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4TH PENANG FLOGGERS GATHERING AT VINTAGE BULGARIA RESTAURANT & BAR

Posted by crizlai On September - 10 - 2009

It was indeed an evening of “Fun, Wild & Intimate” as the theme was when we gathered for the 4th Penang Floggers Gathering at Vintage Bulgarian Restaurant & Bar not long ago. Other than the usual faces we had seen, many new flogging friends had decided to show up from as far as Kuala Lumpur. Who they are? You can find out about them at the end of the post. Now let’s start with the main topic – FOOD! Since it was a specially arranged menu just for us and many other patrons of the restaurant for the night, we had a great package deal at only RM40/pax. Thanks to Alan and Allie for organizing this memorable event.

The dinner started with a choice between two soups. The Mushroom Soup with Vintage Garlic Bread was freshly prepared with a mixture of different types of mushrooms, accompanied by a slice of creamy garlic bread. The soup had the earthly taste that I love a lot and the garlic bread was marvelously prepared with lots of cheese topping.

The Seafood Soup on the other hand had a totally different taste. It has the freshness of the seafood ingredients somewhat like seafood chowder but a bit spicier. There were hints of crabsticks, fish cubes, crab meat and herbs that made the whole taste a unique experience.

There were 5 options for the main meal and we shared amongst our table of 6 persons so that everyone would have a taste of the food. The first that arrived was the Bulgarian Pork Djolan, a traditional roasted pork knuckle. Sometimes also known as ham hock or hough, the meat has been well marinated with hints of light wine, salt, honey, herbs and spices. This was then roasted until perfection with slightly crispy skin and tender yet juicy meat. The dish alone had enough of flavor without applying the accompanied BBQ sauce.

The next dish was the Chicken Stroganov which consists of boneless chicken drumstick cut into stripes and cooked with mushroom, wine, cream, herbs and spices. This again was well received by many of us although the portion was not as remarkably large as the former dish.

The Bulgarian Platter was served next. The dish had a mixed grill trio of kebapche (front row in sausage shape), kyufte (back row in oval shape) and karnatche (center row with sausage like texture). The differences between kebapche and kyufte are in shapes and the additional usage of chopped onions in the later. Both are actually made out of minced meat (pork, beef or mixed) with some signs of cumin, salt and grounded black pepper. Karnatche is actually the Bulgarian style of stuffing sausages with pure meat patty and then grill to perfection. Taste wise for everything was fine, except that they could be a bit salty for the local consumption.

For those ribs lover, the Plovdiv Ribs might be a good choice. It came with a few choice pieces of pork ribs, marinated with the chef’s secret recipe and roasted until tender. The ribs were meaty enough too. To me, there were no uniqueness in this dish compared to any regular BBQ ribs and it was a bit sweet to my liking.

With all the meaty stuff, it was great to see a seafood dish. Baked Cod Fish Fillet served with chopped mushroom in creamy mushroom sauce was next. The thick cut cod fish fillet was slightly bake to maintain the gel like freshness within blended in real well with the slightly cheesy taste like sauce.

Even before our desserts were served, we were given sweet treats courtesy of Winter Butterfly Homemade Cakes and gelatos from Gelatisimo. Here are the Oreo Cheese Cake, Chocolate Brownies and Cream Cheese Mousse Cake.

The sample tryout by Gelatisimo was indeed different. The different flavored gelato itself was smooth, creamy, flavorful and not overly sweet – the healthy way that I love. We had flavors such as green tea, mango, chocolate, rum & raisins, etc. There are around 50 more flavors in their outlets.

After all the treats, we had more desserts from the restaurant. The first dessert was the Chocolate Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream. It indeed reminded me of how I used to take my ice cream when I was in my earlier years – mildly sweetened chocolate beverage with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. The only difference here was the sprinkles of some chocolate rice. In fact, I still do make this dessert quite often but with milky coffee instead. I personally felt that the aroma and slight bitterness of the coffee combine well with vanilla ice cream.

The next dessert was the Chocolate Crème Brulee. It was indeed another great dessert which was not as sweet as it looked. The crème was perfectly whipped and to take a spoonful with some caramelized sugar on the surface was like heaven. The creamy substance oozing down your throat while your teeth slowly munching the crunchy caramelized sugar, was simply refreshing. This dessert came with some fresh fruit cuts.

It might be quite hard to locate the restaurant for those from outstation but it would be worth your effort to try out their wonderful food. Vintage Bulgaria Restaurant is actually situated just behind Mutiara Selera Food Court at the base of Pearl Hill. To go to this restaurant, just drive towards Batu Ferringhi from town. When you reach the Penang Swimming Club on your right, drive ahead until you see Caltex petrol kiosk on your left. It’s just a short distance before reach another traffic light (Mutiara Selera Food Court). Turn left before the food court and you would see a Y junction. You can either turn left and find a parking space somewhere near the 7-ELEVEN outlet as the restaurant is right in the middle or the same row of shop houses or turn right until you see another Y junction then turn left into Jalan Sungai Kelian. Turn left again into the sloppy service road. You would see the restaurant on your right. There’s a mini car park opposite the restaurant but it’s up to your luck to find a parking space as normally it would be full during dining hours.

