Excitement awaited as soon as Kamal announced his work destination for the weekend. The grand view along the expressway and the rich food came across my mind. Ipoh!
Kamal, Khalish, and I have been there a number of times, but never were we able to experience the place the way we would love to. No exception this time around. Kamal needed to work from Asar on Saturday until Subuh the next day. Khalish preferred to lounge about at the hotel after a heavy meal. Nonetheless, the three of us chose to cherish Ipoh within the time limit.
We decided to stay at Ipoh French Hotel for its proximity to Kamal's work place and the eateries. The chic room at a cheap rate were the main factors, too. The staff's friendliness was a great bonus.
For lunch, we walked to Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice. The direction given by the hotel receptionist seemed to lead us to other restaurants though. We were about to opt for a different eatery when a Chinese man passed us by.
"Excuse me, sir. Do you happen to know where Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice is?"
"Yes. You just have to cross the street. The restaurant is at the other block."
"Thank you, sir."
"Are you from Kuala Lumpur?"
"We are from Selangor."
"Welcome to Ipoh!"
To be cordially greeted by a fellow Malaysian has been rare nowadays. Therefore, such a welcome will always have special places in our hearts. Thank you again, sir.
Ipoh charmed us in various ways. I especially loved the aged side. Kamal noted the harmonious existence between the old and the new.
Khalish, he only cared about the food. When the chicken rice was served, he said, "this must be delicious!" Kamal and I agreed.
The rice was aromatic, the chicken was tender, and the sambal reminded us of my mother's special recipe. We actually drooled over the food on the other tables. All seemed delectable. Hence the packed char kway teow and chinese fried rice for dinner.
When Kamal left for work, Khalish and I made ourselves at home in the hotel room. Lego, Toca Boca, and The Adventures of Tintin for Khalish. The camera for me. Came the boy's bedtime, we chatted with each other.
He did miss Nick Jr., but he now felt like Dora the Explorer. He further narrated stories of his own adventures. Until he himself drifted to dreamland.
A new experience the next day. Well rested from Subuh until Zuhur, Kamal was fresh enough to suggest a lunch at Yong Suan, the home of Nasi Kandar Ayam Merah Ipoh, also known as Nasi Ganja. At first, the queue prompted a search for other restaurants. Yet, we were too curious about the brouhaha that we decided to brave the crowd.
Soon, we found out the line was meant for those who wanted packed food. The restaurant itself was crowded, but we managed to find three empty seats at a table occupied by other patrons. Around us, people conversed in Malay, Tamil, Mandarin, and Cantonese. That, combined with the raw kopitiam ambience, made the place truly unique.
The Nasi Ganja? Simply addictive. The rice was doused in assorted curries, perfected with spiced chicken, and complemented by salted egg, steamed okra, fresh cucumber, as well as coconut chutney.
The aforementioned combo was the basic. The menu offered more choices. So did Ipoh. Now, Kamal, Khalish, and I have charted another route to and fro Bandar Baru Bangi and Ketereh, and it involves a detour to the capital city of Perak.