Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mooncakes Galore 2012

A bit too late to post up the photos now? After all, its just moments before we have a dinner with family on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This box was self purchased - the black one is a Mocha Infused Milk Tea mooncake, the white one being the snow skin with red bean paste. One of the remaining two is the Mixed Nuts with Chicken Ham and the other is Black Sesame Lotus Paste Single Yolk.

The inside view of the Black Sesame Lotus Paste Single Yolk dissected in its full glory. Originally was priced at RM16+, but due to less demand, it was slashed to RM10 when I purchased it 2 weeks ago.

The Mocha Infused Milk Tea mooncake. The skin is disappointingly dry, I can't even figure out its a pastry base or is it a artificial chocolate layer.

Snowy skin (Bing Pei) with Red Bean Paste (RM9)

Next, enter Foh San! This box was given by suppliers of my company. Simple box though....

Traditional picks of flavour though. If I'm not mistaken, Foh San mooncake do not have Halal certification unlike Tai Thong, Kings, Baker's Cottage and Kam Lun Tai.

Pandan Jade, Pure Lotus, Shanghai Mooncake and Mixed Nuts. Their Mix Nuts is quite inferior compared to the "cottage industry" scale by Ming Yue Confectionery in Pasir Pinji (opposite Tuck Kee) which I deem the best rendition of Mixed Nuts - aromatic and savoury with strong aroma of sesame oil and.... lard =p

The Packaging of Kam Lun Tai. The Black one was using Charcoal Flour, seems to be a hit recently.

Boxes by the bakery outlets, trying to make a fair share from the lucrative business of overpriced commodity.
Left one by Kings Confectionery, the right one by Baker's Cottage. Loved the one by Baker Cottage, the nicest box this year. =)

This is their "secret weapon" unveiled. Despite the other flavours going at 35%-40% , The Ivory Pearl (loosely termed Yeh Ming Zhu in Cantonese) series stood firm at 20% discount only towards the whole of this week. Many ingredients were incorporated into the lotus filling, namely dried longan, macadamia nuts, winter melon and kuaci wrapped inside a buttery and milky skin.

A glimpse of the inside of the Yeh Ming Zhu. Loved the filling but not the milky skin though.

The Previous Black was going at a 40% discount, making it around RM10+ towards the last few days this week. Have a similar filling as the Ivory Pearl, the black skin was due to the Charcoal Flour used.

The interior of the Previous Black....

Bought a Cheesy Chocolate-Oreo since Tiramisu was sold out. I loved the Tiramisu as they use cream cheese to mimic the salted egg yolk centre. Wicked! =D

*More photos to come, but I need to go yumchar now. So post this up temporarily to wish all my readers HAPPY MOONCAKE FESTIVAL*

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nanzo Syabu Syabu, De Garden

Nanzo Shabu Shabu Restaurant is located in the Ground Floor of De Garden, nearby Oh Sushi, directly opposite the closed down Strawberry Moments. Or should I get straight to the point, occupying the same lot as  Ding Fung previously. Nothing much has changed, even the individual induction hot pots remained the same. Perhaps the most obvious change was the mural paintings on the wall depicting a carnivorous Viking with his beer.

 We were drawn here by this poster. They are currently having set lunch on weekdays only I presume, since they didn't mention clearly the terms and condition nor the time. Price is RM15.30 nett, though I believe its based on RM13.90 + RM1.40 (10% service charge) calculation. Hence we were deeply annoyed when we arrived at 12:40pm and found that the shop is half lit, chairs still placed on the table, air conditioned not switched on. When inquired, we found out that their OFFICIAL business hour starts at 1pm. At first I really salute them for having the ideas for resolving into lunch sets instead of buffet during lunchtime as most of us are not interested to cramp a buffet meal in a 1 hour lunchtime. And considering that most of the office lunch hours are either from 12-1pm, 12:30 to 1:30pm (mine) and some might be 1-2pm, wouldn't it be absurd to only get ready for business around 1pm+?

