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Jun 8, 2009 07:11 AM

Ipoh, Malaysia: Keng Nam Coffee Shop

We were brought to this "other place" by our Ipoh foodie friend after a fruitless attempt to get a seat at the legendary & notoriously popular Xin Quan Fang restaurant: imagine 80 or so people jostling for tables in a tiny restaurant with a 30-people capacity (there's NO queuing system in Ipoh!) at 7.30am in the morning, and you get the picture. And they sell out fast - usually by 12 noon daily & promptly close shop!

Anyway, Keng Nam purportedly sells the famous Ipoh curry noodles which are "almost" as good as the one at Xin Quan Fang. Well, I didn't have achance to compare, but Keng Nam's curry noodles (they call it "curry mee" in Ipoh) is one of the best I've ever tasted: thick, savory curry sauce redolent of coriander. The noodles are served topped with slivers of curried chicken, crisp-skinned roast pork, thin slices of Chinese-style barbecued pork (char siew), and garnished with mint leaves.

Whilst slurping our noodles, we could not help noticing that diners at almost every other table in the restaurant seemed to have also ordered small plates of glutinous rice topped with chicken curry from another food stall there. We couldn't resist trying it, and was rewarded by perhaps the food discovery of this food journey we made to Ipoh. The dish, which they simply called "lor mai farn" was truly amazing!!

If Keng Nam was THIS good, I can't wait to try Xin Quan Fang the next time I visit Ipoh!

Keng Nam Coffee Shop
127, Jalan Raja Ekram, Ipoh, Malaysia

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  1. KENG NAM is also very well-known in Ipoh for the teh-si or tea with evaporated milk. The best in Ipoh!

    As for the glutinous rice, they use only the purest high-grade glutinous rice, that's why the texture is perfect ... you can still see the grains separately.. after steaming. Besides the chicken curry topping, you can also order the sweet version, with Hainanese kaya topping. But personally, I also prefer the chicken curry topping :)

    By the way, Ipoh's most famous dim sum house: FOH SAN, has moved its own new premises near Jalan Raja Ekram, 5 minutes' drive from Keng Nam. Also near Ipoh Central coffee shop, where the famous GUAN KEE bakchang is sold.

    On XIN QUAN FANG - their curry mee also has pork skin/crackling besides char siew & siew yoke. When I'm in Ipoh, I'm normally there by 7.30am to get a table. I think the owners take their own sweet time to chop the meats, blanch the noodles, etc whilst you wait. Bring newspapers to read, or bring a group of friends to chat. It's a frustratingly long wait, but the curry is worth EVERY DROP!

    8 Replies
    1. re: penang_rojak

      Yes, we noticed the new Foh San restaurant's location when we were having the bakchang at Ipoh Central. The queues to get a table for dim sum at Foh San still starts before 8am. Crowds seem to be de rigeur at EVERY Ipoh eatery we visited!

      Anyway, it's well-known amongst local Ipoh gourmets that Foh San's dim sum dumplings are massive - golf ball-sized, whilst its bitter rival, Ming Court's dim sum are daintier & finer.

      Foh San
      51, Jalan Leong Sin Nam, Ipoh, Malaysia

      1. re: klyeoh

        My local Ipoh friends prefer MING COURT, said Foh San's standard has dropped recently. But FS has its regular followers & will always be the top dim sum choice in Ipoh. Ipoh restaurants & eating places tend to be very crowded because, as you wld have noticed, eating out is the NUMBER ONE activity for people in Ipoh! Coffee shop culture is as entrenched in Ipoh as cafe culture in Seattle :D
        Next time you're in Ipoh, try a Western fine-dining restaurant like Indulgence, set in a beautiful colonial bungalow at Jalan Raja DiHilir:

        Serves Japanese Kumamoto oysters & Kobe beef.

        1. re: penang_rojak

          I will be eating in Indulgence tonight. Will give a full report tomorrow.

            1. re: penang_rojak

              Indulgence's interior has a Provence style. No complaints about the service or the hotel rooms. Even the (wireless) internet worked perfectly.
              The restaurant may be considered completely French. All ingredients have been imported. The food tasted very nice, however lateron I did not feel very well. Whenever this happens there may secretly be MSG in the food or the wine was no good. This morning I got the answer as my lips were completely purple. The bad wine was a 2006 Ch√Ęteau de Fonbel.
              Anyhow for those that ever travel from Penang to KL or vice versa and want Western food, I surely recommend this place.

              1. re: tkamp

                Sorry to hear about your bad wine experience! Did you inform the management afterwards?

                1. re: penang_rojak

                  No, you have to realise that 9 out of 10 people are not as sensitive as I am and will always have a great dinner and drinking experience. I simply hope to hear more from the 1 out of 10 that is equally "picky" as I am.

                  1. re: tkamp

                    What a disappointing experience nonetheless.

                    I was actually hoping for a more descriptive post from you regarding the dishes you had, or perhaps some photos.

                    Still, I figured Ipoh is NOT exactly the place you'd go for French-style fine-dining - its forte has always been its hawker foods, and the incredible "white coffee".

                    Hope you've gotten well by now!

    2. Passed by the famous Xin Quan Fang curry mee place in Ipoh today - it was only 10.30am but Xin Quan Fang has already sold out for the day! I was told that Ipoh residents would pack the restaurant for breakfast by 7.30am in the morning.

      2 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        Finally, got to try Xin Quan Fang this morning after 2 previous fruitless attempts in June 2008 & Sep 2011.

        Strangely, now that I'd finally tried it, I thought I rather preferred Keng Nam's version ;-)

        1. re: klyeoh

          The Chase is Better Than The Catch.
          So they say. :-)