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DINING IN KAFFA KAFE AT STRAITS QUAY

Posted by crizlai On January - 6 - 2011|

Some of you might not be aware of the latest attraction in Penang where life can become so breezy and exciting throughout the year. With spectacular views of the Andaman Sea and the historical skyline of George Town, Straits Quay, developed and run by Eastern & Oriental Berhad, is the first retail marina enclave within the fast development area of Seri Tanjung Pinang in Penang. The new destination for locals and tourist alike, promised strings of international food outlets, bistros, bars, boutiques, bakery to performing arts and learning centers. Presently, there are just a handful of shops in business but these would be enough to set the crowds in thrills with nice sea front restaurants and bistros everywhere. It’s also a great spot for photography with such great colonial style architecture. Other than visiting the place by car, Rapid Penang buses would also be available (No. 101 & 103). Water limousine service would be available soon via E&O Hotel Pier to enable you to explore the panoramic view of the beautiful island.

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While paying a visit to this newly established Straits Quay some time back, I came across a restaurant by the name of Kaffa Kafe. The place has great ambience with cozy corners and al fresco area for diners to get their best experiences dining by the sea.

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So how was my dining experience here? Well, let you judge for yourself on what I have to share here. First there was the Fresh Wild Mushroom Soup (RM12.90) which had a combination of shitake, enoki, portbello and swiss button mushrooms, supposedly served with toasted garlic bread. Instead, I had some crudely sliced croutons, floating soggily on my soup. The gross dark colored soup had that sour taste which I don’t quite like. Enoki mushrooms are delicate mushrooms that if you do not know how to keep them well refrigerated, they would have that sour fermented taste. At times, they would even spoil the whole taste of any soup base. The restaurant should have replaced enoki with crimini or even oyster mushroom for that extra earthy flavor. This was so far the worst fresh wild mushroom soup I had ever tasted and with a high usage of black pepper in it.

Next was one of the recommended Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken (RM16.90), served with steamed Basmati rice. My next question was whether they double grilled that chicken or even microwave the meat? From the look of such a basic kitchen, I guessed the latter answered me clearly. There was no moisture left in the meat. Neither was there much gravy left. The meat only has the basic taste of lemongrass and nothing else. It was truly bland. The chopped chilies were for decoration only and did not add in any flavors at all. What’s the use of serving the much reputable fragrant enriched Basmati grains but not knowing how to cook the rice well? It was simply tasteless and dry. Buttered Basmati rice would be a more ideal choice. That was not the worst of it yet. In fact for all the accompanying dishes, the vegetables were overcooked with some withered and pale yellowish green French beans. Moreover, the vegetables tasted like they have been blanched in the same pot of water continuously without ever changing the water. A pinch of salt and some olive oil would have given them a better taste too.

We also had their New Year offer of German Styled Chicken Bratwurst (RM20.90), served with mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables. Although the two foot sausages were tasty, both came rather cold within (didn’t microwave enough? LOL!). The potatoes were roughly mashed, not too bad for taste. The gravy was just average with a bit too much of salt in it. Just look at the color of the French beans and you would know my reasons for being pissed off. On top of that, I would think it was a bit too pricey for me for the amount served.

The Homemade Lamb Shank (RM26.90), served with mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables was a joke. I had better ones before. It looked like it was really cooked at home and brought to the outlet to be microwave to get rid of the juiciness. It was real obvious that the lamb shank was left exposed to air for a long period of time as the meat had changed color and was extremely dry. Now I know why AFC’s King of Grill, Robert Rainford, could be rather agitated when his diners were not on time to consume his grills within a stipulated time. The shank was bland too with only a hint of some wine based marinate. The texture of the meat was like 60% in the midst of meat floss preparation. The gravy tasted universal just like the rest of the dishes. I really hated those vegetables.

I just ordered the Crispy Calamari (RM13.90) to test out how well they did in their finger dishes. Well, you can never go wrong with most frozen packed stuff. The tempura coated rings were nice but the fries needed a bit more crispiness. The accompanied salad was normal with dressing neither salsa nor vinaigrette. The condiment was some sort of diluted Thai chili sauce which could hardly stick to my food. I would rather have some creamy mayonnaise to go with my dish.

