Thursday, 4 June 2015

Greenhouse by Muir @ Ampang

When I first found out about this place, Greenhouse by Muir @ Ampang, through some of the food blogs, I was sold from the concept (refined self-service dining) to the locality (close proximity to where I stay) to what I saw (photos in blogs) as a great selection of food at affordable prices.
Sadly, that all changed when I stepped in....but, before I get to that, let's just go through the motions first.  First and foremost, parking is a real problem here as the space in front can accommodate roughly a dozen or so cars only (we got there just before 6pm on a weekend night, which we thought was pretty early, but it was still full with some double parking already).  [#Tip: You can always park by the roadside at your own risk (we didn't, this is the very busy Jalan Ampang we're talking about), or choose to park at the lot beside the restaurant (which we did) at a pretty steep rate of RM3.50 an hour.  Although you can see the restaurant just next to the parking lot, the parking exit (however) is on the far end away from the restaurant, so you need to make a round (walk along the pavement next to the road) in order to get to the entrance (and it may not be that conducive after dark).]
As soon as you step in through the sliding doors, you'll see two or three tables on your left, some alfresco sitting outside and a long communal table that can sit about 20 people (there's actually a high bar-type table just opposite the communal table, that can sit another 10, but there weren't enough high chairs).  The Evendough Café (where you get your drinks) is on your right. 

Walk past Evendough Café and you'll be greeted by a sign that shows you the floor directory and your starting point (actually, the directory wasn't necessary as the place was so small).  Anyway, get your trolley and basket before going merrily on your way.
Your walk through the Kuroshio Market will start at the Cold Section where you'll find an assortment of fresh seafood and fish being sliced for your sashimi.  You can see that they have some rather expensive fresh seafood (from sea urchins to snow crab, fresh water prawns (RM13.78/pc) and scallop (RM31.80/pc) here but the presentation leaves much to be desired (the bed of ice has melted leaving unsightly murky water)!
The prepared boxes of fresh sashimi (and sushi) for your taking....this was how bare it looked while we were dinner time on a weekend night! :(  I didn't have any, so I wouldn't know how fresh the sashimi is.
Passing the Cold Section, you'll arrive at the Hot Section next where you'll get the cooked items....but when I got there, "Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard was bare!"  There was no ready hot food on the counter.  When I asked as to why there weren't any hot food available, the cashier told me that the chef has just begun cooking (at 6pm after taking a break).  [#Note: If you're running an eatery from 10 to 10, the kitchen shouldn't run out of food at all (they should have enough chefs on rotation) to ensure that the 'concept' of ever ready hot food for customers picking is available at all times (just like supermarkets wouldn't be caught with empty shelves).]
While waiting for the hot food to be replenished, I proceeded on my journey and turned the corner and reached Evendough Bakery (which occupies a very small corner).  Again, it was a huge disappointment as the trays were mostly empty.  There were only a few types of ready made pastries to choose from while most of them were breads.
I managed to choose only one...the Japanese Curry Bun @ RM6.36 stuffed with beef, potatoes and onions.  The bun was alright but I wasn't exactly thrilled with the taste of the filling.
I was surprised to see that most of their bakery items were stored in containers with lids rather than in open shelves like what I've seen in other blogs.  I found it more difficult to look (and get) at when it's covered like that! :(
Coming back to the Hot Food Section (after intentionally wasting time at the super tiny bakery for about 10 - 15 minutes), I found that the food was still not ready and (this time) they even cordoned off the area with guard rails.  We had no choice but to just sit down and wait....all in all, I think we waited for a further 30 minutes (no prizes for guessing what kind of mood I was in then).

Finally, the food was ready and they opened the line for us to queue (and obviously everyone rushed in).  From the photos I've seen on blogs, I actually thought the place was quite big...but, when I saw the actual place, it was not as I envisaged at all.  The line for the hot food is probably about '10-people long'...that's how small the hot food section is!  Let's see, there's probably about 10+ dishes...salmon, saba, shishamo, unagi, korokke vegetable, gyoza, ebi furai, ebi tempura, chicken teriyaki, takoyaki + maybe a couple more.

Anyway, after waiting for so long, I just grabbed whatever I could in one trip for the two of us, and it wasn't much, coz the small basket (on the trolley) could only accommodate two open-top paper containers (unless you stack the containers on top of one another).  I just picked enough food to fit into 3 paper containers (I wasn't planning to queue again).  I did notice that there were trays available...but how in hell do they expect us to hold on to the trays and still pick our food!  These were what I managed to take:

Container 1 - Korokke Vegetable (2 pcs) @ RM1.59/pc
Gyoza (2 pcs) @ RM1.06/pc
Saba Shioyaki @ RM7.21/pc
Container 2 - Ebi Furai (4 pcs) @ RM2.65/pc
Fried Dumpling (4 pcs) @ RM1.06/pc
Container 3 - Salmon Teriyaki (2 pcs) @ RM13.57/pc

As for the food, it could be better...the gyoza skin was thick and chewy, the saba and salmon were overcooked and on the dry side.  Actually, there aren't that many food choices (imagine how much food you can fit into a '10 people long' line).  And know that the food is cooked and left on the trays, so by the time you queue, pay for the food (only one payment counter was opened though I saw four cash registers) and get to your seats, the food will (obviously) not be hot anymore.

