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Motormouth From Ipoh

Monday, August 31, 2009

Breakfast in Kampar, Tapah or Tanjung Malim?

Happy Merdeka everyone !!! A little late, but better be late than never, right? A rather eventful journey back from KL moments ago, with a 10 cars pile-up on the highway heading north, creating a helluva ruckus, mainly from the slowed down vehicles no thanks to the over-eager and caring crowd (read : nosy), and the traffic on the opposite side that's heading south snaking from Ipoh all the way to the accident scene at around Tapah.

Goes to show how united we Malaysians are, especially in such dire situations (or interesting, depends on which side of the fence you're on), as people from all walks of life, from the young 'rempits' to the old-timers, we never failed to come to a halt on the roads, and express our 'concern' towards such unfortunate incidents befalling others. 1Malaysia indeed ....

Breakfast @ Medan Selera Kampar, beside Kampar's morning wet market

Shivering from the inevitable 'balik kampung' exodus yet? No fret, as if you're not fond of the highways, go for the trunk roads instead. Not that I'm giving my words suggesting there won't be any traffic jams on the significantly longer and tedious journey on the one-lane roads from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur, but at least one can stop over for a leisurely breakfast in various smaller towns, and be amazed by the sheer quality of the simpler, hawker food, aside from the possibly more fruitful and entertaining journey along the way.

Just be sure to endure the incessant "Are we there yet?" nonsense from the young ones, as the rural outlook of the towns and whatever else sandwiched in the middle between the towns may get to a child's nerve pretty fast. Especially if one's tailing a lorry or roadhog at 40km/h.

Kampar is a developing town about 30km south of Ipoh. Previously only famous for the 'Chicken Biscuits' (Kai Jai Peng), Claypot chicken Rice (coincidentally, I wrote about the origin of claypot chicken rice HERE before) and Curry Chicken Bread, Kampar has been transformed to a bustling town complete with a hypermarket, a university, and new residential areas sprouting to cater to the growing population.

For breakfast, hop over to Medan Selera Kampar adjacent to Kampar's wet market that houses an impressive number of stalls selling a delicious array of hawker fare, from the hearty pork porridge and famous glutinous rice to Kampar famous 'Lou Shu Fan' and Char Kuey Teow.

The Char Kuey Teow (fried noodles with eggs, prawns, and waxed sausages) was served on a sheet of banana leaf, and a welcoming half a calamansi lime for extra zing. A respectable portion, enough to feed a big eater (Mr Z had them, not me ... LOL), the noodles was fried with enough 'wok hei' or fire from the wok, hence ensuring a satisfying plate of greasy noodles for breakfast. At RM3.30 per plate, considered a steal if you ask me.

The Nasi Pulut or Glutinous Rice (Stall No 42) was ever so satisfying, with the usual slices of Char Siew, and peanuts, with optional curry gravy, and garnished with chopped spring onions. At a mere RM1.70, one pack or plate may not be enough. Just be sure to arrive early as they finish rather fast especially on weekends and public holidays.

Skip the Hong Kong Chee Cheong Fun though, for the taste was a little off, with an evidently pungent taste emitting from somewhere (probably the steamed rice noodles was soaked in some foul liquid).

Location : Medan Selera Kampar @ Jalan Pasar, Kampar, Perak.

Thick, fragrant Roti Telur with a piping hot cup of teh susu @ Anjung Ria in Tapah

Not fond of the crowd? Don't fret. Make your way further down south (from Ipoh's direction) to Tapah, for a fulfilling breakfast of Roti Telur and Teh tarik from Anjung Ria Restaurant, facing the Tapah bus station on Jalan Raja.

Previously, I blogged about Roti Telur at Restoran Haji before, the two-lots mamak restaurant next to Restoran Anjung Ria. But once I've tasted the crisp on the outside, warm and perfectly-cooked egg omelette on the inside Roti Telur from Anjung Ria, I was hooked. They also serve Roti Sardin, albeit in a different manner. The chunks of sardine is served at the side, instead of in between the layers of dough (roti canai).

Location : Restoran Anjung Ria @ 16, Jalan Raja, Tapah, Perak. Opposite the bus station in Tapah. Jalan Raja is the road parallel to Jalan Stesen, which leads to Tapah Road, and subsequently Teluk Intan.

A little commercialization never hurts ... their pockets. But ours did.