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As for dessert and beverages, they fair much better than the food here. I tried out their Homebaked Apple Pie (RM8.90), served with a scoop of ice cream. It was supposed to be vanilla but I ended up having a miserable and almost melted scoop of strawberry ice cream, a cheap brand indeed. The Apple Pie crust was quite fine, although I would prefer it to be a bit more buttery in taste. The apple filling had the required tasted of grounded cinnamon but lacked in moisture. The Ice Kaffa Special (RM10.50) would be recommended as the overall combination was perfect. It had double shots of strong flavored coffee, double scoops of vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream. That made me wonder why I was not served vanilla ice cream for my Apple Pie. The Iced Lemongrass Tea (RM7.90) was fine, just nice for my liking. The Mocha Mocho Smoothie (RM9.90) was normal.

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Overall, the restaurant would be a nice place to relax over some drinks but not the food. The food quality needed to be revamped soon before they lose out more customers. The kitchen would need more dedicated staff as sloppiness and carelessness would not secure customers well. Price wise, it could be a bit pricey for most people. My total damage was RM141.55 (inclusive 10% service tax) in which I did not get my money worth of satisfaction. Moreover, two out of three of us had some mild stomach problems after the visit. What happened to the quality of food here? The photos and descriptions in the menu can be rather deceiving. For the price, customers ought to have what have been described in the menu and not any remains that they have left in their kitchen. Any restaurant should know that withered or gone bad items are not to be served to the customers. Lucky, none of us had serious food poisoning. As for the staff, they should be more discipline and educated in the happenings in the kitchen as well as dining etiquettes. Although it was great to have the table cleared before the next dish was served, but it was not so polite to ask for dish clearance when the food was not fully consumed. Standard kitchen orders must be briefed to all and not only to a handful of staff. Here I saw one staff turning down some clients while another asked us for the last order. Where’s the logic behind this? I usually don’t criticize business owner this way but it was rather saddening to encounter such bad experiences especially at a highly exclusive area like Straits Quay. There were too many flaws in the establishment.

The restaurant is just located within Straits Quay, the latest landmark in Tanjung Tokong area, Penang. If you are coming from town via Jalan Kelawai, just head towards Jalan Tanjung Tokong. There are two ways leading to Straits Quay but I’ll show you the easiest way as not to get lost within the maze. Drive all the way until you reach the Island Plaza traffic lights. You can turn right but it’s a long way to get to there. Alternatively, keep to your right and drive onwards to the second traffic lights after that and turn right into the road (Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang). You can see the almost completed Tesco building there. Drive on and a short distance away you can see straits Quay on your left. There will be ample parking areas all over.

KAFFACAFEMAP

Name: KAFFA KAFE @ STRAITS QUAY
Address: 3A-G-8, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-890 5136
Opening Hours:
10.00am-1.00am (last order 10.30pm – extended hours during peak period)
GPS: 5.458264, 100.313233

RATING:
Ambience: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 6/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

13 Responses to “DINING IN KAFFA KAFE AT STRAITS QUAY”

  1. Duckie says:

    wow looks like this place is not worth a visit. i almost went there for makan few days ago but was a little put off with the waiter’s attitude and ended up elsewhere.

    Let’s hope they would improve in due course. That area would not be a risk-free market for them.

  2. Bob says:

    Thank you for your comment and input. We have only been open for 2 weeks, There’s A LOT of room for improvement. We apologize that you had a bad dining experience with us. As we are a new restaurant and we are working on intensifying the quality of food and service, we have hired a new American Food Operations Manager to take control of the problems you have mentioned in your blog. He will bring the standard and the quality of the food and service to a new level. Hope you will give us the opportunity to improve ourselves.

    best regards
    Robert Duvall

    Hi Bob… thanks for assuring us that everything would be in great standard and quality in no time. Good luck in revamping the whole central kitchen. 🙂

  3. pixen says:

    Alors… thanks for the info (as usual) 🙂 I’m glad such exposures from serious food bloggers like you will upgrade the standard of local and international cuisine in Penang island particularly.

    Rick Stein was in Penang (shooting for his latest cookbook Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey) and so was Poh Ling Yeow of Poh’s Kitchen (I’m still feeling weird why she enlisted the help of Florence Tan & Chef Ismail to introduce Penang – what happened to Penang’s Nyonya Cuisine chefs the likes of Amy Beh?) To live up the so called title ‘Food Haven of Malaysia’, Penang has to improve a lot. It’s great to maintain the traditional ways of serving and cooking Penang cuisines but to bring Penang’s multi cuisines to higher level it’s still to be seen 🙂 Food bloggers should be thank for their adventures and exposures of eating premises instead of black-mark them 🙂

    I’m still out of Malaysia since October 2010 but am returning soon to Penang. I’m going to visit the place and I hope Mr Robert Duvall will see that the place improve…or send the staffs to Michel Roux’s Service training 🙂

    ciao Criz and keep up the great work!

