Saturday, April 7, 2018

Market Place Waffle Bar and Cafe, Market Street, Ipoh

MarketPlace Waffle Bar and Cafe is occupying the corner lot of Market Street amongst many other cafes around. Being located at the tourist zone in Ipoh Old Town area, made famous from wall murals, handicraft streets, heritage trails and not to mentioned renowned hawker food (at least in the eyes of tourists), numerous cafes has sprung to life, occupying the old shop lots in which most added a hipster touch to it. Come on a normal weekend, you will notice most of the customers are Gen-Y-ers and also Millenials (made me pause for a second wondering how could the youngsters can keep sustaining the businesses with such meager fresh graduates payscale in Ipoh)

They have a few options of pasta for diners who opined that it is impossible for waffles could be innovated into a hearty meal. For our pick, we went for Aglio Olio with smoked duck (RM19). The portion is just right for just one diner, although I reckon big eaters would find the portion to be insufficient. Taste-wise, the aglio olio was just mediocre and only portrayed the mild-fiery side from the chilli flakes but was lacking the punch from missing elements such as parsley, sauteed garlic and olive oil. I will strongly advise all to skip the pasta and just focus on their forte, which are the waffles and pancakes.

And here comes their forte: THE WAFFLES! There is a good balance between savoury and sweet waffle creations. Most of the savoury ones make hearty breakfast/brunch meals. There is one which has a whole fried chicken thigh served on top of it while another one is a twist from American breakfast – with sautéed bacons, sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes. Most of the hearty ones will cost you around RM20, or more.

Waffles with Bacon and Maple Syrup is a simple entrée version priced at RM12, which comes with substantial portion of perfectly pan-fried streaky bacon, presented into a flower petal arrangement. Taste the waffle on its own, then have another bite with the bacon to see how well could bacon complement it. Rinse your mouth and try another bite with the maple syrup for the sweet version. This item may look simple but it was executed just right!

When you think of pancakes, I guess most of you will not have this picture in your mind! Dusted with icing sugar, this is a serving of 2 pieces of mini pancakes (RM9) which comes with a choice of imported jam from Austria, butter and a dollop of whipped cream. Decadently light and well aerated, it bears resemblance with souffle, with a characteristic "eggy" aroma (it may be too strong to some people).

This is the exterior view of the shop. Parking can be a hassle almost everyday, especially from morning up until late afternoon. After 4pm on weekends, it will be "slightly" better. They operate until 6pm on weekdays and 9pm on Fri, Sat and Sundays. I might return to try their Sweet Pancakes, when I suddenly have the urge to splurge (desserts/main course RM15-25, while drinks in the range of RM6-12)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

COMO Cafe and Dessert Bar, Palm Hotel, Falim, Ipoh

COMO Cafe and Dessert Bar is located inside Palm Hotel at Falim, right opposite Aeon Big. Having been in the business for only around a year, I made my first try to this place only in early 2018, having made a return trip to try out more items. The cafe could only host around 10 tables of 4 pax each and is run by 2-3 youngsters at the front liners. I read somewhere that a couple who returned from overseas are the one behind the action in the kitchen. The ambiance may seem simple with just a small dining section but it received many positive reviews from my friends, and now, your truly is also fascinated by their offerings...

COMO does not have a very extensive menu but rest assured that most of the items are unique and not commonly found in your generic Western cuisine places. Take the starters as an example: Crab Cakes with Quail Eggs (RM14.90) is a spin-off from the usual Eggs Benedict, just tat the eggs were not in poached condition and neither the yolk are runny. I was not very sure within the crumbed patty is 100% crabmet or is just a blended seafood paste. Nevertheless the filling was moist and slightly briny from the crustacean flesh. Topped with ebiko mayo, this is a more sinful entry to the meal if you wish to forget about the usual salads and soups.

If you think the Salted Egg Soft Shell Crab Spaghetti is your personal favourite here, I bet we share almost the same tastebuds and preferences on food. A whole crispy soft shell crab is fried to near perfection (slightly oily though) paired with creamy golden and buttery salted egg sauce was surprisingly not too overcloying. It may send some guilt to your conscience on the imminent spike in your cholesterol level, but this dish spells comfort food to some of us out there. The chopped curry leaves brings in a pungent aroma and adds more Asian touch to this fusion dish. Priced at RM24.90, it is worth the amount charged, with a whole soft shell crab and salted egg which is not cheap in the market nowadays.

For the same price, if soft shell crab is your thing but you do not fancy salted egg sauce (how could you!), then the Red Spider Spaghetti (RM24.90) is the answer for you. The sauce is a blend of sweetish, sourish yet spicy with crushed groundnuts. The sauce is quite spicy for those who cannot take hot food, which I believe Tabasco is incorporated here

If pasta and salted egg is your thing but you do not feel like paying so much for the soft shell crab version, go for the Gold Nugget Spaghetti. Popcorn chicken plus salted egg sauce also provide a similar degree of satisfaction as long as you fancy salted egg and at the same time feels that creamy carbonara is too mainstream. Yours for RM17.90. Ala carte Golden Nuggets is also available at RM14.90 which is a house best seller for light nibbling without the carbs. By the way some may reckon that the salted egg sauce is slightly on the sweet end but I feel it tasted just right!

