Re­defin­ing Ipoh's café cul­ture

KJ Lai ex­plores the mod­ern face of the Ipoh ko­pi­tiam

Time Out Malaysia Eating and Drinking Guide - - CONTENTS -

Ipoh has al­ways been as­so­ci­ated with good food, whether it’s clas­sic Chi­nese food from fa­mous restau­rants or af­ford­able food from tra­di­tional cof­fee shops or ko­pi­ti­ams. Ko­pi­ti­ams are es­pe­cially popular places where lo­cals can bond with friends and fam­ily over a cup of cof­fee or a sim­ple bowl of noo­dles. Some are more than half a cen­tury old, such as Thean Chun, Kong Heng, Sin Yoon Loong and Nam Heong. Hav­ing thrived and per­fected their recipes through­out the years, th­ese ko­pi­ti­ams lure many back to the same place to find the fa­mil­iar­ity of com­fort food.

While ko­pi­ti­ams are main­tain­ing their pop­u­lar­ity, a new kind of cul­ture has slowly emerged in Ipoh: caféhop­ping is sud­denly the lat­est trend. Over the course of the past year or so, cafés have sub­tly opened one at a time. Be­fore we re­alised it, Ipoh has be­come dot­ted with more than 30 unique hip­ster cafés, form­ing a new café cul­ture em­braced by young and old that is sweep­ing across the city like a tor­nado.

The cafés have gen­er­ated a new genre of din­ing in Ipoh where am­bi­ence is as im­por­tant as food (some­times even more im­por­tant) and prices are at

a pre­mium. Each café has al­ways man­aged to wow me with its set­ting – be it Parisian, Korean, eclec­tic rus­tic, or vin­tage. Some cafés in Ipoh have dual func­tions so that you can get a hair­cut, at­tend a ukulele les­son or chat with an assem­bly­man while en­joy­ing more than just cof­fee and cake. Food in Ipoh's new breed of cafés is mostly western with pasta, sand­wiches, cakes and cof­fee all on the menu but a lesser num­ber of them do serve Asian cui­sine. With so many new open­ings, it’s hard to choose our favourites. But here are a few we think you should try…

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