Okay, so if you're heading northbound, and breakfast in Kampar or Tapah sounds like a far-fetched idea, why not stop over in Tanjung Malim instead, for a taste of the traditional Yik Mun Pau?

Coincidentally (again), I blogged about them HERE. In a short span of few months, they're renovated, giving the shop a modernized, cleaner look. But in exchange, the old school, authentic kopitiam decor from the olden days is lost.

The quality of the pau remained mediocre, with highly-processed minced meat (chicken or beef) dominating, with a rather run of the mill curry paste. At RM1.60 per piece, a little exorbitant in a small town like this. The thick toast with kaya and butter (Roti Kahwin) @ RM3.00 per portion fared much better, as the sides remained crispy while the bread was soft, and warm, sandwiching blocks of butter and kaya. The beverages were nothing to shout about though, bordering on being diluted, tasteless liquids.

Still wondering where the charm from the yesteryears has disappeared to? Sigh ....

Location : Yik Mun Famous Tanjung Malim Pau @ 6043, Jalan Slim River, Tanjung Malim, Perak. Tel No : 05-4596380.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kok Beng Chicken Rice @ Taiping, Perak

Purpotedly one of the Top 10 BEST Chicken Rice in Malaysia (featured exclusively on a ntv7 and Guang Ming Daily's joint hunt for the best in Malaysia, back in 2007), Kok Beng Chicken Rice has been gracing the grounds and gourmet scene in Taiping for a good 16 years.

Sinful, caramelized goodness on the hangers

Previously operating from another lot, Kok Beng has since relocated to this new outlet on Jalan Kota in Taiping in 2000, and has been doing rather brisk business on a daily basis.

Ong Kok Beng is the proprietor of the chicken rice, a friendly chap probably in his late 30's, or 40's. An estimation of course, but given his cheerful demeanour and approachable aura, he could well be in his 50's without people realising it. :)

Prove of their worth - Kok Beng being featured on several media portals

A simple coffee shop without much glitz nor glamour, Kok Beng is easily noticable from the streets, thanks to its bright orange-yellow coloured signboard with a chicken as its mascot. The place can easily seat a capacity of 50 or so customers, though the time we were there, most preferred the take-away option.

The traditional, homemade blended chilli sauce with ginger and garlic

Serving poached chicken, roasted chicken and barbecued marinated pork (Char Siew) with rice and soup of the day, one never needs a menu at Kok Beng's.

The roasted chicken, the smooth poached chicken and Char Siew, and the chicken rice

The fluffy grains of rice had a mild hint of oil from the chicken (not that gross, trust me), not too oily and suits those healthy-minded ones. The chilli sauce deserves a mention, for staying true to its Hainanese moniker, using only fresh chillies, and ginger, grinded to a pulp-ish yet smooth concoction, with a slightly spicier kick than the usual watered-down version from the bottles.

The poached chicken was a little disappointing in my opinion, though firm and tender, but not the pleasantly smooth type. Of course, I'm not suggesting that one must go all out for raw, smooth and slithering down one's throat version sometimes served by some of the big names in Ipoh (Lou Wong comes to mind).

The roasted chicken fared better, though the skin was not of the crispy kind. But the star of the show was undoubtedly, and surprisingly, the Char Siew. The homemade variety, without the artificial reddish hues, and served with a sweet and salty caramelized dark sauce.

The chicken rice is priced at RM3 per plate, though ours which came in a combination of two meats came to about RM5 per plate. A meal for two including drinks and soup came to RM12.80.

Location : Kedai Kopi Kok Beng Chicken Rice @ 38, Jalan Kota, 34000 Taiping, Perak.
Tel No : 6012-505 6697 or 6012-522 6697.
Opens daily from about 11am until 2 or 3pm, or until the food's finished for the day.
Closed on every other Monday, hence call in advance before arriving.
Want some other views on Kok Beng Chicken Rice? Here goes :
cynthia's a gal who had been frequenting the shop since her younger days. loved the Char Siew as much as we did.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hoi Seng Restaurant @ Ipoh Garden

A new Chinese diner opened its door to business recently (15/8/09) at a most strategic spot in Ipoh Garden, directly facing the roundabout nearest to the post office. Not exactly 'new' per se, given the fact that Hoi Seng seemingly originates from another Hoy Seng (notice the difference in spelling?) in Batu Gajah Perdana, near to Pusing in Perak.

