Friday, July 29, 2011


We had an unfortunate detour and ended up in this place. I have no intention trying out this place all this while but Nakhom Pathom's Thai Wong disappointed me again by not opening his shop. His rests day are quite unpredictable. The cravings for Thai Food was so strong and I decided to take my makan gang to Ah Oh's Thai Food (next to Hot Trax, same row with Waraku). In the end we somehow skipped that decision as from the outside, the shop looked abit gloomy and there were not a single table occupied. No new spot sparked in our mind at that moment and finally we decided to try out BOWL.

Similarly, we were the second table of the day in BOWL though its already near 7pm. The menu here is rather limited and simple. Most items are somehow identical to one another or just a mere derivative.

The complimentary "appetiser" of blanched beansprouts and pickled onions. We were supposed to mix them up with the cili padi, chili sauce and the..... erm, sweet sauce. We were not attracted to try it so we thought of an alternative usage of this platter.

The BOWL appetizer supper set platter (RM16.90) came first. It consists of mostly fried stuffs. The chicken wings is the one which is slightly above average. Well marinaded and not too dry, its tasty but simply forgettable after that. Same goes to the wantan/money pockets and the spring rolls which was a big soggy from absorbing too much of oil.

The popiah which is something like a "Vietnamese Roll" was not really good either - incorporating carrots spoils the mouthfeel as I was expecting something soft as I sink my teeth, only to bite into tough sticks. And I've mentioned always, I am biased towards the usage of surimi crabsticks!

My friend's bowl of.......... Bibin Rice. A Hakka Lui Cha, Vietnamese Mong, Malaysia's Nasi Ulam and Korean's Stone bowl rice inspired dish. =.= The chopped mixed vegetables provided a refreshing first mouthful... but on subsequent tablespoons, it was kind of a drag to finish the whole portion.

The Seafood Noodles (RM7.90) - also somehow bland. The usage of crab meat sticks and Panda faced fish cake makes me doubt their credibility and passion in serving GOOD stuffs.

The chicken noodles- tasted somewhat bland. (RM5.90). My friend has trouble finishing the whole portion. Yikes~ I'm a firm believer that "health food" normally doesn't taste good. Perhaps I'm used to a robust flavour.

My bowl of beef noodles - Beef slices were far from being tender but was thinly "shaved". The broth was indeed hearty and quite robust in flavour. Other than that, nothing really spectacular for your taste bud to register it in your memory.

Oh they use some kind of noodles which are not so commonly found. A cross between Hakka noodles and kuay teow. I do not have an idea wat is the actual name. Anybody knows?

I would rate this place below average. I would recommend you to V-nam for more authentic Vietnamese delights. Lesson learned, MOST fusion theme restaurant just produce an amalgam of the shady sides of both world, cooking up disaster.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garden Chinese Restaurant

I have noticed this Chinese Restaurant in the Star's advertisement and found out its just situated next to Euro House. I did not really read through any review nor receive any flyers of on-going promotion. Have you heard of Garden Restaurant behind Ritz Garden Hotel?

The picture featured in The Star Metro pullout made me wanted to experience the ambiance of this place. The restaurant is divided into 2 areas. A fully air conditioned section and a open area with a high ceiling. The open area is a smoking area but the well ventilated area is cooling and have fresh air constantly flowing in.

The opened area is well lit and has traditional Chinese decor of paintings, lanterns and calligraphy art.

They are having set affordable lunches, targeting the office group during lunch break. Else it will be tough to survive to see a few tables only throughout the period i was dining here on a Monday evening.

Stirfried Garoupa Fillets with Ginger and Spring Onion (RM30). The fish slices were not to chunky but its not a skimpy portion either. For the amount you pay, you get a lot of firm fish slices and not bits and pieces. However I felt that the fish has a slight fishy smell. Perhaps they should be more ginger slices to mask the faint fishy smell. Furthermore it is lacking of Chinese wine. I rate this dish slightly below average as it lack a distinctive fragrance a typical Keong Chung Yu Pin should have.

This is some innovated rendition of Marmite Chicken. Ginger slices were "wrapped" with boneless chicken and deep fried. Coated with a caramel like savoury glaze, this dish is quite okay. RM12 for the portion above.

