No sooner did I decide a date for a food review at Little Cafe Ipoh, our Sony Fanboy made a hasty decision to do it today. As quick as lighting, I’m reaching Papa through WhatsApp, and got the green light for us to go. It’s been too long since the M Makan Kaki’s gang set foot in cafes or restaurants in Ipoh. As a result of this pandemic, we all need to re-evaluate our needs and to follow the new norm.
To Little Ipoh Cafe We Go
Without delay, my girls and I left the office at 12:20 pm, abandoning the boys behind. Do take note that parking can be a bit of a challenge because the cafe is within the vicinity of Concubine Lane. About 10 minutes drive from M Roof Hotel & Residences, we set foot in the vibrant cafe called Little Ipoh Cafe. Despite being the new kid on the block, the restaurant has garnered quite a large following, especially during lunch hour. Thankfully, we arrived there before the long queue. Notwithstanding, the ground floor is thronged with customers busy eating, chit-chatting, and taking pictures for a Gram.
While we’re not able to find empty seats, their pretty crew suggest us to go upstairs. We choose to do lunch at the end corner seats adorned with long strands of artificial marigold garlands; mesmerizing our eyes. Since we are likely to be noisy and cause trouble, that is to say this is the best place for the boisterous us.
Newcomer to The Area
Situated along Jalan Sultan Yussuf, this cafe occupies an old disused building right next to Ipoh Kong Heng. In fact, the building is formerly a dressmaker’s store, U.S Peter (you can see through the old white signboard). Furthermore, this is where the former pioneer of Ipoh’s hipster café, Burps and Giggles was located, and it looks like it has closed its doors – repurposed to Little Ipoh Cafe.
Having a confab with the soft-spoken Ms. Ika gives us a better understanding of the cafe. Little Ipoh Cafe roots began as a small vendor in Petronas, Bandar Universiti at Seri Iskandar. The nostalgic taste of its coffee and curry mee remains in the memories of our member who used to go there whilst studying at Uitm Seri Iskandar. After several years of operation, they moved to Bandar Universiti Lakeville, in a shop lot within reach of Petronas. As luck would have it, their ambition to spread their wings in Ipoh has finally come true.
Behind The Name of Little Ipoh Cafe
Basically, Little Ipoh is all about combining Malaysian cultural diversity (Malays, Chinese, Indians) in a cafe. By that, Little Ipoh Cafe welcomed Ipoh’s people who gravitate towards antique décor with a homey vibe. Speaking of the interior, Ms. Ika said a ton of works for redesigning took them 2 months. The renovation covers several aspects of the cafe’s design including furniture and decorations that were handmade themselves. For instance, things worth paying attention are the giant mural paintings of hummingbirds on the wall, commissioned by her sister who is a fine art graduate.
As the interior designer of the cafe, Ms. Ika recreates the elements of Malaysian multicultural society, typified by three major ethnic groups; Malays, Chinese, and Indians. The wooden windows of the upper level is embellished with colorful batik that personifies Malay arts. Chinese elements is delineated by old school decor – strap relax chairs with the Good Morning Towel a.k.a G.M.T, reminiscent of wistful Kopitiam uncle and auntie. Furthermore, strands of garlands consisting of warm color faux marigold dangle from the strings symbolizing Indian culture. You will also find typography on the wall with multicultural languages that translate to the most used Malaysian phrase – “let’s eat”.
Little Ipoh Cafe, a self-service cafe boasts substantial selection of all-day dining — highlighting Malaysian favorites. As soon as we saw the signature selections, Nasi Ayam, Mee Kari, and Roti Bakar Telur Goyang immediately caught our eyes. Our fussy eater wants to try Nasi Tomato, but with no luck, as it was unavailable. Henceforth, he orders the recommended menu called Nasi Kari Ayam Sia’. On top of that, we added Soto, Mee Rebus, Nasi Lemak Ipoh, and Roti Titab.
Greasy Soto, But Surprisingly Good
The star of the show, without a doubt, was Soto. A bowl of nasi impit, shredded chicken meat, bean sprouts, fried soo hoon, and peanuts with a nice hot comfy soup. It is utterly delicious with all aromatics seeping into the broth. However, we had to cut some points for its greasy soup, as there was a thick layer of oil floating on top of the savory soup.
