Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What happened @ Yam-yam?

It's not easy getting days off from clinic. What's even more difficult is getting the whole surgical gang out for dinner on a working Monday. Our regular workload and patient flow is pretty heavy but with the recent influx of medical officers in the department, life can be good when it comes to sampling Ipoh's gastronomical delights.

In conjunction with our colorectal workshop, we were fortunate enough to get 2 full days of seeing interesting cases courtesy of Prof Charles and Miss Chan. Although we see a lot of bowel-related cases in normal general surgery, there are also some high-level cases and procedures which are rare and technically-demanding. So, I was very glad that we all had a chance to be immersed in the 'gut' for a few days

After hours of playing with the gut, we need to fill up our guts too and what better place than somewhere extremely near to the hospital (so near, we could actually walk there but being Malaysian...who walk when we have cars!)

We decided on Yam-yam, a Nyonya-Chinese fusion restaurant at Old Greentown. It was surprisingly packed that Monday night and I've forgotten how food taste like in this place. I remembered it was previously unremarkable. I guess I could be prejudiced because the last time I came to this place, I was still a little houseman in 2006, living on my meagre salary.

There were 18 semi-hungry people (we were well-fed throughout the entire day) waiting for food amidst the crowd. It came sooner than expected as everyone was in a good mood (courtesy of some 'sponsors')

The omelette was alright although very small for 8 people (each table). On the other hand, the pandan chicken was tasty, very fragrant and well-marinated. I guess no one could go wrong with this dish.

The tofu was quite good while the tomyam was ok. At least, the entire dining experience was very pleasant as we catch up with each other.

So, what's CPD's verdict again?

IMHO, Yam-yam is not as unremarkable as I remembered it to be. The price is reasonable and the place has an authentic, old-world charm to it. Food is quite good, especially for a big party of 4 or more people. What's more importantly, the location is excellent for those of us in town.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Witnessing an accident first hand and musing on defensive medicine

Being a healthcare personnel has its shares of ups and downs, perks and quirks, joy and sorrow. We are often silent witnesses to some of the most tumultous events in a person's life. Trauma, birth, death, cancer, severe illness, recovery..these are all parts of the circle of life that we encounter daily.

For example, we were travelling for dinner while oncall during the Raya period. You can say that we are having a very good call if we are able to go out for makan at normal times. Anyway, we were following an old Roadways bus near an intersection in the Greentown area when a blue Viva shoot out of the intersection. BANG! I heard a loud sound and there was a collision right in front of us.

We immediately parked our car near Dave's Diner, jumped down the parking lot (I was glad I was wearing trousers and could run around anywhere!) and checked on the passengers of the small car. Apparently, a young girl was the 'unlucky' driver with her boyfriend sitting next to her. We checked on her briefly and although the car was totally wrecked (it looked bad), the direct impact was on the back seat behind the girl thus she was spared from any bodily harms. We let the paramedics do their work and continued on with our dinner.

Anyway, the incident made me wonder about emergency services. Although all 3 of us in the car was fully trained for emergency procedures as we are surgical registrars and medical officers, we would not be able to do anything if there were serious injuries outside the hospital. We do not have any medical supplies, oxygen tanks, splints or even bandages in the car. In fact, I don't even carry any resuscitation tools with me at all times.

On the other hand, I have recently heard of the Good Samaritan principles in the practice of medicine. Basically, if a doctor decide to help a person in need outside the hospital (let's say in a medical emergency on an airplane, in a boat, by the roadside, etc), we are equally liable to any untowards event in case of death, permanent disability, etc happening to the injured person. In short, we could be sued for malpractice despite the lack of diagnostic and treatment tools. Moreover, medical malpractice insurance may or may not cover the doctor, as the person in need did not deliberately seek our help in the first place; i.e. the person in need is technically not a patient as he/she did not solicit us.

Now this puts a lot of us in a dilemma isn't it? As a fellow human being, we would normally offer help and being medically-trained, everyone would expect that a doctor is the best person to assist a person in distress. However, there is this hand-tying, law-suit happy society nowadays that would not hesitate to persecute anyone that could be blamed in the event of an unhappy ending. I guess this will again reinforce on the practice of defensive medicine....

How about me? Would I help a person in need? I guess I need to be wise in offering help as the ultimate tenet is : FIRST, DO NO HARM. Whatever it is, we must remove ourselves and the person in need from danger and then, intelligently & calmly assess the situation. After all, we cannot be a 'hero' and try to perform some 'miracles' without back-up personnel and the proper tools and facilities!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Discovering new eating joints: Teppanyaki @ Takeyama

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin and...it's time to talk about the good stuff in life again : Food. A girl's gotta eat amidst depressive days of non-stop oncalls and a sure bet in finding yummy food will be in the 'Bangsar of Ipoh' @ Ipoh Garden East (IGE).

