Sunday, July 29, 2012

Canton Palace Restaurant & Lounge, Bandar Baru Medan, Ipoh

For those who are staying in Ipoh Garden Area, the Kinta City and Tesco here would be your preference for shopping and looking for groceries. While doing this, you would have probably noted a slight chance in the corner shop which formerly houses Sincero Wine and Dine. Since weather has been good recently, you would've noticed it during your Tuesday pasar malam routine. This is Canton Palace Restaurant and Lounge, a near player in town, having commenced business recently in early July. This is a glimpse of how the interior would look like....

And this is a glimpse of how the food shall look like. This is a quarter serving of Canton's Crispy Duck (RM15/quarter serving, RM28 for half). Apparently, this is one of the forte here. The duck was deep fried prior to serving (I reckon) resulting into a dry and crispy mixture of meat and skins. Yes, the rib bones can be munched at too.

The waiter here will do all the shredding of the meat for you. After that, get a flour skin wrap and put a leaf of lettuce, spread some chill oil and sweet dark sauce. Arrange a slice of cucumber/tomatoes and a stalk of spring onions. Lastly some shredded duck meat and skin.

It should looks something like this? Wrap it up and enjoy. Do bear in mind that the flour skin will not be nice after its cold, so eat while its still hot. Apparently after finishing 6 pieces of skin, there is still duck meat left to go along with your rice. If possible, remind them to serve this dish first, which mainly acts as an appetizer. If not, you might risk the other dishes being cold while you enjoy rolling up the duck wraps.

This was one of the recommended dish from the menu. Claypot Eggplant with Minced Pork and Salted Fish (RM13). Tastewise was a bit bland. The claypot was not preheated prior to serving. Would be great if they cooked the dish and simmer it for awhile in the heated claypot.

This is the Deep Fried Pig Intestines (RM8). Well, I was curious to try this after seeing the post in MM's blog. However, it somehow didnt appeal to me. Yes, perhaps I'm accustomed to the crispy versions of the Chu Chap Chuk (Mixed Offals Porridge). The fried intestine was far from being crispy and it was a bit cold upon serving. It tasted a bit.... tangy? Or rather, they could've fine tune to seasoning/marinade, say five spice powder, more pepper?

We decided to skip ribs and went for pork chops instead. I just randomly selected one item which has the "thumb up" sign in the menu - Pork Chop with Special Home Made sauce (sounds general eh? If I could've read the Chinese Translation, I would've picked something else) Yes, it's served with Thousand Island Sauce. Not to say it's not good, but having that predominant Western touch, it was not so suitable to go alongside with rice. As in the creamy and sweet aftertaste - very jelak le. Portion is enough for 4 person, but its kinda small too for RM16. We had another dish Sambal Belacan Kangkung (RM9) which was below average. From the style of cooking, it somehow lacked the "wok hei" in conventional Chinese stir fry dishes. Upon reading from MM's post, I can verily reaffirm that the chef most likely have been working abroad in Chinatown restaurants in Western countries.

Total bill came up to RM71 for 4 of us. Reasonably priced. Food was average, perhaps not accustomed to their modern/Westernized way of Chinese cooking. But I must commend their service. The waiters are very alert, efficient and friendly. No service/Gov tax in place yet, so I couldn't help but to give them more tips for their pleasant service. Wifi is available here. Certain lighter bites/Western cuisines (a few options of chops, steaks and sausages, fries, etc) are incorporated in the menu for the lounge upstairs. Don't put too much hopes as they offer only Tiger, Guiness and Heineken. If you want to be fancy and look "in" with your Kilkenny, Asahi or those odd named German beer, go elsewhere. Give Canton Palace a try if you are out of options for restaurants in Ipoh Garden area and since the new Zi Long (Szechuan cuisine) opened opposite K10 Claypot Chicken Rice is very exorbitantly priced, be warned.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Royal China Tai Thong, Ipoh

Mom and I did not have even one good dining experience in Royal China-Tropicana Grand Ballroom after attending a few wedding dinners. The "lang pun", first entree platter normally served on Chinese banquets consisted of mainly frozen/processed stuffs like dumplings, siew mais, meat rolls. Mom experienced an "under-steamed" fish whereby the flesh of the fish is still stuck on the bones, hardly inseparable. We always thought that hotel line or rather HALAL Chinese restaurants normally are not up to the league when compared with conventional Chinese restaurants. Maybe they need to hire a lot of Malay chefs, particularly those MARA Culinary College to fulfill the HALAL criteria.

We decided to give Royal China another shot since this advertisement on Tai Thong Facebook page caught my eye. After all, I haven't really dined in Royal China restaurant (ground floor). The ground floor is a Non Halal restaurant. They have a seperate halal kitchen which caters to the grand ballroom on the 6th floor.

