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AUTHENTIC HOKKIEN DISHES IN PENANG?

Posted by crizlai On June - 20 - 2009|

Before I elaborate more on the following dishes I had for lunch few days back, let’s have a look at the dishes and you tell me what would be the first thing that would come into your mind? Here was the meal which consisted of a meat dish, a seafood dish, a vegetable dish and a soup served with two bowls of rice. These dishes would be the ideal balance meal right? To any typical Chinese staying in Malaysia, you would also realize that during certain period of the year you would get dishes like this quite abundantly in most households, especially after some “praying”.

OHC05

To be frank, I was not so impressed at all with the dishes served and they were not even cooked by anyone in my household but from a new restaurant right in the heart of Georgetown. Those dishes were exactly like those served in tour trips to China where most of the dishes contained fatty meat and floated in pool of oil. This was the Chef’s Special Set Meal (RM10 per pax – minimum order two pax) that was recommended for my lunch. For those who know how to read in Chinese, please tell me what do you understand with “粗糧細做套餐” compared to the English name? It literally meant rough dishes made fine set meal. The English name was rather deceiving.

Although the set meal was served quite promptly, the dishes got both our eyes staring at each other for minutes with mouth widely opened. “Huh? Everything’s so plain? Not even any added ingredients?” was our silent exclamation! There was just a piece of fried fish fillet to be shared between the two of us. No doubt it was fresh, thick and non-fishy taste but it was served just like that minus any presentation.

OHC04

The next was just a few pieces of chopped roasted pork and two pieces of chicken meat served with chili sauce. This dish was barely enough for our consumptions.

OHC03

Fried baby cabbage with some irregular sized prawns was also in the set menu. It had nothing more than some oyster sauce and sliced chilies. The amount of oil used was unhealthy and it did look as though the oil had been used for frying something yellow.

OHC06

The soup which was Chop Suey (Kiam Cai Boey) was a complete laugh. It was just some leftover meat boiled with some mustard plants and salt. There were no signs of dried chilies, tamarind and lemon grass to pep up the fragrance and taste of this reputable dish. It was a disastrous bowl of soup. I could barely find pieces of meat in there as all of them had been cooked until floss like. Moreover, I was also trying to avoid the thick layer of oil floating on the soup. Something ought to be done by the kitchen to improve on this dish.

OHC02

Since the staff also claimed to have one of the best vegetarian dishes around, I tried out two of their vegetarian “pork rolls” which were so small and cost me RM2 each. Each roll had some yam paste and some vague bites of jicama and carrot. The fillings were not so generous after all. Moreover, the serving was cold.

OHC07

As for dessert, there were none. We only had a glass of herbal tea (RM1.50) and a glass of passion fruit cordial drink (RM2.50) to wash down our food.

OHC08

Overall, I found the restaurant barely has any dishes in the menu, except for different types of tea, hot and cold beverages, fizzy soda, beers, some over priced hawker food (RM7.50 –RM12) and some normal rice sets and vegetarian dishes. I did order a bowl of the pork ribs prawn noodles which was not served (although I did tick in their order chit) but I overheard from the next table that it was just average. Let’s hope this would be just their temporary menu until they have their official launch sometime next week. I sincerely hope that they would seriously look into their food section as it would be a huge disaster on top of the large amount of money spent on the refurbishment of such a beautiful building.

Can you guess the name of the restaurant? It’s the subsidiary company of the joss stick manufacturer, Bee Chin Heong – Old House Cafe.

OHC01

If you are driving from Jalan Penang into Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong, turn left into Jalan Sungai Ujong upon seeing Komtar Walk on your right. The restaurant is located at the junction of Lebuh Kimberley and Jalan Sungai Ujong. Parking can be quite a headache here during peak hours as Lebuh Kimberley and the surrounding Lebuh Cintra areas are popular with their hawker food.

OHCMAP

Name: OLD HOUSE CAFE
Branch Address: 145-153 Lebuh Kimberley, 10100 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-262 2113
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.416478, 100.332298

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 6/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 6/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 6/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

15 Responses to “AUTHENTIC HOKKIEN DISHES IN PENANG?”

  1. email2me says:

    This is so home cook style ! Just like the way my mom cook for me last time. Must go test power soon liao.