Thus in the middle of the long weekend & balik-kampung season, yours truly has decided to satisfy the crave for Japanese food. Apparently, a new joint has opened in IGE area and it's called Takeyama. The demand for Jap food in Ipoh never ceases to amaze me considering the small size of the city and population. I wonder why...

The interiors are quite simple and small. We expected a bigger seating area yet as you can see from the pic, the cooking area took up a huge part of the restaurant. The menu is extensive but without pictures, thus depriving us of the all-important visual input in selecting the food. For some mysterious unknown reasons, all 3 of us decided for teppanyaki spontaneously although there are many other choices of sushi, sashimi, dons, udon, ramen, etc....

KCCS had the seafood teppanyaki and it was really small, especially for a guy. The taste is ok but he was disappointed with the portion. It has scallops, prawns, fish and squids (sounded a lot on the menu) but the actual fact is that it's sadly too little for him.

As for me, I ordered the squid and duck combination. Being an atypical person, I like to think and make decisions out of the box so I choose sth rather odd. It's not often that we find duck teppanyaki. Surprisingly, it tasted great and the portion is very satisfying (to me lar). I'm not a big eater and so it was filling enough but I think this dish is too small compared to typical teppanyaki. I love the lightly sauteed vegetable with little salt and pepper. It's a refreshing change from the usual highly-salted, thirst-inducing teppanyaki in shopping malls.

One thing very certain about the place. The friendly waiters and waitresses were very smiley and attentive but the food took ages to arrive. We waited almost 45 mins for simple teppanyaki dish despite only 3 other tables of customers at the same time. I assume that the restaurant is too new to cope with the amount of orders. Anyhow, the chawanmushi is excellent...very very smooth and soft eggs (and again, the portion is minuscule!)

The only large portion of the day goes to JT, who ordered the mixed meat teppanyaki. As you can see, the entire plate is packed with all types of meat (chicken, lamb, duck)...but there was a missing non-halal component. JT was very pleased with his food. I tried the lamb..it was delicious.

As for location, IMHO, this place is quite accessible, diagonally opposite Sky Corner and 777. Being relatively new to the scene, I would say that it should improve over time (faster cooking time, prettier menu, bigger portions). The pricing is ok and with the green tea free-flowing, anyone could spend long hours in this place, yakking away.

Oops, guess it's time to go prepare for another oncall again tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Courage, don't desert me and an interesting township

Busy, busy, busy. 3 weeks in a row in Ipoh and having lotsa of busy calls means that I really miss home (KL). I mean, a girl gotta rest amidst all the eventful activities in the wards and theatre. One of my laporotomy cases last week involved running and pushing the patient’s bed to the operation theatre (along with 4 other doctors and 2 nurses) while he was vomiting blood profusely. 1 day after the operation, he was soon extubated so it can be said that we managed to save him in the nick of time but he is still not out of the woods. Still it was quite a hectic week and I’m very glad for a weekend away from hospital as I go home for some R & R.

I received more news from down south. We are only young once…if I don’t explore and push the limits of my capabilities now, when can I ever try to discover new frontiers again? Of course I always have a twinge of guilt and occassionally, there is this fear of the unknown when it comes to this matter. However, I think there are times when we have to choose a different path and leave our comfort zone. I guess 1 year of preparation is good enough and I shall no longer hesitate or procrastinate on this matter. God shall be my fortress, my strong provider and tower of refuge…

Anyhow, time for more food reviews and gallivating around KL!!

I’ve not visited desa parkcity before despite seeing the place more than 50 times from the PLUS highway. Of course I know about the prices of houses here but I’ve not heard of any places to ‘makan’ within this township before. Now I know better.

Anyway, we dropped by the Waterfront @ desa parkcity and it was a nice, chill-out place. The weather did us a big favour by raining just before that and thus the cool weather really enhances the country-living feel to the entire township.

The small mall has a few entrances and many eateries despite its size. We decided on Ketam Village Steamboat as it was a rainy day and steamboat is always welcomed on a rainy afternoon. The ingredients were simple and quite fresh. Price is mid-range for quite a big meal. What I like most is the view of the serene lake from the restaurant. Not only that, finding parking was a breeze compared to other big malls on weekends (no way we could even go near 1-u, the Curve, Ikano or Midvalley!)

