• Category Archives Review
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – take II

    I started this last year, but I think it’s time for an update.

    I have been accused of only posting negative comments on this blog, and well – quite rightfully so.  As I have mentioned before, I mainly use this blog for three things:

    1. To vent my own frustrations
    2. To hit people who charge good money for bad service and/or products
    3. A (somewhat vain) hope that occasionally a place might improve their service as a result

    A consequence of that is that I rarely bother to write about place that I really like, although an occasional one does sneak in here and there.

    The Good

    In this category I will put places that I genuinely like.  Doesn’t mean they have to have perfect quality or cheap.  It just means that the overall balance between price and quality is acceptable and the place make an effort to give their customers a nice experience in return for hard earned cash.

    Ceylon Bar

    Ceylon bar have been around for ages and I always kind of liked the place.  Before they redecorated (in May I think it was) the place was quite seedy looking, to a degree where I actually didn’t go there very much and probably for that reason (although I didn’t really think about it).  After the redecoration the place is nice (although what the fuck were they thinking when they designed the bar – it takes up most of the space there).  I like the owners of the place – always got time for a chat with their customers and never show an arrogant attitude towards them.  I like the staff who all seem to hang around for ages too (which is a good sign – it show that they are being treated nicely and that in turn means that they want to do their best! – take notice – THAT is the way to do it).  The kitchen is quite good too.  It’s not fine dining by any standard, but they use good quality ingredients – and consistently so and the prices are quite reasonable (good value!).

    Loco

    This place appears to be the latest place by the same team that is running Fish & Chips and Havana and so far it is brilliant.  As the other places it is definitely priced in the high end but so far the quality seems to live up to that price level.  The food is brilliant, the staff is very switched on and attentive and all in all it is a nice Mexican restaurant.

    Front Page – Sports Bar

    Some time back there was a rumor in the street that the staff at Finnegan’s had been caught stealing and as a result they sacked the whole lot of them.  Somehow Finnegan’s never recovered from that blow and for a year or so it was mostly empty.  Now they have closed and a new Pub have opened on the premises – Front Page.

    So far, Front Page is doing very very well.  Beers are among the cheapest in the street, for a pub they got a nice vararity of seating arrangements, the staff is quite switched on and nice, the manager is trying really hard and the result shows.  They have got quite a crowd already.  They got more TV screens than any other bar I’ve been to and they can set them individually, so if there’s a sports event you don’t want to miss, this is the place to go.

    Twenty-One

    Twenty-One at night is really not my kind of place.  However, the fact that I am an old fart and don’t like noisy and crowded places any longer, is not their fault!  I go to Twenty-One quite a lot for lunch and they got the best lunch deal in town.  It’s obvious that the staff are well trained and quite switched on and they don’t change their staff very much, which is always a good sign!!!  Let me just say that if I had been below 30 this would definitely be a place I would go to quite a lot.

    The Bad

    The Magnificant Fish & Chip Restaurant

    Last time I posted something like this, both this one and Little Havana was placed in the Good section, but this time I have decided to move them to the bad.  Let me explain why.

    This one, Little Havana, Loco and Racks are all run by the same owners.  They have come up with a concept and it appears to be working.  Common for all is that they are priced in the absolute top end of the scale.  As readers of this blog will know, I do not really have a problem with that.  Good quality cost money and that is OK.  The problem is that with that price level comes a commitment from the owners – a commitment of delivering and this is where the problem lies.  As they have opened more places, their attention for the old ones have dropped and quality have slipped.

    Two years back, the staff at Fish & Chip were all excellent.  Now at least some of them seem to not give a hoot about the customers.  There is one in particular that seems to have a preference for just shouting to the customers asking what they want, rather than actually bother to walk down to them and ask.  I have also experienced a few times that the food was somewhat sub standard.

    So is it justified for me to move it to the Bad section?  Well, personally I think it is.  I like Fish & Chips so I sincerely hope that the owners will read this and pay attention.  I sincerely hope that next year it will be back in the Good section.  I hope that the owners remember that they are not competing on price as most other places in the street – they compete on quality!  And when you do compete on quality you simply cannot let that quality slip.

    Little Havana

    Read my comments for Fish & Chips.  It’s the same thing.  The overall impression seems to be slipping and that is simply not OK when the price level is at the top.

    Some random examples: They got a brilliant cover for the bar when it is raining.  Only problem is that it is leaking so you still get soaked.  I don’t want to get wet while sipping beer that is priced 70 % above a bar just across the street where I will stay completely dry.  I pointed this out to one of the bartenders, who just laughed and said (and I shit you not): “It has been like that for the past 3 month”.  Well – if it has – then fix the damn thing!

    Another example: I was having a drink there with a friend of mine – who is in the habit of tipping quite well (contrary to me who is a stingy prick).  When he settled his bill, the waiter was walking around a bit trying to look casual while slipping the cash into his own pocket.  When we pointed this out a few of the waiters got noticeable hostile – I guess they don’t like to get caught cheating.

    Final example: The valet parking guys outside Havana have almost taken over the whole area to a point where it is impossible to drive or walk because they park cars EVERYWHERE.  Now, I _know_ Havana is not directly running these guys, but they wear Havana t-shirts for crying out loud.  I pointed out to the owner that this was becoming a problem – and his answer: “That is not my problem”.  Well, OK fine – might not directly be your problem, but last year your place was in the Good section, now it is here and next year if things continue in this direction it will be in the Ugly.

     

    Gypsy

    This one is a hard call.  The thing is, I used to go to Gypsy a lot.  I like the manager there, I like the staff, the prices are absolutely reasonable (not to say the cheapest beer in the street – I think it is actually),  The problem is that the place have turned completely Indian over the last year.  Now, let me stress (and this is important dammit) that I am not racist and I don’t mean this in a racist way.  Quite the opposite really.  I would dislike a place in Kuala Lumpur that was 100 % white, 100 % Chinese or 100 % Malay too.  I like places with a mixed crowd.  Go to any of the places in the Good section and you will indeed find whites, malays, indians and chinese happily mixing together.  Gypsy used to be like that and I know I can’t really blame the management for the change that’s happened and I really don’t know why it happened – but fact is – it did – and I don’t like that.

    The Ugly

    In this section you will find the real horror stories.  It’s not enough to be bad to get here!  A place that is bad (and by bad I mean one thing – the price they charge is not justified by the service or goods they deliver) will go in the Bad section.  In order to be here in the Ugly section they will need to combine bad with a serious attitude problem.  It should be obvious for readers of this blog that I seriously dislike places that piss on their customers and take them for granted.  An arrogant attitude towards customers is what is needed to put a place in this section and they all deserve to be here!

    Pinchos

    Quite expensive and extremely inconsistent food quality.  The owner actively try to hide bad reviews (for example delete them from their Facebook page) and it’s always quite suspicious with places that does not stand up to scrutiny.  What is even worse, the owner will argue his case rather than to listen to well justified complaints.  If you feel in a gambling mood, by all means give it a shot – you might get lucky or you might get unlucky.

    The Social

    This one no longer exist.  Last review I placed it somewhere along side of Pinchos as the worst in Changkat, but it has since gone out of business.  One can only hope that bad reviews were part of what took it down.

    El Cerdito

    Only went in there once.  The tapas was quite poor and about 1/3 of my order never arrived.  When I asked for the bill, all the dishes I ordered were there (including the ones that never arrived to my table) and somehow an extra beer had founds it’s way in there.  When I pointed this out to the manager he did remove the stuff that I did not receive but he was quite rude about it and insisted on double checking everything – as if I had tried to cheat him.  Not worth the trouble!