    Huh? I think my Mum pampered me with better dishes Ken. LOL!

  2. My god..this is the one i meaning to try! The one tht i told u abt right? The boss will cook whatever he feels like for the day & then ppl pay RM10 and get served w food. I didnt know they open for commercial biz now?
    Back then it was more of a hobby!
    Sad tht the food is so yucky.
    this is definitely not cooked by the boss himself!

    Yea… it’s a waste with such a beautiful ambience. I was expecting something more creative than just plain serving.

  3. ck lam says:

    My friend recommended this place to me too…i heard some good and negative reviews.

    Same here too CK… That’s the reason I wanted to be there to test them out myself.

  4. ah…. saw this shop. Hmm…….. seems like not a good review from you ah….. ^-^

    Haha… Well… I love options and choices. It lacked all that.

  5. food-4tots says:

    I went there with my family last Dec. Although the price is reasonable, it was a very disappointed meal. The service was terrible. We had to look for our own cutleries! I was told that the fish was the boss’s weekly catch and the set meal was cooked by the boss for his employees.

    I’m aware of the boss’s weekly fishing getaway LK. That’s the reason the fish was really fresh. But as I had told Mary and the rest that it lacked the creativity and options. Even you as a Singaporean, a mother, a cook and a publisher of recipes in a local daily had that experience, what about us right? 🙂

  6. Food Lover - Ant says:

    C’mon…As you mentioned the chef special is only RM10 and wat do u expect? A presentation for the fish? Typical penang people lar…’ai kin chei, ai tua tei’..as u said also…the fish is fresh..why not u request for sashimi even better still? morever…with RM10 u can enjoy so many dishes. Guess Mcdonalds Mcsaver can only satisfy u…but tell u first..the oil they use to fry the fries also ‘has been used’ plenty of times before. *winks*

    Hi Ann… thanks for your feedback. I wondered if you realized that the set meal you saw in the post was for two (RM20), excluding the two bowls of rice (RM2). As for the fish, I would be happy if they have that option. You might want to have a clearer idea of what I’m suggesting to the restaurant here… the fish can be fried the same but cooked in different styles, eg. with fermented beans, sweet & sour or even steamed. Other than at an “economy rice” or “mamak” shop, have you seen any restaurant serving a fish dish in such a plain presentation? Well, I also did receive many feedback from other patrons, the dishes were almost then same daily. Moreover, if you were to get your hands on one copy of their menu, you would notice that there were not many choices for such a big restaurant.

    As for the oil, you should have looked closer and study the color of the stir fry vegetables in the post. It was yellow. It’s fine to recycle oil but any chef would know that certain oil for frying certain food (eg. turmeric chicken, fish) cannot be used for cooking other dishes as the remaining flavors in the oil would affect the overall taste of another dish. By the way, have you been in a McD kitchen before? I have worked there before. They will assign their oil specifically for frying different items.

    I hope my response would give you a better explanation to my post. Anyway, it’s good to have your feedback here. Thanks.

  7. Christy says:

    I saw the renovations some time ago, and then once saw them move their furniture in. It looks so splendid from outside, and I can’t comprehend why would they serve such plain dishes?

    I am totally disgusted by the re-used cooking oil….unbearable…YIKES!

    After reading your review, I doubt I want to go there 🙁

    I just heard about them again few minutes ago from the people around that area. Everybody complained about the service and food. Haiz.. They better buck up or else they would surely lose more customers.

  8. allenooi says:

    i think my mum can cook better than that.

    Can I go to your house for dinner? 😛

  9. It means, the rough and junk food are now served in fine and exclusive. The chef is original from China ka? or he really don’t know Penangite taste? Btw, don’t introduce me to this place if it’s like what you said unless they do improve.

    Would I? LOL!

  10. 粗糧細做套餐 sounds very tempting…
    but based on your review, still have rooms of improvement la…

    Yup… I agree on the rooms for improvements. I hate seeing nice restaurants just vanish in Penang.

