Category Archives: Food

Haagen Dazs has pulled out from Ipoh

Noticed the Haagen Dazs signage had gone missing the other day I went to De Garden. Someone told me that they are renovating, rather than closed as I initially thought. I found it odd that they would take the signage away though if that was the case.

Haagen Dazs De Garden Ipoh

But later heard that Haagen Dazs has completely pulled out from Ipoh. They didn’t relocate to Ipoh Parade, which again turned out to be fake news. My wife actually brought the children to Ipoh Parade hoping to find Haagen Dazs there after someone told her they have moved there! It is unbelievable what some people can come up with.

We are very disappointed that Haagen Dazs decided to pull out from Ipoh, or in fact the whole of Perak. We love the Haagen Dazs ice cream. Much preferred over Inside Scoop also located in De Garden. No comparison for us to be honest, in terms of the quality and also the blend of taste their ice cream. We can keep eating and eating and eating..

When we were in KL, we brought our children to their outlet too. But turns out that the one in Bukit Bintang, by the roadside, is no longer there either. We went to the one in Mid Valley shopping mall. We used to be a member, and thought we are still a member. But for some reasons after they closed down the outlet in Ipoh, they took out members associated to that outlet from their system too!

Can’t believe a city like Ipoh could not sustain a  Haagen Dazs outlet. They had been around in De Garden for so many years. But to be honest their business did seem to have dwindled, and there is more competition in the form of Inside Scoop as well within De Garden itself. But at least they should have just moved to another location, rather than completely closing the only outlet in Ipoh! Argh!!

 

 

 

Le Petite Mary Patisserie

Petit Mary Patisserie is a rather well known cafe in Ipoh Garden that serves freshly made bread and pastries, together with other western food which I don’t believe have much to shout about. This Le Petite Mary Patisserie (photo above) is a bakery, belonging to the same owner, that only sells the same stuff, but no sit in area. The shop is located in Gunung Rapat.

And apparently they are planning to have another one opened in Menglembu next month.

Like I have always done, I like to analyse small businesses. It is interesting to see that them venturing into the bakery only business. Previously they have opened another cafe in the form of Purple Moon in Canning Garden. Perhaps they see that Harold’s Bread, which sells slightly higher end bread and buns than the usual Family Confectionery etc, are doing rather well that they decide to have a go in the high end market. As I understand, Harold’s Bread is expanding quickly. They already have shops in Tesco Ipoh Garden, Jelapang and they are expanding to Tesco Station 18 too. (Actually they have shops all over Malaysia now!)

The difference between Harold’s Bread and Le Petite Mary Patisserie seems to be that the former opens in places with high footfalls like supermarket whereas the latter likes to open in places they own in residential areas (actually I am not sure if they own the shop in Gunung Rapat, my opinion was based on their previous cafe venture). To me these businesses need to move tonnes of perishable produce everyday. Harold’s Bread’s business model would be a more obvious choice for me. To me I feel that Ipoh folks are very price sensitive. I am a big eater so I don’t pay lots of money for buns that don’t fill my tummy. These buns are expensive enough for me already. Is there really such a big market for these high end buns, in Ipoh?

Mixed rice 雜飯

Food is indeed so much more conveniently available in Malaysian than in the U.K. One of the best places for me to get my lunch is to going to a mixed rice stall 雜飯檔. You get a wide selection of dishes you can choose from to put on your plate of rice. Most often I’ll go for one that serves mostly Chinese dishes. Sometimes I’ll go to a mamak stall to eat nasi kandar, which is pretty much the same, but with more curry selections, and it is halal. Anyway it’s very satisfying. I don’t need to cook, it is cheap, and I’m happy, most of the time, with the food I get to eat. Today I found this shop close to where I live that serves a lot of Teochew food. I’m a Teochew, so ya it’s nice, to have another shop to choose from for lunch from now on. You see I don’t like spending a lot of time on food. One of the sources of frustration when I was in the U.K. was it’s a headache to fill up my tummy. My work place had a canteen so I’d normally just eat lunch there. I’m not such a fussy person so it was good. But when it came to Saturday and Sunday, at home, I’d have to cook, otherwise we would just be eating sandwiches. On this I’m glad I’m back in Malaysia.

Off-peak Play Pass by Cheeky Tots

Found out about this incredible deal offered by Cheeky Tots when I brought my children over there today.

In short, for RM25 you get to enter Cheeky Tots any number of times during their off-peak period, which is school days from Monday to Friday, for 3 months. This is incredibly good value, because it is already RM16 to enter on a school day for my daughter. By just paying an extra RM9 I can bring my daughter there as often as I wish during their off-peak period for the next 3 months. You see now I don’t have to worry about paying for their entrance fees if I want to bring them over for a meal. Cheeky Tots is afterall still the most relaxing place in Ipoh for me as a parent if I’m being honest. The toilet is clean. There are plenty of things to keep my children busy and active. The children are safe in the play area so I can relax a little more without having to constantly watching over them like a hawk. Especially now that I have a toddler who likes to climb on anything he can put his feet on. Besides I can get 10% discount on food (a la carte food) as a pass holder too! It really is a no brainer for parents who have time to bring their kids out on weekdays. And they have also recently added a new play section, or more precisely converted what used to be a reading section, that looks like a supermarket.

They certainly have planned all these together. The roll-out of the new section makes the already attractive play pass offer even more compelling!

Oh yeah, actually there is more! They have this “Kids Eat Free” promotion which gives your child a free kids meal when the adult orders an adult set meal (written on the chalk board behind their cafe counter).

The premise is very spacious on weekdays, and air-conditioned. OMG the place has suddenly become so much more attractive in my mind with the introduction of this play pass! Well played Cheeky Tots! I will see a lot more of you from next week onwards.

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 getting slaughtered during CNY avoid 1919 Restaurant at all cost.

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.

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!

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.

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.