Ipoh Cafe Series – The Happy 8February 2, 2014 | 15,634 views
Do you feel serenaded by a certain aura of Zen upon stepping foot into The Happy 8?
Continuing the Ipoh Cafe Series 2014 (read Ben & Lynette and Something’s Brewing from the past two days), we ventured off to The Happy 8 Retreat Cafe in Ipoh old town on the third day. Or was it 4th? I lost track. But at this rate, I am pretty confident that I will be able to cover at least 80% of the targeted cafes on my list this time around.
Initially aiming for Stan & Brew located at the new Ipoh SoHo area along Hugh Low Street, unfortunately the place was closed for the festive break. Thus, we drove along the main road towards old town, and the evening hours are the best since most eateries are closed for business and traffic was almost non-existent.
The Happy 8 Retreat is a boutique hotel on Market Street in Ipoh Old Town featuring heavy accents of timber, wood and bricks, walls painted unabashedly with images of trees and birds, as well as elements of water trapped in oddly-shaped aquariums and a pond underneath the steel mesh floor. Very creative, indeed.
But how was the dining experience at The Happy 8? Read on to find out more.
The lobby cum cashier counter at The Happy 8 – You are supposed to order and pay here before picking your seats at the back end of the premise.
I actually was aware of The Happy 8’s existence late last year (yeah yeah … slow poke me) but the urge to visit was not that strong, given the rather lukewarm feedback (some scathing) and relatively inflated prices.
Yes, so much so that it hurts the pocket of even one who’s accustomed to KL prices.
The menu’s displayed at the counter and you’re supposed to line up, order and pay before going back to your seats with the number stand. Not a very efficient manner to run a cafe though, but since there’s no taxes or service charges, I guess that’s self-sustainability for you.
Some of the food prices can really send your blood pressure shooting up the roof; with a serving of fish and chips at RM48/USD16 (never bothered to find out whether Pollock or Cod is used, but high chance it’s dory), tiramisu at RM24.90/USD8 and most drinks above the RM12/USD4 mark; the smoothies at RM15.90/USD5.
Started with a cup of cappucino to gauge the quality of coffee they serve (this being a ‘cafe’ after all), and at RM12.90/USD4.30 per cup this rivals even the priciest outlet in town. Indulgence and espressolab included. The resemblance ends there sadly. The brew had this slight bitter tinge and had slightly more milk than a cappucino should have; this was almost a latte. And no coffee art for you either; mere swirls of frothy milk over the coffee. Definitely a let down, yet the coffee was still a notch better than El Negra’s (which I will write later).
Omelet Rice (RM20/USD7) Taiwanese tomato fried rice with chicken cubes and green capsicum, envloped by an omelette drizzled with chili sauce and mayo, served with mashed potatoes and mixed greens. The Avocado Mango Shake (RM15.90/USD5) was pricey yet worth every cent, in my opinion.
The decor of The Happy 8 screams for undivided attention, and plentiful of corners for selfies/camwhores to relish in. As such, this was another cafe that I felt was more style over substance.
The Omelet Rice appeared to be presentable and quite a large portion; justifying the RM20 price tag. The rice used was beyond ordinary white rice; a plus since the slightly sticky texture added to the overall mouthfeel of the grains mixed with chicken bits and capsicum. However, tastewise was not there yet; the tangy nuance from the tomatoes was present yet was not a balance flavour of sweet, sour and savoury.
Chi Kin Kare Rice (RM24/USD8) was a ho-hum predictable affair with use of Japanese curry stocks with a slight kick from the spiciness (usually sweetish), and batter-coated chicken deep fried to crispiness. Not a bad choice this one.
The one item that got us sat up and paid attention was the Avocado Mango Shake; a very rich and creamy blend of both fruits; with optional syrup that was best omitted anyway. Yet, at RM15.90 per serving, the ceiling price must have been hit for a fruit blend.
All in all, The Happy 8 certainly qualified as a place suited for hangouts, long brunches or late dinners. They are opened until 9pm (last order at 9pm) and operating all day. For a serving of fruit juice or shake, they do deliver the goods. Yet somehow, the food department lacks imagination and execution was below satisfactory level. Something that they should work on before losing out to cafes located in more strategic locations come sundown.
THE HAPPY 8
46, Jalan Market (Market Street)
30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
Cafe opens from 9am – 9pm daily.
Tel No : 05-242 3188
GPS : 4.595664,101.078327
This cafe is located very near to Kong Heng in old town.