As I spy Rakuzen and another Korean restaurant within the same premise, I have a 'feeling' that I might be going to the Waterfront again, before long :-)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Warning..do not read this on an empty stomach :-P

Not going to New Foh San while staying in Ipoh is like not going to Ion Orchard Road if you are staying in Singapore. It's a must-visit place if you wanna experience the best of Ipoh dim sum (apparently). I'm not a big fan of the cholesterol and sodium bombs they served in very small portions but I'm not gonna leave Ipoh without trying the new and revamped Foh San.

Right off, they are all out to impress all the foodies with an Art Deco-inspired and colourful foyer a.k.a payment counter right at the entrance. The whole place is clean and pretty cool. Thankfully, we reached the place before 730 am and thus were spared from the looooooong queue waiting to be seated once you arrive after 8 am. Take it from me...I had my fair share of coming here, rounding the tables and leaving the place without partaking anything. So, a word of reminder : WAKE UP EARLY IF YOU ARE HEADING HERE...

The staircase leading to a bigger makan area upstairs is pretty grand and slightly pretentious for a restaurant. There are gigantic banners featuring poetry in stylish Chinese calligraphy, which I couldn't understand (due to my 30% grasp of written Mandarin and partial 'banana'-hood). Anyway, I was there for the food, not for the literature and thus headed straight for a good table and started ordering pronto.

The Chinese tea was very fragrant and I do adore all forms of tea, be it English or Chinese. The teapot and teacups are cute and so Sino.

There are many types of pau and we tried the Char Siew Pau..which is ok. I'm not a big fan of char siew as I preferred other types of pau. The fillings are quite little but the 'pastry' is soft and fluffy.

I love the fried rice cake here. Yummy..the tiny bits of egg and dried prawns with lightly fried and not-so-oily rice cakes are perfect accompaniments to the steamed dumplings.

Fried brinjals, on the other hand, is a mild disappointment as I much preferred the other version at Ming Court. I think it would be better if the skin is crispier.

Then comes the classic dish of all time : siu mai. This typical dim sum is found throughout the whole of Malaysia and it's not that difficult to make. However, the ones at Foh San are just mediocre. Maybe I shouldn't come with high expectations.

I think this is the spinach dumpling (due to the green 'skin') and it's slightly cold so that tepid temperature reduced the quality. The taste was ok though...

Har kao (Prawn Dumpling) is another quintessential dim sum and at least Foh San did it justice by packing a lot of juicy prawn and meat into the cute white package. I think this was quite good too.

I would give the woo kok (fried yam ball) a second chance next time. It's not oily (which is a good thing) but not hot and aromatic enough. There is something amiss in the stuffing (not enough of spices, perhaps?) but the coating of fluffy yam was nice. Therefore, it's a 50-50 thingy and it could improve with time..

So, what can I say about the food in New Foh San? I'm sure many of you have tried dim sum at FS over the years. Although this restaurant has been 'repackaged' since it has moved to a larger premise in a new location, the food is similar to the old location except slightly more expensive. It has it's fair share of hits and misses and you have to try it for yourself to be the judge. After all, you cannot say that you have tried the famous Ipoh dim sum if you have not tried the food at Foh San and its nearest competitor, Ming Court. We foresee the making of a real dim sum war in the near future!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Talking about Cafe Takahashi

As mentioned earlier, there are very few shopping centres in Perak and needless to say, one of the most popular hang-out place is Kinta City. Come weekends and this place is more crowded than Shinjuku. Of course CPD is quite a regular at this mall and recently, the Ipoh makan gang noticed a spanking new restaurant near the cinema end. Thus, we couldn't resist but try the food there.

I'm quite pleased as it has somehow magically transported me to KL. The ambience and decor is bright, cheerful, airy and reminded me of 1-u. The menu is reminiscent of Pasta Zanmai (another favourite of mine) but with food half the price.

It's still new and being tucked away at a corner, we could find a table easily. I foresee that this place is about to be very packed once word got round about the quality of food and service.

Anyway, CF and I eagerly scanned the menu as both of us are ravenous. The menu was tastefully done and everything looked scrumptious.

I picked the chicken cutlet and mushroom spaghetti. Being Jap-Italian fusion, I actually
enjoyed the 'marriage' of my two favourite cuisine. The sauce was delicious and the chicken just nice.

CF ordered the chicken katsu curry and it was yummy too. The curry is typical Jap style (which is really not spicy at all) while the chicken is the same as mine.

And being girls, how can we forget desserts? There is always room for dessert! Anyhow, we ordered the strawberry cheesecake and I didn't really like it. The layer of strawberry on top of the cake is chewy and the cake overall doesn't resemble what they display on the menu. Maybe we will have better luck with ice-cream and pudding next time.

In short, I'm very glad that Cafe T came to town. Now I can have my Jap-Italian fusion food anytime I'm in Ipoh.