Saturday, April 29, 2017

Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, De Garden, Ipoh

After hesitating for almost half a year, I decided to give a try to their first outlet outside Klang Valley. The outlet in Three Little Pigs and a Big Bad Wolf is currently their 4th outlet under the iconic brand name which has other outlets in Bangsar Village, Tropicanna Mall and Pavillion (under a different branding - Pigs and Wolf). The lot in De Garden is strategically facing Kinta City and you would be blind to miss it, especially with few new bill board posters which will get your taste buds salivating when you are waiting at the traffic lights. Zoom in closer and you will notice that the word "Pig" has been replaced with the letter "P", no thanks to our over-sensitive local authorities and regulators which sometimes trespass and act as censorship board. The outlet here only opens till 10pm (weird right, especially when you serve good food to go along with beer, damn potong stim weh) and closes on Monday

Their maiden branch out of Klang Valley does not field the full menu. Initially planning to try the Mac and Cheese Burger, I am further left with have limited options after knowing they do not have "pulled pork", thus all items having pull pork are also not available. So, this is my second try on the Piggy Aglio Olio angel hair (RM29) after trying this dish in their first branch in Bangsar. Served with strips of ham, bacon bits, roast pork belly (siu yoke) and a pork meatball, this is the next best option if could not withstand the runny egg yolk and cream from the Cabonara. Lightly tosses in garlic infused olive oil, they do not really hold back with the chilli flakes. Not that it is tongue-numbing, but it does not look as innocent as it is. Portion of meat is quite generous, and the same problem with the pork belly - the skin is no longer crackling.

Since pulled pork is not available, I decided to try out their Big Bad Ribs since pork chops is a bit too mainstream. By looking at the price tag of RM85, I expected the portion of the pork ribs to be huge but it could be barely enough to be shared by 2 people. And for a person with a carnivorous appetite, he could probably finish this all by himself. There is 6 pieces of rib bones for you to imagine the portion. They have a smaller portion at RM49 (2 pieces of bones only, goodness!)

Taste-wise, the meat was a fry-cry from what it claims to be one of its forte dishes. To do justice, the meat was indeed tender with almost fall off the bone meat evidence of slow-cooking it for a long period. But on the contrary, the taste fail to deliver the “oomph” factor from the few pork ribs/pork knuckle dishes I tried. Perhaps the BBQ sauce was just spread over the ribs and it was just mildly reheated prior to serving. Unlike some other versions which I prefer, after coating it with the basting/marinade/sauce, it will be then grilled to have the coating caramelized with some charred bit. The portion of onion rings, criss cut fries and salad does not speak for the dish to be convincingly enough for sharing. For RM89, I could've nearly ordered almost the 3 different pork ribs and pork belly dishes in Doma already which I enjoyed the taste more. Else, I can't wait for Morganfield's to open this week whereby their half ribs portion is RM50+ only

I regret ordering the Classic Eggs Benedict (RM25) as there were no elements of surprise in ingredients used and also presentation. I was expecting some sourdough bread or muffin rather than genetic toast from baguette slices. The poached egg was done to the right degree but no longer hot when I took the bite. Hollandaise sauce was lacklustre and the whole dish could be easily replicated by a novice cook at home. Wanted to order some unique burger but as mentioned earlier, they do not have the full menu as the KL outlets.

The only thing reasonably priced here are the beers which has a Buy 1 Free 1 promotion. Example, the Somersby is selling at RM23+ (which makes it RM12+ per bottle after buy 1 free 1) and the Corona was averaged to be RM14 per bottle. Which is quite a steal if you ask my opinion. Illy espresso based beverages and some canned soft drinks are also subjected to the Buy 1 Free 1 tag. Kudos to this place for serving complimentary plain drinking water which many places should emulate, especially if you are already slapping the 10% Service Charge multiplier on us. 

After a horrifying RM180+ bill, I was unamused when they launched the daily weekday set lunch the following week! If they would've launched this earlier, it would be a much cheaper proxy to bring my family to try this place. Since its quite inconvenient to do so as the promotion is only available on weekdays, I will just have to squeeze a longer lunch break to dine with a friend nearby

Perhaps it was a Friday, coupled with the fact it was the eve towards a long weekend, surprisingly the place was more than 3/4 full when I arrived at 1pm. Orders and serving were fast though with reasonable waiting time but kudos again to the team for providing drinking water regardless the diners are ordering from the ala carte or the set menu. Without long, the drinks and soup arrived. You are only given the option of having your beverage hot or cold as green tea is the only drink offered. For the soup of the day, I got Cream of Potato. We spotted some pinkish bits within and that would probably be bacon bits? Portion is just right to warm the stomach (and minimize the agony of waiting) as the soup was indeed thick. Nothing really special but it was indeed good to take a break from generic cream of mushroom right?

Having need to order the Aglio Olio as my parents do not fancy creamy and cheese cooking, I am with liberty to pick the Bacon Cabonara this time around. This is a toned down version of their signature The Wolf's Favourite (both in portions and ingredients) with missing poached egg and also a long piece of crispy streaky bacon. The portion of angel hair would not be enough for most guys... and some girls as well. But considering the price tag, the portion is well justifiable with reasonable amount of meat and mushrooms. Tastewise, it is super creamy and a bit too heavy for my liking.

