Ipoh Favorite Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiau Restaurant
Ipoh Favorite Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiau Restaurant is where Ipohites eat their Bean Sprouts Chicken for dinner. This lip-smacking and delicious “Nga Choi Kai” is the most famous branded food in Ipoh. They eat their Bean Sprouts Chicken for dinner. This lip-smacking and delicious “Nga Choi Kai” is the most famous branded food in Ipoh.
Lou Wong and Onn Kee may be hyped up to the nines on blogs and other social media. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the locals. They know the best eating places in town. I concur that Cowan Street has the best bean sprouts chicken.
THIS IS WHERE IPOH LOCALS GO FOR THE BEST NGA CHOI KAI AT NIGHT!
Don’t worry. There are more chickens being poached in the kitchen! There’s enough to feed all the diners in the evenings!
MY FIRST CHICKEN MEAL
The first time I had the chicken from Cowan Street was more than twenty years ago. The tender chicken in fragrant oil and fat crunchy bean sprouts are imprinted in my mind. Every time I go to Ipoh, I would want to eat here.
Many locals swear by Cowan Street’s version of the signature Ipoh fare.
Visitors to Ipoh wander around trying to figure out which shop to go to without getting ‘chopped’.
My local guide Lily Chee points to the price list on the wall, so not to worry. I let her do the ordering in Cantonese. My Penang sing song Hokkien will probably give me away as a tourist. Worse if I spoke in English. I sound like a Malaysian with a funky accent.
Decades ago, Uncle Ah and his wife started selling the much-revered chicken, bean sprouts and rice noodles medley by the roadside underneath some trees. The vacant spot is directly opposite their restaurant, but the shade trees are gone.
The senior couple still manages the restaurant with the help of some workers. Uncle Ah Meng walks painfully at times as his knees hurt so they close their business to rest. The locals will take a drive there to see if he opens. Most regulars wait patiently and as the poached chicken is perfect. Cooked through, soft, fat and succulent.
The sauce has a nutty hint from the sesame seed oil. The flat rice noodles, the ‘sar hor fun’ is sleek and smooth. The portions may be smaller here but the combo with chicken liver, giblets, and the crunchy bean sprouts is definitely worth the wait!
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS RESTAURANT?
Every time we head to Ipoh to eat, we would have a plan B in case the boss Ah Meng decides to take the day off. Cowan Street Ayam Tauge is notorious for their random business hours. It’s a guessing game to try our luck and hope that the restaurant is opened on the day you head to Ipoh.
The menu has three things on it. Chicken, Hor Fun (Kuey Teow Soup) and blanched bean sprouts.
For extras, if you’re up to it, you could order Braised Chicken Feet and/or Mixed Gizzard/Giblets.
HOW TO ORDER?
The ordering is simple. You sit and wait for the workers to take your drinks order first. The Ah Meng will shuffle over to record your order. Just mention the number of portions. Ah Meng’s wife chops up the chicken portion. After you finish eating, Ah Meng will come to your table to point at the empty dishes and cups to count.
There is no bill. He will show how he counts on a small homemade clipboard with the cut pieces of paper secured by a rubber band.
Our chicken portion for three cost RM26. Noodles are RM2 per bowl. The braised chicken feet cost RM6.
THE TASTE TEST
Our friend Eliz has a craving for that rather unpalatable looking Braised Chicken Feet (some chicken feet came with claws intact!) The gravy with a layer of oil on the surface of the pot may look unappetizing but the taste is heavy with five-spice powder and notably star anise.
She enjoyed the gelatinous bits of chicken feet and polished the entire plate before the Sar Hor Fun arrived.
SILKY SMOOTH RICE NOODLES
The bowl of Hor Fun (Kuey Teow Soup) has smooth thin slurpable flat noodles that slide easily down my throat. The soup is sweetish with an aromatic hint of prawn stock (heads and shells)
The bean sprouts are served blanched topped with soy sauce and fragrant oil and a squeeze of white pepper. These Plump and juicy mineral rich are crunchy which can’t be found elsewhere.
The chicken is perfectly poached with smooth, firm and tender meat cooked through.
Eliz and Phoebe unanimously rate this high 8/10 for taste and flavor!
SPECIAL FRAGRANT OIL
The secret fragrant oil is made from Chicken Fat, Shallot Oil, and Sesame Oil! Drizzle the oil mixed with Soy Sauce over the chicken dish just before serving. Perfect; neither too oily, nor salty.
This makes the chicken flavourful and tasty. The garnish is the usual Scallions and Coriander.
If you’re looking for a satisfying Nga Choy Kai meal, I would suggest none other than Ipoh Favorite Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiau Restaurant.
COWAN STREET AYAM TAUGE & KOITIAU | 44, Jalan Raja Ekram, Ipoh
Telephone: +6012-520 3322 (Ah Meng) | Business hours: Opens for dinner only, 6.30pm onwards | Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
* Sometimes they close without prior notice, for a week or more.
* Best to call ahead to avoid disappointment if you’re driving up for a spontaneous day trip
ENJOY COOL WEATHER MELBOURNE WITH GREAT SAVINGS!!!
Which ‘Nga Choy Gai’ Now When Cowan Street Stall is Closed?
So you planned that Ipoh trip.
You read that SmartDory post and dream of eating succulent chicken in fragrant oil. Die Die must eat ‘Nga Choy Kai’ (Cantonese) or ‘Tauge Ayam’ (Malay).
