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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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, 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 a 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 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.
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!
At the De Garden entrance
Water fountain facing the main road
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]
Water fountain round the back
While collecting my items, also found out that some work is going on where Ayam Penyet used to be.
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.
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.