Seemingly because I did not manage to confirm the rumour, as the whole place was buzzing with activities, almost catering to a full-house crowd on the evening we had our dinner there. An impressive feat, as the restaurant can seat up to a grand capacity of 50 tables of guests, if there's any function or occasion being celebrated at the premise.

Spacious, grand and bright decor - A perfect setup for a wedding dinner

Jusco Kinta City is still suffering from the spreading-like-wildfire rumours (or truth, I can't determine for sure) about the devastating pandemic hitting the departmental store since weeks ago. People are being wary, thus staying away from enclosed public places such as shopping complexes, schools, gatherings, and even offices.

But much to my chagrin, restaurants, eateries, kopitiams etc are still patronized by the masses, as if everyone's brandishing the devil may care attitude. How cool. It was drizzling that weekday evening, but Hoi Seng was doing such brisk business, one may be forgiven for thinking that this restaurant has its own loyal following for some time now.

Special Pot Rice - RM14 for small, RM28 for big portion

A plus point when it comes to ordering at Hoi Seng, in comparison to other similar Chinese diners, is that they have a simple, two pages menu, printed and laminated. With plentiful of pictures, prices clearly printed, and with English translations to boot, turning your order into a more convenient and hassle free affair. I do not advocate for the 'asking the waiters for the special dishes nonsense', as I doubt all the waitering staff have the same exact knowledge of the restaurant's specialities and dishes. Unless they've been working at the same place for a respectable amount of time.

Therefore, it was a simple point and order system, coupled with the staff's recommendations. But the swelling crowd was rather overwhelming, we were fearing that our food would arrive an hour or so later. But the waitress was reassuring, minus the empty promises, but instead admitted that they're still new to the scene, and still coping with the exceptionally good customer flow.

Mini Buddha Yum Pot @ RM28

The Special Pot Rice came in a small portion for the 6 of us, barely sufficient but was exactly what we requested as carbo = extremely filling stuff. With a treasure load of ingredients, such as shrimps, 'char siew', waxed sausages, mushrooms, French beans(kacang buncis), silver anchovies, celery, and such, the sticky, fragrant rice was presented in a huge wooden/steel bucket. Reminded me of claypot chicken rice, sans the smoky aroma. Still a better bet than the common glutinous rice or fried rice served at the end of a wedding dinner.

The Mini Buddha Yum Pot (yup, it was named as such, and definitely not my intepretation) is a layman's version of the highly-prized Buddha (or Monk) Jumping Over The Wall. Lesser ingredients at a fraction of the price (RM28 standard portion), the sliced abalone, mushrooms, dried scallops, chicken and dried fish maws rendered the soup a distinctive umami flavour, but a little thin (read : diluted) and bland, in comparison to its many-folds pricier counterpart. Of course, you get what you give. :)

Deep-fried Lotus Roots with Salted Egg @ RM10

An addictive and novel snack-cum-vegetable in the form of fried crispy lotus roots with salted egg coating, the concept may not be ground-breaking, yet worked wonders. The salty flavour complemented the bland but crunchy lotus roots so well, you may be wishing for a pint to appear miraculously to go with the savoury snacks. Order this for the children, and guaranteed they'll be eating their greens with glee! (Erm, not really greens, but okay lah ...).

Shanghai Special Pork Ribs @ RM16 (small). RM32 if big portion.

Initially craving for some Guiness Pork Ribs, we were disappointed they were not being served that evening. But at least the staff knew their kitchen well, instead of running to the kitchen and back to your table to confirm.

Settled for second best (or probably the better choice, given the front page placing of the dish on the menu) instead, we had the Shanghai Pork Ribs, served with blanched 'Siu Pak Choy' and fluffy 'mantou' (steamed buns). Not bad, with generally leaner cuts of meat (pork RIBS, ok?), but still remaining tender and marinated well. The dark and thick gravy just begged to be wiped clean with the 'mantou'. But take note that only 5 pieces are being served, and this was clearly stated by the staff taking our orders.

Hoi Seng Special Tofu @ RM9 (small), RM18 if big portion.

Smooth, egg-y beancurd served with plentiful of gravy, topped with generous garnishings of julienned crabsticks and beancurd sheets (foo chuk). Homely stuff, suits the tastebuds of the young and the older generation.

Fresh-Water (Knife Fish) Fish Balls @ 70 cents each

A feeling of deja vu swept over me, as we were served with a plate of their signature fishballs. Probably reminded me of the Lenggong's episode not too long ago. But the bouncy (QQ) texture, and sweet flesh of the Saito/Wolf-herring fish (Ikan parang, doubtful it's called Knife Fish as stated in their menu) shone through, requiring no dipping sauce at all. Though a bowl of chilli sauce was provided on the side.

Sliced Fish with Wine in Claypot @ RM12 for 100g of Grouper fish fillets.

And last but not least, the fillets of grouper served in the Chinese wine concoction, with wood ear fungus (mook yee), and mushrooms was no difference from the chicken in wine commonly served to women in confinement. LOL.

Though the thick and sweet flesh of the grouper provided much flavour in its own, when dunked and cooked inside the strong broth, somehow the texture became much firmer, and may not be to everyone's liking. Stick to the chicken instead, if you're in the mood for some 'Kiong Chau Kai'.

The 1st Page - Signature dishes. Wanted to order the 1st platter on the top left, but must book in advance. Shucks .....

And the second and last page. Easy right? No need to tear your hair (or the waitress'), trying to make up your mind on what to order on the spot

That meal explained the abundance of people patronizing this restaurant on a weekday's evening. And the many rave reviews from friends and neighbours. We'll probably return for the other dishes, and the platter of Cold Salted Four Seasons Pork (RM68) that we've been eyeing, but sadly required advanced booking for a taste.

The meal came to RM118 for the 6 of us, with white rice being charged at RM1.20 each, and Chinese tea at RM1 per head. Almost too reasonable, given the setting that resembles a higher class Chinese restaurant.

Location : Restoran Hoi Seng Ipoh @ No 86, Jalan Dato Lau Pak Khuan, Taman Ipoh, 31400 Ipoh Perak.
Tel No : +605-548 2272
Opens daily from 11.30am - 2.30pm, and 6.00pm until 10.30pm.
Parking's a breeze come night time, while a bit tricky in the day, for the post office is situated directly next to the restaurant.
Here's a GOOGLE MAP to the restaurant.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Once Upon A Time ... in Bangkok - Traditional Thai Food

From previous chapter of Fuji Japanese Restaurant in Bangkok ....

The world famous, Erawan Shrine aka Four-Faced Buddha (or actually, Phra Phrom/Brahma) in the heart of Bangkok city

For a brief rundown on the shrine, the deity and the infamous incident whereby a mentally-ill man was beaten to death by bystanders, following the vandalisation of the statue back in 2006, refer to Wikipedia's story HERE.

Light em up, make your most sincere offers, and wash away the sins?

Situated at a corner on a very busy intersection of Ratchaprasong in Pathumwan district, this shrine has seen visitors from all over the world, flocking to the gated area, coming to pay their respect, and more often than not, making their wishes. To get to the shrine, one can either take the taxi and alight at Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, next to the shrine, or take the skytrain to Chitlom station, within walking distance to this shrine.

But beware!!! While we were on our way to the shrine, we were stopped in our tracks by an 'officer'. Seemingly, the shrine was closed until 2pm that day (it was only about 10 or 11am) for some ceremony. Hence he suggested for us to visit the Lucky Buddha instead. But this is a proven SCAM! Refer to various forums and tips from other travellers.

Needless to say, Erawan Shrine was NOT closed to the public, nor holding any specific ceremony that morning. Kinda left a bad taste in the mouth .... imagine foreigners falling for the prank, or scam.

Once Upon A Time Restaurant - Unwind, Relax, & Travel back in Time

There is this rather obscure Thai restaurant with a long standing history in Pratunam area of Bangkok, aptly named, Once Upon A Time. For their colourful past, refer to their website HERE. Astonishingly, the brand started way back in 1989. A grand 20 glittering years.

Selection of liquors to go with your Thai cuisine, a porcelain cup of tea, and the classic aura of the place was indeed captivating

Thanks to sc, we managed to drag our fatigued carcasses to this place, on a small lane opposite of Phantip Plaza. We nearly gave up halfway, for the lane (Soi Petchaburi 17) looks like it's leading us to another part of town, lined with houses, and empty lots. Halfway through the lane, from the corner of our eyes, (with saliva a-dripping, and hunger pangs a-drumming) we caught sight of the restaurant, almost invisible to the naked eye, amidst a rich foliage of greeneries, trees and occupying a rather spacious lot.

