Taiping (population: 250,000) is the second largest city in the state of Perak, after Ipoh. During the British colonial days, it was the capital of Perak from 1875 till the state capital was moved to Ipoh in 1937. Vestiges of the times when it was the state capital remain till today:
District Administrative Building
Taiping Clock Tower
Our weekend excursion to Taiping last Saturday, about 1 hour’s drive south of Penang, started with breakfast at Lian Thong, the 71-year-old traditional kopitiam (Chinese coffeeshop).
The retro-looking interior consisted of small, round 60s-style formica-topped tables and with retro booths lining one wall. GEC fans swirled lazily above.
What we ordered for breakfast:
Soft-boiled eggs on toast - a very popular breakfast choice in Malaysia/Singapore popularised by the Hainanese-Chinese, an ethnic group which served in the kitchens of the British administrative service in the 19th-century until British Malaya achived independence in 1957. This traditional Hainanese breakfast was adapted from British eggs-and-soldiers. Here, soft-boiled eggs were cracked gently over lightly-buttered toasts. Light soysauce and white pepper will be provided on the side, to be added to the eggs before eating.
Taufu pop - a Lian Thong original: crisp-fried round discs of tofu stuffed with minced chicken. These crispy morsels were juicy on the inside and perfect when paired with a sweet, spicy chili dip.
Mee Bomb - another Lian Thong original consisting of crisp-fried noodles topped with braised chicken, fishcakes, shrimps, egg and choy sum greens. No pork is not used here as more than half its customers are Malay-Muslims.
Hainanese white coffee - this is a very popular beverage in Malaysia/Singapore and Ipoh has the reputation of having the best ones. The version served in Taiping are pretty good, too. Hainanese coffee are very aromatic and rich in flavour, brewed from coffee beans which are roasted with sugar, cocoa and other aromatics, before being served pre-sweetened. So make sure to inform the waiter if you do not want sweet coffee.
- Another signature drink at Lian Thong is an iced concoction made with sweet-salty preserved plums. Jars upon jars of these preserved plums could be seen all around the shop & even outside (we surmise customers must come & buy these to bring home).
Mr Teoh Seng Huat, 66, is the 2nd-generation owner of Lian Thong, which was started by his father back in 1949 (exactly 70 years ago now), seen here with his wife who does all the cooking, whilst he brews the coffee and tea.
The water boiler was bought by his father from Penang and was estimated to be over a century-old. The large, gallon-sized metal mugs used by Mr Teoh to prepare his coffee was also passed down to him by his father:
Lian Thong Restaurant
5 Jalan Kota
34000 Taiping, Perak
Tel: +605 8072645
Opening hours: 8.30am to 2pm, Mon-Sat. Closed on Sundays.