Cover Nam Heong Ipoh believes in quality through culinary distinction (Photo: @namheongipoh/Instagram)

The founder of this renowned food chain has big dreams of achieving global brand recognition

When Andy Goh Ching Mun’s grandfather first arrived in Malaya decades ago, he discovered a love for the food of his new home. In 1958, he established a local kopitiam, Nam Heong Ipoh, near Concubine Lane in Ipoh. His aim was to preserve the unique flavours of this region.

From the age of nine, Goh was drafted to work in this new restaurant. Starting out by washing cups and dishes, he soon excelled at his new responsibilities. By the time he turned 12, his parents could go off on short holidays, while leaving the shop in the care of their son.

Today, Nam Heong Ipoh has expanded, with 11 outlets all over Malaysia. Goh has risen to become the chief executive officer. Throughout his years on the job, he’s never forgotten his grandfather’s vision – which he has since enhanced with goals of his own.

“Nam Heong Ipoh stands renowned for preserving the timeless flavours of Ipoh’s culinary heritage while delivering impeccable service. Through the years, it has continually captivated the hearts of many, becoming one of the most iconic F&B brands in Malaysia as well as Asia. The ultimate vision is to transform Nam Heong into a globally esteemed culinary brand,” says Goh, who is also the founder of Old Town White Coffee.

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Nam Heong Ipoh stands renowned for preserving the timeless flavours of Ipoh’s culinary heritage while delivering impeccable service

How have his restaurants managed to stay relevant throughout the years? Goh says it’s a two-pronged approach: quality is the foundation of their culinary distinction while service is the essence of their management excellence.

“We go the extra mile in training all employees to work in unity. We foster valuable relationships and communicate effectively across all channels. These philosophies are cultivated to ensure that the heritage of Nam Heong Ipoh can be passed on to future generations,” he says.

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Goh notes that some of Nam Heong Ipoh’s most popular dishes are the chicken hor fun and supreme prawn noodles. The jewels of the crown, however, are their egg tarts and Nam Heong white coffee.

“We like to think we’ve preserved the timeless flavours of Ipoh's culinary heritage in them. Once you taste them, you know the difference. You cannot find the same taste anywhere else,” Goh says with a laugh.

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Despite being in business for years, Goh still enjoys trying new things. In 2018, he brought in eight robot waitresses from China to serve customers at one of his outlets. These unusual servers caused quite a buzz on social media; currently, they are in storage, as dine-in has been restricted due to the pandemic. But Goh hopes to be able to use them again.

Needless to say, Covid-19 has greatly impacted Nam Heong Ipoh’s business. Plans to open new overseas outlets had to be put on hold. Goh and his staff have done a good job so far, driving the business forward and delivering on revenue to sustain the operations of Nam Heong Ipoh. Most importantly, the Group have been vigilant on costs, and able to manage their overall cost structures aggressively.

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Goh quickly pivoted his business to delivery, and took other steps to diversify income. He launched Concubine Lane, a new line of ready-made meals. The future may be uncertain, but whatever happens, Goh feels he will be ready for it. He’s not stopping until his vision of Nam Heong Ipoh becoming a global brand is achieved.

“A pandemic is just like an elimination process for all businesses. It gives the company the opportunity to review their current business model and restructure to survive,” he says.

“We've constantly been improving our operational efficiency, risk management and cost management. As such, we strongly believe that the Nam Heong Brand will become stronger than ever after the pandemic.”

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