The ice cream bell still rings in Bentong

The ice cream bell still rings in Bentong

Anyone who has visited Bentong will know that there is a coffee shop that is more famous for its ice cream than what its signboard suggests.

After all, who would not have a natural craving for some good ice cream, ais batu campur (ABC) and cendol especially when they have heard so much about the popularity of Kow Po Coffee Shop in Bentong?

It is not only the children, but the adults too enjoy the ice cream here because it is both smooth and silky. What is important is that the ice cream tastes fresh and there is a good variety of flavours to choose from.

They have about ten flavours which include chocolate, pandan, peanuts, coffee, coconut, banana, strawberry and vanilla. If the family is in a hurry, they can also stop by to ask for ice cream on the cone. Each scoop is RM4.

Whenever we come here, we usually go for the Jumbo which is shared out with the whole family, but on my own I would take either their Cendol Kow Po Special (RM5.00), which comes with red beans, ice cream, cendol and attap seeds, or their ABC Ice Kacang Kow Po Special (RM5.00).
The history goes that a Teo Chew man, the late Tan Soon Chuan relocated from Alor Setar to Bentong in the early 1950s. He started the special homemade ice cream business in 1956.

Because business was good, his son Tan Kow Po, now 83, and his wife soon joined the business; before long, he became known as the “Bentong Uncle Ice Cream”.

Most young children in this town have grown up loving his ice cream, which was a rare treat in those early years. To have an ice cream in the 1950s was a luxury that not every child could have.

Image via
Through word of mouth, soon people from outside of Bentong also stopped by this shop on their trip to the East Coast. This was prior to the development of the East Coast Highway.

Although the traffic has been diverted from Bentong town, most people still make a detour here to just enjoy the ice cream. Last year, they celebrated their 60th anniversary in business.

When we went there two weeks ago at about 3pm, it was initially very quiet and we thought we were the only customers there. We were of course wondering why we were the ones there.

After about 15 minutes, for some reasons, guests just flocked in; before long, the whole place was already packed with people.

From whence they came is a big question mark but I am not surprised that with durians as the biggest attraction to Bentong these days, people come here for both the durians and the ice cream, which is nothing but a perfect combination.

Read my simple analysis of Kow Po’s marketing success formula here.

Kow Po Coffee Shop is located at No 2 Bentong Heights, 28700 Bentong, Pahang.

Tel:  09-222 1258 / 016-931 0391

Business hours: 10am to 7pm every day


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Let me tell you one little secret about Bentong ice cream

Let me tell you one little secret about Bentong ice cream

Anyone who has patronised Kow Pow Coffee Shop in Bentong will realise that they have a right marketing formula for success.

Although some may say that the ice cream is pricey for a small town, from the marketing point of view, they have got all three other P’s correct.

Besides the product, location (place) and customer loyalty (mainly domestic tourists), there is also a fast turnover of guests. There is also a lack of competition; after all, people come to Bentong, they are looking for something local that is cheap and nice.

Image via TripAdvisor

Unlike the commercially factory-produced ice creams, here the ice cream is manufactured in small batches using fresh ingredients every day. This helps them to sustain just for the day’s business.

This is important as most customers can feel the freshness of the ingredients that they use; for that reason, they come back for more, bringing their friends along. Cleanliness is also very important when patrons bring their expatriate friends. The word of mouth spreads:

“Whenever you go to Bentong, go for their ice cream.”

The downside is that some of the locals start to boycott the place because they find the prices becoming too steep for them; this is why anyone in the restaurant business must always learn to be appreciative of local support as well. Sometimes, I boycott certain restaurants because of the attitude of its owners or staff, which shows the importance of People in the marketing equation.

Like in Penang, Gurney Drive has become the place for tourists, but domestic tourists like me are avoiding such places because we know the place has become too artificially commercialised. A lack of local fans also show that something may not be right with the prices or the attitude of the hawkers there.

But until there is a stronger competitor, with the right pricing for equally good ice cream and its proprietors are more people friendly, business can only grow stronger for Kow Po Coffee Shop.

Besides me giving them media publicity in most English dailies that I was writing for as a part time writer in the past, there are other newspapers and food bloggers who have given them the boost.

Word of mouth is very important in the food and beverage business. After the articles appear, people will check out the place. When they like it, they will tell others about it (like the ant scout telling its friends where the sweet stuff is) and soon people will follow the crowd.