Mieng Kam (98.50 baht) - The traditional appetizer originating from Northern Thailand

The premise consists of 3 wooden houses in a compound decorated lusciously with mango trees, pleasing vegetations, with different corner to cater to the different crowd, as well as to the patrons' moods. You can choose to be seated indoor, in an air-conditioned seating area, with a capacity of about 30 people. The ornaments, pictures, lighting and scent did conjure up vivid images of the yesteryears, almost a litte eerie to be dining amidst the nostalgic, ancient ambience.

Or if you do not mind being feasted upon by mosquitoes, feel free to enjoy a refreshing meal al fresco, with minimal intrusion & source of light, mainly coming from the candle lit and placed on every table. Bad for photography, hence we hurried like rats on the run, and parked our derrieres inside the more comfortable dining hall.

The ubiquitous Tom Yum Kung - continuously heated to preserve the warmth of the piquant soup ...

Even the workers were decked in the most simple, and traditional clothings. White t-shirts, long loose pants (almost passes off as 'sarung'), and sandals. ;) They probably saved a lot on the staff's costumes.

Hoy Dja Pou Kho You Douay (Deepfried Crab Shells, stuffed with marinated pork+crab meat) @ 153.75 baht, Panfried vegetables, and Phaneng, Phad Phong Curry Chicken @ 217.50baht

Sadly, the food failed to impress as much. Other than the thick, aromatic curry chicken (boneless fillets of chicken was served, a nice touch), the other dishes did not manage to impress. The Tom Yum was passable, but a little too diluted, even when compared to T&K's version at Chinatown. Probably accustomed to Malaysia's close encounter of the fiery/tangy kind, we felt a little shorthanded on this one. Not brimming with ingredients as well, given the rather pricey tag, at about 300baht/RM30 for the small serving.

The Mieng Kam (appetizer of wrapped ingredients in leaves) served its purpose well, as a stimulating appetizer for the ensuing meal. The sauce concocted to be served with the myriad of ingredients wrapped in the betel leaves was a thick, dark, sweet and tasty one.

The stuffed crab shells was terribly dry, even when dipped into the accompanying Thai chilli sauce, and rather bland in terms of taste. The panfried vegetables was NOT our call, but the waiter persistently insisted that we ordered the dish, being one of their 'specialties', or so it seemed. Only to realise that we were served with plain, stir-fried mixed vegetables, or chap chai cooked Chinese style.

A romantic meal for two is possible, at Once Upon A Time ...

If it's still bright, feel free to be seated on the outside. Once dark, creatures lurk in the bushes. Nah ....... not the District 9's prawns. But those dastardly buzzing bloodsuckers.

The meal came to 1200baht/RM120 for the four of us. A rather expensive meal, given the smaller than usual portions (we were still craving for food after the meal), but the environment was a justifiable trade-off. The service was top notch as well, consistently filling our cups with the jasmine tea, without being too intrusive.

The upstairs of the restaurant consist of two exhibitional bedrooms, with classic wooden decor, and ornaments not commonly seen. Lest you're from the 60's.

Location : Once Upon A Time Restaurant @ 32, soi Petchaburi 17 (opposite Phantip Plaza) Petchaburi Road, Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand.

Tel. 0-2252-8629 Fax 0-2251-5975 Mobile 0-1833-8336

Opens daily from 11am until 12am.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fuji Japanese Restaurant @ Bangkok, Thailand

Spacious, modern and pleasant decor - Sip on your hot cup of ocha, and ends your meal with some fresh-cut fruits.

Since I started a post on Japanese food in Ipoh, might as well continue the saga. And this time around, I'd like bring to your attention, Bangkok's (or Thailand's) equivalent to our very own Sushi King, a Japanese restaurant (without the kaiten belt) serving reasonably-priced, yet delicious Japanese cuisine.

Shoes off, hair down, and relish those precious dining moments ......

With 40 outlets in Thailand alone, and still counting, this charming, modern and affordable restaurant chain serves up an amazing array of Japanese food, from the ubiquitous sushi and sashimi, to various competently-priced bento sets (from a lowly 120baht/RM12 to 260baht/RM26 each), as well as other cooked items.

Fuji Special Bento Set with Sashimi @ 260baht/RM26 - Drooling yet?

Fuji outlets are commonly located in shopping centres, hence you'll basically run into one sooner or later, if your main aim is to shop til you drop, in Bangkok.