    Thanks~ I hope to see you back in Penang~ 🙂

  4. Mark says:

    Whoa, it would seem that Kaffa doesn’t care about food quality and customer satisfaction. Do they even taste the food that they cook? Leaving food out or preparing them beforehand and then microwaving is a definite no-no if you want to be a reputable restaurant in a higher class mall. From what you’ve written, the food isn’t fresh, badly executed and quite incompetent for the price that you’re paying.

    Strawberry ice-cream with apple pie? I think that’s just horrendous.

    Well.. I’ll give them time to adjust as they did mention that they are still new. If I ever step into their place again soon and faced with lousy food quality and services. I would be very frank about it. No worries~

  5. Sy says:

    Had dinner at the cafe on sat night. While waiting for my food, I wanted to add order but been rejected due to kitchen closed. It was almost 10.30pm. How can a restaurant turned down his customer?

    Hmm… it seemed like they have never learn from their mistakes. Shouldn’t there be a last call reminder to all tables prior to the kitchen being closed? This is the 4th time I had received the bad feedback on the service ever since I posted up the review. 🙁

  6. Tualang says:

    Wow, a very refreshing new menu! Well done. Good food and friendly staff. Keep it up.

    Surprisingly, you are one of the odd ones to compliment the cafe. I’m not running them down but they REALLY have to buck up on PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING!

  7. Richard Lor says:

    Visited the place with friends from KL last week and despite the comments that I’ve read, the food seems to be good especially the lamb shank and the sausages. However the lemongrass chicken seems a bit smaller than expected but taste quite good. I guess they have noted the comments and did some improvements (perhaps screwing the chefs there). Anyway, the coffee was good and I love it more that the usual Starbucks or Coffee Beans.

    I agreed with the coffee part but food wise there are still lots of rooms for improvement. I was there right after you but the consistency of the food quality was still not at par. Service wise, not much of comments to add on as most of my readers would have voiced them out.

  8. lim says:

    Agree with Mark, Kaffa really doesn’t care about quality and customer’s need. Went there Jan 29 2011(will never forget the date) as i bring my wife to Straik Quay for her birthday dinner, since all the resturants is full, we had no choice but try out Kaffa Kafe, we ordered and wait. Take 15min for my soup to show out, wait again. Take 45mins for my fish n chips to reach my table, wait again.

    After 1 and half hour my wife’s order still didnt show out, even customer tat come later then us already eating. Try very hard waving hands act stupid to get those waiter’s attention and ask: hello, is my wife’s dish ready yet? Waiter: oh! coz today got alot customer inside(only 2 tables got customer inside and outside about 3 tables) so we cannot cook the food in time. Then she walk away. Well, resturant can’t cook the food in time is not customer’s problems right and somemore we wait for so long, so i go in and ask the manager: how long do we still need to wait? Manager: U wait a while, u wait… if still didnt have i let u eat free.

    Wow… free(Do u think i come for free food?). Go back wait for another 10mins as my wife requested, then we pay and leave feeling angry and sad coz a great evening is spoil thanks to this Kaffa Kafe, and it coz us RM60++ with SERVICE CHARGE and gov tax.

    Well, sorry if i say anything rude, but wait for about 2 hours is unacceptable, as my father always say, 1 day u make 1 customer unhappy, 100 days is 100 unhappy customers, and pls put a signbord say: Please Do Not Come In, If U Saw Over 10 Customer Inside, Food Will Not Ready In Time.

    Thanks for reading

    It’s very obvious that the kitchen management is still just as bad as the several visits I had there (checking on the assurance given by Robert Duvall earlier on 10 January 2011). Something drastic actions have to be taken fast by the management before they are banned by the consumers totally. With more than 85% of the comments I had received from readers and diners being bad, they are already being pre-warned with the “red alert” alarm. I hope this get into their heads before they are out of business.