Name: VINTAGE BULGARIA RESTAURANT & BAR
Address: 1E, Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-898 1890
Business Hours: 12.00noon-12.00am (Last order at 10.00pm)
GPS: 5.464654, 100.292526

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: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

Attended Floggers:
Alan Choong
Allen Ooi
Allie Sun
Anna
Bee
Carrie Soon
Celine
Chan Chee Wah
Cheryl Wee
CK Lam
Criz Lai
Desmond Ch’ng
Gill Giam
Huat Koay
Jason Wong
Jessica Tan
Jian
Kathleen Tan
Ken Chan
Leong Mei Yi
Lingzie
Mary Teo
NKOTB
Rebecca Saw
SP Moi
Steven Goh
Wong, Zi Yi
Yong Shi Hui

Note: Palm Village Cafe has relocated to Ivory Plaza, Jalan Bukit Gambier, Penang, under another name – AB Cafe. This relocated restaurant has also ceased its operation in 2010.

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A few of us were invited to the official opening of one of Penang’s newest restaurants named Palm Village Cafe located in the upcoming Lembah Permai business area of Tanjung Bungah this morning. The whole concept behind the restaurant would be that of a homely cooked food with a casual dining experience surrounded with paintings of the various lifestyles through time.

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Who do you think would qualify to show beautiful paintings to get the right feel of those nostalgic moments? It’s none other than that of our own local artist, Choh Kiat Siong? Mr. Choh, voted as the top 15 most outstanding youth in Kedah, is a seasoned watercolor artist who had spent all his life time painting the past and present of our local scenes. He had received many awards and recognition locally and was much loved in the republic of China for his uniqueness to bring out the lifestyles of the Malaysians in paintings. I would think the restaurant had the greatest privilege to get his signature signed live on the scene.

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Are you curious to find out the type of food you would get from this restaurant? It is basically a place to hang out for families, friends, workers and students from the surrounding area. They have food ranging from simple and light breakfast meals such as toasts and soup, ala carte poultry, seafood and vegetable dishes to go with rice for groups, rice and noodles, finger food, ice cream and cakes to pamper your craving for some delicious homemade tea time snacks. On top of these wonderful meals at an economical price for everyone, there are also some combo meals available. There are also family combo meals from as low as RM10. The best part would be by adding an extra RM2.80, you could get an additional drink and a dessert per each combo meal ordered.

Some of the unique and recommended food here would be their Palm Village Curry Chicken, Fried Fermented Bean Curd Chicken, Asam Pedas Rice/Noodles, Curry Chicken Wan Than Mee, Chinese Cruller Salad, Tiramisu Cake and many more. I would try them out another day in full review and elaborate more on the food details as well as to provide photographs at a later date.

If you know where the Penang TAR College is, if would be easier to find the restaurant. If not, try finding your way from Jalan Burma and drive all the way up using Jalan Mount Erskine until you see a Hindu temple on your left. It’s almost near to the Jalan Fettes traffic light. Drive straight on and you would see a Y junction. The right lane would lead you to Pepper Estate. Keep to your left and use the winding road up towards Vale of Tempe. Towards the end of the winding road, you would see houses on both sides of the road. Drive on until you see the first junction on your left (Lebuh Lembah Permai 1). Turn left and drive all the way up until your see some shop houses on your right. Turn right into the service road (Lebuh Lembah Permai 4) and drive to the other side of the shop houses and you would see the restaurant located prominently on your right. Blue Reef Restaurant and Annabelle’s Place are just a few shop houses away from the restaurant.

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Name: PALM VILLAGE CAFE
Branch Address: 28, Lebuh Lembah Permai 4, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-890 0320
Opening Hours: 11.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.454192, 100.290298

ALL YOUR NEEDS UNDER ONE ROOF AT STEVEN’S HOTSPOT

Posted by crizlai On May - 13 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operations in Penang.

Basically this is not a food post but just an awareness post that there is a new outlet in Penang, Malaysia, that would cater for all your basic business and personal needs. Located near Queensbay Mall and within the newly constructed BayAvenue, there existed a little corner café like shop by the name of Steven’s Hotspot. It was a privilege for a few of us to be invited by the marketing team of STG Resources Sdn. Bhd. to witness the soft launching of the latest hotspot outlet and a briefing on the history of the company by the Marketing Director, Mr. Michael Ng. Thanks Mr. Edward Tan for the special arrangement.

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Initially started as a mamak stall by the name of Steven’s Corner in OUG Garden in the late 70’s, the business has now expanded with the opening of another two outlets in Pandah Indah and Setapak in Kuala Lumpur. To provide Malaysians with the experience of dining freshly concocted ingredients imported directly from India in a more comfortable environment, Steven’s Tea Garden was formed with the state-of-the-art ambience in major shopping complexes, namely Sunway Pyramid, MidValley, Bukit Bintang, AEON Ampang, AEON Bukit Tinggi and Semenyih TESCO.

To provide further services to the community, Steven’s Hotspot was formed with the first outlet being officiated in Kuala Lumpur, followed by Penang on 9 May 2009. Ipoh and Johor Bahru hotspots would follow suit within the next few months. The concept behind Steven’s Hotspot is totally different compared to Steven’s Corner and Steven’s Tea Garden. The setting up of the hotspots in strategically located prime townships within Malaysia is to ease the community in their daily running of errands. It’s a one-stop centre for business appointments with the facilities of having WIFI services, printing, photocopying and faxing of documents. Moreover, it also served as a utility, telecommunication bill payment and purchasing of prepaid outlet for your personal need.

