The recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays gave me a rare opportunity to revisit the sleepy town of Taiping of which I first went on a four-day road trip with a bunch of friends five years ago. Nothing much has changed in this former Perak state capital other than some pocket developments in nearby Kamunting. This overnight stop-over was specifically about food hunting and although Taiping’s scene is no match for neighboring Ipoh’s zest, it is undoubtedly full of charm.

Here are five fabulous hometown foods in Taiping, Perak.

1. Shrimp Noodles – Mee Udang Mak Jah

Kuala Sepetang’s mangroves are a treasure trove of sea creatures and shrimps are no exception. Mak Jah’s shrimp noodles uses fresh-off-the-boat prawns (you know it’s fresh when the crustacean makes a “crunch” sound when you bite it) to entice us city dwellers to a sleepy village 15 km southwest of Taiping. The broth is made up of shrimp stock and chili to give that sweet and spicy combo while the noodles do not feel rubbery at all. If you’re a shrimp lover, they also serve Shrimp Fried Rice, Shrimp Kuey Teow and Deep-Fried Shrimp to satisfy your cravings!

Mee Udang Mak Jah Kuala Sepetang
10:00 am – 12:00 am, Daily except Wednesdays
Jalan Taiping – Kuala Sepetang

2. Cendol – Cendol Ansari

Ansari is one of the two cendol behemoths in Taiping (the other being Cendol Bismillah) and this giant is a delectable thirst quencher. The “restaurant” is a hole-in-the-wall that fits at most ten tables but most customers opt to take out, seen by the long lines in front of the shop. As for the cendol, it’s all home-made from the generous green worms to the thick batch of brown sugar syrup. My favorite bit is their pulut – the glutinous rice is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled (panggang) before added into this bowl of sweet icy goodness.

Restoran Ansari Famous Cendol
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Daily except closed on alternate Saturdays
Corner of Jalan Barrack – Jalan Chung Thye Pin

3. Fried Mamak Noodles – Mee Combat

If you’re looking for the peanut-based fried mamak noodles made famous by Penangites, you won’t find it here. Mee Combat, at the Larut Matang Hawker Centre ( fondly known by locals as Cashier Market), is fried with a glaring red super-secret sauce that has a strong shrimp taste, owing to the prevalence of this crustacean in Taiping cuisine. Still, it is loved by locals as they tend to order from 5 – 10 packs at one go. The noodles is made to order in a giant wok so you’ll be guaranteed a piping hot Mee Combat ready for battle.

Gerai Makanan Mee Combat
12:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Daily
Larut Matang Hawker Centre, Jalan Panggung Wayang

4. Roti Jantan – Bukit Larut Entrance

Roughly translated as “manly bread,” Roti Jantan is basically two slices of thick toast slathered with butter then topped with two runny half-boiled eggs and a scoop of baked beans. It might look like a pile of mess but once you douse it with some soy sauce and white pepper, this soaked bread tastes as wholesome as a set of big breakfast. Located at the foothills of the famous Bukit Larut, this morning meal is ideal for hikers preparing to take on the hill’s 13 km trail to the peak.

Bukit Larut Entrance
7:00 am – 12:00 pm, Daily
Bukit Larut Administration Office, Jalan Bukit Larut

5. Hainanese Chicken Chop – Yut Sun Restaurant

Yut Sun Restaurant is one of those establishments that has stood the test of time – it probably looked the same if your grandfather were to have his lunch in 1967. As far as its Hainanese fare goes, the Chicken Chop is one of the most popular dishes. The chicken is fried in a thin golden batter, drenched in brown sauce and accompanied by sprinkling of peas, sliced tomato and sauteed potatoes. The meat wasn’t really tender but the batter, sauce and potatoes really stood out in what turns out to be a fulfilling lunch.

Yut Sun Restaurant
8:00 am – 7:00 pm, Daily except Sundays
Corner of Jalan Pasar – Jalan Lim Tee Hooi

What’s your favorite food in Taiping? Did I miss any must-try dishes that’s worth a second visit? Let me know in the comments below!

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