You reach the destination ahead of time. The stars aligned somehow, just for this chicken day! Highways are clear, the weather is good and the sun shines in secret places that your mom says, “Oi, cannot mention in public!”
You gloat at the thought. “It’s so fat and succulent.” Sigh.
The ‘Nga Choy Kai’ of course!
What la! My mom says I cannot ask loudly for “Kai Putt” aka “Bishop’s nose” at the stall.
But. Like all things in life, bad things happen. Cowan Street Uncle takes a break the evening you reach his shop, parked nicely. Ample car park. Great balmy weather. Perfect day for a Chicken meal.
DANG! <If you know me personally, you will know that I don’t say “Dang”. This blog is read by children of all ages and manner.>
Which ‘Nga Choy Gai’ Now When Cowan Street Stall is Closed?
When a new visitor reaches Ipoh, most would either get “annoyed” having to drive round and round the one-way road system in the Old Town. Inevitable. I have gotten lost on many occasions and sometimes with wrong GPS settings, it’s quite a joke really.
One evening on the way to dinner, we ended up in a “taman” suburb with my friend driving and me as navigator. Fact: I’m a lousy navigator and myopic at best-reading anything apart from my device!
So if you don’t want to go to the famous two, where do you head to?
Super long queues, no parking, and a maddening road system and you only know of Lou Wong and Onn Kee. Man!!!
LOU WONG TAUGE AYAM KUETIAU & RESTORAN ONN KEE (TAUGE AYAM)
Years ago (read 20 or more) Lou Wong and Onn Kee, both located almost diagonally opposite each other were really good.
However due to the sharp rise in being super popular, many have complained of poor quality control, and a mediocre standard of service. I was one loud introvert complainer. I just refused to eat the poached chicken with bloody bits and the chicken thigh looked uncooked.
Yes, I’m western schooled. Raw chicken is a common source of food poisoning and bacteria-borne illness.
So I picked at a cucumber slice or two with great trepidation before white peppered the “tau geh” got to me. In Malaysia, the chef shakes white pepper-like talcum powder! I think of body parts again. Blek!
For others who are built steely and have stainless steel stomach and bowels, the lure of ‘al fresco’ dining concept with tables lining the perimeter of the restaurant. Those glitzy neon lights and all is undeniably a game changer. I watch them chug back the poached chicken, slurp noisily on the smooth ‘sar hor fun’.
I swear I can hear the tau geh crunch!
My ears are so sensitive. I even heard the crunch of blanched bean sprouts above the thuds of the chopping station and flying chicken juices.
Undeniably, Lou Wong still makes the best-blanched bean sprouts in Ipoh. Never mind the chicken.
Fact: Tourists and locals seem to like Onn Kee over Lou Wong. For me, the din of the feast and jostling for tables is not worth the fight to wait, get a table, wait, eat, wait and hey, did we just spend 4 hours getting a chicken meal? MAN!!!!
RESTORAN LOU WONG TAUGE AYAM KUETIAU | 49, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, 30300 Ipoh, Perak
Opens for lunch and dinner.
RESTORAN ONN KEE TAUGE AYAM 51, Jalan Yau Tet Shin, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
Opens for lunch and dinner (about 10-11am onwards, until about 1-2am)
Can All The Other Lesser Known Chicken Outlets Raise A Wing and Squawk?
Lily (the Ipohite): Shhh… You “siao” (crazy, mad, lunatic) izzit?
Dory: Er… people asking ma. Not everyone is lucky like Fish. She gets to eats at Cowan Street everytime she hits Ipoh. Hallelujah PTL.
Lily: You want the rest of the country to descend upon us every weekend?
Dory: They may not find it, you know.
So, dear Lily, here we go. To the lesser-known stalls in Ipoh but with a STRONG local following. Hey Instagrammers and Influencers, the Uncles and Aunties have been doing that for decades before the birth of social media.
Deep in the heart of Buntong community, an outskirt neighborhood away far far away from the hustle and bustle of Ipoh town.
You can check out these other eateries which sell the ubiquitous Taugeh Chicken of equal and reputable stature. Some still say the overrated meal in Ipoh.
Just two main ingredients chicken and bean sprouts. Soy sauce and fragrant oil to make a coveted legendary meal that is unforgettable with a distinct taste and aroma.
I think I will go and find the other outlets more for a more comfortable breathing space and hawking a table to yourself without sharing with strangers.
HERE’S THE PLAN B
RESTORAN AYAM TAUKE | No 849, Jalan Guntong, Buntong, Ipoh, Perak.
Business hours: Opens for dinner only 5.00pm – 9.00pm
Closed on Tuesday & Wednesdays
YOON KEE BEAN SPROUT CHICKEN STALL | Stall No 23, Medan Selera Stadium, Ipoh
Business hours: Opens for dinner only
Closed on Wednesdays or Thursdays (unconfirmed)
KEDAI MAKANAN DAN AIS KACANG LEONG KEE | 153, Jalan Pasir Puteh, 31650 Ipoh, Perak.
Business hours: Opens for dinner only, from about 6.00pm to 12.00am
Closed on Wednesdays
KAH SENG IPOH RESTAURANT | 223, Jalan Bercham Taman Sri Kurau, Taman Desa Kencana, 31400 Ipoh.
Business hours: Opens for dinner only.
KEDAI MAKANAN KUM KEE | 798-799, Jalan Sekolah, Pasir Pinji, 31650 Ipoh, Perak.
Business hours: Opens for dinner only, from about 6.00 pm onwards until late.
EVERYONE LOVES TO GO TO JAPAN