While Ipoh is generally regarded as one of the better towns for hawker food (perhaps second only to Penang), if you look closer, the town also offers some hidden gems outside of hawker & traditional Chinese food. Case in point – Maiale Japanese style Italian Restaurant.
Maiale Japanese style Italian Restaurant at Ipoh
If the overly long name isn’t clear, the restaurant actually offers Italian cuisine, cook by one Japanese chef, and interestingly, also served by only one local server. If you’re looking for Japanese food here, you won’t find it, but if you want Italian food with a bit of a Japanese influence & ingredients, you’re at the right place.
The restaurant itself is converted from an old colonial style house with very limited seats (perhaps 20 pax max?) and offers an ambiance that is as cozy as it is unique in its staffing. Reservation is a must since space is severely limited.
There’s no real ala carte menu here, instead, you choose from a combination of 3-course menu with 1 selection of appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. Prices range from RM 45 to RM 80 for the set, but sometimes they do have specials, such as Japanese wagyu grade A5 which can fetch quite a pretty penny.
bread & breadstick with olive oil & vinegar, appetizer platter
For our dinner, we chose the appetizer platter, pan fried sakura pork loin, and yuzu sorbet for the first set. For second set, we had the same appetizer platter, slow cooked lamb shoulder, and tiramisu.
Like most “almost fine dine” place, we started off with some warm bread, bread stick, with olive oil & vinegar prior to the arrival of appetizer, nothing out of the ordinary.
When the appetizer came, it turned out to be quite a delight. I didn’t care much about the glass plate, or the plating itself, but here’s what we had on it:
spinach and tomato mousse
Each had a unique taste and tasted rather not any less than some of the more fancy places. I’d be kicking myself if I chose the Caesar salad or mushroom soup in place of this platter for RM 5 less.
scallops, pan fried sakura pork loin with red wine balsamic sauce
Oh, we also ordered a small plate of scallops (3 pieces) as additional appetizer. They were decent, and definitely worth the RM 8 asking price.
For my main, the pan fried sakura pork loin with red wine balsamic sauce turned out to be a a winner. The meat was cooked to the right doneness, retaining natural flavor of pork as well as its tenderness. Furthermore, the sauce, made from reduction of red wine, balsamic, onion, and beef oil was so flavorful it made me question my own method of preparing pork chop at home. I need to replicate this!
slow cooked lamb shoulder, tiramisu, ice cream
For the second set, the slow cooked lamb shoulder was a decent dish in itself, with the sauce (red wine, homemade beef stock, tomato sauce) that tasted a bit richer but perhaps lack the excitement of stronger acidity compared to the sauce from pork loin. It was good, but perhaps not the same level as the pork loin.
The sides were potato, tomato, and broccoli for both dishes, they were adequate.
The 3rd course of tiramisu & yuzu sorbet were pretty good choices as well. Overall I thought this is a place worthy for special occasions (perhaps a romantic one) if you’re in Ipoh, and loves pork. I should check out their beef or pasta dishes next time.
Following the blog post on Abanico at Kota Kemuning, I was reminded that actually there was another iberico experience a few months ago back when we were in this “Recovery MCO” period when case number of Covid-19 was in the teens daily.. remember that feeling of hope before it all came crashing down again? Seemed like a long time ago isn’t it?
Anyway, the restaurant I want to talk about is Habanna Charbroiled Steakhouse at Taman Paramount, PJ.
Habanna at Taman Paramount, PJ
The unassuming restaurant is just a stone’s throw away from Loong Foong (great roast duck) and Shokudo Japanese curry. It’s been around for a while and for whatever reason, took me this long to finally paid a visit, and I’m glad I did finally give it a try.
The minimally decorated restaurant has an ambiance that matches its asking price. The menu has a healthy selection of burger, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, pasta, and even a few seafood entrees priced from just below RM 20 to around RM 30-50 range (see menu below).
Since porky “steakhouse” are hard to come by, we decided to check out their pork belly, and there’re two to choose from at Habanna if you’re into this fatty cut of pork. Unsurprisingly, we chose both.
