Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Rustic Old Town Nam Heong Coffee Shop in Ipoh 南香茶餐室

One of the Must Do things when visiting Ipoh is to taste their iconic white coffee. Make that doubly memorable by pairing coffee with dim sum, in the uniquely Ipoh way. One of the pioneers of Ipoh white coffee with dim sum is Nam Heong at 2, Jalan Bandar Timah. Humble Nam Heong kopitiam was the inspiration behind the global brand, Old Town White Coffee.

Kedai Makanan Nam Heong is the corner coffee shop located at the intersection of Jalan Bandar Timah and Persiaran Bijeh Timah. I counted at least 5 traditional coffee shops in this 100 metre stretch of Jalan Bandar Timah in old town Ipoh.

When we arrived at 2pm, the little Nam Heong kopitiam was still fully packed. I didn't see any tourists except for ourselves 😄

I had the privilege to meet with the pioneers of Nam Heong, Ling Jie 玲姐 and her husband. Affable Ling Jie is bubbly and outgoing while hubby is friendly and smiles quietly in the background. He likes us to address him simply as Ah Kor which is the general polite way to address Hainanese men. Nam Heong was founded by Ah Kor's parents in the 1930s at Concubine Lane before moving here at Jalan Bandar Timah 30 years ago.

The traditional Nam Heong signboard from Concubine Lane still hangs proudly at the Jalan Bandar Timah shop.

Ah Kor and Ling Jie met at a relative's wedding. She was 18 and Ah Kor was 22. It was love at first sight and the rest is Ipoh white coffee history 😄

While other children look forward to school holidays, Ah Kor and Ling Jie's son and 2 daughters spent their vacations at the shop. Their son Andy started working at the coffee shop since he was 9 years old.

Andy is passionate about the coffee shop business and is very enterprising. He went on to create with partners the Old Town White Coffee brand which was recently acquired by Dutch company JDE. Andy now dedicates his energies on expanding Nam Heong, his grandfather's legacy. There are 7 Nam Heong outlets now, including this parent shop.

We joked and bantered our way through some of the things that keep Nam Heong's fans coming back to the old corner coffee shop for decades.

Nam Heong's signature foamy kopi (coffee with milk). This is the famous Ipoh white coffee.

The white coffee had good body and its slight bitterness was balanced with condensed milk and sugar. 

The cold version of this kopi with ice cubes added is also very popular.

I like my white coffee black.

My preferred way of having coffee these days is black with less sugar.

The good bodied coffee's slight bitterness was well moderated even with reduced sugar. I enjoyed this Ipoh white coffee.

(White coffee refers to coffee roasted purely with coffee beans with nothing added. Black coffee has added ingredients like sugar, corn, margarine etc during roasting.)

Simple kaya and butter toast is probably the best thing to go with good Ipoh white coffee. Nam Heong's rendition is beauty in its simplicity - the toasted slices of white bread were airy light with a slight crisp. The savoury sweet blend of kaya and butter was perfect with sweet bitter Ipoh white coffee.

But, this is Ipoh. Many people also enjoy their kopi with dim sum.

Nam Heong make their egg tarts right there at the coffee shop.

I love the smell of eggs from the freshly baked egg tarts. Even Ling Jie who worked at Nam Heong since 1965, still gets a kick from the smell of freshly baked egg tarts.

The soft eggy custard was held in a lightly browned pastry cup. The custard was mildly eggy and not overly sweet. The layered pastry cup was light and flaky, crumbling to gentle bites.

I like Nam Heong's chicken puff (鸡酥 kai shou). The buttery crisp crumbly pastry was bursting with juicy sweet savoury stewed chicken. (I thought it is Ipoh's best answer to Seremban's siew bao.)

I like these simple fried radish cakes. It was crispy outside and moist and soft inside. The subtly sweet radish was spiked with bits of savoury dried shrimps. In the mouth, the crisp browned skin blends interestingly with soft mashed radish (and rice) inside.

I love these plump fried wantons.

Inside the crispy crackly fried wanton skin, it was bursting with minced pork and small prawns.

👉 When you are in Ipoh, it is a Must to experience an authentic Ipoh white coffee (and make them extra memorable with dim sum). Only uniquely in Ipoh, is dim sum paired with coffee. Old Nam Heong is a good place for an old town Ipoh coffee shop experience - it is one of the pioneers of Ipoh white coffee and everything is still like it was in the beginning. Inside Nam Heong coffee shop, there are also several hawker stalls like chicken hor fun and char kway teow which I would like to try next time.

Restaurant name: Kedai Makanan Nam Heong 南香茶餐室
Address: 2, Jalan Bandar Timah, Ipoh, Malaysia
GPS4°35'35.5"N 101°04'37.3"E | 4.593185, 101.077033
Tel012-588 8766
Hours: 7:00am - 5:30pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 6 Jun 2018

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