September 22, 2018
The thought of a trip to Ipoh conjures indelible images of delicious experiences, from morning meals of dim sum and bean sprouts chicken at classic kopitiams to tea breaks at evocative contemporary cafes. On our most recent visit to Perak's capital, we spent nearly two days indulging to our heart's content - but without even leaving our accommodation.
There was nearly no need to look elsewhere - The Pomelo, the all-day-dining restaurant of The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, promised a new gastronomic adventure every time we set foot inside, amidst a serene setting brimming with geothermal hot springs, limestone caves and verdant hills.
Waking up barely in time for brunch, we were tempted by a spread of freshly baked bread and pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and house-made strawberry, pineapple and apricot jams. But what makes The Pomelo even sweeter is the a la carte breakfast menu, with individual dishes served to order.
The selection is extensive - Malaysian and Asian staples include steamed chicken siu mai, chicken char siu bao and har gao; nasi lemak; roti canai with dal; and claypot congee with fish, all ensuring that guests seeking local fare will be fully satiated.
Of course, there are eggs galore in multiple preparations - sunny-side-up with a minute steak; baked shakshuka-style in a skillet; turned into an omelette tinged with sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil; or poached on sourdough toast. If you a fix of carbs to kick off your day, try the toasted bagel with smoked salmon or French toast with berries; a serving of fresh fruits and wholesome smoothies will help balance out the nourishment.
Lunch is a step up to a more ambitious affair - The Pomelo's repertoire is as vast as the resort grounds, encompassing elaborate creations that range from regionally influenced specialities such as a pomelo salad (the fruit is, after all, the pride of Perak state, inspiring the restaurant's name as well) bursting with tiger prawns and wok-fried char kuey teow bolstered by duck egg, to Josper charcoal oven-grilled triumphs like Black Angus beef tenderloin and Boston lobster over mac and cheese.
By midday, cocktails too make their graceful debut; sip outside beneath the shade by the calm waters for the ultimate escapist interlude that makes the two-hour travel time from KL more than justified.
Dinnertime is when the kitchen shines with lustrous flair - for special occasions, an entire meal can be customised for your personal gratification. The Banjaran is dedicated to the wellness of its guests, so the food here has a healthful slant, flourishing with vibrant, invigorating ingredients.
Our meal comprised highlights such as a tuna sashimi tartar with yuzu jelly and honey wasabi mayo; saffron-spiked seafood bouillabaisse; lamb rack with spicy carrot mousseline; pan-seared salmon with sauteed new potatoes and yellow pepper coulis; and lemon raspberry curd with chocolate cake.
The Chateau Malmaison Baronne Nadine de Rothschild 2012 is the perfect wine for this feast, transporting with its earthy bouquet, with a character that befits The Banjaran's own mystique.
The Pomelo is open to in-house guests as well as visitors - for guests, it offers sustenance in between a string of relaxing activities, from exploring ancient caves to spa and massage treatments, yoga sessions and fish pedicures, or even simply soaking in the private pool of each villa.
Forty-eight hours at The Banjaran flew by effortlessly; many thanks to the resort and its stellar team for having us.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Persiaran Lagoon Sunway 3, Sunway City Ipoh, 31150 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
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