An Indulgent Breakfast – Of Amazing Pancakes, Blood Oranges & Julie Song’s StoryOctober 17, 2010 | 4,636 views
Blood Orange – Not your average orange, this one “bleeds” love and passion. Indulgence style.
After checking in into the resplendent ‘mansion’ of a room; the glam and glitzy Giulianna, we proceeded to a wonderful feast during dinner; using the freshest of local and imported seasonal ingredients and impressed with the marvelous culinary skills of Julie Song and her dedicated team in the kitchen.
Before you can even sit down at the comfortably-plush sofas at Indulgence, you will have to resist temptations in the form of freshly baked desserts and cakes every morning. How deceptively devilish ….
Indulgence provides a complete Bed & Breakfast package, and I was given ample time to snooze my way into the weekend before coming down for breakfast. Breakfast is served from 9am until 12pm daily (except when they’re closed on Mondays & Tuesdays, but the restaurant is still opened for hotel guests).
Almost like artworks, the tarts, pies and cakes at the counter seem to beckon me over …. in a trance-like manner. Not easy to resist a bite or two, before going for the REAL breakfast sets.
Continue reading after the jump, for the story behind Indulgence, the incredibly fluffy and light ricotta pancakes named Belissa, my first bite of the imported blood orange, and how you can order made-to-order cakes from Indulgence …..
Breakfast at the sun-kissed parlour of Indulgence – Do you know that among all the other sections in Indulgence, this is the only space occupied by the same rustic and charming furniture from their Canning Garden days?
Indulgence started way back in 1996. Julie set up her cafe at a half-shoplot premise in Canning Garden, facing the morning market. Although not befitting the throne of being situated at a prime location in Ipoh, that quaint cafe attracted a strong following among the foodies in Ipoh. In particular, her to-die-for Tiramisu and a myriad of cakes and desserts.
The Almond Croissant (top right) was her pick for breakfast, while the tartlets are the perfect light bites to go with their freshly-brewed Bristot coffee.
Then back in late 2005, Julie decided to go all out in her expansion plans. Bringing Indulgence to a whole new level; a full-fledged restaurant serving modern European cuisine at a majestic bungalow lot on Tambun Road. Yet she managed to retain that mystic charm of Indulgence with a spacious compound surrounded by a perimeter of green, nature-oriented facade without the need for a huge signboard with the name Indulgence emblazoned on it.
And two years marched on before she dabbled in the boutique hotel business; hence Indulgence had the Restaurant & Living moniker attached until this very day.
Boxed In (RM28/USD9) – Egg, turkey bacon, baby spinach, onion, sun-dried baby tomatoes and baked beans stuffed into a bread square with lemon hollandaise & lemon pepper pearls.
Much like how one should not rush through breakfast (easily the MOST important meal for the day), starting your day with any of their 8 choices of Breakfast Sets (priced from RM26-RM32 each) should be an experience to savour. Letting time flows by unnoticed, without the need to rush through for meetings and catching up with the rat race.
Hence, it is most advisable to come on a weekend, where you can take your sweet time tasting every bite of the immaculately prepared sandwich, pastry, pancake or even salad.
Belissa (RM32/USD10.30) (20 minutes preparation time) – Extremely light and fluffy (even airy!) ricotta pancakes topped with grated Belgian Callebrut milk chocolate, figs & honeycomb.
Browsing through the menu at Indulgence may take forever. Seriously. Not only do they provide a battalion of choices, the descriptions alone would have required you a few minutes before you start to decipher each ingredient, and imagine the ensuing combination of flavours.
Best is; Let them recommend to you. Yes, this saves your time and of course, the people at Indulgence know best. Some customers even go to the extent of having Julie walking over herself and attend to the orders. Since some Specials are not available on the menu yet, or won’t ever be since the use of seasonal produce from overseas render the thought impossible.
The texture of the pancake reminded me of the Cherry Souffle I had the night before; complete with the impossibly airy and fluffy bite. Since only egg whites are used, you can kiss the nagging thought of cholesterol-laden treat goodbye. The figs were of Turkish origin, and they change the condiments from time to time, based on the freshest produce they get.
On paper, the Boxed In set seems more appealing, loaded with savouries like turkey bacon, eggs and baked beans, and still is THE most famous choice for breakfast among the patrons. And yes, the addition of soft baby spinach provided much of the fibres according to dietary needs.
But Jessie (one of Julie’s most trusted) had me enthralled at the constant raves on the ricotta pancakes with fresh figs and honeycomb the night before. So I could not help but seemed a little bemused at the prospect of eating plain old pancakes for breakfast.
How wrong. Belissa was easily the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten. Unlike the conventional pancakes, the ones at Indulgence were so soft, fluffy and easily masticated; highly suggestive of a favourite amongst the children.
