Tag Archives: Ipoh

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 But numbers you find on the Internet are notoriously out of date.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.

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

AEON Klebang opening on 21st October 2015

AEON is hiring, with a booth infront of AEON supermarket in Kinta City, for AEON Klebang, Ipoh.
Aeon walk in interview
When asked when AEON Klebang is opening, the girl told me 21st October 2015 is the opening date. Escalators in the shopping mall have all been installed too, as I know. I’m just a little surprised that it is so soon, considering that the market is rather soft at the moment. Very interested to know if they manage to fill up the retail spaces there on their opening day.

Updated 21/10/2015:
It’s the opening day of AEON Klebang. Here is their location if you don’t know where AEON Klebang is:
Location of AEON Klebang

Updated 22/10/2015:
Floor plan of AEON Klebang.
AEON Klebang Floor Plan

Shops directory of AEON Klebang.
AEON Klebang Shops Directory

Restaurants and cafes where kids can play

Recently came across this blog post that recommends restaurants and cafes where kids can play in Klang Valley region. These are fairly decent recommendations. As I have posted before, parents with children do yearn for places where they can sit down and relax while their children can keep themselves busy. However I couldn’t help but to find that these restaurants/cafes, when compared to Cheeky Tots in Ipoh, where I now live, rather underwhelming. By and large they source their toys from IKEA. Some hardly much space or toys for the kids to keep themselves occupied for long.

This baby/toddler play area in itself is already bigger than those you can find in any of the cafes above.

Baby toddler play area

And you have these playhouses,

Play houses

castle,

Castle

reading corner, with some toys too,

Reading area

and of course this elephant in the room (taken from their website).

Main play frame

The Ipoh folks should count themselves lucky to have such a family and kids friendly facility around, as I think it is hard pressed to find something equivalent in KL. In fact anywhere in Malaysia. Sure it is not free to enter, like other cafes or restaurants. But with deals like this, it is as affordable as you can get.

After school deal

Ipoh one of most affordable cities to retire

Interesting indeed that Ipoh is recognised by a western foreigner as one of the most affordable cities to retire. Not that Ipoh is not affordable to live in. My first thought is surely there are plenty of cities around the world that are more “affordable” to live in than Ipoh?! The blogger for US News came up with a figure, amounting to $897 a month, if you want to retire in Ipoh. But regrettably there is not a lot of further insights apart from two short paragraphs which only scratches the surface of what potentially makes Ipoh a desirable city to retire in.

Here are my take on what makes Ipoh desirable for foreigners:

1)      Healthcare, when you are in your old age, is comparatively cheaper than many places, especially the U.S. Well, where else in the world is not cheaper to get access to healthcare than the US?! It is also fairly affordable to hire a maid, from the likes of Philipine, Indonesia, to do your house chores, if not to take care of you as well. So the appeal for retirees is certainly compelling in this sense.

2)      Language should be a plus. Whilst folks in Ipoh don’t speak a lot of English, they can still communicate in basic English, by and large. So foreigners should have little trouble getting on with life, as long as they don’t wander too far off the city…

3)      Environment and infrastructure are not bad for such a city in a developing country. To start with, Ipoh is surrounded by mountains, which to me is very scenic itself. Air quality is okay, occasionally hit by haze from forest fire in neighbouring country, Indonesia. Development is catching up even in this sleepy town, with plenty of housing and commercial developments. Traffic is on the rise too although not choking yet. So not much to shout about in terms of air quality in general I would say. Stay away from urban areas and one on Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme told me that her husband is no longer suffering from asthma. Water is cheap in Ipoh, and in abundance. Most people however install their own water filter at home as water is not drinkable directly from tap. Traffic congestion is not an issue in Ipoh, especially if you are a retiree as you mostly only travel during off peak hours. You can get from one end of Ipoh to another in probably half an hour. But you do need a car to get you around, as local public transport is virtually non-existent.

4)      Wide range of food available, starting from very affordable prices. Eating out, decent local food, can be cheaper than cooking at home. And increasingly you can find more sophisticated gastronomic experience in Ipoh too. Whilst not as affordable as local food, the availability of such options is important as I can imagine that foreigners will fancy eating food  they are accustomed to back home sometimes having myself lived in overseas for long period of time before.

5)      Accommodation is fairly affordable. Used to be very cheap to own a house in Ipoh. But property boom in the far east has driven house prices up, even in Ipoh. Renting is however still comparatively cheap. Because rental yield is low, condition of rented properties is generally quite poor. So you may need to fork out more (i.e. at least RM1,000 to RM1,500 a month rental) for more palatable properties…

6)      Western influence makes it easier for westerners to adapt to life in Ipoh, from shopping malls, supermarkets like Tesco, fast food chains, to familiar household and food product names, you name it. Alcohol drinking, although expensive, is common in Malaysia, despite it being perceived as a Muslim country. And lately coffee drinking culture is catching up in Ipoh too, in settings as wide ranging as by the roadside type stalls to individualistic boutique cafes to chain coffee shops like Starbucks.  There are also affordable international schools to cater for families with children. Activities for young children, should you have any, are however very limited, whether to do with the hot climate or not. Having said that there is a very commendable indoor playground in the form of Cheeky Tots which even short stay tourists recommended it!

Hence Ipoh in my view is a good place to retire if you have a small budget, and want to live a simple, slow pace life. If you want further sophistication, there are no concert hall, quality museum, technology center or such likes to occasionally keep you occupied though…

Kidzoona in Aeon 18 Ipoh

We are back in Ipoh again. Visited Aeon at Station 18 for the first time. It is a new shopping mall, biggest in Perak I think. We went there to do a bit grocery shopping, mainly to buy some food stuff for our little one.

We heard that there is an indoor soft play, called Kidzoona. So we decided to pay that a visit first before we go shopping. It is located on the first floor. But since we did not know the whereabouts of it, and the floor plan that we found did not show its location, so I volunteered to ask a security guard. But turns out that he did not know where it is yet told us to go up second floor. Very annoyed that some people would give direction even though they don’t know the location. We had to ask again, this time a shop keeper, then only we found the place.

The play area is actually rather small. Well, compared to what we are used to anyway in the UK. The climb frame is tiny, and is only suitable for children under 1.35m. SA went in once and that was it. There are some push karts which SA always like to play with. Particularly filling the boot of the kart with random bits of toys. There are two giant inflatables, one is a slide and the other is like a bouncy castle. The indoor soft plays in the UK have moved away from inflatables and use fibre glass slides many years ago. Anyway I guess it is much easier to install inflatables than proper climb frame, especially in shopping malls.

Can’t say we are overly impressed with Kidzoona. But at RM10 for entrance on week day I think it still represents good value. In the UK we can get into over 10,000 sq ft indoor soft play with £3, but situated in a warehouse. That is the kind of difference.

Year of Rat

Helped my dad to clean and tidy the house this morning. It is Chinese New Year tomorrow. I think it is a tradition to clean the house, wear new clothes to welcome the new year. While we were tidying and storing stuff into what used to be a dog hut, my dad found a rat hiding in a paper box which is carrying a fire extinguisher. Dad then used a large plastic bag, wrapped the whole box in it, waited for the rat to emerge from the box and then killed it using a wooden stick. Actually not quite, my dad has to also step on it once to finally finish it off. I feel bad, although I did suggest my dad to let the rat go. In fact I’m the one to pass my dad the wooden stick when I was asked to find one! Guess my dad still has too much authority over me.I remember saying to myself that “Ratatouille” is one of the best animation movies around after watching it on my flight back to Malaysia. And I think Disney movies are great, which I haven’t really appreciated until now, as they have the magical power to make people, especially kids, love and appreciate animals, due to the animations that make animals look so cute and adorable. However here I am ended up helping my dad killed one of these little animals. Shame on me.To make matter worse, I found out later on in the afternoon that it’s the year of Rat this coming year. What a bizarre experience, to have killed a rat on the eve of year of Rat. Damn, I really don’t like what that has just happened today!