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Cover Story: Cheers and Cheers Again

By Chris Teh & Yugin Foo

Ipoh, like many other capital cities in Malaysia, is home to countless drinking establishments. However, as of late and probably owing to Ipoh now garnering accolades as an up and coming “hot spot” for visitors, our beloved city has seen many new establishments serving not only alcoholic beverages but offering meals fresh out of the kitchen as well as various types of entertainment.

Public house, more commonly known as “pub” to many, has its roots in European culture, brought to Malaya during the era of British colonisation. Despite “pub” having a definite linguistic difference to “bar”, the term has been commonly used today to describe the same thing. Ipoh Echo went in search of such pubs and surveyed their progress.

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Bricks and Barrels

B&B’s entrance

Also commonly known as B&B to many, Bricks and Barrels was established in 2011. Operating from 4pm to 2am daily, the gastropub (a pub where food is served, ostensibly gastronomic food) fits a rough maximum of 200 to 250 individuals. Their peak hour starts from 10pm which lasts until closing time.

B&B organises in-house events such as ‘Mambo Jambo’ theme night every Tuesday and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ every Thursday.

“‘Mambo Jambo’ features live bands and music inspired from the 80s and 90s,” said 39-year-old Adrian Tai, freelance disc jockey (DJ) and person-in-charge of marketing and events for B&B. “We will be organising events for Halloween in October and B&B’s own 8th anniversary in November.”

English roast pork

Live bands start daily from 9pm onwards with music mixed and matched with DJ Logen, B&B’s in-house DJ.

“We mostly hire bands from the Philippines to perform for our crowd throughout the year,” Tai said, adding that they perform daily except Sundays.

With a cosy, greenhouse-like setting to complement, B&B features a beer garden (in German Biergarten) and games for customers’ enjoyment.

“B&B is meant to be a family-friendly place, thus we have a pool table at the centre of the beer garden, darts, arcade machine and punch machine for families and the like to play,” he explained. “Besides, we hope that customers feel at home when they’re at B&B. When life throws you a brick, let’s have a barrel!”

Fresh out the kitchen is the English roast pork, which is customers’ favourite meal.

B&B’s greenhouse-like beer garden with a pool table at the centre

“Other pork dishes are available to go with the wide range of beers and liquors,” Tai added.

Speaking on Ipoh’s potential to be a hub for pub hopping, Tai stated that B&B utilises their existing specialities to capture Ipohite’s attention.

“We appreciate our customers’ loyalty,” he expressed. “Hopefully, with more programmes and activities, we will be able to attract more Ipohites to B&B and make the pub scene in Ipoh merrier.”

B&B can be reached at Facebook, Instagram, Google and TripAdvisor for information and updates regarding their promotions and events. For bookings and reservations, drop a direct message on their Facebook page or contact them at 05 253 8558.

History Bistroz

Established in 2012, History Bistroz operates from 4pm to 1am daily (2am on weekends). Their peak hour starts from 10pm which lasts until closing time.

Deep-fried chicken burger

Fitting a rough maximum of 200 individuals, the bistro bar sports a retro-driven decorative style, clad with antique lamps, jukeboxes and a rotary dial telephone which still works to date!

“We would like our customers to feel the ‘blast from the past’ once they step into our bistro,” said David Liew, co-owner of History Bistroz. Exuding a bubbly personality, 37-year-old David further explained, “With the rising market for pubbing, going old-school is hopefully the way to make us one of a kind.”

In terms of entertainment, the bistro bar has in-house DJs daily, while live bands collaborate with DJs every Friday.

“We also have darts, a pool table and karaoke,” David mentioned. “On the second floor, an open karaoke space and a karaoke room are available for customers who are raring to belt out some vocals.”

History Bistroz’s pizza

History Bistroz’s main attraction is perhaps their happy hour happening daily from 4pm to 9pm, and lasting all night on Sundays. Their package for RM98 for 10 mugs of draught beer comes with a ticket.

“If they are unable to finish the whole ticket slots, we will chip the ticket based on how much they drank,” David explained. “That way, customers can resume consumption based on their remaining ticket slots on their next visit.”

Really good value for money indeed!

For readers who are eager to satisfy their hunger, History Bistroz’s deep-fried chicken burger is a meal worth trying.

“We do not use chicken patties for the burger. The meat is a chicken chop,” David explained.

Darts tournament at History Bistroz

On his thoughts of Ipoh’s pub hopping scene, David elaborated, “The issue today is the economic downturn and the strain posed on Ipohites. Most of them are saving money and unwilling to come out after work to enjoy hanging out with friends.”

History Bistroz will be organising their 7th anniversary later this year on December 12.

“We are promoting our food and party packages in the near future,” he expressed. “Hopefully, the economy will improve for the betterment of Ipohites.”

The bistro bar can be reached at Facebook for information and updates regarding their promotions and events. For bookings and reservations, drop a direct message on their Facebook page or contact them at 05 255 3836.

St Patrick’s Day celebration at the Irish bar of the same name

St Patrick’s

Established in 2013, St Patrick’s operates 4pm to 1am daily (2am on weekends). Fitting a rough maximum of 170 individuals including the second floor, the Irish bar stays true to its name – walking into the bar will encourage customers to relax and chill.

Smooth stout beer

“I had been in Europe for 15 years. When I returned here and took over the shop lot, I decided to bring the Irish bar concept to Ipoh,” said the 28-year-old owner of St Patrick’s Wong Chee Hoo, also known as Ah Bee to many.

Observing the celebration of St Patrick’s Day annually every March 17, the Irish bar organises major events associated with the celebration.

“St Patrick’s is a casual bar, so we seldom organise events like other pubs frequently do,” Ah Bee explained. “But when it comes to St Patrick’s Day, our bar definitely stands out in terms of celebration.”

St Patrick’s ambience

Live music happens every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Their peak hour starts from 10pm onwards mostly during weekends and public holidays.

Shatin chicken

On the subject that St Patrick’s offers the best stout beer in town, Ah Bee said, “Our bartenders, even myself had to undergo draught beer training. There is a certificate to prove that we have qualified. Indeed, our customers commonly order the stout beer,” he mentioned. “The smoothness of stout is what they value the most.”

St Patrick’s light meals include their signature Shatin chicken and lamb cuts.

Speaking on his thoughts about Ipoh’s pub hopping scene, Ah Bee said, “St Patrick’s has always aimed to be a place for customers to casually enjoy their night out or chit chat with friends. It’s a stressful world today and every employed individual could use the accompaniment of beer to blow off steam from work. Ipohites would like our simple, yet enjoyable service we have to offer.”

St Patrick’s crowd

St Patrick’s can be reached at Facebook for information and updates. For bookings and reservations, contact Ah Bee at 018 577 7089.

Euro House

Established in 2010, Euro House operates daily from 3pm to 1am (1.30am during weekends). Their peak hour starts from 6pm onwards when live bands play.

Tavern Hall

Fitting a rough maximum of 450 individuals including the second floor, Euro House has four zones, which are Tavern Hall, Old Street Bar, Alley (gaming zone) and a wine lounge on the second floor.

“Tavern Hall is a newly-expanded section which connects to the Alley, where games such as darts and Xbox are available for customers’ enjoyment,” said 30-year-old J’son Cheng, marketing manager for Euro House.

Old Street Bar

With a piano being the highlight of the wine lounge, pianists play daily for Euro House while violinists play on Thursdays and Sundays.

Music performance

“The wine lounge is suitable for customers who would like some peace and quiet from the loud music,” J’son said.

Walking to the inner section of Old Street Bar is a karaoke room which houses a pool table, a draught beer dispensing machine and a karaoke set of course.

“Customers can have the whole room provided they spend a minimum of RM500 including the purchase of a 10-litre draught beer barrel. The machine gives customers the experience of doing their very own draft beer,” J’son explained.

In terms of food, Euro House’s carbonara pasta and lamb cutlets are their most commonly ordered dishes.

“The most popular alcoholic beverage would be Carlsberg beer. We also offer 12 types of fruit juice for families with kids,” he mentioned.

Euro House is also one of the pioneers in a newly-designed Carlsberg tower beer promotion released in August.

Carbonara pasta

“Our promotions are one of the ways we give back to our customers for their loyalty,” J’son expressed.

Regarding his thoughts about Ipoh’s pub hopping scene, he said, “We are currently preparing for Oktoberfest and Halloween events which are both happening in October. Hopefully, these events will bring more excitement to Ipohites and enjoy what we have in store.”

Euro House can be reached at Facebook and Instagram for information and updates. For reservations, contact them at 012 553 2032.

Customers

Ipohite Loo Chun Yien working as a sales administrator enjoys going pub hopping to hang out with her colleagues and friends after work.

Loo Chun Yien

“It’s my usual panacea for the stress I face at work,” the 30-year-old said, citing beer as her favourite beverage whenever she goes pub hopping.

“My friends and I used to like where the major crowd goes,” Loo mentioned. “Today, I would rather go to pubs which are comfortable and relaxing. Loud music is not always pleasant to the ears when you want a decent conversation. With the rising cost of living today, price becomes one of the main deciding factors on where I should go,” she elaborated.

Asked on how much she spends whenever she pub hops, Loo revealed, “About 10 to 20% of my monthly spending goes towards pubbing.” Further explaining, “Nowadays, I pub hop when I’m invited by my friends and even then only on weekends. To have even a glass of beer is quite costly,” she lamented.

Ipohite Edwin Seibel is also one to enjoy pubbing after a week of workload stress.

“It is nice to get out of the house and have an enjoyable, chilling hangout session with my friends,” the 49-year-old lawyer explained. “I decide by looking at the ambience and vibe of the place, not to mention entertainment offered and service quality,” Edwin elaborated. “It depends entirely on how I feel during the time.”

Asked on how much he usually spends on pubbing, he revealed, “I go pubbing at least once a week. Around 5% of my monthly expenditure goes towards this activity,” he revealed, citing Long Island iced tea as his favourite beverage.

Ipohite Michael Tan finds going pub hopping one of the best ways to socialise and meet new acquaintances.

“Going pubbing with my clients or colleagues is definitely my preferred way of interaction rather than in the office all the time,” the 49-year-old said.

“Pubs with live bands are my top favourite,” Michael expressed. “The atmosphere of the pub and price of drinks will also be part of my decision. Service quality has to be good too, of course.”

He revealed that no more than 10% of his monthly spending goes towards this activity due to his uncertain work schedules and always shares the tab among his group of good friends whom he goes pubbing with when he’s free.

“In my opinion, splitting the bill equally is a socially healthier choice when with friends. Saving money is important, but the moments spent hanging out with friends and like-minded individuals are so much more than just monetary aspects,” Michael expressed, citing stout beer as his favourite beverage.

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Chris Teh

Born and bred in Ipoh, Chris Teh is proficient in Chinese, English and Malay, with the Japanese language in the making. Joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise his writing and translation skills. In his spare time, he catches Pokemon in Pokemon GO, discovering up and coming places on the side.

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