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A TOUCH OF CONTEMPORARY DINING AT CHEZ WENG @ PRECINCT 10 PENANG

Posted by crizlai On January - 18 - 2012

NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CEASED ITS OPERATION IN LATE 2012

One of Penang’s newest premium food and beverage hub venues would be at Precinct 10, just next to Island Plaza along Jalan Tanjung Tokong, Penang. A contemporary restaurant named Chez Weng, another brainchild outlet of Chef Weng, has opened up for business with the same concept and essence as its predecessor, Cassis, at Bellisa Row, Penang. The name Chez Weng actually has an in-depth meaning in French. It depicts that of the home or business place of Weng, thus the little heaven of the down-to-earth Chef Weng. The restaurant promised a simple, spacious and yet sophisticated ambience to soothe all moods from having a casual dining experience to indulging some drinks with the companies of family and friends. There would also be a band playing on occasional nights.

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Set lunch (RM38++ to RM58++) and set dinner (RM48++ to RM88++) would also be available daily. Both meals would have either a salad or a soup, a main course of your preference, a dessert and coffee or tea. As for the Ala Carte menu, you can start off with cold or hot appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, pizzas, mains, steaks (with an option for 2 side dishes and a sauce of your choice), kid’s menu and desserts. Beverages would range from coffees, teas, juices, a few brands of mineral water, beers and wines.

We started the meal with Fresh Bread and Dukkah (RM16++). The fresh bread looked quite similar to that of the pita flat bread but was herbs induced. It was served with a mini bowls of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Dukkah, a Middle Eastern nuts and spice blend. We had a fun time peeling the bread, dipping into the olive oil and then into the Dukkah for a new nutty experience. It was indeed nice but my preference would still be bread with Hummus like the one I had during Sigi’s Arabian Night 2011. At least, this combination would be more smooth flowing to the mouth and suitable for those elderly diners.

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We also had some appetizers such as the Serrano Hams (RM22++). The paper thin sliced Spanish pride pork ham which has been cured for at least a year was served with thinly sliced fresh pear, manchego cheese, young watercress leaves and with a dash of black pepper. To me, the ham slices was a bit dry and combined with the sheep’s milk made Spanish manchego cheese, it had that waxy after taste. I would surely prefer some goat’s milk made feta cheese soaked in olive oil for this combination.

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The next appetizer was the Prosciutto (RM22++). The Italian version of dry cured ham slices, Prosciutto or sometimes known as Parma Ham were saltier and had more moisture than the former. It came with rock melon slices, parmesan cheese, rocket salad, a dash of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper. This combination surely fair better in my opinion compared to the former appetizer.

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We also had some pizzas made from all the freshest ingredients available on homemade pizza dough. The first that came out was the Portobello Mushroom, Garlic Confit, Truffle Oil Pizza (RM35++). The earthly flavors from the mushroom, combined with a tad of saltiness from the sliced garlic confit, generous sprinkles of fresh herbs and grated parmesan cheese was pizza perfect. Even the homemade tomato puree spread complemented each ingredient well. I would say this was one of my favorites.

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The next pizza was the Pepperoni & Cheese Pizza (RM35++). You can never go wrong with beef pepperoni and cheese. It was simple and yet fulfilling.

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We also had the Tomato, Basil & Mozarella Cheese Pizza (RM35++). If you love more sweetness from tomatoes, this would definitely be one pizza to look out for. Since cherry tomatoes were in season, and to have these cute little fruits on the pizza was awesome. Each bite truly gave me a squirt and juicy sensation in the mouth. I love this pizza a lot too.

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Last but not least, the Prosciutto, Pear, Rocket Salad and Parmesan Cheese Pizza (RM35++) was presented to us. The saltiness for the Prosciutto hams, the fruity flavor from the sliced pears, the freshness from the garnished rocket Salad and the cheesiness for the parmesan cheese blended in real well, except that I would surely prefer my fruit toppings to be a bit juicier.

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We had quite some great options for main course. We started off with Duck Confit (RM38++). The chef did a great job in roasting the duck drumstick to perfection. Not only was the golden brown crisp on the skin beautifully done, the meat itself was tender and juicy with some mild seasonings. The smoked sausage was also delicious. The meat was served on some mashed potatoes and some blanched broccoli. The combination of the remaining duck juices and orange juice gave that unique tanginess to the overall flavors. The only setback was that the mashed potatoes was done too fine compared to the more coarsely done ones I preferred.

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The Atlantic Salmon (RM38++) was presented quite uniquely too. The salmon fillet was well pan grilled to maintain the freshness and moist within. The fillet was then topped on a mixture of mashed potatoes with chives and garnished with some stir fried spinach. These were served with beurre blanc or white butter which had some twists of lemon juice and white wine. At some point, the combination of taste had some “laksa” aftertaste. It was a totally different experience for all.

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Pork Belly (RM38++) was served next. This dish got me curious as I was quite amazed at how the chef managed to get rid of the porky scent and at the same time managed to keep the meat so tender and juicy. Initially, I thought it was cooked the pressurized method until I clarified with the chef. The meat has gone through a process called sous-vide, where the meat has been vacuum plastic packed and cooked in low temperature heated water for more than 48 hours. Wow! That was one method I had not applied in my own cooking. It was genius! The meat had the skin removed and seared to brown the fat and to keep the juice within. It was presented in thick slices on mashed potatoes and served with stir fried spinach with raisins and red wine syrup.

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Another awesome dish would be the Australian Rack of Lamb (RM68++), served medium rare. The portion was just right and the meat was tender as it should be. The flavors were great with some hints from rosemary and anchovy juice. The rack was served with some sautéed zucchini and coarsely grated potato cake. Beautiful!

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We also tried out the US Black Angus Tenderloin (RM88++ – 200gms), served medium rare as well. It was served on some mashed potatoes, blanched broccoli and red wine syrup. The flavorful marinates combined with the tender and juicy meat made this dish, the dish to yearn for just for anyone. It was perfect!

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The next dish was one dish that I had heard about a lot through some of the foreign food channels but did not have the opportunity to try it out. It was the Squid Ink Aglio Olio with Seafood (RM38++). The usage of fresh herbs, garlic and chili flakes in extra virgin olive oil with the al dente of the pasta made this dish a must try. Combined with the flavors of the seafood, it was another delicious dish. Somehow there was this distinctive fragrant and salty taste that pepped up the overall flavors. I could be wrong but it tasted like there were some pickled salted garlic cloves added in. Moreover, there was one mystery to be solved here. Why the squid ink spaghetti tasted just like any other pasta without the distinctive flavors from the squids? After much clarification from the chef, the mystery was solved. Although the chef has the Spain imported thick and sticky squid ink available, the rich sea brine tasting sauce was not suitable for the status of corporate diners. I tried out just one drop of the sauce and it got my tongue stained for more than 3 hours! Can you imagine having black lips, black teeth and black tongue if you were to attend a meeting after having a plateful of the delicious pasta with squid ink? That would be a joke for all~ LOL!

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We ended up the dinner with what they have on their dessert section on the menu. Firstly, it was the Orange Vanilla Crème Brulee (RM16++). The tangy with a tint of vanilla flavors on the crème brulee was perfect to end a meal. It had a thin layer of torch burned caramelized candy on the surface.

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The next dessert was the Banana Strudel with Peanut Butter Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce (RM16++). I love the way they rolled up the phyllo pastry just like how you would get for a mini spring roll. It tasted nice with the accompanied ice cream.

