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.
To continue on sharing our trip to London, we now talk about one of the more famous names in the food industry – Jamie Oliver. If you don’t know who he is, you either don’t have a TV, or don’t have any friends who has a TV. In either case, google is your friend.
So, since our hotel, Dorsett Sheperd’s Bush, is so near to Westfield London, we thought of giving Jamie’s Italian a try, one of the celebrity chef’s many restaurants in UK.
Jamie’s Italian at Westfield London
The restaurant has a small alfresco dining area, but the bulk of the seats is actually indoor, it is beautifully decorated with a mixture of rustic & classy feel to it. I thought it exudes class above the price point of this establishment.
The menu is fairly straight forward, you have bread & antipasti, a selection of mains & sides, pasta, desserts, and drinks. There’s also kid’s menu as well.
Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta, Haze
We only sampled two different dishes here at Jamie’s Italian. Haze had the Gennaro’s Famous Porchetta (£13.95), slow cooked pork belly filled wih garlic, chilli & herbs, served with roasted root vegetable, spiced apple sauce, and salsa verde. It tasted healthy and the pork meat portion was pretty good, but ultimately the skin was far too chewy to be edible, I think the Europeans still need to learn from the Chinese on how to roast perfect pork skin.
Stone bass, and I just realized we had an extra item on our bill…
I initially ordered the Venetian Fish Stew, but eventually had to change to one of their specials of the day – Baked Stone Bass (£16.95) due to the unavailability of my initial choice.
The baked bass was beautifully done and sat on a bed of (I assume) mashed potato & radish with cubes of avocado. It was quite balanced and tasted rather good with a bit of extra salt & pepper. I quite liked it.
From the small sample size, I thought Jamie’s Italian was pretty decent for it’s price point. The experience would have been better if I didn’t find out as I write this that the Venetian Fish Stew was actually still in my bill (accidental I think)…… Oh well.
P/S: there’s a branch in Singapore.
Address: Jamie’s Italian
Unit 1078 Westfield London, London W12 7GB, United Kingdom GPS: 51.506733, -0.222849 Tel: +44 20 8090 9070
Note: This UK – Malaysia Influencer Exchange programme was organised by Malaysia Airlines. However, opinions are of my own. Malaysia Airlines flies between London and Kuala Lumpur twice a day on the A380. There are 8 seats in the First Class, 66 in Business Class and 420 in Economy. Make your flight reservations today on www.malaysiaairlines.com.
Senja, which means dusk in Malay, is an Italian restaurant at The Saujana that oversees the lush green golf course and enjoys a spectacular sunset view with its alfresco dining deck by the side of the pond. I was invited to sample the MIGF menu created by their new head chef from Sicily – chef Filippo Giunta.
Senja at The Saujana, classy dining hall
The Saujana is a little different from most hotels in Klang Valley. Instead of everything in one giant building, it is spread out amongst the greenery. There are shaded walk ways from the main building to the different restaurants located by various ponds and gardens, giving the place a very relaxing, holiday ambiance.
The resort is fast becoming one of my favorites, stepping into the resort and immediately you’re in a completely different world of the hustle and bustle of KL even though you’re just half an hour away from the city.
bread with olive oil & such, and the amuse-bouche of the day
Anyway, lets get back to food. The MIGF menu is priced at RM 110/140/180 for 2/3/4 course dinner, or RM 220/280/360 with wine pairing. The menu is available the whole of October 2012.
We started out the dinner with some freshly baked Italian bread and a pretty tasty amuse-bouche (pre first course bite size food) of the day in the form of a deep fried risotto ball. Crunchy skin with the flavorful filling that carries a hint of mushroom, I liked it.
sparkling water, and Prosecco Cascine 7 NV
The first course is a choice of Sicilian Brood Bean Soup with Dil and Sun-dried Tomato or Sardine Beccafico Style, Rocket Salad, Fennel and Orange Reduction. The wine with these dishes is a glass of Prosecco Coscine 7 N/V.
first course – sardine beccafico style, or Sicilian brood bean soup
The sardine is apparently a Sicilian signature dish, the cleaned sardine is rolled up with breadcrumbs, pinoli (pine nuts), passolina, sugar, and lemon juice. It was one of the more interesting dishes I’ve tried lately. The rocket salad gives it a good balance, but the orange reduction did need a bit of getting used to.
This, or the savory brood bean soup, were both quite a big serving for fine dining dishes, I’m not complaining tho.
second dish – risotto with cream of pumpkin, or seabass tortelli with seafood ragout
The second course is a choice between Risotto with Cream of Pumpkin, Burratina Cheese and Fresh Sage, or Seabass Tortelli with Seafood Ragout and Porcini Foam.
The risotto was prepared al dente, which is well, the proper and only way to have risotto that’s sometimes misunderstood as being undercooked by less familiar diners. It was excellent and just appropriate to have some pumpkin this Halloween season.
The seabass tortelli lets us check off the skills of Chef Filippo in handling pasta, it was another dish we enjoyed throughly and definitely went well with the second glass of wine – Banfi Le Rime IGT 2010, a Pinot Grigio with a nice balance and clean finish.
3rd course – wrapped silver cod with aubergine, veal ossobuco Milanese style, Banfi Le Rime IGT 2010
Moving on to the third course, you get to choose from a choice of the following dishes:
Veal Ossobuco Milanese Style, Saffron Risotto and Sicilian Gremolata
Wrapped Silver Cod Fish with Aubergine, Onion, Tomato ‘Cipollata’ and Basil Oil
Stuffed Chicken Breast with Pistachio and Mint, Sicilian Caponata, Rosemary Roast Baby Potato and Red Wine Reduction
There’s a choice of Vigne Regali Principesse Gavia di Gavi DOCG 2010 or Banfi Chianti DOCG 2010. In another word, white, or red wine.
the huge chunk of bone marrow from the veal was irresistible
The fish was prepared impeccably and a work of art. The very thin aubergine gives the cod an extra dimension, and the onion and tomato base sauce offered a perfect compliment.
The veal though, is more of a straight forward meat dish that is bold and flavorful. The explosion of savory taste was a welcoming change of pace, and that chunk of bone marrow? Heaven, which is why it deserves a full size picture by itself. 😀
desserts – chef Filippo’s Sicilian cassata and orange granita, or Szechuan pepper panna cotta, Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004
Dessert proved to be another platform for Chef Filippo to showcase his skills. Both choices were beautiful.
Szechuan Pepper Panna Cotta, Chocolate Sauce and Raspberry Sorbet is perhaps one of the most interesting desserts I’ve had all year. The panna cotta carries an undeniable hint of peppery taste that’s not something you’d expect in a dessert, but it does work very well in a, well, very unfamiliar way.
Chef Filippo’s Sicilian Cassata and Orange Granita is more “traditional” sort of dessert but one that’s not shabby either. The taste is close to ice cream cake, and the icy citrus in the shot glass provided an good cleansing to the palette.
We were served Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo DOCG 2004 to end the dinner, a very good dessert wine that is perfect for a sweet ending.
Ahfa, Azimy from The Saujana, and Chef Filippo Giunta
If you’re up to some Italian food that’s true to the origin, do give chef Filippo at Senja a try. I’m quite sure this capable chef from Sicily is here to stay.