When it comes to great food destinations in Malaysia, Ipoh is one of the most mentioned locations for those looking for a delicious bite. Food in Ipoh is one of the city’s biggest draws for travellers and Malays alike, and regularly features on the bucket lists of foodies visiting the peninsula nation.
Why is Ipoh Food so good?
Ipoh’s food is one of the biggest attractions for travellers. Located in the state of Perak, this beautiful place is a perfect blend of historical intrigue and delicious food that keeps people coming back time and time again.
Ipoh locals are incredibly proud of their city, which is the most evident in their cuisine. Restauranteurs and street vendors alike take great pride in their meals, and many of the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.
Whether you’re after quick and easy street food or want to sit down and bask in the gastronomical scene of this charming city, cafés in Ipoh are sure to impress! From classic cuisine through to modern fusion dishes, there is something for everyone when it comes to food in Ipoh. Look for dishes like dry curry noodles, bean sprouts chicken, and nasi ganja to get a proper taste of the best food in Ipoh.
While the food in Ipoh is often meat-based, there are some delicious vegetarian and sweet options too! Keep an eye out for the city’s famous egg tarts and muaci, and much of the Ipoh dim sum available is made meat-free.
Western food in Ipoh is also readily available for those who want something a little closer to home. There are plenty of American-style diners scattered around the city, and many traditional restaurants will also offer burgers and fries as part of their regular menu. If you want something that’s a combination between Malay cuisine and Western fare, some places have created pasta and pizza dishes with an Ipoh twist, enough to sate even the most unusual appetites.
10 Must-Try Foods in Ipoh
The only difficult thing about Ipoh food is choosing where to start! If you are a true foodie but need some guidance on where to begin, here is a list of 10 must-try foods in Ipoh to sink your teeth into!
Bean Sprouts Chicken
Well known as an Ipoh famous food, bean sprouts chicken is a combination of two of the region’s most common ingredients. Fresh, crunchy beansprouts are combined with chicken thighs that have been marinated in soy sauce and baked for hours, resulting in juicy, tender meat with a richly savoury taste.
Bean sprouts chicken is usually served with rice or rice noodles and is a uniquely delicious blend of textures sure to make your mouth water. You’ll find it sold at many street vendors, but the best area to grab this Ipoh food is the iconic Old Town – most restaurants and cafés in Ipoh will have some variation of the dish on their menu. This is the perfect choice for your first dinner in Ipoh, and will definitely stay on your mind for years to come!
Hainanese Curry Mee
Curry mee is an Ipoh food staple, and for an excellent reason. Egg noodles, spicy broth, and succulent meats come together to create one of the best foods in Ipoh – just ask the locals! Curry mee is a favourite Ipoh dinner, and is sure to keep you coming back for more.
While different vendors and cafés in Ipoh have slightly different recipes, most variations will include heavy doses of cardamom, Sichuan pepper, and mint in their sauce and are incredibly moreish. Whether you prefer a thicker sauce or would like something with no meat, most places are happy to customize this dish to accommodate your tastes – our recommendation is to try the meal as-is, as the locals know what they’re doing.
Gai Si Hor Fun
For those unfamiliar with Malaysian food, breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals may seem somewhat similar in taste. Gai si hor fun, or ‘chicken slices with flat rice noodles,’ is stereotypical breakfast food in Ipoh, though you can also find it for meals later in the day if you don’t feel like a heavy meal to start your day.
As the name suggests, the main ingredient of Gai si hor fun is thinly-sliced chicken breast served on a bed of springy, chewy rice noodles. This delicious Ipoh food is usually served with seafood and chicken broth, which creates a juicy, bright taste sure to satisfy at any time of day. However, if you don’t want the broth, you can order the meal without the soup – the dry version is just as delicious!
Hor Hee Noodles
For those who don’t feel like chicken, hor hee noodles are another breakfast staple sure to delight your tastebuds! This seafood dish is almost exclusive to the region, and is considered by many to be the best food in Ipoh.
While there is no hard-and-fast recipe for creating hor hee noodles, most come with a mix of fish, prawns, and shellfish served with noodles in a rich fish broth. Some common additions to this classic Ipoh dish include fish balls, crispy fried onions, and crab cakes – if you’re fussy about seafood, ask your server for the ingredients before proceeding!
Many Malaysian foods are heavily influenced by Chinese and British foods, and dim sum is no exception. Originally a Hong Kong speciality, this bits-and-pieces meal is definitely an Ipoh famous food, and the best options are found right in the centre of town!
