Category Archives: Food

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.

iMiirage has closed shop or is relocating?

iMiirage, touted as the world’s first ambience dining restaurant (according to their website iMiirage.com), has closed on the 31st March 2017. Whether it is closed for good or is just merely relocating, as they claim on their website, is not clear. One would have thought that if they are relocating, they should be able to provide more details on where they are moving to. Like Marianis, they gave notice to their patrons where they were relocating to before they closed the one at De Garden. And there were rumours where they were relocating to too even before they put up the notice. Because as a business you want continuity, to keep your existing customers, and the staff who are working for you too. Otherwise you’ll essentially be starting your business from scratch, almost, all over again.

Anyway it’s not my business and the owner, apparently same owner as the “mighty” Nam Heong, might have other ideas, for example to cut the loss first whilst finding a more suitable location for the business. Or he might be more keen to just end the business, hence not really thinking much about its subsequent reincarnation. It does seem to me that the latter is more likelier the case.

It is a shame, really. The restaurant was opened with great fanfare about a year and a half ago. It does provide a fairly unique dining experience, with fancy scenery like underwater, skyline of Hong Kong etc. Perhaps Ipoh is too small a market for such fine dining experience. And it’s expensive, by Ipoh standard. Whether their food is up to standard is debatable, perhaps not consistent or good enough for people to want to pay top dollar dining there. Last but not least, the location. I’ve written a piece on Nam Heong, where iMiirage was located. The location of that SOHO area is a complete non-starter for retail business in my opinion. It’s very inconvenient to get to, much worse than De Garden. And now that there are more shop lots built there, finding parking space will be big issue. Lack of planning is so common in Malaysia. Or maybe it was deliberate for SOHO’s case, as developers are mostly only interested in maximing their profit. Building a multi-storey car park costs money. Anyway I think the location is still the killer.

Okay we shall see if iMiirage will be resurrected somewhere else. If you know any news about it I’ll be interested to know.

The  Bagel Kitchen has closed shop

The other day, probably a week ago I went to the Bagel Kitchen wanted to buy bagels for my wife. But it was closed. At the time I wasn’t sure whether it was closed for good or just for a day. It was a Sunday, so I suspected that they might have closed for good, as Sunday is a normally a good day for business.

Went past again today and saw a “To Rent” sign hanging outside their fence. It is a nice looking place, nicely renovated, and facing the main road. But I guess the Ipoh folks are not so hot on Bagels. Anyway it is going to be a tough year this year so it might not be such a bad idea to cut the loss.

Four PokeStops at De Garden

De Garden is a fantastic place for Pokemon Go players to go collect Pokeballs etc. Do you know there are four PokeStops around De Garden!
Four PokeStops at De Garden

At the De Garden entrance
De Garden entrance

Water fountain facing the main road
Water fountain front De Garden

Where Peugeot show room used to be, next to Digi service centre or below Cheeky Tots [now some work is going on there, apparently a Japanese restaurant is moving in]
Peugeot Silver Lion

Water fountain round the back
Fountain of XMs

While collecting my items, also found out that some work is going on where Ayam Penyet used to be.
New Korean Restaurant

A Korean restaurant is moving in, hence making it the third Korean restaurant after Dao-Rae Korean BBQ and Daebak Dakgalbi. Strong presence of Korean culture at De Garden, with a Korean fashion outlet there too. Next time if you fancy Korean food in Ipoh, De Garden is THE place to go to, on top of it being a great hangout place for Pokemon Go players LOL

Updated on 19/10/2016:
The new Korean restaurant is called DOMA. Soft opened on 15th October. Formally opening on 20th October. Check them out on their Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/doma.modern.korean/
This is only their second outlet. The first one is located in Mont Kiara KL. Very brave to open an outlet here in Ipoh. Am I excited about the food they serve? Nope. I’m more an observer curious about how the Ipoh market responds to it.

