Food and tourism: Perak’s recipe to attracting tourists to the state

IPOH, July 7 — Kuala Lumpur-based choir leader Cheryl Teh visits Ipoh every two or three months.

Apart from her purpose of supporting the non-governmental organisation Perak Women for Women, Teh said she comes for the city’s food.

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“Sometimes I will stay a night if time permits and if not, I will start driving at 6am to reach Ipoh at 8am in time for the hawker food,” she said.

Teh swears by the kai si hor fun and the char kuey teow at Pasir Pinji as well the egg caramel custard of Thean Chun.

She also loves the soya bean and beancurd sold at Jalan Yang Kalsom and Jalan Ali Pitchay.

“Somehow the kai si hor fun in Kuala Lumpur does not match up to the ones in Ipoh,” she said.

Teh is not alone.

Perak Tourism exco Loh Sze Yee said although no proper studies have been conducted on how many tourists actually visit the state just for the food, he said it does play a major role in attracting tourists.

“Tourists visit Perak for authentic and diverse variety food. Some say it is because of the minerals in the water,” he said.

Citing the kai si hor fun as an example, Loh said the bean sprouts used in Ipoh are different from the other places.

Hence the state is capitalising on it by promoting local food besides the local attractions in its tourism programmes.

“When you visit Perak, there is special food in every district,” he said.

It was recently reported that Perak ranked fourth in domestic tourism for 2023.

Perak recorded 7.50 million domestic tourists, behind Selangor, Pahang, and Johor.

Perak Ku Soo Shun Choon Hong (Restaurant and Chefs Association) vice-chairman Jacky Hee said hotels are full during long weekends and public holidays.

He said tourists would first go for hawker food when they visit the state and only start eating at restaurants before they leave.

Hee said one of the reasons tourists love food in Perak is the cooking style.

“Our food tends to be ‘heavier’ on the flavour,” the Exquisite Seafood Restaurant proprietor said.

Perak Coffee Shop Keepers Association chairman Kong Kin Loong said tourists visit the state for food and drinks that are synonymous with the state such as white coffee.

Besides maintaining a certain quality, the food served must also be palatable to be able to attract tourists, he added.

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