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Chocolate Mousse with Marinated Strawberry, Cookies Crumbles & Brandy Sauce (RM16++) was served next. One tiny scoop of the mousse in your mouth and you would know that the cocoa powder used in the dessert was of an imported brand as it was filled with rich chocolate flavor. Taken in together with the cookie crumbles and brandy sauce, it was just heavenly.

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Apple pie has always been my favorite as it has that nice cinnamon flavor in it and the next course which was the Apple Pie with Cinnamon Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce (RM16++) was one dessert I would not get sick of. It was wrapped just like the strudel and presented with some sandy caramel sauce. Wonderful!

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The last dessert on the menu was the Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and Chocolate Sauce (RM16++). To me, this was just another of those milk, cream and sugar concocted jelly served with fruits and sauce. It was nothing fanciful but one thing for sure was that the kitchen has made it to the firmness and texture that I would love to have.

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Overall, the food served here can be real satisfying if you are a diner who prefers to have your food served right at its original taste. Leave it to expertise of Chef Weng, who had over a decade of culinary skills acquired during his rendezvous years in San Francisco and Western Australia. I quite like the food here as chef did a great job in preparing the dishes with different methods of cooking, thus maintaining the juiciness of the meat dishes while using the most basic and freshest ingredients to pep up the flavors. It was a job well done indeed. Prices of food are still within the acceptance of the public, though a 10% Service Tax and 6 % Government Tax would be imposed on all orders. Thanks to yourfoodreview.com in coalition with myooo.my and the management of Chez Weng for providing me the opportunity to experience such a wonderful restaurant.

Precinct 10 is just next to the Island Plaza along Jalan Tanjung Tokong. If you are coming from town area towards Batu Ferringghi, just take note of the second traffic light (Jalan Tanjung Tokong/ Jalan Fettes/ Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang). Island Plaza is on your right. Make a U-Turn at the traffic lights and you will see Precinct 10 right after Island Plaza on the left. There are ample parking spaces at the premises. Parking fees would be around RM1/hour. You can visibly see Chez Weng sandwiched in between Oldtown and Snow House on your right.

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Name: CHEZ WENG @ PRECINCT 10
Address: 10-C-18 & 19, Precinct 10, Jalan Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-899 9878
Business Hours: 11.30am – 11.00pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.448970, 100.306020

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

 

GOKU RAKU RAMEN IS NOW AT GURNEY PARAGON PENANG

Posted by crizlai On December - 29 - 2011

Just in the month of December 2011 alone, Penang has another two new venues opened up with more eateries. One would be the Precinct 10 located at Tanjung Bungah just next to the Island Plaza, whereas the next one would be the Gurney Paragon Mall located along the seafront of Gurney Drive. Goku Raku Ramen with its first branch at Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur has finally set its foot in Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang, since 24 December 2011. This restaurant is believed to serve one of the best broths for ramen, especially with its rich and aromatic Tonkotsu broth which had gone through ten of hours of tedious preparations and slow simmering.

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To start off as appetizer, I ordered their Pirikara Negi Char Siew (RM7.90++). It was just 5 thinly sliced Char Siew, laid on a bed of sliced romaine lettuce and leeks, garnished with their special spicy sauce, some sauteed onions, chopped spring onions and a sprinkle of deep fried garlic bits. I did not find this dish appealing, not because I’m not a total health freak who would take lots of greens, but because the whole concoction lacked a few distinctive flavors. The meat lacked a slight saltiness and fragrant that you would get from a bacon. The garlic bits did not have that aromatic strong flavor. The spicy sauce was not as spicy as I expected. One great example of a great meaty vegetable wrap dish would be the Korean styled Jokbal (족발) I had some time back at Sa Rang Chae (사랑채/舍廊居).

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Since Goku Raku Ramen is also known as “The Ramen Haven”, no doubt it was a must to try out their specialty. I ordered a bowl of their signature ramen which was the Ultimate Ramen (RM21.90++ Big Bowl or RM16.90++ Small Bowl). You would have 3 options for the soup base such as the traditional Tonkotsu Soup (the mother of all soup bases with the rich creaminess coming from the long simmering of pork, chicken and fish bones), Shoyu Tonkotsu Soup (Tonkotsu with added Japanese soy sauce) and Miso Tonkotsu Soup (Tonkotsu with added miso aka blended fermented bean paste). I opted for the Ultimate Ramen with Miso Tonkotsu Soup. The bowl of ramen came topped with a few slices of Char Siew (Grilled Pork), half a flavored hard-boiled egg, bamboo shoot, black fungus, spring onions, leeks and garnished with fragrant blended burned garlic in oil. Although the broth was not as much as how you would get from other ramen shops, you can be assured that this was cooked with ultimate passion. Each drop of the broth was rich in flavors, leaving a trace of gelatin like creaminess that would linger in your mouth for some time. The mild touch of miso paste added in set the taste to a totally different dimension. It was indeed a great bowl of ramen! The only setback was the texture of the ramen. I could be sure that those noodles were not made upon request. They could be frozen-packed and send over from their main outlet in Kuala Lumpur. Somehow, it had that slight powdery texture that might be the cause of frost-bite due to improper storages. Well, that did not deter me from slurping off the whole bowl within a few minutes.

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Note: If you prefer a stronger and creamier version of this ramen, you could always order the Goku Raku Miso Ramen (RM24.90++ Big Bowl or RM18.90++ Small Bowl). The Goku Raku broth has been simmered almost twice the time used in simmering the Tonkotsu soup.

Other than ramen, there are many other rice based dishes available here, either in a bowl or in a stone pot. I ordered the Stamina Don (RM17.90++). It basically had some pan-fried pork slices in their special sauce, topped on some steamed rice and garnished with a poached egg, some chopped leeks and sun-dried chili slices. There was nothing special about this dish except for some sweetness from the special sauce. I would think that their other sister company, Miraku Japanese Restaurant @ G Hotel, which is also under the Texchem group, did fair better in rice dishes. The rice set came with some pickled radish and cucumber.

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Only 2 desserts such as the Annin Tofu (Almond Jelly – RM6.90) and Rare Cheese Cake (RM8.90) were available. I opted for the latter since it impressed me more as seen from the menu. Unfortunately, the experience turned into a nightmare. How could the restaurant serve me with “discarded” stuff? What I saw from the menu was not what I got! It was just another plain tasting cheese cake on a terribly presented twirl of blueberry sauce. Again the dish had the right name – RARE CHEESE CAKE! It was really RARE to see a part of the base missing (look carefully at the base of the cake towards the end). Moreover, it was RARE to see INVISIBLE strawberries and blueberries. On top of that, it was such a RARE occasion to guess the identity of the brutally severed fruit used as the décor. I presumed that was part of a plum since it has red skin with orange flesh. The whole ugly scene would have been avoided if the staff would just inform me on their shortage of fruits for the presentation instead of throwing me something that was not fit to be served. I could have just taken the whole cheese cake plain as it was. What disappointed me most was the chef’s lack of creativity in coming up with an alternative solution when faced with such a scenario. What amazed me too was that no one had the initiative to run down to the nearest supermarket (Cold Storage @ Gurney Plaza – 300m away) to temporary stock up whatever they were short of.

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Just look at the menu photo. It’s a world of difference right?

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As for beverages, I opted for just a plain tall glass of Iced Green Tea (RM2.90++) since I have been reviewing one too many dessert shops recently.

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Overall, I’m not too happy with the choice of food served here as a large quantity of dishes and beverages served at the Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur outlet were not available here at the Gurney Paragon Mall branch. The whole menu would surely not worth my revisit unless I’m desperately in need of a good bowl of ramen soup. The pricing for some of the items is much higher than other Japanese restaurants, considering that it has an additional 10% + 6% tax imposed on all tags. Let’s hope we’ll see some improvements in the near future.