We had our meals in Fuji twice throughout our stay, given the extremely attractive prices, food choices and strategic location. Nothing beats sitting down on those plush cushions after a tiring day of walking around, with the shoes finally off your feet, and subsequently indulging in a most droolworthy Japanese meal.

Zaru Soba - with the eeeevil cholesterol-laden quail egg!

For a sampler set (in case you're indecisive, or plain wanna wallop on everything in sight - trust me, the menu may take some time to browse through), go for the Fuji Bento Special, either served with Tempura or Sashimi. The set also comes with miso soup, and chawan mushi (steamed egg with mushrooms, crabsticks, and shrimps), as well as a free drink of coffee or tea! Well worth the price paid (260baht/RM26), as the set can even be shared if you're not famished from all the shopping.

The cold soba noodles (strands of buckwheat noodles) came in a most simple presentation, garnished with shredded seaweed, and served with the soba tsuyu sauce on the side, with optional chopped scallions, and a raw quail egg for added protein. Swirl a few strands of them in the sauce, and savour the cold, slithery noodles in one gulp. A most suitable dish for the summer, this one.

Kuro Buta Set (200baht/RM20)

The tender, almost melt-in-mouth texture of the kurobuta pork grilled then served with a most basic gravy (ala brown sauce) had us singing praises. A prized species of the pig, also known as black hog, the meat has the right amount of fat, and lean meat, and requires almost no chewing. The set came with the usual sides, being a mixed salad, miso soup, rice, desserts and a drink.

Tonkatsu Set (120baht/RM12) - Deep fried cutlets of pork

The caffeine we all needed in the form of Japanese milk coffee, mixed tempura (so-so), mixed salad which came with most sets, and the set I forgot the name. It was chicken cutlets in sauce, served underneath the egg omelette.

Another winner in a pork dish, grilled with sesame seed, chopped scallions, and vegetables on the side

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake/pizza - SERIOUSLY good stuff!

But one of the dish that captivated us the most, ordered on both occasions, was the Okonomiyaki or Japanese style pizza. Topped with an egg with runny yolk, we polished this pancake off in record time. The okonomiyaki sauce was sweet, savoury and tangy at the same time.

Grilled squid/Ika, and Mussels with chopped garlic and scallions

10 pieces of mussels for a mere 110baht/RM11. Though small in size, but rather sweet in flavour, and paired off perfectly with abundance of chopped garlic, and scallions. At the side was the sauces for the mussels, but we did not really dip them in the sauce, for they're rather flavourful in nature.

Grilled Beef Cubes Set (sorry, name was made up, as no receipt was issued) - A most lovely, tender and delightful dish

Usually tenderloin beef served at most restaurants retail for at least RM20+, or many folds more. But at Fuji's, a whole set with 2 mussels (cooked in same way as the previous Garlic Mussels), grilled greens, dipping sauces (the creamy mayo was spot-on!) rice and miso soup, as well as a glass of Thai milk tea or coffee, was shockingly priced at about 180baht/RM18 (I think). A steal, given the juicy cubes of beef was not of the most stingy portion.

Apologies for the lack in details of the dishes, given the fact that I did not jot them down from the menu in time. Yeah, rookie mistake I know, but I'm a mere mortal. Pardon moi? ;)

Location : Fuji Japanese Restaurants in most major shopping complexes in Bangkok. Here's their site, but mostly in Thai language.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

S2S Boutique Resort Bangkok - RM70 per night, in Pratunam?!

rom previous chapter - Bangkok - Wat Arun/Wat Pho and Giant Baguettes ....

S2S Boutique Resort Bangkok (formerly Moeleng Boutique Resort) (
What a long hiatus since the last post on Bangkok. Before amnesia kicks in (again), allow me to refresh my aged mind, with a simple, food-less post.
Vibrant floral influences abound, with a generally rustic, yet modern decor, and a charming little boutique resort is born.
The first two nights we spent in Lamphu House on Soi Rambuttri near Khao San Road. A budgeted option, given the location amidst the universally-acknowledged backpacker's haven of Khao San Road.
Free Internet service (aside from Free Wifi Spot within the hotel's vicinity)
On the 3rd day, after our excursion to the famous Floating Market @ Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi on the previous day, we checked out from the homely Lamphu House and proceeded to check in to our hotel for the remaining days of our trip; S2S Boutique Resort Bangkok in Pratunam area (within the city centre of Bangkok).
The lounge on every floor
Frequent travellers to Bangkok, or even those on a shoe-string budget will attest to the fact that seeking a budget hotel, or cheaper hotels in Bangkok's city centre may be a difficult task indeed; almost akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. An air-conditioned room, with attached bathroom & hot shower, TV, fridge, minibar and other basic amenities rarely come below RM100/1000baht per night.
Cozy garden for a leisurely acquaintance, or for one to soak in the sun while reading a book
But lo and behold, imagine our surprise when we managed to book two rooms at S2S Boutique Resort for a mere RM70/700 baht per night !!! Yup, read that right. A room for two person, at only RM70 per night. Dirt-cheap or what?
But we booked earlier, about a month before we departed to Bangkok. E-mail reservation is possible, and the hotel's staff are certainly friendly and accomodating. We were even served with a welcome drink of pineapple juice the instant we walked in with our luggages!

