IR1968 Indochine Restaurant & Bar, Hock Choon Terrace, Ampang: A Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Meal

Have you ever laid eyes on some thing that is absolutely gorgeous? Some thing that sparkles and captivates you in an instance and draws you in so deep until you can’t take your eyes away from it. So beautiful you’d wish for it to be all yours and nobody else’s. So beautiful, you’d never want to share it with anybody else. I’m not talking about the iPhone 4, although that’s constantly on my mind. IR1968, an unconventional and colourful Indonesian restaurant, was that thing to me. I remember visiting it for the first time with my Watermelon (long story short, I’m currently naming the Queen after the wonderful juicy fruit) one beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

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We walked into this place and I was immediately drawn to the faux-vintage white washed wooden furniture contrasted with coloured cushions and dark walls. There were plenty of natural day-light flowing through from every direction, vibrantly painting every surface of the dining room into a psychedelic piece of pop art. It was as if a rainbow has exploded in here. I was immediately in love with the place. Don’t even get me started on those gorgeous white and blue china plates! As the Queen has proclaimed, “a far cry from the stereotype frequently associated with Indonesian restaurants.”

Its owners tell us that this is an Indonesian restaurant that was first established in Hong Kong in 1968, hence its name. If you share my taste in aesthetics, you’d agree that the owners, Hudson and Debbie, are both one of the the most perfectly-formed creatures to roam the surface of this planet.

The food here is not typically Indonesian; most of its dishes have Chinese influences and recipes have obviously been tweaked to suit the Hong Kong taste buds. However, having said that, the food here was still impressive during my last few visits. A good way to start off is with a Tauhu Goreng Telur – the one served here is almost like a fragrant and crispy fried beancurd omellette with shredded cucumber and carrots and topped nicely with a spicy peanut sauce and fried shallots.

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The Semur Lidah was surprisingly tender and very succulent despite heavily cooked in spices for a long duration like a rendang curry. My perception of slow-cooked ox tongue has been changed to say the least. It was my first time trying Ayam Asam Kacang, another surprisingly tasty dish. These small crispy morsels of deep-fried chicken thigh meat laid on top a spread of light and smooth peanut and plum sauce accompanied by fragrant toasted nuts were highly addictive.
The Assam Fish Curry had a good balance of spicy, sourish and fishy flavours in its broth, that made it very appetizing. The okra, tomatoes and onions deliciously soaked up all the tangy gravy. The only let down to this otherwise lovely dish was the fish slices itself. Looking beyond the mediocrity of the meat, we marched on to another seafood dish. The Fresh Coconut Sour & Spicy Prawns is one of the newer dishes on the restaurant’s menu and I have to admit, a very good addition indeed. The broth was like a tangy and sweet curry without the creaminess we are accustomed to. It was also milder compared to the Assam Fish and was excellent when eaten with a serving of their fluffy and pipping hot coconut rice. A must order.
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If you find yourself highly strung out and in need of a quick mid-day fix, I’d recommend you to head over for their affordable lunch sets. Start with either a very tasty and hearty Chicken Sup that I guarantee will momentarily soothe your troubles away, or the tiny Crispy Spring Rolls with sweet chili dip. I was delighted to find both my favourite noodle dishes of theirs included in the set menu. The Bakmi Goreng Kuah Laut, delicious crispy egg-noodles topped in a Cantonese-styled seafood sauce consisting of the freshest ocean picks; and the Meehoon Goreng, a simple stir-fried noodle dish with seafood, egg and sambal that hits the spot every time. The lunch sets starts at an incredible low price of RM18.90!

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Desserts, however, I must say is not their forte. Alas, one just can’t possibly be good at everything. The Banana/Pineapple Fritters with Es Krim was nothing too exciting, while the fancy looking Es Cendol failed to impressed. It was somewhat lacking the rich flavours of the coconut milk and palm sugar. You’re much better off heading downstairs to Espressemente by Illy for some good coffee.

I have no qualms about not getting my sweet endings at this establishment, because that’s not the real reason why I come here for. I’m here to hide away from the bustling city outside, to be among the beautiful decor and admire its colourful furniture. Above all, I love the serenity the place offers as its usually very quiet in the day. Perhaps, that’s the reason why I’ve been selfish and have kept this place away from you up until now. I didn’t want to loose my little piece of tranquility within the city.

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Post-script:
This review is a combination of a few meals enjoyed at the restaurant including a review organised by Poesy Liang (via Ah Pa). Thanks!

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IR1968 Indochine Restaurant & Bar
Hock Choon Terrace
241-B Lorong Nibong
Off Jalan Ampang
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2141 3550
12 Responses to IR1968 Indochine Restaurant & Bar, Hock Choon Terrace, Ampang: A Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Meal
  1. J
    September 6, 2010 | 4:15 am

    Beautiful food and beautiful ppl – great combination, right? :)
    (Aiyo… why is LL a watermelon?)

  2. Life for Beginners
    September 6, 2010 | 4:31 am

    So very the colour. I like! :)

  3. thule a.k.a leo
    September 6, 2010 | 4:55 am

    Ampang :( an area I would try to avoid at all cost!

  4. boo_licious
    September 6, 2010 | 3:29 pm

    I must admit I love this place more for its decor vs the food though.

  5. Lyrical Lemongrass
    September 7, 2010 | 2:04 am

    You forgot to mention that you are Orange King! :-D
    What a mashup of pictures. So gleeful! :-D
    Lovely pics. I love hanging out here because it's so pretty! Even better if you're there with me all the time. Can ar, Orange King?

  6. Sean
    September 7, 2010 | 4:40 am

    eeks, how did i miss this post yesterday…
    i gotta admit, when i visited this place, i was more captivated by the ambiance (and hudson, even though i didn't know his name!) compared to the food (which was nice, but u know how i prefer western fare). i do recall hudson was really nice and friendly … he kept coming up to our table to ask us how we liked the food, and he remarked that "you guys can really eat a lot!" heheh. and since we didn't know who he was, we kept wondering where he was from, since he didn't sound malaysian :D

  7. UnkaLeong
    September 8, 2010 | 12:50 am

    Such a lovely es-capade from the hustle and the bustle of the city hor. Looks like everyone fell in love with the cutlery and the red lantern ;)

  8. PureGlutton
    September 8, 2010 | 2:57 am

    Yes, i agree – lovely deco there!

  9. May
    September 8, 2010 | 5:47 pm

    lovely the restaurant

  10. fatboybakes
    September 9, 2010 | 5:55 am

    when was this ah? in 1968 ah? seems a lifetime ago.

    oh gimme tongue gimme tongue, i wanttttt tongue

  11. qwazymonkey
    September 10, 2010 | 7:07 pm

    J: Cos I'm her Orange

    LFB: like a rainbow!

    Thule: Well, it's actually on the more civilized side of Ampang bro. Just go try over the weekend. Traffic's usually good then.

    Boo: Yeah, I'm a sucker for pretty things. LOL

    LL: Let's hang out and make colourful fruit punches there!

    Sean: Hehe, everyone's just captivated by his good looks and charm. Must be that Hongkee accent. I must get one right away. Accent, not Hudson.

    Unka: Christmas is coming, u know what to steal for me k?

    May: It is, isn't it?

    FBB: U can ask Hudson for some tongue. :P

    Pureglutton: Aren't we all superficial people?

  12. Penang Pete
    September 21, 2010 | 8:46 am

    Another one for my list – thanks

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