The Gurney Paragon Mall is just two blocks before the G-Hotel along the beautiful promenade of Gurney Drive. As you enter the place, you would see the east wing of the Gurney Paragon Residences/Condominium on your left and the west wing on the right. Walk right into the premises and you will see the skillfully reconstruction of the St. Joseph’s Novitiate which former used to house the Upland’s School. The restaurant is located at the left side of the building right up towards the end of the Gurney Paragon Residences/Condominium east wing.

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Name: GOKU RAKU RAMEN @ GURNEY PARAGON MALL
Address: Lot 163-D-1-05, Gurney Paragon Mall, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 0961
Business Hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm
GPS: 5.436072, 100.311693

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

 

Ever since the mushrooming of many Thai restaurants in Pulau Tikus, the district has recently become the newest target for local and overseas dessert outlets. Outlets such as Tang Bo Fu (Pulau Tikus), ZenQ (Gurney Plaza), Lucky Desserts (Gurney Plaza) and the latest being BlackBall – Original Taiwanese Tea & Dessert, which would be officially open on 20 December 2011. Ever since its establishment in 2006, BlackBall now stands as one of the biggest dessert chains in Taipei with over 20 outlets and still expanding. Today, our fellow Malaysians would get the chance to savor the delicious desserts and teas from Taiwan at 5 strategically located outlets, starting with the first outlet in SS15 (PJ), followed by KSL City Mall (JB), Sri Petaling (KL), Pulau Tikus (Penang) and Damansara Uptown (PJ).

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I would say this would be one of the first few dessert chains in Malaysia with a state-of-the-art gadget when ordering. Each order would come with a unique gadget which would beep and blink when your orders are ready for collections at a specific counter. What a great way to find yourselves comfortably seated while waiting for your desserts to be prepared.

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As a trade secret, the company would not disclose much information on the compound on some of the ingredients. One thing for sure is that they do use a herbal plant known as Xian Cao (仙草). This magical plant is also commonly known as Jiao Gu Lan (绞股蓝/ Gynostemma pentaphyllum/ twisting vine orchid/ herb of immortality). It’s reputed to lengthen your life with its powerful antioxidant and adaptogenic effects, so much so that it had become a key inclusion in most traditional desserts across Taiwan as well as being made into tea bags. It also had been clinically proven that by consuming Xian Cao, one would have a lower blood pressure and cholesterol, a better body immune system and cancer risk free.

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Basically, the desserts consisted of BlackBall Signature, BlackBall Combo, Signature Drink, Winter Melon Tea Series, Traditional Tea, QQ Drink Series, Smoothie Series, “Jiu Fen” Taro Ball Series and BlackBall Crushed Ice, all within the range of RM4.90 nett to RM6.50 nett. Additional topping would be charged at an additional RM1 per topping. The toppings are Taro Ball (scallop shape), Taro Q (rectangular shape), Pearl, Red Bean, Green Bean, Sweetened Bean, Chinese Barley, Lotus Seed, Coco Jelly, Brown Sugar Jelly (Taiwanese version of a more QQ local “leong fun” cubes), Aloe Vera, Sky (White) Pearl, Sweetened Taro and Fresh Milk. All beverages come in 700cc size. You can enlarge the menu below for a clearer view.

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We had the BlackBall Signature (Hot & Cold – RM6.50) which came with Taro Ball, Taro Q, Pearl, grass jelly and red beans served with some fresh milk. Both the hot and cold desserts were nice with the hot version having a more distinctive herbal after taste. The Taro Ball had a more al dente texture whereas the Taro Q has a more powdery taro taste as lesser potato flour was added in. The orange ones were made from red potatoes and the yellow ones were of sweet potatoes.

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There were also the BlackBall Combo (with Taro Ball and Pearl): BlackBall Crushed Ice (Combo D with additional Chinese Barley & Lotus Seed – RM6.50) and BlackBall Combo (with Taro Ball and Pearl): Grass Jelly Ice (Combo H with additional Green Bean & Lotus Seed – RM6.50). The one with crushed ice came with some brown syrup and this tasted a bit like our Malaysian palm sugar.

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The “Jiu Fen” Taro Ball Crushed Ice (RM6.50) had a special type of pale color sweetened bean added in on top of the Pearl, Taro Ball and crushed ice. The beans tasted quite similar to the sweetened red kidney beans. As usual, anything with crushed ice would come with a small canister of brown syrup.

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As for beverages, we had quite a few choices. We tried out the Fresh Milk with Grass Jelly (RM5.90). This would be a nice choice for those fresh milk lovers. The whole concoction had a slight saltiness but creamy taste from the fresh milk with a mild touch of herbal after taste. Not bad but surely not my kind of unsweetened beverage.

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The Winter Melon Tea with Sky Pearl (RM5.90) was quite a hit amongst some of us. The quite highly concentrated brew went well with the sky pearls.

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Somehow, most of the ladies loved the QQ Cranberry Lemon Juice (RM5.90). Well, some guys did too. Hmm… I thought it would only benefit the ladies only against bacterial infections in the urinary system or commonly known as urinary tract infection? Haha! Well… no worries as cranberry juice would also help to level up the HDL (good cholesterol) against the LDL (bad cholesterol). Moreover, it’s great to destroy some stomach problem causing bacterias. The cranberry juice served here was rather highly concentrated compared to those other brands I obtained from the supermarkets. I love it especially with a mild twist of lemon juice! It came with some pearls and coco jellies.

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The Signature “Xian Cao” Tea with Grass Jelly (RM5.90) had that unique herbal taste, quite similar to having Guilinggao (龜苓膏/Tortoise Jelly),less bitter and in a more diluted form. I love the way this beverage had been prepared without much sweetening.

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The combination of the 3Q Passion Fruit Green Tea (RM5.90) was also special but a bit too sweet to my liking. Maybe I ought to get them to reduce the sweetness for my cup of beverage. This beverage came with some added pearls, coco jellies and jade jelly (愛玉冰/Aiyu Jelly/O-Gio/噢橋) with some traces of the passion fruit pulps and seeds. Note: AiYu Jelly is actually made by rubbing the seeds from a variety of figs (無花果) in which would exude a sticky gel that would form into jelly at certain cool temperature.

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The do have Yoghurt Green Tea (RM5.90) too. The green tea taste was a bit overpowering in proportion to the yoghurt used. I’m not sure if they were using the Japanese probiotic milk/yoghurt-like product named Yakult as it did not have that unique yoghurt taste as the ones I had at Tea Secret, Queensbay Mall, Penang.

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There’s the term “save the best for last” and indeed the last beverage we had which was the Boba Milk Tea (RM5.90) was a hit amongst some of us. This beverage came with some added pearls. The sweetness was just right for me and the tea used indeed blended in well with the fresh milk used.

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Since the 3rd to the 5th Blackball outlets [Sri Petaling (KL), Pulau Tikus (Penang) and Damansara Uptown (PJ)] would be officially open on the same day on 20 December 2011, there would be some ongoing promotions. From 20-28 December 2011, the Damansara Uptown and Sri Petaling outlets would be having the BUY ONE FREE ONE promotion. As for the Penang outlet, there will be the BUY TWO FREE ONE promotion from 20-22 December 2011. You can enlarge the poster below for a clearer view.

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It’s not hard to locate the dessert outlet as it situated along a row of shop houses in Pulau Tikus, Penang. If you are coming from Jalan Burma towards Pulau Tikus, watch out for Lebuhraya Codrington on your left. Immediately after the junction, turn left into the service road (TanMark Bookstore/7-11) and park your car there. The restaurant is just across the road, 3 shoplots away on the right of Sukhothai Beef Noodles House (formerly Strada).

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Name: BLACKBALL – ORIGINAL TAIWANESE TEA & DESSERT
Address: 232 Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-466 1886
Business Hours: 12.00pm – 12.00am
GPS: 5.429939, 100.313319

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

 

I’m sure most of you would have heard of Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine (Juru Auto-City, E-Gate & KL Kota Damansara), an upscale restaurant that serves All-You-Can-Eat buffet with specialties ranging from Japanese, Chinese, Thailand and other foreign or ethnic food. You should be happy now to hear that they have a different concept outlet by the name of Yea Japanese BBQ & Shabu Shabu, officially opening for business on 30 November 2011 at Penang Times Square, George Town, Penang. This new All-You-Can-Eat outlet can accommodate up to 300+ pax with many cubicles for private gatherings. Charges would be RM53++ per pax (Adult), RM26.50++ (Child from 90cm to 140cm in height). Currently, they have a promotion where a second person would get a 50% off the bill from 10.00pm onwards. The promotion will be on until further notice.

Important Note: Each table would only be allocated only 2.5 hours of buffet session. There will be certain days that they will fix the buffet session time, especially during weekends and public holidays. It’s advisable to call up to make your reservation as well as to check on the session timing.

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What’s so unique about this outlet compared to others will be the usage of a custom made crystal stone grill on charcoal instead of gas stove on individual table. This is a first indeed in Malaysia! With Korean technology, this crystal stone can withstand and store heat up to a few hundred °C (normally around 450 °C / 842 °F). At least this material is more hygienic and bacteria free compared to lava/black stone which would have cracks after a long period of usage. Cooking with such stone grill can be considered a healthier alternative as it would not have oil or fat added in if compared to other grilling methods such as the metal grills. They have over 70 pieces of such innovative crystal stone grills in the restaurant.

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So what’s so special about dining here? Well, it’s a fun and adventurous way to create your own food with the different sauces available on each table. You would have many ingredients to test out such their special slightly sweetened soy sauce, pepper & salt, cheese powder (with a mixture of milk & icing sugar), lemon juice, black pepper, wasabi powder (great with seafood items) and Japanese 7 taste chili powder (Shichimi Togarashi – chili flakes, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, dried orange peels, seaweed (nori), dried ginger and poppy seeds). There was also a bottle of water for you to wash your grilling stone.

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If you are not so familiar on how to cook your BBQ items well with the right marinates, I’ll advise you to take some time to view the documentary on “how to” on the TV. Here’s a short clips on how to cook some of the items as shown on their TV.

All the BBQ and Shabu Shabu items can be obtained from the respective areas. As for Shabu Shabu, there are over 30 types of vegetables and meat/fish ball section for you to choose. Some of the items included different types of meat balls and fish balls, cuttlefish, quail eggs, crab sticks (kanikama), bean curd sticks, artificial abalones (processed calamari slices), Taiwanese sausages, clams, different type of pork innards, romaine lettuce, bean sprouts, cabbages, enoki mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, abalone mushrooms, lotus roots (need a longer cooking time as it was rather hard), crown daisy chrysanthemum leaves (tang oh/ 茼蒿) and many more.

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As for the BBQ items, the meat and seafood are kept in designated refrigerator to maintain their freshness. Some of the items included saba (mackerel/鯖魚), ayu (sweetfish/香魚), snapper (鯛魚), shishamo (willow-leaf fish/柳葉魚), salmon (鮭魚), shrimps (in fact they are big green shelled prawns), oden (fish cake quite similar to onion omelette with basils but with a more al dente texture), baby octopus, pork intestines, garlic scallops, garlic oysters, fried bean curd, beef brisket, sticky pork, lean pork slices, lamb shoulder slices and many more. They will never be shortage of any meat slices as the staff would always be there to slice more.

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As for Shabu Shabu, you have an option to choose ONLY ONE SOUP from 5 types of available soups, namely shabu shabu (昆布柴魚湯), miso soup (味噌湯), malak soup (麻辣湯), tomyam soup (東炎湯) and salted vegetable duck soup (咸菜老鴨湯). Since we had so many people in our group, we managed to try out some of the options. The shabu shabu soup base which actually consisted of kelp or large seaweed boiled with fish bones. It had that clear non-fishy taste with a gelatin-like after taste. It was mild but suitable for more seafood based items. The miso soup base had that mild fermented bean taste but was on a sweeter side. This soup would be quite good with those bean curds and meat items. The salted vegetable duck soup base had more of the salted vegetable flavors minus the overpowering ducky taste. It was great initially with some bean curds and meat items. As you boil the soup longer, it got saltier and thus with slightly bitter after taste (salt reduction reaction, same as for sour based liquids). I won’t recommend this soup base as you would end up becoming thirstier.

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As for dipping sauces, they do provide more than 10 options such as the sachai sauce (a type of Hypnea seagrass sauce/沙菜醬), chili bean curd sauce (豆乳醬), miso sauce (白味噌醬), chili bean sauce (辣豆瓣醬), spicy soy sauce (魚烧辣醬), cumin sauce (孜然醬), seafood chili spicy sauce (海鮮酸辣醬), spring onions, garlic, chili paddy and more. Although the sachai sauce was highly recommended, I preferred the miso sauce more as it had that slight salty sweet flavor that went well with my food. It would be great if the restaurant would also provide some sweet sauce (甜醬) and spicy dried shrimp sauce (蝦米辣醬) just like those served with the Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun as both sauce would be great condiments to BBQ and steamboat items.

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You do not have to worry not having something to bite on while waiting for either your stone grill to heat up or your shabu shabu pot to boil as the restaurant would also provide some salad, cold and hot dishes to start on. At the salad station, you can always mix and match whatever vegetables you like and top them up with whatever dressings available on that day. They have orange dressing, thousand islands dressing and wafu dressing (commonly known as Japanese vinaigrette which had some twists of apple cider, soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, lime juice, sugar, vegetable oil and some grated radish). All the dressings were nice for my plate of salad.

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The cold dishes included some Japanese style potato salad with Japanese cucumber and carrot, silky smooth tofu in sweet soy sauce, some pork salads, honey fried shrimps, pickles and so on.

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The hot dishes station was awesome. It had dishes that were flavorful with the evidence of high usage of quality ingredients. The dishes served on that day included Mambo Fish with XO Sauce (XO醬炒龍肉), Black Pepper Beef Fillet (黑胡椒牛柳), Sweet & Sour Pork (糖醋里肌) and many more dishes which I could not savor any more due to too much food available. LOL!

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By the way, you could also try out their Bibimbap, a Korean Stone Bowl Rice. Just get any of the waiters or waitresses to bring you one. The dish would come with steamed Japanese rice in a super hot stone bowl, topped with some cut omelettes, carrots, cucumber, morning glory, mushroom, kimchi and chicken, to be mixed thoroughly with a special sauce. The whole concoction tasted quite similar to our local sotong kangkung (cuttlefish with morning glory). It had that sweet sauce taste with a hint of sesame oil. Unfortunately, the stone bowl was not hot enough and the rice was a bit too wet. Thus, we did not get that fragrant flavors emitted from some burns through the stone bowl.

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As for dessert, they have quite a variety of items ranging from Western cakes, tarts, jelly, Japanese style mocha to fresh fruits and ice creams, not forgetting the Chinese/Nyonya style tong sui such as peanut soup, red bean soup, bu bu cha cha, etc. Do not miss out the Japanese green tea (mocha) mochi with lotus filling. They were awesome! You could check out on their chocolate fountain too.

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Beverage wise, you can order anything from carbonated drinks, cordial, coffee and tea. Most of the beverages are refillable.

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Beers and sake are charged separately. As for sake, it’s only RM10 nett for a 150ml jar or RM130 nett for a 1.8L bottle. Beers are at RM50 nett for a bucket of 5 bottles.

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Here are some of the items we had taken during our visit during the pre-opening day. Don’t you think it’s valued for money at RM48++? The quality is just as good as Sarkies Sunday Buffet Hi-Tea at E&O Hotel, George Town, Penang.

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The café is located at the right wing of Penang Times Square right under Sunshine City Supermarket. It consists of two floors – ground floor and mezzanine floor. The easiest way to reach there would be to park your vehicle at the open car park at the entrance of Penang Times Square, and walk all the way through the automated glass door next to Swensen’s. Walk straight until the end of another automated glass door. As you exit the automated door, you would see a wooden door on your right. It’s actually another automated door to go into the restaurant.

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Name: YEA JAPANESE BBQ & SHABU SHABU @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE
Address: Ground Floor, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 7826
Business Hours:
6.00pm – 1.00am (Monday – Thursday)
12.00pm – 1.00am (Friday – Sunday & Public Holidays)
GPS: 5.411728, 100.324879

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

 

THE GRAND OPENING OF COFFEE ATELIER IN PENANG

Posted by crizlai On November - 20 - 2011

You may have read earlier in my post about this new place in George Town, Penang, named Coffee Atelier. It’s the same venue as the former Kopi Cine along Lorong Stewart. Coffee Atelier consists of 55 Café & Restaurant (Mediterranean), Kopi (Coffee Museum), Gehrig Art Gallery, 47&49 Residence (Suites 47A&B, Suites 49A&B) manned by foreign couple, Swiss Stefan Gehrig and his lovely wife from Hong Kong, Lorina Gehrig. Finally, they had their Grand Opening on 19 November 2011 upon completion of their boutique hotel rooms. The invited guests consisted of mostly their expatriate friends and some locals.

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Well, there’s nothing much to show you on their actual food menu here but to prove to you that 55 Café & Restaurant can be quite a great place for private functions as the chefs sure have the experiences to pep up great finger food for just any occasion. You can check out my previous post on some of the dishes on their daily menu. What would be greater than having a wide spread of canapés to drown them down with free flow of mocktail, beer and wine? It’s a celebration that would be marked forever in my memories. Now you would know where to hold your private functions right? This post would mainly concentrate on food pictorials. Do enjoy the food porn~ LOL! 😛 More photos at my FaceBook photo album.

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If you are driving along Lebuh Farquhar into Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling, keep a watch out for the Goddess of Mercy Temple on your right. Immediately after the temple, turn right in Lorong Stewart and make a zig zag turn and you will see the café on your left at the junction of Lorong Stewart/Lorong Chulia. Parking can be quite limited during peak hours. I would advise you to find whatever parking space you can and walk to the café.

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Name: 55 CAFÉ & RESTAURANT @ COFFEE ATELIER
Address: 47-55, Lorong Stewart, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 2261, 016-469 8228 (Lorina Gehrig), 016-464 8118 (Stefan Gehrig)
Business Hours: 8.30am-10.00pm daily
GPS: 5.419143, 100.337772

 

Another new heritage building has popped up in Penang within the buffer zone of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. The place has been named Nostalgie, a French word for nostalgia. It sure got me nostalgically yearning to be stuck in the days of my ancestors where life has been much simpler and uncomplicated as today. Nostalgie has been refurbished with cool heritage settings while maintaining its colonial days architectural structures. The place has a comfortable ambience with some genuine Nyonya style structures, a mini garden and some state-of-the-art decors, to give you the feel of the good old days with a touch of the modern lifestyle. If you are an antique lover, you would surely chance upon some skillfully crafted structures with embedded ancient iridescent nacre or also known as the “Mother of Pearl”. The nacre consists of blends of minerals that are secreted by oysters and other mollusks and deposited inside their shells, coating and protecting their bodies from parasites and foreign objects. It has the same compounds as in pearls and you would experience the optical phenomenon of hues changes as you view them from different angles, thus giving you the iridescence effect.

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Nostalgie is still quite new in this business with its operation started just a few weeks’ ago. It’s a family run café cum hotel business, managed and operated by siblings, Jean Lee and Jason Lee. Currently, they have started their café while waiting for their rooms to be fully furnished. The rooms would probably be available in December 2011. As for the café, they do serve some delicious and homemade pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and dessert. All the items are freshly made daily without the usage of any preservatives. The menu has a rather limited selection at the moment as they have plans to expand it in due course when the place is officially opened for business. Nevertheless, the chef had the passion to pep up dishes that would woo any diners.

We started the meal with their Spaghetti Marinara with Prawns (RM24). This dish came with two super king sized pan-fried prawns freshly obtained from the nearest fisherman’s wharf. The marinara sauce was thick and flavorful with a light touch of saltiness from the accompanied grated parmesan cheese. The pasta had just the right al dente and each mouthful had all the taste of freshness from the tomatoes, onions and chopped basils used. It was a heavenly dish although it needed a bit more of extra virgin olive oil for that extra moisture. With prawns being used, it would be great too if the chef would have added in some dashes of white wine and chopped parsley or oregano to pep up the herby taste even more. By the way, you could request for additional parmesan cheese to tempt your cheesy taste bud.

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Another of their signature pasta would be their Chicken and Basil Pesto Fettuccine (RM21). This dish would also come served with linguine upon availability. The dish was awesome. The chef did a great job in preparing the sauce that complemented well with the pasta. The sauce had that nutty flavor from what I presumed was blended walnuts as it was much drier and less oily than that of pine nuts, with stronger hints from the sweetness of basil leaves and garlic. It also had a much lighter hint of crushed black peppers in which I would prefer them to be a bit stronger. The pasta came with some slightly sautéed cherry tomatoes, a skillfully pan-fried chicken breast meat and garnished with a mixture of pesto, red chilies and Kalamata black olives. The chicken breast meat was much juicier than I anticipated. A job well done! Alternatively, instead of Parmesan cheese being used in the pesto, Romano cheese would also be great for that extra cheesy and creamy flavor.

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If you are a pizza lover, you would love the next dish. It’s their Prawn & Chilies Pizza (RM30). The pizza came with their homemade thin base, spread with their moist tomato sauce, topped with fresh prawns, onions, mozzarella cheese, chopped basils and red chilies. It may look Italian but had some Asian flavors in it. Simply Irresistible with the cheesiness! Although the pizza tasted great, I have a feeling that the chef loved basils a lot. A bit of chopped parsley/oregano would provide a better justice to any cheese based dishes, regardless of seafood or meat.

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Another of their good pizza would be the Chicken with Feta Cheese Pizza (RM28). The pizza came with their homemade thin base, spread with their homemade basil pesto (the same recipe as above), topped with cubes of chicken meat, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese with some sprinkles of dried oregano. I could have this pizza for the whole day. The combination of mozzarella cheese and feta cheese was great as it had that unique and fragrant cheesiness. Each bite was heaven with a little squeeze of juices coming from the baked cherry tomatoes. You should not leave this place without trying this pizza out!

