Holiday Foodsteps: Ipoh - The Power of Choice

I've always loved coffee shops - the old Chinese coffee shops wih stalls selling different things, the type that if you really think about it, shouldn't be called just coffee shops. I love the hustle and bustle of busy stall-owners and how they all seem so set in their ways and the amount of choice that you get.

Thean Chun Coffee Shop
Situated in Old Town, Ipoh

My parents have fond memories of this place, of stalls that have been there for generations and of food that never disappoints.

What's a trip a Ipoh without having kuey teow, Ipoh style? For some reason, only stalls in Ipoh seem to get this absolutely right (hence the name, I suppose). The broth has to be clear, with a slight reddish tinge from the chilli oil and the flavour subtle, just natural sweetness from the prawns and meat.

This was a personal favourite - pork satay. I have to say, I've not had satay this good in a long time, if not ever - the pork was tender and not too lean, well cooked but still wonderfully juicy. The best bits were the paper thin slivers of fat between the meat. What was amusing was the way they served the satay - every table gets a starter pack, in a way, of satay and you're free to consume as many sticks of satay as you wish. The service is so good that you even get any remaining sticks of satay replaced with nice hot ones in the middle of the meal. At the end of it all, someone comes to count the number of sticks you've consumed, an interesting system.

Curry chee cheong fun. For me, this was something quite new as I'm more used to either the chee cheong fun with the sticky sweet sauce or the smooth sort you get at dim sum restaurants. The curry was not spicy and was more of a mild gravy to go with the chee cheong fun.

Creme caramel is not something you get at just any coffee shop - this was probably the first time I've seen it served at one but upon entering the shop, one would quickly notice that the creme caramel features at almost every table, always a sign that it's one of those must-have things. Well, they were all right, the creme caramel was excellent - smooth and melt-in-your-mouth. I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of them to serve every little dish of creme caramel with a glass of cold water. I couldn't think of a better way to end the meal.

Good food, great coffee and a sweet ending. That's what holidays were made for.

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