Saturday, March 30, 2013

The First McCafe @ McDonalds, Ipoh Garden East.

 McCafe has opened its first outlet in Kota Damansara somewhere middle of last year and undoubtedly it was a hit among the KL-ites. It was not surprising at all since I can see my FB contact's frequent check-ins/photos uploaded in places like Starbucks and Coffee Bean.... or the cheaper option, ChaTime. And its not like its a yumchar session or gathering, its just a typical WORKING afternoon, a coffee break/tea-time sort to say. The market seems to be there in KL and McDonalds Malaysia do not want to lose out on this opportunity. But the question is how well will McCafe fare in places like Ipoh?

Opened last week of 23 March, I did not miss out on the hype and went this morning for a quick breakfast. I did some survey on the pricing and found out that the coffee are reasonably priced. You can get a good cup from RM4.50. The iced version and the ice blended version is around the RM7.50 range

They also serve a few cakes, brownies and muffins. And for the desserts, the same can't be said like the coffee price. They are not cheap, ranging from RM3.50 for a small slice of butter cake to RM9.90 for a small slice of cheese cake.

 For those who do not take coffee, they have mango frappe and iced/hot chocolate as well besides a few  blended coffee series

 Nevertheless, try to refrain from the tea. I mean, why would you wanna pay RM5+ for a cup of Dilmah tea. You can brew it yourself at home, IMHO.

For the McCafe in Ipoh, the setup is very simple indeed. Coffee brewing machine with milk frother and 2 trained staff. However, the wait for our drinks was a bit long, about more than 5 mins. We later realized that you can order from the main counter and collect your drinks at the McCafe counter so customers are spared from lining up twice.

 The Cappucino (RM4.50 - smallest cup at 8 Oz) - a bit light to my liking. The coffee art is simple, its supposed to be an "M" I supposed.

 The Mocha. This somehow tasted better ask the chocolate partnered well with the coffee aftertaste. RM5.50 for the Mocha. There is an Espresso Machiato at RM3.80, additional shot at RM1.80 which has quite a full bodied taste which will wake you up from a sleepy morning. In general, I find the quality and taste justified by the price we are paying, though real coffee aficionados, or rather STARBUCKS HARDCORE FANS will say that this is just generic substitution nowhere near to be compared. Well, at half the price, not much complaints right?

The counter display an array of desserts and the sample cup size for takeaways for 8 Oz, 12 Oz and 16 Oz. But for dining in, they serve you in porcelain mugs just like the photos previously. Since we are done reviewing the beverages, lets move into the food they have to offer.

The Chocolate Chip Muffin (RM5.90) is moist and soft with generous chocolate chops which are mostly melted and blended well with the muffin texture. This get a thumbs up for me. My mistake for ordering this since my partner ordered another chocolate item. If I know it earlier, should have went for the Banana Walnut instead...

The Chocolate Brownie (RM5.50) is abit of a letdown. Though both reheated, I still find the chocolatey failed to give a punch to my taste buds. The light chocolate drizzle did not do much justice and I somehow gave the winner spot the the muffin instead. There is a Chocolate Lava cake (RM7.50) which I'm aiming to try the next time, perhaps that would have higher expectation to deliver satisfaction.

So, a new hangout spot perhaps? To kick start your day or perhaps an alternative gathering spot. Head to McCafe inside the McDonalds outlet in Ipoh Garden East. From the pamphlet, it was clearly stated that it opens at 7am but operating hours depends on outlet. Since this is a 24 hours outlet, I think it would be until midnight? Till then, have a great weekend! (Kimberley Chen's AI NI looping and playback while I was writing this post. Goodnight ^^)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Restoran Stimbot Syabu Syabu

Restoran Stimbot Syabu Syabu sounds like a name which is generated without any thinking effort. It is located on the same plot of land which is nearby Kampar Club. The same area also houses a bistro/pub and a Chinese restaurant. This steamboat outlet is the one occupying a big bungalow inspired by Malay hut building elements. Rumours has it this building was haunted, anybody to verify this?

