Pomelo Restaurant, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh

Words: Kirsten Durward    Photos: Monica Tindall

Stepping in to the delightful open-air setting of Pomelo at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, you would be forgiven you for thinking that you have slipped back in time to a quieter era.  Wooden fans move the lazy air above light colonial style rattan and natural wood furniture. Sunlight dapples through cool green leaves below the towering limestone cliffs to glint lightly in the lakes and ponds that are scattered through the grounds.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Views from Pomelo, The Banjaran

Pomelo is open to in-house guests, but visitors to Ipoh or local residents may too enjoy a lunch or dinner in this beautiful and unique spot, below the limestone cliffs and surrounded by natural forest.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Pomelo Restaurant

During our three-day two-night stay here we have the chance to sample across both the lunch and dinner menu.

We are intrigued by the colourful sounding salads and decide to start there.

Orange segments, ginger nut dressing and goats’ cheese dance in the Beetroot Salad (RM33). The beetroot is marinated with a moreish spicy overtone that, combined with the subtly sharp goats cheese, makes us both go mmm and long for a glass of crisp Marlborough sauvignon blanc on the side.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Beetroot Salad

The Banjaran Tomato and Feta Salad (RM33) with cucumber and olives is fresh and light served with a cheeky sweet basil pesto and fleur de sal. We are impressed with the colour and flavour of the Cameron Highland tomatoes and wish we could find similar in Kuala Lumpur! Prawn Cocktail with Kaffir Lime, and Mango (RM38) is again a prettily presented, small but flavourful, portion. We find the salads to be delectable nibbles, but they are definitely appetizer size.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Tomato and Feta Salad
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Prawn Cocktail

We taste two soups. The Pumpkin (RM 41) is smooth and creamy, with a local twist of coconut milk and lime leaf. Potato and Leek Soup (RM 41) is delightful with a quail egg, micro greens and truffle oil, and has a similar creamy texture and taste.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Potato and Leek Soup

Not ones to be on the diet train, we’re grateful to see that our first main dish, a creamy Risotto with Wild Mushrooms is more substantial. ‘Look at all those gorgeous fresh veggies!’squeals Mon. And indeed the plate is loaded with chunky fresh colourful veggies, too many to count. The risotto has a good texture and a subtle blend of cheese and pesto in the flavour.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Mushroom Risotto

You know that we are fish fans so you won’t be surprised that we enjoyed the French Mustard Crusted Salmon (RM75) with tomato and butter sauce and a delicious green lentil salad. The Sea Bass (RM75) comes pan-seared with a flavourful fennel salad, orange roasted almonds and sweet cilantro pesto.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh

An unusual Malaysian styled dish, Udang Galah Panggang Kuah Percik (RM 70) – grilled local fresh water lobster- comes with sweet and spicy coconut cream and seasonal vegetables More crunchy fresh veggies and those yummy deep red tomatoes. The texture and taste reminds of a satay but more peppery and coconutty. Scrum!

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Udang Galah Panggang Kuah Percik

We love the attention to detail in the presentation of these dishes, being prettily arranged with scatterings of tiny fresh herbs and edible flowers.

Dessert selections are nicely sized, beautifully presented, and always accompanied with fresh fruit. We enjoy an oozing Chocolate Fondant with Mango Salad and Fresh Berries (RM30). The signature Pomelo dessert, Caramelized Lemon Parfait (RM33), which features pomelo and kaffir lime leaf proves to be fresh and light and is Mon’s favourite.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Chocolate Fondant
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Lemon Parfait

Dinner is an elegant affair with black clad waiters floating between crisply draped tables. The menu, more extensive than lunchtime, needs a lot of discussion to ascertain the best choices.

