Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ipoh Part II

Julie Song and her family have that Midas touch when it comes to food, drinks and art. Since we left pieces of our hearts behind at their previous cafes, we were fairly excited to hear that they'd open a 3rd cafe just next to both Buku Tiga Lima and Burps & Giggles. I credit them with rejuvenating the whole strip of once neglected and dilapidated shop houses. The area there now houses more cafes, including Plan B.

Taking a step into Missing Marbles is like stumbling into Alice's Wonderland. It is a curious and curiouser concoction of whimsical, vintage and art. Even the red tiled five foot way outside the cafe has a carefully sketched out hopscotch - which Bubs and I couldn't resist hopping on ;)

The place used to be an optical shop and gives a new meaning to the word shabby chic. I mean, just take a look at the walls and furnishings. Layers of old paint are streaked across the concrete walls and the connecting door between Buku Tiga Lima and Missing marbles looked like it was untouched since the 50s. For the nostalgic, you can find old school round metal tables and stools that used to be popular at outdoor hawker centres before plastic was mass manufactured.

And of course, true to its name, rows of marbles-filled glass jars as well as other brick-abrac stretch across an old wood and glass shelf.


Check out the colourful paper origami fortune tellers covered wall. These used to be a hit during primary school.

If Burps & Giggle's forte is the burgers and Buku Tiga Lima's is their crepes, Missing Marbles focuses on Asian inspired quick lunches. There is a variety of noodles, rice dishes, satay and even rojak on offer. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to order food from the other cafes. 

The soya bean drink is from the famed Ipoh Funny Mountain which we are huge fans of. I naturally requested the spicy soup for the Hakata Ramen (RM18) and loved the tender, melt in the mouth slices of lamb roulade. The soup wasn't fiery hot but had a pleasant kick to it. The noodles and soft boiled egg was done to perfect and the accompanying small plate of preserved vegetables added a nice, salty-sour tang.

Hubs had the slow braised lamb belly ribs with calrose rice (RM18) upon their recommendation and we also figured it should be a Bubs friendly dish which he could share. When the dish was served, Hubs and I stared at the dish with our eyebrows raised. The empire of Julie usually serves food prettily plated but this was very ... should I call it minimalist? Hubs changed his mind after a mouthful of the deliciously soft, strong gamey flavours of the lamb, rice and egg. He enjoys his Asian styled braised meats and this dish certainly met his standards. Hubs also helped himself to the preserved vegetables meant for the Hakata Ramen and summed up that this was like a fusion version of kau yoke.


We popped over to the back of the cafe to see their latest venture, the Bits & Bobs stall. It sells literally that: bits and bobs! On sale are vintage items as such old hub caps, toys, posters and a range of snacks that wouldn't look out of place at an 80s sundry shop. The ice ball and ice potong (stick ice creams) caught my eye and I couldn't resist having one of each. There are long, wooden benches (a very school canteen touch) placed outside for customers to enjoy icy treats.

The cempedak ice potong (RM3) was a welcome respite from the scorching heat and it was a more grown up version with fruit chunks and a creamy texture. Bubs and I enjoyed this one a lot.

The ice ball had more sophisticated flavours than the ones during our parents' time. Plus you don't have to worry about the hygiene factor here: the staff wears plastic gloves while shaping the ice ball and hands it over to you on a piece of brown waxed paper. There were flavours like ice lemon tea, roselle ... we settled on gula melaka with a whole lychee nestled inside (RM3). Bubs had so much fun slurping on the ice ball with gusto. The older gentleman siting on the bench next to us commented that during his time, it was only 10 cents for one ;) I asked my Mum about it and she said during her time, it was only 5 cents plus the centre of the ice ball was filled with red beans!

Bits & Bobs also sell locks for their love lock wall at RM15 with a portion of the sale price going towards charity. The locks are painted in funky colours and a Sharpie is provided for you to pen a message on before locking it to the grid.

The Indian barber apparently used to have a shop around this area 30 years ago and with business booming at the new cafes, he was invited back to operate at a small, air conditioned premise just behind the cafes. I was lucky to chance upon a customer at the New Star Salon getting a trim and snapped a quick picture.

Missing Marbles (pork-free)
99, Jalan Sultan Yussuf,
Ipoh, Perak.
Tel No: +605-241 1564


  1. Apparently, Buku Tiga Lima was the old Star Air-Conditioned Hair Dressing Salon:

    1. I love the development around the area, it preserves the old heritage buildings but yet breathes new life into them.


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