retro Revival of Ipoh

Is a slick New York bistro meets Australian café from the BIG Group a tad too ambitious for laid-back Ipoh? Some would say so, but I think Plan B brings an interesting contrast to weathered, historical Kong Heng Square with its shiny industrial chic setting. Even with dirt-cheap and delicious hawker fare about, Plan B's relatively expensive fusion pasta dishes seem to go down a treat - the place is always buzzing even in the late hours of the evening. Tip: iced Australian coffee is smashing with soft shell crab tortellini.

If it's bohemian vibes you're after, you could do far worse than to check in at an 'art stay' at The Happy 8 in Old Town. In keeping with the organic decor their café offers simple, healthy fare. Unfortunately while the surroundings are sumptuous and inspired, the menu does not enjoy the same attention to detail. The food is fine, but when you consider the abundance of culinary offerings in the immediate area, The Happy 8 café doesn't seem like the first choice. I'd like to see the menu reworked with the same creativity and imagination applied to the hotel. In the mean time The Happy 8 is a great place for drinks - the dragonfruit smoothie was lovely - in absolutely charming settings.

Read the rest of my blog posts on Ipoh, Malaysia:

Luxury lakeside living at The Haven: Ipoh, Malaysia

The New Old: the Retro Revival of Ipoh, Malaysia


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