Thumb’s Cafe @ Greentown, Ipoh – A Halal Hangout SpotDecember 8, 2013 | 6,692 views
Thumb’s Cafe – A refurbished premise in the compound of Kompleks Badan Khidmat Islam Perak (BAKIP), this building used to the hostel for the orphanage under BAKIP.
It’s not easy finding a Halal cafe for hangout with Muslim friends in Ipoh. There are several pork-free joints in town, no doubt, yet one that’s operated by a Muslim is almost non-existent. Thanks to some heads-up from a reader; I came to the knowledge of a few new outlets in Ipoh; and Thumb’s Cafe in Greentown being one of those.
Benefiting from the owner, Elias Yahaya’s extensive travel experience over the last decade during his stint in the tourism industry, Thumb’s Cafe has become one exciting marriage of traditional Malay cuisine with modern Western fares. And this was also evident in the ambience of the cafe; imagine a bar top (that serves NO alcohol, of course) at one corner complete with high stools and a barista churning out frothy ‘teh tarik’, and plush settee with colourful cushions set against a backdrop of nostalgic window panes and curtains ala ‘kampung’ style.
In short, this could be a photographer’s dream come true. Read on to discover more about this rustic cafe housed in the middle of a bustling business district.
Notice the extent of nostalgic familiarity the owners are trying to bring back? Just look at the old school set of sofas with floral prints and the floor mat.
No doubt heavily influenced by the surge of modern/rustic cafes in town (think Burps & Giggles, Buku Tiga Lima, Jose & Deli, Plan B, etc), Thumb’s Cafe injected a different element into the mix; one of Malay culture.
Featured in the press before, Elias Yahaya’s previous venture was Hentian Rasa started back in 1988 along Jalan Tasek; a popular stop over for motorists utilizing the expressway coming for his rendition of rice porridge (which is also on the current menu, for only RM6/USD2 per portion)
The entire cafe can seat a good number of patrons, though the place was starting to get packed around 8.30 pm or so. The Malays tend to have their dinner later after prayers, so if you would like to avoid the crowd, come early. Bear in mind that there is no air-conditioning here; but the air flow is naturally good with lots of open windows, wall fans and even a mobile cooler unit stationed by the entrance.
The menu was a mindless one-pager. The Western section features slightly more superior options like the signature Meatballs (beef), Grilled Chicken Chop, Lamb Chop, Spaghetti and sandwiches including Tortilla Wrap, the Local section had only a handful of options; the aforementioned Kanji/Bubur (rice porridge), Thumb’s Chicken Rice, Mee Goreng Mamak and Fried Rice. All the mains are priced within RM5 – RM15 each; while starters of homemade mushroom soup and snacks of fries or wedges are also available for around RM5 per serving.
Heavily influenced by IKEA’s version, the beef meatballs (10 pcs for RM11/USD3.50) at Thumb’s Cafe came with thick cut fries, drenched in an almost similar tasting brown sauce robust with beef stock and complete with chopped fresh parsley. Just that there was no lingonberry jam in sight, instead strawberry jam was used.
Grilled Chicken Chop with Brown Sauce (RM12/USD4) and Mee Mamak (RM5/USD1.60) were the other mains we sampled. The lady boss behind the counter was an affable lady; almost everyone was stunned as to how we came to know about this place. And yes, we were the only Chinese customers this evening.
The Meatballs were made in-house, obviously. So there shouldn’t be worry about using non-Halal beef, or worse … the horse meat scare saga. That being said, being homemade minced/ground beef; there were gritty bits of beef; tendons, fats and all in the meatballs. A tad annoying when you have 10 pieces to chew on and almost every one of them had hardened, gritty bits in them. Maybe they could have used a better blender or isolate the extra parts first before shaping the patties into meatballs. The sauce was almost spot-on though, which was a huge plus since I don’t remember anywhere else in Ipoh serving IKEA style meatballs thus far.
The Chicken Chop and Mee Mamak were merely passable fares, the latter had too much salt in the noodles; rendering every mouthful a hypertensive scare. The boneless chicken fillet was graciously tender; doused in a brown sauce that’s almost like the meatballs’. However, the thick cut fries were soggy upon served.
You could also go for a piece of brownie (chocolate or coffee @ RM4 each) to end your meal.
The beverages were nothing to shout about; but then again, we did not try their own concoctions like Casablanca or 1001 Nights. Don’t worry, no alcohol is served here. The Iced Nescafe had too much condensed milk in it, and too diluted to even taste the caffeine.
These are but some points that they should look into, as I think the place holds promise for being a very decent and cool ‘halal’ spot to hang out in Ipoh. Next time, I will give their rice porridge a try. Between the rice porridge and the meatballs, I am sure the former would have come out top after a tenacious 25 years of history.
They have been featured in New Straits Times before, you can read the article from the link.
The exterior facade of Thumb’s Cafe may not appear to be extremely alluring aesthetically, but exuding a traditional ‘kampung’ style of aura that beckons you over.
The other cafes being recommended by the same reader were : El Negra Distro, Khizanat and Ooi & Comrades. Have you visited any of them?
THUMB’S CAFE (HALAL)
No. 133, Jalan Sultan Abdul Jalil,
30450 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Business Hours : Opens from 7am onwards for breakfast, and dinner menu is served from 5pm – 1am.
Closed on Mondays.
GPS : 4.598581,101.09732
Thumb’s Cafe is situated a few doors away from Greentown Seafood Restaurant (also Halal), which was Laksamana Cheng Ho previously. Along the same road as Brewster’s, Barracuda Restaurant and Ipoh Parade.