Pomelo restaurant is the all-day dining establishment at The Banjaran Hot Springs Retreat in Ipoh. The beautiful setting over thermal pools amidst lush tropical rainforest encourages guests to linger over leisurely meals where the surroundings are just as much reason to visit as the menu.
An open-walled dining area and air-conditioned salon are punctuated by three gazebos accessed by a wooden walkway over the thermal pools. The individual huts and ultra-romantic vibe makes an excellent booking for special celebrations. And the team at Pomelo have curated a menu for just such occasions.
Candlelight Menu – A Romantic Journey
Pomelo’s Candlelight Menu – A Romantic Journey – is a thoughtful selection of European recipes brightened with fresh, local ingredients. The three-course menu begins with a bread selection and offers a choice of two appetisers, two mains and one dessert. With an overcomplicated life, it takes the pain out of decision-making, allowing us to enjoy the food and ambience without too much mental effort. Furthermore, the tables are dressed with linens, rose petals and flickering candles.
Pomelo Restaurant’s Romantic Journey
The Art of Yeast arrives on a wooden platter holding thick slices of raisin and grain bread paired with extra-virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, olive tapenade and butter. The small bursts of sweetness, thanks to the raisins, are well-complemented by the savoury accompaniments. It’s all too easy to keep spreading and nibbling, but be warned; these hearty slices quickly fill the stomach.
Chef Del presents the three-course menu. He has been with The Banjaran for twelve years, working with some spectacular international chefs. Still, he manages to take global influence and root it in local comfort, finding an endearing balance and pleasing a wide range of palates.
Starters see a choice of Tuna Tartare or Bouillabaisse. As most foodies know, the advantage of dining as two is getting to try both. The former features ahi tuna (you’re given a choice of raw or cooked) with yuzu crème, tropical amur caviar (a local production by T’lur), seaweed, edible flowers, avocado dip and wild cress (from the hotel garden). The fish is wonderfully fresh, and the hints of citrus elevate the palate, making it an excellent beginning. The latter is a thick soup of saffron potatoes, shrimp, black mussels, scallops, cod fish and fennel. It’s a gentle introduction to the Provençal fish stew, with the potato softening the traditional rich seafood flavours. Both are solid recipes.
The palate cleanser in between courses is aptly named the Signature Pop. And, “pop” it does with tiny sprinkles of popping candy crowning the scoop. Naturally coloured and flavoured with pink ginger, it has a mildly floral taste and natural sweetness.
Mains are a choice of beef and fish, and again we opt for both. The Beef Tenderloin is a prime cut of grain-fed Australian beef sided with a caprese salad and morel jus. It’s cooked precisely to order and satisfies the mouth with a balanced meatiness and nicely charred crust. The Atlantic Cod splits at the touch of the fork. It’s backed with roasted celeriac puree, toasted hazelnuts, asparagus, scallion oil and cream sauce. The duo showcases the skill of the chef with both preparations cooked with refinement and seasoning working in harmony with the protein.
Chocolate Fondant completes the menu with a well-loved classic. The gooey middle oozes as we slice in, and a cool and earthy truffle gelato and almond crumble balance the recipe with a hint of savoury and contrasting crunch.
Lunch at Pomelo Restaurant
While the evenings are set for romance in the gazebos, daytime visits gift diners the prettiest views. Guests have a choice of the personal huts (although these can be quite warm in the middle of the day), an open-walled dining hall (manageable on an overcast day and benefiting from huge garden fans), or a glass-enclosed setting kept chilled with air-conditioning. The a la carte menu at Pomelo restaurant is a mix of western and local recipes, including several vegetarian and gluten-free items.
I’m happy to find several meat-free items with the Thai Pumpkin Soup (RM 40) and the Pear & Blue Cheese Salad (RM 50). Hubby also takes a plant-based Wild Mushroom Soup (RM 45). My soup is a smooth consistency with chilli oil, cilantro pesto and toasted coconut flakes, lifting the pumpkin with Asian flair. You can taste the assortment of mushrooms in hubby’s soup, clearly a quality blend untainted by too many thickening agents other than the fungi themselves. A truffle tapenade and porcini dust further enhance the earthiness in the bowl. The salad is a generous tumble of mixed leaves tossed with toasted walnuts, caramelised pear, blue cheese and a honey mustard vinaigrette.
The Octopus Salad (RM 65) and Australian Dorper Lamb Rack (RM 145) keep hubby satiated well into the evening. The sauteed octopus is the star of the show in the first dish, finished with smoked paprika. Baby potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, lime juice, turkey chorizo and arugula partner with the cephalopod in an addictive spicy ginger dressing. When the lamb arrives, I’m pretty sure hubby has second thoughts about his earlier claim, “I’ve worked out; I could eat a horse.” However, with the first fork-tender bite, he regains confidence and polishes off the entire rack along with the buttered organic veg, herb and garlic roasted baby potatoes and chimichurri sauce.
Pomelo Restaurant Review
If you enjoy dining surrounded by nature, Pomelo restaurant offers both greenery and water views. The menu is wide enough to satisfy diverse desires, and with advance reservation, the kitchen team are happy to cater for vegan, gluten-free and other dietary preferences.
Reasons to visit Pomelo Restaurant: awe-inspiring setting; friendly service; approachable menu with lots of options to please a diversity of palates; lots of fresh local produce.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
1 Persiaran Lagun Sunway 3
31500 Ipoh, Perak Darul Ridsuan, Malaysia
+6 05 210 7777
Pomelo Restaurant Ipoh Opening Hours
Breakfast for in-house guests 7 am – 10:30 am
All-day dining from 12 pm – 10 pm for in-house and visiting diners