New Malaysian & Singaporean Specialist Arrives - Ipoh Kopitiam [Thoughts + Pics]

Even in a city as diverse as ours, having a Malaysian specialist is quite rare, as are Singaporean restaurants. Having a restaurant that specializes in both cuisines? That’s even rarer. And that is precisely what newcomer Ipoh Kopitiam brings, whose owners hail from Malaysia, but their kitchen brings recipes and dishes from both Malaysia and Singapore.

Roti Canai:

Ipoh’s Roti Canai turned out to be an excellent way to start the meal: They make their Roti bread in-house, and it arrives fluffy, airy, and piping hot. Their Malaysian-style Curry is definitely on the bolder side compared to other Asian curries. It was more prominent with the Cardamom, Chilies, Garlic, and it was spicier than Chinese or Japanese Curry. Just delicious.

Singapore Style Hainan Chicken Rice:

There’s definitely been a Hainan Chicken Rice explosion over the past few years, with so many specialists appearing, but most have fallen in the OK-to-good category. Ipoh’s version starts with fresh-tasting, nicely cooked-through Chicken. None of the Chicken was overcooked (a good thing), still tender, with a good chew and moist. However, the Chicken Skin felt a bit more flabby and not as perfectly rendered as the best versions around town.

The Hainan Chicken Rice had good poultry essence infused in every bite.

The trio of Sauces that you see at many places make an appearance here. The Green Onion & Ginger Oil Sauce was solid and our favorite pairing. Their Soy Sauce tasted like a slightly sweeter version of a decent Soy Sauce accompaniment. The Chili Sauce had nice heat, simple and clean.

Overall Ipoh Kopitiam’s Hainan Chicken Rice was a respectable version. I’d be glad to order it again if I was in the area and craving this. But it’s nowhere near as transcendent as Marden’s Hainan Chicken Rice.

Malaysia Style Bak Kut Teh (Herbal Soup):

Perhaps the biggest surprise for us on this 1st visit was the appearance of Bak Kut Teh! :open_mouth: We were just chatting with a Malaysian friend of ours, and she was sharing about how her mom made a wonderful version of Bak Kut Teh over the holidays. I’d never heard of this before then, but here it was appearing on Ipoh’s opening menu!

I have no frame of reference on how a proper Malaysian Bak Kut Teh should taste like, but this was fantastic: Deeply herbal, smelling like ancient ingredients that waft out of a Chinese Medicine Shop if you’ve ever passed by one. It was warming, earthy, comforting and striking, and perfect for the chilly Winter nights. :blush:

The chunks of meat, including the Stewed Pork Ribs were tasty, but it was really about the Bak Kut Teh Herbal Soup itself. Excellent.

They also included a complimentary Dipping Sauce, which our waiter had a hard time explaining, but just said it was a housemade recipe; it was to dip the stewed meats into. This was actually quite tasty! Very spicy, savory, layered. It was well beyond Soy Sauce, and it really brought out the flavor in the meat.

2nd Visit:

Word must be getting out, because when we arrived on this 2nd visit, there was a line to get in(!). We heard a lot of Malaysian being spoken so that might be an encouraging sign that locals are flocking to the restaurant.

Nasi Lemak with Chicken Curry:

It was exciting to try Ipoh’s version of a traditional Malaysian Nasi Lemak, which is a fragrant Coconut Rice served with various little side dishes. Here, some Cucumbers, Roasted Peanuts, a fiery Sambal Sauce, Hard Boiled Egg and a fantastic Chicken Curry.

Just enjoying a bit of each of the little dishes with the Coconut Rice was a delight, but the star was that succulent, moist, spicy-bold Malay Chicken Curry. It had the same Curry boldness as the previous Roti Canai, but this time with a Stewed Chicken Leg. It sort of reminded us of the excellent Balinese Nasi Bungkus at Bungkus Bagus, but obviously different little side dishes. :slight_smile:

Malaysia Black Coffee (Kopi O):

Their Malaysian Black Coffee was bold, earthy, bitter and a pleasant wake up call with that zing of caffeine.

Penang Asam Laksa:

I’m always looking for another great version of Laksa Noodles, so we couldn’t wait to try Ipoh’s version. Prior to this, the last few types of Laksa we’ve had that we could remember were from Cassia and a couple other places. All of those interpretations were of the thicker, Coconut Gravy style Laksa, which was fine, but it was an eye-opener to have Ipoh’s Malaysian-style version.

Here it was wonderfully sour (Tamarind), a bit of briny funk from a fish-base(?) (which was fantastic in melding the flavors together), along with bits of sweetness from Pineapple(!). It was also spicy, savory, bold, and utterly delicious! This is definitely a highlight.

