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MEMORABLE REUNION DINNER FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR 2010

Posted by crizlai On February - 18 - 2010

As you can see, I have been rather busy during this year’s Chinese New Year. There were just too many projects to handle prior to the forth coming long stretch of holidays in which some of my Chinese based suppliers would be closed for business for almost 2 weeks. On top of that, I was mostly in the kitchen preparing some feasting goodies prior to the reunion dinner. Those included a few of my own recipes which included my delicious concoction of oysters and scallops and 30 liters of home brewed Herbal Tea to serve my guests during their visits on a humid day.

This year was one of the rarest celebration moments in my family as it so happen that the Chinese New Year which fell on 14 February 2010 coincided with Valentine’s Day. It’s a FIVE-IN-ONE CELEBRATION for the Lai Family! The celebration included the reunion dinner to usher in the Tiger year, my brother’s birthday on the eve, Valentine’s Day, my brother’s lunar birthday as well as his wedding anniversary which fell on Valentine’s Day. It was indeed a fun-filled celebration.

This year’s reunion dinner dishes were somewhat unique compared to the previous ones. In fact, other than the purchases of different types of meat and fish balls, the steamboat stock was another new creation for the family. It was ginseng roots based herbal stock for the first time in our steamboat reunion dinner history. Simple as it may look but it took more than 8 hours of low fire simmering and tedious filtering just to cook this up. Our steamboat side dishes this year was rather simple as we had other extra dishes as well. They included lots of crown daisy chrysanthemum leaves (tang oh/茼蒿), cabbages, wolfberry, prawns, silver pomfret (tao tay fish), chicken drumstick fillet, hair moss fish balls, vegetable fish balls, squid balls, large meatballs, 3 different types of wolf herring (sai to/ikan parang/西刀) fish balls, prawn & pork dumpling (sui kow/水餃), seafood tofu, Fuzhou fish balls (福州魚丸/Hock Chew fish ball – stuffed with minced meat), fish dumplings (魚餃/hoo keow/thin fish batter skin stuffed with minced meat) and fried chopped garlic as garnishing. The whole experience was rejuvenating after so many days of tiring preparations.

What would be new to most families would be our unique dipping sauce. It’s definitely not any hoisin sauce, chopped garlic with bird’s eyes chilies in soy sauce or bottled chili sauce but a concoction of red sweet sauce (甜醬), ginger and chicken fat. The fragrant gingery sauce with each bite of meat, seafood or balls would surely make you yearn for more.

As it was rare to have my brother’s birthday on such an auspicious gathering, we totally ignored on the fat and cholesterol intakes. LOL! I ordered one of my favorite Korean food – Jokbal (족발 – RM77), glazed pig feet meat slices. I believed that Sa Rang Chae Korean Restaurant is the sole restaurant in Penang to have this wonderfully cooked dish. It caught my brother’s attention immediately as I saw him applying nonstop the accompanied sweet and/or salty sauces onto the accompanied lettuce endlessly. Cool! At least he’s happy. Err… what happened to your diet plan bro? 😛

Now comes the interesting part of the suspense since my last post on reserving some of my home cooked Hokkien Mee stock and chili paste for this new recipe. What would a birthday be without any birthday noodles? Let me introduce you to my latest fusion recipe – Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles! The delicious dish had yellow noodles carefully stir fried in thick prawn stock, dried shrimps, meat, prawns, fish cake and flowering Chinese cabbage (chye sim/chai sim/菜心) with deep fried crab stick strips and fried shallots as garnishing. You can adjust your level of spiciness by adding more of the chili paste. Everybody, inclusive my two teenage nieces could not stop having this dish as it had a unique seafood fragrant. The more you take this, the more you want it for every meal!

I will not touch on the recipes here but I will share the recipes in the next few posts. Wishing everyone one a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! Do drive carefully if you are traveling! Check out for more update here soon.

SIMPLY DELICIOUS HOMECOOKED KOREAN MEAL AT SA RANG CHAE

Posted by crizlai On January - 15 - 2010

환영! 환영! Welcome! Welcome! What? I’m in Korea now? Well, not exactly as this was at one of the Korean restaurants in Penang which a few of us had visited not long ago. Carrying the name Sa Rang Chae (사랑채/舍廊居), the food served here was in fact one of the best I had tasted so far. Moreover, the price was very reasonable considering that everything came in large portion. Without much ado, let’s jump into the menu and see what would be the food that would make you drool for more.

No matter which Korean restaurant you would pop in, there would always be those mini plates of side dishes and sauce served individually for each diner. There were so many on our table that I had lost count of how many plates in total. LOL! To name some, we had some kimchi, fried tofu in spicy sauce, mixed vegetable strips in mayo, stir fired aubergine (eggplant/brinjal), crunchy anchovies with peanuts, spicy mixed vegetable strips, stir-fry spinach and braised pumpkin cubes. That’s quite a lot for starter but I loved every single plate of the side dishes especially the tofu and pumpkin.

The first dish of the day was the Modeum BBQ Set 1 (모듬 – RM150) with choice pieces of beef rib meat, pork rib meat, pork belly, chicken, flower crab, prawns, squids and clams. Boy! I would say I could not stop myself from eating those well marinated pieces of meat and seafood. What was my favorite? BBQ pork belly of course! 😛 To cut down on the oiliness of the meat, a wrap of either lettuce or sesame leaves (깻잎/ kkaennip/Korean perilla leaves) with a dash of the accompanied sauce would be great.

Before we had even finished taking the BBQ, some cold cuts of Jokbal (족발 – RM70) were already waiting for us at the next table. These were actually glazed pig feet meat slices. I was really impressed on the evenly sliced thickness on each piece. The chef was indeed good in his cutting skills. Taken with the accompanied spicy and salty sauce which had some fried dry baby shrimps, the mildly fatty meat just melted into my mouth. It was indeed heavenly good. In fact, the only available size dish was large enough for 8-10 pax.

Along the way came the Japchae (잡채 – RM30), a rather large plate of stir fry glass noodles (당면/dangmyeon/冬粉/tang hoon) with shredded meat, prawns and vegetables. It was garnished with some sliced eggs, chilies and toasted sesame seeds. The base of the sauce had some sweet soy taste and what I like most was the springy texture on the glass noodles.

The next dish was Haemultang (해물탕 – RM80, smaller size available – RM60), a pot spicy hot seafood stew. There were so many types of seafood and vegetables within the pot which included mussels, octopus, squid, prawns, flower crab, scallops, clams, enoki mushroom, some bean curd slices, sliced red chilies, green chilies, bird’s eye chilies and red chili paste. This pot of goodness was indeed a fiery pot rather than a spicy pot. However, I loved the dish quite a lot too. The sweetness of the soup from all the ingredients thereafter was superb. It was like having a concentrated “prawn noodles aka Hokkien Mee” with some additional blended red chilies. Thumbs up for this dish!

One look at the color of our next dish which was Ojingeo Samgyeopsal Bokkeum (오징어 삼겹설 볶음 – RM30) would surely give you another sweaty sensation. Yup! The next dish was indeed hot and spicy. It consisted of squid strips and pork belly slices nicely stir fried in their in-house spicy sauce. Hot as it may seemed in the beginning, we managed to finish off the whole plate as the squid strips were really succulent and the pork belly meat was amazingly tender. I would advise you to get a bowl of rice to go with this dish to cut down on the spiciness. This would be another great dish for those spicy food eaters.

Next on the list was a spicy fish dish known as Agwijjim (어귀찜 – RM80, smaller size available – RM60). Agwi is actually an ugly looking blackmouth angler (sometimes known as monkfish) which was originated from the city of Masan, South Gyeongsang Province. The texture of flesh is somewhat between the softness of a dory fish and the firmness of a giant grouper. The fish was cooked with soybean sprouts with its rich taste and spiciness coming some chili powder, chopped garlic, chopped scallions, soy sauce and a hint of fermented soy beans. This large portioned dish was presented on a bed of lettuce and sprinkled with some toasted sesame.

We all loved the next dish which was the Maewoon Kalbi Tang (매운갈비탕 – RM30, smaller size available – RM20). It was actually pork ribs stewed in a hot pot of spicy broth with some glass noodles (冬粉/tang hoon), radish, carrot, potatoes, non glutinous rice cake (garaeddeok/가래떡 or sometimes known as just ddeok/떡), red dates, and chilies of all kinds. Towards the end when all the already thickened broth got absorbed into the springy textured glass noodles, this dish was at its peak. This would be a great dish to opt for if you do not want to have rice.

If you still yearn for more hot and spicy Korean dishes, you can always try out their Dakgalbi (닭갈비 – RM50). It had some choice pieces of grilled chicken, slowly simmered with some cabbages, carrots, onions, scallions, sweet potatoes, chilies in some honey sweet and chili spicy broth with a hint of rice wine. I simply loved those juicy and chili spiced up pieces of chicken.

You could also have some Soju (소주/燒酒/Korean Gin – RM25/bottle) to flow down the hot and spicy food. Do check with the restaurant on which brands to recommend. What we had was the Chamisul (참 이슬 meaning “real dew”), a popular soju produced by Jinro (진로 /眞露), the largest manufacturer of soju, based in South Korea.

Overall, we had a great time trying out the good food over in this restaurant. It was the best I had in years. I must take this opportunity to thanks Mr. Kevin Kim and his beautiful wife, Mdm. Lim Soo Yeon for bringing such great Korean food to Penang. You might want to pay them a visit to check out on their ongoing promotions or even book a place for your coming Chinese New Year reunion dinner.

It’s easy to find the restaurant as it’s directly opposite Penang Chinese Girls’ High School (Peng Hwa High School/檳華女子中學) and at a ground floor corner lot within the New Bob Centre along Jalan Gottlieb. If you are still unsure about the venue, drive all the way along Jalan Burma passed Adventist Hospital (on your left) and 1-Stop Midlands Park Centre (on your right) until you see the Jalan Burma/Jalan Gottlieb traffic lights. Turn left and drive on until you see Goodall Food Court. Slow down and turn left into the service road after the food court. Prominent landmark would be the 7-11 shop. Parking can be quite scare during certain period of time. There’s always the underground car park within the New Bob Centre for your parking convenience.

Name: SA RANG CHAE KOREAN RESTAURANT
Address: 11-G-1&2, Jalan Gottlieb (New Bob Centre), 10350 Penang.
Contact: 604-226 3587, 012-468 6700 (Mdm. Lim Soo Yeon/Mr. Kim)
Business Hours: 12.00noon-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.30pm (Closed Monday Lunch)
GPS: 5.432084, 100.301914

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: 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)

Organizer:
CK Lam & hubby

Attendees:
Lingzie
Huat Koay
Albert Yap
Criz Lai & Johnny Tan
Steven Goh
NKOTB

IMPRESSIVE DELIGHTS FOR ALL AGES AT KIM TAVERN

Posted by crizlai On November - 6 - 2009

Not many of us realized that there existed a great pork-free restaurant within the premises of Sunway Carnival Mall, Seberang Jaya, Penang. The restaurant which carries the name “Kim Tavern” may look just like any of the fast food chains or franchised restaurants but it is not as it is the brainchild of proprietor, Mr. Andy Liew. Thanks to Taufulou aka Bok, who came all the way from KL and with the liaison of CK Lam, a few of us had the privilege to visit the place on the invite of the boss. Thanks to Mr. Liew too. Barely a few weeks old since its opening on 16 October 2009, Kim Tavern had already attracted many loyal patrons, even during the low period of the day. Do check out below the reasons behind the success of this newly established restaurant.

The main attraction would be the many choices of affordable delicacies available here, ranging from Southeast Asian Favorites to Western Paradise. Let’s start with the local food scene. We started with the Nasi Lemak Curry Chicken (招牌椰漿咖哩雞飯-RM7.90). This dish has been remarkably served with fragrant coconut milk enhanced and tender curry chicken drumstick, accompanied with side dishes such as a halved hard-boiled egg, papadam, deep fried anchovies & peanuts in chili paste, cucumber and a bowl of hot steaming white rice. You may ask why the rice was plain rather than the usual fragrant coconut milk steamed rice, right? That’s the healthy way the restaurant believed in. Moreover, it’s also the best way to serve the dish since the curry chicken has already been cooked with coconut milk. I also loved the deep fried anchovies & peanuts in chili paste a lot as the side dish had the required fragrant, crunchiness, sweetness and sourness to get anyone craving for more.

If you love the Nasi Lemak Curry Chicken, you would also love the Nasi Lemak Rendang Chicken (招牌仁當雞飯-RM7.90). Everything would be the same as the above except the style of cooking for the chicken was a bit different. The gravy has a more pungent taste with a hint of lemongrass. The sweet and sour sambal (chili paste) on the egg and rice had a strong but lovely taste of assam (tamarind). That made the whole combination real appetizing.

The Udang Sambal Rice (招牌酸辣參拜蝦仁飯-RM7.90) would be another good meal to order. Freshly peeled prawns cooked in fragrantly stir fried sweet and sour assam chili paste and served with the same combination of rice as above surely caught the attention of our fellow female floggers. I’m sure most ladies would love this dish.

Another of the recommended dish would be the Dry Curry Stir Fried Chicken Rice (祖傳甘香雞飯-RM6.90) or commonly known as the Kam Heong Fried Chicken. This was very appetizing as thin slices of chicken fillets were stir fried with the chef’s secret recipe. There were hints of onion slices, spring onions, chili paste with lots of curry leaves. The wok hei (high heat frying) of the dish was great to go with the steamed rice.

If you think that those lovely dishes up there might not be enough, do try out their bento sets. One of the bento sets that made all of us “ooo”ing and “aah”ing away was the Sweet & Spicy Fish Bento (辣味蜜汁魚片便當-RM8.50). The fresh and high graded batter fried dory fillet prepared nicely in sweet and sour sauce, accompanied with some shredded cabbages and carrots topped with thousand island sauce, a bowl of miso soup, a halved hard-boiled egg topped with some sweet and sour chili paste and steamed rice was something delicious and within the budget of everyone. The only feedback from us was the lack of some tofu cubes in the miso soup and the usage of Japanese rice grain. Well, at that pricing and great taste, who’s to complain? You should try this out!

For those unagi lovers, you should try the next dish out which was the Unagi Fried Egg Rice (日式鰻魚炒蛋飯-RM12.90). The dish may look simple with some gravy like ingredients on a hot bowl of white rice, garnished with some boiled corn kernels and vegetables. One scoop of this dish and you would be like in heaven. Each mouthful would be filled with the creaminess from the egg, followed by the fragrant taste of sliced onions, firm slices of grilled unagi (eel), wonderfully matched with the sweetness from the Japanese sweet soy sauce. I loved this dish a lot!

Other than my favorite tomyam noodles from my most frequent stall down along Weld Quay on the island, I just found another great version right in mainland… where else except in Kim Tavern. The Tomyam Seafood Noodle (正宗泰國冬炎海鮮湯麵-RM9.90) was indeed another great dish. All the ingredients used here were freshly made instead of the usage of readily made tomyam paste as in other restaurants. The noodles were firm and all the seafood within were market fresh. At this pricing, I was glad that the bowl was filled with lots of sliced onions, tomatoes, prawns, squids and two lovely Australian mussels. The spiciness, sweetness and sourness from the soup of course attracted the ladies most. This is so far the best tomyam dish I had taken in mainland Penang. 🙂

The next dish was the Ipoh Chicken Slice Noodle (祖傳怡保雞絲河粉-RM6.90) or commonly known in Ipoh as the Kai See Hor Fun. This bowl of noodle lacked the originality in soup broth compared to those found in Ipoh. Although the soup base was thick, it lacked the taste from the long hours of simmering of some fresh prawn shells. Overall, this dish was still delicious as only specialized stall such as those found abundantly in Ipoh would be able to come out with such a unique taste. The dish had reasonable serving of chicken slices, prawns and cut spring onions.

Capsicum Prawn Fried Rice (招牌燈籠椒蝦仁炒飯-RM7.90) was served next. This dish looked just like the usual Yang Chow Fried Rice but if you inspect closely at the green colored cubes, you would realized that it had many finely chopped capsicum added in. It was wonderful. Not only was the wonderful skill of the chef in creating the “wok hei” present, the mild peppery taste of the “bell pepper” added the additional fragrance which made this simple plate of fried rice delicious. This dish was served with the chef’s specially prepared sambal belacan (shrimp paste chili).

You could also try out their Tomyam Seafood Fried Noodle (冬炎海鮮炒金旦麵-RM8.50). This was the fried version of the earlier tomyam dish with some additional chicken sausages. Although fragrantly fried, most of us preferred the soup version. As for me, I personally felt that simplicity would be better minus the sausages.

If you think that all the dishes mentioned above would be too “heaty” for your body system, there’s always the porridge section. We did try out their Seafood Mushroom Porridge (香菇魷魚海鮮粥-RM7.90). At this pricing and with so much of seafood which included cuttlefish, top graded dory fish fillet, prawns, chunky mushroom slices and so on, this richly ingredient filled porridge would be a great bargain for those porridge lovers.

There’s also the Western section for you to select your urge for more delicious dishes. The wonderful thing about dining here would be that the most expensive dishes would cost you barely RM15.90 and those are the Black Pepper or Mushroom Steak. Since we were rather filled up to this stage, we managed to try out their Spaghetti Chicken Bolognese (RM6.90). The texture of the spaghetti was just right for our bites and the freshly made Bolognese sauce with minced chicken meat was just perfect.

Next on the serving was the Mushroom Chicken Chop with Garlic Butter Rice (RM9.90). The gravy was delicious. It had the right combination of sauces and spices and it blended real well with the garlic butter rice. The only hiccup was on the grilling of the boneless chicken drumstick. It lost the juiciness within. The chef should have taken note on the time needed to grill such a thinly pounded fillet.

When the next dish was presented, I suddenly turned orange with black stripes, eyes widely opened and whiskers shot right out of my cheeks. OMG! I turned into Garfield as Cheesy Chicken Lasagna (RM9.90) has always been my favorite and it had such a large portion. The bowl should have at least 5 layers of medium soft lasagna pasta, stuffed with precooked minced chicken simmered in rich tomato puree and generously topped with lots of mozzarella cheese. Yummy! I won’t mind making some takeaways during my next trip.

The restaurant also has light meals which included soup, sandwiches and finger food. What caught our attention was the Honey Pepper Roast Chicken Drumlet (5pcs – RM6.90). The well marinated drumlets were perfectly roasted. I just wished someone would prepare such nice and tasty ones during BBQ sessions. This would be a must to order.

Overall, the food here would be great for families and individuals of all ages. The food served here are rather tasty and reasonably priced. The only setback would be the lack of creative desserts rather than the normal scoops of ice creams but it would not necessary mean that it lacked the necessary beverages to attract the crowd. Some of the smoothies and ice blended drinks we had ordered were amazingly unique and tasty. Amongst those ordered were Fresh Carrot-Orange Juice (RM3.50), Honey Lemon Ice (RM3.80), Mango Smoothies (RM5.50), Wheatgrass Smoothies (RM5.50), Special Ice Blended Peppermint Mocha (RM7.80), Special Ice Blended Blueberry Chocolate (RM7.80), Special Ice Blended Hazelnut Latte (RM7.80), Special Ice Blended Almond Latte (RM7.80) and Special Ice Blended Tiramisu (RM7.80). The top three of our choices were Mango Smoothies, Wheatgrass Smoothies and Special Ice Blended Blueberry Chocolate.

The abovementioned dishes and beverages were part of what we had ordered. You can always click and enlarge the menu below to check out more of what they have. 5% service charge would be applicable for all orders.

For those who had not been to Sunway Carnival Mall where Kim Tavern is located before, please refer to the attached map. There are two ways you can reach the mall upon coming out from Penang Bridge. Just drive towards the sign leading to Alor Setar. Upon reaching the first flyover, look out for a mosque on your left (Jalan Siakap), drive on until you have reached a mini roundabout and turn 3 o’clock on your right into Jalan Tenggiri. Drive on until you see a traffic light and turn left into Lebuh Tenggiri 2. Drive all the way passed KWSP building (on your left) and Sunway Hotel (on your right) until you had reached a T junction. Turn left into Jalan Todak and you would see the mall on your right.

Another way would be driving all the way over the first flyover upon coming out from the Penang Bridge but turn left before the second flyover which would lead you to the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim). Turn left into the expressway and drive all the way until you had reached the third left junction (Jalan Todak). Turn left into Jalan Todak and you would spot the mall on your left.

If you are still not sure how to find the place, you can always key in the GPS coordinates stated below in the Google Map and it would show you the mall location. Happy food hunting!

Name: KIM TAVERN @ SUNWAY CARNIVAL MALL
Address: LG 04, Sunway Carnival Mall, Jalan Todak, 13700 Seberang Jaya, Penang.
Business Hours: 11.30am-9.30pm
Contact: 604-399 9879, 012-428 8066 (Mr. Andy Liew)
GPS: 5.398695, 100.397875

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: 8.5/10 (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)

COORDINATORS:
Taufulou aka Bok of http://www.taufulou.com/
CK Lam of http://www.what2seeonline.com/

ATTENDEES:
Criz Lai of http://crizfood.com/
Lingzie of http://www.lingzie.com/
Mary Teo of http://reginatravel-foodparadise.blogspot.com/
Alan & Amanda of http://allaboutpenangfood.blogspot.com/
NKOTB of http://mylovemyfood.blogspot.com/

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS LANG SAE LEE?

Posted by crizlai On September - 30 - 2009

Note: Please take note that the price of dishes here had increased tremendously in 2011. It’s no longer a budget dining place as it once used to be. I have edited the pricing here and the portion would be bigger than shown here.

That’s a good question to begin with. Lang Sae Lee is neither the name of a place, a state nor a country but the name of a person. Originated from Pulau Betong, this lady has been residing in Penang for the last 4 decades, cooking delicious and aromatic Thai cuisines that her neighbors would always be envy of. As humble as anyone along the heritage stretch of the clan jetties along Weld Quay, Madam Lee had decided to share her passion in cooking hot and spicy Thai dishes barely a month’s ago just to supplement the moderate income of her family members. As a result, what could be a greater news for foodies all over town other than having some home cooked Thai dishes at an unbelievable and yet reasonable pricing.

But there is one problem… you would need to have the patience to dine in this residential stilt-in-the sea house as this is a non-commercialized one-cook restaurant and food would not be served for quite some time. For those with 4 or more diners, it’s best to pre-book your dishes prior to visiting this place. Don’t be sad with the news as the restaurant has many surprises in store for you. The surrounding area has lots of interesting eco system creatures and birds plus beautiful landscapes for those shutter lovers. You can easily fill up your waiting time when you are enchanted by the beauty of Mother Nature. WARNING: PLEASE WEAR FLAT SHOES AS YOU MIGHT NOT WANT YOUR HIGH HEELS TO GET STUCK BETWEEN PLANKS OF THE WOODEN BRIDGE!

So, what’s good to have here? If you are looking for many dishes to go with some fragrantly steamed Thai rice, it would require an advance booking to get the full range of dishes Madam Lee can wok up for you. Simplicity with some vermicelli and rice would be available here. For instant, the Thai Laksa (RM4) here was good. It was so much different compared to those I had tried locally. The vermicelli were thinner and the soup base had a more pungent and spicy flavor with some touches of coconut milk. Other than the usual sliced cucumber, pineapple, onions, mint leaves and cooked fish fillets, I had a surprise with the additional chopped onions, pickled radish (cai po/菜脯) with sliced red chilies. The whole concoction plus some added chili flakes was worth my sweating. LOL!

There are six types of rice dishes available here. One of the most commonly ordered in any Thai cuisine would be the Pineapple Fried Rice (RM5). The serving here was rather large for the amount paid as there were generous amount of pineapple cubes added on top of the few large prawns, chicken meat and egg. It was indeed filling.

The next rice dish was my all-time favorite – Thai Holy Basil Fried Rice (RM5). It was nothing fanciful but just some stir fry dish on top of a bowl of steamed Thai rice but the taste was something amazing. The special flavor came from the clove-like sweetness Thai holy basil leaves, fragrantly stir fried with some special sauce with your choice of seafood and meat. You can opt for the dish to be cooked with prawns, chicken meat or simply a combination of both. The style of cooking was rather traditional too as all the ingredients used were smashed instead of the usual cutting. This will be one dish that you should not miss out but there’s one warning here. Please inform Madam Lee your level of hotness.

Just an additional note here to share with those who would like to know more about the basil leaves used in Thai cuisine. There are 3 types available, either fresh or dried. The Thai Sweet Basil (horapa/daun selasih) is normally used in dishes such as Thai Green Curry and Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken. This basil also commonly known as just Thai basil has a more assertive flavor that not many people can accept and they are the strongest flavored ones amongst the 3 species. The next would be the Thai Holy Basil (kha phrao/daun ruku ruku/tulsi). They are milder in taste but have clove-like sweetness in them. This type of basil is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes. It’s believed to be used for many purposes such as cold, stomach disorder, poisoning and many more and the Hindus uses them as part of their worship rituals. The last basil would be the Thai Lemon Basil (manglak/daun kemangi/hoary basil). The leaves have a more citrus-like flavor and they are widely used in Indonesian cuisine such as raw salad.

Another of the commonly ordered rice dish would be the Belacan Fried Rice (RM5). The rice was fried with Madam Lee home made belacan (dried shrimp paste). The taste was not as intruding as some of the belacan dishes I had tasted before. The fried rice was served with cut omelette, some stir fry pork, sliced onions, unripe mangoes, bird eye chilies and some deep fried dried shrimps. When mixed up just like a salad, it was another great experience. The meat was tender and the sourness from the unripe mango made the whole dish real appetizing.

There was also the Salted Fish Fried Rice (RM5). This rice dish would be great for those who could not take too much of spicy food. The fried rice was very similar to the Oriental Fried Rice but has bits of fragrantly fried salted fish. The salted fish was not fishy as it was made from a higher grade of fish, namely barracuda.

There would surely be the Tom Yam Fried Rice (RM5) in any of the Thai restaurant menus but I find the dish to be a bit too mild for my liking. The fried rice has the fragrant, the required ingredients, the sourness from the lime juice but it lacked the extra kick taste from some chopped bird eye chilies. I won’t know for sure but it could be due to Madam Lee thinking that I was not in the game for another extra hot and spicy dish. 😛

The last of the rice dishes would be the Sambal Fried Rice (RM5). I love this dish a lot too. The sambal (shrimp paste plus fresh red chilies concoction) was definitely one of the best around. Every mouthful was like heaven as each grain of rice has the fragrance and was coated thoroughly in flavors. This is another of my recommended dish.

If you think that having the above few dishes won’t be enough to fill you up, there’s always the finger food. You can try out the Fish Cake (RM2/pc) which has some sliced kaffir lime leaves and vegetables mixed with fish paste inside.

Pandan Chicken (RM2/pc) would also be available here. Each piece would have some turmeric plus coconut milk marinated chicken fillet, wrapped professionally in a pandan leaf (screw pine leaf) and deep fry to perfection. The meat was still juicy and nice. I don’t mind paying a bit more for a bigger and thicker pandan chicken as I personally felt that it was too small for me. One bite and it was gone. LOL! If they were to add in one or two bird eye chilies, it would be even better.

How do you like to have some jaws here? Yea… shark meat! They do serve Deep Fried Shark Fillet (RM15/plate) here too. It was just another simple fried fish dish but the fillet was indeed fresh and the fine texture of the meat was wonderful.

There’s also the Belacan Chicken Wings (RM3/pc) too. I found that there wasn’t much of belacan flavor on the chicken wings and they sure do taste normal. I still prefer the ones at my regular stall at Lebuh Kimberley. Let’s hope Madam Lee improves her recipe for this dish further.

You can also order their Stuffed Chicken Wing (RM4/pc). Each wing was stuffed with marinated chopped mushroom, carrot, prawns and squid, coated with some frying flour and fry until golden brown. This dish would be great for children if only you instruct them not to put the chili sauce on it.

There’s also the Spicy Stuffed Chicken Wing (RM3/pc) version with the same ingredients as above plus some turmeric spices and sliced kaffir lime leaves. Well, both the stuffed chicken wings were equally nice if taken immediately when served.

You might also want to try out the Clear Seafood Tom Yam Soup (RM15/bowl). This is one of the less available tom yam locally as most of the restaurants would serve the “easier” red version. The way Madam Lee cooked the soup made me craved for more. It had the right amount of pungent and sourness and all the ingredients used were fresh. Depending on market availability, each bowl/clay pot would have at least one large prawn, some squid slices, goldband jobfish (kalak fish) fillet combined with some abalone mushrooms. The dish was indeed great to go with my other rice dishes. You must try this soup out!

The Red Seafood Tom Yam Soup (RM15/bowl) would also be available here. If you had read carefully earlier, you would have notice that I had inverted the word “easier”. Most restaurants would use the ready made tom yam paste (nam prik pao) available in the market for faster cooking, thus it would not have the freshness in the soup base. As for Madam Lee, she also uses that but with a minimal amount to pep up the red color of the soup. The soup would be spicier and sour than the earlier version. My recommendation would still be the earlier version as it’s more towards the original taste of tom yam.

Overall, this is just a simple Thai food restaurant located along the beach front of Weld Quay, overseeing the Straits of Malacca. It would be a great place to chill out but do watch out for the low tide period as there would be the overwhelming muddy stench. By the way, there will be more delicious dishes available from time to time from Madam Lee. Please check with her when you call up for reservation. For lunch crowd, you would not have problem dining there. For dinner crowd, it would be best if you book in advance as the business would end at 7.30pm, although you can stay until 9.00pm or later.

Visiting this place would be quite a maze for many people, especially foreigners, as the house is located deep into the Tan Jetty. Here would be a few maps and photos to lead you to the restaurant. Please right click to view map/photos in a bigger version.

Here’s Map A which would lead you directly to the entrance of Tan Jetty. It’s quite easy to spot the place as it’s just next to Tan Bee Eng Bird Shop with a small “Tan Jetty” sign above. If you are coming from the ferry terminal along Pengkalan Weld, keep a watchful eye on the landmarks on your left, especially those Jetty signboards. You would pass by Lim Jetty (temple), Shell petrol kiosk, Chew Jetty (hawker area), slow down and watch out for the Tan Jetty (Tan Bee Eng Bird Shop) sign on your left. Park you car within the road next to Xen Teck Café a bit further up on your left. Walk back to the Tan Jetty entrance where you would see a giant water tank and walk right until the last house.

Alternatively, there’s the Map B with a riskier route but with ample parking space. Just drive into the road beside Xen Teck Café until you see the Tan Jetty Prawn Fritter stall. Drive further in until you see the beach front. The restaurant is located at the last house on your left. There would be lots of dogs there and you would have to walk over some loose wooden planks to get into the back portion of the house. My advice – call Madam Lee to lead you into the house when you have arrived. I would not advice this route for the elderly and children, especially when the sun is about to set or during rainy days.

Name: LANG SAE LEE THAI FOOD
Address: 97A, Tan Jetty, Weld Quay, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am-2.30pm, 5.00pm-10.00pm
Contact: 014-907 1808 (Madam Lee)
GPS: 5.411565, 100.339195

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 6.5/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

I MUM MUM PAN MEE

Posted by crizlai On September - 16 - 2009

I had tried so many types of Pan Mee from many parts of the country which include places such as the Bukit Jambul flat area (Penang), Green Lane Genting Café (Penang), Petaling Street Chinatown (Kuala Lumpur), Klang’s Mee Hoon Kuih (Selangor) and Seri Kembangan rural area (Selangor), that came in many shapes and flavors. No doubt each individual shop has its own style of cooking and flavor but I have yet to see one that has the uniqueness as I had experienced at I Mum Mum Pan Mee shop along the starting point of the Jelutong Expressway, somewhere in Georgetown, Penang. The little restaurant hidden away below a block of flats had some great versions of Pan Mee to cater to the ever flowing appetite of not only to the residents there but many others who had heard about them by word-of-mouth.

Initially located as a stall in one of the prewar coffee shop in Pulau Tikus, Penang, more than 5 years back, the husband and wife team who were stationed in London for sometime had decided to come back Malaysia to open up a Pan Mee specialist restaurant. Some may ask what’s Pan Mee (Board Noodles/Ban Mian/板麵). It’s actually a Hokkien dish originated from Fujian, China. The noodles comprised of flattened hand kneaded noodles, usually served either in broad pieces, angel hair spaghetti like thinness or slightly thicker as shown below.

The choice of Pan Mee here can be quite limited. That’s because the locals here prefer the original version rather than those purple sweet potatoes, orange carrot, yellow pumpkin, green spinach versions as I had mentioned earlier. Let’s look at the Pan Mee Soup (RM2.80/RM3.30). Normally most health conscious people would go for this as the soup base would be vegetables filled with the sweetness coming from the fragrantly fried anchovies. The bowl of Pan Mee would have your choice of noodles, minced pork, fried anchovies, wood ear fungus, sweet leaves (sayur manis/star gooseberry/馬尼菜), garnished with some garlic oil. It was perfect!

You can even have the dry version – Dry Pan Mee (RM2.80/RM3.30) which has the exact ingredients except that the noodles would be stirred in some dark soy sauce and sesame oil. It was real delicious. This set would come with a small bowl of anchovy soup.

For those who love to have their noodles a bit spicier, you can opt for the Spicy Pan Mee (RM3.20/RM3.70). Basically, everything would be the same as the Dry Pan Mee except it has some dried chili flakes and meatballs. This set would come with a small bowl of anchovy soup too.

The next option would be the Minced Pork Pan Mee with Special Sauce (RM3.50/RM4.00). This would be a dry version and you would get quite a generous portion of the chef’s specially stir fried minced pork, wood ear fungus, sweet leaves and some sliced omelette, garnished with chopped spring onions. This was very tasty with a hint of fermented bean paste and chopped carrots emitting from the minced pork. This set would come with a small bowl of anchovy soup too.

The last option was the Crispy Pork Pan Mee (RM3.50/RM4.00). This is my all time favorite. On top of the selected choice of noodles, I had a generous portion of wood ear fungus, sweet leaves and some delicious sliced crispy pork chop, garnished with some chopped spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. The accompanied sauce on the pork chop has a combination of mild spiciness, sweet and sour taste. This is a must order dish!

There are about 8 items you can add on onto your noodles here in this restaurant but I love to have some soup based ingredients. Thus I have a bowl of rich and aromatic soup with some pork dumplings (水餃 – RM0.70/each), fish dumplings (魚餃 – RM0.50/each) and meatballs (肉丸 – RM0.50/each).

The restaurant would also provide some wonderful homemade condiments to go with the noodles which consist of blended chili, bird eye chili and also the fragrantly fried chili paste.

Please take note that this is a non air-conditioned restaurant but you can always cool yourself down with their daily home cooked herbal tea. If you are coming from Komtar/Prangin Mall area along Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong, drive all the way until the Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong/Lebuh Carnavon traffic lights. Drive on until you have reached the Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong/Lebuh Pantai traffic lights. Drive on again into Gat Lorong Prangin until you see the Weld Quay/Pengkalan Weld traffic lights. Turn right and drive towards the Pengkalan Weld/Gat Lebuh Macallum traffic lights. Slow down and keep to your left after the traffic light. Watch out for a service road (barely few meters away) on your left. Turn in and you would see a few I Mum Mum signs on your left. That’s where the restaurant is.

Name: I MUM MUM RESTAURANT
Address: No, 294, PDC Flats, Pengkalan Weld, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-518 1827 (Mr. Choo/Ms. Carmen)
Business Hours: 7.00am-3.00pm (Closed Alternative Monday)
GPS: 5.406715, 100.332001

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (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)

DISCOVERING THE BEST OF BAK KUT TEH IN PENANG

Posted by crizlai On September - 11 - 2009

It has been quite some time since I had good Bak Kut Teh (BKT) in Penang ever since the closures of my favorite BKT stall right in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. After months of hunting around Penang for a BKT stall that would suit my taste bud, I finally found one. The treasured discovery was not located within the island itself but over at the mainland Penang. Moreover, it was not even any stall from our local Penang Bak Kut Teh community but a newly born 6 months old branch of one of the famous traditional Bak Kut Teh outlet from Klang, Selangor, birth place of Bak Kut Teh. Welcome to the newly opened branch of Restoran Ki Xiang.

Bak Kut Teh (as spoken in Hokkien/肉骨茶) is literally translated as “Pork Bone Tea” in English. It’s actually a variant of rich herbal soup cooked with different meaty bone parts of bones. Firstly introduced locally in the 19th century by the Chinese workers in the then Malaya, it was to be a tonic dish to supplement the under nutrition diet of the coolies but eventually it became a dish for general health for everyone especially those within the Klang Valley population. It is believed that there are still about 400 outlets of Bak Kut Teh stalls remaining there today.

There are three versions of Bak Kut Teh (BKT) in Malaysia – the Teochew style which has a more peppery taste and lighter in soup color, the Hokkien style which is saltier with a darker color from the soy sauce used and the Cantonese style which has more herbs and spices added for a stronger medicinal value. The version served in Restoran Ki Xian has gone through 3 generations with a soup base that has thicker and stronger herb taste. Moreover, the soup was not as overpowering as most of the shops out there. Just look at my one person mixed meat clay pot (RM8) with lots of free tofu puffs and tofu sticks plus enokitake (金針菇/golden needle mushroom – RM4). There were so many choice pieces of meat in the clay pot and yet the price was barely half of those BKT found on the island. It’s extremely value for money dining here. One note… If you intend to add in the enoki mushrooms into your pot, you might get a slightly altered taste as these mushrooms would make the soup having some sour after taste. That would have killed the original taste of the soup. Try asking them to serve you that in a separate bowl. I’m sure they would be obliged to any customer request.

On top of the accompanied tofu puffs and sticks, here are some of the meaty parts you can request – streaky pork ribs (五花骨), spare ribs (排骨), big marrow bones (大骨), small marrow bones (小骨), cartilage (軟骨), lean meat (瘦肉), fatty meat (肥肉), semi fatty meat (半肥肉), (pork trotters (豬腳), pork knuckles (豬腳彎), pig’s tail (豬尾), pig’s stomach (豬肚) and pork intestines (豬腸). There would also be more add ons for tofu sticks (豆腐乾) and enoki mushrooms (金針菇). In case you would like to have specific bone parts, you can always order individual bowls at RM8 each. Here are the uncut versions of all the parts they have.

Klang’s serving of rice would be different compared to what you normally get in our local BKT stalls. Instead of the normal steam white rice, dark soy sauce oil rice or even yam rice, the restaurant here served steam white rice mixed with fried shallots and oil. It’s only RM1 per large bowl or 50sen for a smaller portion.

Even the boiled lettuce would not have the normal meat floss or fried lard with oil garnishing. It’s just a simple plate of Boiled Lettuce (油菜) with some oyster sauce and fried shallots garnishing at RM6 per plate. To me, it’s healthy enough for everyone.

Chinese Crullers or You Tiao (油條) would surely come with each BKT meal. For only RM1, you can get a large bowl here.

As for the condiments, they have chopped garlic, cili padi (bird eye chili), soy sauce and dark say sauce. The chopped chilies sure tasted better than the normal sliced ones as each piece of meat would be covered with an evenly spread spiciness.

Well, what I had mentioned above was not the award winning dish I had been yearning for ever since I was first introduced to an established BKT stall in Klang last year. After trying out so many of the so called dry Klang style BKT from the island as well as mainland Penang, none can please my satisfaction other than the heavenly taste of the dry BKT here. Priced at only RM8 too, you can choose whatever meat parts you like and the chef would simmer them dry in a clay pot with a handful of dried chilies, cuttlefish strips, lady’s fingers slices, dark soy sauce and some of their thick BKT stock. One bite and you would want more. It’s the best of the best so far. This is a must order if you happen to drop by the Megamall area. You can even check out their other branches in Bandar Baru, Bukit Tinggi and Ampang.

Finding the restaurant would be easy if you know your way to the Seberang Perai Megamall. After you exit from the Penang Bridge toll, drive all the way until you see the third exit on your left. Turn left and that would lead you to into Jalan Baru. Megamall is just slightly further away on your left. Slow down and watch out for the first left turning. Turn into Jalan Perai Jaya 3 and drive until the end and turn right. Drive until the end and you would see the big blue roofed Pasar Awam Megamall on your left. That’s where Restoran Ki Xiang is located. To get back to the island, use the road opposite the complex (Jalan Perai Jaya 5) and follow the flow until you see the second traffic light. Turn left and you would see the route to the Butterworth Jetty Terminal (overhead bridge longer way, underpass via expressway with toll) or turn right towards Penang Bridge.

Name: RESTORAN KI XIANG @ PASAR AWAM MEGAMALL
Address: Jalan Perai Jaya 3, Taman Perai Jaya, 13700 Perai, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-295 5546, 016-313 8993
Business Hours: 9.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.374071, 100.399733

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

HEARTY DISHES AT YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On July - 31 - 2009

BONUS: 10% DISCOUNT VOUCHER AVAILABLE FOR MY READERS AT THE END OF POST!

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I have been thrown this question many times by my readers and friends on where would be the ideal place for dining if they would want to stay healthy without having their worries over their cholesterol, triglycerides, fat or even glucose levels. As we know, Penang is the food paradise of Malaysia and dining healthily would be almost impossible unless we cook our own food at home. This would be quite a hassle for most modern families as most of them are working individuals. Ever since my first visit to Young Heart Restaurant (养心殿) earlier this year, I knew that this would be the ideal restaurant for those people around town who would yearn for some home cooked food but without having the time to cook in. Most of the ingredients used here are fresh from the nearby wet market and they use rock sugar instead in their beverages. Some of the dishes are even traditionally prepared with the usage of charcoal.

So, what’s new in the recently revamped menu as well as the facilities? It actually had some of the items from the earlier menu with some newly created items added in to make the menu a more complete one for all ages such as Junior Meal and Vegetarian Meal. On top of that, they had set up a cozy and air-conditioned dining room upstairs with a DVD player and TV for the comfort and relaxation of a small private event of up to 12 persons. Booking has to be made in advance.

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A group of us managed to relax ourselves prior to the food feasting with some hot beverages. To start off, we had Ginseng Oolong Tea (人參烏龍茶-RM15.00 for 1-2pax with unlimited refills). The bulb shaped oolong tea leaves mixed with some powdered ginseng was indeed refreshing. It surely booted out the tiredness in me after weeks of endless projects.

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The next pot was from one of our selections in the Natural Flower Tea list – Rosehip, Hibiscus and Green Apple Tea (雙花蘋果茶-RM9.00). The tea tasted somewhat like a rosy flavored blackcurrant drink but with the sour but fragrant taste from the green apple slices. Some of us preferred to add in some rock sugar syrup to sweeten up the sourness but I like it the way it is – natural. Rosehip has been used for generations to strengthen the body’s resistance to infection, reinforces digestive function, combats all kinds of illnesses with fever, flushes out the kidneys and urinary tract and relieves mild rheumatic pain. The fleshy red sepals of the Hibiscus flowers (Malaysian National Flower) have been used as traditional remedies against cough, dyspepsia, fever and hypertension. With the combination of vitamin rich green apples, this beverage sure would help in a person’s general health. Do check out with Ms Ann on Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni or commonly known as Stevia aka Sweet Leaf, the FDA approved natural substitute for sugar. They do have the dried leaves form here for your tea.

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The meal started off with a bowl of carefully monitored charcoal boiled Soup of the Day – Lotus Roots & Peanuts Soup (蓮藕花生湯-RM6.00(M)/RM9.00(L)) as starter. It was exactly how Grandma would cook it. The collagen filled soup had many ingredients and herbs that constituted to its richness in taste. Prominently you would see some lotus root slices, fresh peanuts, dried cuttle fish, chicken feet with the rich taste coming from the red dates (紅棗), Angelica sinensis (Dong Quai-當歸), dried Ophiopogon japonicus tuber (Mai Dong-麥冬) and dried Codonopsis pilosula (Dang Shen-黨參). The soup was so rich that I’m sure I can form gelatin if chilled properly. This is a must have for soup lovers.

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Deep Fried Prawn Dumpling (蝦仁炸餃-RM6.00/4pcs) was served next as appetizers. The golden colored mixed minced meat and prawn filled dumplings alone were impressive with some tails sticking out. The exterior remained its crunchiness while the interior had the required moisture in it. These would be great to be taken with some Thai chili sauce.

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Although I had many encounters with a chayote fruit (佛手瓜) in fresh and preserved ways before, the next dish came as a surprise as I had not seen a live version of the shoots (龍鬚菜) except from some Taiwanese TV channels. The Stir Fry Chayote Leaves with Roasted Duck Meat (RM5.00(M)+RM4.00(Duck Meat)/RM8.00(L)-龍鬚菜炒燒鴨肉) was awesome with the fragrantly roasted duck meat. The gravy of the dish was mildly flavored with some basic seasoning.

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Some might want their vegetables added with some meat or seafood but I love mine to be plain. In fact, I found that I love the plain Stir Fry Chayote (清炒龍鬚菜) tasted better, considering that I can have the actual bite of these fibrous vegetable in their natural state. Moreover, too much of duck meat would not be good for health as they are high in fat and uric acid, leading to gout, kidney stone, diabetes type 2 and many other diseases. On the other hand, the fruits and leaves of a chayote plant have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties. Even the leaves that had been made into tea had been practiced in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, hypertension and to dissolve kidney stones. Maybe for this case, the combination of duck meat and chayote leaves might not be so bad after all.

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The next few orders consisted rice and noodles. Some came from the handmade noodles, rice and personal meal sections. Each dish in the Personal Meal section would come with some meat, a vegetable of the day plus a bowl of white rice. In case you prefer their handmade noodles instead of white rice, just pay an additional RM1.00 to the price. On top of that, another RM1.00 extra would make you eligible for a drink of the day (if you dine between 12noon and 2.00pm).

The first rice dish made me broke a heart. LOL! The Hearty Pumpkin Fried Rice (愛心金瓜炒飯-RM7.80) indeed came in the shape of a heart and I was quite reluctant to be the first one to break it apart. Hmm… I forgot who did that first! Haha! Anyway, the fried rice had the required Wok Hei (high heated cooking) as each grain of rice was well fragranced with the minimal seasoning and yet providing the fresh taste of the small pumpkin cubes and shredded carrots within. The fried rice came garnished with some fried shallots, cucumber slices, a set of specially and freshly seasoned wings and a dish of vegetable of the day. The chicken wings were delicious and were just as good as the Kaffir leaves enhanced chicken wings we had earlier this year.

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The next rice dish was the Lotus Roots & Wax Sausage Fried Rice (莲藕腊肠炒饭-RM8.80). Since fresh lotus roots are bland in taste, the combination of chopped wax sausages and some shredded carrots added that special touch to boost up the overall taste of the “wok hei” filled fried rice. This dish tasted saltier compared to the sweeter pumpkin fried rice and I love this more. The order also came with a separated plate of the vegetable of the day.

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What? 3+1 Cup Chicken Noodle (3+1杯雞麵-RM8.80)? I thought the recipe was to be a cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and Shao Xing/Hua Tiao wine (花雕酒)? That was my first impression when I saw the name in the menu. The “+1” appeared to be a mixture of red chilies and bird’s eye chilies. In fact, the chef had their own combination of this dish, thus the sauce for the noodles tend to look lighter in color but still delicious with the pungent taste from the added “little bombs”. The thick and springy handmade noodles were superb. Each mouthful was smooth flowing. Aiks! Some more please! 😛

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For those spicy food lovers, you would love the next handmade noodles as well. Fiery Hot Noodles (紅油拌麵-RM8.80) was the name of the noodles I had ordered but it was not as fiery hot as I had expected. One sauce dish of some dried shrimp enhanced chili paste in red hot oil was kid’s stuff to me. The next full dish had my tongue burning and ears having steams. I just could not believe how anyone could gobble down such hot stuff? Anyway, I survived the ordeal as I was not in tears as my dinner the night before. That hotness was Level 5! LOL! It’s actually up to us to adjust our own chili intake but I was a bit too adventurous. The noodles came with some minced meat, a semi cooked omelette, fried anchovies and garnished with lots of chopped spring onions and lettuce. This was in fact my most loved noodles so far in this restaurant. I simply love the taste!

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A seafood dish was next – Pan Fried Salmon Head (豉油王煎三文魚頭-RM15.00/half head). The salmon fish head was grilled in a specially prepared sweet soy sauce. Although I do not fancy fish head a lot, I found the fish to be real “fresh” amongst those frozen ones I had tried before. LOL! It was indeed well prepared with its juices still maintained within. Well, my preference would still be on sashimi and sushi over this spiky teethed fish.

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“OMG! What a pathetic fella! Who asked you to stuff yourself with so much pickled cabbage until you end up on the table?” Haha! The Pickled Cabbage Stuffed Chicken (梅菜雞 (須預定)-RM28.00/whole bird (pre-booking needed)) really had that miserable look on its face after so many hours of steaming. Overall, the taste was just normal and the pickled cabbage was rather sweet to my liking. Anyhow the management had rectified the problem as the brand of pickled cabbage used that night was sweeter than others. Moreover, the bird was a bit too large for the fragrance from the pickled cabbage to seep right into the meat. Let’s hope it would be better during my next visit. Well, this bird can feed 4-6 persons and the price for so much meat was way much cheaper than the “one person share” salted chicken I bought from Ipoh, Perak which cost me RM16 per bird. A bowl of hot steaming rice would be good with this dish.

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Braised Duck with Special Bean Paste (狗仔鸭(須預定)- RM20.00/half bird or RM38.00/whole bird (pre-booking needed)) was served next. The English name might sound normal but this was supposed to be a very strong herbs and spices recipe for “woof woof” during the olden China. Instead, duck has been used as both have the extra strong scent in the meat. Specially selected galangal ginger (南薑), star aniseed (八角), fermented bean sauce and chopped red chilies had been used in the preparation of this juicy and tender duck dish.

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We also tried out their Braised Sweet & Sour Black Trotter (炭煮猪手醋-RM9.00(M)/RM16.00(L)). Although the meat served were healthily lean minus the fat, it somehow made the whole piece of meat rather hard. I would suggest that the fat be kept to maintain the tenderness of the meat. We could always get rid of them if we felt that they were bad for our health. Tenderizing the meat with grated ginger juice prior to cooking might help too. Moreover, the black vinegar used was a bit too overpowering as it was too sweet for our liking. The dish also lacked in the gingery taste from crushed old ginger. Young ginger would not be strong enough to boost up the taste. Since this was a precooked dish, heating up might be to be blamed as slow steaming and microwave would give a different meat texture. Let’s hope they would improve on this aspect of customer feedback for this dish soon.

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Desserts were wonderful as we had something unique. Firstly, it was the Old School Pan Fried Water Chestnut Cake (花香馬蹄糕-RM5.00/4pcs). The sweetness from the mixture of osmanthus (桂花) and chamomile (洋菊) brew, combined with some water chestnut flour, water chestnut slices plus a touch of rock sugar to make this jelly-like delicacy perfect. Each piece would be pan fried carefully to have that extra crispiness on the surface. This dessert was delicious although I personally felt that the texture should be a bit firmer by adding more water chestnut flour.

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Yellow petals with a tint of white stamens and purple anthers were what I saw in the next dessert. It has the beautiful colors of an attractive flower. The dessert was actually chilled Mango Puree and Sago Pudding (芒果花園-RM4.50/bowl) garnished with some diced red dragon fruit. It was awesome in every part of presentation and taste. The sago was soft and mildly sweetened with some rock sugar syrup and combined with the mango puree, some fresh young coconut meat slices and juice plus the colorful red dragon fruit made this dessert the gem of the night. Perfect!

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If you happened to have the urge to grab something light for tea (between 3.00pm and 6.00pm), do look out for their coming soon promotion which would be their tea time deal for two at RM19.90. You could even grab some light snacks and finger food ranging from bean curds, dumplings, chicken wings or even their Crispy Bean Curd Puff (RM5.00/5pcs) with stuffed meat.

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Beverage wise, there are more iced, chilled, fresh, blended or beer for you to choose from. We had the Honey Lemon Sea Coconut (蜂蜜檸檬海椰-RM6.00). It would be best to consume this drink while there are still ice cubes as a warmer version would have the sour reaction of the lemon affecting the taste to be rather fermented. Anyway, it was nice that way too. The Pumpkin Soy Bean Milk (黃金豆漿-RM6.00) was my favorite as it was mildly sweetened with rock sugar syrup and it had that unique fresh taste from the blended ripe pumpkin. The Banana, Black Sesame & Soy Bean Milk (無間道-RM6.80) was another unique combination as it had the rich creamy taste of blended bananas combined with the fragrant fro the roasted black sesame seeds. For the juniors, the would surely like the Ice Blended Mixed Berry Vanilla drink (香草綜合莓果-RM6.00) – sweet but lovely.

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For those who are interested to know the full range of the latest menu, you can click and save the YOUNG HEART MENU here. Now here’s the Discount eVoucher, especially for my readers as promised. You can print it (color or black & white) and present it to the restaurant management (prior to billing) to enjoy the privilege from 31 July 2009 until 31 August 2009. Have a great and healthy dining then! 🙂

YOUNGHEART-EVOUCHER

Reaching the restaurant would be easy if you are coming from Jalan Burmah into Jalan Cantonment. Just drive along Jalan Cantonment until you reach the first left junction (Pulau Tikus Market – Jalan Pasar). Just go further up after this junction and you will see Wisma Kota Kembar – Pulau Pinang-Medan Information and Promotion Centre on the corner lot. The restaurant is just next to this centre. There would be a 5% service charge for the food ordered here.

YOUNGHEARTMAP

Name: YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT
Address: 44A, Jalan Cantonment, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-10.00pm (Closed Monday)
Contact: 604-228 8084, 016-410 8098 (Ms. Ann Kee)
GPS: 5.430508, 100.311350

RATING:
Ambience: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 9/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (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)

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!

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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.

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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)

FRUIT HUNT AT SUNGAI BATU DURIAN STALL

Posted by crizlai On July - 8 - 2009

It’s the time of the year for fruit feasting as there are lots of fruits on sales just anywhere you go along the roads of Penang. From May until August each year, you would get to enjoy many of the seasonal fruits especially durians – the King of Fruits. The different species of the fruits can come in shapes such as oblong and round with yellow, green or brown husks and the flesh would either be in white, pale yellow, yellow, orange to red. These thorn covered fruits are famous for their large sizes and unique smell that made them the love and hate of many people. I don’t think anyone had created a name for its intruding odor but to some it may just well be the combination of pungent cat pee, musty gym shorts, smelly socks and gas leak. I even heard someone mentioning that his neighbors called in 911 to report a rotten corpse. LOL!

Penetrating odor as the nicknames have suggested above, the fruits have the same reputation as the Hong Kong Stinky Tofu – the scent of smell could be overpowering but the scent of taste would sent many floating in heaven. There are many species of durian available in the South East Asian regions of Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia but most of the durian lovers would still prefer those from Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia and its surrounding areas as the texture are finer with stronger acquired taste.

DURIANFEAST

Thanks to Steven’s contact with the daughter of a durian seller, an entourage of the few of us was able to have the first hand experience in tasting the best of this stinky fruit. There are many species of durians available here such as Kor Teh (Bitter Herbal Tea), Kucing Tidur (Sleeping Cat), Susu (Milk), Capri, D15, D2, COB, Ganja (Cannabis), Seven Goddess (七仙女), Bak Ewe (Lard), Ang Hae (Red Prawn), Ooi Keong (Turmeric/Kunyit) and many more. We started by tasting the more common ones and later to those award-winning and branded ones.

BRANDEDDURIAN

We started with the so called Ooi Keong Ong (Turmeric/Kunyit/黄姜王 – approx. RM10). It was fibrous, custard creamy and sweet with a hint of fermented wine after taste. Although the fruit was filled with lots of meaty flesh, it was just average to my taste bud as it lacked the strong aromatic taste of durian. Even though so, it would still be ideal for general consumption as it was rather filling.

OOIKEONGONG

We were then given a test on our preferences for the following two branded durians of almost the same quality – Hor Lor versus Kim Poh. Comparing the colors of these two different species, Kim Poh (Golden Treasure/金寳 – approx. RM15) had a more inviting color of mixed orange and yellow. Taste wise, it had a smooth creamy and custard like flesh with slight bitterness. To me, it was a bit over ripe but that was the uniqueness that made the fruit having its strong fermented wine after taste and likeable by many.

KIMPOH

The moment everyone tried the Hor Lor (Calabash/葫蘆 – approx. RM15), there was a moment of silence as everyone was enjoying the beauty of the taste. The flesh was so smooth that it just melted in our mouth like ice cream. The creamy sweetness and bitter end taste obviously showed which species won the contest. Thumbs up for Hor Lor!

HORLOR

The next durian which was the Chneh Poay (Green Skin/青皮 – RM8-RM20) tasted more like native durians as it did not have much of the durian flavor “strength”. More fibrous compared to the rest, it only taste sweet towards the end nearing the pulp with more obvious bitterness.

CHNEH POAY

I thought the next durian served was the laugh of the day – That Kah Chui (Stuffed Buttock/塞屁股 – approx. RM10) but that was indeed the name given by Ah Joo for this native durian (durians from the older unnamed trees/土蓮). This was just another typical native durian with thinner flesh and larger seeds. Although sweet with fine texture, it definitely would not satisfy my craving for better and more fulfilling durians. I’ll need more meaty flesh, regardless of branded or native as some native durians could taste far better than branded ones.

THATKAHCHUI

Here are a shot of some native durians which you could get a large bagful for less than RM20.

NATIVEDURIAN

The Man of Honor aka Ang Hae (Red Prawn/紅蝦 – RM10-RM30) came out last as we had had decided to save the best for last. The fruit was indeed the best as it has won many awards in the local durian scene. The flesh was the finest around with smooth custard like creaminess. There was the distinctive sweetness and wine taste with a slight touch of bitterness. I would recommend this species. There’s a secret when consuming Ang Hae. The fruit should not be eaten once collected from the plantation. It should be left aside for a few hours to enable it to gather that powerful “booster”!

ANGHAE

On top of having durian fresh or having them with steamed white glutinous rice topped with thick and slightly salted coconut milk and fine sugar, there are many other by products available here such as the local durian paste cake (durian kuih), dried durian meat cracker, durian cream cake, coconut durian glutinous rice cake (dodol), durian ice cream, durian nian gao (glutinous rice cake available during Chinese New Year) served with shaved coconut, etc. Phew! There are just too many to mention here. For me, I love to have the seeds roasted or boiled until cooked. They tasted just like chestnuts. Wonderful!

However, when you have the King of Fruits, you would also have the Queen of Fruits during the season – Mangosteens (RM2/kg or RM5/3kg)! These proud looking tangy and peachy flavored ladies in deep purple dresses with Brazilian party like greenish headgears and white pinkish undergarments have been believed to be the antidote for those who had consumed too many of the “kings”. Its nutritious richness and antioxidant strength would surely compromise with the sugar level, carbohydrates, protein and fat that of durians. Isn’t it great to have the “cooling effect” of mangosteens versus the “bodily heatiness” of durians? But have a pair of watchful eyes when peeling as the purplish natural dye from the fruit might stain your attire terribly. The edible endocarp of the mangosteen would normally have few segments of so called wedges like flesh. The bigger ones would have seeds. At the bottom of the exocarp would be some embossed wheel spokes like ridges. That would determine the amount of “wedges” the fruit will have within.

MANGOSTEEN

Other than the kings and queens, we have the hairy like fruits called Rambutans (RM2/kg or RM5/3kg). These fruits may come in many colors such as red, yellow, reddish green, green (unripe) or maroon (shorter hair). The species sold here were from Balik Pulau, Penang. They have thinner skins with a much thicker coconut crunch like texture. The taste of rambutans would be somewhat different compared to other tropical fruit as it has a unique mild acidic sweetness. Some older generations might even pickle them in salt. It actually tasted real good as pickles. One advice for those with asthmatic or throat problems – Do not take the fruit with the skin from the seed intact. It would cause continuous irritation to the throat.

RAMBUTAN

Another tropical fruit that would be quite famous, especially amongst the Malays would be the Buah Langsat (RM2/kg). These fruits are normally oval in shape and would come in bunch of 30 fruits or less. The yellow and leather like skin fruit has 5-6 peels of translucent juicy flesh inside. Just like the mangosteen, it has whitish like seed in bigger peels. As for taste, it has a sweet and slightly sour acidic flavor with a hint of bitterness if not fully ripened.

LANGSAT

Last but not least my so called Prince of the Fruits – Cempedak (RM3/kg). The sausage like fruit practically grows on the trunk of the tree. The unique South East Asia native fruit has red, orange and yellow arils and taste somewhat like a stronger jackfruit with a hint of durian (without the intruding smell of course). I actually wanted the stronger and sweeter fruit with red arils but it would take a month or two more before they would be available. We ended up with the yellow ones which tasted just as great. Although some people would love to have them fresh, my favorite teatime snack would still be the double batter fried ones. Why double batter fried? The first batter dip would be to get the flesh cook and the next batter dip would get the seed within cooked well and to give that extra crunch. Just like the durian seed, the cempedak seed has the unique chestnut flavor but a bit softer than the former.

CEMPEDAK

I would surely archive Ah Joo’s contact for the remaining months and also for years to come as this has been one of the great fruit stalls around. Even their Buffet Durian Promotion (5-10pax at RM25/adult and RM15/child) shone out amongst the rest as there will be unlimited supplies of branded durians for your consumption. If you feel like having a durian fiesta right in the comfort of your home, delivery service can be arranged for an order of more than 10 fruits. Do check out the delivery time below.

Finding the stall would not be hard if you know how to get to the Penang International Airport by using Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah. As you reach the airport entrance “Y” junction, turn right and go over the flyover into Jalan Bayan Lepas. Drive on until you have reached the Jalan Permatang Damar Laut junction. Drive straight until next prominent landmark which would be the Emerald Park/Krystal Country Homes on your left. Drive further until you see the Teluk Kumbar Mosque, Kampung Sungai Batu. Slow down and watch out for Ah Joo’s Durian Stall just a few meters away on your right next to Forever Star Electrical and Plumber Trading.

AHJOOMAP

Name: Ah Joo Durian Stall
Branch Address: 1238 Jalan Bayan Lepas, 11900 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 017-422 2248 (Ah Joo), 012-453 1812 (Delivery-Kelly)
Business Hours: 10.00am-12.00am (daily)
Delivery: After 5.00pm (weekdays), business hours (weekends)
GPS: 5.285736, 100.238872

RATING:
Ambience: 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: 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)

Invited Reviewers:
Criz, Cariso, Food Paradise, Steven Goh, Chan CW

Most people will have the preset thinking that dining in a Japanese restaurant could be real expensive, especially when the restaurant is within a hotel. I was one of them too until I stepped foot in Miraku Japanese Restaurant located within the premises of G Hotel which was located along the promenade of our Gurney Drive beach front in Penang. Miraku is actually part of the Texchem Group with another sister company by the name of Sushi King. The restaurant is totally a different entity to management of the hotel.

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Thanks to the company of the 3 angels (Eunice, Siew Ying & Iris), their “Charlie” aka Jimmy and my god brother on different visits that I was able to come out with a more detailed coverage on the restaurant. To set the mood and get pampered to the max, a warm towel would be given to each diner to freshen up prior to indulging in the wonderful spread of the Japanese cuisine.

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Instead of the normal peanuts or crackers as provided by most Chinese restaurants, a small plate of stewed soy beans would be given to each diner while waiting for their meals to be served. Why soy beans? It’s because soy beans remained the vital source of protein to the Japanese for generations. The soy beans were stewed in a slightly sweet salty soy sauce and had nice bites.

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Biting into the soy beans reminded us of how much fun Crayon Shin-chan (蠟筆小新) had while playing with the fermented version of the soy beans. We did try out the so called Natto (納豆 – RM12) and Eunice had a fun time mixing them into the rice to create as many spider web strings as she could. It sounded like the making of the next comic character? Hmm… maybe so – the Malaysian version. LOL! The Natto had a very ammoniacal smell and had that cheesy but bean-like taste and might not be so acceptable by most locals but they do taste a bit like vegemite with its acquired taste.

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The actual meal started with the Miraku Salad (RM18 – small) which would normally be served with all the set and bento meals. The freshness of the greens such as romaine lettuce, cucumber and tomato slices, combined with freshly sliced salmon, octopus and crab meat and served with tomato dressing was simply remarkable. The secret was in the sauce which had a simple combination of blended tomatoes and mayonnaise. I could not stop myself from salvaging the whole bowl of salad until the last drop.

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Next was the Sashimi Moriawase (Take) which was a medium sized assorted sashimi for 3 persons (RM130 per set). What you get on each visit might not be the same as the restaurant would provide only the freshest they have at that time. There would normally be an assortment of at least 6 types depending on availability. What we had consisted of salmon, tuna, amber jack, white fish, octopus and crayfish.

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Cold noodles or Zaru Udon has always remained one of my must order dishes in any Japanese restaurants on top of the usual hot Kake Udon in soup. At Miraku, there was no exception. I tried out their Sanuki Udon (RM35 per set) which was supposed to be the most recommended and sought after udon made with flour from Kagawa. The plain udon came with the usual cold soup, radish, spring onions and wasabi. There was not much to brag about as the taste was almost just like any other cold noodles I had tasted before. In fact, I was expecting more springy bites. Maybe I should have ordered the buckwheat noodles instead for my next visit.

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Trying out the restaurant’s sushi spread is also a must during any visits and we did try out the Mamakari Sushi (RM6/pc). Most people would mistakenly call this fish as silver fish due to it’s shininess on the body. The name has been reserved for an insect instead. This fish is actually sardines, marinated deeply in vinegar before being used in sushi making. You won’t get the texture to be as soft as in those canned tomato based sardines. The texture for this fish would be firmer with a hint of fishy and strong vinegar after taste. It would go well with wasabi and soy sauce.

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The next sushi presentation which was the Dragon Roll (RM28) caught most of our attention as it was very attractive and it really looked like a dragon. The dish a deep fried prawn, wrapped with layers of sushi rice, avocado paste and garnished with some mayonnaise and prawn roes. It was colorful and tasty as well.

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Instead of having the usual Unagi Kabayaki which has been sweet soy sauce grilled, we tried out the freshly grilled Unagi Shirayaki (RM38). No doubt I could taste out the distinguished freshness of the grilled eel, I still prefer the sweet soy sauce grilled version.

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The Japanese loved Nabemono (hot clay pot) so were we when we were served the Miraku Kami Nabe (Petite Paper Hot Pot – RM36). Kami Nabe are pots made of strong washi (Japanese Paper) with an extremely dense texture. It’s normally durable to water and heat and is used mostly for stewing purposes. We had ours stewed in rich broth with lovely vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, chicken, salmon and clams. As the heat got more intense, the broth which has a thicker miso soup based taste got more flavorful with the sweetness of the salmon and chicken submerging distinctively. It was a perfect dish for a colder weather. I wonder if they would produce Hoshoyaki during my next visit since they are into using washi in their cooking method. I’m sure their paper-wrapped roasted fish would taste great as well.

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As most of us were not so keen in having fugu (pufferfish or blowfish) which was also available at Miraku, we had something even more exotic – Gyutan Touban Yaki (RM28). These were thinly sliced ham-like beef tongues, well marinated in their special sauce with a squeeze of lemon juice and grilled to our own preference on a provided hot pot. Well, it was not bad as the dish was tasty enough for us to savor more of the rubbery-like pieces.

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If you feel that ordering the ala carte dishes would be too heavy for you, you could always try out the bento and set meals. One of the most ordered ones would be the Miraku Lunch Box (RM36). The bento set would surely fill you up well with bits of everything you would get from the menu such as pickled radish, salad, mixed vegetables (sato imo – Japanese yam, konnyaku – yam jelly cake, carrot, mushroom and snow peas in special soy sauce), sashimi (tuna & amber jack), grilled fish (gindara – grilled cod fish), tempura moriawase (assorted seafood and vegetables tempura), rice, chawan mushi (steamed egg with chicken, mushroom, ginkgo nut and kamaboko fish cake), miso soup and dessert of the day (red bean jelly and ice cream). This was indeed a great bargain meal and I find the combination well balanced.

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Another set meal you might be interested in might sound like a simple meal but it was a real filling one. The Katsu Ju Set (RM24) had the same standard side dishes such as pickled radish, salad, chawan mushi, miso soup and dessert of the day (black sesame jelly and ice cream). This set came in a bento box filled to the brim with layers of steamed Japanese rice, panko (Japanese bread crumbed) chicken and finally topped with some scrambled eggs cooked with onions gravy and garnished with nori (seaweed) strips. The whole dish combination was simple but yet perfecto as in taste. Each mouthful was filled with the awesome creaminess and cheesiness of the egg and crispy chicken slices together with the perfect grains of the Japanese steamed rice. I could take this for every meal too.

BENTO2

For those beef lovers, you could go for the Yakiniku Zen (RM28) which would also come with the standard side dishes as above. The dish was basically simple with thinly sliced Australian beef (similar to the shabu-shabu thickness) fried with some sliced onions, scallion (spring onion) and bean sprouts in yakiniku sauce. It was a waste that by the time I had finished with my shots, the bean sprouts had gone translucent. If not, I could have imagine the crunchiness of the slightly cook sprouts with the juicy beef slices churning amazingly in my mouth. The gravy was tasty with a hint of some fruity sweetness and quality soy sauce. This was served with hot steaming Japanese rice.

BENTO3

As for dessert, the Tempura Ice Cream (RM12) caught me yearning for more. The preparation for the dessert was totally different compared to the one I had at Haven Delights at Penang Times Square. It was truly yummilicious! A large scoop of Vanilla flavored ice cream was rolled into crushed digestive biscuits (just like those cheese cake base) and coated with tempura flour and deep fried to a golden ball like. This would then cut into four quarters and topped with sweetened azuki bean paste (red bean paste). The creaminess of the ice cream, the crunchiness of the biscuits, the crispiness of the tempura and the just nice sweetness of the azuki bean paste made this dessert something to crave for during my next visit.

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For those who would want to entertain your guests in large groups or in privacy, there are many dining areas and rooms available in this restaurant. In fact they have two large rooms with tall tables and six smaller ones with lower Japanese style dining experience on first come first serve basis.

ROOM1

I’m sure no one would want to dine in this small room. From the layout itself, it could well be solely for smokers who needed a quick puff. The restaurant even has such a facility. Think of the extent of how a Japanese restaurant would sacrifice such a place just for its customers. That’s what I would call great service.

ROOM2

When you have the guests, the quiet and cozy ambience and the food, something else is missing here. Where’s the alcohol? Miraku has them all from beer, wine, whisky, cocktail to sake (日本酒) and shouchu (燒酎). You do not have to worry about not finishing them as the restaurant has the facility to temporary “house” the leftovers up to 3 months. Here’s some of the alcohol you might expect to get here.

WINE

We had the privilege to try out one of the limited edition of sake in Miraku – the Manzai Raku Hakusan (萬歳楽・白山 – RM475 per 720ml bottle), a specially brewed sake from the flowing water of the Hakusan Mountain in Japan. The sake was smooth flowing and was rather mild for everyone. Although the sake was 20% in alcohol content, no one was drunk and dancing on the table ok? LOL!

WINE2

There are still many other ala carte and set meals available for everyone’s budget from the restaurant. Presently, in conjunction with their 3rd Anniversary celebration, they have Eat-All-You-Can Sushi at RM50++ per pax on Tuesday and Sunday until end of June 2009. On top of that, you can try out their set lunch meals (lunch only) and assorted sushi-sashimi (dinner only) at 30% off the normal price. These two promotions will also be valid until this month end.

If you are familiar with the roads in Penang, it would be easy to find the restaurant as it is located within the premises of G Hotel, right between the Regency and Gurney Plaza, and facing the beach front of Gurney Drive. Moving into the long lobby of G Hotel, you might have problem locating the restaurant as it’s hidden on the first floor to the building. There are a few stairways and ample signages to lead you there but the simplest would be by using the guests’ elevator to first floor. Parking in G Hotel can be quite expensive for many. I would suggest that you drive further up and park your car at the basement car park of Gurney Plaza or find some along the beach front of Gurney Drive.

MIRAKUFACADE

MIRAKUMAP

Name: MIRAKU JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Branch Address: 1st Floor, G Hotel, 168A Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 8702
Business Hours: 12.00-2.30pm, 6.00pm-10.30pm
GPS: 5.438233, 100.310631

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: 9/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8.5/10 (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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