Pork Meat Balls with Potatoes seems not bad upon arriving. This works out to be an appetizer to me rather than a main course but it seems enough for my friend. If I return, I would probably try this myself with the condition I have a proper breakfast before that. The meal ended with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Though I would still prefer Berlin's set for value for money (RM16.90++ which comes to almost RM20 and without a scoop of ice cream) - Berlin Bier Haus offer more choices and bigger portion when it comes to meat. Nevertheless if you want a cheaper ticket to try out this place, you can order one set lunch each then top up a main course from their ala carte menu. Till then, yours truly is counting down the hours to try out Morganfield's later :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kim's Dakgalbi

Kim's Dakgalbi has been in business for quite some time (located next to Bali Assam House in Ipoh Garden East) More than 3 years I would say. It is THE first dakgalbi restaurant in Ipoh. I refused to try dakgalbi until Daebak was opened in De Garden. Well, I did try out Uncle Jang in Puchong and found it to be quite spicy to my liking. During that time, there were NO korean cuisine available in Ipoh yet. Probably Onix Jun only. Before big player Daorae invaded De Garden and send Korean waves which Japanese restaurants in Ipoh feeling the ripple effect. Knowing that Kim's are actually manned by a Korean couple and they have an extended menu... and they have CHEESE hot plate! I decided to give it a go! I opted for Set B instead of Set A because of the Cheese hotplate

Besides ordering set B, I had a side portion of Kim-Chi fried rice (RM10) to be stir fried into the grill later on. They did not use high-calrose rice like Daebak Dakgalbi. And Daebak is charging RM8 for similar portion (without the kimchi that is) but heck, kimchi is FREE in the form of banchan, you can add in as much as you wish later on. And they are a bit skimpy with the seaweed portion.

The offer free plain drinking water just like Daebak (Daorae offers free roasted corn tea), unlike a Modern Korean cafe nearby which not only refuse to give free drinking water, and yet price the drinks quite exorbitantly. Banchan here is limited to a serving of Kimchi and picked cucumber and long beans. The kimchi is tailored to Malaysian tastebuds. The evidence is both my parents enjoyed it alot. It is not as pungent and spicy but toned down to a more salty after-taste.

This is the Grilled Sweet Soya Sauce Pork and Spicy Pork Belly. The portion seems to be enough for 2-3 pax. Is it just me or I noticed that the non-spicy pork portion was not marinaded in soya sauce as claimed. Hmm...

The STAR of Set B - Cheese Pong Dak came separately in a hot plate which was prepared from the kitchen instead. A single portion could be ordered at RM26. The actual product was indeed a far-cry from the illustration used in their menu. From the picture in the menu, it looks like pork ribs on a layer of melted cheese. And the real thing came out to be boneless chicken meat instead. The cheese was there though, only to be overshadowed by a slightly too dilute sweetish gravy and some cabbage and teokbokki (rice cakes). The watery gravy was probably due to the water from the cabbage itself. To be honest, it does not look quite appealing to me. Perhaps I am biased since I am served chicken instead of expecting to get pork ribs instead. Or rather, in my mind, the memorable meal in Ticket To Korea has set a benchmark for cheese ribs?

Okay, perhaps the proper word is Tteok/Ddeok (rice cakes). Tteokbokki probably means stir-fried rice cake stew. I have a soft spot for rice cakes and coupled with oozing cheese for you to twirl it, the savoury yet slightly salty taste from the melted cheese (mozarella and cheddar mix perhaps?), slightly sweetish and mildly spicy sauce and not forgetting the soft and chewy texture of the rice cakes? So addictive!

While you twirl around the cheesy hotplate, the Korean boss (or the waitress) would do the stir-frying of the meat. The meat is quite well done, slightly charred but grilled to near perfection. The slight drawback could be the portion from the shoulder seems to be slightly tough. Tastewise, it is well flavoured although minimal marinade was applied but some element seems to be missing, one which charcoal grill could only deliver. And that smoky BBQ fragrance over charcoal fire could not be replicated from a hotplate grill. Just my opinion :)

They will add in the rice and stir fry it at the centre. And they will mix in the Cheese Hotplate at one end too. Honestly, I do not really fancy mixing everything at one go. Seems messy. Is the Cheese Pong Dak supposed to be eaten this way or enjoyed seperately? As the gravy sizzles off and absorbs into the rice, it was not bad actually. Nevertheless, I think on my next trip, I will just order Set A which is almost RM20 cheaper and just add on a serving of cheese at RM8. Instead of going for Kimchi fried rice, maybe I will just opt for plain white rice (RM4) since I am disappointed I do not get the round calrose rice. That would probably reduce the total bill of RM93+ to RM70+ on my next visit :)

Tadaa!!! See this photo above. Now this is DA BOMB! the trendsetter! the BENCHMARK!

Follow my previous write up on the legendary cheese ribs and the near 2 hour wait at Ticket to Korea by clicking on this link: