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THE BEST DEALS ARE BACK AT SOHO PENANG

Posted by crizlai On June - 10 - 2011

If you are not aware where to get to the best dining and entertainment scenes in Penang, you should take a more serious note now on the SOHO Group’s outlets. For over a decade, the Group has provided Penangites with 6 great venues from vibrant restaurants to club scenes, namely SOHO Free House, SOHO Penthouse, SOHO Country House (Auto City), QEII, Chin’s Stylish Chinese Cuisine and Chin-Chin Bar. The settings at all the outlets are unique by itself, from a British-style pub with great beer, a relaxing upstairs dining area with colonial style ambience, an old English manor setting with high ceiling, a sea front restaurant overseeing the city’s only inland marina, an award winning fine dining Chinese restaurant to a sophisticated bar right next to the Chin’s. Recently, the best deals in town are back due to popular demand by the public at 3 of the outlets, mainly SOHO Free House, SOHO Penthouse and SOHO Country House. One main dish would only cost RM7.80nett, with the option to choose from 5 main dishes.

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The first option would be the Roasted Herbed Chicken which would be served with mashed potatoes and mixed greens. The taste was quite similar to the one I had at Dave’s Deli. You can practically taste the herbs being well seeped into the tender chicken drumstick and the skin still has that little crisp from the roasting. Combined with the brown sauce, the whole dish was quite tasty. The only exception was the mash potatoes as it was a bit too fine to my liking. I would prefer those with some coarse potatoes bits in them.

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The next option would be the Traditional Shepherd’s Pie. You can have either chicken or beef. I tried out the chicken version and found out that the filling was a bit too little compared to the level of the mashed potatoes (which again was too fine). Although the taste had all the necessary fragrance, somehow minced beef would be a better choice as it would be juicier than minced chicken. This dish was served with some peas and greens.

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The SOHO Spaghetti as just average as the sauce was a bit too sweet to my liking. I prefer those with fresher ingredients just like the Italian way of preparation. Moreover, minced chicken was used which gave it a more sandy and dry sensation. Alternatively, some added minced pork or a total minced beef would do the dish more justice. Some parmesan cheese granules were served with the dish.

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Banger ‘n’ Mash is basically a pub grub, something easy to cook yet tasty to go along with any beer. Well, it was one large sausage compared to the Bratwurst sausage I had elsewhere. This traditional English dish blended in real well with the gravy which I suspected was some rich onion gravy with some sprinkles of herbs. It came with some mashed potatoes and peas. The chef did a great job of not over grilling the sausage while maintaining the juice within.

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The last option would be the Beef Burger. You can either have it with chicken or vegetarian patty. I had tried the Chicken Burger through one of the takeaway but find it to be a bit dry and bland in taste, even with all the ketchup and chili sauce added. Fortunately, the Beef Burger was awesome. There were some hints of black pepper, LP sauce and some herbs being used in the marinating process and the usage of breadcrumbs was just right. Moreover, the amount of fat used was just right to maintain the moisture of the burger. The burger was served with some fries and greens.

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With the concept of being a pub and a bistro, there would never be a shortage of beverages here, regardless of whether it would be a plain glass of juice, beers of any imports and various wines. Currently, they have a 1/2 pint glass draught promotion for Tiger and Carlsberg at RM8.50nett per glass all day long. On top of that, with every RM120 or more of any draught beer purchases on a single receipt, you’ll get to redeem a cute mini glass of either Kilkenny, Heineken, Tiger or Guiness as collectible items while stocks last.

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If you are driving down from Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah from City Bayview Hotel, turn left into Jalan Penang after the traffic lights. Drive a bit further and you would the Red Garden Café parking lot. Park your car inside the car park. SOHO Free House & Penthouse is just opposite the car park next to Peking Hotel. Please take note that the car park fees can be quite expensive as it’s located near all the night entertainment area. Alternatively, you can drive further up and turn left into Lebuh Muntri to find some empty car parks.

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Name: SOHO FREE HOUSE & SOHO PENTHOUSE
Address: 50 (Ground & Upper Floor), Jalan Penang, 10000 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-263 3331, 604-507 0079 (SOHO Country House, Auto City)
Business Hours: 12.00pm – 12.00am, Beer Hours: until late
GPS: 5.421829, 100.333806

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

DINE AND WINE PROMOTION AT SOMMERZ HERITAGE BISTRO PENANG

Posted by crizlai On May - 2 - 2011

Note: Surprisingly with such good business, this outlet has ceased its operation. All that was left is the Heritage Coffee.

Many of you might not be aware the along the heritage stretch of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (previously known as Northam Road) lies a cozy colonial building which houses two restaurants with pork dishes. The heritage building which was named as Hardwicke House would provide diners with two concepts of dining. On the ground floor there is the Heritage Coffee which offers a wide range of local, Chinese and Western fare for an informal lunch or dinner. The place caters to the younger crowds who enjoy the “chill-out” atmosphere. On the upper floor for this building is a smart and casual bistro called Sommerz Heritage Bistro with a wonderful heritage ambience, perfect for an inexpensive dinner over a glass of imported wine (starting from just RM55++ per bottle) or beers (Hoegaarden, Paulaner, Victoria Bitter, Erdinger, Corona, etc).

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Sommerz Heritage Bistro is currently having their “Free Flow Wine” 4-course dinners at only RM50++ (10% ST+6%GT) on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with a live band singing jazz, evergreens, oldies and popular songs. The place can cater for parties and functions up to 120 persons. The 4-course Set Dinner with Free Flow of Wine Promotion Menu is as below:

Cream of Mushroom
+
Mixed Salad
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BBQ Baby Pork Ribs (half slab) served with sauteed onions, wedges and coleslaw
or
White Wine Grilled Salmon in Hollandaise mustard sauce, served with mixed vegetables and wedges
or
Grilled Lamb Chop in black pepper sauce, served with mixed vegetables and wedges
or
Oven Roasted Chicken with Bacon Strip in red wine sauce, served with salad and mashed potatoes
+
A scoop of ice cream with colorful dots
+
Free Flow of Wine or Iced Lemon Tea

We also did try out some of their exclusive dishes from the Sommerz’s ala carte menu such as the Sommerz Caesar Salad (RM12++). The salad has fresh romaine greens, mixed in their own Caesar sauce and garnished with real pork bacon bits and croutons and topped with a poached egg. The whole combination was perfect to start the meal off. The next was our favorite – BBQ Baby Pork Ribs (Half Slab – RM26.90++ or Full Slab – RM44.90++). This dish has been the top seller at Sommerz. The Texan recipe pork ribs had imported special ribs (not as oily as our local ones), carefully marinated and cooked until tender for that delicious taste. It came with sautéed onions, wedges and coleslaw. Next on the list was the Sommerz Rice Set (RM23.90++). This dish looked like a classier version of our local Nasi Lemak (Steamed Coconut Rice) but this version came served with Devil Pork Curry, Chicken Rendang, half a hard-boiled egg and Acar (pickled salad). I simply loved the creativity in this unique combination. Even the Acar complimented well with the dishes. The next dish which was the Devil Curry (Roasted Pork or Chicken – RM12.90++) is a popular spicy dish amongst the local Portuguese community. It had the touch of a family taste. It went well with some fresh buns and some beer or white wine. If you feel that these dishes are a bit heavy, you can even their Seafood Bisque in Bread Bowl (RM13++) or even some of their general dishes from Heritage Coffee downstairs.