To be honest, we did not really enjoyed the meal due to the rushing factor. Preparations of the ingredients took about 15 minutes after we were ushered to our seats, in other words, we only started cooking our food at 1:10pm. Groans... so each of us ordered a different main course set: the Chicken Set, Lamb Set and Beef Set. You may skip the chicken though as the slices of thighs are not so suitable for Syabu Syabu style. Though skimpy, the thin beef and lamb slices are more appropriate and holds true to the 10 second rule of "dipping" it into the boiling soup. Some may even go for the 5 second rule. No preference whether the lamb or beef is better, just take my advice, skip the chicken.

No matter what meat you order, they ensure that you are fully filled by a standard platter of mixed sides. You get a piece or two of nearly everything they can offer. ALMOST everything. But mostly processed frozen food: fish balls, sotong sticks, crab claw sticks, prawn balls, sausages, prawn balls. For the fiber, you are given some cabbage, enoki mushrooms, yam, cherry tomatoes (!!!).... and an egg for protein. I had the egg "poached" at the end, only to turn out to be hard boiled. So besides the individual plate of meat shown earlier, typically you wont find any "real" meat in the mixed platter. Just surimi based food.

The "balls" and "sticks" (sounds obscene huh?) really gets you filled up in no time. If that doesn't, the portion of noodles (4 types to choose from - egg noodles, spinach noodles, instant noodles and vermicelli). The vermicelli goes very well with the hot stock. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that they have 2 soup base to choose from - Miso or Spicy. The Miso is a bit bland and clear in appearance - more like "ching tong" as they claim they it is MSG free and don't use any meat or bones to get the cloudy stock, only yellow beans. The Spicy, I reckon, is just using the Miso based, added with chilli paste, which is also served as a dipping sauce. The dip really give a punch - from the blended condiments - I noticed garlic, parsley/mint and spring onions with lime juice. However, they didn't look into fixing other dips like the bean paste sauce/ Sar Zha cheong or sesame oil or peanut based dip like Ding Fung did to cater for those who do not opt for spicy sauce. If you cannot take hot dipping sauce, pray that the free flow of green tea can save you.

The lunch set is a sample of what they got to offer in their dinner buffet. But honestly, I am not impressed. Besides the thin slices of meat, the other ingredients are mainly generic frozen food which is not much worth to tally to their price tag. Hopefully they have REAL fish slices (hopefully is pomfret or grouper and not Dory, better still NOT fish balls), REAL sotong rings (and not sotong sticks or balls), REAL crab (not crab sticks) and REAL prawns (not prawn flavoured fish balls). After all, you are charging RM38.80! And that's with 10% service charge, bringing it to RM40+. Now this annoys me again, why do you need service charge for a buffet? Isn't it self service? And isn't food preparation labour cost be included in your food price? And I hope you have noticed it by now, there is NO PORK in this restaurant. Can you imagine Syabu Syabu without pork? If you ask me, it's like a "no fish rule" in a Japanese Restaurant. No pork to attract Muslim customers? Come on, you are serving beer... There is no Halal certification involved, so do us customer some justice and include the pork like how Ding Fung previously did!

Since we are already late from lunch, it doesn't really matter if we are even slightly later. Hehehe... not that we do it often. Take away ChaTime to wrap up an IDEAL WEDNESDAY. Mine is the 3rd cup - the one with grass jelly by default and with additional toppings of acclaimed carcinogenic black pearls. I don't really spend on such overpriced drinks which has not much difference than the ones in pasar malam. Like my colleague said, it was indeed a rare sight. Signing off, the next posting will be on mooncakes! Happy weekend!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wendy's, AEON Station 18

Here's just a short post to kick the Sunday Night blues away. Wendy's has arrived in Ipoh 2 months back then. Now situated in the ground floor of AEON S18, let's see what this fast food chain (under Berjaya Corp too) has to offer. 