    Also, this place and the place next door seem to think that the sidewalk is their private car park, so in order to pass the place one have to negotiate the cars driving on the street.  Well – fuck you!  I am NOT going to spend money at places where pleasing a few customers are so important that the rest of us have to risk our lives walking past your place.



  • Changkat Bukit Bintang – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    I have been accused of only posting negative comments on this blog, and well – quite rightfully so.  As I have mentioned before, I mainly use this blog for three things:

    1. To vent my own frustrations
    2. To hit people who charge good money for bad service and/or products
    3. A (somewhat vain) hope that occasionally a place might improve their service as a result

    A consequence of that is that I rarely bother to write about place that I really like, although an occasional one does sneak in here and there.

    The Good

    In this category I will put places that I genuinely like.  Doesn’t mean they have to have perfect quality or cheap.  It just means that the overall balance between price and quality is acceptable and the place make an effort to give their customers a nice experience in return for hard earned cash.

    Ceylon Bar

    Ceylon bar have been around for ages and I always kind of liked the place.  Before they redecorated (in May I think it was) the place was quite seedy looking, to a degree where I actually didn’t go there very much and probably for that reason (although I didn’t really think about it).  After the redecoration the place is nice (although what the fuck were they thinking when they designed the bar – it takes up most of the space there).  I like the owners of the place – always got time for a chat with their customers and never show an arrogant attitude towards them.  I like the staff who all seem to hang around for ages too (which is a good sign – it show that they are being treated nicely and that in turn means that they want to do their best! – take notice – THAT is the way to do it).  The kitchen is quite good too.  It’s not fine dining really, but they use good quality ingredients – and consistently so and the prices are quite reasonable.

    The Magnificant Fish & Chip Restaurant

    The Fish shop is not exactly cheap, but the portions are huge and the quality is quite good.  It is English food and the English are not exactly known to be the culinary center of the universe, but it is quite nice now and then.

    Little HavanaHavana has been around for ages, so far with 3 different owners.  The first owners let it fall to pieces.  The second owner didn’t change much except he made the beer cheap, so it did become a popular watering hole.  The latest owners of the place have put it through a massive refurbishment and I must admit I got somewhat mixed feelings about the result.  It used to be cheap and very cozy.  Now it is expensive and feels a bit exclusive.  Somewhere in that process, part of the soul went missing.  However, I still like the place.  Just wish they would lower their prices just a little bit.

    Healy Mac

    Finnegan’s

    This one is borderlining on moving down to the Bad.  The drinks are ridiculously overpriced except during happy hour (or if you buy a bottle of liquor).  What saves them and keep them here in the Good section is the fact that the food is actually quite reasonably priced and of quite good quality (oh – and they have pork!) and the staff is quite switched on.

    Twenty-One

    Twenty-One at night is really not my kind of place.  However, the fact that I am an old fart and don’t like noisy and crowded places any longer is not their fault!  I go to Twenty-One quite a lot for lunch and they got the best lunch deal in town.  It’s obvious that the staff are well trained and quite switched on and they don’t change their staff very much, which is always a good sign!!!  Let me just say that if I had been below 30 this would definitely be a place I would go to quite a lot.

    The Bad

    Gypsy

    This one is a hard call.  The thing is, I used to go to Gypsy a lot.  I like the manager there, I like the staff, the prices are absolutely reasonable (not to say the cheapest beer in the street – I think it is actually),  The problem is that the place have turned completely Indian over the last year.  Now, let me stress (and this is important dammit) that I am not racist and I don’t mean this in a racist way.  Quite the opposite really.  I would dislike a place in Kuala Lumpur that was 100 % white, 100 % Chinese or 100 % Malay too.  I like places with a mixed crowd.  Go to any of the places in the Good section and you will indeed find whites, malays, indians and chinese happily mixing together.  Gypsy used to be like that and I know I can’t really blame the management for the change that’s happened and I really don’t know why it happened – but fact is – it did – and I don’t like that.

    The Ugly


    In this section you will find the real horror stories.  It’s not enough to be bad to get here!  A place that is bad (and by bad I mean one thing – the price they charge is not justified by the service or goods they deliver) will go in the Bad section.  In order to be here in the Ugly section they will need to combine bad with a serious attitude problem.  It should be obvious for readers of this blog that I seriously dislike places that piss on their customers and take them for granted.  An arrogant attitude towards customers is what is needed to put a place in this section and they all deserve to be here!


    Pinchos

    Quite expensive and extremely inconsistent food quality.  The owner actively try to hide bad reviews (for example delete them from their Facebook page) and it’s always quite suspicious with places that does not stand up to scrutiny.  What is even worse, the owner will argue his case rather than to listen to well justified complaints.  If you feel in a gambling mood, by all means give it a shot – you might get lucky or you might get unlucky.

    The Social

    This qualifies – in sharp competition with Pinchos – as the worst place in Changkat.  When I went there, the food was absolutely horrible (sad looking salad, the meat was off and chewy) and stingy.  When I pointed out the food was not fresh, the assistant chef (since there was no chef around) laughed and the manager had the nerve to give me a 10 % discount.  Give it a shot if you feel in the mood for overpriced horrible food and incredible rude staff.

    El Cerdito

    Only went in there once.  The tapas was quite poor and about 1/3 of my order never arrived.  When I asked for the bill, all the dishes I ordered were there (including the ones that never arrived to my table) and somehow an extra beer had founds it’s way in there.  When I pointed this out to the manager he did remove the stuff that I did not receive but he was quite rude about it and insisted on double checking everything – as if I had tried to cheat him.  Not worth the trouble!



  • Flying High Falling Hard (review: Pinchos Tapas Bar, Changkat Bukit Bintang)

    I have written before about Pinchos Tapas Bar in Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur and since I “discovered” the place some months back I have grown quite fond of the place.

    I first entered the place because they were one of the few places left that still serve Carlsberg beer and I really am fed up with Tiger draft.  While having my Carlsberg I gave their tapas a shot and they were really quite good – not to say absolutely excellent.

    Yesterday a friend of mine were having her birthday, so I invited her out and I thought tapas was pretty cozy.  Unfortunately on this occasion it would appear that none of the “bosses” were around, so everything – service and quality – had gone to hell quite literally.

    It was a Wednesday evening and the place was fairly busy but not as busy as the other times I’ve been there (there were free tables – the other times I have been there I had to sit at the bar).

    We ordered 6 different items from the tapas list and a bottle of wine.  When they brought the wine I asked for some ice water and the waiter informed me they did not serve ice water but only bottled water.

    To me this is just mind boggling stupid.  The other times I have visited Pinchos I have ordered beer, but if I am ordering a bottle of wine I want water with it and paying 12 Ringgit for half a liter of water just pisses me off.  The tap water in Malaysia taste like shit, but at home I have a water cooler and I pay 8 Ringgit for 5 gallons of fine drinking water.

    After a considerable time the food finally arrived and boy was I in for a surprise.  I am not sure what went wrong in the kitchen on this particular night, but while the tapas have been truly great on my other visits, this time it was pretty close to uneatable.  Everything was oily as hell and it would appear the kitchen had run out of everything that even resembled spices or herbs.  The garlic chicken was some tasteless tiny chunks of chicken breast in a watery/oily substance without any taste what so ever.  The albondigas (meatballs) which are normally served with a nice tomato/onion/garlic sauce this evening was litterally served – well – in oil (or rather probably whatever fat ran out of them when they were cooked).  The worst by FAR was the dates and bacon.  On that particular plate was 6 black – and I do mean black – pieces of something.  And it tasted – well you guessed it – like charcoal.  They were completely burned.

