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Avoid 1919 Restaurant Ipoh during Chinese New Year

Very often Chinese restaurants will jack up their prices, slightly, to cover their increased cost during Chinese New Year. But this particular restaurant, 1919, located in Medan Ipoh, seems to have taken it to another level. Here are photos taken by a customer which I came across on Facebook (FB link here).

They went on the fourth day of CNY, according to the bill posted. They were given a special menu, with prices too, but without indication on the portion size. Basically only one price for each dish, no small, medium or large size. The prices looked expensive, on paper, but what they didn’t expect was the portion size for each dish was way too little for that kind of price. The only dish that at least seemed reasonably priced was the fried rice at RM18.90. The Foo Yoong Egg at RM33.90 was a bloody ripped off. And the vegetables too at RM38.90! They probably tripled their normal price just because it is CNY. Mind you they are not charging at these prices on just the first day or second day of CNY. I believe they are probably charging at these prices throughout CNY, 15 days plus a few days before too! No idea how they can justify these prices, but hey what can you do? They have plenty of loyal customers. But what I don’t like is such unscrupulous practices is really giving Ipoh a bad name. And this will affect the tourism business as Ipoh may then be perceived as a place where restaurants simply slaughter tourists with unreal prices if you are not careful.

The following receipt was posted by another customer who went on the fifth day of CNY.

So if you do not like the idea of being slaughtered during CNY avoid 1919 Restaurant at all cost.

To feel part of the community

Having lived in the U.K. for over 15 years, I must say that I didn’t feel like I am associating myself to the British community quite as much as where I was brought up, which is Malaysia. Could it be because the U.K. is so well developed, and everything is much more well run that I feel it is more difficult for me to think of anything I can contribute to the community? You see there is much flaws in Malaysia, lots more things I can think of that can help improve the community, having lived overseas before, and seen the different ways things are done elsewhere. I believe this is also one of the reasons I have chosen to move back to Malaysia. On top of the tiny little fact that all my families live in Malaysia 🙂 And that I am also probably influenced by my dad who has spent many years of his life contributing to the society, albeit more towards the Chinese community.

Having moved back to Malaysia for close to 5 years now, looking back I have not been contributing much to the community in Ipoh either. It is a bit of a shame really. But life in Malaysia is a lot busier than living in the U.K. And I’m tied up massively by my business, not to mention my young children which we have added a second one after moving back to Malaysia. I am a lot more aware of what’s going on now that we live in Malaysia. The education system, the business environment, the government services, the national politics etc etc. There is much room for improvements on many things, which the Brits will say the same thing about their country. But believe me, we have a much bigger beast to deal with.

I hope my business improves this year so that I can have a bit more time to do something more to the community now that my children are getting bigger.

Inflation is driving consumers to fast food chain

Ordered a bowl of soup noodles (伊面), comes with fish ball(s), minced pork lumps and egg in a coffee shop (茶室)this morning. No vegetables. It costed me RM5.30. Nothing spectacular, in fact it was full of MSG because I felt rather thirsty after eating it. A glass of sour plum lime juice RM2.20. RM7.50 for a breakfast. This seems like the norm nowadays, price point wise, if you want to eat out for breakfast. And then I remembered a McDonald’s breakfast is about this kind of price too. Indeed I’m right, I just checked.

Used to be that it is expensive to dine in McDonald’s. But not anymore. You can get a breakfast for RM5.99, cheaper than the one I paid this morning. You see, inflation in Malaysia, especially from this past few years, has narrowed the cost between eating out in fast food joints and eating out in traditional coffee shops. Soon, I think fast food chains like McDonald’s will muscle out many of the traditional food businesses in Malaysia, because one day McDonald’s will be where people turn to for cheap affordable meals, like how it has already happened in countries like the U.K. What do you think?

Three Little Pigs and a Big Bad Wolf is closing its outlet at De Garden

A bit surprised to see the above post on my Facebook news feed today. I thought they are very competitive in their pricing, with sharp nice pictures of their food on display everywhere to attract customers’ attention, and the food is okay too, so didn’t think they will close so soon after a year. Presumably they really want to move to another place. Or maybe the rental at De Garden is too high for them and they do not want to commit themselves renewing the contract? I feel that they probably need a bigger place that can accommodate more customers during their peak hours. Considering that they are doing value set lunches at such competitive prices I believe they need to be able to push more sets out when it matters to make up for the lower margin. I think it is difficult to make up for it via their more premium dishes, which are probably still too pricy for the Ipoh folks. Anyway I could be wrong. It could just be the location or some other reasons. But I would like to see it reopen in Ipoh again, like they say on their post.

Tokutokuya in De Garden has closed shop

It has been a while this 100 yen shop has closed shop in De Garden. Business has probably been hit by the presence of Mr DIY. And there are also Daiso, the RM5 plus GST shop that opens wherever there is AEON.

But just noticed that a new franchise is going to set up shop in its place in De Garden, opening before the end of the year. It’s called Inside Scoop, an ice cream franchise that seems to be quite popular in KL, judging by the number of its shops in KL. Often franchises don’t end well in Ipoh, especially so if they are not located in a shopping mall. Tutti Fruitti, that sells frozen yogurt, has closed all its shops in Ipoh bar one in Ipoh Parade. Will Inside Scoop be able to capture the imagination of the hard-to-please Ipoh folks, and last the distance? My gut feeling is it is going to be very very difficult. We’ll see.

Case for buying fruits from the wet market?

I normally buy lemons from wet market, they are often cheaper than buying from supermarket. Especially AEON supermarket. Some would argue that the quality of those sold in AEON is better. Maybe, after all they are not exactly the same, from different countries too.

But lately we found that the blueberries sold in AEON are considerably more expensive, even with the same packaging and all!

This one is sold for RM9 in wet market, compared to RM11 in AEON supermarket. I think a new batch of blueberries put on the shelf of AEON will be priced at RM11, until the quality deteriorates then only they give out discounts. In that sense it is still better to buy such perishable items from the wet market than the supermarket as they are better at handling such items, price and quality wise, by small business owners. And I believe there is less wastage too because small business owners are more in control of the fruits, compared to say employees in the supermarket. They will try to sell them off before the fruits turn bad, or they might just consume themselves!

Beware of Viu and Digi

I am so going to flame Digi for allowing services like Viu, which is a video content provider, to appear so easily on customer’s bill. To start with, I did not knowingly subscribe to Viu, which I had no idea what it is about until I checked my monthly bill. Because the amount I need to pay for my “all you can eat” type postpaid plan should be the same every month, so I was alarmed why I needed to pay slightly more end of last month. Then I found this item called “Viu subscription” under my Mobile Services section on my bill. I went to my Digi app, but could not locate this subscription. Phoned up Digi customer helpline today and I was kept in a loop after I chose English language. For some reasons the call just wouldn’t progress past this step to get to a customer representative. So went back to my Digi app, and tried Live Chat instead. Waited over 15 mins for an agent, but then I was told that she cannot unsubscribe me from the Viu subscription. I was told I can email ifoundanissue@vuclip.com or call this number 03-22422991 to unsubscribe. So I asked if she can bar third party services from ever getting subscribed to my mobile phone account in future and she said she can’t do that. Digi has become such a pimp hooking up customers to whores but is unable to stop billing customers even if they don’t want any whore in future ever again. Digi is very brave. Please continue to upset more customers. It will sure backfire on them. I still have no idea how I got this Viu subscription. Perhaps it is one of those SMS sent out by Digi with a link which I might have accidentally clicked on. But still I do not believe customers should so easily be hooked to such a monthly subscription, and it is on auto-renewal basis every month too whether or not you use the Viu service! I’ve emailed Viu using the email address I have been given by Digi above. Will see if they will refund me my RM5. Digi seems to disclaim any responsibility even though I actually settled the bill with Digi, not Viu. This is such a scam. Happened before in the UK with similar services stealthily billed to customers without them knowing how it happened, e.g. free trial of services for one month when customers take up a new contract with the mobile phone service providers but are then charged every month after the free trial period etc. But that was ten, fifteeen years ago. There really is no excuse. Digi is basically trying to scam its subscribers by partnering with such services and then put on teflon shoulder and put the blame back on subscribers for not being careful enough. Will update again tomorrow if I hear more from Viu. I need to know how to unsubscribe Viu quickly so I won’t be charged RM5 every month by Digi, and whether I can get a refund for last month’s subscription which I did not use!

Update 6/9/2017:

Turns out that if you manage to speak to a Digi customer representative on the phone, they can unsubscribe you from the Viu service, and they can do a refund on the monthly charge too! This is so different from the answers I was given by the Live Chat agent. There seems to be a serious gap in what the Live Chat agent can do compared to a customer rep on the phone. Think I will give Live Chat a miss from now on. And lastly remember to watch out for your Digi bill!

Update 8/9/2017: Received a text message today telling me that the Viu subscription has been renewed! This is despite me having made complaints to both Digi and Viu. You see, once Viu sneaked into your bill, and on auto-renewal, it seems very difficult to get it removed! Now I have to make a call to Digi, again, to get them to take this subscription off my next bill. This is so bloody annoying!

Classic Dining 玲瓏軒, another concept dining outlet?

Just saw a sponsored post on my Facebook news feed about Classic Dining 玲瓏軒, a fairly new restaurant, having just updated their food menu. If you haven’t heard of Classic Dining, it is a new Chinese restaurant that is located in Fair Park, close to General Hospital (Permaisuri Bainun), in a new row of shop that has just been completed last year.

Facade of Classic Dining
The facade of the restaurant is completely different from the rest of the shops, as you can see in the photo above (nicked from their Facebook page, uploaded by a customer), so it is very difficult to miss it if you are looking out for it. It is very impressive, if I’m honest with you. Just to give you an idea, a nice, big LED signboard can cost you in excess of ten thousand Ringgit. And this facade is three storeys high.. But most importantly, it is nicely done, to make it look like a Chinese restaurant from the olden days, but with a modern feel obviously.

And then they carry this through all the way to the rest of the restaurant (photos nicked from their FB page again, as my own photos couldn’t do it justice).

Interior of Classic Dining

Interior of Classic Dining

Interior of Classic Dining

Interior of Classic Dining
All these took 15 months to complete, before they open for business 5 months ago. A great deal of money, effort, and time have been put in, whichever way you look at it.

But interestingly, despite the superb settings and ambience, the restaurant is criticised for delivering only very average food, and which are commonly available at local eatery, like 大炒 I guess. Basically the Ipoh folks are not willing to pay a premium for average food, regardless of however classy your premise is. Service vice can be a bit of a hit and miss, because of high turnover of staff and high demand, at least initially, with limited tables. But customers can be a lot more forgiving if the price is right and the food is up to their expectation. Like I said before in my other posts, Ipoh folks are a very picky bunch. They are, generally, not quite willing to pay a premium for food, just because you have a nice setting. They will probably still compare this restaurant with the likes of Yum Yum, 孖寶 and even 大炒, rather than Dragon-i 龍的傳人 when it comes to Chinese food. I was just thinking why Dragon-i is always full of customers. Obviously many Ipoh folks can afford paying such money for Chinese food. And in fact they are quite willing to spend on food, perhaps not all the time, but once in a while and according to occasions. You think eating seafood is cheap? But I guess people are limited by the number of choices there are for Chinese food in a shopping mall. And what Dragon-i is offering is much different from other Chinese restaurants in Ipoh.

So back to Classic Dining, I think it needs to be more than just a concept dining outlet, where customers only go for the novelty, in their settings in this case. Novelty wears off quickly. To survive in Ipoh, they need repeat customers, naturally the local Ipoh folks. And to please the locals, they need to back the superb settings with good food, or food that is different from their “competitors”. They have just updated their menu. We shall see if that works out better. Having spent so much money on this restaurant, I am sure the owner will want to make their business work, i.e. profitable.

GLAD Cling Wrap

This is the best cling film I have used by a long shot. Not necessarily the best film itself, but as a whole package. It comes with a small sticky patch next to the cutter. So every time after I tear cut the cling film, the starting bit of the rest of the cling film will stick to the sticky patch. Hence the cling film won’t roll back into the box, making it much easier for me when I next want to use the cling film again. It’s brilliant. So simple, just adding a sticky patch, but it works, that’s what matters!

Tutti Frutti Medan Gopeng has closed shop

Brought my daughter to Tutti Frutti in Medan Gopeng today because she kept pestering us to bring her there, claiming that we haven’t brought her there to eat yogurt for ages already. But when we were finally there this afternoon, the Tutti Frutti shop is no longer in business. What a disappointment for my daughter. This means that there is probably only one Tutti Frutti left in Ipoh, in Ipoh Parede. There used to be one in De Garden and one in Station 18 too.  They have since packed up, in that order. You see, franchise businesses are not guaranteed to do well. And Ipoh is, in particular, a tough nut to crack.