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They also serve sandwiches here. One of their hot items is the Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich (RM14). It had a juicily pan-grilled chicken fillet in teriyaki sauce, served with lettuce, onion and mayo between a pair of whole meal bread slices and some French fries. I would say that the teriyaki chicken fillet was nicely done but the usage of this kind of bread might not be suitable as it was rather dry. It would be nice if these were to come with some steamed dinner rolls. Even if the kitchen had decided to use whole meal bread in the future, it would be recommended if they had a thicker spread of mayo with some thinly sliced fresh tomatoes. At least with these solutions, diners would have a much juicier bite, even if those slices of bread were toasted more.

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Currently, they only have their homemade Carrot Cake with Crème Cheese Frosting (RM12/slice) for dessert. More options would be available in due course. This was one great secret recipe by Jean Lee. The carrot cake was moist and flavorful from the sweet grated carrots with a hint from some grounded cinnamon. It had some little bites from the added roasted walnuts and raisins. Combined with the creamy cheese frosting with a touch of lemon zest, the cake would be a target for dessert lovers. Unfortunately, I’m not such a sweet tooth and I found the cake to be a bit sweet to my liking. I prefer mine to be more towards the healthy version with the natural sweetness coming from some sweet Australian carrots and raisins. The cake would go well with a cup of hotly brewed coffee… minus the sugar for me. 😛

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As for beverages, it was more of a kopitiam style with fresh juice, chilled juice, coffee, tea and soft drinks. More options would be available in due course such as cocktails and mocktails. What we had were some iced/hot coffee/white coffee (RM5) and a Chilled Cranberry Juice with Longan (RM9).

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Here’s a little sneak preview of the unfurnished rooms and their surroundings. The rates would definitely be much cheaper than some of the scattered boutique hotels along that heritage zone. The rooms are scheduled to be available somewhere in December 2011.

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Overall, Nostalgie is a great place for some relaxations with the companionships of family members and friends. The charges for the food and accommodation would also be reasonable and affordable for all walks of lives. The only problem would be the scarcity of finding a comfortable parking space. Well, that won’t be a problem if you would park your car a bit further away and take a mild stroll towards the venue while enjoying the heritage of George Town.

The café is located just a stone throw away from 55 Café @ Coffee Atelier. If you are driving along Lebuh Farquhar into Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling, keep a watch out for the Goddess of Mercy Temple on your right. Immediately after the temple, turn right in Lorong Stewart and make a zig zag turn and you will see the café on your right, just right after to the only mansion there with a compound. Parking can be quite limited during peak hours. I would advise you to find whatever parking space you can along some of the lanes there and walk to the venue. Alternatively, you can drive a bit further up after the Goddess of Mercy Temple and park your car at the designated metered car park. Be warned here that the local Municipal Council can be quite strict in unpaid meter. Make sure that you have enough of coins inserted to last your visit to the café. Another warning would be that the place would be quite flood-prone during heavy rains but on VERY RARE occasion. Do pick a nice and sunny day for your visit.

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Name: NOSTALGIE (CAFÉ & BOUTIQUE HOTEL)
Address: 34, Lorong Stewart, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 0977
Business Hours: 10.00am – 9.00pm (Closed Thursday)
GPS: 5.419378, 100.337458

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

 

THE GRAND OPENING OF TEA SECRET AT QUEENSBAY MALL PENANG

Posted by crizlai On November - 11 - 2011

Quite a number of F&B outlets are taking this opportunity to have their Grand Opening today since it’s a nice date~ 11-11-11 (11 November 2011). One such outlet is the Tea Secret, an outlet specialized in producing tea and fruit based beverages with the concept originating from Taiwan. Thanks to the management for inviting a few of us to grace the auspicious occasion. There are quite a few choices to choose from, starting from Milky Tea Premium Tea, Around The World, Nutrilicious Yoghurt, Natural Fruit Tea, Latte Series, Milik Cream Tea, Frozen Indulgence, Delicious Chewy Tea, Yakult Tea and Smoothie Delights. The Tea Latte Series has a special and imported machine just like the coffee version and may require a slightly longer waiting time.

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All the beverages would come in two sizes – 500cc and 700cc. There would be options to top up these beverages with either Pearl, Aloe Vera, Grass Jelly (Leong Fun), Pudding, Ai-Yu Jelly, Coconut Jelly or Konjac (a colorful jelly having the al dente similar to that of Nato de Coco) at RM1.00nett. On top of that, you have the option to adjust the sugar level to your liking from 0% (no sugar), 30% (slight sugar), 50% (half sugar), 70% (less suagr) and 100% (normal sugar). Moreover, you can also request the ice to be 0% (no ice), 70% (less ice) and 100% (normal ice). You can click on the photo below to have a clearer view of the options.

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Here are the 700cc of beverages provided to us by the management. It sure was a large and filling one at that size.

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There were also some catered snacks for our appetite such as different flavors of Cheese Tarts, Chocolate Tarts, Fruit Tarts, Cream Puffs and some Chocolate Brownies. It was indeed a sweet over sweet temptation for those sweet toothed guests.

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Here are some of the bloggers and friends who attended the grand opening.

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Overall, I find that some of the beverages were a bit too sweet to my liking. Maybe I should have requested for one with lesser sweetness instead of having ordered the normal ones (100%). Well, it might take some tweaking before one would get the right taste for his/her preferences. As for the top-up ingredients, I somehow like the natural aloe vera, and ai-yu jelly due to the fact that they went well with the more fruity teas. It was a waste that the coconut jelly and pudding were out of stock before we could even try them.

The Tea Secret kiosk is located right next to the Lower Ground car park at the South Zone of Queensbay Mall. Alternatively, if you enter the Central Zone of the mall, just turn left and walk towards Dome Café. Use the escalator down to the lower ground and you will see the kiosk right under the escalator. It’s just next to Nippon Yataimura Japanese Restaurant and nearby Jusco Supermarket.

Name: TEA SECRET @ QUEENSBAY MALL PENANG
Address:
LG-K1, Queensbay Mall, Persiaran Bayan Indah, Sungai Nibong, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am – 10.00pm
GPS: 5.332499, 100.306417

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

 

Penang Times Square has been a mall that has been lacking in retail shops but has many new eateries and bistros opening up there. In no time, it would be more of a food mall than a shopping mall. Do not underestimate those little eateries around there as some of them would surely blow you away with their simple and yet mouth watering cuisine. One such eatery would be the Get’em Smack Café. It’s small but yet the interior had that little touch of coziness that would be great for a casual dining for just any age group of diners. The hospitality there is great with lots of regular expatriates. Don’t feel surprise if their staff suddenly communicated with their diners in Japanese. It’s quite normal for them. 🙂 The café do serve quite a few types of cuisine but their pastas and desserts excel amongst other dishes.

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As for starter, there’s the Soup of the Day which happened to be Mushroom Soup (RM5.90nett). It may look like a normal bowl of soup with a slice of toasted garlic bread displayed but it definitely would give the required punch. The soup has just the right creaminess with hints of fragrance and sweetness coming from the chef’s secret recipe of combining different types of fresh mushrooms and carrot. It was indeed a touch of difference done tactfully compared to the ones I’ve tried before.

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As for main dishes, there were about 9 dishes ranging from pasta, fish and poultry. We started off with the Roast Chicken (RM13.90nett) which in fact was pan-grilled to perfection. The usage of a boneless drumstick combined with the right usage of herbs and spices made this dish remarkably palatable. The outer layer of the chicken maintained a bit of crisp while the inner part was still as tender and juicy. Not a bad choice for a meal. This was served with their unique homemade mash potatoes and some greens, topped with some brown sauce. Their mashed potatoes side dish was unique in the sense that it had kyuri (Japanese cucumber) and carrot slices added in, something that you won’t get from elsewhere. As for size wise, it was just adequate for a normal diner. It would be great if one or two slices of garlic bread being added in for those with bigger appetite.

