Category Archives: Food

Best creamy yogurt in Malaysia

Thick creamy yogurt
Thick creamy yogurt

We have been used to yogurt in the UK, thick and creamy, and spoilt with choices on the flavours available. But in Malaysia, at the time when we moved back, the choices of yogurt were very limited, and they didn’t taste anywhere as good as those available in the UK. At one point we have even thought about starting our own yogurt business in Malaysia LOL. But obviously it’s easier said than done and we have no experience in the food manufacturing industry. Anyway we have since found this brand of yogurt to be as good if not better than those we enjoyed back in the UK. It’s called Dairy Farmers. Very pleased with the yogurt. Give it a try. We have not looked back since. We used to buy Yoplait, but have since dished it. But mind you it is on the expensive side, about RM21 a tub (600g).

Updated 31/1/2016: Just found out that you can buy one at Jaya Grocer Ipoh Parade for “only” RM18. The cheapest we can find so far in Ipoh.
Updated 22/02/2016: Muller yogurt is the one we were used to in the UK, and it is now available in Jaya Grocer Ipoh Parade too, but at RM7.90 a pop!Muller Corner yogurt Think I will stick to the Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy yogurt, the Muller yogurt tastes watery in comparison!LOL

Ben’s Burger has closed shop in Ipoh Parade

Haven’t eaten at Ben’s Burger before. It was very visible from the road and located next to one of the main entrances to Ipoh Parade (opposite of Sam Tet secondary school).

image

Drove past it about a week ago, and it looked rather dim from the outside. Suspected that it is no longer in business. Happened to be in Ipoh Parade yesterday. Took the effort to walk over there just to confirm (there is actually no entrance to Ben’s Burger from Ipoh Parade). Saw a few Snow Mountain workers outside. They were there to take an extractor fan away.

So Ben’s Burger is indeed closed. Tables, chairs and other bits and pieces are still there. From what I heard, it was closed about a month ago. Ben and Lynette however is still in business, located on ground floor, inside Ipoh Parade. BTW both of them belong to the same company, The Secret Garden (TSG) group. The take up of vacated lot in Ipoh Parade seems rather quick, as there is already a banner outside Ben’s Burger indicating an ice cream shop, it seems, is going to take up the space. Better than any of the AEON it seems.

AEON Big Falim, the largest in Malaysia

AEON Big Falim
Here we go, AEON is opening another mall in Ipoh, on 18th December 2015. This time is AEON Big located in Falim, apparently the largest in Malaysia! As I wrote in my earlier post that the recently opened AEON Klebang couldn’t fill up all their retail spaces on their opening day, I think we are going to see even more empty spaces there. With a population of not even close to 1 million, at around 700k, yet Ipoh is going to have four AEONs (Kinta City, Station 18, Klebang and now Falim), a Parkson Ipoh Parade and countless supermarkets cum retail spaces, the retailers are going to be the biggest losers since customers are more and more spread out amongst these places. A recent article on The Star highlighted the similarity between the overcapacity problem in China and Malaysia. Shoppers in Ipoh are not stupid, convenience will ultimately be key after the initial excitement of new shopping malls wane. We shall see which of these shopping malls do worst. My bet is AEON Station 18 will suffer the most.

Kinta City Shopping Centre not closing down!

So according to my “deep throat”, the ground floor of Kinta City Shopping Centre in Ipoh is going to be populated by F&B outlets, with existing (international?) retail outlets closed down after Chinese New Year in 2016. GUESS has moved out first, as written in my previous blog entry, with that lot currently labelled “Renovation in progress”, probably paving the way for the change next year (it is difficult to foresee tenant moving in just for a couple of months anwyay?!). And these F&B outlets can apparently have longer opening hours, probably till later into the night. Old Town White Coffee is going to move in, I heard.

