Monday, December 28, 2009

Pappa Rich Bandar Sri Damansara

Lately, Pappa Rich is in the ascendant with the rapid opening of a number of outlets in prominent locations like Bangsar, Solaris, IOI Boulevard and Bdr Sri Damansara. The Sri Damansara branch is packed esp. holidays and weekends. It has 3 shoplots next to the McDonald's. It can easily accommodates 50 tables. Like other Pappa joints the interior and layout followed a standard format.

A lot of funds were invested in their good looking interiors. Most of the kitchen is on the open concept. The premium three lots are in the latest commercial development in Sri Damansara and they may have gone through a bidding war with similar or other food business operators. Ten years ago (before the kopitiams genre) the investment for an upscale coffee joint was RM750K. Why the confidence?

Pappa Rich has 27 outlets in Klang Valley. Not a bad idea to focus its energy on. It still has a long way to go in catching up with Old Town White Coffee. The market leader has 138 outlets in most of the states in Malaysia and they have also gone regional. The other players are Station 1 Cafe with 40 scattered in most of the west coast states. Kluang Station is found in mostly in the shopping malls and has 10 outlets and is pretty quiet now.

Personally, Pappa Rich may have got their strategy right focusing in the Klang Valley. Logistics, management and training will be much easier. But I am sure many prospective partners are waiting in wings for the green light to open in other cities. The other is their location - a willingness to pay premium rental for good lots. In exchange for the increase operational costs their prices are higher. But the perception they give the customers through their ambiance, layout, interiors and fittings is that they are better value compare to the foreign franchise coffee and not that they are more expensive than other kopitiams. Yes perception. Brilliant.

However, do forget about excellent service and consistent food quality. But then there is not one kopitiam that offers these two consistently at the moment. So the one that comes out with a strong Business Format will win in the long-term. Business Formats are standards set out clearly and being merciless pursued. It governs logistics, operations, customers' service, food quality from purchasing, preparation and delivery, training, administration, office systems and automation, marketing etc etc. They should head hunt a top executive from McDonald's. which I feel has the best. It is proven that out of 100 businesses with a strong Business Format, 96 will still be around in 10 years. It is a complete reversal for those hit and miss operators. Only 4 will survive out of 100 in ten years (E-Myth).

My other Pappa Rich post is on the Aman Puri, Kepong outlet.

Menu was simple and not extensive. Easy to manage. They may revise when R & D is fully operational.
Toast or steam bread is still the best deal in most kopitiams but the piece of butter in Pappa Rich was miserably small. I was certainly not please.
The popular and cannot get it wrong nasi lemak was standard but not exceptional. I have not had an exceptional one yet in kopitiams.This is a not a good one. Old Town has the best. The chicken was below average.
Beverages and Desserts.
The drinks were good and thick. Stingy with the gula melaka.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It is more blessed to give - Aceh 5 Years after the Tsunami

Ground Zero @ Aceh - April 2006
Who could get over the sad headlines and haunting images from the news agencies and networks the last few days in remembering the terrible lost of lives and properties in Aceh (and throughout Asia) 5 years ago today. The tsunami brought the worst onto the people living or holidaying in the coastal areas which were in the path of the "big waves". On the bright-side many a kind souls' light shone brightly through their sacrificial and liberal giving.
Devoid of greenery.
In remembering, each victim has a solid platform - for closure and moving on. In closure, there is renew HOPE and impetus to take step forward. Yes hope springs eternal. It may be the most important element in cresting the trough of human tragedies. The human spirit can be very resilient. The lower it goes the higher it will summit. Yes, again and again around the world, we have witnessed that victims may triumph with just a ray of hope. The transformation is complete when the victim becomes a victor.

With a tent for her home, this spirited survivor with a loan from a micro-credit aid agency made a living by preparing fresh oysters meat (in the red scoop) for sale. Don't pity me (but
help me) as I have the will to live and to overcome what come may.
The challenge is to make tangible this ray of hope. It can be a box of noodles, a bottle of water, clothes, medical treatment, a tent, a boat, a small loan to restart their livelihood etc. As for reconstruction of homes and infrastructure the big agencies will be the main players as they can consolidate all the givings of ordinary folks, to make big projects possible.

