I would recommend Durbar at FMS as a dining choice mainly for nostalgia and its history, second for the food.
It would seem that I’m implying that the food is bad, but trust me, based on what I’ve tried, the food isn’t remotely bad, but neither is it mind-blowing.
It is comfort food. The very building is a relic.
Durbar FMS is the oldest bar and restaurant in Ipoh and possibly in Malaysia. The grand dame was revived from her 11-year slumber by Seow Wee Liam, an Ipohan and he can be seen here daily managing the restaurant.
The place is restored well, no small feat yet executed with finesse in the capable and experienced hands of Seow, a trained architect and a lover of vintage cars.
During our meal, he took time to chat with us and I overheard a part of conversation that discussed about salvaging parts of the bar top from upstairs and had them made into the current dining tables. I’m afraid I wasn’t paying attention but from what I gathered as I was seated with the “older” folks who had visited the previous Durbar, it was apparent that the restorative details were astounding and much of the original furnishing and structure were retained wherever possible.
And for those unfamiliar, and wondering what’s with the unusual name but too shy to ask, FMS stands for Federated Malay States and “durbar” is a Persian-derived term meaning a great ceremonial hall receiving visitors in audience, holding formal & informal reception, meetings and gatherings by dignitaries and high society.
It is Seow’s hope to be able to serve patrons especially locals the traditional comfort eats of yesteryears. Some of the old menu is back, he assured us, and though the menu is limited for now, there are plans to add more traditional eats at a later stage.
The Hainanese Chicken Chop is the signature here but somehow none in our group ordered it. I decided to take the road less traveled and ordered a Oxtail Soup instead, hankering for a bowl of hearty and flavorful soup loaded with vegetables after 2 days of gluttony in Ipoh. I’ve seen the pictures of their Chicken Chop online (everyone orders it!) and on Facebook, but none of the oxtail.
Unfortunately the Oxtail Soup (RM16) was dismal at best. This was one instance where being adventurous didn’t pay off. LOL! 🙂
No sweat though, it wasn’t inedible, just not to my liking.
The Enche Kabin (half chicken RM28) was finger-licking good and I enjoyed it with the accompanying dip. The Chicken Mornay (RM21) was a good choice as well, smooth buttery mash and chunks of meat under a blanket of cheese.
The dessert to order here seems to be the Banana Fritters so we shared a plate.
The bananas were nicely ripe and thus delightfully soft and sweet. It was a simple dessert but irresistible due to its hot, sweet, cold combination.
Like I said, dining at Durbar at FMS leaned heavily on the nostalgic experience. I’ve read many comments on Facebook groups where dining patrons had enthused about reviving happy memories of past dining affairs and appreciation of having the historical building restored.
If you’re in Ipoh, visit Durbar at FMS and take a walk down memory lane. Stick to the chicken chop (no complaints so far), enjoy the simple banana fritters and admire the photographs and vintage items, soak in the ambiance and greet Queen Elizabeth (take a selfie if you must).
Location and Contact:
** PORK-FREE dining but alcohol is served.
FB: Durbar at FMS
No. 2, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah,
30000 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel: +605-210 5115, +6012-508 1223
Hours: 11 am – 10 pm daily, closed on Wed.
WAZE: Durbar at FMS