ART of OLDTOWN & A Hearty Pot of “Kwai Fah” Fish Soup @ Kafe Yoon WahJune 12, 2014 | 4,900 views
The Street Arts Craze Hits Ipoh! This harmless-looking, almost inconspicuous packet of ‘kopi-o’ started it all. Though one might be pondering upon this million dollar question; “When has Ipoh white coffee ever been black?”
In a matter of months, it surprises me on how things have shaped and shaken up over in Ipoh old town. The surge of boutique cafes brought a younger crowd to this older part of town in this recent year or two. Even then, thankfully, the many staunch Ipoh street food champions have not stepped down nor bow to the overwhelming wave of commercialisation.
Lucky for us to catch the artist in action; Ernest Zacharevic‘s the man responsible for single-handedly transformed the heritage facade of Georgetown into a canvas for his brand of murals; subtle and muted with strong elements of local culture
And so, if you are planning to spend your precious last weekend of the school holidays in Ipoh with your kids, then brace the heat and the lack of road signs (yes, still a nuisance if you ask me) and embark on a street arts adventure. There are only a handful of the paintings now around old town, so this should be a cinch.
Especially after a sinful bowl of curry mee, chicken kuey teow soup and the umpteenth cup of white coffee, it’s also wise to take a stroll and create that desired vacuum in your gut again; for further gastronomic pleasures.
Kafe Yoon Wah @ Ipoh old town – Saucer plates of various dipping sauces for picking; from the milder soy sauce and minced garlic, to the Malaysians’ favourite chopped ‘cili padi’ in soy sauce and their concoction of killer sambal belacan.
I should probably spend more time discovering old town during one of my homecoming trips. There are at least a dozen eateries worth your time, plentiful of beautiful heritage structures as back drop for photography, and a warm sense of camaraderie shared between the long time inhabitants and traders of the area. Don’t go thinking that old town’s all about white coffee only.
Now, with more effort and resources pumped into changing the landscape and development of old town, it has never failed to instil a feeling of pride in this true blue Ipoh boy; watching pre-colonial shophouses transformed into modern boutique cafes yet still retaining the facade; some to the extent of engaging in minimal refurbishing inside the premise and recycling the materials from the previous business.
Mike’s Place occupies an enviable location at the end of Concubine Lane (Lorong Panglima); sharing the crowd with Yoon Wah Cafe that is a household name for Snow Beer (“Shuet Far Beh”)
I have been waiting for Concubine Lane to be revived after learning about the resources pumped in for a facelift. That was at least two years or so ago. Although nothing much has been done (hoping that it’s been planned), both ends of the small lane are very distinctive in terms of attracting the crowd; Wong Koh Kee charming the lunch crowd with their more than half a century’s old fares; including the best Sweet & Sour Pork in Ipoh and the unmistakably traditional Braised Deep Fried Fish Head, while Yoon Wah Cafe dishes up late night ‘chu char’ dishes paired with their trademark Snow Beer.
Stir Fried Chinese Cabbage with Roasted Pork – Crunchy “Wong Nga Bak” cooked with caramelised roasted pork, onions, carrots, capsicum and red chillies
We chanced upon a last minute dinner arrangement at Yoon Wah Cafe in Ipoh old town. Dinner options in Ipoh are aplenty; with ‘chu char’ (or ‘dai chow’) places dominating the scene in town and deep within neighbourhoods. Yoon Wah is a Chinese eatery famous and the origin of snow beer; ice-frosted mugs filled with bubbly beer of your choice; creating a refreshingly chilling sensation that’s best downed in one gulp.
The Hummingbird stays hidden from view; blending in perfectly with the blueish-hued walls with peeling paints and a tall, shady tree leaning against the wall of the open space car park.
Claypot Kwai Fah (Osmanthus?) Fish (MYR90/USD30) – Not your everyday pot of soup; this premium-priced fish (not sure of its translated name) lost its usually smooth and bouncy texture after cooking in the soup laden with various herbs; and a healthy dose of ginger and scallions to reduce the fishy taste.
Yoon Wah Cafe has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. From the rarer orders like steamed frogs with Brand’s essence of chicken and deep fried baby octopus to more lavish steamed fish like the “Kwai Fah” fish, “Pak Sok Gong” etc and crunchy beer snacks like salted egg mantis prawns, Yoon Wah and Sun Yoon Wah across the road have a really strong following.
You can judge their popularity from the tables and red plastic chairs arranged outside the premises; occupying half the streets.
But a word of caution though, do ask for the price before ordering exotic seafood; we were taken aback by the MYR90 price tag of the claypot fish soup, which was underwhelming in terms of taste actually.
The 5 packets of Kopi-O in the works – This is the open space car park in front of Maybank along Jalan Tun Sambanthan in old town.
Nonetheless, it’s always comforting to find a place that opens until late night for supper gatherings and a ‘yum seng’ celebratory good time with friends and family. Aside from Yoon Wah, the dining scene in old town is pretty limited; with Hoong Tho being the other recommended place for their noodles and fried wantons.
Stir Fried Chicken with onions, dried chillies and ginger in Soy Sauce – Now this was easily the best dish of the evening; the “Kon Chin Gai” was almost on par with Sin Hup Kee‘s.
Uncle Drinking White Coffee – Painted against the wall of the Old Town White Coffee outlet facing Ipoh Padang; this mural will be remembered in time to come.
*Watch the video on YouTube : ART OF OLDTOWN – A collaboration between Old Town White Coffee & famous Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic
KAFE YOON WAH
7, Jalan Bijeh Timah,
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
GPS : 4.596957, 101.078994
Hanging Packet of Kopi-O on Blue Shutter opposite of Kong Heng along Jalan Bandar Timah – GPS 4.596510, 101.078053
5 Packets of Kopi-O along Jalan Tun Sambanthan, in front of Maybank – GPS 4.597137, 101.078723
The Hummingbird at open space car park along Jalan Panglima; back to back with 5 Packets of Kopi-O – GPS 4.596709, 101.078493
Uncle Drinking White Coffee at the side wall of Old Town White Coffee Outlet facing Ipoh Padang – GPS 4.597891, 101.076207
And there’s another painting I missed … of a small girl. Do you want to help Motormouth on this?