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Motormouth From Ipoh

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Truely American Food @ David's Diner, Greentown, Ipoh

You know sometimes, when you least expect a place to be special, the food to be marvelous, and the service to be impeccable, you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover a hidden gem, unearthed for all to savour and share its glory?

Freshly-opened for business a day before ... David's Diner, a restaurant serving "TRUELY AMERICAN FOOD".... or so they claim.
But inevitably, or in reciprocal, when you put too much hope in an eatery, brimming with fresh concept and spanking menu, you're bound to be slightly, or sorely disappointed. One time or the other. Sigh .....

The ambience sets the mood for a no-frills, American fare commonly seen in diners in the movies, complete with mirrors and artificial bricks on the wall. But of course, Kimball sauces instead of Heinz or a good ol smoky BBQ sauce was a thorn in the flesh ...?

Recently opened ... in fact, they started business yesterday, David's Diner managed to grab our attention with its cool signboard, proudly proclaiming their brand of "True American food." And when we went for another round of Nasi Vanggey yesterday for lunch, we realised David's Diner was opened for business, and offering FREE breakfast on opening day. Shucks ... we missed. But pledging to come one day, we succeeded in doing so today.

Garden Salad

The place was rather packed during lunch, a positive sign of good things to come? The owner is an Indian guy,married to an American lady, and both returned to Malaysia to open this outlet. With so much American influence, one can't help but anticipate in glee for some good ol' American fare.
But sadly, that was not the case. First off, the service was horrendous. Only 2 waiters managing the lunch crowd, plus the countless amateurish mistakes made by those newcomers had some other patrons raging in their seats. And the half hour wait for our food was somewhat distressing, as one of us is strictly bound to the hospital's one hour break ruling.

Italian Chicken Burger Set (RM9.90)

But poor service can be easily forgiven, as staff training takes time, and customer service needs experience. We were not daunted by the many 'black faces' occupying the tables all around us, as I hoped (and prayed) that the food would somehow excelled in response to the shortcomings, proportionate to the longer-than-average wait.
But reality bit me in the a$$ ... HARD. Pricing-wise, all the items are reasonably-priced, with most burger sets below RM10, and the pasta, chops, Mexican Tacos and Burritos, etc will not burn a hole in the pocket. Most mains come with either a soup or a salad, and 2 side dishes of your choice. And credits must be given where they're due, the side dishes list is an honorable 15 items, at least. From the potatoes (mashed, fries, roasted and baked!) to the salads and soups, and mac+cheese and beans+franks, you'll have fun picking 2 of your preference.
Meatball Spaghetti (RM13.90) with Salad and Garlic Bread

Nan's Italian Burger was a miniature version of TGIF's, or Chili's grander version. Even smaller than your average Big Mac or Whopper. OK, EVEN smaller than a McD's Chicken Burger. Seriously. But size does not matter, does it?
The meat patty (chicken or beef) was marinated well, fortunately, with hints of herbs and whatnots (I got a mere small sliver for sampling) and not too dry. But the accompanying buns were measly, generic burger buns WITHOUT toasted sesame that you can easily purchase in bulk from your favourite hypermarket. In short, a Ramlee burger type of buns. The crinkle-cut fries were NOT crispy, and slighty soft.
The spaghetti was far from al dente, soggy and drenched with tomato puree. The flavoursome meatballs and melted cheese saved the dish somewhat, yet the tough garlic bread was nothing amazing. (TallGal's comments, not mine as I sampled few strands of the pasta and sulked).

Popcorn Shrimps (RM15.90)

Dipping the shrimp into the sour salad dressing for some taste .... Notice how small the shrimp is?

My Popcorn Shrimp (12 pcs of S-sized shrimps) came on a big platter. Mostly occupied by the baked potato and the salad. The 12 pcs of shrimps were sitting in one corner, battered and deep-fried. Yup, they were fresh and succulent, but this is NOT a good choice for big eaters, as you can basically finish all the shrimps in two spoonfuls.
Baked Potato

Fortunately, for some carbo-boost, they have potatoes cooked in every way imaginable. I chose a baked one, and some roasted ones. Since their Macaroni and cheese was out-of-stock. Yup, heard that right. Only knew bout this AFTER I've finished my main.
The baked potato was served with very little sour cream, and the potato tasted mysteriously like sweet potato. The four of us could not intepret the REAL nature of the potato. Was it a sweet one? Or the usual one? Hmmm ....

Italian Roasted Potatoes

As replacement for my initial order of Mac+Cheese, I picked the Italian roasted potatoes, as even the Mexican Rice was not served this afternoon. The roasted potatoes, lightly seasoned, were good. Though a bit over-carbo for lunch, I just munched my way through it all.
And ended up feeling darn sleepy for the remaining 3 hours until the magical 5pm.
Will I return for another round of TRUELY AMERICAN FOOD? Hmmm .... Maybe sometime down the line. But not so soon, not before they sort out their teething problems, less-than-stellar service and quality of the food. And service charge's at 10%. Go on and have a try, I'd like to hear some comments from you guys.
Location : DAVID'S DINER @ B-G-1, Ground Floor, Greentown Square, Ipoh.


mycroft said...

uh... wil giv it a miss first la.. but food seems bit pricey la...

Tallgal said...

Luckily my teeth didn't drop off while i bite the bread..Hope they will hve some improvement later, maybe now still newly open.

peng said...

Thanks for the directions to Traditional Taiwanese Snacks. I will drop by this weekend.
As for David's Diner, I am not so sure of the quality of food. I am reminded of Denny's in LA. They serve all day breakfast sets which are huge in portion. The price is reasonable and taste not too bad. I always go for fast food while overseas because they serve pork bacon, which is hard to get locally (I mean in fast food like McD, Subway, Burger King..).

thenomadGourmand said...

hehe.. that was some horrendous meal u had!

nihc said...

YY went with u all?? the food LOOK tasty anyway.... reli that bad?? any good place other than this?? feel bored, wanna try something new....

Life for Beginners said...

Soggy spaghetti? That's the worst --- like the stuff from a can. :(

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

sounds like there need WAY LOTS of time to settle down.. lesson learnt..not to go somewhere that would not serve ur food within the hour?

worldwindows said...

Visiting newly launched restaurant is like buying into computer software ver1.0.

The element of new discovery is tempered by teething problems!

Nice pics though.

CUMI & CIKI said...

i just have one question. Were the portions HUGE? Because if it ain't 'stuff-your-face-till-you-want-to-puke-huge', then it ain't truely american. The beauty of american food/diners (in America) is that 2 or 3 persons need to share 1 portion sometimes. BIG is boootiful! hahaha

Hulk said...

Hey..was thinking of trying out the food this Friday. Notice the free breakfast banner.
Uuuh..with ur experiences & comments, I'll give this a miss. Probably will only try out when i read good reviews later with improvised service.
Thanks..this is trully reliable blog.
Sure..u r not in medical line or a Dr?

jason said...

Er... how come I keep on reading "Italian, Italian, Italian"???

And as C&C said, real American meal should come in HUGE portion.

J2Kfm said...

mycroft : pricey, not really lah. i'd rather they charge more but give better food and portion.

Tallgal : yeahloh. we gotta give them another chance. bring FCOE n KYT over. hehe ...

peng : portion-wise, NOTHING like American food. the burger was small, the pasta was moderately-generous, and my shrimps were ... well, shrimps. expected something like Chili's or TGIF at least.

thenomadGourmand : not exactly bad. maybe the slow service was appalling.

nihc : geez. what a creative nick. hahah ... yeah. both YY n TallGal. there are a lot in Ipoh. wei ... you being an Ipohan, you should recommend some also ma. hehe!

Life For Beginners : over-cooked I assumed. maybe the pressure fromthe crowd.

Joe : yeah. but every outlet deserves a second chance. the slow service defeats the purpose of catering to the lunch crowd around Greentown, doesnt it?

worldwindows : agreed. I dun mind trying new stuff, as bad as the food may be, I'll seek solace in other stuff, like ambience n such.

Cumi & Ciki : not HUGE. the grilled fish and chicken I saw from the other tables were rather big. but ours all measly portion. OK for lunch, but the full feeling wont last for hours.
And definitely NOT meant for sharing.

Hulk : I am NOT a dr. :) do give them a try, as one man's meat may be another's poison. maybe go for dinner, where a relaxing pace can be acceptable.

jason : erm, they've a mix of American, Mexican and Italian food I guess. Lots of burgers though.

Mr Z said...

ya, i went there yesterday as well. Well, i wont comment about the food. But it was really funny watching the two young waiters running here n there.
There was also an earthquake like feeling as rumbling sounds could be heard from the kitchen.
Well, dont listen me. You all should give a try.

550ml jar of faith said...

Try this AFTER reading your post??! You'd have to be practically masochistic!

PureGlutton said...

Oh dear...doesn't sound like a pleasant meal - so many shortcomings! Smaller than small inferior burger buns in a restaurant? Unforgiveable. If it's a roadside stall, ok la.

mimid3vils said...

I had bad experience dining in a newly open restaurant too.

Lesson: Don't visit a newly openly restaurant at it's 1st or 2nd day of opening lol

J2Kfm said...

Mr Z : that rampage in and out of the kitchen was kinda amusing. least we were not bored the whole 30 mins or so while waiting for the food.

550ml Jar of Faith : hahaha ... hey, who knows, some might like their food! and they've quite an extensive menu.

Pureglutton : yeahloh. was slightly amused by the smaller than expected size of the burger initially.

mimid3vils : true also. but you know lah ... when a new one opens, ppl would flock over for a try before anyone else, right?

Anonymous said...

hey james haven't been keeping up with your blog for a while because of my workload. Anyways on to the actual post.

1) The restaurant claims to be a true American diner so you would think hmmm maybe they would actually serve REAL american food. Instead from what was on the menu you have Spag Meatball, Italian Roasted Potatoes, Italian Chicken Burger... hardly american is it. I mean I accept that there is a huge italian-american community in the US but this is hardly representitive of real american food.

2) Nor is crinkle cut chips... *smacks* my head

3) The spag meatball looks horrible. Like someone vomitted over it.

4) It would be interesting if you could take a photo of the menu and count the number of items available. You see, one of the MAJOR problems I have with restaurants in Malaysia is that they have like a bajillion items on the menu. Then when the huge dinner service hits, everything grinds to a halt. Over here in the UK, most of the high end restaurants have about 20 items on the menu (this includes starters mains and desserts). The trick is that the menu is ever-changing to prevent it from getting boring. The point I'm making is - 20 dishes is easier to:

a) do most of the prep work in advance so that it can be cooked during dinner service efficiently.

b) maintain a higher quality because food is fresher (you need to keep less items in stock) and that more attention can be focused on individual dishes.

5) poor service is unfortunately unforgivable. This is a bane of many restaurants in Malaysia *cough* indulgence *cough*. Owners try to cut cost by hiring less people, pay cheap wages resulting in high turnover of staff, not properly train staff. IMO, front of house (waitress, receptionist etc) is AS important as the food itself. Of course a lot of malaysian ppl don't see it my way cuz they have the attitude of 'if the food is good enough, can tolerate bad service'. To some end it is true, if i'm paying RM3.50 to eat a bowl of kari mee. But God forbid I'm paying RM40 for a small piece of fish. Especially as I am a relatively good cook, when I pay big bucks it is about the whole dinner experience, not just the food itself.

6) Is that skin I see still on the roast potatoes??? LAZY

Anonymous said...


J2Kfm said...

genuiness : can't agree with you more. :)

Anonymous : hi anonymous, thanks for the comment. new outlets need time and room for improvement. I really hope they've bucked up, else they'll lose the lunch crowd VERY fast. on that day itself, 3 other tables were complaining, one after another. not a pretty sight. you gave them so much A++++ .... I guess they did improve by LEAPS n BOUNDS.

Li Ann said...

I've been wanting to visit this place. I hope the service had really improved. My dad would surely show a sour face if the service sucks.

Anonymous said...

David diner food is totally terrific,
"Magnific" Truly american food..

Jessica said...

i've been to David's diner.. is juz simply nice and comgfortable.. can giv a try :)

Anonymous said...

I went to David 2 weeks ago. Tonite I will going there again, celebrate my parents birthday. The food looks something different from normal western food that we Malaysian used to.

J2Kfm said...

hi there Anonymous.
Hope you have a good time at David's Diner tonight. :)

Anonymous said...

Went there a few days ago for the first time with a group of friends after seeing the reviews. Friends were terribly dissapointed as well and vowed not to step into the place again. What an embarasment!

J2Kfm said...

Hey there Anonymous,
thanks for dropping by.
The quality has dropped that drastically? I've never been there since the last review, but back then this diner was getting rather good feedback from all quarters.
Sorry for your bad experience.
Mind sharing them here?

Anonymous said...

poor services - rude waiter.

i walked in wanting to ask about if they are selling any cakes.
asked a thick-lipped-shortie-with-dark-skin-tone-waiter,

"is cake available here?", i asked.

"cake?!", the waiter asked with shocking voice tone.

"yes, cake..".

"no ar, but here pie got la.. you want pie?",
"you want cake go to shop la", he continues.

"no, because i heard from my friend cake is available here".

then another waiter join in the conversation, with polite tone.
"no, actually we got cake here, but have to order 1 week earlier".

"oh i see, then it's okay because i need it urgently".
then i thanked them and walk away.

hope the owner will take action. i will never go to restaurant that have poor services. the mood is more important. bad services spoil it all.