Today, aided by social media, word of mouth can spread very fast for the better or for the worse. It is a challenge that every restaurant operator faces to ensure that they have their four (some say five) P’s correct – Product, Price, People and Place.

Even I am drawn to this coffee shop every time my family make a trip to Bukit Tinggi or Genting Highlands even if we have to drive another 15 km to Bentong, or like on this occasion after a night’s stay at the beautiful eco-resort of Tanah Aina Farrah Soraya in Raub.

After a short drive to Raub to try out the famous Ratha Raub’s original fish head curry, we checked out Kow Po Coffee Shop, which is located just beside Hong Leong Bank (or opposite the Bentong bus station).

Keeping to just one shop also means that the shop is always packed during peak hours but the number of customers at any one point in time is manageable by the number of staff working.

Most people, especially those from outstation, will tend to flock to an eatery which looks packed than one that is empty. This is why after nearly 20 years of watching their business grow, I have decided not only to write about their ice cream, but make a simple analysis that will provide some good insights for other restauranteurs.

Click here to read about Kow Po Coffee Shop and what it has to offer.

Energy Bowls to be featured prominently at Coffea Coffee come Dec 16

Energy Bowls to be featured prominently at Coffea Coffee come Dec 16

Energy Bowls will be featured prominently at Coffea Coffee from December 16 onwards targeting at the health conscious and fitness fans.

People patronising the gymnasiums in Desa Sri Hartamas and Mont Kiara would be happy to know that the Energy Bowls will now be available within a few minutes at the café.

And when all four signature Energy Bowls make the debut at two of its outlets (in Desa Sri Hartamas and Subang SS15) come Saturday December 16, you will be able to enjoy its Chocolate Warrior (RM17 inclusive of GST) which tastes like ice-cream and truly my favourite.  

What is comforting is that it is not fattening, since the Chocolate Warrior is nothing but a cold (refrigerated) smooth blend of banana, peanut butter and cocoa powder, with toppings of banana, chocolate granola, peanut butter, drizzle, coconut flakes and buckwheat groats.

On both Dec 16 and 17, if you present the discount card (see pic) you will get a discount of 10 percent and tell them that you read about it in Malaysiakini.

It is easy to understand that it is not always possible for cafes and restaurants like Coffea Coffee to go fully on health food, but this new range of health food is a good starter.  

Their other Energy Bowls are Sunrise Bowl (what a name!), Pink Flamingo and their Christmas special — the ‘Berry Xmas’ Energy Bowl.

The Sunrise Bowl has all three tropical fruits in the blend – banana, mango and pineapples with toppings of mango, apple crumble granola and coconut flakes and chia seeds.

For those who love dragon fruits, the Pink Flamingo is also a good choice because my children and I have tasted it and found it yummy. It is a blend of pitaya (red dragon fruit), pineapple and banana, with banana, apple crumble granola, coconut flakes and buckwheat groats as its toppings.  

For those who love raspberries for health reasons, their Berry Xmas is a good choice. Banana gives it a good sweet base. Toppings include white dragon fruit, granola, coconut flakes and buckwheat groats.

For their usual meals, their Pasta penne with creamy chicken mushroom (RM15) is a favourite with the children, as it is both cheesy and creamy. I tried a bit of all their pasta and found this to be particularly good, and decided to let all four children with me to finish up everything, while being watchful of my cholesterol level, I took the Caeser Salad with Poached Egg and Grilled Chicken (RM12) and tasted a bit of everything.

The Aglio Olio (RM 15) looks good but slightly spicy for me, but surprisingly, the children love it, along with their waffles, which come with either a scoop of ice cream and choc sauce, or with egg benedict, ham and cheese (RM12.90).

For all-day dining (the café is closed at 12 midnight on weeknights and 1am for weekends), their pastry puff with chicken curry (RM11.90) and pastry puff with creamy chicken mushroom (RM11.90) are good to order along with their Latte with Peanut Butter (try this unique cold drink at least once and you will love it).


Since Mont Kiara has a few international schools, Coffea Coffee with its English Breakfast (RM18.90) is ideal for teenagers who want to have a good breakfast before they start school. It is easy to pick up the breakfast pack if you pre-order the food.

They also serve Pasta chicken pesto (RM15), Panini with smoked chicken & cheese (RM17.90) and Lasagne (RM12).