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Their pastas had that wonderful buttery yet fragrant aroma floating about the surrounding. One such pasta would be their Mascarpone Cheese Walnut Spaghetti (RM13.90) with the cheese being one of the main ingredients for making modern styled Tiramisu. With the milky-white coagulated crème cheese skillfully folded into the sautéed chopped garlic in olive oil, prior to being stir mixed with the spaghetti, it would be a great dish for those carbonara pasta lovers. This pasta came with some chopped walnuts and parsley as garnishes and topped with some slices of nicely herbed roasted chicken. The portion was also just right with approximately 180g of pasta being given.

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Two new pastas were added in recently. One of the new ones not stated in their menu was the Aglio Olio with Prawns (RM13.90nett). This dish would be one of my favorite pastas served here. The mildly spiced pasta with the fragrance coming from some dried chilies, combined with the briny taste of fresh prawns, sautéed with some chopped garlic and parsley, made this dish remarkably appetizing. Do not leave the café without trying out this perfectly concocted dish.

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Another new pasta dish would be their Eryngii Spaghetti (RM13.90nett). For those healthy and meatless diners, this would be my most recommended pasta dish. The usage of eryngii mushrooms (king trumpet mushroom/エリンギ/杏鮑菇) was indeed delicious. The meaty bite from the slightly toasted mushroom slices, combined with the nicely sautéed chopped garlic, parsley and pasta made this dish remarkably tasty. The earthly flavor was one flavor which I would not forget for a long time. Superb dish indeed!

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On a lighter side, they do have some nice finger food available. One of them would be the Smoked Duck (RM18nett for 8 skews). This dish would come with some fresh lettuce all wrapped with a slice of smoked duck, dressed with some homemade dressing and herbs. Another dish would be their Greek Pie (RM6.90nett for 3 pieces). This would be another meatless dish as the pies do not contain any meat such as the Kotopoulokopita (Greek Chicken Pie) or Kreatopita (Greek Meat Pie). In fact, it was not even near to the Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie). The café do serve their version as there are a thousand and one ways for filling up the pita based pies but each would definitely has some cheese on them. The Greek pies served here had some freshly made tomato puree, topped with some yoghurt and herbs prior to baking.

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As for desserts, Get’em Smack do serves some great crepe related desserts on top of their occasionally available Chocolate Brownie, Tiramisu and so on. One of the more notable ones which you won’t get easily from elsewhere in Penang would be their Crepe Cake (RM6.90nett per slice). Since the cake which would not last for too long in the chiller due to the moist from the fresh crème and fruits, the Café is proud to serve them as theirs are made fresh daily. Each slice has multiple layers of freshly buttered pan-made crepes filled with fresh crème and fruits. The taste was simply refreshing. There also have Mango Crepe (RM6.90), Banana Crepe (RM6.90), Kiwi Crepe (RM7.90) and Strawberry Crepe (RM7.90). The more recommended one would be the Banana Crepe as the fruity and creamy flavors of the ripened fruit complement well with the fresh crème and Vanilla ice cream.

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The beverages served here can range from just a soda drink, tea & coffee, fresh fruit juices or just a cup of brewed tea. The Café would serve well-known brands such as the UK based Twinings products such as the English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Camomile Tea and Jasmine Green Tea. Each refillable pot of tea would cost RM8.90nett. You should try more of the Camomile Tea as it has the effect of relaxing the body and calming the mind after a hectic day of work.

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The café is located at the exterior part of the mall. It’s actually at the ground floor below the biggest food court in Penang aka Penang Times Square Food Gallery, behind Soju Café and two shop lots away from the Roti Bakar branch. If you intend to park at the open car park at the entrance of Penang Times Square, just drive all the way towards the end where you would see a big “Entertainment City” signage and park your car there. It won’t be that hard to locate them from there on.

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Name: GET’EM SMACK @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE
Address: 77-G-44, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012- 401 6888 (Esther Chan) / 017- 478 4901 (Celynn Tan)
Business Hours: 12.00pm – 9.00pm
GPS: 5.411485, 100.32556

RATING:
Ambience: 7.5/10 (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: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8.5/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

POON CHOI CRAVING AT ZI ZAI RESTAURANT PENANG

Posted by crizlai On November - 6 - 2011

Poon Choi (盆菜) or also known as Big Bowl Feast/Big Basin Feast, is a traditional dish which originated from the village of Hong Kong. This multi layer of ingredients dish is usually served during special occasions such as wedding, reunion, festivals and so on. Choice layers and layers of precooked ingredients such as vegetables, meat, seafood, mushrooms and meat/fish balls are slowly arranged until the brim of the bowl/basin with a mixture of sauces from each individual ingredient. The art of eating Poon Choi is by tackling the layer by layer of the ingredient from the top until the bottom. Cost wise, it could range between tens of ringgits until thousands, depending on what quality of ingredients you put into the bowl/basin. There was a time when urban restaurants decided to introduce this dish to their up-class diners at a rate which would be quite impossible for the budget of an average income diner. Today, Zi Zai Restaurant had changed that perception by providing quality Poon Choi at an affordable price with two size options. The bigger size at RM400nett (RM418nett effective February 2013) could fill up the appetite of 10 persons but could feed up to 12 or more persons (especially with a mixture of ladies and children), whereas the smaller size at RM258nett (RM268nett effective February 2013) could accommodate the stomachs of 4-6 persons. Both sets would come with free flow of steamed rice and herbal teas. (Note: Make sure you call in 1-2 days earlier to book your table as it would take tedious hours of preparation for such a dish.)

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Recently, we had a small gathering amongst 13 friends and we opted for the Big Basin Feast (RM400nett). The basin came with 14 ingredients which consisted of (from base) Chinese Cabbages, Braised Pork Belly in Red Fermented Bean Curd (Tao Joo/Nam Joo), Yam, Yam Bean (Sengkuang/Jicama), Sea Cucumbers, Chinese Mushrooms, Fish Maws, One Whole Charcoal Roasted Duck, One Whole Chicken in Sesame Oil, Broccoli, Deep Fried Snapper Fillets, Deep Fried Homemade Hock Chew Fish Balls (Fish Ball with Minced Meat Filling), Sweet n Sour Prawns and One Whole New Zealand Abalone Slices (on the top). It came heated up on a portable gas stove with a low-medium fire to avoid the base being burned. Well, the cabbages which were laced at the base for this purpose were indeed slightly burned but due to the long period of maintaining the heat. Alternatively to avoid burned items at the base, the kitchen could consider using a shallow based metal or porcelain plate to avoid this issue. As for taste, the whole combination was just right to my liking. The gravy had the taste of high soup stock combined with the individual seasonings and sweetness from all the ingredients within… not too thick and can be easily taken as a soup.

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They do also have “takeaway package” for both sizes of Poon Choi but the free flow of rice and herbal drinks would not be included.

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I ordered the RM258 package home recently for a small family reunion. This smaller size would have half the portion of the ingredients served as above but with one whole abalone. I managed to have the abalone replaced with Kooi Fa Abalone (actually they are evenly cut calamari slices) and Fresh Scallops. Yup, you can have additional ingredients or replace one or two ingredients for your Poon Choi if the boss agrees to it but the price would be based on market rate.