This is good news to me, as I seldom buy clothing and such likes anyway. I definitely welcome more options on food. I think it will appeal to local customers too who like to do groceries shopping in Kinta City. In fact many families do like doing groceries shopping in AEON supermarket. So no, Kinta City Shopping Centre is not closing down. Far from it. It is, in my view, going to be transformed into a more functional shopping mall, with more emphasis on local customers. Bad news for those who harbour hopes that IKEA might move in. And it won’t be turned into a hospital, or airport, however ridiculous that may sound πŸ™‚ What I’d really like to find out though is their new layout on ground floor. Should be interesting.

As for AEON Klebang, which is due to open next Sunday (21st October), there will be some duplicate retail outlets with those in Kinta City, e.g. Esprit, G2000, Giordano etc, for the next few months until CNY next year. I wonder if these shops get a bargain deal from AEON for keeping two shops running at the same time. It will be silly not to πŸ˜‰

Updated on 16/10/2015:
G2000 Kinta City
G2000 has closed too, with a new fashion tenant to move in in November. Perhaps the ground floor make over happens after CNY next year.

It’s almost worth waiting for

Brought a friend from the UK to lunch today. Where to go in Ipoh? Ipoh is rather famous for some local food. Maybe my friend will enjoy some local food. So we decided to bring him to Ipoh old town Tian Chun (倩ζ΄₯) for the famous soup based flat noodles with chicken strips and shrimps.

Parked the car, and we walked on the Concubine Lane towards the shop. The Concubine Lane was full of tourists. Has to be, as they were seen snapping photos. We then realised today is school holiday. And Tian Chun was packed. Found ourselves a table that just cleared. Considered ourselves lucky as we didn’t have to wait for a table at all. Ordered our drinks, and then three bowls of the famous noodles.
IMG_20150921_203058
Initially we felt content. We had much to catch up. And we were not hungry. But half and hour went by, then 45 mins, and there was still no sign of our noodles. Chased the lady, who looks like foreign labour, and she said they have not forgotten about our orders. Another 15 minutes went by, even the table that came later than us had their noodles. Think they bloody messed up our orders. It was hot, and it was very humid inside the shop, as there was a heavy down pour not long ago whilst we were waiting for our food. I felt like I was about to explode if I were required to wait any longer!

So the noodles finally arrived, after just over an hour. It costed us RM17.50 for three bowls of noodles (normal size RM5.50, big bowl RM6.50). When asked what my friend thought of the noodles, “it was ALMOST worth the wait”, not wanting to sound rude! What do you think?

Nam Heong’s demise?

Demise is probably too strong a word, when the new Nam Heong wasn’t that great to begin with anyway. But such is the feeling. It is built opposite of the Menteri Besar of Perak’s residence with fancy light reflecting facade.
Nam Heong facade
Rumour has it that RM2 million is spent on furnishing and decoration of the premise. And apparently owner boasted that business would break-even in 8 months. Although I have my doubts, I don’t know enough of their business to really question whether that is feasible.

However what is interesting is, now that a new block of shop lots are built infront of Nam Heong (where there used to be a piece of empty land where people can park their cars), their shop is completely obstructed from view from the roundabout! The large fancy facacde-cum-signboard becomes rather pointless. The shop, which is already difficult to get to, with only one entrance from the main road, is almost completely hidden away from the main road as things turn out. Parking is going to be a nightmare too I would imagine now that there are more shop lots, albeit still vacant at the moment.

I haven’t been dining at Nam Heong for some time, must be over a year now. I shall pay a visit one day again. Not so much for the food, as it is nothing extraordinary considering that I actually live in Ipoh, but just curious to see if their business can defy “gravity” given the negative change in circumstances. Because quite a few pointers seem to suggest that it must be rather difficult to operate a business in that area!