My visit to Aceh was in April 2006, fifteen months after the disaster. The landscape still looked very much a pancake. Many were still living in United Nations and Red Cross tents while waiting for the reconstruction. About 6,000 - 7,000 houses were built compared to a need of 60,000 houses. Bricks, timber and workers were hard to come by and expensive. Trucks were sent to other parts of Sumatera to source them.
Simple and brand new houses in the wilderness.
Five years on and following the news, I would reckon that most of the visible needs especially in urban areas were somewhat met in some form and degree in quantity and quality. The concern is still with those in the rural and remote areas. At times these areas are a blind spot and folks were left to fend for themselves.

But still the reconstruction of Aceh by the the local and international community may be considered a success in terms co-operative efforts. But there were kinks too. Tents to be used for cold climes were sent to tropical Aceh! Some were resold. Culturally clashes and the need to massage big egos were well documented. Corruption, price gouging etc are normal challenges the aid agencies have to navigate.

This is also the beginning of my involvement in humanitarian resource raising that further led to more in the next few years - Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006 and recently in Padang. I have found out like many before me had, when we feed these rays of hope to the human spirit though broken it will somehow recover its will to live and to overcome. All it takes are for some kindness and compassion. And again standing on the shoulders of giant in this arena - I found out like them, it is more blessed to give.

~~~~~Dedicated to the ordinary folks that made the difference through their giving, those on the ground that made it possible and the agencies through brilliant leadership harnessed the ordinary and put through synergistic methods for extraordinary live-changing results.~~~~~

P/S - Wishing all a belated Blessed Christmas and a kinder and more compassionate 2010.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pigging Out @ Nam Fatt Beef and Yong Lieu Noodles - Ipoh

My favourite past-time in Ipoh is pigging out. What else? Stuffing myself silly with my childhood comfort food. And great and healthy stuff too. But one thing that most Ipoh residents or those dispersed to other parts of Malaysia but coming back regularly is the upgrading of these simple coffee shops stall food. Meaning its more expensive but with air-con and better and cleaner environment.

Nam Fatt is one of them. Air-con comfort is really good. Leisurely pace and without the sweat-shop kind of feeling.
Extensive menu. Yong Lieu and Beef Noodles
This is our table!Fantastically fresh Prawn Rolls.Deep-fried Lieu. Combining fresh fish paste and bean curd skin will create wonders. The darker brown Sengkuang pieces is my favourite. Wonderful with curry noodles too!Wow! The Yee Wat was superb. Springy and pack with fresh fish aroma. Vegetables Yong Lieu another healthy alternative to deep-fried items.
The best Ipoh Choy Sum from the farms nearby. Soft no-fibre stalks and tender packed with the esters peculiar to Choy Sum. Really missed this smell!Last but not least this hard to find dish is rare in Ipoh due to religious practices! This shop is famous with this dish too.Nam Fatt Fish Ball Noodle House
86C Jalan Permaisuri Bainun
(Jalan Kampar)
30250 Ipoh
Tel : 05 2536454

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Overseas Restaurant - Ipoh

Pic grabbed from Overseas Website.
This good-looking restaurant is the latest happening in Cantonese fine dining in Ipoh. Opened a few months ago, I hope this will advance Chinese cuisine even further in drab and dreary Ipoh food scene. You will notice that the price matched their intent. I will say that the food is top-notched and the service impeccable. Just a small chink (not the derogatory term for Chinese being used here) in their service amour - if they can change the plate more often will be excellent. Restaurant Overseas, 28, Jalan Datoh, Ipoh, Perak. Check out SimpleGirl on her version.

Claypot Seafood with Abalone - RM200. With that kind of price for 10 it better be good. Was good but the good size abalone was cut into smaller pieces. The chunky sea cucumber was refreshingly firm yet soft. 7/10.
Pan-fried Cod Fish - RM128. The surface was seared with hot oil rendering it with a thin layer of crust thus yielding a slight crunch when bitten into. The meat was done just right - most likely steamed before fried. Firm, smooth and fresh. 7.5/10
Eight Treasures Chicken with Wantan - RM71. The best herbal chicken I had for a long-time. Aromatic and strong herbs infusing the tender meat. The wanton was eaten with sauces. 7/10.This is a heavy duty dish! Braised Pork - RM40. I liked the firm but tender lean meat. The fat was not too thick putting off less ladies and the skin was at its gelatinous best. The Choy Sum was a good match and off the course the mantou too. However the mantou was a bit small in size triggering more orders. 7/10.
