Note: This place has ceased operation in early 2010 due to a high rise building construction next door.
It seemed like there are more and more restaurants and food courts opening within the last one week. The latest being Metro Café which was opened on 1 May 2009, located just within a stone’s throw away from Northam Beach Café. Walking through the pathway leading to the dining area, there were many accessories stalls selling costume jewelries, t-shirts and souvenirs. With a few vacant stalls left within it premises, it gave me the first impression that it would be just another of those food courts with many inexperienced cooks.
Although I did not manage to test out all the food stalls there, what I had for dinner yesterday were quite satisfactory to my liking. The first dish which was Chicken Shiogayaki (RM8.50/set) proved that there still existed some good and experienced cooks in Penang. The set dish came from a Teppanyaki stall and it had some juicy pieces of chicken meat pan fried with their special ginger sauce and onions, served with plain rice and salad. It was indeed delicious as the meat was somewhat like teriyaki chicken with a stronger taste of ginger. I will surely comeback to try out their other dishes such as Unagi, Ika Teriyaki Pepper, Salmon Terikyaki, Tori Karaage and many more.
I even got to order Vietnamese Rolls (RM3.50 for 2 rolls). That’s real cheap. The roll came with a leaf of lettuce, finely stripped cucumbers and carrots, glass noodles, chopped chicken meat, fresh prawns and Chinese celery leaves, wrapped in a hot water softened bánh tráng (rice paper). These were served with additional Chinese celery leaves and their specially prepared chopped garlic and chili sauce. The only hiccup was that they should have given more of the sauce for dipping. Other than that, the dish was refreshing and healthy. From the culinary skill of the finely stripped vegetables, the cook had indeed traveled to many countries for the last few years. Two of the dishes which caught my attention and I would try them out next would be the Crispy Aromatic Duck Meat served with Chinese Crepes and special sauce (RM11) and their Crispy Black Pepper Chicken Sticks (RM6).
Instead of ordering the normal Claypot Chicken Rice (RM4.50 with egg), I opted for the Claypot Stewed Pork Rice (RM5.50 with egg). I actually hesitated when ordering this dish after seeing how many English spelling errors the stall had on their menu. Is it Claypot Pork Rips Rice or Claypot Pork Ribs Rice? Indeed the dish was not up to my expectation. I was expecting freshly stewed pork slices but what I had was canned stewed pork. The fatty portion on the meat was so powdery soft and with the “chemically” preserved juice added into the rice, it had a weird rosy after taste. Although the dish had some Chinese sausages and egg added, it lacked the wok hei (high heat cooking) fragrance that any claypot rice should have. I guessed not many stalls would add some Shaoxing wine onto the cooked claypot of rice either.
When I saw the next stall selling Gurney’s famous roasted chicken, I was sure that this was the branch of the famous Song River Café Roast Chicken. I lost my battle against the temptation of trying them out. Instead of ordering the Roasted Chicken Drumstick (RM5 each), I ordered their Roasted Chicken Wings (RM3.60 for two wings) instead. The delicious and juicy wings were well roasted until golden brown and the skin had that beautifully crispy sensation. A thumbs up indeed!
It was time for dessert and I spotted a stall with lots of dragon fruits being displayed. With no photos or English descriptions on the menu, I thought it was just another fresh fruit cuts stall. Instead, it was a great discovery of a new type of dessert in town. The Red Dragon Fruit with Sago (RM4) was something that I did not expect to see. Normally, most people would use white fleshed dragon fruits and these would be cheaper as the fruits would not be as sweet as the red ones. The dessert was unique in color and it was just a simple combination of fresh cut red dragon fruit served with shaved ice, some spills of evaporated milk, syrup and topped with springy sago. The sweetest was just nice for me and the slightly sour but sweet dragon fruits made the whole dessert perfect.
Another order which I had made through this stall was not listed in their menu but the hot dessert was another good experience. It was Tang Yuan Fu Chok Yee Mai Soup (RM3.50 – Glutinous Rice Balls in Beanstick and Barley Broth). It came with two large sesame filled rice balls and three plan rice balls. Although the tang yuan were not as soft as I would expect, the broth was rich in flavors. It was thick and not so sweet at all.
I would surely revisit this café for a better judgment on the overall food as there were still many stalls I had yet to try out such as the Portugese Barbeque, Popiah, Bak Kut Teh, Laksa, Rojak, Thai Salad, Satay, Koay Teow Th’ng, Fried Money Bags and many more.
If you are coming from Jalan Burma into Jalan Pangkor or Jalan Kelawei or Persiaran Gurney, just drive straight into Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. Keep to your left and you will see the Metro Café signboard in blue. The café is actually a few houses before the Northam Beach Café.
Name: METRO CAFÉ
Address: Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 5.00pm-12.00midnight (tentatively – it might be 24 hours later)
GPS: 5.427937, 100.321358
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)