Upon seated down, I got to know that they are currently still having some economical set meals which includes rice, soup, chinese tea and dessert. We decided to have the RM66 set for 4 people whereby we can get to choose 3 dishes from 3 different category - 1 meat, 1 vege and 1 tau fu/egg. In the meantime while waiting for the food, we munched on these braised peanuts. A good snack rather those conventional fried ones.

From the meat category, I chose the roasted duck and char siew platter to savour the best of both worlds. Char Siew was not very up to its mark, the roast duck being okay. Portion is quite substantial, there's actually quarter of a duck being served.

This is some spicy sauce Tau Fu. Lightly braised with some thin slices of pork belly, mixed vegetable. This is just some average dish you will come across in some chinese "dai chow" stall.

Mix Vegetarian With Nam Yue (Fermented Bean Paste). I'm not a fan of Nam Yue but my parents said that this dish is well cooked, very good to go along with rice.

3 dishes for 4 people ain't enough. Especially meat lovers will be deprived from only a single dish. Hence, we topped up one of the promo priced dish of the day. This is the Sweet and Sour Chicken which was actually Gou Lou Yuk, chicken cubes instead of pork. Although not very spectacular, but it did in a way 'exorcised' our trauma past unpleasant Chinese wedding dinner meals.

Dessert which was included in the set, Kwai Fa Gou. It's actually jelly with some scented flower petal infused with tea essence, cloud ear (suet yee) and wolfberries (kei chi).

I side ordered a Chinese Pancake for RM12 per portion! Well, you can forget about the ala carte desserts they have to offer. Most desserts need around 15-20 minutes to prepare - namely your tong shuis like frog jelly/hasma (suet kap) or those sea coconut with ginseng. The only thing ready on the spot was the Guai Ling Gou (RM8.90) and it was really hopeless.

On the ala carte menu, you can indulge in their offerings like Shark Fin's and Abalone and Sea Cucumber to name a few. They have a variety to cater to your budget, the cheapest abalone dish is RM38/pax for a Sap Hou Bao (10 mouth abalone). Sap Hau Bao means that you have 10 pieces of abalone in the packet amounting to 1 kati (600g) meaning the abalone of this "grade" is approximately 60g, so you can guess the size and portion of a RM38 grade serving. Higher grades can fetch up to over RM100/pax, so get your credit cards ready. Will I come back again? Maybe YES maybe NO. Till then, I will leave you with a photo of their mooncake boxes. Yes, the Chinese have already started  the Mooncake business!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

OldTown White Coffee Carnival of the Green 2012

With the theme “Go Green for Life”, Oldtown Berhad organized Carnival of the Green 2012’ to create awareness of green living at Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh.  In support of Majlis Bandaraya Ipoh and Malaysian Nature Society Perak, ‘Carnival of Green 2012’ was conducted 3.00pm to 11.00pm on 16 June 2012.  
Back tracking... it was a hot day for those who volunteered to help out setting up the booth, packing gifts and coordinating the rehearsal.

This is the first time seeing AU YONG the CLOWN without the makeup. And it's my first time witnessing him performing a magic show. The tricks were interesting but he could improve by interacting more with the crowd.

SUPERSTAR Beauty School has been our partners for OldTown events, primarily sponsoring free make up services for your Annual Dinner committee members and performers. This time around, they took part in the Go Green Fashion Show. Most of their clothing material for the dress is made from recyclable material/scrap.

While the stage events at the early stages received quite lukewarm attention, the games booth seems to be getting warm response from the visitors.

The crowd do not mind dirtying themselves with flour to win some prizes.

The carnival primarily aims at creating awareness in the young minds the importance of going green and it brings together Oldtown staffs, environmentally organizations, environmental loving citizen to raise awareness on green living. It is a special family get-together event not just involving opportunity to educate the local community to be environmentally conscious but to raise fund for children home (Yup, there were a booth or two selling handicrafts)

We got the FlyFM troopers to be part of our events. Live coverages were made 3 times throughout the late afternoon till night.

The duo managed to draw much attention from the afternoon crowd but the night crowd was a bit passive. Wei, Ipoh people, you all dun wan freebies ar? o.O

A sight of good participation in thte freebies giveaway. The dished out OldTown goodies bag which has snacks and tidbits, colouring booklets for kids, OldTown can drinks, notepads and the OldTown "Go Green For Life" T-shirt. On the other hand, we on the committee side had our hands on the FlyFM freebies instead. I got my hands on a FlyFM T-shirt.

This was the opening cultural dance by the MBI dancers. Normal la to have performances representing each ethnic group in our country.

 The event was reperesented by a councillor from Ipoh City Council. OldTown Berhad made a pledge to care about environment and cleanliness by sponsoring thrash bins to MBI.

Presenting hampers to the winners from the game slot winners. If I'm not mistaken this is a game on utilizing recyclable materials to dress up the person.

Fitness dance performance to keep the tempo up for the night.

Energetic Hip-hop dance by D'Artiz Dance Studio to further build up the momentum of the night.