* Every Breakfast set comes with a choice of coffee/tea or fresh juice. Served from 9am onwards, until afternoon. Not available on Mondays/Tuesdays as Indulgence Restaurant is closed on those days.
The private lounge available for booking; if you need a place to hold private functions (>20 pax). A minimum amount of expenditure would be expected.
The Creme Brulee tart was torched on the spot, with a crisp layer of caramelized sugar on top. A lighter version of the Creme Brulee,, with a fresh vanilla fragrance. The Fresh Rhubarb tart had a zesty tinge to it, covered with crumbles on top. I was tempted to pick a few brownies in the beginning, but thankfully did not as the pancakes were more than enough.
Anyway, the array of chocolate brownies on display might just entice you to order a slice or two. About RM7/USD2.30 per slice.
*Indulgence also bakes cakes and cupcakes per order. A square/rectangle-shaped cake to be sliced into twelve pieces cost RM100-RM120 (USD32-USD39), while cupcakes with fresh fruits (raspberries, cherries, strawberries, etc) cost RM8.50-RM9.50 each (USD2.80-USD3.50). Make your reservations a few days in advance, preferably.
On the wall – Read how she comes up with new dishes; inspired by the senses and infused with passion. And Julie is adamant on maintaining her restaurant at the best possible level. The chairs would be given a fresh coat of paint every now and then.
Indulgence do cater to functions and parties. The parlour can be reserved for such an event, for about 20 persons. You can pick between a four course meal, or buffet spread for RM85++/USD27 per pax. Although they do not cater to external functions, but Julie admitted that once in a blue moon (hehe, my words, not hers) they do send petit fours and coffee/tea to small events as per requested.
And here’s the most interesting concept. Have you watched Chef At Home Take Home Chef? (Thanks emkae for pointing this error out). Yes, you can even hire Julie and her team to cook in your house! Of course, you need prior preparations and sufficient planning (the availability of utensils, ingredients, etc) before she can start cooking in your kitchen. No rates given, but if interested, just drop her a message at the Indulgence’s website.
Blood Orange sounds gory, but in reality the tarty citrus fruit resembles an ordinary orange, albeit loaded with juices and sweeter with a pleasant fruity essence. (click for Wikipedia’s article)
Current expansion plans? Julie mentioned that she’s up to her knees now in collaboration with MAS Airlines, elevating her culinary expertise to an entirely different level. Sky high, literally.
She has been credited for the training of the chefs at the Malaysian Airlines kitchen, so her impressive range of posh cuisine can be savoured by the Enrich Platinum members flying First Class/Business Class between Kuala Lumpur-Australia/Europe.
Read more about the Chef-On-Call menu she derived from various inspirations on Ipoh Echo’s June 2010 edition.
Does this lavish bungalow look anything like a hotel-cum-restaurant? Or more like a private residence? That’s exactly their intention; to avoid misinterpretation and differ from the norms that usually limits such establishments by pigeonholing Indulgence as just another boutique hotel, or merely a fine diner.
Many times the same question arose (yes, even from myself); “Why don’t you consider setting up a branch over in the Klang Valley, or any other states for that matter?”
To which Julie would shrug it off and smile.
“I am a proud Ipohan. This is my hometown where I have been living for years. I need to oversee the running of the restaurant myself, as I am very particular about the taste, the experience, and the maintenance of the restaurant and hotel.”
“Furthermore, I’d like to think that Indulgence has somehow helped to put Ipoh on the culinary scene of Malaysia, and on the tourist’s maps.”
As per request from Julie herself, the picture of her has been taken down. My bad.
Yeah, maybe you can argue that since I am a food blogger I have been getting the preferential treatment and all. But back then, when I wrote a not-so-favourable review on Indulgence, Julie actually did read the article, and when she first met the real me back in April this year; she made a witty yet hilarious remark;
“Oh … so YOU’RE the one that has been writing all those things about me and Indulgence …!”
To which I responded by stating that I merely write things like they were. But she smiled reassuringly, and understood my views. Then she proceeded to explain about the hassle of finding and training of new and existing staff, and her passion to cook and please every single one of her customers.
Just that sometimes, people tend to be judgmental before giving her a chance to introduce Indulgence as a wholesome dining and living experience, rather than a fine dining establishment. If you had noticed, you do NOT have to be decked in your best attire for a meal here. I saw diners in shorts and sandals having a good time during dinner.
Motormouth says; “Don’t believe this blindly. Go out and experience Indulgence for yourself. Julie has successfully made me see her passion in her works. How about you?”
For the other chapters on The Indulgence Experience :
Chapter 1 – Indulgence Living – More Than A Boutique Hotel
Chapter 2 – Indulgence Restaurant – Feast Like a King