There don't really go by the one person one pot concept. You will get a common pot and an induction cooker for every table. One can choose 2 soup base at one go from the 4 types available – Chicken, Beef, Curry, Tom Yam. We went for the Chicken and Tom Yam combination. 

There is a bit more to steamboat here with a side range of cooked ready to eat food. There is a heater oven which offers fried chicken wings, fried wan wan and fried beancurd skin (fu chook).

Other ready to eat food include fried rice, fried noodles, beef masala curry, curry sotong, thai style taufu and a few other generic dishes “ala catering”. I skipped this area completely.... well, okay, I did sample one piece of Beef Masala.

This is the centre where it turned to be a warzone after 8pm!

Most of the items for steamboat are processed meat (fish balls, crabmeat sticks, weird looking surimi derivatives, etc). However, there is also sufficient amount of fresh seafood namely Dory fish fillets, sting ray cubes, tiger prawns, flower crabs, squid, cockles, and a few types of “clams”.

For poultry, they have chicken, lamb and beef fillets. They have a wide selection of noodles and vegetables too to fill up the empty space inside your stomach, but I doubt you will be eating them. Well, for the fibre purposes yes. We skipped the noodles completely that night.

It's my policy to eat REAL unprocessed meat when it comes to buffet steamboat. Call it kiasu-ism or what, the processed meat balls and surimi and crabstick can be found in pasar malam :p I had almost 2 whole crabs that night! Cholesterol level up :/

I hope by now you have noticed something.... Yes. this restaurant is PORK-FREE. Not certified halal yet but it seems that it managed to draw quite a substantial share of Malay customers...

The crowd started to build up at 7pm. They are not kidding or boasting about the reservation. By 8pm, the place is indeed FULL! So I advise you to be here before 7pm if possible as by 8pm, not only those fried wantan and chicken wings are gone, the nasi goreng and mee goreng are also empty!!!

The is a variety of sauce for dipping. As my memory recalls, there is Satay Sauce, Peanut Sauce, Thai Garlic Chilli sauce, Sambal Sauce, some cili padi belacan sauce, Maggi chilli and tomato sauce to mention a few. As typical Malaysian, grab abit of everything, and a lot of fried fu chook. Dip and savour to find which appease your taste buds the most :)

For the BBQ station, they offer tepanyaki (hot plate grill) and open fire BBQ styled grilling. The procedure is simple, pick from the choices of marinaded seafood or poultry/meat. The skewers are meant for open fire grilling while the non-skewered meats are meant for the hot plate. I had a fair share of both but I think the skewered ones taste better due to the slightly charred bits. After picking, write your table number on a sticker to tag your plates and patiently wait for the food to be grilled. They will send it over to your table once its done. 

Prawns, chunk of lamb, and squid tentacles (lovely and addictive!)

The Malay kuihs which is very disappointing. Perhaps you should go for the cut fruits or make yourself a cup of ice kacang....

 The ice kacang machine which and its pathethic toppings. Not appealing right?

 Go for some ice cream then, this pick is safe and wouldn't go wrong. It could be nice if you just top up a little toppings which were actually meant for the ice kacang. Hehe... how's my creation like? :)

So, that is more or less about it... The price is RM26/person nett. So, you judge for yourself whether the food is worth it or not. It's worth a try but I would advise you to come earlier before 7 to avoid the "warzone", so that you can dine properly for an hour or so....

For us, we arrived slightly before 7pm, ate at a relaxed pace with abundant of food. But after 8pm, the food seems to be empty and many who came late were frantically "fighting" for food. We were dining leisurely by then, aiming for the grilled stuffs. Yup, we sat until 10:30pm! Haha... I even had a hot Mocha before leaving. Trust me, steamboat is a good time for chit chatting and eating at leisure pace.

