Tag Archives: julie song

SeeFoon checks out the new life in Old Town


musings on food - food reviewsBy See Foon Chan-Koppen

When Julie Song told me the name of their new outlet Buku Tiga Lima, next to Burbs and Giggles, my first question to Dexter Song, scion, manager and co-owner with Mum Julie, was “So can I establish credit for food and beverage here?” He laughed and explained that the name came about because there were already a few of these tiny exercise books being used as decoration in Burbs and Giggles when they opened, so instead of scratching around for another fun name to match, they decided on the quaint little books which were ubiquitous in the old days when credit would be recorded in them, one for the trader and another for the buyer. This honour system was probably the forerunner of our current credit card system today.

Musings - Burps & GigglesBurbs and Giggles and now its adjoining sister outlet, Buku Tiga Lima, is certainly bringing the life back to old town. Where hitherto, the only reason to wander into that part of town was to either go to the bank or to eat at the twin hawker food mecca, Kong Heng and Thean Chun; now foodies and the hip and trendy have a new venue to eat, drink, sip coffee, meet, and to see and be seen. And it’s all happening at these two iconic cafes/restaurants/bar/coffee house depending on your preference for naming venues.

Musings - Buku Tiga LimaLike its equally iconic neighbour, Sekeping Kong Heng, an example of minimalistic heritage conservation with 21st century artistic flair, Burbs and Giggles and its newly-opened sister outlet Buku Tiga Lima, is a fine showpiece of modern creative interior design married to old framework, with a large proportion of the old walls, stairs, ceilings, windows and doors left in its original dilapidated state, some parts even embellished with additional plaster work to accentuate the feel of peeling plaster, faded signage, flea market pickings of odds and ends and pieces of furniture.

Musings - Buku Tiga LimaVibrant wall art, whimsical lamps with outrageous shades, mismatched chairs and throw away tables from abandoned houses, quaint yet attractive ‘artsy’ arrangements like an assortment of wooden stools, contrast starkly with bottles of expensive single malts and a few champagnes adorning the bar shelves, all assaulting the usual staid Ipoh sensibilities as one walks in from busy Jalan Sultan Yussuf. More odds and ends catch the eye and modern toilets that work combine in an eclectic mix of the old with the new; bold splashes of colour juxtaposed against the drabness of unpainted walls; chatter and laughter assail the senses as one goes in search for a table or during peak hours, just a chair to perch on.

The decor was a collaboration between Julie Song of Indulgence fame, her son Dexter who runs the place and his girlfriend Rachel Yeow who assists him. Rachel who was responsible for all the lampshades and the very creative art arrangements, also dabbles in painting and helped to do some of the calligraphy dotted around. According to Dexter, the three of them used to go scavenging at abandoned homes, flea markets and even furniture dumps, picking up pieces that people had discarded and yet with a creative eye had been resurrected and given a new lease of life in Burbs and Giggles and Buku Tiga Lima.

And it all works. Not only in decor but also in the menu offerings. Buku Tiga Lima specialises in Crepes and Bagels while Burbs and Giggles dish out fancy hamburgers. In between there are the usual savoury and sweet delectables available behind the glass counter which one can choose to take away or eat on premises. There are no printed menus and all items are hand written on huge boards hanging on the walls.

Musings - Burps & Giggles - Bam-Bam Musings - Bagel @ Buku Tiga Lima - Reverend MamaChipped enamel plates to eat from lend humour as we were first served a bagel with cream cheese arriving on the usual fancy serving platter. The bagel was crispy on the outside and softer on the inside than most bagels I have eaten in other parts of the world particularly in the US where they are most popular. The ‘Reverend Mama’ which comes with soft egg, smoked salmon, dill gherkin and ricotta cheese is a mountain of a ‘sandwich’ – RM15; as is their ‘Bam-Bam’ a whopping stack of a wagyu beef burger, skewered with a steak knife. This is served with egg, cheese, tomato, beetroot, carrot, horseradish and onion – RM28. Hale and hearty and perfect for lunch. Other burgers are more scaled down with a choice of chicken, lamb, fish, and the vegetarian one with portobello mushroom, brie cheese, broad bean and salad ranging in price from RM18 for the Angus beef to RM15 for the portobello. Additionals include their chunky cut chips with cheese, chillies RM4 and if you add truffle oil which imparts a heavenly fragrance, it’s RM6 a portion.

On the crepe selection, I tried the seafood crepe which was generous in its serving of prawns, fish, basil and cheese in a thick tomato sauce, the crepe arrived crisped at the edges but alas was eventually overwhelmed by the sauce turning soggy very quickly – RM16. I had more luck with the sweet crepe, the Hazelnut Choc with crushed hazelnuts and Creme Brulee dollop. This arrived crispy all around, the nuts lending even more crunch and the chocolate cream velvety smooth, providing a textural contrast that was delightful – RM14.

