On Ipoh Food: Yinzo Kopi

SeeFoon snacks in cool comfort in Old Town


Everyone knows Sin Yoon Loong and its counterpart Nam Heong across the road. Here you’ll have to jostle with the crowds, and (for me) drip with sweat as in a sauna as you wait patiently for a table.

Now with the opening of Yinzo Kopi, one can snack in cool comfort in an ambience reminiscent of a bygone era.

The brainchild of Foo En Lin, scion of one of the eminent Foo Family, who has bought over the kitchenware shop that had been operating for over 40 years, directly opposite Sin Yoon Loong; Yinzo Kopi has been open for all of two months. Many friendly advisors helped En Lin and manager William Oh in their preparations for the opening. These included Mr Shum from Foh San, Dato’ David Tan of Katong Laksa fame and other F&B maestros who gave their input into Yinzo.

Yinzo stands for the Silver State which is Perak. In the 1920s it was a school, then became a restaurant, after which it was a kitchenware shop for more than 40 years until taken over by the Foo family. Now decorated in an eclectic retro Chinese style, with old pieces picked up here and there, the ambience is welcoming, tables well spaced out; the old wood ceilings and wooden shuttered windows doing a great job in noise reduction, unlike many tiled-from-roof-to-ceiling Chinese restaurants where the cacophony of chatter is unbearable.

Yinzo is a place where you go for small eats, well presented and very tasty, some dishes evoking the nostalgic tastes of yesteryear, and just like Grandmother used to make.

Like their chicken braised with black bean and bitter gourd; umami, salty, bitter gourd soaking up the black bean sauce, served with white rice; RM10.80. Shareworthy or grab it all. Dry Curry Pork Rice at RM13.80 was delicious. The curry was different, cooked without santan (coconut milk), the pork tender on the bite and the sauce aromatic without being overly spicy.

We then had their Nam Yu Fried Chicken Wings, piping hot wings, marinated with preserved bean curd, tender and juicy inside and crispy crunchy outside, served with a sweet chilli sauce. Move over KFC! RM6 for 3 pcs or RM9.50 for 6 pcs.

Their Cheong Sau Meen topped with minced pork and topped with Chu Yau Tsar or crispy pork lard was yummilicious, not unlike our famous Ipoh Hakka Mee. Served with a sunny side up egg and a good Szechuan chilli sauce; RM7.80.

We had their Nasi Lemak served in three styles, plain, with curry chicken or fried chicken. Good rice and sambal; RM7.80 plainRM9.80 with curry chicken, RM15.80 with a whole fried chicken leg.

We then tried the Curry Mee which was a disappointment and I gave my feedback and true to the spirit of wanting to do their best and giving customers the best experience, they have changed their recipe.

I was therefore promptly “summoned” for a second tasting, this time to try their new Curry Mee and their new Dim Sum menu. The curry mee now has a new presentation which can satisfy my occasional hankering for this dish. Spicy, umami, the curry sauce cooked without Santan; RM10.80.

Their DimSum selections are small and deliberately so for as William explains, “We want to concentrate on quality so we keep choices limited and we can prepare them fresh as and when they are ordered. A ‘must try’ is their Kon Jeen Loh Mai Fan, glutinous rice that is pan fried with various garnitures and topped with egg slivers, the edges and base of the rice crisped from the frying (fan chiew) Delicious, the rice not too soft and the taste umami. Listed as “Authentic Glutinous Rice” RM6.80 per portion. They also have the ordinary Lo Mai Kai which is steamed glutinous rice at RM4.80.

Other ‘Must Try’ include their Fried Mini BBQ Buns, essentially Char Siew Paus (famous Chinese Roast Pork) deep fried to a golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with the Char Siew or roast pork oozing from the centre; RM5.80 fried; RM4.80 steamed. And let’s not forget their delectable fried Prawn Dumplings and their Ham Sui Kok or their Dried Prawn Pastry. Both incredibly light, the skin, made from glutinous rice flour is crispy on first bite and the prawns whole and ocean fresh while the one with the dried prawns has that sweet/salty umami quality that makes you swoon; RM5.80 for fresh prawns 3 pcs and RM4.80 for the dried prawn version.

No. 1 & 3 Persiaran Bijih Timah, 30000 Ipoh.
Tel: 019 556 1393 or 05 241 0571 (ask for William Oh)
Business hours: 8.30am-5.30pm
DIM Sum from 8.30am-11am and 3.30pm-5pm

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See Foon

SeeFoon Chan-Koppen has been writing a food column called Musings on Food in the Ipoh Echo since 2009. It is widely read both in print as well as online which receives more than 1 million hits a month. Her forte is in communications, having honed her skills after graduating from the University of Singapore where she worked for the Straits Times Group and was a food critic for the New Nation. Her knowledge of food and cooking come from more than 30 years in the hotel industry based in Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and subsequently Kuala Lumpur. During this time, she has travelled all over the world and eaten at the best and worst restaurants. She is totally intimate with the subtleties and nuances of most cuisines of the world having been involved in opening over 50 hotels throughout the Asia/Pacific region and China where she helped to conceptualize Food and Beverage themes and critiqued on food quality. SeeFoon calls herself a global citizen and now chooses the serenity and friendliness of Ipoh to the bright lights of the many cities she has lived in. She also loves the food in Ipoh and is passionate about telling the world about it.

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