 There you have it - the latest "halal" steamboat environment in an air conditioned restaurant with ample parking space. The environment is pretty cosy... Shabu Shabu Stimbot shares the same plot of land with Kampar Club, just sandwiched between Impiana Hotel and Tropicana Ballroom.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

an "oily" affair at Cross-Over, Festival Walk

My hair stylist told me about this new place in Festival Walk, just a hop away from Sushi Zento. My colleagues also have posted photos of this place. And somehow, I ate here twice in a span of few days. True to their saying, the food here very reaonably priced. For example, The Ice Blended series are at RM4.90. Well, not only the ice blended but rather most drinks in the menu would not be more than RM5. Fruit juices at RM2.90 and most hot beverages at around RM3-4, this is the minimum amount you have to churn out should you want to use their space for Wifi. For RM4.90, the Mango blended is topped with mango cubes and "explosive" translucent pearls. These pearls are unlike the typical black chewy ones but this version will release a sour yoghurt filling upon biting them. 

Complemented well with both Mango and the Pineapple. Besides fruity ice blended, they also offer Oreo Blended, Corn Blended, Red Bean Blended.

Fried Calamari is priced at RM5.90 which came in quite big portion despite its relatively cheap price. A portion like this in the famous Ming Wa Seafood in Aneka Selera (Kam Wan), or even smaller will cost you RM10 at least! Tastewise, its slightly bland from lack of seasoning. But the main problem is the batter is very oily!

The same remark can be made to the Fried Prawns with Thai Sauce Mayonnaise (RM6.90). Something must be wrong with the batter of the technique of frying is poor (oil is not heated properly - so the frying process is lengthened, thus absorbing more oil)

The Duck Egg Char Kuay Teow (RM4.90) is totally a nightmare! Not from the taste wise but the coating of cholesterol on the flat noodles. One mouthful and you could feel the aftertaste of oiliness on your tongue. If they could be a bit more sensible in their oil usage, I think the dishes here would be better. Sometimes good char kuay teow do not require a lot of oil to avoid the noodles from sticking to the wok. Instead, the lesser oil which results in charred bits is what draws the line between a mediocre and skilled cook.

I feel this is like the Wat Tan Sang Mein available in most Xiao Chao stalls. The one here is literally translated in to Pancake Noodle (RM5.90). Thank goodness the starchy gravy was there to avoid over-generous usage of oil. Ingredients were quite substantial in portion as a plate similar to this in a typical chinese coffee shop will cost you RM4 at least. Other oriental affairs include Japanese inspired Bento Rice box sets, Noodle Soup, Porridge, to name a few.

Most fried rice here are generic versions from the plain one, just that all have different toppings and accompaniments. Malay Fried Rice (RM9.90) is the most premium of the list which has a sunny side up, fried chicken wing, 2 sticks of satay and some papadam crackers. The fried chicken and the fried rice, are needless to say, oily. The satay is not well marinaded and the satay sauce is already spoilt. There is a sourish taste to the satay gravy which I believe its stale. :(

Bacon Aglio Olio is at RM9.90. I was here few days ago and saw the Cabonara version which has diltuted gravy, which I believe its derived from instant mushroom/chicken soup. The Aglio Olio failed miserably too. Tossed in A LOT of oil (which I don't think its olive oil being used here) and sprinkled with cheese powder, their version of Aglio Olio is badly interpreted from the benchmark. Fresh red chillies and spring onions? Looks like Maggi Goreng garnishing to me. Every single ingredient used did not complement one another. Though most pasta are priced below RM10, but somehow, dining experience (pleasure to tastebuds) must be also to be able to meet some minimum requirements!

There are other Western options available - including burgers and sandwiches which is priced around RM5.90, like the Pork Burger here. Both the pork fillet and fries are oily. I'm never a fan of abuse of mayonnaise but the amount given saved me because the burger was kinda dry. There are chicken chops, salmon steaks in the menu, which is is the RM15-25 bracket. I wouldn't wanna try that since they did not proved themselves worthy in simple stuffs like this.

Cross-Over - food is reasonably priced (for a more decent environment compared to the crowded and stuff chinese coffee shops) and menu is quite extensive. Tastewise is just average for most items, the main flaw would be being too oily. Unless you have picky tastebuds like yours truly, it should be a target during lunchtime as you can easily get a average meal with drinks in a clean, air-conditioned, Wifi environment for less than RM10 since chap fan + fruit juice in chinese hawker stalls ain't cheap nowadays. Will I return after much criticim? Hmm... if price is the factor for a friend's gathering, yes. If I have the full say on choosing where to eat, I would not suggest this place.