Ipoh is the perfect stopping off point for travellers looking to experience the country’s rich natural history and its colonial past. A visit to Indulgence Restaurant and Living will make the stay unforgettable.
Text by Thomas Jones
Ipoh is known as the ‘city of millionaires’, thus named for the men and women who made their fortunes in the tin mining industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it is still home to a fair chunk of Malaysia’s wealthy citizens today. Wealthy people tend to have taste and people with taste need places to go to experience the finer things in life. In Ipoh, Indulgence Restaurant and Living is that place – a small gourmet restaurant boutique hotel owned and operated by Ipoh native Julie Song, a woman of extraordinary dynamism and energy.
Tall and confident, Julie brims with enthusiasm. With no professional training she turned her passion for baking cakes and pastries into a business, opening a café in 1996 to test the market. The market approved and so it was that in November 2005 she launched Indulgence Restaurant and Living, a restaurant with added accommodation, designed to take the pretention out of fine dining and introduce a relaxed manner that was both comfortable and pleasing to the all the senses.
The food is Modern European and is served in a casual setting as both à la carte and set course degustation. Julie isn’t hooked on locally produced food for the sake of it, only the best, so she shops worldwide for her products – from Scotland to Australia – in search of the best meats, seafood and vegetables on the market at any given time.
Making regular appearances on the menu are the likes of Kumamoto oysters from the USA, French foie gras, Australian wagyu, Kobe beef from Japan and fresh vegetables from around the region. Private dining is also a popular option for guests and they can choose from the 20-seat Alessandria Room to the 10-seat Krystal Room and the parlour for up to 40. There is a large garden as well so needless to say Indulgence is a very popular place for weddings.
Julie loves dessert and believes it to be the best part of a meal, hence the wide range of la dolce vita both on the menu and available for takeaway from the Indulgence shop in the front of the restaurant, where the alluring cabinets offer a huge array of cakes and pastries to both the initiated and outside visitors designed to challenge diets and assault waistlines as they go. It also carries all the wonderful ingredients available in the kitchen along with a slew of other gourmet produce from around the world allowing customers to continue their indulgence long after they leave.
“The food is Modern European and is served in a casual setting as both à la carte and set course degustation.”
So what about the ‘Living’ part of the restaurant name? Julie doesn’t only cook, she also designs, and in the process of building the kitchen’s reputation she found the time to completely renovate the upstairs of the house into an extraordinary range of suites and rooms for visitors to sleep over. The rooms are all individually themed and some customers will in fact only visit when a particular room is free. All bases are covered with the themes, which all started off around one particular feature and grew around it – an armoire here, a rug there, a painting collected long ago. The rooms are monikered Thai, Italian, Chinoiserie, Moroccan, Rococco, English Garden and a simple contemporary room for those who like their comforts modern.
What is truly amazing about the restaurant and hotel is that there is no professional management about it. Oh, yes it is managed professionally and staffed by experts but Julie is essentially self-taught, having learned everything about design from her keen eye and experience living abroad, and the kitchen from her love of cooking and pushing the boundaries of taste. She is also a perfectionist and someone with a lot of time on her hands to practice getting it right. She doesn’t do it all however and has a very professional staff in the kitchen and the front of house with everything running like a well-oiled machine ensuring guests nothing but quality good times and absolute indulgence.
Malaysia ‘Truly Asia’ has so much to offer the discerning traveller with a taste for the good life, and for visitors who are exploring Malaysia’s hinterland, or even just passing through, this indulgent overnighter in Ipoh will have you coming back for more.
Indulgence Restaurant and Living
14 Jalan Raja Dihlir
+60 5255 7051