The children love their pasta here and prices for a place like Mont Kiara and Desa Sri Hartamas are still surprisingly below RM20; therefore, this is a good place to stop over either before or after a visit to the National Science Centre


Coffea Coffee Sri Hartamas is located at 1, Jalan 26/70a, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur  

Subang Jaya outlet:  A-10, Jalan SS 15/4d,, Ss 15, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor

Tel: 03-6206 5510

Business hours: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Sun 8 am – 12 am / Fri and Sat 9 am – 1 am

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Aunty Lee’s mesmerising authentic Peranakan Melaka cuisine

Aunty Lee’s mesmerising authentic Peranakan Melaka cuisine

Aunty Lee’s Restaurant at Plaza Arkadia in Desa ParkCity is frequented by doctors from a nearby medical centre for very good reasons.

These medical professionals have taste buds that drive them to an undisputed signature dish from the entire range of authentic Peranakan Melaka cuisine that the late Aunty Lee has left behind as her legacy.

Expatriates living in Mont Kiara, Petaling Jaya and Desa ParkCity may want to know that the legendary Aunty Lee, who passed on a few years ago, started her restaurant in a simple restaurant setting in Taman Sinn, Melaka in 1997, serving authentic home-cooked Peranakan Melaka cuisine. It has since become one of the most popular places for authentic Nyonya delicacies.

When a group of us were invited to do the food tasting at Aunty Lee’s first licensed restaurant outside Melaka, now located at the posh up-and-coming shopping arcade, everyone voted the Udang Masak Lemak Nanas the No 1 Nyonya dish.

John Ong is a northern Peranakan foodie fan, while his friend, Cherise Boey is a seasoned foodie fan and food critique from Penang. Former Sun managing editor, Lee Boon Siew is born and raised in Melaka, while his wife Ann Lee is also a food enthusiast with Penang taste buds.

They were the ones who picked this signature dish as their No 1 favorite dish, while it took me a long time to decide. After the food had “settled down”, I asked myself, “Now, if I have room for more food, what would I crave?” Always watchful over my cholesterol level, I found myself pointing to this one dish!

The prawns taste fresh, but what is appealing to my taste buds was Aunty Lee’s unique pineapple curry sauce. It was so yummy that I decided to salvage (table manners aside) whatever that was left over after the prawns were gone by asking the restaurant owner, Jackson Tan if I could pack the leftover curry home to enjoy with some bread. Perhaps, because of our suggestion, you will get to enjoy it with mantao soon.

Jackson with his son

It was then that I realised that Peranakan Melaka cuisine had very much more time to evolve, as the Peranakan community in Melaka have been in this part of the world much longer (since the era of Hang Li Po in the fifteenth century) than the Peranakan in the northern region.

And being closer to Johor, which was once a world producer of pineapples, it is easy to understand why southern Peranakan cuisine love to include the sweet tropical member of the bromeliad family.

The pineapple is also used in Aunty Lee’s Kerabu Timun, which is served as an appetizer. It is a mixture of cucumber, shallots, pineapple, galangal flower served with sambal belacan, sugar and lime juice.

The fruit has an “exceptional juiciness and a vibrant tropical flavour” and according to the George Mateljan Foundation, the pineapple is one of the healthiest foods in the world.

The pineapple contributes to the great taste in the Nyonya style of cooking. If I may borrow the famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “That which we call a ‘ripened pineapple’ (instead of rose) by any other name would be just as sweet”. It brings to mind the caricature of Aunty Lee and her sweet signature smile.

Another of their signature dish is the Cili Garam deep-fried fish topped with Aunty Lee’s special salted chili paste. According to Jackson, his son, Jeremy goes to Kuala Selangor to buy the fish and prawns fresh from the fishermen directly.

The Ayam Pong Teh, which is basically chicken and potato stew Nyonya-style, is suitable for children, because it does not use the chilli. The chicken is a home-cooked Malaccan Nyonya dish using onion, garlic, potato, black mushroom, taucheow (or fermented soy-beans) and braised slowly with gula Melaka.

My Number 2 favourite dish is Aunty Lee’s Otak-Otak.  This steamed fish cake is well-spiced and topped with sliced onions and chilies to give it a perfect taste to my taste buds.

For those who love anything spicy and hot, Aunty Lee’s sambal belacan complements some of the cuisine.  Before I forget, their Pie Tee is also a good appetizer to begin the meal with, and it is to be eaten with hot braised julienned turnips, condiments, and homemade chili sauce.

The Acar Ikan Asin Kurau is another great appetizer to try out. For the deserts, if it is in season, a scoop of Durian D24 paste can make the difference to the cendul, served with shaven ice, gula Melaka and red beans.