There have economical sets from RM5.95 to RM6.95 ranging from Chicken Burgers to Mushroom Beefburgers/Cheeseburgers, which comes with a regular fries and small carbonated drinks (refillable). Premium sets will be available at around RM10+ for double patties burger of their signature shrimp burger. I really like their fries, which comes with potato skin, a sign that I'm eating whole potatoes and not mashed potato+flour. The baked potatoes tasted good as well (RM6.95 for a side order) and I picked the Chilli and Cheese flavour. Chilli here refers to their minced beef sauce, which is similar to your balognaise sauce with kidney beans! Flavourful and rich, highly recommended! I find the burgers here acceptable, though some loyal McD fans will not nod in agreement, well at least it's way better than KFC. Do drop by and try it out if you can't decide what to eat in AEON S18.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hokkaido Japanese Sushi Buffet in partnership with Groupon

Groupon F&B partners failed me miserably on the previous 2 purchases (Sky Lounge and Barossa Japanese Cuisine). Good thing this time around, its was not disappointing. Hokkaido Japanese Cuisine took part and the response was simply overwhelming. Only available for lunch (12-2pm), they now opened another slot (3pm-5pm) to cater to the multitudes who purchased this online voucher.

This promo is around RM19/person. You are given a laminated card to choose from the various type of sushi and handrolls. Sushi can come in single piece, not necessarily 2 pieces per order. These are among the ones we had. Of course, go for the Salmon, Tuna to breakeven your RM19 worth. The sushis has a big piece of rice to ensure your stomach will be full in no time.               

Considering the sushis are mass produced in advance. It it better to order the handrolls. After all, the amount of rice is just slightly more since the sushi rice is also big in portion. The soft shell crab temaki and the ebi ten temaki are good options to pick since they are the only items with fried ingredients in it. After eating so much raw stuff, fried stuffs tastes so damn good. Especially when the temaki are made to order, resulting in a crispy seaweed sheet, cool mayonnaise and crunchy greens to complement the lightly battered fried seafood! I had identical second helping of the two above. 

There are other handrolls like the California Roll, Natto (Fermented Beans), Minced Salmon Salad, Tuna Belly Salad, Avocado Roll. I feel that the temaki is not that "jelak" compared to the nigiri sushis. The couple on next table ordered twice a tray of temaki of 6 rolls each. Imagine downing 6 handrolls and another platter of sushi. Salute their bottomless pit!

The Salmon Mentai is not bad - having lightly cooked with mayonnaise and fish roe, it's indeed more savoury compared to the rest. So this wrap up a satisfying Groupon purchase (finally!) in Ipoh F&B. It's already at the midpoint of the week, hold you heads up high and look forward to the weekend. Cheers everyone!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Papa John Pizza, Aeon S18

Happy Malaysia Day to all Malaysians!!! Since it's a public holiday for everyone, I'm sure most of you who are not traveling oustation would love to try out some new food. Today's short post will be on Papa John's Pizza, who has just opened in Aeon Station 18 more than a month ago. Photos were taken way back earlier but somehow I missed out to write about this.

Information from their website states that Papa John is the 3rd largest pizza chain in the world. It just only made its foothold in the sleepy town of Ipoh thanks to Berjaya Corp who had faith in penetrating Ipoh market. Something different here in Papa John: you are served with tomato puree, butter oil and a stalk of jalapeno peppers as the sides. But somehow, the generic chilli flakes, tabasco, salt and pepper are not to be seen on our table.

 Currently they are having lunch sets at an economical RM9.90 from 12pm to 3pm EVERYDAY! They don't really promote the lunch sets, you have to ask them to give you the flyers/pamphlets. Else, you will have to settle for sets around RM30 for 2 person, just like Pizza Hut. This is a personal sized SUPER PAPA - which is similar to Pizza Hut's Super Supreme. It has a bit of everything.... those who do not take beef will have to skip this.

 There are only a few choices of flavours available for the lunch sets. Not all are appealing flavours. Hence we ordered a ala carte serving of Mexican Ole - chicken meat, corn kernels, "spicy" jalapeno peppers and onions. There are other noteworthy flavours which I really wanted to try. Among it is the All The Meat, which is similar to Dominos Meat Lover.

