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.
Pork chop has always one of my simple guilty pleasures, a slab of loin with a layer of fat can deliver a rather satisfying meal perhaps second only to steak in its simplicity and taste, but at 1/5 the cost (if you count only the cost of meat).
The tricky part about pork though is that if you don’t get it “just right”, it’s easy to have an overcooked piece of dry meat that takes 1/2 hour just to chew, or worse, under cooked and be friends with your toilet for the next day or two. Beef is a lot more forgiving in that regards.
Sous vide to the rescue then! Ever since I bought myself a little sous vide stick (the cheapest version of Anova), I’ve been using it for pork chop exploit quite a few times, I want to share with you my recipe today.
250 gram pork chop, preferably with a layer of fat
2 tablespoon of fermented tofu for marinate
asparagus + garlic (or any side dish you wish to have)
2 tablespoon butter/cooking oil
marinate pork chop with fermented tofu (preferably overnight), seal in vacuum bag
sous vide pork chop at 60 Celsius for 2 hours
remove from water bath, heat up frying pan till smoking hot, pan sear for 1 minute each side, remove and let rest for 4-5 minutes
fry asparagus with butter & garlic while pork is resting, serve as side
If you want someone else to be doing the job, I think ANTE probably has the best pork chop in town.
Japanese cuisine started in Malaysia with sushi and sashimi, and thankfully over the years, we are introduced to more and more different Japanese dishes to the country. Now we have Japanese bakery, cafe, egg tarts, teppanyaki, tendon, izakaya, ramen, pasta, pizza, and of course, one of my favorites – tonkatsu restaurants.
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, now at Subang Main Place
For the uninitiated, tonkatsu is basically breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet that is usually served with shredded cabbage. For those who are in low carb or keto diet (not that I am), this would make a fine meal.
salt, sweet, or slightly spicy sauce?
Tonkatsu by Ma Maison is one of the few Japanese restaurants serving tonkatsu in the country at the moment, and they’ve opened up a branch at Main Place in Subang, which is quite a fair bit closer to home for us than their 1-Utama or Publika branches.
Furthermore, I’ve recently being introduced to the ENTERTAINER Malaysia App which offers a buy 1 main and get 1 free offer for Tonkatsu, so why not?
Yep, we only paid for 1 main out of the two, more on this below
pork loin has that perfect amount of fat I love
If you’re not familiar with Tonkatsu, there are basically two cuts you should concentrate on – pork loin, or rosu katsu is the version with a layer of rich fat, and hire katsu, pork fillet, which will be less fatty. I almost always went for rosu katsu.
miso katsu anyone?
At this restaurant there are a few sauces available, and here’s how you use them – the sesame sauce is for the cabbage, raw sesame for rice, sweet, or spicy sauce for the meat, as with the salt as well. Additionally, they also provide mustard on the side (feel free to ask for more). I find myself enjoying the combination of mustard and salt with the meat the most.
Rice, shredded cabbage, and even the miso soup is bottomless here, so knock yourself out.
Tonkatsu Anzu is one of the five premium restaurants located on the 4th floor of Isetan The Japan Store KL that serves one of my favorite ingredients of all time – pork.
We were lucky enough to be part of the launch event a week ago, allowing a sneak peek to what this space has got to offer.
Tonkatsu Anzu, The Table, Isetan The Japan Store, KL
Tonkatsu Anzu uses only premium aged black pork from Kyushu, making it the first tonkatsu restaurant in Malaysia to have that distinction, which sets it apart from the likes of Tonkatsu by Mai Mason and Tonkatsu at Pavilion.
pork fillet, with that perfect strip of fat on top
The pork loin katsu set starts from RM 35 to the premium Gin-Jo-Pork Fatty loin katsu set at RM 55, and for those who may want to skip pork for whatever reasons, they also offer some seafood options, such as fried shrimp set (RM 52), salmon katsu (RM 48), and chicken katsu (RM 32) sets.
sycookie is very serious with photo taking, I love it with salt and some mustard
However, pork is the name of the game here and their version of tonkatsu is definitely on point. I love the light batter and those almost melt-in-your-mouth texture. My preference is to sprinkle some salt and have those fatty loin with the supplied mustard. There’s also tonkatsu sauce should you prefer a more complex flavor.
the menu at Tonkatsu Anzu
I think Tonkatsu Anzu did live up to the expectations and manage to set itself apart from the other offerings around town when it comes to Japanese fried pork cutlets, the slightly premium price is definitely worth it.
Address: Tonkatsu Anzu The Table, Level 4 ISETAN The Japan Store KL Lot 10 Shopping Mall Jalan Bukit Bintang GPS:3.146462, 101.711758 Tel: 03-2119 2625
After the xmas eve party at my place, the very next day we headed to Gareth and Kim’s for a big feast. We were promised a home cooked dinner by Kim, but boy were we surprised by what was in store for us.
The dinner was for some 2 dozen people, but I believe there were enough food to feed at least two rugby teams, including reserves!
the dinner schedule, check out how many dishes here
First, just look at the schedule above to get an indication of the work needed for this epic dinner. Preparation actually started more than a day in advance (for the food alone), and longer if you count in buying groceries, gifts, and extra table/chairs for everyone.
chicken with pigs in blanket, bread, and cocktail shrimp
The photos you see here are some 70% of the dishes served, there are some that somehow escaped the lens. As far as I remember, here are what we were served:
2x roast chicken with lotsa pigs in blanket
bread roast in pork lard
3 x pork loin
3 full racks of pork ribs
2 types of potato
3 types of salad
3 types of salad
3 types of desserts
the super excellent pork loin and ribs
It was impossible to pick a favorite, everything were awesome. I can make use of some ribs and pork loin right now (or anytime) for sure!
Recipes of some of these dishes can be found at http://www.kimberlycun.com/category/homemade-recipes/
Kim includes photos of each step for her recipe too, super easy to follow. This entry is on the pork ribs we were served, I believe.
salad, couscous, and more
In the original schedule, apple crumble was supposed to come out at 8:45, but thanks to everyone being overfed with all these awesome dishes, desserts didn’t make their way out until 11:45 pm.
Of course, nobody complained, 3 more hours to digest is a good thing. 😀
seafood bisque and desserts
As with the slightly more mature theme this year, no one passed out from drinking too much, though many almost have a coma from all the food.
we were all very well fed at the end of the night
At the end of the night, Gareth & Kim played Santa & Santarina and distributed carefully chosen gifts to everyone. That was especially a sweet touch, thanks guys, and lets do this again next year and every year.