[Pork-free] Check out this 117-year-old Bar and Restaurant in Ipoh! Durbar at the FMS is probably the oldest operating bar in Malaysia.
Located just opposite Padang Ipoh, the bar and restaurant was founded in 1906 on Market Street by a Hainanese immigrant.
Then known as the FMS (an acronym for the Federal Malay States), the restaurant used to be a hangout spot for European miners and planters back in the day.
In 1923, the restaurant occupied the current premise before it was shuttered in 2008.
However, the restaurant was refurbished and reopened in 2019 by architect Seow Wee Liam.
It now stands as a heritage café serving Hainanese food, with its interior and exterior harkening to days of old British Malaya.
Durbar at FMS in Ipoh
If you tire of chicken rice and hor fun, Durbar at FMS is a worthy stop when visiting Ipoh.
A step into the restaurant is like a step into British Malaya. According to the manager, some of the furnishings in the room had been retained since 1906 – including the fittings, chairs, and tables.
The place was given a new lease of life in the recent refurbishment as the owner sought out chengal and balau wood to recreate the timber used for the bar, cabinets, and tables.
The endeavor is definitely much appreciated as Durbar at FMS evokes an old-school charm with its decade-old cabinets and British Royal Family memorabilia that adorns the walls of the restaurant.
Durbar at FMS offers classic dishes
Befitting its old-world charm, the new owner sought to recreate some of the classic dishes that were served here during its heyday.
These include Western dishes such as Hainanese Chicken Chop, Chicken Maryland, Chicken Mornay, Fish and Chips, and Baked Stuffed Crabs.
We really loved the service from the old-timers waiting here – who offer authentic hospitality that is rarely seen in casual eateries these days.
Homely Hainanese Chicken Chop
We decided to get the Hainanese Chicken Chop (RM23) and Classic Chicken Mornay (RM23).
For the former, the chicken leg is battered and deep-fried in batter and is served with garden peas, chips, and tangy-spiced onion gravy.
While not mind-blowing, we enjoyed the chicken chop as it was just lovely comfort food. The chicken is nicely seasoned and tender, and we liked the mild tanginess of the sweet onion gravy.
Hearty Chicken Mornay
This was also the first time we tried a Classic Chicken Mornay – which is a chicken dish baked with mozzarella cheese and white Mornay sauce, and served with mashed potatoes.
This was a lovely hearty dish. The chicken breast pieces were nicely seasoned and they went well with the Mornay sauce – which is classic French bechamel sauce made with milk, white roux, and cheese.
Banana Fritters with Honey
For dessert (and fuel for our drive back to KL that evening), we ordered Banana Fritters with Honey (RM15).
We enjoyed this simple dish as the batter was light and crispy, and the banana had achieved a good ripeness to yield a lovely caramelized sweetness. And the vanilla ice cream was the perfect accompaniment.
If you’re looking for something different in Ipoh, we definitely recommend checking out Durbar at FMS for its lovely service, heritage legacy, and homely comfort food.
Durbar at FMS
Address: 2, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah, 30000 Ipoh, Perak
Phone: 05-210 5115
Hours: 11am-10pm Daily (Closed on Wednesdays)
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