Pizza wise, the base is definitely better than Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut is well known (until now) to serve undercooked dough-ey like base! I'm not sure is their baking temperature and time setting problem or the thick layer of cheese and toppings always cause the base to be undercooked, resulting in a goey and chewy like texture of PH pizzas. The slight flaw in Papa John is.... the cheese used is less rich and lack the cheesy appeal/aroma. But of course, the major flaw of the day would be the plate of ala carte wedges as shown (RM4.90 - served cold, some pieces are so small its like eating D grade potatoes)

If you are dining in 2 or 3, perhaps you might wanna settle for the lunch sets to try abit of everything. Besides the pizza, you can choose to have pasta or pizza pockets (also known as Cazone. Google it if you wanna know more). A RM9.90 lunch comes with mushroom soup and a glass of diluted ice lemon tea. The mushroom soup is quite nice, creamy and full of mushroom bits. So there you are, if you are still making up your mind what new things to try out in Ipoh. If not, there is always Wendy's, which is also opened in Aeon S18. Till then, cheers!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

OTK Studio, Greentown Soft Launch for OldTown Staff.

Hey! If anyone of you are expecting a food review, you might be slightly disappointed. This post will be dedicated to introduce to you an entertainment option in Ipoh, that is Karaoke. Apart from E-Box in Ipoh Garden Plaza, K-box in Kinta City and Ipoh Parade, looks like people in Ipoh don't really have much options to sing your heart out. How bout considering OTK Studio?

Yup, the maiden outlet was opened on top of OldTown White Coffee, Greentown outlet in early 2011. And now, we have the second branch on top of Oldtown White Coffee Gunung Rapat. Previously a double storey outlet, the OTWC now only operates on ground floor, giving way for the karaoke joint to take place in the first and second floor.

So what makes this second joint much different from the first branch is the interior decor and setting up. There are more rooms to cater for small groups (less than 4). Rather than squeezing you in cramped up room for a small group, they decided to modify the rooms to be like a "recording studio", as seen in the photo above. Standing mic for the 2 singers and a standing tall chair are provided just like how those acapella performers in cafes serenade you.

Sound system is just as good as the first outlet, incorporating BNB sound system. We had our free singing session, a soft launch for OldTown staffs. On that night, the touch screen panel is not operational yet due to pending chipset. Hence we have to settle for the remote control. Else, the song selection style is similar to the one in OTK Studio, Greentown. Read my review by clicking to this link:

There are rooms of various capacity to fit different group sizes. The one we were in that night can fit a group of 8-10 people. Smaller groups can try out the "recording studio" room as shown earlier.

The rooms come in different colour themes. We were in the Yellow Room but other colours like Purple and Red are available too.

And the best of it all, there have this SUPER HUGE room which is ideal for birthday parties. During the softlaunch we took a photo of it, the room was not ready yet that night, else I would've tried it.

This is the official photo released from their website after renovation and installation of the speakers and floor carpet. It gives you the feeling of booking a mini lounge all for yourself. Those who wanna sing can linger around at the tall tables and chair set in the middle while waiting for their turns to perform "on stage". Those who are not singing can actually enjoy their meal or drinks at the side tables on comfy sofas. Tentatively, this room is only opened for members advanced booking with certain terms and conditions - Eg: minimum head count for cover charges or minimum spending. Fair enough, since they are giving you privacy for a group of 20-30 people.

So there you have it - OTK Studio just on top of Gunung Rapat OldTown. Previously boss belanja us, so next week we are returning again on our own. No official rates yet, but rumours have it that it will be slightly higher than the rates in OTK Studio, Greentown. Do check out their FB fan page if you wish to enquire them for charges and bookings. But for a different setting than your usual karaoke joint, why not give it a try?

Till then, have a great Merdeka weekend while yours truly occupies himself with tuition classes and at the same time thinking of new places to eat and review. Cheers! =)