Chicken Roulade (RM23.90) made a elegant entrance though well-spent effort on the food presentation. It was really eye-catching with the myriad of ingredients and colour combination in creating a captivating visual before the diner is welcomed again to a burst of flavours. Taking your eyes of the spiraling pumpkin puree, tender grilled chicken thigh is wrapped over simmered pineapple, cabbage and onions then topped with pineapple salsa and grilled eggplant on top of a serving of mashed potato.

Grilled Cajun Chicken (RM21.90) is a step above your usual chicken chop. This dish proves that if the chicken is marinaded well, there is no need for any sauce to go along. Grilled with a dry and slightly crispy exterior, the inner is tender and retain the moistness, while every mouthful of this poultry dish is full of smoked aroma and Cajun spices. Coral and lettuce with vinaigrette dressing was the representative for the greens. For the carbo, a fried cheesy risotto ball is served on a bed of mashed potato, something different from the usual fries or wedges.

Ruby Red Spaghetti (RM18.90) is a unique creation which its my first time seeing here. Poulty and seafood are common toppings or meat accompaniments for pasta but when it comes to fish, most likely you will just sample grilled salmon or smoked salmon to go along your pasta. At COMO, your tastebuds will unlock a new discovery, sampling Char Siew made from fish! The grilled fish may turn out very reddish, similar to otak-otak but the char siew glaze gave it an oriental touch. The spaghetti were made to be Aglio-Olio style minus the chilli flakes.

For the desserts, we had a few on two separate visit. The Chocolate Garden (RM14.90) is a artistic version of deconstructed brownies dessert. The soil is made from biscuit crumbs - could be Marie or Oreo dust. The raspberry sorbet hits the mild scale and was more on the refreshing end while the berries compote is very sourish until it sends tingling sensation from your tongue receptors down to your spine. Blue pea flowers and the yellow "edible" flowers and some passionfruit pulp brighten up the palate (there is actually a chocolate sponge/brownies) within the soil.

Chocolate Banana Slice is a bit disappointing though. Melted chocolate gave a shiny surface and moisture barrier to the cake within but the banana cake seems to be tad dry to my liking. Nothing really special for this and given the price tag of RM7.90, I would pay slightly more to get a more extraordinary dessert.

Im-passion-ator! Yes, this is another example of RM14.90 worth paying for besides the Chocolate Garden. Passionfruit pulp glazed the creamy brulee-pudding-like filling inside a chocolate shell. It is really something different from the usual brownies with ice-cream of lava cake nowadays. Overall, I would conclude that the chefs has injected much passion and creativity in delivering excitement to the diners. I will strongly recommend you to try out this place :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Makan Nyonya, Ipoh

Yours truly managed to clear one backlog post again! Having tried this almost few months ago, blogging seems to be a good past-time when you are confined within the remote area in Lumut whereby civilization is almost a 20 minutes drive away. Tonight, I shall share with you a remote breakfast spot in Bercham

Occupying just one shoplot with most of the manpower from family members, Jason wish to share the beauty of Nyonya cuisines which he has inherited and improved from her mother's recipe. While some people feedback that the place is quite noisy when it is crowded, I remember trying this place on one public holiday and it was really tranquil. At least you have some peace in admiring all the decorations they have to offer here.

Yup, Jason has shown much effort in ensuring your dining experience is in line with the Nyonya theme and some photo angle is indeed instagram worthy if your are a foodie yourself. 

Not your average coffeshop setting, right? Generation nowadays would have very less chance to be exposed to the rich Baba-Nyonya heritage - their furniture, kitchenware, handicrafts... and not to mention, their cooking! Their food!

This is the spring roll and lobak gou if I remembered correctly. Served with a dollop of sambal cili for good measure. Its something savoury to nibble on while waiting for your main dishes to arrive. Just like any other coffeeshops, the beverages here are very reasonably priced with almost all coffee/tea drinks below RM2

The Kai Si Hor Fun (Chicken Kuay Teow) ticks the list when it comes to serving appearance. Nevertheless, the taste of the broth is a bit too light to my liking. I do not wish to go further in detail on my personal preference as I do not wish to be bombarded by the owner. Okay, it was actually like this. I read one of his post towards a response from a customer. The customer being also a food hawker, advised the owner to use some MSG into the cooking as the taste was bland. The owner stood firm and sarcastically suggested to provide a bowl of water with MSG mixed inside it to the customer. Well, kudos for him making a stand to serve food which is naturally flavoured. But bear in mind that, not all of us are accustomed to food which has a light taste.

The Nasi Lemak Nyonya (RM4.50) appears to be very captivating in terms of the myriad contrasting colour spectrum. The blue coloured rice is naturally coloured from the pigments of butterfly-pea flower, the same natural dye for Nyonya kuihs like pulut taitai. Surrounding the scoop of blueish grains are greenish cucumber slices, brownish fried peanuts, white and yellow from the hard boil egg and reddish and dark orange from the curry chicken and sambals. The nyonya curry chicken is above average, just that I have a minor suggestion of increasing the portion. I only have one piece of chicken, one potato and one piece of bone without meat. It is fine to raise the price further in the quantum of 50cents to RM1 due to a step-up environment from the usual chinese coffeeshops but ensuring the portion should be sufficient to go along with the rice. Midway on eating the rice, I ran out of sambal and curry chicken.