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In case you might want to grab something a drink while waiting for the arrival of your clients, you could always try out their 1997 & 1999 Malaysian Tourism Board, Mix FM and The Sun ‘Best Teh Tarik Award’ winning beverage, the Teh Tarik (Malaysian style pulled tea with milk – RM2.50).

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There are other options too such as canned drinks and flavored tea.

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There are also light meals and snacks supplied by quality Halal certified local food vendors available here. You could always try out their local delicacies such as Nasi Lemak and kuih-muih or cakes and pastries from the counter.

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We had tried out their Tuna and Seafood Croissants (RM8/set), Blueberry Cheese Pie (RM6), Lychee and Tiramisu Cakes (RM8.50/pc). There were nothing to shout about on the taste and quality as their main concentration was based on providing convenient services as a business centre.

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The mission and vision of Steven’s restaurant chain of restaurants is to expand the business with the expectation of 100 outlets in Malaysia within the next few years as well as to expand aboard. This can only be made possible with their Customer Loyalty Program managed by STG Resources Sdn. Bhd. There are four types of memberships available such as the Classic, Silver, Gold and Platinum memberships. If you are interested in any of their memberships and want to know the benefits available, you can check them out. There is also opportunity for you to own your franchise restaurant through their partnership program.

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It would be easier to reach Steven’s Hotspot if use the Jelutong/Bayan Lepas Expressway. Just follow the direction towards Queensbay Mall. Drive on until you see an overhead pass when nearing the mall. Watch out for a signboard leading to Pulau Jererak Resort & Spa. Turn left into the road and drive until the T-junction. Turn right and drive on until the roundabout. On the way, you would see JJ café on your left. Drive 12 o’clock after the roundabout until you see a junction on your right where Shanghai Ding – House of Dumpling is located. OXO Café would be at the next building. Opposite the café (on your right) would be the newly construction BayAvenue business centre. Drive through the parking meter, drive straight and make a left turn at the first junction and you would see Steven’s Hotspot at a corner shoplot.

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Name: STEVEN’S HOTSPOT
Address: B-16-1, Lorong Bayan Indah 3, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am-11.00pm
GPS: 5.337456, 100.307114

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (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)

MUMMY’S NIGHT OUT TO NIPPON YATAIMURA

Posted by crizlai On May - 11 - 2009

Although I do get my Mum the best food around town frequently, it was a special day yesterday to bring her out for some live-on-the-spot dinner. After all, it was Mothers’ Day and she ought to be treated like a queen. We ended up having Japanese food at Nippon Yataimura which is located in Pulau Tikus, Penang. From the exterior, it looked like a normal restaurant. As we stepped inside, it was totally another world by itself with lanterns hanging everywhere on little roofs just like in a village. Now I got it why they had named the shop as “日本屋合村”, meaning Japanese House in a Village.

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There were just too many choices available in this restaurant with even a specially created 9-course set meal priced at RM48+ just for Mothers’ Day but we ended up ordering some other set meals with a few dishes from the Ala Carte menu. Let me share with you the set meals that we had ordered. One of the set was Saba Syioyaki (RM25). This is one of the most ordered fish dish in Japan where a small mackerel was grilled to perfection while maintaining the moisture within the fat. The fish had a nice grill and with a squeeze of lemon juice and grated daikon (mild flavored white radish), it was good.

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Next were two sets of teppanyaki (鉄板焼) style dishes. One of them was the Teppan Chicken (RM20). The dish came with some iron griddled mixed vegetables with some toasted garlic slices. The chicken slices were good with their special sauce and they tasted a bit like the spicy version of sate.

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Teppan Salmon (RM24) was the other wonderful dish as the sauce was somewhat unique. It was slightly sweet and mildly spiced up. Even with the crisped sensation I had, the fish managed to retain its juice. It was beautiful.

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Something caught my eyes in the set menu and I ended up ordering Pork Mayonnaise (RM20). The dish was real creamy with the flavors coming from the mayo and a hint of Lea & Perrin sauce. This dish was cooked with lots of sliced big onions. This would be good if taken with rice.

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The above four sets came with side dishes such as a bowl of beautifully steam Japanese rice, Salad, Miso Soup, Chawan Mushi and fruit cuts. The Salad had a mildly gingered chili paste. The Miso Soup was thickly flavored with some tofu cubes and chopped spring onions in it. The Chawan Mushi (Steam Egg) came beautifully decorated and was silky smooth with a few chopped chicken meat pieces within.

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Other than the above set meals, we also tried the Seafood Fried Rice (RM22). The dish came with freshly cooked squids, prawns and fish fillet. Although the taste of the rice was nice, I found it to be wet for my preference. It could be due to my liking for “wok hei” (high heat cooking) style of plain white rice rather than the usage of Japanese rice.

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The next dish which was the Fish Ball Ramen (RM13) may look plain but one sip into the soup and you would yearn for more. The soup was richly flavored with a hint of fresh prawn juice. It was just like the Dobin Mushi I had at Penang Times Square. Even the portion of ramen served was rather filling. The dish came with fish balls, sliced wood ear fungus and some spring onions.