Little Ipoh Cafe’s Signature Dish
Using a bamboo colander (or more commonly known as dulang in Malay) as a serving platter for several menus drew our attention. Differing from using a porcelain plates, Little Ipoh Cafe is being creative in their food presentation. Moving on, let’s talk about their signature dishes. First, Nasi Ayam has a strong aromatic spice. Their signatures black sauce (secret ingredients), adds to it’s one-of-a-kind appeal. This duet of rice and chicken becomes an even more exciting trio. Secondly, Sony Fanboy kept praising that Mee Kari is good stuff. However, my girls and I find it a tad salty and a bit sour. I don’t understand how his tastebuds work…..Well, there’s no accounting for taste. Lastly, nothing says comfort like classical Roti Bakar Telur Goyang. Our tallest member gulped down Half Boiled Egg and toast, leaving us an empty plate in a blink of an eye.
Nasi Kari Ayam Sia’!
It’s time for a scrummy Nasi Kari Ayam Sia’. The reason why our fussy eater order it because the word sia’ catches his attention (he thought of some slang words…..apa sia?). However, sia’ refers to mangkuk tingkat (tiffin carriers). Ms. Ika said, “Orang dulu-dulu panggil magkuk tingkat ni sia’“. They are using the old classic name in the menu so that it will not be forgotten by the younger generation. It amazes us as it arrives on our table! Mini vintage tiffin carrier hiding chicken curry, salted egg, sambal belacan, and prawn crackers. It is a flavor bomb, slightly spicy in coconutty curry sauce. Spooned the curry into rice, it tastes so good. Ah, life is blissful.
More Kaya Please
Wanting a light lunch, our finicky eater’s Roti Titab reaches on the table. Served with a poached egg in the middle of the toast with kaya spread over every corner of the bread. She complains about the amount of kaya on her Roti Titab (more! she wants more kaya on her plate!). Unfortunately, as we were bringing up the dish, the poached egg yolk burst and overflowed onto the plate. So we need to bear on her continuous nagging ….. (put that blame on us). Not too sweet kaya coupled with a poach egg ….. you’ll find happiness as simple as toast (but maybe with more KAYA).
The Taste Is Not Right
Mee Rebus is a bit off and this is something that we were not expecting. It is not as noteworthy, in fact, there is no sight of prawn fritters. The gravy is overly thick and bland for a sweet potato-based broth. We will not recommended this for trying. Craving for Nasi Dagang, our scrupulous eater was dismayed as it is also not available. So she has to give Nasi Lemak Ipoh a try. Taste as regular nasi lemak .. coconut rice, fairly spicy sambal, ikan bilis goreng, cucumber, and half-boiled egg. There is nothing to shout about ….. as we are expecting more creamy, milky rice.
Cold Drinks In Kole
It feels like a throwback when they served drinks in a vintage enamel mug (which we called Kole). When asking about where they get all of the outdated stuff, Ms. Ika smiled and kept mum (shhh rahsia…..). The sweetness of yellow gelatin, sugar syrup, and lime juice all together in a bowl of Lengkong Kuning is worth a try. Since we are in a cafe that brings nostalgic Malaysia vibes, ABC is a must! A mound of finely shaved ice sweetened with red sweet flavored syrup and evaporated milk topped with a green jelly, kidney beans, and sweet corn beat the heat during lunch.
There are also three drinks from the signature list — Iced Cappuccino, Iced White Coffee, and Iced Teh Tarik. We won’t go into details as it is not a homemade fresh brew but it is from premix machine. Oh, one more thing, they provide sugar syrup, separately should you have a sweet tooth. Their Teh Tarik doesn’t Umphhh enough! Not kaw at all! It makes me question why is it listed as a signature menu?
Fresh, quenching, but above all, our particular eater can’t withstand the Lemonade sourness. Super sour explosion exploded in the mouth within a sip (even I can’t handle it). Lastly, Iced Milo Tabur is so chocolatey. Topped with undissolved Milo powder makes it even more addicting!
Charming Rookie Cafe
To end the review, we got it for a song as we only spent RM78.90! That’s quite within one’s means. As for the rating, I would give 6/10. We really admire their quaint decorations, nevertheless some of the food is mediocre (just our two cents). Anyhow, they’re new in Ipoh market (they only opened for two weeks when we did this review …) there will always room for improvement. We believe good food will garner more patrons in the long run, so we hope more people will come to this cafe in future. With splashes of Malaysian culture, Little Ipoh Cafe (Ipoh branch) should be a new lookout for Ipohnites out there!
93-95, Jalan Sultan Yusof, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
Closed – Wednesday
7:00 am – 5:00 pm (Monday to Sunday)
NOTE : We do not eat for free, nor were we paid for this review. We ordered and paid for everything that we consume. This review is a general summary from feedback by all members of the M Boutique Family who partook in the Food Review. If you need to know more about them, don’t forget to pay a visit to their Facebook page.
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