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Some of the dishes that you can get from Heritage Coffee would be their tasty Char Koay Teow (Regular with 2 prawns – RM8.90++ or Extra with 4 prawns – RM12.90++). It was quite equivalent to those hawker stalls with that extra “wok hei” (high heat cooking). For that extra “kick”, do ask for extra chili. Another street food they served was the Hokkien Mee (Regular – RM8.90++ or Extra Prawns in a Claypot – RM14.90++) or commonly known as prawn noodles in other states. Although the soup had the flavor of slowly simmered prawn shells, it was not the thickness I preferred. The soup might need a bit of toasted belacan (shrimp paste – trade secret) added in. The claypot version had additional large prawns, hard shelled clams and squids. Both would taste better if some specially prepared hot chili paste were to be mixed into the soup. There was also the “Dong Po” Pork (RM22.90++), served in a mini rice bucket. Pork belly meat would be wine marinated with a combination of spices, slightly fried and braised until the perfect tenderness. A piece of the meat in some gravy would then be served on steaming rice accompanied with some blanched vegetables and an omelette. I found the meat on that day was a bit too fatty and overcooked as there was hardly any meat on it and the fat just melted into the rice. The kitchen should take note on this. The Seafood in Claypot (RM33.90++ – for 2-3 pax) had a combination of fresh prawns, mussels, scallops, clams and squids in a spicy, sweet and sour soup. It has a strong hint of chopped lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and chilies. This dish would go well with rice. I find this Vietnamese-like dish a bit strong in the usage of sugar. I hope the chef would take note of this unhealthy over usage too. Their Seafood Aglio Olio (RM15++) had the right al dente for its pasta. I simply loved how they maintained the “wetness” by tossing enough of olive oil, chopped garlic, onions and bell pepper in it. The dish came with fresh mussels, prawns, squids and fish, garnished with some chopped coriander. Just a note here that you might get different seafood served based on their availability. Another of the hard-to-get in Penang dish was their signature Pork Burger (RM16++). The well flavored minced pork patty was cooked just right to maintain its juices within. This delicious cooked patty was presented on a fresh bun, laced with fresh lettuce, topped with an omelette, cheese and sautéed onions. The set came with some fresh greens and fries. They also have the Chicken Chop Burger (RM15++), served with some fresh greens and fries. The burger which has oozing mixture of tomato ketchup and chili sauce was just another way of having normal chicken chop. Other than that, you could also try out their Markpalia Chicken (RM18++). This quite similar to Cajun style prepared grilled chicken with praprika and herbs marinates, came with mashed potatoes and a mixture of blanched and sautéed vegetables. Somehow, I was over disappointed with strong recommendation as the whole dish tasted extremely salty. Moreover, the portion did not justify its price, considering that I was dining at the al fresco area. Their Roasted Pork Knuckle (RM53++ for 3-4 pax) was huge. You would need to wait at least 30 minutes for this dish to cook. The crispy skin and juicy pork knuckle came with two special dipping sauces and some fresh greens.

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They also serve Express Set Lunch as low as RM8.90 nett, inclusive of free flow soup (normally clear soup eg. Old Cucumber Soup, Watercress Soup, etc) and ice lemon tea. The set meal would only be available from 11.30am – 2.30pm on weekdays (Monday – Friday).

Current Express Set Lunch Menu:

1. Wok Fried Soy Sauce Chicken Rice (RM8.90nett)
2. Penang Char Koay Teow (RM8.90nett)
3. Baked Cheese Spaghetti Bolognaise (RM10.90nett)
4. Fresh Mushroom Chicken Steamed Rice (RM10.90nett)
5. Nasi Lemak with Rendang Chicken (RM10.90nett)
6. Baked Cheese Rice with Chicken Chop (RM10.90nett)

I would say the set lunch was worth it considering that I could have as much soup and drink as I wanted. The Penang Char Koay Teow (RM8.90nett) was great. So was the Nasi Lemak with Rendang Chicken (RM10.90nett). The worth mentioning dish of my choice would be the Baked Cheese Rice with Chicken Chop (RM10.90nett). Instead of having some plain rice baked with cheese as some fast food chain would normally provide, it came with fried rice with ham cubes. The chicken chop baked with cheese was amazingly tasty. You can even order some Caesar Salad (RM9++) to share out if you are there with a group. The only differences between the Sommerz Caesar Salad and this salad would be the omission of the poached egg. If you feel that you would need a dessert after your meal, you could always try out their variety of ice cream cakes. I loved their Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake (RM7.90++) as it was chilled enough and simply melted in my mouth. The cake came with some caramel and chocolate dressing which was perfect for my liking. As for beverages, there are many types of hot and cold beverages for you to choose from, ranging from coffee, tea, chocolate, juices, milkshakes, smoothies, soda, beer to wine. I tried out their Hazelnut Latte (RM5.90++) and Macademia Nut Café Latte (RM6.90++). Both came light and frothy but I had a problem identifying which was which as both had the same nutty taste.

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Overall, Sommerz Heritage Bistro can be quite a bargain for diners who love wine with their meals in a cozy ambience while listening to some nice music being played by a live band. Moreover, there’s the games room where you can have a game or two of pools and darting. The management would also be planning for a Sunday Champagne Brunch from as early as 11am soon. Do check up with them on any updates on the launch.

If you are coming from town along Jalan Burma, drive all the way until you see a “Y” junction. Left would lead you to Pulau Tikus. Right would lead you to Gurney Drive. Turn left into Jalan Pangkor (keep to your right). Immediately after you see Gleneagles Medical Centre on your right, slow down. Turn right into the service road and you would see a purplish building (Northam Tower). The restaurant is just in front of the building. You would not miss the colonial architectural building.

SOMMERZMAP

Name: SOMMERZ HERITAGE BISTRO / HERITAGE COFFEE
Address: 67 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 Penang, West Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am-1.00am (Heritage Coffee), 6.00pm-1.00am (Sommerz)
Contact: 017 – 474 7478 (Sommerz: Ms. Jacque), 604-227 3393, 604-229 3393 (Heritage Coffee)
GPS: 5.427643, 100.320806

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

NOSTALGIC MOMENTS AT YENG KENG HERITAGE HOTEL

Posted by crizlai On April - 19 - 2011

Within the buffer zone of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site lies one of the oldest surviving intact buildings in the historic enclave of Chulia Street, Penang. Originally built in the 1800’s as a private residence to Shaik Eusoffe bin Shaik Latiff, an Indian Muslim family, the unique Anglo Indian bungalow had gone through many hands, such as the trustees of the Cantonese Club ‘Yin Han Pit Shu’ and the Straits Chinese British Association, before being leased out to Yeng Keng Hotel in the early 1900’s. One main feature that remained distinctive from the rest of the buildings along Chulia Street (Lebuh Chulia) today is the unique Chinese architectural gate entrance and the many artistic murals scattered all over the premises. Some of the artifacts dated as far back as tens of decades ago can still be found here in the mini museum set up by the present establishment.

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With the conservation and upgrading efforts by the present owner, Hoo Kim Properties Sdn. Bhd. since 2009, the new Yeng Keng Hotel was completely refurbished in mid 2010. The new establishment has a mix of the past and present state-of-the-art facelift, with heritage accommodations, swimming pool and an al fresco area for dine and wine. The hotel is now managed by Mr. Jacky Chung, Hotel Manager and Mr. Tan Jie Yong, a seasoned chef who had traveled throughout a few Asian countries, cooking as well as lecturing Hainanese cuisine, as its Executive Chef.

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There are 20 rooms in this heritage hotel. The suite of all suites would be the Yeng Keng Suite (RM600+, Present Promotion RM500+). There are also 2 units of the Chulia Suite (RM500+, Present Promotion RM400+), 2 units of Family Triple (RM440+, Present Promotion RM380+), a unit of Garden Suite (RM440+, Present Promotion RM350+) and 14 units of others such as the Courtyard Doubles, Mansion Doubles and Courtyard Twins (RM380+, Present Promotion RM300+). A 10% service charge would be applicable to all check-ins which would include a quantity of American Breakfasts set by the management. Check in would be from 2.00pm while check out would be at 12.00pm. Just call in to check out on their ongoing promotions.

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As for food, there would be a mix of Western and Hainanese cuisine served here, with a note that some of the Hainanese dishes might need to be preordered earlier. Breakfast would be served from 8.00am until 10.30am. Lunch and dinner would be from the ala carte menu as early as 11.00am until 10.00pm. Presently, there’s the Hi-Tea Promotion at only RM7.00+. You get to have free flow of coffee or tea with a cake-of-the-day (eg, Apple Strudel, etc). The bar would open all day long until late.

Here’s a peek at what are the dishes available in this hotel. Firstly, there’s the Hainanese Spring Rolls (RM12.00+ for 2pcs or RM24.00+ for 4pcs). Each piece of the spring roll has stir fried cabbages, carrots, onions, mushrooms, chicken meat and crab meat. Although the rolls tasted nice, it came in a form rather moist compared to the ones I have tasted elsewhere. This could be due to the fact the vegetables were cut in strips as in Cuttle Fish Strips Stir Fry Vegetables (Jiu Hoo Char) instead of being cubed as in Sole Fish Stir Fry Vegetables (Phnee Hoo Char). A bit of diced water chestnuts added in would also be great for that extra crunchiness. These rolls were served with a condiment of a mixture of tomato ketchup, LP Sauce, sliced onions and chilies, a combination more suitable for Western diners. I would prefer mine to be served in the traditional way of herbed soy sauce, mustard paste (somewhat like LP sauce) and sliced chilies. The Hainanese Mushroom Soup (RM10.00+ per pax or RM45.00+ for 10 pax) was something quite similar to the Japanese Miso Soup with the usage of some blended fermented black beans. Instead of using cubed tofu, the Hainanese version has sliced button mushrooms, glass noodles, chicken meat and chicken gizzards. This dish would be suitable for those who love internal organs in a much clearer soup.

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The Yeng Keng Chicken Chop (RM15.00+ per pax or RM30.00+ for 10 pax) was presented with crispy boneless chicken on a bed of shoestring chips and topped with mixed vegetables, cubed onions and sliced button mushrooms in some tomato base gravy. It tasted not bad but a bit too salty for my liking due to the over salty marinates. Moreover, frozen mixed vegetables were not my preferences due to the fact that they lacked the natural taste of fresh vegetables. The Grilled Fish with Butter Sauce (RM18.00+ per pax or RM36.00+ for 10 pax) was rather unique and tasty except it had a bit of marinate problem. Since it was served with salted caper pickles and butter sauce, the fish fillet should not have been marinated in salt. The outer batter coated part was fine except for the a bit salty fillet within. Maybe it was the hotel’s way of cost effectiveness, but I don’t quite fancy dory being used for this dish as it would not provide the juiciness as in other fishes such as the barramundi, mari mari or grouper. It would be great if the hotel would opt for these fishes (with different price tag of course). The sautéed sliced potatoes with onions went great with this dish. This is the type of originality that I love most when dining outside.

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The Braised Lamb Shank (RM35.00+ per pax or RM70.00+ for 10 pax) served with spaghetti, roasted potatoes and blanched vegetables was a great recommendation. The meat was tender and has the right ingredients used while braising. If only I could get them to add in a bit of red wine during the braising process for that extra flavor. 😛 There was also the Hainanese Style Chicken Pie (RM25.00+ for 3-5 pax or RM35.00+ for 10 pax with extra filling) which would require a pre-order of 24 hours. I always love dishes with butter brushed pastry. It had small chopped chicken pieces stewed with onions and shitake mushrooms (instead of button mushrooms), topped with mixed vegetables (again? sweat~) plus cut hardboiled eggs, prior to being laced with puffy pie pastry and baked to perfection. The dish was slightly different compared to the one I had in another Hainanese restaurant as it lacked the creaminess from some sliced potatoes and the sweetness from fresh carrots. The next dish was the Inchi Kabin (RM10.00+ per quarter chicken, RM16.00+ per half chicken or RM30.00+ per whole chicken), a common Hainanese household fried chicken served with crackers. Although the dish tasted not bad, it could be due to my spoiled habit of having mostly drumsticks in my meal as I found the chicken pieces a bit too dry for my liking. We were also served with Curry Tumis Tau Teh Fish (RM100.00 – RM120.00 based on market price). The Chinese Pomfret or commonly known locally as Tau Teh is one of the most expensive species in the pomfret family as it has thick, smooth and juicy flesh. The fish dish was nice but it was in a drier version due to the likings of the hotel’s guests in dipping with bread or served with rice. Unfortunately, it spoiled the quality of such an expensive fish as there were not enough liquid in the gravy to be absorbed into the fish. The flesh ended up a bit too dry. It would be better if black pomfret or even stingray (which can be arranged) be used for a lower price. This dish came with sliced lady’s fingers and tomatoes. The next dish which was the Braised Duck with Yam (Ar Or – RM50.00+ per half duck or RM85.00+ per whole duck) also came in thick gravy compared to norm. It has a strong taste of sliced ginger. As for this dry version, it would be ideal to be taken with rice. Normally, most Hainanese would have this dish as a sort of soup dish.

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On top of the above few dishes for a larger group of people, you could always order other individual dishes such as noodles and rice from their ala carte menu. Their Hainan Mee (RM10.00+) was quite big a portion and tasty. Somehow, it looked darker just like the local Hokkien Char with the usage of dark soy sauce. I wondered if the chef got it right as the gravy should be quite similar to that of the more pale looking Fried Oyster Yellow Noodles. The next noodle dish consisted of another version of flat rice was the wet Beef Hor Fun (RM15+). It was also big and delicious. I loved the well marinated beef slices as well as the beaten egg enhanced flavorful gravy.

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As for dessert, they have some simple ice cream desserts but I went for something that has been quite rare in the dessert scene nowadays – the Bomb Alaska (RM20.00+). The dessert has 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with some mixed fruit cocktail and wrapped in a layer of butter cake slices. This wrapped cake would then be sprinkled with some rum and covered with a layer of airy and slightly sweet meringue. The following process would be to burn some brandy over the meringue to create the lightly burnt taste. I found the dessert to be delicious if I leave it a bit longer for the ice cream to moist the cake well. If you consume the cake immediately after the fire is out, you might find the cake to be a bit too dry. As an option, it would be better for the chef to firstly moist the cake with a mixture of the fruit cocktail juice and rum or just add some soda (such as 7-up or Sprite just as how you would do it for the base of a truffle) with rum. At least this would have a consistent moist for the whole dessert.

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Unless you are there just for the Bomb Alaska, I would advise you to get at least 3-4 diners to share out this big dessert. Here’s the burning process video of the dessert.

Overall, Yeng Keng Hotel is a nice place for couples and families. Not only are the rooms modernly equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, it also offers great heritage living experiences in a romantic and tranquil environment. Let’s hope the new restaurant would be constructed fast enough to draw in more crowds, thus having more choices as well as a higher standard in food quality.

Finding the hotel won’t be hard as it’s the only hotel along Chulia Street with a beautifully constructed Chinese arch right at the entrance. If you are coming down from Cititel along Penang Road, just turn into the second lane on your left which is Chulia Street. Drive further for another 300m and you would see the hotel entrance on your left. Next to it is a guard house where you can get permission to park your car at the back of the hotel. There are limited parking spaces here. If you can’t get any car park within the hotel, just drive a bit further up and you would see a no through road next to Sky Hotel. You might find some parking spaces here.

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Name: YENG KENG HOTEL
Address: 362 Chulia Street, World Heritage City of Georgetown, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
Contact: 604-262 2177
Business Hours: 8.00am-10.30am (breakfast), 11.00am-10.00pm (lunch & dinner)
GPS: 5.419162, 100.334959

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (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: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

HAVING MY CHECK OUT AT CLINIC CAFE

Posted by crizlai On March - 20 - 2010

Well, you did not read wrong in the title. I’m checking out and not checking up at the Clinic Café, another new themed cafe located just two blocks away from the Sunway Carnival Mall, Seberang Jaya, Penang. The last time I visited such themed cafe was at a jail house themed cafe, just opposite the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang and it was real fun there. At the first glance, you might think that the red and white walled café with a big cross would be just another of those labs such as BP Lab or PMS, an outlet selling medical supplies but what caught my attention was the “Heinekken” sign up there. Hmmm… Medical products and alcohol? They won’t match at all. LOL!

Standing right at the outside window area, you would see some wheel chairs being turned into dining chairs. Those were what gave many passer-bys the wrong impression of the place being a medical supplies shop. As you move inside, you can see the walls covered with display frames of the human body functions posters and some medical instruments. Some of the sofas have been reconstructed to look like hospital beds and you have some operation theatre lamps above your head. On top of that, there’s also a screen for your karaoke session (4.00pm until late) and a corner for a 2-pc band to perform (10.00pm until late)

Don’t you love it too to have sexy nurses (hmmm… I wonder why she’s in a sailor’s uniform here… more revealing? :P) and handsome male nurses and doctor to serve your meal?

Since this cafe is running on a bistro cum pub concept, you would expect to have lots of beverage choices such as non-alcoholic, cocktail, bottled beer and hard liquor. I managed to try out the Mix Fruit Yogurt Shake (RM7.80). It had some orange and strawberry cordial, blended with fresh banana and yogurt. It was not a bad combination in taste except that the ice could have been a bit smoother. The Iced Lemon Tea (RM5.80) was somewhat presented in a different style. Instead of the normal iced tea with a few slices of fresh lemon, it had lemon syrup at the base and topped with iced tea.

As this is a newly opened cafe since 4 February 2010, choices of food here were still a bit limited. There were only a few selections (20 plus choices) on Western cuisine, Rice & Pasta and Snacks. Anyhow, the kitchen would be planning to widen the options within the next few weeks. But with the limitation, the restaurant can have some great blessings too as the Black Pepper Prawn with Pasta (RM11.80) turned out to be real delicious with a generous amount of fresh prawns and greens. The spaghetti had the right biting texture and taste. It was cooked somewhat like the Aglio Olio style with some freshly grounded black pepper sprinkled on the dish. The only two drawbacks were that the black pepper was a bit too much for non spicy food diners. A separated bottle would be great for the diner to adjust to his level of spiciness. Secondly, it would be the amount of oil used. Somehow, there was a small pool of oil present right below the provided vegetables.

Please take note that you can order this black pepper dish with either prawns or chicken slices from opening time until 6.00pm and a complimentary Iced Lemon Tea would be provided – all for only RM11.80.

My next order was the recommended Kampung Fried Rice (RM7.80). It was indeed good with the right wok hei (high heat frying), generous amount of prawns and the flavor suited my taste bud. The dish came with some smashed bird eye chilies and sambal belacan for that extra kick.

Snacks wise, there would be quite a number of choices to choose from. We ordered the Buffalo Chicken Wings (RM12.80 for 4 wings). The wings tasted like yogurt marinated tandoori chicken with added sour cream. Although they were quite tasty in their version of marinates, I preferred those with the presence of some sweet and hot sauce with a crispier surface. Maybe the kitchen might consider adding in some black pepper or praprika and a coat of honey to give the wings the extra flavors.

There were also the Money Bags (RM7.80 for 6 pcs). The snacks had some minced chicken, prawns and mixed vegetables wrapped in wanton skin. These would be best taken when served as they would become a bit hard when taken cold. It had a syringe filled with chili sauce as a dip. I’m not sure whether the supplier had used the right version of wanton skin as I found these to be a bit too thick. There are actually two kinds of skins for wanton. One would be the deep fried version which would be thin and crispier, whereas the other would be meant for soup base wanton. The filling should be a bit more too as there were hardly much bite in each of the money bag.

Overall, the café would be a great place to chill out and some of the food can be quite tasty too. Let’s hope that there would be more options during my future visits. Well, I did find some parts which needed some improvements.

Firstly, it’s the food options. There should be more main courses and set meals rather than snacks and beverages. Roasted baby bird might be a great choice as you could have one of the staff dressed in the green colored operation attire to perform some surgical cuts in front of the diner. This would surely add some magical touches in setting the atmosphere right.

Secondly, it’s the utensils. The only few things that captivated my attention here were the stainless steel kidney tray, stainless steel container to hold the dining utensils and the syringe filled sauces. There should be more hospital like utensils such as the serving trays with compartments for set meals, dish cover for dish served or even a trolley to push the dishes out just like those in a hospital. Somehow, the serving style looked rather common. So were the beverages. They could have had a syrup filled syringe in the glasses to allow the diners to adjust their level of sweetness as I found the drinks to be on a sweeter side.

Thirdly, the café lacked a shelf for some reading materials while waiting for the food to be served. It could be on entertainment or some medical journals or pamphlets on some medical awareness. If they were to be more adventurous, a mock skeleton would be quite fun to play with. I won’t mind shooting some shots with a skeleton for my Facebook profile. LOL! Well, I won’t suggest more as the management would be in a better position to set the mood right for their themed café.

Finding Clinic Café won’t be hard as it’s just 2 blocks away from Sunway Carnival Mall within the Seberang Jaya vicinity. If you are exiting from Penang Bridge towards Alor Setar, just turn left besides the second flyover until you see the traffic lights (Butterworth-Kulim Expressway). Turn left into the highway and watch out for KFC on your left. Drive on until you see a junction on your left. Turn left in Jalan Todak and you would see the Sunway Carnival Mall not far away on your left. Drive further up and you would see the Billion Supermarket. Turn left into Jalan Todak 3 and you would see the brightly red and white colored Clinic Café on the right hand side. Try to maneuver your way for some parking spaces around here.

Name: CLINIC CAFE
Address:
7 Jalan Todak 3, Bandar Sunway, Seberang Jaya, 13700 Perai, Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 04-399 1991, 016 444 6118
Business Hours: 10.30am-3.00am
GPS: 5.396731, 100.397931

You can also check out their newest branch at Gurney Plaza, Penang.

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: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

PRE FLOGGERS GATHERING AT 75 CELSIUS RESTAURANT & BAR

Posted by crizlai On August - 21 - 2009

NOTE: This restaurant has ceased its operation.

Prior to our 4th Penang Floggers Gathering scheduled to be held later in the evening, we were given a treat at 75 Celsius Restaurant & Bar, located along the promenade of the beautiful Gurney Drive last Saturday. Thanks to Ken and William for giving us this privilege to savor almost all that they have in the menu.

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Although I did pass through the Gurney Drive stretch quite often, little did I know that the little hidden treasure could provide such a wide range of western cuisine to please my forever craving appetite. Let’s start with what they have in their menu. Initially, they were 3 types of soup being served here. The Creamy Mushroom Soup (RM6.90) came with 3 freshly mixed mushrooms stewed to perfection, garnished with some cream, herbs and served with a slice of garlic bread. The taste was great compared to others except that it would be better if they cut down a bit on the level of saltiness. The Creamy Tomato & Bacon (RM6.90) was my favorite as it was mild enough for my liking and the sautéed beef bacon chips did add in that extra flavorful taste. This was served with a slice of garlic bread as well. The Oxtail Soup (RM8.50) was good too as it had the right amount of herbs and spices usage and the oxtail was tender and superb. This soup was also accompanied with a slice of garlic bread.

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Next on the menu were the salads. The Crispy Chicken Salad (RM12.90) came with some pieces of golden fried bread crumbed chicken, sliced and laid on a bed of mix greens, dressed by some mayonnaise like oriental dressing. Except for the meat slices which were a bit dry to my liking, the whole combination justified each other well. The next salad which was the Chef’s Salad (RM11.90) was normal except that it had additional tuna flakes and crab filament stick slices added in, topped with Thousand Island dressing.

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For those who would like to have some light meal with loads of greens, you should check out the Sandwiches section in the menu. The Turkey Fresco (RM11.90) was indeed lovely with a slightly butter toasted croissant filled with turkey ham, greens and oozing dressing. The Hamburger Delight (RM16.90) was our favorite as the beef patty was firm and tasty. The Cheezy Beef Roll (RM15.90) did not impress me much as it was just some marinated beef slices baked with cheese. The Tuna Supreme (RM12.90) was just another common tuna filled croissant but it was delicious as the filling was rather moist. All the above sandwiches would be presented with some green salads and French fries.

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If you like to have something even lighter, you could always look into their Snacks sections. You could try out their Cheezy Garlic Bread (RM6.90), Tempura Prawns (RM9.90), Tempura Calamari (RM8.50), Fish Cocktail (RM8.50), Mushroom Bruschetta (RM7.90) and Lamb Bruschetta (RM8.90). All snack meals would come with some green salad. Except for the Fish Cocktail which had some blended fish, prawns and squids being a bit too soft for my liking, I loved the Lamb Bruschetta a lot. The lamb slices was stewed perfectly in their own secret recipe until the meat were tender. The only problem I had was the understanding on bruschettas. All along I thought they would be served with filling on top of the bread slices. Instead I had 5 slices of garlic bread served with a bowl of lamb stew. I guessed that would be their way to avoid the bread being soiled by the lamb gravy.

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There would also be pasta dishes available here to tempt your appetite for Italian cuisine. We had the Aglio Olio (RM15.90). This dish was kind of fusion as it had some aubergine (eggplant/brinjal), ham slices and tiger prawns added in on top of the usual garlic, herbs, chili flakes and olive oil. Overall, the taste was still superb as it was just right for my level of spiciness. The Alla Carbonara (RM10.90) was also good with the right amount of creaminess but I would prefer a bit more sauce. It would be even better if only the beef bacons were not chopped so fine and linguini pasta be used instead of spaghetti pasta. My preference would still be the one I had at QEII. The next two pasta dishes which were the Alla Marinara (RM16.90) and Baked Cheezy Seafood Pasta (RM16.90) was a bit disappointment for most of us as both dishes lacked the special unique taste of some white wine and cognac. Moreover, I’m still pondering which item in the ingredients caused the overpowering fishy taste.

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Now, let’s look at the colorful Main Course dishes. The Tagarashi Salmon (RM17.90) was uniquely presented. It had Nori (seaweed) rolled into salmon fillet, mildly grilled and topped with some spicy curry cream sauce. This was served with ratatouille on mashed potatoes and green salad. Each flake of the salmon with the sauce was delicious, so was the ratatouille with the mashed potatoes.

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The Lemon Butter Fish (RM12.90) was next. It had some French fries laid on a pool of buttered lemon cream sauce, topped with a battered fried fish fillet and some shredded carrot strips as garnish. The tangy flavored white sauce blended in well with the whole presentation.

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The Jacuzzi Beef (RM16.90) was presented on a bed of fresh lettuce and was served on a hot plate. It had some paprika sprinkled French fries and black pepper sauce as gravy. Everything on the hot plate was good except that I found the gravy to be a bit mild for my taste bud. This dish would be mild enough for a kid’s consumption.

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For those Ribeye Steak (RM17.90) lovers, the next dish would be a great bargain. The accompanied simple yet fragrantly sautéed potato slices with onions itself was a kill. The steak was cooked medium and the pepper mushroom sauce clicked well.

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The Spice Lamb Leg (RM18.90) was presented on some sautéed potatoes with rosemary. The meat was grilled fragrantly and served with some Pineapple Jack Daniels (JD) sauce. Except for the meat which was a bit dry, that was a great way to have lamb minus the mint sauce.

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There was also the Lamb Cutlet (RM20.90) served with ratatouille on mashed potatoes and mint yogurt sauce. The mint yogurt sauce was something new to me and it was delicious with the grilled cutlets. The ratatouille was as tasty as before. Now, that made me missed Remy from Walt Disney’s Ratatouille more and more. 😛

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Teriyaki Chicken (RM15.90) was served next. Except for the beautiful presentation, everything tasted quite normal. I would suggest to the chef that the chicken be marinated longer to get the best out of the teriyaki taste.

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The Roasted Chicken Drumstick (RM15.90) looked great with the sautéed potatoes with rosemary and orange ginger sauce. The combination might be unique for many but my preference would still be the classic gravy where some chicken broth are to be pan cooked with some remain juices from the roasting, some flour, salt and black pepper to taste. A dash of dry white wine would surely boost up the taste further.

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Everybody was complimenting on the Chicken Chop (RM10.90). It may be the most common item in any Western food menu but the one served here was rather unique. Maybe it was our luck that day but the chicken drumstick fillet was indeed thick and juicy. The outer crust was still crispy after being exposed so long for our photo shooting and the oriental sauce on it was delicious. It’s a great bargain here!

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The last of the main course we had was the Black Pepper Mushroom Chicken (RM10.90). It looked as if the drumstick had shrunk compared to the chicken chop earlier. It surely had something to do with the frying flour as this was grilled. Overall the taste was still fine. This would suit me better if the gravy was a bit spicier for my taste bud.

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Hmm… I had just realized something here. They do not have any desserts in their menu. I think they should consider on having some for those for visiting families with kids. Nevertheless, they do have a wide selection for beverages, ranging from coffee, ice coffee, coffee with liquor, chocolate, blended, milkshake, juice, tea, special, sodas, cocktails, liquor and beer. Here are some of the non-alcoholic drinks some of us had ordered (except for Caffe Baileys which contained some Baileys Irish Whisky Cream). They are Cappuccino (RM5.00), Hazelnut Cappuccino (RM5.50), Ice Expresso (RM7.00), Caffe Baileys (RM8.00), Ice Blended Green Tea Special (RM9.50), Ice Blended Chocolate (RM9.50), Ice Blended Wildfruit (RM9.50), Vanilla Milkshake (RM8.00), Strawberry Milkshake (RM8.00), Lemon Temptation (RM7.00), Philadelphia (RM7.50) and Dawn of The Beauty (RM7.00).

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As for the alcoholic section, I found something interesting. Don’t you think some of the names given were rather kinky? LOL!

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There are over 30 types of cocktails, hard liquor and beers for you to choose here. Some of the alcoholic drinks ordered by us included Michael Jackson (RM10), Lemon Drop (RM10), AK47 (RM18.00), Tequila Sunrise (RM13.00) and Screwdriver (RM13.00).

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Dining here can be rather humid during sunny afternoon as the place is open air. I would advise you to dress casually or dine during late evening. Please take note that all prices would be subjected with a 10% service charge.

The shop is strategically located along the sea front of the famous Gurney Drive (right before Coffee Island and Crepe Cottage). If you are coming from town into Jalan Kelawei, turn right at the first junction (Jalan Lim Chin Guan) where Gurney Tower is. Drive towards the end and turn left. You would pass through Evergreen Laurel Hotel and a stretch of hawker centers on your left. Slow down as 75 Celsius is immediately after the last hawker center (Song River Café). I would advise you to park your car in the Jalan Birch Car Park (the road after Song River Café) and walk up to the restaurant cum bar, especially during weekends.

75CELSIUSMAP

Name: 75 CELSIUS RESTAURANT & BAR
Address: 75, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 3775
Business Hours: 11.00am-2.00am
GPS: 5.433140, 100.316246

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

The experience there was like gazing through the horizon of the Straits of Malacca as the orange orb danced with the blueness of the sky, waving one last ray before slipping itself behind the hills of a scenic Penang. The soft, breezy cold wind and the view of the sailboats and moving ferries being thrown into silhouettes indeed made QEII an ideal place for romantic couples to dine in. Tourists of all nationalities arriving from visiting international cruisers, berthed at the nearby Frank Swettenham Pier, can be seen flowing into the bar and grill for some early celebrations.

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By the year 2012, you would see more changes along the Weld Quay stretch with the ongoing RM500 million “The Pier at Weld Quay” projects, where there would be the “old meet new” restoration and construction of a boutique hotel (The RiceMiller), commercial plaza (Straits Capital Plaza), tourism school (Georgetown College – Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Studies), retail podium (Pier Market), apartment suites (The RiceMiller Residences) and townhouses (Heritage Suites). Upon completion, this urban landmark, facing the present Tanjung City Marina, will not only enhance the skyline, but rank Penang alongside other renowned port-cities of the world.

THEPIER

Located at one of Penang’s heritage piers named Church Street Pier, Tanjung City Marina, QEII Restaurant claimed to serve the best of the best in terms of quality food with equal finesse to make each meal a memorable one, whether within the bar area or al fresco. Moreover, they are also providing a great place for people to chill out with many unique styles of lounges. From my first time experience there, they had indeed proven their worthiness with what they had promised.

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Dinner was simple and yet elegant as my intention of going there was for their much acclaimed pizzas. Somehow, there were just too many choices in their carefully selected menu that tempted me to order more. The Lobster Bisque (RM16) was rather special. It was creamy rich with smooth flowing lobster puree stirred in white cream with a touch of white wine and cognac. The soup had a very distinctive shellfish flavor with chunks of fresh lobster meat, garnished with some chopped coriander. It could be rather intruding for those who are not in favor of strong shellfish taste but I was fine with it.

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Carbonara pasta has always been my favorite and thus I tried out their Linguini Carbonara (RM23). The serving was large. The dish had a generous amount of sautéed beef bacon and egg in white cream sauce. The usage of fresh and dried herbs together with some smashed garlic and sliced mushroom was just right. This was one of the best carbonara I had so far from any of my visits elsewhere. Although the linguini pasta was as bit hard for the Asian’s preference (but that’s how the Italians loved it), the whole combination blended in perfectly.

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While enjoying our starters, the aroma of freshly baked pizza began to drift into our nostrils. The pizza we ordered which was nicknamed as The Godfather (8”-RM26, 12”-RM32) was presented not long after that. It had freshly made dough, rolled thinly and spread with freshly made tomato puree, sautéed spicy clams (lala), dried chili, sweet & spicy sauce and topped with lots of Mozzarella cheese and cilantro, baked to perfection in a wood fire oven. With the first bite, I could not stop eating. The crust was well baked without any sign of flimsiness as none of the toppings fell down on my plate. 😛 It was truly the work of an experience chef as this sort of pizza required quite a tedious time shifting and rotating in high heat within the wood fire oven.

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For those who love to have a simpler topping, you can always opt for Soho (8”-RM39, 12”-RM45). On top of the crispy thin crust, the pizza had a generous amount of pepperoni, fresh pears, onions, pine nuts, topped with 3 different types of cheese such as Cheddar, Mozzarella and Gorgonzola, garnished with field greens. The taste was remarkably unique and tasty.

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If you are in a creativity mood, you can always combine your own in the Pizza La Vostra (8”-RM34, 12”-RM40). Just select 5 ingredients from the following ingredients such as grilled chicken, chicken ham, turkey bacon, tuna, egg, beef salami and pepperoni, red and green pepper, artichoke, mushroom, roma tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Virgin green olive, capers, mozzarella, gorgonzola, cheddar or feta cheese. Here the 12” order with grilled chicken, chicken ham, pepperoni, mushroom and mozzarella cheese. It was extremely filling.

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One of the most ordered pizza here would be the Penang Hot (8”-RM30, 12”-RM36). The pizza would have lots of fresh prawns in spicy sauce, topped with onions, garlic, chopped basil and mozzarella cheese. Who do you think was behind all the passionate baking of these delicious pizzas? It was none other than the experience Chef Joe who had worked alongside with Chef Emmanuel Stroobant (Chef In Black) when he was working in Meritus Hotel, Singapore. Unfortunately, Chef Joe had now left QEII but do not be sad as he would now be overseeing the Italian restaurant at Hard Rock Hotel, Penang, which would be officially launched on 19 September 2009.

CHEFJOE

The dinner ended with some beautifully presented desserts. One of them was the Chocolate Volcano (RM12). Instead of a piece of rich chocolate moist cake as per menu, they gave me a piece of warm and moist butter cake with layered white chocolate mousse. I did not mind too as the cake was light and fluffy and truly delicious. It was dressed with oozing melted chocolate, one fresh strawberry, some chopped walnuts and presented with some sweet and tasty raspberries in jam sauce. It was heaven!

QEII08

The next was the Pear Crumble (RM8). The warm grounded cinnamon cooked pears had the right sweetness for my taste bud. Although I would prefer a crunchier oat and hazelnut crust, the whole combination with white Anglaise cream, strawberry and raspberries in jam sauce did not disappoint me at all.

QEII09

If you are coming from Lebuh Light, you will see a roundabout with a stainless steel betel nut structure (Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower is just beside it). Drive straight after the roundabout and you will be right in Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay). Just follow the road and you will see the Frank Swettenham Pier on your left. Drive a bit further and you will see the Church Street Pier on your left. QII Penang is just right at the end of the pier, just before Hai Nan Town Restaurant within the Tanjung City Marina. The ferry terminal is just after that.

QEIIMAP

Name: QEII PENANG
Address: Tanjung City Marina, Church Street Pier, 8A Pengkalan Weld, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 2126
Business Hours: 12.00noon-12.00am (Dining), 12.00noon-3.00am (Entertainment)
GPS: 5.415150, 100.343764

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

CUISINE EXTRAVAGANZA AT CHIN BEE TEA CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 12 - 2009

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Who would have expected hidden amongst some of the heritage houses in Georgetown would have a tea café that served quality choices of tea as well as food? Of course, that would be Chin Bee Tea Café, an established tea supplier to most of the restaurants and hawker centers in Penang. I found out about this place a few months’ ago when they were still undergoing renovation works and this place ended up as a treasure to me and I would strongly recommend them to my friends. I have even lost count of how many visits Steven Goh, whom I had first introduced this cafe, had brought his family along to patronize this place.

From the exterior of this place, most people would just assume it as a place serving solely tea and some light bites as most tea houses. If you look into the clear glass panels, you would even see rows of cupboards and urns filled with tea leaves and flower tea buds. Anyone would surely have that wrong perception.

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Going into the café is like moving into a place filled with hospitality. You would be served by the members of this family run business with all smiles. The service is remarkable. You would be given a menu with a list of tea which you would like to have as well as a simple menu for the food.

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Do try out their quality Chrysanthemum bud tea which would give you the unique sweet after taste as well as their Ginseng Tie Guan Yin which would energize your moods and alertness.

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Do not be fooled by the simple list of food as shown in the menu as there are still many other wonderful dishes that the over 60 years old Sifu (Grand Master of the Kitchen), Mr. Malai Chong, have under his sleeves. I was truly surprised on how impromptu and creative this Sifu was in coming up with dishes that will make anyone drool just by looking at it. This showed that with his seasoned experiences, he could just combine any ingredients in the kitchen to make great dishes. What else would you expect from a chef who had work in overseas restaurants such as Ireland and UK, and also in reputable Malaysian hotels and restaurants for the past 40 plus years?

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Let us now looked at some of the dishes the café is famous for such as the Special Pork Ribs (RM3/pc). The inner part of the ribs will always been soft while the outer layer has that crunchiness from the chef’s secret formulated flour. The dish would be served in some sweet and delicious sauce. This dish is highly recommended for those who would not mind some fatty layers on the belly cum ribs portion of pork.

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The next dish was a surprise. I wanted something nice mixed with some greens. The Sifu concocted a new dish called the Smooth Journey (一帆風順 – RM12). From the outlook of the long and round food on the plate, I was not sure what they were until I sliced open both of them. The long one appeared to be stuffed capsicum with some juicy minced pork and prawns. It was unique and yummy. The round one appeared to be stuffed button mushrooms with the same type of fillings. The slightly sweet and sour sauce made both simply irresistible.

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I wanted something lighter next and the Sifu recommended a homely dish called Three Jewels Steam Egg (三黃蛋 – RM8). It had three types of eggs, basically chicken eggs, salted duck egg and century eggs, all whipped up with some seasoning and steamed to perfection. The dish would then be garnished with some quality soy sauce, some fried garlic & oil and chopped spring onions. It was marvelous too as the texture of the steamed egg was without much bubbles and it was as smooth as consuming Japanese tofu.

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Next, I got my “sort of personal chef now” (LOL!) to serve me with some chicken dish that he did not have in his menu. Again I was stunned by how well he had presented in the next dish which was the Sweet & Sour Chicken (燒汁雞 – RM10). It was basically a large chicken drumstick (the size as you would get from Western food) but the preparation was ten times tastier than I have tasted anywhere. I guessed the Sifu used only the best sauce to come out with something as great as this dish. The batter coated chicken was very crispy. It blended real well with sliced onions, chillies, sugar snap peas (mange tout) with some touches of sweet and sour sauce.

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The next dish which was the Rakkyo In-house Tofu (蕎光豆腐 – RM12) was another eye opening dish for me. When I thought it was just the usual fried in-house made special tofu cooked with minced meat and mixed vegetables, the taste was totally not as I had expected. It was so appetizing. It has that unique sweetness combined with quality Chinese wine. The added sliced sugar snap peas, carrots and button mushrooms made the dish real colorful.

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Do you want to know the secret behind the appetizing dish? Here they are. The dish has finely sliced pickled ginger (調味醋姜片) and pickled Rakkyo bulbs (酸甜蕎頭). You might want to know what Rakkyo is. It is a native plant in South East Asia, mostly grown in China, Japan and certain parts of Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) where the bulbs would me made into pickles. It also believed to have some medicinal properties such as the prevention of thrombosis, treatment of heart diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), remedy for fever, stomachache and eye infections. There are many names to this midget spring onion or allium-like plant such as the widely used English term which sounded so Japanese – Rakkyo, Japanese scallion or Allium chinense.

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Another dish that the Sifu had specially prepared for the Chinese New Year season would be the Dried Oyster, Scallop & Black Moss Stew (大蠔燉乾貝髮菜 – RM20-40). This is a wonderful dish as the dried oysters and scallops were braised in some seasonings such as ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and Shao Xing wine until soften. These would then be simmered along with some young lettuces and black moss. This specially prepared dish would normally be served in family reunion dinners on the eve of Chinese New Year.

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On top of the above dishes with would be taken with rice, you could always opt for something lighter. They have only rice or Ee Foo noodles. Either you can ask the Sifu to cook Fried Ee Foo Mee or their famous Hong Tu Mian (鴻圖面 – RM8-15). This would be best taken with some black vinegar.

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If you feel that you would like something drier, you can try out their Yong Chow Fried Rice, Egg Wrapped Fired Rice or my favorite Hot & Spicy Fried Rice (特色炒飯 – RM5-RM15). The “Wok Hei” aka high heat frying for this fried rice dishes is real good.

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Overall, Chin Bee Tea Café is a great place to buy various quality tea leaves/flower teas as well as for family dine-in. There would always be surprises for you as you would not know what other delicious food the Sifu would stir up for you. The price for the food is reasonable, so are the selections of quality tea drinks. I will surely drop in to try out their other reputable dishes such as the exotic deer meat and fish head curry. By the way, the Sifu would also like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year in the coming Ox year.

MALAICHONG

If you are coming from Trader’s Hotel along Jalan Magazine, keep to your left and drive on until you have reach the second traffic light. Turn into the first road on your left (Jalan Gurdwara) and then the first left turning into Lebuh Noordin. The shop is just somewhere in the middle on your right within a row of heritage houses. In fact, this shop is just two houses away from another recommended confectionery manufacturer by the name of Hock Lok Siew Biscuit Trading. Please make sure you call up for reservation as this place could be packed during lunch or dinner hours.

CHINBEEMAP

Name: CHIN BEE TEA CAFE
Address: 124, Lebuh Noordin, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 1761, 012-499 9972 (Mr. Ong)
Opening Hours: 12noon – 3.00pm, 6.00pm-9.00pm (Closed Alternate Wednesday)
GPS: 5.412361, 100.329541

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

 

COFFEE ISLAND IN PENANG

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 3 - 2009

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The latest happening in town other than the New World Park would be the newly open Coffee Island situated along the promenade of Gurney Drive. It has the buzzing crowd ranging from families, YUPpies (Young Urban Professionals), college and school students. Moving into the premises was like being greeted by a mini party of giggles and laughs, setting the mood of the environment to happy and lively modes.

Coffee Island could be a great place for those who love to drop in for late breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper or even early breakfast in a relax environment as they would be open for business as early as 10.00am until 3.00am. I was there for a late dinner. The menu was rather impressive as it has more than 160 types of food and beverages to choose from. There was also a section for those late owls.

It was a surprise that with such a packed crowd that night, service was still up to par. Waiters and waitresses would check on the provided chit upon serving and supervisors would double check on the orders per table. Meals were served within few minutes too.

The first order that came was the Chicken Maryland (RM11.50nett). It was just a normal presentation with side dishes such as salads, mashed potatoes and some greens. As usual, the dish would also have sausage, pineapple and banana fritters on top of the usual breaded chicken. I would think that the sausage could be improved as it tasted “cheap” and the breaded chicken had a hard outer batter while the meat was extremely dry. It tasted as though it was double fried and lost its juiciness. Somehow this dish was not up to my expectation.

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The next one was the Traditional Chicken Curry served with Roti Jala (Net Egg Crepe – RM9.50nett). The dish has only three piece of roti jala, two with pandan (screw pine flavored) and one plain, served with spicy chicken slices curry (8 small slices in fact). The taste was great but the amount could hardly fill my tummy, considering that the dish was served with only 4 thin slices of cucumber. Great taste but too pricey.

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To fill up my tummy, I had to order the Ham & Cheese Toast (RM4.60nett). I was expecting something fragrant and crunchy but in the end I had 3 thick but springy slices of white breads stuffed with a semi fried ham and a piece of cheese. Moreover, there were no vegetables inside, except for some over lime juice taste mayonnaise. I would rather have non toasted bread with butter spread as the whole combination was too dry to my liking.

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There was nothing special in the drinks too. The Iced Cappuccino (RM5.90nett) was really ‘ice filled” and not to my liking as it tasted so “thin”. The Pink Holiday (RM6.90) was a laugh. It tasted like a sugarless Ais Manis (red syrup iced drink) with some fizzy soda. It was nothing special at all.

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Maybe it was just due to my wrong timing to dine there when the place was so packed or my expectation could be too high. Anyway, I was not quite happy with the RM43 paid (plus tips) to have these types of food served. If I were to visit there again, I would surely choose other dishes to test them out again. Let me share with you what they have in their menu.

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Overall, the place would be ideal for meet-ups if the taste of food is not your main concern. The pricing might be a bit high though for the amount of food served and the drink could be a bit “thin”. I would advise can drinks instead. You can opt to dine indoor rather than the al fresco area. There would be two free 1MB WIFI line available, namely Coffee Island 1 and Coffee Island 2. Downloading could be quite fast but uploading is rather slow. There are other “unsecured lines” such as MyBroadband and Gurney67 available but I’m not sure about the speed.

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The shop is strategically located along the sea front of the famous Gurney Drive (next to Crepe Cottage). If you are coming from town center towards Gurney Drive into Jalan Kelawei, turn right at the first junction (Jalan Lim Chin Guan) where Gurney Tower is. Drive towards the end and turn left. You would pass through Evergreen Laurel Hotel and a stretch of hawker centers on your left. Slow down as Crepe Cottage is immediately after the last hawker center (Song River Café). You can park your car next to the café. The car park is in fact behind Crepe Cottage. If you visit this place during weekends, I would advise you to park your car in the Jalan Birch Car Park (the road after Song River Café) and walk up to the cafe.

COFFEEISLANDMAP

Name: COFFEE ISLAND
Address: 77 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 3.00am
Contact: 604-2272378
GPS: 5.432556, 100.316592

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 9/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 5.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

SUNSET BISTRO FERRINGHI

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 10 - 2008

Note: Every since this beautiful place vanished overnight through ashes, a lot of people has been missing them. Now they are reincarnated as Bora Bora By Sunset. 🙂

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I guessed I might just have to disclose that there was actually a private function during the launching of my food blog on the 4 December 2008. Attendees – two! Some might get the hint from my statement on “Anniversary of Anniversaries” but some may still be in the dark. I could be a real secretive person at times you know. LOL! Anyway, there is no better place for some private moments than at the beach. The luxurious, warm and soft white sandy coastline of the Batu Ferringhi Beach could well be the perfect environment with beautiful panoramic views and privacy to rekindle the sparks or light a new one for years to come.

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Having some soft evening breeze blowing onto your face, while settling down by the sun deck watching over the sunset and listening to the waves lap on the shore, would be an added bonus for romantic trysts. There’s no budgeting for such a memorable moment, although some would prefer a dining table by the beach under a dim candlelight with soft background music that won’t cost too much. Where would be the best place for such event than at Sunset Bistro Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi, Penang.

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As you know this is a bistro with music and liquors (RM10 – RM40) all through the night, there’s actually some fruit juice and non-fizzy beverages available too such as the gigantic jug of Fruit Punch (RM9.90) or the Ice Lemon Tea (RM4.90).

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There are also many appetizers, main meals, rice dishes, noodles, finger food, sandwiches, pizza, pastas and desserts to choose from, ranging from as low as RM6.90 (Fried Koay Teow) to RM31.90 (Mixed Grill). The good news is all items are priced nett with no additional taxes. Since we had a late and heavy lunch, we shared out some of the food.

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The Spaghetti Carbonara with Turkey Ham (RM14.90) tasted great. It had this thick yet herb filled taste in it with some shredded parmesan cheese garnished on the pasta. The portion was large enough for both of us to share out.

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Next was the Club Sandwich (RM10.90). The dish came with four slices of fresh white bread, stuffed with a layer of lettuce, a layer of cheddar cheese, a layer of mixed tuna salad, accompanied by some greens and salad, served with some French fries. The sandwich was nothing really special at all as I was expecting the bread to be slightly toasted.

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The last dish to come was the 6” Mauii Pizza (RM9.90). The pizza base was crispy and the topping was beautiful. It had large chunks of chicken meat, mushrooms and pineapple spread over a freshly prepared tomato puree and baked to perfection with lots of mozzarella cheese. The pizza was so tasty that we regretted not ordering a larger 8” one (RM12.90).

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Overall, the simple meal was quite pleasant. Here’s the signboard of some of the food available in this bistro by the beach.

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We ended up strolling along the mile long night market looking for some bargains for items such as shoes, clothing, DVD’s, hand bags, jewelries, wallets, cushion covers, sarongs, luggage, sunglasses, souvenirs, paintings and many more.

Drive all the way up to Batu Ferringhi until you reach Parkroyal Hotel Penang on your right. Turn right into the first junction after the hotel and you will reach the Bayu Senja beach front. When you are at the T junction, turn left. Find a parking space. The bistro is just somewhere further on you right by the beach in front of many beach hostels.

SUNSETBISTROMAP

Name: SUNSET BISTRO FERRINGHI
Address: 56A, Bayu Senja, Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-553 1313 (Ms. Melynda Soon)
Opening Hours:
12.00pm-1.00am Sunday – Thursday)
12.00pm-3.00am (Friday, Saturday and Eve of Public Holiday)
GPS: 5.471436, 100.244333

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 9/10 (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: 7.5/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

SEVEN SISTER CAFE & RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 5 - 2008

NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CEASED OPERATION BUT THE PUB IS STILL IN OPERATION

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If I mention about Restoran Zim Sum along Jalan Anson or its sister companies, Town Steamboat Restaurant and Dim Sum Food Restaurant along Jalan Macalister, most Penangites would know about them. What about another sister company by the name of 7’S (Seven Sister) Café & Restaurant just a few blocks away along Jalan Nanning? Quite a number of people who passes by this nice bungalow lot would think that it’s just another pub in town. You are wrong as this place served one of the cheapest set lunches in town.

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I was there to try out their set menu recently and found their food quality to be real impressive at the price I was paying. The set menu came in 3 categories – Noodle Soup & Pasta Set (RM7.80nett), 4-course Western Set (RM14.80nett) and Rice Set (RM10.80nett). All sets will come with a Dessert of the Day (Ice Cream) and a Drink of the Day (Iced Lemon Tea, Soft Drink, Coffee or Tea).

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Since there were only two of us there for lunch, we tried out two of the set meals. I had the Western set which also included Appetizer of the Day (Classic Caesar Salad) and Soup of the Day (Fresh Mushroom Soup). The salad portion was big and has a few fried sausages in it.

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The Fresh Mushroom Soup was great too with lots of mushroom slices in it. It might not be the best around but it was quite creamy and tasty.

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I get to select my main meal from a list which comprised of Grilled Chicken Chop with Mushroom Sauce, Pan Fried Salmon Steak with Lemon Cream Sauce and Black Pepper Grilled Lamb Chop. I opted for the latest. I did not regret ordering this dish as the presentation was marvelous and the black pepper sauce was thick and tasty. There were lots of potato wedges and greens hidden under 3 big pieces of juicy medium rare grilled lamb meat.

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Dessert of the Day was next. It was just a plain scoop of Strawberry Ice Cream. Who would want to complain? That was a bonus!

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My friend on the other hand tried the Rice Set thinking that it would be small serving. He chose the Seafood Japanese Tofu from a list of dishes which also included Stir Fried Chicken with Dried Chilies, Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet, 7’S Homemade Steamed Chicken in Ginger Sauce and Fried Lamb Cubes in Teriyaki Sauce. The dish came in a clay pot with lots of Japanese Tofu and mixed seafood. The gravy was nice.

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A large bowl of rice with an omelette above and some fresh tomato slices was accompanied with the dish. Dessert followed.

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I would surely drop in to try out their Noodle Soup and Pasta sets when I am down that area again. The list of food listed such as Egg Noodles in Homemade Abalone Soup, Yellow Noodles in Homemade Light Ginger Soup, Spaghetti with Grilled Chicken, and Spaghetti with Grilled Dory Fish was quite impressive.

This place also does provide Happy Hour from as early as 4pm until 9pm.

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Moreover, there’s a public karaoke area for you to sing your heart out until 3am in the morning.

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If you are coming from KOMTAR area (Jalan Magazine and Jalan Dato Kramet) into Jalan Macalister, you would see its sister companies, Town Steamboat Restaurant and Dim Sum Food Restaurant on your left. Drive on and turn into the second junction (Lebuh Nanning) on your left. You will see a big white bungalow with red trims on your right. The famous Lorong Seratus Tahun curry mee is just opposite this restaurant.

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Name: 7’S (SEVEN SISTER) CAFE & RESTAURANT
Address: 26 Lebuh Nanning, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-228 2653
Opening Hours:
Restaurant: 11.30am – 3.00pm, 6.30pm-10.00pm
Pub: 4.00pm-3.00am (Karaoke), 4.00pm-9.00pm (Happy Hours)
GPS: 5.415253, 100.322270

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

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About Me

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.

By the way, you might not notice it but CRIZ BON APPETITE is iPhone/Mobile Compatible. Please do feel free to hop over to http://ip.crizfood.com to get the latest updates! If you want to contact me for any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at crizlai [at] hotmail [dot] com. Spamming would not be tolerated – you are being tracked here!

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