Dry Wanton Mee:

Our server mentioned that their Dry Wanton Mee was popular with the locals, so we decided to give this a try as well. Ostensibly, this looks like a Malaysian version of the classic Hong Kong Wonton Lo Mein Noodles. First, the Malaysian Wanton tasted similar to Hong Kong-style Wontons, but with a thicker skin. The filling was delicious, balanced, not too salty.

But looking closer and taking a bite of their accompanying “Dry Noodles,” and you realize these Egg Noodles are sauteed. Then you hit this incredible burst of crunchy, crispy Pork Belly and you get this ridiculous flavor explosion! :open_mouth: (See pic above.) Yes, we always knew Bacon / Pork Belly / Fatty Pork / Lard makes things taste better, but this was unexpected and incredible! Highlight!

Restaurants that have a good focus are always welcome and needed. At Ipoh Kopitiam we have the debut of a new Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine specialist that brings lots of flavors and dishes that aren’t as commonly found around town. You can start off with their Roti Canai, or a sip of their bold Malaysian Black Coffee (Kopi O), then head right into a nice variety of dishes.

While their Hainan Chicken Rice is just OK, enjoy their warming, comforting Bak Kut Teh (Malaysian Herbal Soup). Their Nasi Lemak is a tasty standout, Coconut Rice over a Banana Leaf with little dishes and that excellent, punchy Malaysian Chicken Curry.

But I’m still thinking about that unique, tart Tamarind-forward Penang Asam Laksa Noodles, and the Dry Wanton Mee (with Stir Fried Noodles with crispy bits of Pork Belly!). And I hope they bring back their Malaysian Style Fried Chicken Rice, which is currently unavailable due to lack of kitchen space (and the intensive preparation for it).

Ipoh Kopitiam
1411 South Garfield Avenue, Suite 104
Alhambra, CA 91801
Tel: (626) 703-4198


Great intel and report, thanks for sharing about this place! Haven’t heard of many Malaysian & Singaporean restaurants, but glad to know there’s an option now.


Hi @BradFord ,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Yah, Malaysian and Singaporean places are rather rare around here, and having both in 1 location makes it even more appealing. Hope you get to try it the next time you’re in town. :slight_smile:

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If it’s Malaysian-style wanton noodles, the noodles would be blanched, then tossed in a lard-soysauce dressing.


Hi @klyeoh ,

Thank you for the info! :slight_smile: Wow, those OG wantans from Kuala Lumpur look wonderful! As do the noodles. :slight_smile: I hope to try some one day.


Drop me a line whenever you come this way! Will be happy to show you some of my favorite places!


Looks great!
I enjoyed the unrelated Kopitiam in NYC on my last visit to NYC in August 2019, my last visit to NYC. Wish we had something similar in Toronto.

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Thanks @klyeoh ! :slight_smile:

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Thanks @Phoenikia. :slight_smile: What were some of your favorites at Kopitiam when you went? :slight_smile:

I have to confess it was more of a coffee stop since I had just had a wonderful lunch at Old Shanghai in Chinatown before I walked over to Kopitiam. I really like Asian iced coffee and this was my first Malaysian iced coffee.

I love Rendang so I would try that. The whole menu looks good to me. If I lived in
NYC, I’d try the whole menu over several visits!

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We found ourselves in San Gabriel Valley this past weekend, and met up with some friends here after reading about it and checking the reviews.

It was busy on a Saturday late morning, and they have a Yelp waitlist you can sign into at the restaurant or from your home. For a party of 6, the wait was about 25 minutes, and the hostess did a good job managing the crowds.

Food was really good, and tasted like the food we ate in Malaysia.

We had:

Kaya toast - Plain white toast with homemade kaya. Tasted good but nothing spectacular, but our toddler liked it.

Char Kway Teow - We ordered this with seafood only (no pork) and I thought it was great. good wok char, not overly saucy or salty. Had some shrimp and fish cake, and a fair amount of egg.

Wonton Mee - The sauce on the noodles was great, and as others have described, had a pork/soy flavor. Reminded me of the best version of this dish that I’ve ever had, which was in Kuala Lumpur almost 20 years ago! Wontons in the broth came separately and these were solid too.

Prawn Mee - Two large prawns topped this noodle soup, with a rich seafood broth and thick wheat noodles. Not too salty or strong, but still not shy on flavors. I thought it was great.

Roti Canai - Probably the best I’ve eaten outside of Malaysia – very fluffy and fresh. We ordered it with the beef rendang so we could try it, but it also came with a small amount of the chicken curry. The rendang was nice, though we had only a small amount. The chicken curry tasted more like an Indian yellow curry (no coconut). I liked both curries, but didn’t get to taste too much.

To drink we had some iced lemon teas and a black iced coffee, both good.

The restaurant was vibrant and a bit noisy, but had a good atmosphere. I am not often in that area, but I’d definitely return next time I’m there.