Cincalok, being well-known in Melaka, one may want to try Aunty Lee’s Cincalok  omelette as this is not widely offered in other restaurants.

And, as I go through the menu again, I realise that Aunty Lee has a number of other signature dishes beyond just the few that we tried recently. Being located in a posh area, it is understandable that rental has to be factored in. A dinner for six adults and two children with the number of dishes that we had costs about RM500. We felt that it would have been ideal to have another two adults on this food tasting adventure.

Their portions are reasonably large; hence, for a smaller group, instead of the regular size for their Udang Masak Lemak Nanas (RM99), you can order a Small Portion (RM59).

Rightfully, the same dishes could comfortably feed a table of 10 adults, which would average out to approximately RM50 per head. The fresh seafood is about a third of the total cost; this does not take into account the drinks/dessert/taxes/service charges.

Therefore, if a group of colleagues, alumni or friends come together to try out Aunty Lee’s delicacies here and share the cost, it is not too much especially when you can have all the signature dishes here, besides enjoying the camaraderie of good company in the comfort of modern facilities instead of taking a drive down to Melaka.

Come prepared with a camera, as you may wish to take photographs of the cosy ambience of a modern Peranakan home.  Read my 9-year-old son’s blog here.

Restoran Aunty Lee is located at E-G-10 Plaza Arkadia, Jalan Intisari, Desa ParkCity, Kuala Lumpur.

Tel: 03-64112812
Business hours: Tuesday-Sunday   11.30am – 3.00pm and 6.00pm-10.00pm
Closed on: Mondays

Facebook: (Aunty Lee KL) (Melaka)

Waze location:

Google Map:

The original Restaurant Aunty Lee is located at No 385 Jalan Ujong Pasir, Taman Sinn, 75050 Melaka

HP: 019-2788653  Tel: 06-2831009

Email: [email protected]


Mikoshi is about family togetherness

Mikoshi is about family togetherness

With the number of Japanese restaurants trying to adjust to the local tastes, Ayaka Fukuda of Mikoshi Restaurant in Damansara Utama believes that people still enjoy authentic Japanese shabu-shabu, especially when it is done well.  

She is a strong believer of the traditional Asian values where families came together to talk to each other. The frequent reunion over a sumptuous meal will help family bonding and strengthen the family unit.

Ayaka, who has lived in Malaysia for four years, observes that the use of mobile gadgets especially by the younger children has become more rampant these days. They would be occupied with the mobile games while parents are busy on the social media, making it almost impossible for the family to bond together.

For that reason, Ayaka tries to introduce the children to some fun time playing traditional Japanese games such as yo-yo tsuri (water-balloon fishing) or having some Japanese and local snacks together after the meal is over.

“Yes, I realise the importance of family togetherness,”

she said during the launch of Mikoshi Restaurant on December 5.

“This is why shabu-shabu will allow the family to spend some time together for family bonding.”

They can pick two of the range of seven shabu-shabu broths – either Mikoshi’s signature Ginger soup (which is also my favourite), Sukiyaki Soup, Sesami Soy milk soup or Wafu soup (a lightly-seasoned seaweed broth); while those who prefer something spicy can choose the Green Curry Soup, Spicy Miso Sou or the Spicy Mongolian Soup.

Besides the thinly sliced beef, beef’s tongue, lamb and chicken, they have a wide range of mushrooms and vegetables to choose from to ensure that the whole family has a healthy meal together.

Their shabu-shabu buffet is priced at RM48++ per adult, and RM30 (for children below 12). For an additional RM30++, you would be entitled to unlimited sushi.

My foodie friend, Tan Swee Ho who joined the food tasting session says he enjoys especially the camaraderie with friends in a cosy ambience that is truly Japanese, and he plans to come back with his friends.

“The raw ingredients here are fresh,” he said. “This is what a good shabu-shabu is about. The restaurant is also clean and its ambience gives a Japanese feel that makes fits its description as a Japanese restaurant.”

I agree that the restaurant lives up to its tagline, ‘the true taste of home’. Except that in Japanese homes, where they sit on low tables, the general ambience gives it the authentic Japanese signature to Mikoshi.

My son loves the Yakiramen the best. Enthusiastic with what he had to enjoy during the meal, he decided to do a video clip himself with some help from me. You can read his blog here. He has learnt one new Japanese word, Oishī (おいしい) which means ‘simply delicious.’