If you’re after good dim sum, Ipoh is known for its wide variety of dumplings, buns (bao), and steamed vegetable and meat side dishes, sure to satisfy even the hungriest bellies. Vegetarians may also prefer this Ipoh food option, as there are plenty of vegetable-based options like spring rolls, Chinese greens, and red bean dumplings.
One of the best options for Ipoh dim sum is the fish dumplings. While most dumplings or balls in Hong Kong are filled with pork, chicken, or beef, Ipoh’s proclivity for fresh seafood means that you’ll find delicious, garlicky fish paste dumplings on almost every menu in town.
Chee Cheong Fun
Vegetarians, don’t worry - this is one example of a dish name that is not to be taken literally! In Cantonese, the name translates to ‘pig intestine noodles’ and could put off anyone with a sensitive stomach. Far from referring to the ingredient, chee cheong fun is named because of the twisted rice rolls that resemble squiggly pig’s innards – gross, but true!
Chee cheong fun is typical street food in Ipoh, and you’ll find it on almost every corner in the historic Old Town. Chewy rice rolls are steamed, then covered in thick, spicy sauces. Often served with fried shallots and hot chillies, this dish is perfect for eating on the go and is a staple for vegetarians looking for a quick snack while they explore.
Salt-baked chicken is possibly the most iconic food in Ipoh, and it wouldn’t be a visit to the city without trying this dish at least once. As well as being delicious, it is straightforward to make, and only takes a few ingredients and minimal effort for arguably the best food in Ipoh.
Chinese herbs, soy sauce, and free-range chicken breast are wrapped together in paper, then baked in earth ovens or woks filled with sea salt. While this might sound like salt overkill, the result of the long cooking time means that the chicken emerges juicy and tender, and can easily be pulled apart with a fork.
While salt-baked chicken is often served with rice or rice noodles, you can also enjoy this Ipoh famous food on its own. Many street vendors sell the tender shredded meat wrapped in paper parcels – simply grab yourself a portion, then enjoy this Ipoh food as you wander through the Old Town’s magical streets.
Some of the best foods in Ipoh are steeped in history, and the popularity often stems from the nostalgia of older generations. Ais kepal, literally translated as ‘ice with syrup,’ is a simple Ipoh dessert made from shaved ice and sweet fruit syrups and is a favorite of young kids during hot weather.
Ais kepal is different from many other icy treats, as it is so simple and easy to make. In recent days, popular versions of this ball-shaped dessert include Milo, chocolate, and caramel syrups, although classic choices like lychee and mango are still local favorites.
This Malaysian dessert is quite tricky to find in most places, but Ipoh Old Town is a haven for this nostalgic sweet treat. With so many different options, ais kepal is the perfect choice for wandering around in warmer weather – simply visit a street vendor and eat the cool dessert straight from a paper cup as you explore!
Caramel Egg Custard
Sweet foods in Ipoh are just as tasty as the savoury ones, and caramel egg custard is at the top of the list for most foodie travellers. This Ipoh famous food is different from similar European versions due to how the custard is made - this results in a creamier, less sickly-sweet dessert that will delight any sweet tooth.
Due to its popularity, you’ll find caramel egg custard in most cafés in Ipoh. Many locals will enjoy this sweet delight with a cup of the famous Ipoh white coffee for a sugary caffeine hit, though it’s wonderful on its own as well.
Sweet, creamy, and oh-so-satisfying, caramel egg custard is a dessert staple for locals, and is the perfect finish for a traditional Ipoh meal. While the custard can be eaten hot or cold, we recommend looking for a chilled version – particularly on a hot day!
Don’t confuse this rice-based dessert with Japanese mochi! While muaci are just as delicious, this Ipoh food is rougher around the edges, and is usually served with crushed peanuts or brown sugar to create a crunchy texture that sets it apart.
While muaci is generally sold at street markets, some of the best cafés in Ipoh also offer the sweet morsels in a display cabinet near the front of the store. You’ll also find it as part of the dessert menu at some of the Ipoh dim sum restaurants – try the red bean paste versions, or stick to mango and tamarind options for a sweet and sour taste sensation! You can also opt to top your muaci with peanut butter, or dip it in a sugar-and-salt chilli powder that will make your tastebuds explode.
Take a trip to Malaysian food heaven!
If you weren’t thinking about visiting Ipoh before, you definitely should be now! From salty and rich to sweet and creamy, there is something for every taste when it comes to food in Ipoh. This list only scratches the surface of the city's most famous foods, and you could spend months here just sampling the delicious local fare.