  11. JL says:

    I been to the restaurant few times both at the old place and also the new place and just tried on their set dinner last week. All the dishes are cooked by the boss himself and no msg at all and they do changed the dishes but of course some dishes will be repeated. Like someone mentioned before the boss will cooked whatever he like and there is no menu for you to order and he will eat the same dishes as us after he finished off from the kitchen. For me for this kind of price per head with 3 dishes plus one soup this is reasonable what can you asked for as claims by them all dishes are “粗糧細做”. Maybe different ppls have different taste for such a fresh catch of fish I will appreciate it to be plain rather than sweet or sour source or some other source to be served together with the fish. FYI I do eat b4 sweet sour fish, curry fish n some other dishes what can I said it all are yummy n just purely depend on yr’s luck on what they serve on the day. I tasted before few of his signature dishes really thumbs up. Agreed with you that the service really need to improve, for what I observed after few dine there was they are short of ppls n more training need to be done may be due to last time at the old places they only cater for few tables not like now nearly 30 tables or may be more.

    Thanks for dropping in JL. I truly understand how you felt about how I write on the restaurant since you are one of the regulars. Well, if you read carefully, I had given many suggestions as I had to many others which I had reviewed. Penang is a place where there are many fussy diners. It’s fine if I were to have such dishes at home but for many other Penangites, they would want more options especially when visiting a grand looking restaurant. The menu lacked the choices most people are seeking here. If the restaurant had decided to expand to such a grand scale, it should at least looked into the possibility of employing a formal chef and some qualified waiter and waitresses while the boss should have spent his time getting more fresh catches. Even the hawker section should have a person in charge rather than to randomly get someone in to fill the spot when needed. This is just my 2 sens of thought.

    I also agree on the different taste buds of diners but how many people except anglers would truly understand the freshness of a fish? Towards the end of the day, it still fall back on options or choices as perceived by the general public. To a few, it would be fine to consume roasted pork as it is but in a restaurant, most people would expect the meat to be served stir fried with some onions, spring onions and so on in gravy form to be taken with rice. You mentioned about the price being reasonable. No doubt about that. It’s the way those dishes were served that ought to be considered. I know what I was having that day. It was the boss’s freshly caught mackerel (Teik Ka) which would cost about RM16-RM18 per kg in the wet market. It was indeed fresh.

    Since you are a regular, just put a note to the boss that this is how I and many others who had recently visited them personally felt about their future success. He ought to seriously consider these few positive feedback. All the best to them then. 🙂

  12. LayMin says:

    Oops.. you were so fast action! I just got knew of this restaurant and will try it out tomoro. Thanks for the posting. From your post, i knew you quite disappointed with the food, however, as Penangite, should try it out.. hehe! Hope they will improve the way la~

    Welcome to my world of eating kaki Lay Min. 😛 Please tell me your feedback then.

  13. kika says:

    i nvr tried the restaurant bfore so i cannot comment..but i grow up from a seafood family and i wish to say that anyone who is really know how to appreciate fish, the freshness is the most important part and they know that the true food critics will want the seafood especially fish to be as plain as possible to taste the original and freshness of the fish… i guess you are right to say too bad not many people know how to really appreciate fish and thus keep on giving bad comment on the fish which is not fair to the fish itself and the cook too.. ;-p all the sweet and sour sauce, black bean sauce is to cover the bad smell of the fish more than any flavour 😉

    Thanks for dropping by Kika. I’m sure you would have read about my other comments to others? Towards the end of the day, the success of a restaurant would still be based on the general taste of the MAJORITY and not the MINORITY in which would be CHOICES, although it might not be the best as you had mentioned. I’m just a bit concern about the losses that might be incurred by them in the long run with so much investments being thrown in. With so many substantial negative remarks I have heard from many patrons, they should buck up!

  14. buzzingbee says:

    oh dear…sounds like it need some improvement!!

    Well, they will need a lot of improvements if they would want to survive for a long time.

  15. Chef Mel says:

    RM 20 for this kind of dish is a total shame! I think anyone could rack up a dish like that and i meant those who can’t cook! Sad case for such wonderful environment.

    Well, I think they had increased the price now with better selection of food. I hope the quality would be better than my experience there.

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Howdy from the Isle of delicious Asian food and the UNESCO Heritage City of Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. Just call me Criz Lai and I am here to share with you on what’s the best food you can get in town as well as from many other parts of Malaysia.

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