Yam Bowl - RM45. The Yam (8/10) was heavenly but the filling was earthly (5.5/10).
Nai Pak Vegetables - RM30. Lacking in stock and very ordinary. 5.5/10.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nasi Uduk Roadside Stalls - Indonesia

Curtains on both sides shield the customers and lend them some privacy inside the makeshift tent as the go about doing a very essential daily ritual - EAT!

When in Rome eat as the Romans!? In Bogor eat like the Bogorese! Roadside eating is at its modesty best in Bogor. Modesty curtains are utilised to protect the diners privacy. The gulf is indeed wide when compare to the Jojakartans who have no problems eating Gudeg Ayam while sitting on the floor along the pavement next to the busy main road.

I have eaten here on 2-3 other occasions and have 2 complaints. 1) The food is extremely spicy. Its like spicy and hot food unplugged. 2) The other is the ambiance. You don't expect much. Like our mamak roadside joints, do not look down at the floor. Enough said!

But this is a gathering place of the common folks wanting to eat out as they are not able to cook. Or when a pregnant lady dictated where to eat - she will brook no opposition! The husband and I follow tamely.

All said I like the half-cooked blood cockles and grilled petai (still in the pods). Both to be eaten with local sambal. Sadly both were sold out.

Pecel Lele (Fried Catfish) - My favourite at the Nasi Uduk roadside stalls. Soft and sweet meat that holds together. These fishes are farmed and are a hot favourite for Nasi Uduk fans.
Authentic Chili Crabs. Fiery and lips-numbing hot!! There are 2 varieties of chili. One that has a delay but eye-popping fiery aftermath. The other burn the lips on contact till it is difficult to eat (for me).
Sotong in chili and sweet sauce. Fresh and addictive. I wish they add thickened tamarind sauce for the extra oomph.
Our vegetables for the day done Chinese style with garlic.Another look at the tent.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BKT and Claypot Braised Fish Head - Sri Subang

The Fu Chok (Beancurd Skin) with Fish Paste was an excellent starters.
So the Meteorological Dept was right. The deluge of rain had stopped since early December. I could not keep track of the number of bowls of BKT, braised pork and rice wine chicken I had during those dark dreary days. One needs to warm the body from within!? I thought I may not the only person with this wavelength.

The signature Claypot dish was not from pork but rather a Fish Head. Drizzles from a myriad doses of sauces darkened it. Gelatinous skin of the Fish Head made it sticky. To me it was average fare. A bit too salty and unappealing as the head was chopped into smaller than expected pieces and this made the dish a tricky eat as I had to navigate the bones.
Claypot Braised Fish Head.
Crullers for dipping into the BKT soup which was a bit tepid and uninspired.BKT was run of the mill and average but good enough to make my dark rainy day brighter.
Braised belly with chicken feet. Sauces were thicken by the skin of the chicken feet. Above average though presentation was a bit lazy. Sour vegetables to round off a square meal.Restoran Bak Kut Teh Ah Foong
446, Jln PJS 10/11, 46000 PJ
Mob: 0192851786

Friday, December 4, 2009

Indonesian Chinese Tai Chow Seafood

Chinese in Indonesia have their own vocabulary when speaking to one another. Pronouns like "Guo" and "Guok" were used to address one another. Hokkien words and numbers are also liberally added even though they can't converse in Hokkien. The exception may be the Medanese. Hear them talk and try to pick up the Hokkien terms!

I do eat at Chinatown and like their seafood 'Tai Chow'. Though mostly one-notch below that in Malaysia in taste and sophistication they more than make up the gap by their fresher seafood. This current shop moved out from Chinatown after the owner had a dispute with the in-laws. You can spot actors, actresses and producers in their old premise. They re-opened recently, albeit a year later in less prestigious address.
Condiments and sauces.
Raw Mango chili sauce!
Extremely fresh and sweet fish fillet in claypot. The soup was quite salty. No complains as I have plenty of rice to go with it.
Deep-fried Red Snapper. I thought it was such a waste as it was so fresh that its eyes were so bright and and clear! I did asked them to steam it but there was no such style on offer in the menu:-(This Bawal Hitam (Black Pomfret) was done just right and its meat was succulent. I even made a meal out of their fins. Yum!The Sotong (Calamari) was the best I had in a long time. So sweet, tasty and tender. Its liked those just brought in from the sea. Calamari in Malaysia are either leathery or bland. And worse if both decide to pair up.French Beans with shrimps.Kangkong with garlic.