Iberico Black Mama “IBM”
The two different pork belly entrees are Iberico Black Mama “IBM” (RM 33.90), and the cheaper Charbroiled Apple Belly “CAB” (RM 20.90). Both are essentially the same dish with a side of salad, some potato wedges, and apple dipping sauce, however, IBM uses the famed Iberico pork, while CAB is made from local pork belly.
As it turned out, both dishes were rather good to eat, the meat were grilled perfectly and had very good texture, they were also seasoned just right. Also as expected, the Iberico pork does carry a better texture due to it’s superior marbling (fat layers between meat) as compared to local pork.
Charbroiled Apple Belly “CAB”
The verdict is predictable, but when factor in prices, makes for slightly tougher decision. Iberico is some 60% more expensive but arguably maybe 30-40% tastier? A bit of a diminishing returns. That being said, the value offers at Habanna is an excellent one, and I should be back to try their other offerings.
Over the last decade or so, Kota Kemuning has slowly transformed from sort of a backwater township to one that is rather mature, and with that, comes a slew of pretty interesting dining options we often associated the more “hip” places like Bangsar, Subang, or PJ area.
Today, we look at one of the more interesting offering at Abanico Your Deli Restaurant.
Abanico at Kota Kemuning
For those who love to indulge in some porky goodness, it may be quite a common knowledge that Iberico pork are some of the most sought after type of pork there is. Iberico, as the name suggests, is the meat from Black Iberian pigs that are originated from Portugal and native to the Iberian Peninsula.
Much like Wagyu for beef, this type of pork has a higher percentage of intramuscular fats, making it more tender and have higher marbling. Additionally, the pigs are often fed on acorns, giving it a distinct taste that is quite unique and often said to be superior than normal pigs we get.
Anyway, what I really wanted to get to is that Abanico is actually the spare ribs of Iberico pigs, so by the name of the restaurant they really do tell you what is the specialty here.
abanico, pinchos, clams in white wine pasta
Abanico operates like a deli, pick your choice of meat from the glass chiller, and the kitchen will prepare and serve you there after. Additionally, there are also a selection of dishes not displayed on the chiller, but clearly stated on the blackboards just above the cashier.
We ordered a piece of abanico (pork ribs, RM 52.90 per piece), a stick of pinchos iberico (RM 26), pasta with clams in white wine sauce (RM 35.90), and Portuguese seafood stew (RM 38.00).
Portuguese seafood stew
The ribs were served in a very straight forward, simple manner, grilled just right to retain the natural flavor and came with their homemade (who’s home?) black pepper sauce and mustard sauce. To be honest I actually liked to savor the meat as is, without any sauce, but there’s no wrong way to enjoy it your way.
The pinchos iberico were our favorites of the day, the skewer was properly marinated and carry a hint of sweetness coupled with the savory taste from iberico pork that were so delicious I wished we had ordered more.
menu on the wall at Abanico, Kota Kemuning
The other two non-meat dishes we ordered held up the standard as well. The pasta were filled with plenty of clams (lala actually, although I’d much preferred the bigger clams) infused properly with enough white wine to compliment the seafood sweetness.
Portuguese seafood stew too is a dish worth ordering, packed with enough seafood in the dish to satisfy anyone. I also liked that they gave a generous slab of garlic bread for you to go with the stew.
I thought the food were as good as anywhere, they could perhaps improve a little by having served the meat with a bit of sides instead of a few green leaf. Additionally, the prices are perhaps on the higher side for the service quality rendered, but it is something that usually happens in smaller townships. The services wasn’t bad, it just could have been better.
Overall, the experience was a positive one, Abanico is certainly worthy of a visit, especially if you’re closer to this part of Klang Valley.
Every once in a while, it’s good to get your hands greasy and enjoy a sumptuous, thick stack of mostly not-so-healthy stack of the quintessential American dish – the burger. With a obscene ratio of carb, protein, fat, and trace amount of vege, the burger is a simple dish that I can certainly get behind with from time to time (but maybe not daily).