This is the Lam Mee (RM5) which looks really attractive from the toppings. Based on visual, it seems like most of the mandatory ingredients to be present in a bowl of Lam Mee is there, including chives and fried onions. The same comment as the Kai So Hor Fun in terms of the flavour/taste of the broth.

Being named Makan Nyonya, the menu would not be complete without some sweet Nyonya delicacies right? While the texture is just right, again I feel the kuihs is not sweet enough. Mom said that there is possibility some of the kuihs were outsourced. There is quite a vast difference between the overall quality and taste of different kuihs served here. Again this is a personal opinion, if the owner really care, he should accept feedbacks with an open heart. After all, it is down to customer preference which drives the revenue of your business.

Nevertheless food here is very reasonably priced at a cosy environment. Parking is ample here though as most of the shops are not opened for business yet. Perhaps the photo below could give you picture on what to look for when you are passing by the row of shops behind/beside Tesco Bercham.

Makan Nyonya is opened for breakfast all the way until late lunch. But apparently most of the items are sold out by late breakfast period, as posted in their Facebook page. Do follow their Facebook page as the owner really take delight in updating all on his new creation along his culinary journey. I have read some of his inspiring journey from a stall all the way to operating his own shop. Though some of the food may not be up to my personal preference of liking "heavy taste" food , I sincerely wish him a prosperous business ahead! They also have Prawn Mee, Nyonya Laksa, Assam Laksa which could be a better bet if I make a return trip one day

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Roy Thai, Ipoh Garden

If you pass by the road from Ipoh Garden leading to Canning Garden, you would notice there is a new black and white signboard attached to the lot in between of Season Cake Shop and also Y Food Box. This lot belongs to the iconic Kam Hor which is among the top few choices for beansprout chicken meal and is notoriously famous for the slow wait, especially on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday night whereby the owner will casually chuck all preparation work aside and check on the lottery results at 8pm onwards, regardless of the long queue of orders in line. 

Rumours have it that the chef from Lanna Thai is now attached to RoyThai. For benefit of those reading, LannaThai has now shifted from their previous location in Ipoh Garden East to Ipoh Soho and is currently drawing a lot of flaks from dissatisfied netizens over the poor taste and quality delivered not up to the price charged. Another piece of information claim that the current RoyThai’s owner is the son of the proprietor of Kam Hor beansprout chicken. Enough of background information, lets move towards the menu and also the food sampled

They have a few appetizers which are fairly common if you are familiar with Thai cuisine, namely the fish cake, pandan chicken and various salads such as the papaya, mango and also chicken feet salad. I always reckon that the pandan chicken is a worthy benchmark on how good is the food in the Thai restaurant. The verdict for the version in Roythai was... a bit disappointing. I could not help to give kind comments as the chicken was not well marinaded and the taste was rather flattish. The chicken has a faint unpleasant frozen odour which was not masked by the weak marinade. No, this dish is not meet my expectation at all. Its RM15 for 5 pieces but price is no longer a consideration as the taste is already substandard

The Grilled Pork Skewers fared slightly better than the Pandan Chicken. Probably this is my first time eating this as yours truly has not been travelling overseas, even to Thailand. Neither yours truly bothered to sample one in pasar malams. Though being slightly sweetish from the pandan leaves marinade and a sugary glaze, the meat, albeit tender, but it was far from being memorable. Maybe if it has a more distinctive aroma with some charred bits with smoky aftertaste, it could score a few more points there. RM15 for 5 skewers, yay or nay?

This is the stir-fried brinjal with minced pork (RM12). Not really a Thai specialty but the vegetables here are not cheap. I picked this because it was one of the cheapest vegetable dish available. The fried beansprout was at RM9 though but was poorly executed as the taugeh was already "lifeless"and "mourning" on my table

After all my not-so-positive comments, you would probably wanna skip this place right? Well, there is a saying save the best for last. And I reckon their Thai Lime Steamed Fish is quite good. At RM38, you are assured of a fix priced and spared from getting a heart attack by certain restaurant who go by weight or worst still, play the Joker card/Draw Four/Wild card called SEASONAL PRICE. Yours truly detest SEASONAL price remark as it shows how irresponsible the owner in the poorly managed procurement of their ingredients until there is the need to pass down the burden to the customers. Okay, enough ramblings on unscrupulous Chinese businessman, lets give a review on this Siakap. The sauce is made from generous squeezing of lime and fish sauce (nampha) and finally topped with some cilantro, garlic and red chilies. This dish manage to turn the verdict around and saved the meal on an overall basis. The bill came to over RM100 for 4 pax. It is neither the best Thai restaurant, in fact far from being a decent one, but I wouldnt stop you from giving it a try. I seldom give the RED LIGHT unless its really as poor as Choo Choo Chicken (refer earlier posts - purposely give them another stomp to bury them under!)