Picture perfect - Lush greeneries, and a serene atmosphere.
The term 'Boutique Hotel' depicts the hotel exactly, fitting the description right to a tee. One can't help but feel uplifted, and immensely rejuvenated after a night's stay here. The theme incorporates a lot of lush greeneries and fresh flowers as decoration, setting an idyllic, and relaxing ambience.

The Standard Room for two. Not the most spacious around, but bear in mind this being a BUDGET hotel, so every positive detail is taken into account

The rooms are in tip-top condition, very clean and comfortable. The attached bathroom comes with hot shower, and a most pleasant large wooden shelf for one to put their toiletries and such. The air-conditioning system comes with individual control as well.

Best of all, the room also comes with a television with cable channels. Not 10, not 20, but an astounding 90+ channels!!!! Of course, most in Thai language, but still a rather exclusive touch to the rooms, as most budget hotels, or guesthouses do not even provide a TV in each room.

The simple cafe at the lobby that serves breakfast sets, without menu.

But best of all, S2S Boutique Hotel is located right smack in town area, yet hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the traffic in the city. The nearest shopping malls being Platinum Mall and Central World, about 10-15 minutes walk from the hotel.

For the time being, the nearest train station may require some walking, as they are still in the process of expanding the train service to a yet-unofficiated station a stone's throw away from this hotel. But hailing a cab in Bangkok is never a hassle, as taxis roam the streets 24 hours a day. And in comparison to Malaysia's very own taxi service, the ones in Bangkok charge reasonably cheaper rates, with most rides in and around town area at less than RM10/100baht per way. And most of the time, they DO use their meters, hence no bargaining necessary.

Location : S2S Boutique Resort Bangkok (Moeleng) - previously known as Moeleng Boutique Resort, @ 21/1 Soi Ratchatapan (Moeleng) Ratchaprapop Road, Makkasan, Ratchathevee Bangkok 10400 Thailand.
Tel No : 66(0)-2642 4646.
Fax No : 66(0)-2245 4386.

If you're one who dreads walking for miles before reaching your favourite departmental store, and would rather stay in a hotel that's within spitting distance from the retail outlets, you can search for other options at You can search for hotels in almost every country in the world, and they're even sorted out according to the cities! Click HERE for the Malaysian listing, and you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Lai I Japanese Restaurant @ Ipoh - Let the Saga Begins ...

Kizuna One (or Kizuna1 ... or 1Kizuna, depends on how patriotic you are. Okay, bad joke, I know) recently opened its doors to the Japanese food lovers in Ipoh, right smack in the posh-est location of all, at the newly refurbished and reopened Royal Golf Club on Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.

Of course, me being a mere peasant, with no skills whatsoever in handling (more like, manhandling!) a golf club, can only drool at the sizzling hot, newest Japanese restaurant in town.

Seriously .... I'm not crossing my fingers in anticipation. After a few bad reviews from all quarters, I'll be glad to practise a wait-and-see approach, much like I'm salivating at the thought of a spanking new (back then, not now) Korean BBQ Buffet restaurant named Riche Montana in Ipoh Garden South, only to walk in and preview their selections one evening, and walked out with tails between my legs. Wrong metaphor? Whatever.

A little disturbing concept they have is that you'll be charged RM5/pax more if you're seated downstairs, nearer to the buffet spread, while the upstair's crowd get RM5/pax shaven off their respective bill, as they've to carry their food up the stairs repeatedly. Hmm, they could've reached a compromise kind of situation, whereby they can serve the food on both floors, and charge a reasonable amount. For your information, RM29.90+ for the convenient crowd, and RM24.90+ for the slightly more active (and maybe kiamsap?) people.

