Tag Archives: Ipoh

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 being slaughtered during CNY avoid 1919 Restaurant at all cost.

To feel part of the community

Having lived in the U.K. for over 15 years, I must say that I didn’t feel like I am associating myself to the British community quite as much as where I was brought up, which is Malaysia. Could it be because the U.K. is so well developed, and everything is much more well run that I feel it is more difficult for me to think of anything I can contribute to the community? You see there is much flaws in Malaysia, lots more things I can think of that can help improve the community, having lived overseas before, and seen the different ways things are done elsewhere. I believe this is also one of the reasons I have chosen to move back to Malaysia. On top of the tiny little fact that all my families live in Malaysia 🙂 And that I am also probably influenced by my dad who has spent many years of his life contributing to the society, albeit more towards the Chinese community.

Having moved back to Malaysia for close to 5 years now, looking back I have not been contributing much to the community in Ipoh either. It is a bit of a shame really. But life in Malaysia is a lot busier than living in the U.K. And I’m tied up massively by my business, not to mention my young children which we have added a second one after moving back to Malaysia. I am a lot more aware of what’s going on now that we live in Malaysia. The education system, the business environment, the government services, the national politics etc etc. There is much room for improvements on many things, which the Brits will say the same thing about their country. But believe me, we have a much bigger beast to deal with.

I hope my business improves this year so that I can have a bit more time to do something more to the community now that my children are getting bigger.

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.

Tokutokuya in De Garden has closed shop

It has been a while this 100 yen shop has closed shop in De Garden. Business has probably been hit by the presence of Mr DIY. And there are also Daiso, the RM5 plus GST shop that opens wherever there is AEON.

But just noticed that a new franchise is going to set up shop in its place in De Garden, opening before the end of the year. It’s called Inside Scoop, an ice cream franchise that seems to be quite popular in KL, judging by the number of its shops in KL. Often franchises don’t end well in Ipoh, especially so if they are not located in a shopping mall. Tutti Fruitti, that sells frozen yogurt, has closed all its shops in Ipoh bar one in Ipoh Parade. Will Inside Scoop be able to capture the imagination of the hard-to-please Ipoh folks, and last the distance? My gut feeling is it is going to be very very difficult. We’ll see.

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.

Howard Lee accused unpatriotic


Howard Lee, an elected state assemblyman for Pasir Pinji Perak, is in a bit of a pickle lately. He is accused of being unpatriotic to Malaysia for having applied for U.K. citizenship, but which was unsuccessful, 15 years ago. The attack began by a blogger called Lee Sian See, but which was then picked up by The Star here:

DAP assemblyman denies acquiring foreign citizenship

Howard denied having acquired U.K. citizenship on his Facebook. But  what is damaging is when the correspondence between him and his local MP, Charles Clarke, at Norwich at the time and forum discussions in 2007 about his failed application to naturalise surfaced. It is damaging in the sense that he did try to become U.K. citizen when he was young, having just turned 18 or so, in 2002. And he was upset the application was rejected a year or so later because the U.K. Home Office claimed that they did not receive his passport. He appealed, because without a passport to show, his status to remain in the U.K. is thrown into question, let alone applying for citizenship! So he had to come back to Malaysia to get a new passport before he is allowed to enter the U.K. again. When he was in Malaysia, he went to the British High Comm to apply for a settlement visa, equivalent to Indefinite Leave to Remain, as a spouse of his British wife. Mind you this settlement visa is not U.K. citizenship. I believe he re-entered U.K. and reunited with his British wife after having been granted the settlement visa subsequently.

A few years later in 2010, he ran for local council election in Norwich, as a Liberal Democrat, but which he lost narrowly to a Labour candidate. He could run for local council election because Malaysia is one of Commonwealth countries. And as a commonwealth citizen Malaysian can vote in the U.K.’s general election too!

Another few years later, he came back to Malaysia and ran for a state seat in Pasir Pinji Perak with Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Malaysia’s 13th general election in 2013. That was the year I moved back to Malaysia and I voted for him. Nothing suggests to me that he’s not fit as a state assemblyman in Malaysia, having spent many years living in the U.K. In fact I think he’s more qualified than many, with track record running for public service in the U.K., with good command of Bahasa Malaysia, and above all else he seems to me a person with a good heart, from the work he has done so far.

So whoever playing this patriotism to the country issue is basically just trying to make a meal of out of it now that the 14th general election is looming. It is not as though he applied for U.K. citizenship after he was elected in Malaysia. So in no part was he lying to the voters nor when he swore an oath when he took office after he was elected. We the voters, and I am, living within his constituency, will decide who we think best represent us at the state level, on local issues in the coming election. Unless there is proof that he is also a U.K. citizen then he, by Malaysian law, cannot also be a Malaysian and hence cannot run for public office. Until then, the detractors can make all the noise they like, he will remain our representative. And I believe a fine and committed man like Howard Lee will be elected for another term, and continue to serve his fellow Malaysians. We shall see who has the last laugh LOL

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 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.