Minutes To Fame Malaysia winner - Joanne Lai, with her Hula Dance performance. As predicted, she used the same old background medley of Under The Sea, Up Up (Jolin Tsai).... I see until sien de >.<

Can you guess what song they are dancing to? K-Pop fans will not have much trouble in identifying this opening pose from the MV. To me, this performance is attractive! ^^

The supposedly highlight of the Carnival - 1/2 hour roof blowing performance by rock band BITTERSWEET. Didn't appease me much though, but might delight our Malay friends.

All in all, it was a fun night working with one another. Until the next event, let's have a free appreciation dinner treat in Impiana Hotel soon! =)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SnowDream, Taiwanese Shaved Ice Desserts

I was reading about MM’s blog post last night about SnowDream and it struck my mind that I too have a few photos from the few visits there. I was not very sure when did SnowDream started business in Ipoh but it was at the most 2 or 3 months back only. Many would have thought SnowDream is the franchise which was very popular with Taiwanese desserts but the actual franchise name is SnowFlakes.

SnowDream is very close to be the real thing. For those who have tried SnowFlakes, you will see total resemblance in the menu. They only made minor changes in the names to avoid any legal action over patented names, namely the Taro Balls. The biggest different a SnowFlakes fan can notice is they do not have a UFO device notification. Those who have visited SnowFlakes surely wont forget this gadget which they pass to you temporarily while waiting for your order, and lights up when your order is ready, nudging you to collect it from the counter. Instead, this was replaced with a conventional number queue system at the counter.

The modus operandi here is simple. Pick the type of shaved ice you want: grass jelly ice, soya bean ice, syrup ice. Then you pick the toppings combination available. Could not find a proper combination, you can top up certain toppings at an additional charge of RM1. If this still sounds complicated to you, you can opt for the Best Seller Series. All best seller series comes with the signature gummy-chewy like TARO BALLZ.

My personal favourite is still the S1 soya ice with boiled peanuts, red beans, grass jelly, taro balls and pearls. The S2 – grass jelly ice with sweet potato, pearls, grass jelly, taro balls and creamer (something like coconut milk). For hot desserts, currently they only have red bean dessert, comes with either black glutinous rice or taro balls. SnowDream is located in Greentown, the same row with Maxis Centre. Anytime I will prefer this than Chatime. =)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mun Choong Revisited

If there is a reason to be in Mun Choong (Pusing Public Seafood Restaurant), let it be this. The big head fresh water prawns, a famous local product from Tualang, it was said. I have posted about this place last time, previously having 2 different way of cooking it - either steaming it with ginger and egg whites or pan fry it with soya sauce. The steamed ones really allows you to savour the juiciness and freshness of the crustacean without having it being adulterated.

Else, you can have it pan fried. This is said to be Mun Choong's forte. The pan fried version is slightly more appetizing and flavourful.8 big sized prawns whereby this dish alone can easily hit RM100, no kidding!!

A comparison of the size of the prawn with a 20 cents coin. This is the medium large size. There is substantial amount of roe in the head of the prawn to drive you health freaks up the wall. =p

On my earlier visit in May, we did not order dishes to go along with rice. Hence we ordered their signature stuffed taufu. It's good to be eaten on its own.

The service captain failed in recommending a good chicken dish since we are not eating white rice. Initially we thought Sesame Seed Chicken (Ji Ma Gai) would mean deep fried chicken (the dry type). It came out to be Thai Style Sweet and Sour Chicken. I don't really fancy this dish. Most Chap Fan stall also can cook this. Ok, this one hard to eat on its own unlike the tau fu.

Stir fried mixed vegetable was a failure. The water chestnut (Ma Tai) was cut into so big slices. Its very rough and not aesthetic to the palate. The other vegetables were not balance in terms of cut sizes too.

The Sam Si Mein was good! A bit oily towards the ending, it os full of ingredients namely pork slices, small cubes and bit size sotong and shrimps. The yellow noodles were braised to perfection and very flavourful indeed. It was because of this dish that we skipped the white rice.

On the revisit recently, we had dishes like Black Pepper Venison to go along with our rice. I expected something better though. Besides the small portion, the venison lacked some supporting ingredients like capsicum and onions. Though the black pepper gravy was right in viscosity to coat the meat slices without drowning the dish, I expected a more "vibrant" dish rather than resting on sweet peas. Few days later, I had the Black Pepper Venison in Kok Thai Restaurant, and THAT WAS WAY BETTER!

Some braised pork ribs (ngar guat, literally translated into 'teeth bone') which is quite a failure. The ribs were tender but.... the presence of the porkish odour could not be ignored. With a Spinach Soup (Seong Tong Yuen Choy) and a smaller serving of prawns, the bill this time came to RM120+. Not that cheap indeed. Looks like besides the prawns, Mun Choong do not have much in their arsenal, yet it is always packed with people and receives heavy booking for wedding banquets all year round.