Been in the business for a good 3 years now - A Lai I Japanese Restaurant has constantly missed my radar, although occupying a rather strategic spot.

But this post ain't about Korean food, but instead dedicated to some of Ipoh's Japanese restaurants. Though to no one's surprise, you can literally count all of them with two hands. (Sushi King NOT included, of course).

At the same row as Sushi East (another Japanese restaurant at Bandar Medan Ipoh Baru, though I do not favour the Japanese cuisine served there; being anything but authentic), A Lai I has operated for a good 3 years, and the head chef (he's the ONLY chef, as I recalled from our conversation) Mr Lai, was in fact from the now defunct Moritomo Japanese restaurant in Jusco Kinta City.

But wait, didn't all the chef, cooks and workers from Moritomo jumped ship to Kizuna when Moritomo closed down? Truth is, no. MOST of the workers from Moritomo started the Kizuna flagship, but not ALL. If any of you can recall, in my post on Akamomiji, I mentioned about the management of Kizuna had again, jumped the bandwagon and opened the former. Which, in reality, is partly true. Kizuna has 3 owners, or managers. One of them quitted and started Akamomiji. While another has recently opened Kizuna One at the Golf Club.

Confusing, convulated stories? Yeah, almost like a tussle-for-power type of TVB drama. Only with less bickering and bitching around. (I think). Let's move on to the FOOD now, shall we?

Comforting, relaxing ambience with satisfactory level of service.

Mr Lai Yip Meng is young, vibrant, and adventurous. Constantly seeking change, and some radical ones at that, he controls the business, and the kitchen in any ways he deemed fit. Which is a plus, given the vast experience he had, and a tendency to stray off the beaten path.

The extensive menu at A Lai I was impressive, covering various specialties not commonly available in other run-of-the-mill Japanese eateries here in Ipoh, for example the Dobin Mushi (soup in tea pot, Japanese style).

Kaisen Seafood Teppanyaki @ RM25

One of their main selling point happened to be the Teppanyaki, or grilled meats and seafood on iron plates. The Seafood teppanyaki platter consists of prawns, squids, scallops, salmon, and vegetables. The accompanying sauce may be a little salty, when this dish is eaten alone without white rice. Generally tasty, with fresh seafood being cooked to perfection; ensuring the right texture, and sweet flavours of the seafood coming through. Other than seafood, you can opt for beef, or chicken to be cooked the same way.

Tempura Moriawase @ RM16

The mixed tempura appeared a little lacklustre, amidst the yellowish lighting and all. Which explains the less than stellar quality of the pictures, sorry.

The batter-fried prawns and mixed vegetables were of nothing particularly spectacular, but still decent enough to warrant an order, IF you're a fan of tempura. But I'd certainly prefer more grated radish (daikon) to be served with the tempura.

Hiyashi Chuka Ramen @ RM12.80 and Complimentary Sushi Rolls

The Japanese cold noodles, Hiyashi Chuka Ramen came in a far from dainty portion. With lots of fritters on top for that extra crunch, the combination of cold noodles and assorted vegetables in tare sauce (water, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and sesame seeds) is a refreshing and light dish, perfect to be slurped on hot, humid days.

And the friendly chap was kind enough to present us with a plate of sushi rolls, consisting of crabsticks, cucumber, carrot and egg, wrapped with a very thin layer of crepe and garnished with roes, and served with mayonaise and shoyu. Since this was on the house, I've no idea what's the name of the rolls, sorry.

Other items I've been eyeing were stir-fried mushrooms with butter, and beef with butter sauce. The sashimi and sushi selection was impressive as well, as was the other cooked items such as teppanyaki, and mixed bento sets.

Location : A Lai I Japanese Restaurant @ 34, Jalan Medan Ipoh 4, Bandar Medan Ipoh Baru, 31400 Ipoh, Perak.
Tel No : 605-545 0412.
Closed on Mondays. Opens for lunch and dinner.

(P/S : Initially planned for a combined write up on A Lai I and a few other Japanese restaurants, but I guess I rambled on for too long .... I'll save them for the next posts.)

(P/S again : Wondering what the name A Lai I means? Initially, it's supposed to be Arai Japanese Restaurant. Made more sense right? But Mr Lai claimed that the name Arai had people mispronounced the name continuously, calling it Alai, Alai ....... =P)