    When I pointed this out to the waiter she immediately switched into the typical Malaysian apology mode and started rattling off excuses (they were busy she said – sorry – no they were not more busy than all the other times I have been there).  I pointed out – politely – that she had a number of options:

    1. She could leave things asis – in which case I would leave as a really angry customer
    2. She could bring a replacement for the charcoal
    3. She could throw out the charcoal and make sure it did NOT appear on the bill

    After some thinking she decided to replace the dish and brought back a new one – slightly less burned (but still quite badly burned) – with 3 pieces.  WTF!!!!  It’s true that there was only 3 pieces left on the dish she returned, BUT that’s because me and my guest had already had 3 pieces of charcoal.  The point was that I find it uneatable and I only knew that after I tasted it.  At the end of the day I paid full price for 3 pieces of char coal and 3 pieces of something very very close to char coal.

    All in all the evening was a disaster – and a quite expensive one as well.  I guess all restaurants have bad days and as such fuck-ups can happen to the best of us.  That is perfectly understandable.  What is NOT understandable is letting the customer pay for your fuck-ups.  Years back I had a rather disastrous dinner at a Danish restaurant and once I pointed out to the owner that the food that evening was rubbish she returned with a bill containing the bottle of wine and nothing else – with the remark: at this place customers do not pay for bad food!  Now – THAT is the right attitude – admit if things goes wrong and try to compensate your customers, but do NOT let the customer pay normal price for sub-standard food and service.  But apparently at Pinchos they are quite OK letting their customers pay for bad food.

    As a conclusion Pinchos have lost one customer – what they did at this particular evening was charging a lot for utter rubbish.  Cheat me once – shame on you – cheat me twice – shame on me.  It’s not that there are no alternatives, so expect to see a review of some other tapas place here shortly (possible after Werner have stopped using the sidewalk as his private car park).

    Update Oct. 12, 2010

    After I wrote this I posted a link to this blog entry on Pinchos Facebook group.  After all it was only fair that the management got a chance to comment on it.  Unfortunately I just discovered that the link I posted have been deleted with no mention at all.  This send a strong signal about Pinchos attitude towards their customers and their own sense of quality.  A restaurant that tries to hide a bad review instead of actually being grateful that the problems are pointed out to them is a place to avoid at all cost.  I must admit that I seriously misjudged this place when I initially found it quite agreeable.  I suppose if you got a gambling gene you might still appreciate the place, – order your food – it might be great or it might be rubbish – but either way you will be charged the same.  Kind of like a casino or a lottery ticket really.

    Update Oct. 18, 2010

    One thing that rarely fails in Kuala Lumpur is the pattern or lifespan of bars and restaurants.  They open up slowly at which times some of them are truly excellent.  If they ever take off big time and become popular the price increases and the quality drops like a rock and 12 month later they are history.  I have lived in KL for around 12 years by now and I can’t count the number of times I have seen this exact pattern and I will never be able to understand why.  Owners of bars and restaurants are pleased when people spread a good word around, but they seem to forget that bad words spread even faster and that they might lose customers for the very same reason they originally got them.

    Yes, I am harsh in my reviews but not without reason.  I have zero problems paying for good service and excellent food, but I have a serious problem and zero tolerance with places that choke in their own popularity and arrogantly start taking their customer appreciation for granted.

    I don’t know if Pinchos is traveling down this same path.  What I do know is that most of the times I have been there it has been really excellent.  However, as I wrote the last time I was there it was absolutely an awful experience and well – if you read the comments by the owner himself, you will see that exact arrogance that I am talking about.  As if I am supposed to understand why they can have a bad day – but on a bad day like that I have to pay the same price that I will pay on a good day and be happy they will let me spend my money there.  Personally I think it’s the owner who should show appreciation for the fact that they did have a bad day and make sure that remained their problem – not mine.

    Well, as he writes, he’s got a busy restaurant to run, for now at least…

    (the owners comment was written on a Monday afternoon, so let’s just include a picture of Pinchos taken just a few hours later – Monday evening around 8pm)