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.