For starters we go for seafood with the Lemongrass Crispy Prawn (RM 45) atop a salad of citrus fruits, the ubiquitous pomelo, jazzed up with a chilli ginger zing and a cashew nut sesame seed crunch. Ginger also features lightly in the creamy Lobster Soup (RM 41) poured over a baby soft shell crab.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Crispy Prawns
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Lobster Orange Soup

The kitchen at Pomelo is strong on presentation and we love the look of our Cod Fish (RM 75) steamed with pomelo ginger, asparagus, wok fried vegetables and hazelnut with lemongrass emulsion, and the very pretty Caramelized Chicken Breast (RM70). The mango papaya chutney, red curry foam, sesame seeds and pak choy make the poultry my favourite dish of the night. We love the different flavours but it’s the quantity and freshness of the vegetable, which make this a real winner.

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh

On our second evening we are offered a taste of what was served as part of the New Year’s set menu, a quartet of dishes so delectable that we demand they add them to the regular menu so everyone can enjoy them all year through. A lightly spiced coconut Laksa with King Prawn is heavenly with light spices and a slight emulsification. Black Cod, oven roasted, is melting and flaky, the bell pepper coulis bursting with flavour and an imaginative zing of kaffir lime and turmeric through the green pea emulsion gives the dish an added zing. The meat option offers the double indulgence of truffle potatoes and chive double cream with tender and fulsome Black Angus Beef. To end, a light Marscapone Parfait with wild berries and almond crisp: one could almost wish it were New Year’s here every evening!

Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Pomelo, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh
Mascarpone Parfait

Although service is meticulous, Pomelo does typify the relaxed pace of spa retreat dining. Everything is freshly prepared to order so do not come in a hurry, be prepared to spend time savouring the environment as well as the food.

Reasons to visit:  wonderful natural setting, bountiful use of fresh colourful veggies, delightful presentation, impeccable service.

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
No 1, Persiaran Lagun Sunway 3
31150 Ipoh, Perak
+6 05 210 7777

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  1. What really can you say – IDYLLIC setting and mouth watering presented food.
    Shades of the movie – “South Pacific” in the pool shot – did you, Monica and El
    Caning Cordobes jnr. play out the “Happy Talk” song in the mountainside pool????
    Oh I am a born romantic at heart !!!!
    Not too brilliant with my 4th round predictions yesterday was I??
    Great to see that young Shuai Zhang of China knocking out seed after seed.
    She is such a lovely humble “sweetie” and to have her parents there to watch,
    what a bonus.
    I was surprised that Raonic of Canada beat Stan. “The Man” from Switzerland.
    But Milos Raonic is already the winner of the Brisbane International – he beat Roger Federer in the final. Milos was educated in Saskatchewan and in his victory speech
    as the match was beamed live to Canadian Sports TV, he dedicated his win to the kids killed in that school carnage, a school he attended!! Very moving indeed.
    The matador supremo, El David Ferrer, sure made mince meat of the 6 foot 10 inch
    American, John Isner. A case of height doesn’t matter, eh?
    Lovely cool day here for Australia Day – might upset some of the BBQ parties.
    Fantastic choice of the Australian of the Year – I have meet the General (ret.),
    he is a no nonsense man.
    Cheers and don’t forget to have a lamb chop and put some shrimps onto the BBQ
    El Colin Cordobes

  2. Gorgeous views and lovely presentations!

  3. The food prices, all exquisitely presented, certainly seems fair for a luxury hotel like this.

  4. I need a holiday there.

  5. Salmon and Broccoli, yum!

  6. I’m already feeling relaxed just by looking at the first picture; it’s beautiful!! =)

  7. Gosh, I haven’t visited Ipoh for the longest time! Guess it’s time to revisit with all these fine dining….. xoxo

  8. OMG! What a wonderful setting…fabulous dessert selections and beautifully presented…yummy Chocolate Fondant, but I’m would love to try their signature dessert, Caramelized Lemon Parfait.

  9. Love the name – very Ipoh-ish! They say the have the best pomelo there.

  10. Pingback: The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, Ipoh – The Yum List

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