Initially the name kinda caught my attention. Stewed Pork Belly with Lotus Root (RM13). It turned out to be quite a failure. The layers of pork belly did not absorb the gravy well. The lotus roots were still quite hard. The contrasting mouthfeel of the pork belly and lotus roots failed to work their chemistry.

The Spinach in Superior Stock (RM10). Served with fried silver anchovies, century egg and salted egg yolk, this dish made its passing grade. However, the overall verdict was, just a mediocre restaurant in terms of food.

Well, it will be a uphill task for them to keep up with business. Perhaps they should brisk up with the promotion and publicity and improve the taste of certain dishes. Wish them luck!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hokkaido Japanese Cuisine Restaurant, Ipoh

Before going on with my post. I think its about time I give recognition to my makan gang. Me, the tactician and commander (columnist of this blog armed with a new Nikon digital compact camera) Evonne, the sniper team member (armed with DSLR and a few zoom lenses), Christine, sniper trainee but a well trained front assault member (DSLR user but also carries her trusty compact camera), Kathy - espionage and covert ops department (armed with only her SE cameraphone)

I was told by my colleagues there is a new kid in town in terms of Japanese food. Initially I was a bit skeptical on the Japanese restaurants in Ipoh which was mushrooming non-stop but only a few managed to make its mark. Well, since there is no new places to try recently, me and a few colleagues decided to give it the benefits of our doubt after reading MM's teaser post in the Ipoh FB page.

Hokkaido Japanese Cuisine is shyly hidden at the corner lot of the row of shops opposite Kizuna in Bandar Medan Ipoh Bestari. Upon entering this place, I was mesmerized by the interior decor and the service crew. We were seated in a private area which we need to remove our shoes at the steps. Somehow as I received the menu, I know that this meal won't come cheap. Even the bentos are slightly priced higher compared to other Japanese restaurants and only available for lunch.

As I was figuring what to order to make the fullest of our visit and yet not burn a hole TOO DEEP in our pockets, my friends are assigned to grab a few snapshots of the place. This is the public area. Not many tables are fit into this are but I believe its a good measure to avoid the possibility of the noise from the table beside you to spoil your dining experience

The sushi counter. Only a few seats here. These seats were eventually filled as the place was packed to the brim due to the "private birthday party" in the open area.

This is the private room. To dine here you need to spend a minimum RM500!!! If I'm not mistaken, a small group of Japanese were occupying this room which has a sliding door for privacy.

For the ones who are not so fully loaded, we were ushered to the "private zone" but without sliding doors. Hanging beads which act as a partition does give us some "exclusiveness" from the rest. At least, we get to sit on the wooden floor and rest our butts on the cushions.

There is a small LCD monitor which present a slideshow of food photos available here. There... the waitress were polite, good looking and well versed when I need a recommendation of the house specialty. And now... lets see how the food appease to our senses of sight, taste and smell.

Sashimi in all its fullest glory!!! Can you see the aura radiating from the thick slabs of salmon and salmon belly (the one with stripes of omega 3 rich fat). For RM25 (salmon) and RM30 (salmon belly) you get 5 thick slabs of fresh raw cuts. Not thumb numbing cold, the sashimi is among one of the freshest from the many Japanese restaurants in Ipoh. Practically, it "melts" in your mouth and love at first bite once contacting your tongue. I somehow had the whole slice without any soy sauce or wasabi because it is just fresh and tasted best on its own. Presentation was indeed very classy and elegant with abit of Salmon Roe.

Forget the lime wedges cause..... Its so good you can eat it on its own!!! Take a closer look... Ahhh somebody's chopstick stained with wasabi eh, contaminated the purest form of sashimi =p Well, besides the traditional way, sashimi can be done ala carpaccio. I've tasted salmon carpaccio in Kizuna One before. It's appetizing from the oil and vinegar dressing but somehow raw cuts of carpaccio is normally very thinly sliced, which did not appease me as I prefer thicker cuts. And for those who are fully loaded, you can go for the Sea Urchin, Alaskan Crabs and other out of the norm sashimis available.

Fickle minded over what sushi to order, we just went for the Matsu Moriawase (RM28) You get typical nigiri sushis like the Tuna, Salmon, White Tuna, Squid, Tamago, Roe and.... more unknowned fish. You get a fair share of maki sushis - cucumber, tuna.

You should've known me by now. My review on a Japanese Restaurant will not be complete without ordering a handroll. And normally I will test their California Temaki. The version here is quite decent, having all the items I am looking for - egg, avocado, roe, crabstick, fresh ice berg lettuce (correct me if i'm wrong) and most importantly crispy seaweed sheets used! Thumbs up from me! =D

Since I've named this blog as it is, I am always fond of soft shell crabs. I have the urge to have a soft shell crab temaki but since tonight's bill is shared equally, its best I am not so selfish. Alternatively, I ordered the Spider Roll (RM18). Coincidentally, there is enough for one piece per person. And this time around, I'm a bit selfish by grabbing the piece with the legs of the crabs! Crackling and crispy on the outside, moist and juicy inside!!! The soft shell crab is freshly fried and the roll prepared without delay. Lovely~

Gyoza (RM6.90) came in 6 pieces. Not the best gyozas I tasted as the minced meat in the filling is too fine. I would prefer abit of mouthfeel from the filling rather than biting in a "paste". This was ordered towards the end as the food we ordered do not seem to be enough. Do not underestimate the ladies~

Next, we took full advantage of our seats and the hot plate in front of us. Before I proceed, let me briefly differentiate Yakiniku and Teppanyaki. Although both uses hot plate to grill the meat and vegetables, the most significant difference is for Tepanyakki, the chef does the grilling for you and for Yakiniku, you get the honour to grill the meat on the hot plate at the centre of your table on your own (normally available via buffet style whereby you select the preferred meat of your choice). In Hokkaido, there are a considerably wide selections for the Yakiniku section in the menu. The chicken is priced at RM18 (or RM20... blame me for not keeping the receipt!)

The scallops at RM30 per portion. Fresh and succulent. Around 10 pieces which has a size slightly larger than a 5o cent coin.

The mixed seafood (forgot its RM25 or RM30). Slices of Salmon, tiger prawns and scallops. At first the waitress told me I will get squid and that was why I ordered a plate of scallop. No squid to be found but another 4 pieces of scallops.

This is the joy of Yakiniku, being part of the action yourself. The hot plate is electrically heated and there is a suction chimney but it was not powerful enough to save our hair and clothes from being infused with charred and oily odour. And yes, when having Yakiniku, you can play around with your food. I experimented basting the salmon with the garlic dip and sizzle it with a dash of the soya sauce provided. As a result, the waitress don't seem to be very happy with our table for charring their hot plate. Guess they will have a hard time scrapping the black carbon stains. =S

Niniku Charhan or Garlic Fried Rice (RM6). We had the eggless version as one of my friend is allergic to eggs. Not bad. Love the fried garlic bits used as garnishing, but serves more as an extra punch. Goes well with the grilled seafood, especially my own garlic infused salmon. =)

Claypot Udon with Tempura Prawns, Eggs and Fishcake. The egg has made the broth abit cloudy. Though I prefer the clear soup version, the egg whites made the udon nicer to slurp but abit 'jelak' if one person were to finish the whole portion.

Coincidentally, there was a birthday party on the night we dined in Hokkaido. The public area was fully booked by a group of more than 20 people. I was amazed by what they eat. Everyone has their own serving of sashimis, tempura and sushis. I managed to get a snapshot of the "Japanese catering" items.

And because the public are was fully booked, we were ushered to the "private rooms". Bear in mind that you will need to spend RM300 to utilize the private rooms to use the hot plate. We were lucky that day to have a chance to occupy the private room without spending that amount. Anyway, our bill was not any inferior to the minimum amount. RM264 for 4 people... It was indeed a great Friday night and a wonderful yakiniku experience with good food. Cheers for Hokkaido, you have indeed made your mark to compete in the already saturated Japanese restaurants and give the other contenders a run for their money =)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Of Viennetta and Wonka Chocolates....

Ah comfort food... What more at a comforting price. Normally sold at RM9.90, I couldn't help myself but to get one flavour each as TESCO is selling them for RM5.99 only. Just tried the Brownies Chocolate. Not bad. If I recalled correctly, the Triple Chocolate would've tasted better. Too bad there was not Black Forrest flavour on sale. With relatively low salary in Ipoh, I may not afford Baskin Robbins or Haagan Dasz but guess I can still afford Wall's Viennetta. Will stock up more the next time I stop by Tesco before this week's on sale items changes.

Another comfort food. Imported. And best of all..... FREE! Big thanks to Mun Siong for practising the true meaning of giving. If the giving does not hurt, then it's not giving at all. I'm sure she felt a pinch to sacrifice his last box of chocolate initially for her own. But considering I always get her OldTown 3in1 for staff price, I think its about time I get appreciated. =)

I never know much about Wonka, except I know about the movie Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. But from the packaging, its a trademark owned by Nestle. This is fully imported chocolates from The States. Individually wrapped, the milk chocolate contains bits of peppermint candies and shortbrItalicead. The short bread did not really shine as the flavourful minty candy bits was a bit overpowering. May not appease the chocolate purist but once in a while, it brings great joy to taste chocolate like this. =)

A very good after meal dessert. Happy weeekend, peeps! =)

Monday, July 18, 2011


How many of you noticed this shop in de Garden, Ipoh? Or rather, how many of you have stepped in to try it? I finally did last weekend with a group of friends THE BROWNIES has been opened for quite some time, situated just next to Daorae. I haven't try the latter yet as I heard its kinda pricey. But let's see how well The Brownies fare as a place for teatime and chitchat.

The Brownies, as the name goes, takes pride in their brownies. Besides that, they boast in serving Haagan Dasz ice cream to go along with their brownies. Haagan Dasz ice cream is sold here at RM7.90 per scoop, and currently they are running a promotion of a complimentary piece of brownies (a few variation to choose from) (worth RM2.50) for every scoop of ice cream ordered. At first I was abit skeptical about the ice cream, is it being the REAL Haagan Dasz. I peeped at the ice cream refrigerator and saw big tubs of unlabelled ice cream. Somehow, I have no idea Haagan Dasz can be sourced in big tubs. Yes, those big tubs of ice cream where you can freely dig into in a buffet steamboat. No further comments since I didn't dig into this. However, my friend said it was "quite nice" and it does taste like "Haagan Dasz", did you said that Xing? (I know you are reading my post)

Brownies aside. I find the other cakes quite good. Take for example the Chocolate Moist Cake. Topped with velvety smooth chocolate butter icing (correct term used?), it may not be the tastiest one you tried but still have the home made touch in it. Personally I felt the Chocolate Mud Cake or Moist Chocolate Slice from Secret Recipe to be slightly more superior compared to this.

A well worth mention is the Pumpkin Cheesecake. Yes, PUMPKIN! Kudos to the one who invented this as it may not be a conventional match. But pumpkin and cheese turns out to complement each other well. The cream cheese layer is much creamier and richer thanks to the addition of pumpkin. I forgotten the price, but it should be around RM6-7 per slice.

Last but not least, my choice of Cranberries Layer Cake deserved a good mention too. In terms of taste and price. Soft but firm, it's a great comfort food to have it in your mouth, breaking the layers gently and savour the richness of the large amount of eggs used. The cranberries was not too sweet but added a twist to the traditional layered cake we normally have. At RM5.50 per slice, it is kinda pricey but considering the meticulous effort involved in baking it, it's money worth spent. Indulge in eat but not in a hurry. Savour bite by bite as if you are taking a pause in life. =)

With around 5-6 tables, The Brownies is normally empty when I pass by. But it certainly provide a quiet place for people to meet up and have a chat. Can come for an "underground" date too, chances of you bumping into somebody familiar is near 0. Hehehe....

Perhaps its due to its location or less publicity made. Drinks are very reasonably priced here. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate are priced around RM3-RM4. Canned drinks are available at RM2! Isn't that a steal (air condition environment) since Chinese coffeeshops in Ipoh are selling canned drinks for RM1.80-RM2 already. You might wanna consider this place during your next yumchar session with friends.... or with that someone special. =)