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We also ordered some of the dishes from the Ala Carte menu and one of them was the Ocha Soba (RM13). We had a small serving of cold noodles served with cold soup, raw quail’s egg, spring onions and chopped fried garlic. We indeed left the quail’s egg untouched. One reason was that it was raw and the next was the 3640 calories it will bring into our bodies. The noodle was springy and blended nicely with the soup but somehow I still prefer the Tenzaru Soba I had at Penang Times Square as the soup was more flavorful.

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Next side dish was the Agedashi Tofu (RM6). It was nothing special with some pieces of fried tofu garnished with nori (Japanese seaweed strips), spring onions and daikon, served in a pool of soy sauce but the tofu cubes were indeed silky smooth.

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The Ishiyaki Kinoko Nomori (RM18) was my favorite amongst the rest of the side orders. The shiitake (Chinese black mushroom – 香菇) and enoki/enokitake (golden needle mushrooms – 金針菇) mushrooms were stone-cooked so perfectly with their special sauce while maintaining the fragrant mushroom taste. The gravy for this dish tasted great with my rice. Both mushrooms are believed to be great antioxidants.

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The most wonderful dining experience in this restaurant was their free flow of green tea, either cold or hot at no extra cost.

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I felt that the pricing here is reasonable compared to the quality of ingredients and portion served. After all, I was really filled up with each set meal I had ordered. The service here was good considering that almost all the food came within minutes upon ordering. There are more dishes which I would love to try out next from their ramen (noodles), gohan (rice), sushi (vinegar rice finger food), sashimi (raw cold cuts) and dessert sections.

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There is another branch of this franchise restaurant located within Queensbay Mall up in Bayan Baru, Penang. The main restaurant which I had visited in Pulau Tikus, Penang, is located next to a service road along Jalan Burma. If you are coming from Jalan Burma into Pulau Tikus district, you would see a police station on your right. Drive on until you have reached the Jalan Cantonment/Jalan Burma traffic light. After the traffic light, you would see a row of shop houses. Slow down and keep a watch out for a service road on your left. Turn in the service road and you would see the restaurant on your left just next to Teow Chew Meng restaurant. Parking can be quite limited during office hours and weekends. You can either try finding some behind the restaurant or opposite along Bellisa Row. The worst alternative would be within the Bandar Baru Supermarket car park along Jalan Cantonment and walk back to the restaurant.

NIPPONYATAIMUREMAP

Name: NIPPON YATAI MURA (日本屋合村)
Address: 403-A, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours:
12.00noon-2.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Weekdays)
12.00noon-10.00pm (Saturday & Sunday – No reservation on these days & Public Holiday)
Contact: 604-226 6018
GPS: 5.432746, 100.310593

RATING:
Ambience: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (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)

AN INSIGHT VIEW OF HAVEN DELIGHTS @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE

Posted by crizlai On April - 23 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operations at Penang Times Square and has moved to Gurney Plaza, Penang, under the name of Xiao Nan Guo Cuisine.

INTERIOR

When I mention about insight, please do bear with me on a long post with a detailed study into Haven Delights. Ever since my first visit to Haven Delights, I must admit that I just could not get enough of their various ranges of cuisine from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It was not the food alone that attracted my attention but the friendliness, smiling faces and wonderful services from every level of the restaurant management. It has also been quite awhile ever since I had encountered innovative chefs and management that were so receptive to feedbacks and their willingness to post mortem mistakes to serve their best to meet the demands and requests of their patrons. This is the true quality of how good a restaurant should be and the success story behind Penang Times Square’s latest restaurant, Haven Delights.

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It was truly a privilege to be invited by the management of Haven Delights and also a wonderful experience working closely with the Chairman & Managing Director, Mr. Ng Boon Tong, Executive Chef, Mr. Edwin Teo, Sous Chef, Mr. Alex and staff to provide some of the Food Blogging Community members the opportunity to try out their fabulous cuisines last Saturday. The turnout was marvelous with 19 of us from Penang and KL. Without much ado, let’s hit the review items that were served to us.

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COLD CUTS:

The Hotzzz Abalone (from the Buffet Menu) dish came as a real surprise for many of us as it was topped with the chef’s homemade spicy paste and eel sauce, then garnished with fried garlic and spring onions. This was the first time I had tasted abalone served in this method (the next closest would be the abalone salad I had at Sarkies Corner in E&O Hotel) where the chili paste was not too spicy and yet very appetizing. The Unagi Tofu (from the Buffet Menu) on the other hand was milder with a grilled eel slice being laid above a silky and smooth tofu with chopped fried garlic, spring onions and bonito flakes as garnishes. The accompanied sweet sauce combined well with each of the ingredients.

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MAIN DISHES:

The Chicken Ban Ban (RM10) which had fried chicken pieces, deep fried eggs and topped with the chef’s 3 types of special sauces and shredded nori was another great tasting dish. The only hiccup was that although the chicken pieces were juicy enough, it lacked a bit more of seasoning which would make the whole dish perfect. Moreover, the presentation for the night was kind of flat compared to the few times I had tasted out this dish. The kitchen had now reverted to the earlier style as shown in the comparison photos below. Try combining all the 3 sauces (mayo, wasabi mayo & sweet sauce) on the dish and you will feel the sensation of sweet, creamy and spiciness with each bite. With almost all the items being fried, there were hardly any signs of the dish being oily.

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The Red Dragon Prawn with Jammy Sauce (RM20) which was presented next was a colorful dish. It had giant battered prawns, ball-like white dragon fruit cooked with the chef special fruity sauce. The tangy and slightly spiced flavor from the dish was unique to many. Due to the existence of so many food critics in our group that night, I guessed the chef was a bit nervous and came out with a slightly overcooked dragon fruit ball. Most of us thought it was kiwi fruit instead. I hope the kitchen staff will take note that fruits are not meant to be overcooked or they would lose out on their Vitamin C nutrient. Overall, the dish was still great for many, especially when taken with the shredded radish side dish.

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Next on our review list was the Motoyaki Scallop (RM14 for 5pcs). Since I’m a heavier flavor and spicy rich eater, I have no problem with the scallops served that night, except that I found them to be potentially spicy for many people, especially children. Moreover, the tabasco pepper sauce-like spiciness and thousand island type of creaminess from the toppings had somehow overpowered the freshness taste of the scallops. I would recommend the kitchen to look into the possibility of coming out with a milder dish for those non-spicy food patrons, e.g. plain grilled scallops with some lighter flavored sauces.

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For those Korean food lovers, the next dish which was Korean Beef Kimchi (RM16) would be ideal. The homemade kimchi was good as it was just nice without the overpowering taste of chili and vinegar. The beef slices were tender and juicy. I won’t mind having this dish with a bowl of hot steaming rice.

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The Lamb Teriyaki (RM18 for 2 cuts) had a sweet and slightly grill-burned taste. It tasted nice except that the lamb cuts for that night was not as perfect as the ones I had earlier. It somehow lacked the little fatty portions that would be ideal for any grilled lamb cuts. That might be the reason why certain parts of the meat were not well flavored or tender enough for the consumptions of some of the floggers.

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I loved the uniqueness in taste of the restaurant sous chef, Alex’s creation – Homemade Spicy Chicken (RM15). The fried chicken pieces, chopped fermented black beans, red chilies, garlic, spring onions, curry leaves and sesame seeds were cooked in thick, sweet and spicy gravy and these complimented each ingredients wonderfully. This would be another great item to be taken with hot steaming rice or mantou.

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The newly menu added Shanghai Honey Spare Ribs (RM18) served for the night was the most disappointed dish to be served for the night as most of us considered the dish to be over salty. Somehow the saltiness overpowered the sweetness of the honey. Moreover, the meat on the ribs was rather hardy to be taken in a chopsticks serving dining. I would suggest that spare ribs be braised prior to frying as it would loosen the meat more on the ribs. On top of the awareness on the correct combination of taste, a fattier choice of ribs would be more ideal in this type of dish. As for presentation wise, the rearrangement of the ribs by our own flogger, Jason, would be better as the dish would not look so flat.

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NOODLES:

Although the next dish Japanese Yaki Udon (RM12) was a common dish, the paper thin bonito flakes made it livelier as they were moving along with the heat from the dish. Most of us found the dish to be a bit too wet and the high heat frying (wok hei) was a bit overpowering. The revised version served later was drier and tasted better.

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CHEF’S SPECIAL SURPRISE:

The Tempura Cheese Maki served to us individually was the new creation of Edwin Teo, the executive chef of Haven Delights. The mildly burn tempura unagi roll topped with creamy Mozarella cheese was wonderful. I wished I could have more serving of this dish on that night.

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There were also another two unexpected food testing from the kitchen for the event. One was the beautifully blue fuel gel flamed and aluminum foil wrap baked Chicken Bomb. The presentation was good but the spicy and thyme enhanced flavor of the mashed salmon somehow did not match well with the fiber texture of the chicken meat. The whole combination did not meet our likings much. I personally felt that salmon should be taken in bigger chunks or in thin slices and should not be mashed up to taste like tuna. Maybe a milder herb usage or a non spicy version would be better for the dish. Let’s leave this to the chef to figure out.

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The other unexpected dish was the HK Style Wan Than Mee (RM22). Most of us considered the price to be a bit high even if the wonton were to be big and fully filled with prawns. The dish had four big wontons and a generous amount of young kalian (Chinese broccoli/kale) on top of the springy thick wonton noodles. The soup broth was thick and suited the noodles well but the wontons had some problems. The usage of some blended squid paste resulted in the prawns to be rather soft and powdery taste like as though they were not fresh. I would personally prefer either a bit of minced meat were to be used for the extra bite sensation or some chopped spring onions/Chinese celery to be added to the fresh prawns with a drop or two of sesame oil and light seasoning. Having some chopped jicama, carrots or water chestnuts would surely be an added bonus to the wontons. I also felt that plain fried garlic oil on top of the chopped spring onions served as garnishes would give would give the extra fragrance to the noodles compared to using fried shallots.

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HOMEMADE DESSERTS:

We also had the options to try out two of their special homemade desserts which were Macha Ice Cream and Kuru Goma Ice Cream. The Macha Ice Cream (RM8) had thick green tea extract blended into the ice cream, served with two mochi (glutinous rice balls) and topped with red bean paste. There were many disputes over this dessert as some prefer it not to be so strong in green tea flavor and to be sweeter in taste. Some prefer the red bean paste to be blended finer and even suggested the usage of kidney beans so that it would go smoother with each luxurious mouthful. There were also feedbacks on a less chewy mochi or had the mochi filled with red bean paste instead. To me, it would be each individual’s preferences as not everyone will have the same taste bud. I would think this dessert would be suitable for those who love to indulge in having dessert but are afraid of their blood sugar level. On the other hand, the mochi were indeed chewy hard but it has a great scientific explanation to that. Which item would not turn hard at freezing point? Even the Tempura Ice Cream which I had tried during my earlier visit had harder tempura bits compared to the actual room temperature ones I had tried before. Maybe the kitchen might want to consider having a nutty, chocolate or fruity version by considering the usage of roasted peanuts, pistachio, chocolate rice or even bananas. Simplicity might even be the better solution for this dessert.

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Next of the dessert option was the Kuru Goma Ice Cream (RM8) which had a ratio of 3:7 of grinded black sesame seeds to the ice cream, topped with crushed peanuts. Most of the floggers loved this flavor as this dessert was sweeter compared to the Macha Ice Cream but there were still some who prefer to have more black sesame flavor in the ice cream. Moreover, some had also considered the presentation to be a bit too plain and lack in colors. I would think sprinkling some roasted black sesame seeds and garnish with a leaf or two of mint leaves would be the solution.

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The above items were the food specially arranged for us to review. There are still many hundreds more of new items available in the Ala Carte and Buffet menus. Buffet lunch and dinner would be priced at RM49.90+ per person (Children 50% off). You can order as many items as you like in their over 90 dishes buffet menu list within the allocated two hours duration from as early as 10.30am until 11.00pm daily. Do take note that wastage above 100gms would be charged accordingly. Here are some of the side dishes they may serve on the buffet line on top of those orders you can make from the buffet menu.

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There were also some great dishes that I had tasted from this restaurant during my other visits other than the ones I had reviewed last month and I would like to share with you here. If you like to have a lighter meal, you can try out the Karapachio Salad (RM10). It would come with a variety of greens, some fish cake slices and served with their specially prepared sashimi raw fish mix sauce. It was indeed refreshing and unique.

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If you are keen on trying out cold noodles, you should try the Tenzaru Soba (RM14). It would come with a rack of noodles on ice cubes, served with tempura prawns and vegetables, a thick broth for dipping and some condiments for you to adjust your level of flavor. I loved every items served in this dish.

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Even the Silky Lau Mee (RM12), almost similar to the taste of the tested HK Style Wan Than Mee except for the wonton, tasted great with broiled young kalian, crab stick strips and boiled chicken slices. The taste of the broth blended well with the springy thick wonton noodles.

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Another quite similar to the Tempura Cheese Maki dish was the Aburi Ebi Cheese Maki (RM18). This was a marvelous dish indeed. It has 6 pieces of lovely Mozarella cheese enriched rolls (maki) and 2 pieces of tempura prawn rolls. There were also a lot of tobiko (flying fish roes) sprinkled on them. It was simply yummylicious!!

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Just to prove to you that the restaurant would do anything to accommodate to the request of its customers, I had presented them with a task of coming out with a dish with a packet of mixed flavored beans and seaweed as rice garnishes I had received from Japan. The result was amazing… A well presented plate of triangular shaped Traditional Onigiri (三角形日式飯糰), a cooked Japanese white rice finger food wrapped in nori (edible seaweed). Thanks to Mr. Melvin Loo, the sushi assistant, for coming out with this wonderful out-of-the-menu item. You have indeed proven your worthiness to be amongst the top in sushi making.

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Last but not least, I would like to thank the management and staff of Haven Delights for giving us, the Food Blogging Community, the opportunity to try out the food and in trusting us in our feedbacks for further improvement to the quality of food in Penang.

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I would also like to thank the following attendees for making this review gathering an enjoyable one with constructive feedbacks to the management of Haven Delights. Thank you guys and ladies… you were great!

Rebecca Saw
Steven Goh
Nicholas Chan
Jason & Gill
Cariso
CK Lam
Mary
Allie
Bee
Allen Ooi
Lingzie
Ken Chan
Sidney, Sunny & Alex
Albert Yap
Huat Koay

The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to Level 1. The restaurant which is facing the main road of Jalan Dato Keramat is very prominently located either by mode of escalator or elevator.

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Name: HAVEN DELIGHTS
Address: 77-L1-34, Jalan Dato Kramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-210 8855, 210 8856, 016-492 1658 (Ms. Angie Ng)
Opening Hours: 10.30am-11.00pm
Buffet Hours: 10.30pm-11.00pm (2 hours duration per person)
GPS: 5.414701, 100.331871

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

PANICKY IMPROMPTU DINNER PREPARATIONS

Posted by Criz Lai On February - 4 - 2009

In a Chinese family, serving “Lam Mee” or Birthday Noodles at a birthday celebration is important as the long noodles are meant to represent longevity in a person’s life. When I thought a simple noodle dinner with the family members to further celebrate my Dad’s birthday was fine, I had received news that there would be two more guests joining us. I got panicked. With all lethargy from helping out and cooking during the festive season, I had decided to just order some “Lam Mee” from a nearby stall, although not my favorite one. By the time I had received the call, it was already too late as the stall was closed. Help! What should I do now?

The dinner was expected to be around 6.30pm that day and it was almost 3.00pm here. When I thought the best alternative was to go around town to search for good food to compliment with the noodles, the results was none as all my favorite places were still closed for the celebration. My mind went berserk seeking for solutions. Should I cook up something? What have I left in the refrigerator that I can cook up in less than 3 hours? Luckily, I’m a person who would always keep my fridge well stocked or else it would be dooms day.

I rushed to the nearest shopping mall and grabbed whatever ingredients I needed for the rest of the meal. The noodle dish would need to be pepped up with flavors as the taste was not as I wanted. Even the soup needed some fine tuning. Moreover, the ingredients and garnishing were not that impressive to be served to my guests. I had to cut the meat slices smaller and halves all the large prawns that came with the order and marinate them again with some pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil and fry them with chopped garlic. On top of that, I had some pounded dried flounder to garnish the noodles as this pounded ingredient would give the noodle a unique fragrance. I then gave the noodles a final touch by garnishing with some scrambled eggs, chopped spring onions and coriander. Viola! The “LAM MEE” had a total makeover!

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One dish settled. The next was another headache as the clock was clicking real fast and I did not even know what would impress my guests. I needed to think of a dish that would require minimal cooking time. I grabbed some apples, pears, hami melon slices and cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge and cut them into cubes. I then diluted some mayonnaise and mixed with some fine sugar, pepper, pasta herbs, milk powder and a dash of sesame oil. I folded in the fruit cubes. Since I had just bought some chicken fillets a day ago, I sliced them thinly and marinated the slices with some sesame oil, soy sauce, some grounded black pepper and ginger juice. I then coated them with some multi purpose frying flour and deep fried them to golden brown. These pieces were then garnished on the fruit salad with an additional sprinkle of mixed herbs. Here’s the masterpiece – Crunchy Chicken with Fruit Salad.

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Two dishes on the table sounded odd as three would be a great number for a Chinese family. Three means “San” which has a similar intonation and meaning of “alive”. Now what else could I cook to make up the number? I remembered having some roasted chicken in the fridge. Half a large bird would be enough for everyone but serving that plain would be quite embarrassing, especially in the eyes of my guests. Well, I had the bird chopped up into bite sizes. I then sautéed some chopped garlic in some oil, throw in some ginger slices and stir fry them until fragrant. I added in some soy sauce, a pinch of fine sugar, some pepper, some dark say sauce, some oyster sauce, some sesame oil and mixed them well in the wok. I then pour in some stock and let the chicken simmer for awhile. To thicken the gravy, I had used some corn starch. When the gravy thickened, I poured in some Chinese wine (Shao Xing) to add that special taste into the dish. I called this dish Braised Roasted Chicken in Wine.

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It was 6.30pm right on the dot when I heard someone came into the house. Phew! I had everything handled well except that I did not have time left to prepare desserts. To my surprise, both guests brought in an ice cream cake each. I was saved!

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I just hope that I won’t have to face such limited time again to come up with an impromptu dinner. It could really be stressful mentally and physically.

REUNION EVENTS FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 28 - 2009

(Warning: This is another long post to cover the many reunions within the last 3 days)

There were so many reunions during the recent Chinese New Year celebration that I had practically lost track of what I had consumed for the last 3 days. LOL! In fact, the meals may look simple but the preparations for all the yummy goodies could be real tedious and tiring towards the end of the day. Let’s just look at the simple beverage itself. Most people would just buy those package/can/bottle drinks to serve their guests. I, on the other hand would brew my own preservative-free beverage to quench the thirst of my guests. Who would resist a drink which would relax the body and purify the blood systems on a hot and humid day? It sounded simple right? Try preparing 20 liters and you would see the amount of sweat dripping furiously down your forehead for the next 3 hours. Haha!

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The beverage is mainly formulated by boiling with water a combination of special grade and/or first grade of chrysanthemum, honeysuckle, liquorice/licorice roots and minimal sugar. Chrysanthemum can be remedies for anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antihypertensive, clears heat, disperses wind, soothes the liver and improves vision. Honeysuckle can clear heat, detoxify, detumescence, improves vision, evacuate chill, cure hot poisonous swollen disease, ache subcutaneous ulcer, hot warm disease, blood dysentery, haemorrhoids, throat aching and fever caused by internal hot or external infection, etc. Liquorice roots are commonly used in herbal formulae to relieve a spasmodic cough, to prevent cavities and to treat canker sores or ulcers.

My family reunion dinner has since switched to steamboat gathering for quite a few years already as it would at least ease my Mum from cooking up too many delicious dishes which would require days of preparations. Well, preparing steamboat dinner could be real tedious as well… for me. It would start from the “simple task” of buying of all the fish and meat balls, seafood, vegetables, boiling of stock and arranging the many varieties of items on small serving dishes. By the end of the day, I was even too exhausted to eat, needless to say to shoot too many photos of the annual event. Just to summarize everything, we had 20 types of fish and meat balls, tofu, mushrooms, chicken meat, pomfret, prawns, cuttlefish, sea cucumber, fish bladder, 3 types of vegetables and spinach noodles and all of them subsequently ended up in a hot pot of gelatin filled chicken/pork bones stock.

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There were a few of the fish balls that would be worth mentioning here. One of them caught the attention of all my family members. “Gosh! Are you going to ask us to eat that disgusting brain-like thing?” Seriously, the way the fish balls were produced, they do look like brains from one angle. If you display it the other way, they looked like cute flower blooms. The fish balls came in two flavors, plain and spinach flavored. In fact, they were not as flavorful as I had expected. They would surely be out from my list next year.

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Another two worth mentioning would be the seafood tofu and cheese fish balls. The seafood tofu pieces were smooth inside with some blended seafood and the cheese fish balls had creamy cheese oozing out with every mouthful.

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That was part of my family reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve as I do not have more photos to share due to exhaustion. The first day of Chinese New Year went on with the usual visiting to my relatives’ houses. How I wished if not for the economy downturn this year, I would have collected more $$ in the ang pows (red packets). LOL!

Well the next reunion was with Mother Nature. Coincidentally, the first solar eclipse of 2009 fell on the first day of Chinese New Year, 26 January 2009, between 4.30pm and 7.00pm and Malaysians were to be able to watch the eclipse partially. With the bad gloomy weather and clouds of dark clouds floating about, it was a disappointment. All I caught was a patch of sunlight hidden behind some gloomy clouds. Let’s hope I would not miss it again this coming 22 July 2009, where it would be the longest total solar eclipse (almost 6 minutes) of the 21st century in Anji (near Hangzhou and Shanghai), China. Malaysians would be able to watch it partially from 10.34am.

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The night was another reunion with my Singapore friends. It was at another hidden treasure on Penang island itself with cool breeze and nice soothing background music which brought back many fond memories. I won’t touch on that at the moment but you could have a glimpse on how beautiful the place was.

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The second day of Chinese New was another yearly reunion at my aunt’s place with beautifully cooked and rich flavored dishes to yearn for. Being a part of my demise grandmother who was a great cook, my aunt had learned a lot in pepping up great dishes to make everyone craving for more. The first dish was very local – Fried Belacan Chicken (Shrimp Paste Fried Chicken). In fact, this dish is very famous in the Northern part of Malaysia. I would share the recipe in another post. The secret to this recipe is that the chicken had to be marinated with the specific amount of shrimp paste in order not to have the overpowering taste and smell. Secondly, the marinated pieces would have to be fired in high heat to get the crunchiness on the surface while maintaining the juiciness of the meat.

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The next dish may look simple but it has the fragrance from the specially prepared fried wheat vermicelli (mee suah). It has cabbages, Chinese mushrooms, button mushrooms and large prawns in it. It was a hit amongst my family.

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Choon Pneah or Spring Rolls was next. The process to prepare this crunchy dish was indeed very time consuming as it involved a lot of delicate work of chopping, cutting, mincing and frying of the filling before being wrapped together with fresh crabmeat in square spring roll skins. These would then be oil fried until golden. You could image how long it would take to extract the meat from the steamed crabs too. We had two of these spring rolls each as they were too delicious. Even the special sauce served with the spring rolls was specially prepared by brewing special soy sauce with mustard powder and accompanied by cut red chilies. Now you should know why they charged so much for each roll in restaurants. Haha!

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Here’s a glimpse of how the filling and unfried spring rolls looked like prior to frying.

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There was also a bowl of very richly cooked soup for everyone. The stock itself was boiled for hours using more than 6kg of rib bones. The stock was later filtered and boiled with choice chicken drumstick pieces, together with carrots, jicama slices, mushrooms, ginkgo nuts, fish bladder and served with steamed meatballs. Every single spoonful of the rich tasty soup left a sticky sensation to our lips. It was indeed the greatest soup I had in ages.

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As the meal came to the end, we had a simple yet fulfilling dessert – Canned Longan served with Shaved Grass Jelly and ice cubes.

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I would surely look forward to the next gathering at my aunt’s place next year. I wondered what else she would cook up next. After all the feasting during this festive season, I guessed I would have to go for more exercises. Now I know why some of the food bloggers were so busy this season as most of then were so engrossed in eating and having the fiesta of their lifetime… LOL!

PENANG TIMES SQUARE CHINESE NEW YEAR STEAMBOAT REUNION DINNER

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 24 - 2008

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Chinese New Year would be celebrated on 26 & 27 January 2009. It’s time to give your Mum a rest and pamper her to a buffet steamboat dinner instead. Let your Mum have an enjoyable dinner without worrying about the hassle of cleaning up for once. She ought to be given the chance to have a full rest this coming year.

The Penang State Chinese New Year Celebration committee would be holding an exclusive Chinese New Year steamboat buffet dinner with live entertainment from 23-25 January 2009, along with Penang Times Square and Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant. Dinner would be served at the mall’s Urban Square, the largest open space in Penang, between 7.30pm and 10.00pm. Tickets are sold at RM280 for 10pax and RM140 for 5pax. Get your tickets fast before they are sold out at Ivory Corporate Communication Department, 73 Jalan Dato Keramat, Penang, 604-210 8000 or at Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant, 38, 40, 42 Jalan Nagore, Penang, 012-438 8324 (Joseph).

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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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