Ipoh is a relatively unknown destination in Perak State between Penang and Kuala Lumpur. But tourist numbers are steadily growing for its colonial buildings, cultural heritage and cave temples. Check out our favourite halal restaurants in Ipoh to sample the food that’s said to be second only to George Town
Restaurant, Halal, Indian, Malaysian, $$$
Despite the quirky name, Nasi Ganja is a Halal restaurant in Ipoh. Just like the city of Ganja in Azerbaijan, there’s no marijuana involved. Instead, expect a delicious Nasi Kandar spread of sides on a vendor stall inside the Yong Suan coffee shop. Nasi Ganja, or Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah by its official name, says their food is so delicious it’s addictive. Hence the name Ganja and the reason the Indian Muslim stall has been active since 1956. Sides include typical Halal-friendly, Indian-style fish, chicken and curry.
With two branches in Ipoh, Restoran M Salim offers South Indian Halal dishes. The Nasi Kandar section features a variety of sides such as fish and mutton curries along with vegetable dishes. Or order from the menu, in particular, choose one of the biryani dishes. Fish head curry is also recommended. Locals eat at one of the branches of this halal restaurant in Ipoh for a hearty, yet inexpensive lunch, or to munch on roti for an afternoon or early evening snack.
Greentown Dim Sum Café near MBI Clock Tower holds the title as the only halal dim sum restaurant in Ipoh. A selection of treats – including prawn dumplings and barbeque chicken, among many others – are cooked to order and served hot and fresh. Muslim tourists can sample and enjoy these small snacks inside the bright, air-conditioned outlet. Other dishes include fried rice, noodles and glutinous chicken rice (lor mai gai) in this halal-certified restaurant in Ipoh.
Pakeeza is one of the oldest Indian restaurants in Ipoh specialising in North Indian cuisine. Expect a selection of favourites such as biryani dishes, tandoori chicken and mutton curry. The interior of this family-owned restaurant resembles something similar to what would be expected of Kashmir. Apart from its popularity during lunch and dinner time, Pakeeza also offers catering services.
Starting as a small vendor stall along Jalan Yang Kalsom in 1955, the restaurant has grown and expanded into one of the top spots for Indian food in Ipoh. The restaurant today, located in Greentown, offers Nasi Kandar-style dining and several other to order dishes. Remember to pour some of Nasi Venggey’s signature gravy, a distinct spicy South Indian curry, onto the rice.
Can anything be more refreshing than a bowl of Malaysian cendol after a day of sightseeing in Ipoh’s new town? The delicious treat consists of shaved iced mixed with chunks of jelly, sweet corn, red beans and sometimes rice. Deen CT Corner, a tiny restaurant along Jalan Musthara, offers a bowl for a few ringgits. Head down and choose from the menu or look at the pictures on the wall for one of Malaysia’s number one desserts.
As the name suggests, this halal restaurant in Ipoh makes the famous Malaysian nation dish Nasi Lemak using Ayam Kampung, or free-range village chickens. Tourists who want to sample Ipoh’s version can order their signature dish. Other options include kampung-style fried rice, noodle dishes and tom yam. While the prices are slightly higher, many customers say the cost is justified for the nasi lemak.
Any Muslim tourist who likes Chinese food will appreciate this mid-range halal restaurant in Ipoh. Customers can choose from a comprehensive menu, covering everything from seafood to fried rice and Chinese noodles. But the highlight at Restoran HJ Sharin Low Grand includes the roasted duck and Mongolian chicken. A meal for two with drinks will come to at least RM60 ($15.20).
Located in Ipoh’s Greentown, Thumbs Café is one of the only cafés in the city operated by a Muslim and offering the full halal experience. With a quirky interior filled with relics from around the world, customers can enjoy a quiet drink, delicious dishes, and marvel at the weird and wonderful style. Western dishes such as grilled chicken, lamb chops and spaghetti, as well as Malaysian favourites like chicken rice and fried noodles fill the menu. A top tip is to dine earlier in the evening as the café gets busy after evening prayers.
Located on Kong Heng Square, this halal-friendly dessert shop in Ipoh aims to encourage local nostalgia. The famous ais kepal dessert, a ball of flavoured shaved ice served in plastic-lined paper, is the speciality at Bits & Bobs. With its old-school décor and selection of flavours and syrups, this spot offers both a cultural window into Ipoh’s past and a delicious frozen treat.