Musings - Burps & Giggles - Chocolate OrgasmThe crème de la crème was just that at the end of the meal – a large scoop of chocolate ice cream called ‘Chocolate Orgasm’ which quite lived up to its name, called the Lola, sandwiched in a special handmade brioche. An absolute must-have should you ever go for coffee or tea.

Dexter, a true blue Ipoh boy who spent some years in Australia, has certainly come home to roost and is keen to do his bit for Ipoh. He loans out the upstairs premises of Burbs and Giggles for charity fairs and functions for free and to date has hosted five functions. He hopes to generate more activities upstairs and is planning a children’s play later in the year.

I for one certainly wish him all  future success for not only has he brought life back to old town but he has raised the bar on iconic preservation of old premises, and other potential heritage conservationists need to take note.

Burbs and Giggles and Buku Tiga Lima, 93 and 95, Jalan Sultan Yussuf. Tel: 05-242 6188.  Closed Tuesdays      Open: 8am-7pm

Allegra Deli at Meru Resort Club House


There is no stopping Ipoh’s own celebrity Chef Datin Julie Song. With her Indulgence Restaurant garnering the reputation as the restaurant to be seen in with their innovative and highly creative dishes, serving posh nosh to Ipohites and visitors who come from all over the world to stay at her luxury boutique hotel with its seven themed rooms, Julie is now indulging her creative flair and has opened a boutique Deli cum gift shop in Meru Valley Golf Resort.

Named Allegra for her first grandchild, the Deli is set to be a welcome hot spot for Meru residents and members who patronise the club for golf and other recreational activities. The Deli section features sandwiches and hot snacks to be savoured with your favourite latte or cappuccino, all for takeaway only. Warm snacks for sale include pastry rolls named ‘Draps’ by Julie, stuffed with a choice of lamb, spiced chicken, meatballs, beef, vegetables or mushroom. Small pies like tuna and dill and chicken are also available as are a variety of her famous cakes and pastries.

Allegra Deli is a gourmet mini market with certain fresh vegetables like imported yellow and green zucchinis, fruits, a large variety of imported mustards, PICI Italian pasta from Tuscany, cheese, frozen sausages, imported soft drinks and later on, wines and special liquor. Of special note is the lamb bacon which is imported from Australia by Julie herself and which is the first of its kind in Ipoh. A few tables are available outside, overlooking the golfer’s area and the pool where one can enjoy the snacks and coffee in the open air.

Items to look for include the homemade oven-dried tomatoes, pesto sauce, imported chocolates, kitchen, serving and decorative ware and 15 types of gift sets as well as lotions and potions from the luxury brand of Crabtree and Evelyn.

The Allegra Deli is open from 8.00 a.m. till 6.00 p.m.

Watch out for Julie Song’s TV debut in 5 episodes of Discover Perak co-hosted with Xandria Ooi as they bring to the world the sights, sounds, and charms of Perak; first episode on AFC channel on August 22.


What’s Cooking For Julie Song?

With Gordon Ramsay...

Hobnobbing with two of the world’s ‘dishiest’ chefs is what she’s been doing recently. Not only did Ipoh’s own celebrity chef Julie Song get to be one of the judges of Gordon Ramsay (that ‘enfant terrible’ Celebrity chef or the one known for his ‘F’ expletives on his programme), cooking Nasi Lemak for one of his episodes in Kuala Lumpur where he competed against five other local experts on preparing the national dish and came in second; but she also had the honour of being guide and demonstration chef for Todd English the American Celebrity Chef who was in Ipoh in December on a shoot for his TV programme which  is regularly featured on Astro’s Asian Food Channel.

...Todd English

Todd, who has four restaurants in the US, was also shooting an episode on a food trail of Malaysia with Matrade in New York. This TV episode will be shown next summer in US.

Julie took Todd on arrival to Gua Tempurung, to check the fresh flowing waters which is credited with creating the delicacy of our Ipoh Hor Fun and the plump juicy crunchiness of our bean sprouts. Todd was fascinated with the natural cave and flowing waters which he actually tasted. Following this cave sojourn, Julie took Todd to the Clearwater Sanctuary where he learned how to make Rendang Tok of Perak from one of their chefs there.

Finally, a much needed rest at Indulgence where he stayed in the Modern Baroque room the Qatrynka. The following day, Julie set up a temporary kitchen table in the main restaurant (for the TV cameras) and since it was a local cuisine trail he wanted to feature, she taught him how to make Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun, using a few tips from Margarita Lee our Ipoh Echo’s Recipe columnist. Judy Chin kindly made her special nyonya kuih of Serimuka to serve him as dessert which he enjoyed. On tasting the Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun, he declared his conviction that the water is responsible: for the texture of the noodles as he had never tasted noodles that silky and smooth and bean sprouts so crunchy and plump.

In addition to playing host to celebrity chefs, Julie Song was happy to announce that she has won, for the second time, the HAPA (Hospitality Asia Platinum Award) 2010-2012 Best Western Cuisine Chef. This will qualify her for the Regional Series next year, a tough competition and one which she says will keep her on her toes.

During her acceptance speech for the award, she thanked the HAPA judges for coming from Singapore and KL to Ipoh adding that “Indulgence will always be Ipoh’s very own”.

See Foon Chan-Koppen

Julie Song Does Perak Proud


By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Julie Song

Well she’s done it again. Not one for resting on her laurels, Julie Song, Ipoh’s own restaurateur/chef extraordinaire has once again helped put Ipoh on the culinary and tourist map. Known for scooping up culinary honours at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA) one of Asia’s most prestigious awards for the Food and Beverage Industry, Julie is now wowing Enrich Platinum passengers on board Malaysia Airlines around the world and hopefully have them burning up tyres in their haste to get to Ipoh for more of her Modern European cuisine for which her restaurant cum Boutique Hotel is famous.

Collaboration with MAS

Julie is known for her innovative and highly creative dishes, serving posh nosh to Ipohites and visitors who come from all over the world to stay at her luxury boutique hotel with its seven themed rooms. This latest collaboration with Malaysian Airlines will be yet another feather in her culinary cap, a secret which she has cherished since the beginning of the year, travelling to Kuala Lumpur on a weekly basis to work on the menu and train the chefs at both the Sky Chefs and Malaysian Airlines kitchens.

Julie, as a previous article in issue 65 has highlighted, is a self-made chef, whose passion for cooking has been honed to a fine art. An eclectic career saw her begin working life as a successful model, after having obtained a degree in mathematics. Marriage and three children later brought her often into the kitchen where she experimented and created her own unique dishes, fantasy concoctions that tease the eye and tantalise the palate.

Chef-On-Call Menu

Now that the Chef-On-Call menu with Julie Song is up and running, she is hoping that the resultant publicity and the taste and presentation of the various dishes will further heighten the curiosity of international gourmets the world over and nudge them to discover the culinary treasures of Ipoh and bring them here to taste not only Indulgence’s food but also the huge variety of delectable fare for which Ipoh is famous.

Lamb Loin with tomato-olive relish

Chef-on-Call as the service on Malaysian Airlines is called, is available to Enrich Platinum members flying Business and First Class between Kuala Lumpur and Europe and Australia. Passengers will have to call 24 hours before their flight to book their meal from a menu of 25 dishes. Top in her list of recommendations are the stuffed chicken roulade with caramelised onions, tender lamb loin with paprika-dusted pumpkin, and Miso soup with crab gnocchi and coriander. And of course there is a choice for different ethnic tastes as oriental dishes also feature significantly on the menu.

Avocado salad with caramelised pecans

Being a perfectionist at heart, Julie goes to great lengths to ensure that the preparation of her dishes is executed perfectly by the chefs at the catering kitchens. Chefs have been flying in to Kuala Lumpur from all over the Malaysian Airlines network to learn some of the cooking techniques and presentation of the dishes. She introduced new cooking techniques like baking fish in parchment paper and wrapping rice in lotus leaves to ensure that food stays moist during the reheating process on the plane. To this end, she has even flown many sectors just to check out the quality of her dishes when they are served to the passenger. Her other emphasis is on eye appeal of the dishes and she has also spent time working with the cabin crew who will be serving the dishes.

Creating Awareness for Ipoh

“I have often been asked why I haven’t opened a branch of Indulgence in Kuala Lumpur. I am an Ipohite and this is my way of creating awareness for Ipoh. Most of the top restaurants in the world are seldom at one’s doorstep. A little distance creates mystique, a frisson of adventure and a reason for an outing”, she said. “The more awareness I create for Indulgence, the more international travellers will want to visit Ipoh.”

She is correct in her assessment if we were to look at some of the Michelin-star restaurants scattered around the world. Build a reputation, serve superb food and the world’s foodies will beat a path to your door. “Look at Heston Blumenthal whose restaurant the Fat Duck has been on the number 1 list in the world for the past three years. It’s quite a drive to get out to Bray where the restaurant is situated and yet, the restaurant is booked out 3 months in advance”, Julie added.

Ipoh is proud to have Julie Song as an Anak Perak.