Updated 15/2/2016:
This is a snapshot of Nam Heong on the sixth day of CNY (13th Feb 2016). It is a Saturday, in the evening about 9pm. Elsewhere in Ipoh Garden 冬菇亭 (next to Woolley Food Centre), people needed to wait for tables..
Deserted Nam Heong

Setting up a commercial kitchen in Ipoh

It is incredibly difficult to find information on almost anything in Malaysia. Information is too fragmented, into multiple languages. And people seldom document information on websites for sharing. Especially the Ipoh folks.

I learned the hard way when I started my business. Basically if you know nothing about starting a business in Ipoh you can’t build up your knowledge from Internet research. You need to find contacts, to begin with. But numbers you find on the Internet are notoriously out of date. And Ipoh folks don’t use email. I had to ask around, and I needed to ask the right people.

So if you want to get into F&B (food and beverages) business, you need a kitchen. Before you proceed to get a builder to have your kitchen done up, it is best if you consult suppliers who will supply your kitchen equipment. Turns out that these suppliers provide more valuable input to the kitchen setup than the builders. For example it might be better to construct a drain from the stove to the drain exit from the outset for easy cleaning of the kitchen everyday, particularly if your kitchen is going to be very oily at the end of everyday. Concealed pipes, however large the pipes are, are not ideal, as pipes can clog easily, and they will clog given time! So don’t make the mistake like I did, thinking that you can just design the kitchen like a house kitchen. Engage these suppliers as early as you can, and ideally together with your chef or cook(s) too.

There are two such suppliers, Jit Fung and Snow Mountain. Jit Fung specialises in stainless steel works, like shelves, walls, and custom made stoves etc. Snow Mountain specialises in refrigerators. But both farm out their business to now overlap with each other. So there may not be a lot to choose from between the two. Workmanship of Jit Fung is apparently better, if you plan to have stainless steel walls rather than tiled walls.

Aliyaa is closed too at De Garden

It is interesting now that I’m in business I am more sensitive to how businesses are doing around. Just noticed another restaurant is closed in De Garden. This time it is a Sri Lankan restaurant, fine dining one, called Aliyaa.
aliyaa de garden
We have been there once. Food is great, service is great. But I guess the pricing is on the high side that it can’t sustain in Ipoh. They have one in Damansara which presumably is doing quite well that they open a branch in Ipoh. But again Ipoh is a tough nut to crack. Many franchises have come and gone without much success. Those that stay apparently are not really doing so well. We used to have Burger King, PappaRich. Not sure what else. But they are no more in Ipoh. The Ipoh folks are misers. Spending power not on the same level as those in KL, population in Ipoh much smaller, and less foreign tourists. In general more difficult to do business. Think we are going to see yet more businesses packing up during this economy downturn.

Choy Kee egg tarts

Having tasted egg tarts from all around Ipoh like Nam Heong (old town), Hong Kee (along the road to UTC or Super Kinta) etc, think I much prefer the egg tarts from Choy Kee located in Kampung Simee.
Choy Kee bakery
You can also buy the egg tarts in Kampung Simee wet market in the morning, before the bakery shop opens at 11pm. Or at other shops as listed above I guess. The pastry is fluffy but crisp, and the egg is just about firm enough like eating soft boiled egg, easily “melt” in your mouth. Best enjoy when it is still warm, just freshly baked. Yummy.
Choy Kee egg tart

Nadia Sugar & Spice is closing end of August

Nadia Sugar Spice De Garden
Went to Cheeky Tots indoor playground due to the haze today. Passed by Nadia Sugar & Spice. It wasn’t opened. Tables and chairs outside weren’t there anymore. Asked the security guard at De Garden. Its last day is end of this month. So another shop closing down. We have dined there a couple of times. Hardly a fan, but the family who runs the business are very nice people. It’s a shame. But they do lack a good crowd the few times we were there, weekends or not, so it’s always going to be a problem, for any business. Especially when the economy is not doing so well.

Updated 11/11/2015:
Nadia Sugar & Spice has now become Nurul Sugar & Spice. Looks like business has changed hands. But everything looks the same apart from a slight change in their name and their signboard.