At the children’s corner, the ceiling is adorned with traditional wagasa (oil paper and washi umbrellas) which creates an ambience that young children would love.
Mikoshi’s logo is personally calligraphed by the group director, Akira Tashiro.

For bigger families, Mikoshi has a private room that can fit some 20 guests at any one time. It is also a good place to have small groups coming together for a meal together.

Visit other Japanese restaurants on the Oishi Food Trail: Ni Ichi Sushi still maintains its tastes, and prices despite the inflation.
Background music to the video played by Colin Ng is a famous Japanese song, “First Love” (初恋) by Utada Hikaru (宇多田ヒカル).

Mikoshi Restaurant is located at 109 A, Jalan SS21/1A, Damansara Utama.   

Tel: 03-77331184  Whatsapp: 017-3373148

Business hours:

Monday to Thursday 
11.30am to 3pm (Last order 2.30pm)
6pm to 11pm (Last order 10.00pm)

Friday to Sunday 
11.30am to 11.00pm (Last order 10.00pm)


Instagram: mikoshirestaurant

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Pastries that are authentically Aussie

Pastries that are authentically Aussie

For the most part of his early years, Malaysian pastry chef or patissier, Justin Wong developed his love for pastry under the tutelage of mentors who had backgrounds in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Colleagues whom he had worked with were both very passionate and inspiring in patisserie. That formed the bulk of his attitude towards work.

He spent ten good years of his early career working in Melbourne – the first three years with Singaporean-owned Stamford Raffles hotel in Melbourne, followed by another seven years with The Sofitel Melbourne, where he had developed a strong passion for Australian patisserie.

Since setting up Miss Ellie Tea House in Taman Melawati with his mother, Justin has become well-known for his scones. They come in four standard flavours, namely Plain, Raisin, Oat and Chocolate.

“There are also the seasonal variants from time to time, but based on the record of sales, most local patrons prefer our White Chocolate and Cranberry Christmas Scones,” he elaborates.

The 32-year-old graduated from the William Angliss Institute of TAFE in Melbourne, with a Certificate IV in Patisserie. That is, for your information, the highest certification available for tradesmen in Australia, just short of a Diploma in the hierarchy of academic certification.

Although the diversity of cultures and its cuisines in metropolitan Melbourne have mesmerised and moulded this young man’s life, it is the opportunity to learn from great chefs that he treasures for life.

For example, Filip Tibos, a former Belgian chef residing in Melbourne, trained him to be his scone-maker and now Justin’s scones are, in fact, his personal homage to him patissier Filip.

Justin reminiscences: “Scones are one of those really simple things that are widely made in homes in Australia, but it was Filip who taught me the special technique that could elevate a recipe to soaring new heights.”

To make a good scone takes a lot of skills and patience, and this is why Justin is so passionate about his scones.

“I would say our scone is what it is because of a combination of reasons”.

“Firstly, the recipe and ingredients must be excellent. Secondly, the technique applied to its making at every step of the way is stringently repeated every single day.

“This results in the third factor: consistency. Ultimately, it’s all about pleasing the diner.”

Besides the scones, at Miss Ellie Tea House, Justin has also introduced a good variety of other pastries, desserts, breads and other baked goods. This is why besides the lunch hours, people do go there for afternoon tea just to enjoy his patisserie.

As I put together this piece of article for our Waltzing Matilda food trail, I am already drooling over the mention of his Pandan Panna Cotta (RM7.50), Vanilla Creme Brulee (RM9.50), White Coffee and Chocolate Parfait and Strawberry Cheesecake.

Occasionally, he makes one or two special dessert such as his Ginger Creme Brulee. When durians are in season, his most popular special is the Durian Creme Brulee.

Other baked offerings include the Salt Caramel Fudge Cupcakes, Flourless Orange and Poppy Cake, Passionfruit White Chocolate, Australian Carrot Cake, Baked New York Cheesecake (with a milk chocolate version) and Passionfruit Calamansi Tart, to name a few.

A good time to check out Justin’s range of patisserie while enjoying it with a pot of Earl Grey is just after the lunch hours, when there are fewer guests.


Miss Ellie Tea House is located at No. 7 Jalan H3, Taman Melawati, 53100 Kuala Lumpur.

Business hours: 10am-7pm (Tuesday – Thursday) Friday – Saturday (10am – 9.30pm) Closed on: Sundays and Mondays

Tel: 03-41620113

Email: [email protected]


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The other articles on our Waltzing Matilda food trail series: