Fancy some semi-fine dining but have limited options in Ipoh? One would be limited to choices such as Josephine, Indulgence, Secret Garden and perhaps if you would splurge a bit more, try Garvy's In the Park for real fine dining experience. However, come 1 Jan 2015, there is a new kid in town with a fresh concept. Complementing a gastronomical journey is a 270 degrees view of virtual environment projected from its HD LED screen. The background changes every 2-3 months. Currently the theme is Japanese Underwater Aquarium. Insider info claims that there will be other themes such as romantic streets of Paris, night skyline from Victoria's Peak, Hong Kong and also... *gasp* outer space!!!!!
One might me asking, who is the one willing to splurge so much on technology to bring a fresh dining concept in a lagging city of Ipoh with generally filled with people earning just past the poverty line. Well, since iMiirage is located on top of Nam Heong food court and if you have downloaded the MeCanOrder app, you would've guessed they are owned by the same person.
The restaurant only officially opens for business on 1 Jan 2015 but his relatives, close friends, business partners and invited OldTown employees are given the privilege to attend the soft launching. There was a few days of complimentary food tasting and I now hereby take claim that I am the first food blogger to review iMiirage before its official launch :)
Bread and butter to complement the soup. If I'm not mistaken, the order of cutlery usage should be from outwards to inwards. Ahhhh... fine dining etiquette!
The soup of the day is the Pumpkin Soup (an alternative is the Mushroom soup which comes along your set meals). Creamy and hearty, the portion is just right to warm your tummy and kick start your appetite. Ahhh... remember to spoon your soup outwards and minimize your slurping sound...
Nothing really spectacular with the Garden Salad though (this is your second course in your set lunch after the soup). For the dinner sets, you get more premium salads (with bacon or smoked salmon). The balsamic vinegar dressing provided a refreshing tinge. There is actually celery and capsicum under the leafy greens, which builds up the appetite for the main course
First main course is the Chicken Diavola. This set will be the most affordable one to pick from if you wish to gain entry to the restaurant. Grilled to perfection, the whole deboned drumstick is lightly marinaded with herbs and natural spices. Psssttt... this dish is RM22.50 for ala carte serving after online discount if you are tight on budget. But I would recommend you to try something more unique... Read on...
This is the Chargrilled Iberico Pork served with a serving of Rissotto and Mixed Greens. Iberico Pork is premium imported pork which is sourced from the Iberian Black Pig (or Spanish Black Pig). Free to roam and left to fed naturally on grass, herbs and roots, they are free from any growth boosters. Hence this gives rise to a memorable tender meat. Grilled with herbs and spices, the texture and smoky aroma will provide you one memorable dining experience, despite burning a significant sized hole in your pocket. There is local pork served too in their menu at entree level price range in dishes like Mixed Pork Platter and Pork Milanese with Spaghetti. However, if you are a real food lover, I would strongly urge you to skip that few Starbucks Fraps and indulge in the Black Pork at least once in your life :)
I preordered the Beef and was hoping for a premium surprise as I browse through the menu. Well, I was hoping for some top notch premium grades as Kobe and Wagyu (Marbling Grade 5/6 and Grade8/9 are both in the menu) to be served but alas, the Pure Angus Sirloin Steak was for the complimentary dinner. I requested for 70% done but it came out near to well-done. Probably due to a busy kitchen catering for 60 invited guests at one go? But this mistake is quite detrimental especially from a premium restaurant as fussy connoisseurs might be firm to return the dish and request for another properly done according to their request. The beef is not served with any sauce just like the grilled chicken earlier. With only light seasoning from salt and pepper and no MSG in place, one can savour the original taste of the meat without it being eclipsed by those BBQ/Black Pepper Sauce
The same can be said with the fish. If you have the freshest ingredients, do not be shy of it. Spices and herbs are meant to elevate/enhance the natural flavour of the meat. This is a seabass if I'm not mistaken, not to sure of the cooking style as I didnt sampled it. They do have entree level salmon till premium ranging trouts and turbot fishes. Fancy something more premium then go for the Grilled Hokkaido Scallops with King Prawns from their ala carte menu.
Served with a side of mashed potatoes and brocolli, this is the Classic English Boiled Lamb with Caper Sauce. The lamb is tender and the meat can fall off the meat without much effort from your fork. Slightly gamey in taste, there is less hearty compared to conventional lamb stew you might normally have (especially those incorporating Stouts in the broth)
This is the cheesecake which is is creamy but far from being rich. May appeal to some people's tastebuds but I would prefer a stronger cheese flavour. The food presentation seems a bit too simple to me. If I'm paying around RM15 for a slice of cake, I would expect a feast to the eyes as well...
There have some soda drinks out of the conventional ones you normally see in the retail market, thus allowing them to charge a premium for just merely fizzy beverages. I'm not sure whether they do serve fresh fruit juices, but coffee and tea is definitely a staple in the menu. For alcoholic beverages, they do have house wine and gourmet wines sold in bottles. There is no beer served at the moment.
The dinner seems to be more expensive by around RM8+. This is due to the difference in starters and desserts. For dinner, diners will be served chocolate or cheesecakes rather than icecream/grilled pineapple cubes for lunch sets. Furthermore, the salad for dinner sets is more premium (comes with bacon/smoked salmon)
And a must introduced is the Iberico pork series. Not cheap though, for all ala carte mains ranging from RM70+. I need to check with them whether the pork platter has pork chop made from Iberico pork or local pork, else RM40+ would be a good price to sample the famed premium pork.