Boston De Garden has closed shop

Boston De Garden
Another F&B business bites the dust at De Garden. Boston is one of the earliest tenants there. Apparently they stopped doing business since 1st June 2016. It seems that they are a franchise business, because another opened in M-Mall Penang earlier this year. Hence this leaves Daorae as the longest surviving F&B business at De Garden.

Interestingly the furnishing in Boston remains intact. I wonder if they are left there to part settle rental with De Garden? Or maybe there is some arrangements agreed with De Garden to sell on their goodies to the next F&B business? The ground floor of that part of De Garden now has no more F&B outlet. Chatime, Aliyaa and now Boston have vacated. It is tough to keep an F&B business going in Ipoh.

AEON Kinta City’s makeover

Now that we know that AEON Kinta City is not packing up as once feared, I’m sure the Ipoh folks are curious what is in the pipeline at the end of the current makeover effort.

Exterior wise apparently they want to bring the appearance of the shopping mall to be more inline with the rest of AEONs around the country. They are also adding awnings to the ground level shops/restaurants, presumably to provide a more appealing look and feel from the outside too?

Inside, this row of shops/F&B outlets are undergoing renovation.
F&B outlets AEON Kinta City
So like I said in one of my earlier post, the ground floor is going to be populated by F&B outlets. But it is not known what outlets will occupy them, apart from the existing names like Sushi King and Johny. And they will be ready in August, which is only 2 months away. I’m sceptical.

Following that, they will renovate the shop lots upstairs. There I really couldn’t care less, as I seldom buy things these days anyway. I do however genuinely hope some decent F&B outlets move in to the ground floor space.

Pitfalls in opening a cafe in Ipoh

Upmarket cafes were very hot in Ipoh for a while 2-3 years ago. Cafes mushroomed almost everywhere out of a sudden. Many were tastefully decorated, quaint looking, cosy, with everyone one of them seemingly trying to outdo one another. Some have “unique” selling points, like offering self made bread, pastry, high speed Internet connectivity etc. But the fever has died down a little lately, to me anyway. Here is an article that offered some insight into what it is like to run a cafe business in Ipoh.

Some of the business owners are fairly honest when asked about the challenges facing them when running their businesses in Ipoh. Some seemed to either just put on a brave face or they didn’t know where they failed, if I’m being honest. I’ll let you figure out who was or were talking rubbish. But I would agree on the following points for the Ipoh market:

  1. Competition from the popular white coffee, both taste and price
  2. Standalone coffee enjoyment without main meals not so popular here
  3. Appettite for western coffee is there, but market is not big enough to sustain so many cafes

I have no problem with the price points of their coffee. They are their premium offerings, and should rightly charged as they are. But I have a lot of issue with the price points of their other offerings, like desserts, light bites (sandwiches included) and even main meals! They are deluded, thinking that the Ipoh folks earn as much as those in KL and Penang. In fact if I go to KL, I get better (much better) value for money, on both coffee and food! Incredible isn’t it? But it is!

Basically, your business needs to survive and sustain in such competitive environment first, with so many cafes around, and price reasonably. Lower your cost and overhead, target the right audience and offer value to these customers. Ipoh folks always like good bargains, and they will come back to you if you offer them good value. Tourists business is good, but it is often one-off, and there are not that many tourists coming to Ipoh. Businesses in Ipoh need to first and foremost focus on the locals. Otherwise it will be the same old story. You have been warned.

Massimo bread price increase from 4th April 2016

Just received a notice from The Italian Baker that they will be adjusting the prices of their bread from 4th April 2016 onwards. They have been absorbing the 6% GST since April last year when GST went live. There was confusion initially I think because they thought their bread are zero rated. Turned out that not all bread are zero rated.

So from 4th April onwards, a loaf of Massimo Sandwich with wheat germ will retail at RM2.65 (small) and RM3.70 (long), an increase of 15 cents and 20 cents respectively.

Massimo bread new prices

Can’t blame them, flour subsidies from the government have been cut lately too. Just more misery for the commoners…