Tired of “Pretentious/Overpriced” Western Food? Me Too.November 15, 2012 | 7,383 views
Just saying here, but don’t you just miss the days when set lunches were priced at no more than RM10/set, and come with a bowl of (canned) soup, a cup of coffee/tea and a scoop of Magnolia ice-cream? (Remember the classic Rendezvous & First Coffee House?)
Mix Grill Pork (RM8.50/USD2.80) – Two slabs of pork chop smothered in a pepper-ish brown gravy, a slice of ham, a sausage and a fried egg with crinkle-cut fries.
I see you rolling your eyes back there. I know lah … time has changed, inflation is inevitable, cost of goods rising, branding and marketing needs $$$ and hiring loyal workers can be a pain in the butt. Still, I can’t help but pour cold water on the newer cafes that charge slightly more than they should; in tandem with premium price tags of more established and refined outlets. Or worse, benchmarking against Klang Valley’s restaurants.
Alan’s Western Food – The diligent couple bracing themselves against stiff competition (from a neighbouring stall and modern cafes) at Pusat Makanan Chha Yong, Ipoh Garden South.
It’s not uncommon nowadays to visit a new cafe that serves fusion cuisine instead of classic Western fares. You know, the ones that daringly marry elements of Asian and Western to a resounding clash; some worked well while most others faltered and evaporated into oblivion within months. And in their best attempt to emulate successes of pioneers or the more renowned ones, these newer ventures forgot the fact that although yes, flavours are important … but service, ambience and quality control are equally as vital in ensuring continuity of support.
And Ipohans are not exactly the most ‘cincai’ of eaters (read : damn picky ones) to start off with.
Piggy Bun (Pork Burger) (RM4.50/USD1.50) – Two patties of pork, a slice of ham, melted cheese and sliced cucumber sandwiched between the buns.
It is always an inviting idea to replicate successes of modern cafes serving contemporary Western and Asian cuisines here in Ipoh. After all, one can only stomach so much of ‘nga choy gai‘ and curry mee within a stretch of dining out sessions. At times, even I myself faced difficulties in suggesting a proper place for Western-dining when prompted by friends or readers.
Special Sandwich (RM3.60/USD1.20) – Eggs, ham and cheese.
I miss the old Miner’s Arms and their hearty oxtail soup. Also Rendezvous Cafe and their delicious rendition of grilled ‘ikan kurau’ (threadfin) topped with a salsa-like sauce. First Coffee House and their … erm, very reasonable prices. Heck, even the old Scotch Pub (they have changed management now) with their Inchi Kabin chicken and fried bee hoon.
On that note, this brings us to the review today.
A bit scary to read such long ramblings only to arrive at the preliminary take on Alan’s Western Food?! Nah … I won’t go so much into details.
Chicken Chop (RM8.50/USD2.80) – See the crisp exterior of the chop? No excessive coating of batter or deep frying necessary. Only a very hot griddle and some skills.
I remember how Alan and his wife used to serve the same Chicken Chop, Pork Chop, Chicken Maryland and yummy sandwiches back in my secondary school days.
Though this poor amnesiac soul had forgotten whether Alan’s Western Food stall has always been at Pusat Makanan Chha Yong, or the one previously named Hor Le Wood Coffee Shop opposite of this? (Now the latter shop is named Coffee Boy, another revamped ‘kopitiam’ wanna-be)
What’s on their menu? Same old, same old. But I am not complaining.
A deliciously juicy pork burger (they called it Piggy Bun, possibly because of it being smaller than the usual burger) for less than RM5, featuring two pork patties, ham and melted cheddar, with a generous squeeze of mayonnaise between two buns.
No-frills chicken and pork chops, still priced below RM10 per portion. Food that you can rely on, yet dining in an environment where you can leave your manners behind, literally. Picking on those frozen crinkle-cut fries with your other hand is generally acceptable. And they do ‘beautiful’ sandwiches too. Cut into equal triangles yet without a mess, and served in half a polystyrene box; this is Western-style street food at its best.
Black Glutinous Rice Soup (Hak Lor Mai)
Why am I singing praises for such a lacklustre Western food ‘hawker’ stall, while there are better diners out there? The message here is that … to all the adventurous young entrepreneurs out there, regardless of your thousands or millions spent on renovations and gimmicky-marketing campaigns, the locals will only believe in their own tastebuds. And consistency plays a damn important role in retaining loyal customers, so no point launching your brand with a bang yet leaving with a whimper half a year later because of high turnover of staff, lack of quality control and failure to maintain the same impact since day one.
Tony’s Cuisine was started up by the ex-staff of Scotch Pub, a short distance away in Ipoh Garden South. Not sure if they were the owners or not.
Although I won’t purposely drag tourists here or recommend for readers to include this into your Ipoh travel itineraries, but say if you crave for a cheap and tasty pork burger when you’re around the vicinity, why not? Plus, Chha Yong boils a variety of delicious ‘tong sui’ (Chinese sweet soup desserts) everyday.
By the way, don’t get confused when you are here. Tony’s Cuisine, another Western food stall in Chha Yong also serves more or less the same fares, adding some of their ex-Scotch Pub’s signatures into the menu. Think Scotch Steak, Inchi Kabin chicken and fried noodles. You can almost sense the tension among the stall owners of Alan’s and Tony’s, yet this would be a story I refuse to share here for a variety of reasons.
Regardless, consider yourself lucky to be able to sample Western offerings from BOTH stalwarts at once; with decades of history shared between them!
ALAN’S WESTERN FOOD (non-Halal)
Pusat Makanan Chha Yong
No 2, Tingkat Taman Ipoh 11,
Ipoh Garden South,
31400 Ipoh, Perak
Opens from lunch until dinner.