Burgertory, Subang Jaya SS15
Today, let’s look at one of the earliest burger joints that sprung up during the initial burger fad back in 2013 and manage to survive to this day when many from such period has faltered – Burgertory in Subang Jaya
The shop is located on first floor in SS15, you actually have to spend a bit of effort walking upstairs, which kinda make for a good justification for the calorie you’ll be consuming there, I think?
The interior is something that looks pretty fancy half a decade ago, but we’re here for the food, right?
Menu can be found on the wall (see thumbnail below) and consists of options for pork, beef, chicken, and even vege patties. If you want to be creative, there’s also opportunity to customize your own burger by adding more onion, egg, cheese, etc.
The Pig & Cow, Bacon Madness
We tried two burgers here. Pig & Cow (RM 23) came with cheddar cheese, onion, streaky bacon & lettuce, while Bacon Madness (RM 22) is made up of smoked cheese, crispy onion, candy bacon bits, and candy bacon.
We also had it as a set with truffle chips & drinks (+ RM 9), and fries with drinks (+ RM 7.5). The drinks are on free unlimited refill.
look at those onion & bacon!
The burgers were.. very good! The buns were so greasy you’d need a stack of tissue paper to wipe your hands off after, but the patties were good (thought pork was perhaps a bit better over beef in this case), and the bacon candy was excellent, crispy, thick, and sweet, reminds me of a cross between “normal” bacon and bak kua. And with those crispy onion? Heaven!
As for the truffle chips, it was a disappointment, there’s a hint of truffle oil perhaps but it’s also like saying you can see a hint of Chow Yun Fatt in me cos we’re both Asian.. The normal fries tho was excellent and you should choose it over those truffle chips every time.
I’ll go back to Burgertory again, alternatively Spades just a stone’s throw away is also worth visiting for sure.
When I was growing up, burger was roadside Ramly stalls, with chicken or beef patty, fried egg wrapped the meat, a slice of cheese perhaps, couple slices of tomato, shredded cabbage, all drenched in excessive chili sauce and mayo. And for those who wants it a bit more “atas”, you’d go to TGI Fridays or maybe even Hard Rock cafe and pretend to have a bigger bank account than your neighbor (there’s also McD but it’s not relevant here).
Spade’s Burger, Subang Jaya SS15
The burger scene in Malaysia has gone through a wave of expansion several years ago. Starting from those charcoal buns from MyBurgerLab and reaching a peak where you’d find a fancy burger outlet at every hipster joint all across the country, offering their own interpretation of how this American invention should look & taste like.
Alas, like every hype food that came and go, it eventually settled down to a plateau with a few brands that continue to thrive. One of such brands is Spade’s Burger, founded back in 2013 from my home town in Penang.
In fact, I was first told about Spade’s Burger by my brother quite a while ago, and finally managed to give it a try a couple weeks ago at their outlet in Subang Jaya.
Spade’s Burger offers a choice of pork, chicken, or beef as your choice of meat, there’s also salmon & mushroom options for those of you who prefer not to eat anything that can scream.
We went for the more traditional option of Dark Knight with pork, and BBJ with beef. These burgers are priced from RM 10.90 all the way to RM 17.50, you can also combo it up with unlimited refill for drinks and certain sides, we opted for fried bacon strips, salted egg fish skin, and mushroom wedges.
BBJ, Dark Knight, fish skin, mushroom, bacon fries
The pork patty here was so good it legit makes an almost indistinguishable replacement for those who does not eat beef, both types of meat were very juicy and full of flavor. I really enjoyed the bacon bits and cheese crisp in Dark Knight, and thought that BBJ, while very good in itself, was perhaps s tad too sweet for my liking. Overall though, they were both way above average and certainly satisfying.
As for the sides, fish skin and mushroom wedges were on point, while those fried bacon strips were too thin and contained too much breading to allow the natural flavor of bacon to shin, a bit of a shame really.
Will be back to sample more of their other offerings, will miss the bacon fries next time.