  9. Mathias says:

    Hei. i googled up Kaffa Cafe bcos there’s one located at Bukit Gambir (nearby USM) and i wanted to complain about almost everything there. Perhaps you can do it for me instead.lol.
    first, the food tasted bad!My friend and I ordered BBQ and blackpepper chicken chop each. and instead of chicken CHOP, we get chicken THIGH..with bones!!so instead of using the fork in a proper way, i hv to ‘scoop’ the meat like how u would use a spoon. (btw, those two are dinner sets, costing RM14.90 each,excluding service charge).Those chicken chop look exactly like Lemon grass chicken chop u posted.
    mushroom soup is so-so, the salad is really bad!french fries are quite good.Lemon tea…so-so as well since i tried many of better ones.
    Service=0!when i wanted to give some comments, the ‘boss’ shown a fuck-off-from-this-shop-now-once-u-done-paying face. Literally,he’s not happy at all.and i wanted to ask (and comment), why am i getting a chicken thigh instead of chop, and what’s the service charge for? All he said was ‘ah..we hv new menu actually..bla bla bla’, so i replied,’then y r u giving us the old one then? at least tell us beforehand how the chicken ll be served’.’Sorry’ was the reply. Doesnt sound like a sincere one too.
    That ll be the 1st and last time for my friend and i. btw, did u know ‘kaffa’ actually means something derogatory? it’s sort of an insult to black ppl.google it up~lol!
    not only the food is bad,but the service too,and worst, even the name of the shop degrade people!
    We wanted to try out more of the food there, but bcos of the really bad service,we changed our mind.

    Hi Mathias~ The one at Bukit Gambir is another branch of theirs. The only differences is that the Bukit Gambir branch do not serve alcohol. I’m still monitoring their progresses in both branches but have yet to get a satisfactory feedback. As I had told others before, they better buck up on EVERYTHING. A large numbers of diners are not happy at all with their food and terrible service.

  10. […] served with a huge scoop of mashed potatoes plus delicious brown sauce was far better tasting than the one I had earlier at Straits Quay. Even with a double serving of the sausage, it would only cost me RM11.50 nett/set […]

  11. Sue says:

    I see many negative feedbacks from customers here. Personally I’ve been to Kaffa quite frequently, however the one I always visit is the one located in Bukit Gambir. Honestly, I’ve got mixed feelings about this place as their performance is not consistent. I agree with the fact that the staffs there are not educated. Sometimes i drop by at night and sometimes for lunch or tea. The staffs in the afternoon/evening could not converse properly in English and this is quite a burden when asking for recommendations. However they do provide better service at night due to the fact that the staffs at night could speak much better English and thus better communication with the customers.Personally, I feel to be able to communicate with customers is a very important aspect in the Food and Beverage industry.

    The Food there is average, some of the items are worth the price while some are just absurd. The Coffee is not bad. Basically the pricing is very inconsistent but the food is alright if you’re looking for a proper dinner ( but not for special occasions! ). Do not have high expectations as the food is just average. Food is a little bit slow at times, so if you’re in a rush, don’t head to Kaffa!

    I’ve never been to the one in straits Quay, so I dare not comment on that branch. Cheers!

    Thank Sue for your comment. This has been what I’m trying to instill in them. When you are in the F&B industry, at least basic quality in food and great services are what diners are looking for. You don’t just open up more branches for the sake of earning more especially when you can’t even handle these two basic requirements. Just look at Kim Gary. They are not really superb as in taste but the food there are at least consistent and edible. The staff are always on alert to serve the diners well and with knowledge of their products too. This is the type of attitude diners are looking for. 🙂

  12. samlee860407 says:

    Haha, I went there during April, now with iPads available!

    Service is okay when I was there since I went at noon time, and only got 2 tables include me.

    Food still taste bad 🙁

    With 2 tables and yet food still so bad? LOL!

  13. harmoine says:

    been to all three outlets, service is so so, not consistent, food in the beginning is good but getting from bad to worse now, church st or china st the other unit, been there once never go again food there, c’mon warung mamak also is better la, NOT WORTH THE MONEY SPENT, been to the other unit very near to USM with ezivoucher with my bf, both of us got sick for 4 days, PEOPLE OUT THERE THIS PLACE IS HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDABLE TO ANYONE, USM STUDENTS BEWARE, WATCH OUT IF YOU DON’T WANNA GET SICK THO, THE WORST RESTAURANT I HAVE EVER BEEN!!!! TERRIBLE (to say the lease to express my profound disappointment) other than coffee – food wise SUCKS BIG TIME i think in June or so my aunt went there with A CLIENT!! food is just horrible, used to be her usual place to go but not anymore.

    Haiz~ Why can’t they learn after so many complaints surfaced all the time? 🙁

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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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