Cameron Highlands has quite a few things going for it to become a holiday destination in Malaysia: the cool climate, which brings about agri and eco tourism encompassing horticulture, tea plantations, strawberry farms and nature trails, and traces of the colonial past. These were reason enough for us to spend 2 nights on holiday here.Driving up from KL, we stopped for lunch at Hao Yi Lou in Tapah, conveniently located at the foothill before you start the 55km climb up. Their rendition of the Kam Heong style was among the very best I have had in Malaysia. It was dry, in a good way. More often than not, Kam Heong is done too wet. Best of all, their prices were jaw dropping low. The rather big plate of Kam Heong fried crayfish was only RM12! Definitely a good place to grab lunch before heading up Cameron Highlands.
Our very first stop in Cameron Highlands was to go for afternoon tea at the Jim Thompson Tea Lounge at Cameron Highlands Resort. Yes, we had afternoon tea barely 1.5 hours after lunch, so if you’re planning to do the same, remember not to eat too much for lunch!
Brinchang seems to be the place where Chinese restaurants in Cameron Highlands are concentrated. We shunned doing the steam boat thingy though, despite it being like a “must” when in Cameron Highlands. Our preference is to go for Tze Char dishes, which showcases specific taste/style and the skills of a chef, offering chances of being delighted, versus virtually no surprise from steamboat.
I chose Eng Tick (荣得) Seafood Restaurant, located in an obscure and dark corner right smack in the local market (pasar, operates only till late morning by the way), away from the main street where all tourists go. This is truly a hidden gem. You will absolutely not chance upon this place.
Naturally, all the patrons were local, a good sign. Although the restaurant wasn’t full, they were kept occupied. And the dishes? They are on par with what you can expect at premium Chinese restaurants!
The next morning, we had breakfast in Tanah Rata. Unfortunately, Uncle Chow’s place which I planned to visit was closed, and I settled for Orchid Food Corner instead. Not a lot of choices in the morning, mainly Roti Canai and pre-cooked noodles and dishes.
If you’re in Tanah Rata, you should make a quick visit (it only takes 10 minutes) to Parit Waterfall.
Although I did not have the chance to visit, i gather from photos that Mossy Forrest should rightfully claim the top spot among attractions in Cameron Highlands. I am reminded of Yakushima Island, and if you like moss, like I do, then this is definitely a must on your itinerary.
Coming in at second place, according to me, is Boh tea plantation. I visited the Sungei Palas tea plantation, and it was nothing short of awesome.
The cafe at the tea centre serves tea (of course!), cakes and pastries. I’m not a tea person, so I couldn’t appreciate the tea so much. Moreover, they don’t use filtered water for the tea. The cheese cakes, on the other hand, were not bad. You get a huge slice for a reasonable price.
Kea farm is probably the other unmissable place to visit, especially for someone who does cooking. You can buy, or at least observe produce at their best. Many of the produce sold in Singapore are sourced from Cameron Highlands, and you’ll immediately notice they look a lot more fresh here. So fresh they make me salivate.
My planned dinner place for the second night of my stay, based on TripAdvisor reviews, was Delicious and Happiness Kitchen. Unfortunately, it was a disaster. The food was edible, but falls way short of the standard at Eng Tick. In fact, we were so dissatisfied that we went back to Eng Tick for a second round right after the meal. This time, Eng Tick was packed with local patrons. The discerning know where to go.
There are not many options for Chinese style breakfast in Brinchang, and they’re mostly near the market. We settled for Restoran Hui Wei (回味小食馆). It was pretty satisfying. There is another eatery called economy food stalls (经济小食档) right behind this shop, a good choice too.
My previous trips to Cameron Highlands were always done round trip through Tapah. This time, I decided to include Ipoh in my itinerary just to make things more interesting. You guessed it, Ipoh is all about food, and I wanted to try the Dim Sum in Ipoh. It takes only less than 2 hours to get to Ipoh from Cameron Highlands.
Ipoh Dim Sum is almost synonymous with Foh San, but I took up the suggestion of a blogger (I don’t remember who) to have Dim Sum at Ming Court, right across the street. This is supposedly the local’s choice.
The Dim Sum was pretty tasty, not so refined (in a good way – it feels authentic handmade) and quite cheap (by KL standard)! I will probably still try Foh San someday, but am happy that I went for Ming Court first.
No trip to Ipoh is complete without sipping a cup of white coffee. I also decided to make an alternative choice this time – Nam Heong instead of my usual Sin Yoon Loong. Nam Heong is the originator of the Old Town White Coffee franchise if you didn’t know, and Sin Yoon Loong is one of the oldest, if not the oldest shop selling White Coffee.
I grabbed a packet of white coffee powder and two from Sin Yoon Loong before leaving. This will be enough supply for 2 months of white kopi.