Friday, June 26, 2015

Zakka Loft, Ipoh

Zakka Loft - a cafe which has been in operation for nearly a decade a presume? Previously they are not fully into the F&B business. If my memory served me well, they are more into the sales of DIY soft toys, knitted stuffs and ornaments. Noting that depending on that alone might not be enough to generate enough revenue to sustain the business, they ventured into a simple cafe business with a quick limited menu from sandwiches, rice bentos, cakes and the staple beverages you normally find in a generic cafes. The plus point is probably the homely ambiance. Scroll down later for more photos.

As mentioned, the menu here is quite limited. I found the Apple-Tea is to be refreshing yet soothing. A great choice to calm your nerves and unwind through midweek. Meanwhile, the Mocha was blended to my preference, has a stronger chocolate aftertaste without being too potent on the caffein side. All hot beverages are below RM10 and if I remembered correctly, the Apple Tea being RM7 and Mocha being RM9.

There are a few generic sandwiches ranging from the usual Ham and Cheese, Tuna to the Smoked Duck Sandwich with Cranberry Sauce (RM16+). I chose the Smoked Duck of course because it is slightly more unique. But the actual product was far from being unique though. It is normal white sandwich bread (those Gardenia/Massimo type) toasted in a sandwich maker. The smoked duck slices are flavorful but too much cranberry sauce was used, resulting into over-cloyed level of sweetness.

The salad in the middle is something really appetizing. If I’m not mistaken, it is actually sesame dressing. The dried/pickled strawberries further sent our taste buds into overdrive mode. Add in a small serving Nachos (probably from the brand Chachos?) At the price tag of RM16+ I was expected something with more novelty and creative not easily prepared at home

The Opera Cake is nice. Very Chocolate-y indeed with alternating smooth and buttery layers of dark and white chocolate. Okay, being a fan of chocolate (I wont be sharing this cake with you), I might be a bit biased on my judgment of this cake. Its RM9 per slice if I remembered correctly

To be honest, the Rainbow Cake was ordered just for photo-taking in mind. I already tried once or twice elsewhere and felt that it is just colouring making the difference. The version in Zakka Loft proved me wrong! Every layer is distinctive in terms of taste! In other words, they incorporated flavourings too besides colouring. If I remembered correctly the yellow is lemon, the orange and red is actually orange, the green is pandan, the blue is mint and the purple is some fruity flavor.

There are 2 seating sections, both also being non-smoking, but what is different between them is the ambiance.  There is the slightly brighter area which has more decorative items and handcrafted plushies on display. A slight drawback is the area is quite quiet, and raising your volume a bit can result into unwanted echo which can disturb other customers.

The other area has dark painted walls, with clothes and accessories on display. Perhaps this area is more suitable for noisier and larger groups. Check out a wider view of this zone on the photo below.

And yes, there is also a pool table for customer use (most likely with a small fee)

They are opened from 11am onwards for those who want to have an early lunch until around 10pm. Bear in mind that Mondays are their rest days. And there is NO WIFI available probably due to avoid customers from hogging the limited seating available during peak hours. Ok, lets give them the benefit of doubt that they actually wanted to cultivate more human interaction and bonding rather than just stuck on your electronic gadgets.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Petite Mary Pattieserie, Ipoh

Meet Mary, the latest icon and familiar fictitious character whom a lot people are camwhoring and selfie-ing with in the last few months.

Mary is resides in this "mansion" which is actually owned by Purple Moon Valley. Located at the row of residential houses nearby Aeon Kinta City, along the same row as Thai Foot massage and facing Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah Utara, it is pretty obvious during daytime from the pastel blue and cream colour paint.

The LINE faced Brown Chocolate Indulgence (forgot the actual name) is one of the trademark item which can be found here. I think this is a staple item you see in food blogs/posts in FB when one patronizes this cafe. Despite being price RM12, you get back potent dosage of chocolate which can satisfy all chocoholics out there. The centre is a mixture of melted chocolate, chocolate base cake/biscuit base.
The Matcha Azuki (loosely translated into Green Tea Red Bean) also shown great detail and passion was poured in producing it. The presence of the green tea aroma was definitely there, coupled with mashed red beans and cream sandwiching both layers. Even the cream in between the cake sandwich is frosted with green tea.

I reckoned the “Magnum Mini” inspired ice cream is home made. The dark chocolate shell encompass a smooth green tea ice cream and red beans. Not a green tea flavour fan myself, but I kinda liked this creation. Definitely a must-try for green tea fans out there.

The Polo Cream Puff is slightly different from the usual soft puffs you have in  the generic bakery. Combining the characteristic of both. Loved the contrasting crumbly exterior and airy center with just the right amount of cream. Priced at RM1.50, this is probably one of the cheapest item available and you wouldn't wanna miss to try this out if you plan a visit here with just limited budget.

The Capuccino arrives with simple coffee art (RM8.50). The beverage arrived warm rather than hot, probably due to the milk was not steamed/frothed up as supposed to be? Not very strong in terms of coffee aroma. Perhaps their forte still lies in the pastries and cakes rather than beverages?

 There also have juice and tea for your picks. And a limited selection of main courses like pasta and sandwiches using their croissants and bread. Slightly pricier than normal if you ask my opinion.

Pastries (the tarts, bread and danish) ranges around the RM3-5 zone. Slightly steeper than cakeshops. Pick from here if you do not wish to overspend.

In terms of interior decor, you can see Mary in the many poses on the portraits hung on the wall. Sometimes besides attractive food items, you just need to play with a specific theme/mascot to have it go viral on social media. Admit it, most of you whom has been here did took a selfie or pose with the Mary character right? See, publicity which works to the advantage of your business.

More Mary in action...
Seating here are limited and this place will be packed on weekend afternoons and surprisingly weekdays too! (It was just a non-school holiday Thursday afternoon, with a healthy mix of young college students (TARC definitely, judging from their lingua franca), some girls heart to heart talk at another corner. There were also a table of two of aunties giggling their way loudly while another corner seats the "posh" and "show-off" high class ladies with their branded bags, sipping the tea gracefully.
Will I return again? Most likely I will. I wish to try the Mont Blanc (yet to try once in my whole life, heard its some chestnut cream/puree dessert with sponge cake and topped with cream - RM12) and Line Moon faced Mango cake (RM12) and probably a few pastries and Macarons. For those who intend to make a visit, its recommended to come in a fairly large group if you wanna try more items in a single visit and make your Instagram/Facebook post more colourful with a myriad of interesting cakes.

Mary's residence opens for breakfast till around 8pm at night. Just like other generic cafes, either they are not targetting working class people on weekdays or its due to security/safety reasons. So this place is off limits for after-dinner gatherings/ supper. Parking is limited as the road is quite narrow. So it is highly recommended you come during weekdays.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Z Bakery and Coffee, Ipoh

Z Bakery is situated at Jalan Bandar Timah. Coming from a one way street, just pass the crossroad whereby Nam Heong and Sun Yun Loong is situated and Z Bakery is at the corner shop facing the 20 storey flats. Spanning a corner shop lot, the downstairs houses racks of freshly baked pastry and also a display chiller for the likes of Macarons and their cakes. There is a "Kenny Rogers" styled counter if you wish to order main courses such as Roasted Chicken or Pasta meals. Why Kenny Rogers? Because their modus operandi is the same, pick 2 sides to go along with your meal and the sides looks somehow similar. Anyway, it was just a late afternoon tea, so I decided to just randomly select some staple items to evaluate their competitiveness among the many cafes mushrooming in sleepy town of Ipoh (whereby people are still paid with salary range from the past decade)

The Tiramisu looks decently neat and classy in appearance. However, taste wise it was rather bland. Not only was it missing the punch from coffee liquor, I could barely feel the kick from the coffee espresso. I wouldn’t pay RM11 for taste a slice of “coffee sponge cake”. I would’ve just admired it from the display counter for free. Seriously, this is not KL and there are so many cafes around, if you really don't stand out, I don't see why people should come again. Ok, I'll do them some slight justice: the salted caramelized crushed nuts on top is the best for this Tiramisu.
The Black Forest was forgettable also (Together with its price of around RM8+ since the bill is no longer with me). With blackcurrant pulp sandwiched between two layers of cake, the chocolate shell surrounded it somehow eased the attempt to finish it. Seriously, I expected far much more if I am paying for this price. At least it should be above the standard of some bakery or cake shops nearby your housing area. Remove the chocolate shell decor, and I would think twice of ordering this. 

I forgot the name of this item. It is like some pancake with cream and raisin. However it was simple yet forgettable. It is priced at RM3.90 if I am not mistaken.  The Chocolate muffin is also priced the same

Ok, at least I am spared from biting into a cupcake. This is indeed a muffin. Denser and slightly coarse texture but the melted chocolate chips made it hit the marks in my book.

The Mocha was somehow the saving grace. Despite no attempt on crafting some coffee art, the version here blends a right combination of of chocolate and coffee flavour. The milk was frothed well too. This justifies the price tag of RM9
It was nearly full on the first floor on a rainy Sunday afternoon. They boast more than 30 tables easily which mostly are coffee tables and sofa settings for couples.

However, by just relying on relatively food coffees is not enough. I think they need to buck up more with their cakes. It is okay to charge a premium (Refer photo above for the price list of the beverages) but please incorporate premium ingredients too to justify your price tag. Ambiance alone (and colourful and artsy food presentation alone) will not be at your advantage for long, eventhough this is the few rare cafes which choose to open till night (around 10 or 11pm?) 

If you have additional disposable income to splurge as if GST has no toll on your budgeting and you are bored with all the 80 over cafes like in Ipoh, then you may want to give them a benefit of your doubt. Here is a photo of their shop if somehow you missed the directions as described at the beginning of this article.