You can make it into a set meal by paying RM6.36 for rice, soup and vegetables.  Looking at the food that I took, I knew it wouldn't be enough to feed two people, let alone one, so I went back to get some rice and soup (I didn't even notice any vegetables or condiments for the soup because of the chaos).  As these were non-refillable, I saw people filling as much rice as possible onto the paper containers (when the correct vessels were actually the paper cups) and scooping soup right up to the brim of the soup container (and then imagine putting the soup into the trolley and pushing it) wasn't a pretty sight!  [#Note: And what was worse was that they put the rice and soup at the beginning of the line for hot food...and the sauces at the end, putting further 'strain' and contributing to more time wasting on the line (what they should have done is to relocate these two away from the main hot food line).  And then, when you get to the end of the line, someone will have to see what you took and print price tags for your food...and that again takes time (and holds up the queue further) other words, it was a hot mess!]

The total bill for the food was RM65.62 and I wouldn't exactly say it was cheap for the food we had.  Although the food was meant for two, we were only half full and could easily have eaten double that amount.  If I had to spend a similar amount like this (for one person), I can surely think of other Japanese food options available where I don't have to queue and self-serve myself! T_T

My Personal Opinion

My first time here wasn't what I expected at all...and here are the reasons why:

1.  Parking is a real problem (I can imagine it can only get worse when the two restaurants upstairs open later) and alternative parking (at the parking lot nearby) is a hassle too.

2.  The logistics were poorly managed and executed...from the queue to the equipment provided to the placement of the food to payment.

3.  They simply can't handle big crowds.  Their manpower (either insufficient or not well trained) is just not ready to cater to such crowds (mind you, we're talking about a small crowd of about 50 people dining in only) based on the 'barely there' bakery items and the non-existent hot food at one time.

The concept was good but the execution was far from it!  It would probably be better with a much bigger (and more organised) space....for parking, queuing, manoeuvring your trolley, picking your food and seating capacity.  They should seriously rethink about the logistics and improve the way of doing things as they don't seem to be able to manage the dine-in crowd.  A lot needs to be tweaked and, unless they sort this out quickly, this will be a one-off experience for certainly was for me!

I came with high hopes of a 'different' dining experience....but (ultimately) left utterly disappointed! :'(  [#P/S: Having said that, the food wasn't half bad (could be better) but the sauces need some serious tweaking though.  And you'd probably have a better experience if you come here earlier in the day (when all the stocks of food are still in abundance) as opposed to dinner time.  Also, takeaways are highly recommended as it's a much better option than dining in.  They will be fine as long as there is no crowd!]
Restoran Greenhouse by Muir
1 Jalan Nipah
Off Jalan Ampang
55000 Kuala Lumpur


  1. Other than the label, I don't see anything green. Lots of deep fried stuff...which brings to mind this Taiwan franchise I went to the other day. There is a "Rumah Hijau" in Kuching, very very popular - not sure what cuisine they have, nasi Padang...or Malay perhaps. Never been - hope to do that when I hop over one of these days.

    1. Maybe the name Greenhouse is just a name! But I did see trees being planted...kekeke! Or maybe the farmers' markets they intend to do later (as Sean mentioned).

  2. ooo, hopefully they'll take all your very constructive feedback into account ... i've met some of the management/operational staff members here, and they seem very genuine in wanting to keep customers comfortable and satisfied. i think they were unprepared for some of the issues they're facing, but hopefully within a couple of months, they'll have more manpower etc to keep the kitchen running longer, etc :)

    1. I hope they'll improve their logistics and manpower over time as the concept is good. This place used to house an old bungalow (saw it on Google Maps, Oct 2013) but my feelings (personally) is that the place is just too small for an ambitious concept like this.

  3. Sounds really bad, hope they are able to improve over time... their concept is creative and new in Msia

    1. I hope so too.....and I do agree that it is a good concept though, something different :)

  4. When I read opening lines, I thought this place is a gem but when I read "Sadly, that all changed when I stepped in....", my mind went oh oh oh but I kept on reading. Seems like they are doing buffet style food presentation but not the eat all you can for one price like a buffet so after taking all your food, time will be taken up by having to have someone total up the price of each food item and then pay for the food before you can dig in - something like buying chapfan at a economy rice stall.

    I wonder how much they are selling one ball of sea urchin for. I spotted 3 in your photo. AFAIK sea urchins are expensive.

    I don't think I would want to eat there after reading your review but then to be fair, I seldom go to Jalan Ampang so even if you have sung praises of it, most likely I would not be able to make it there. So if the management is reading this, they did not lose a potential customer due to your reivew but due to their location.

    1. Yes, you can say it's something like a buffet...and that's why it's imperative that their shelves are not bare and their hot food items are replenished regularly.

    2. Oh, I just realised I didn't answer your question about the price of the sea urchins. If I saw correctly (the price tags in the paper cup in front), it's about RM63+ a pc.

  5. Shame to hear they're not off to a great start. I was too excited about having a spot in this location. It looked promising from the other blog posts.

    1. Yes, it is a shame really...and I hope that they will rise above their not-so-great start. I was overly excited too about the location and came with such high expectations after what I saw on other blogs too.

  6. This is probably one of those places where it is best to come for lunch huh...

    1. You'll probably have ready food choices but I'm not so sure if they'll be able to cope with the crowd during a peak period like lunch time though...remember, they aren't very good with crowds!

    2. Haha, by lunch, I mean early lunch, be the first batch of customers. They don't do breakfast, do they?

    3. As I know, they open from, you can try an early lunch (and hope for a better experience). Well, I thought before 6pm was an early dinner time too! ;)


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