No self-respecting foodie in Malaysia would admit not being to, let alone not knowing abour, Nam Heong - the venerable old kopitiam (traditional Hainanese coffeeshop) on Jalan Bandar Timah. It'd been there since 1958, a year after Malaya got its independence from their British colonial masters.
The Hainanese-Chinese worked as the chefs, kitchen staff and wait-staff during colonial British Malaya, and they continued dominating the food industry in Malaysia and Singapore since that time. In those years, coffee-bean manufacturers and sellers occupy the area around Jalan Bandar Timah (then Leech Road) and Jalan Bijeh Timah (Treacher Street). Nam Heong was the first one to actually serve coffee on its premises, and has been successfully doing so ever since.
These days, having a cuppa and a Cantonese egg tart ("tarn taht"), hot out of the oven, is a must-do for every visitor to Ipoh.
The place seemed perpetually crowded round the clock - but you can share a table ("tup toi") with strangers - Ipoh-ites are pretty friendly and may just strike up a conversation with you.
This old Hakka noodle & "yong tau fu" stall is strategically located at the front of Nam Heong.
The Hakkas are a hardy Chinese ethnic group, known as the "gypsies of China" as they migrated from the north of the continent slowly southwards, driven by wars through the centuries. The Hakkas worked the tin mines in old Ipoh during the mid-19th century. Their food tend to be protein-rich to support their menial work demands.
The Hakka noodles here have a nice, springy texture, served topped with minced pork and chopped scallions.
A selection of fishballs and tofu stuffed with fish-paste.
Nam Heong serves perhaps the *best* white coffee in Ipoh - although its old-time rival across the street, Sin Yoon Loong, will dispute that.
The coffee here is rich, mellow and full-bodied, and served sweetened (remember to ask for less or no sugar when you order, if you don't like your coffee sweet) and evaporated milk.
Soft, buttery, eggy custard enfolded in a crisp, flaky pastry cup - one of the nest in town!
Whilst Nam Heong has franchised its name out to become that rather horrid "Old Town White Coffee" chain throughout Malaysia and Singapore, one really *needs* to visit the original outlet in Ipoh Old Town to get the authentic flavours - especially for the coffee.
2, Jalan Bandar Timah
Ipoh, Perak 30000
Tel: +6016-553 8119