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Other than Poon Choi, Zi Zai Restaurant also serves other stir fry dishes. One of their signature dishes would be their Assam Prawns (RM32 – about 16 prawns). Good sized prawns were marinated with tamarind juice, sugar and salt prior to being fried to perfection. This easy to cook Nyonya cuisine would get many yearning for more as the tamarind infused prawns had that slightly acidic sourness on top of the briny sweet taste.

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Another of their signature dishes would be their Belacan Chicken Wings (RM16). Belacan or commonly known as shrimp paste would be something some foreigners would dread coming near to one. Due to the long fermentation of grounded and sundried shrimps, they indeed omit an intruding smell to the nose but belacan remains one of the most sought after ingredients throughout South East Asia. Alternatively, some would use belacan granules to avoid the overpowering smell floating around the air. The restaurant sure had mastered their recipe well here as each bite onto the succulent and yet crispy meat would surely boost up your appetite for more.

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A simple dish such as the Stir Fried Bean Sprout with Salted Fish (RM12) would go well with any meal, especially with the meat and seafood enriched Poon Choi. I admired the commitment of the restaurant staff in peeling off the roots of the bean sprouts to give the dish a clearly look. The chef did a real job here in maintaining the crunch on each sprout.

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Another nice vegetable dish would be the Stir Fry Yao Mak in Garlic (RM10). It’s simple and yet delicious. The chef again did a great job in maintaining the freshly crunch on the vegetables. Yao Mak is also known as Baby Romaine Lettuce.

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Occasionally, there will be some species of clams available at the restaurant. What we had was the Stir Fried Sambal Lala (RM12). The mildly spiced up dish had that gingery taste from some shredded ginger and spring onion garnishing. Unfortunately the supply on that day was rather small, thus leaving the Lala without much flesh. Overall, it was still an acceptable dish for our palate.

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Don’t you think our lunch for that day was impressively delicious?

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Yours truly also did sponsor 2 cans of New Zealand abalones to make the occasion more joyous. The chef had abalones cooked with some fresh mini Chinese cabbages.

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Finding this restaurant won’t be hard as it’s located along the main road of Paya Terubong, Air Itam, Penang. The easiest way would be driving through Farlim, Air Itam via the Thean Teik Highway. If you are coming from town along Jalan Air Itam into Lorong Batu Lancang, just drive all the way until you have reached a traffic light (Lorong Batu Lancang/Thean Teik Highway). Turn right into Thean Teik Highway (Lebuhraya Thean Teik) and drive all the way pass 4 traffic lights until the end. At the last T-junction traffic lights (Lebuhraya Thean Teik/Jalan Paya Terubong), turn right into the main road of Jalan Paya Terubong. Drive about 400m and you would see the restaurant on your left along a stretch of shop houses.

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Name: ZI ZAI RESTAURANT (自在飯店)
Address: 1239-G, Ground Floor, Jalan Paya Terubong, 11600 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-826 5173 (Mr. Tan Hock Chai)
Business Hours: 4.00pm – 10.30pm (Closed Tuesday)
GPS: 5.387212, 100.274013

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

 

BUSINESS SET LUNCH AT THE SOY RESTAURANT G HOTEL PENANG

Posted by crizlai On October - 30 - 2011

A lot of people are not aware that there is a Business Set Lunch available at the “Soy” @ G Hotel at RM30++ per pax. This restaurant is one section of the “Sesame+Soy”, a Pan Asian Chinese restaurant that offers a luxurious new dining experience for the most discerning food connoisseurs about town. The “Sesame+Soy” restaurant’s uniqueness lie in its dual dining ambience in one space. “Sesame” is the epitome of fine dining while “Soy” is casual yet elegant. Both specialize in tantalizing fusion contemporary and classic Chinese cuisine.

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As for the Business Set Lunch, you would be served with Soup of the Day, either steamed rice or fried rice accompanied by any 2 items from the menu of 8 dishes and followed by Dessert of the Day, all within the cool and cozy ambiance of the restaurant. It would be great if you could have a company of 4 pax to share out all the dishes from the menu. The menu items would be changed every few weeks.

To start the meal off, we were served the Soup of the Day which was the Radish Chicken Soup. It was just a simple home cooked soup with radish, carrot, wolfberries and chicken. Taste wise, it was just a normal soup with the natural sweetness from the vegetables. It somehow lacked the most important item to create that unique flavor which was the toasted baby cuttlefish. Moreover, it did not have that purity as in all clear soups. There were traces of blood remnants present, normally due to the meat (especially chicken), being dropped into water not at its boiling point. Let’s hope the kitchen would be more aware of this golden rule in cooking clear soup.

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We had the option to choose either steamed rice or fried rice for the set meal. Since we had quite a number of people present, we chose both equally. The steamed rice consisted of rice from a good quality grain. So was the rice for the fried rice. Although the fried rice was just nice to go with the dishes, it would be great if it were to have some toasted garlic slices added in (just like those Japanese Teppanyaki style) to boast up the flavor.

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As we had more than 4 pax, it was just nice to try out all the dishes from the menu. The first dish was the Stewed Bean Curd. Instead of the normal style of cooking this dish with oyster sauce in starch, this tofu dish had that rich flavors from some seafood stock with traces of crab meat and crab roes. The chef was wise enough to add in some cut snap peas for the extra crunch rather than having those soft and thin snow peas. It was appetizing.

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Next on the list was the Jin Dou Chicken with some honey dew cubes. The batter coated chicken pieces were stir fried in Jin Dou sauce. I could be wrong but the chicken tasted like it had been marinated in some fermented bean curd (nam joo) as the meat indeed had that distinctive flavor. The Jin Dou sauce was good as there were hints of LP sauce, black vinegar, plum sauce, tomato sauce, 5-spice powder and sugar being used here, together with some fruity flavors from the cubed honeydew. Overall, the dish was good but I would rather have the meat pieces to be boneless as well as from some drumsticks for a more juicy bite.

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We were also served the Steamed Snapper Fillet. The snapper fillet was steamed on a bed of angled luffa (kak kua/丝瓜) and wood ear fungus (black fungus/黑木耳) in superior soy sauce and garnished with deep fried bean curd crumbs, sautéed garlic and coriander. It was a simple dish but the fish was indeed fresh.

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The next dish which was the Hunan Style Beef Cubes had us yearning for more. It was delicious with the flavorful beef cubes immediately melting in our mouth. Hunan cuisine has always been very flavorful with the liberate usage of garlic, shallots and chili pepper. This dish had a little bit of twist with the usage of celery and some chopped dried shrimps on top of the usual usage of chili pepper, oyster sauce and black pepper corns. The meat was tender and juicy. It was super good!

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Braised Moi Choi Duck Breast was also presented to us. It was just a small amount on a huge plate. Somehow the taste of the whole dish was overpowered by the deep flavors from the duck meat. Moreover, the moi choi (pickled Chinese cabbage either salty or sweet) basically lost its taste by being soaked too long. The kitchen should take note that the unique taste from the pickled cabbage should not be lost totally when preparing such a dish no matter with what type of meat they would be using.

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There was also the Stewed Baby Chinese Cabbage with enoki mushrooms, shitake mushroom slices and dry scallops garnished with some wolfberries. Although this dish was healthy with the mild taste from some oyster sauce in starch, it tasted rather bland to us. Alternatively, this dish should have the mushroom being marinated in some ginger juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper and sautéed slightly to pep up some flavors. Moreover, the soaked dry scallops should be deep fried and served as garnish instead.

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They do serve another beef plus vegetable dish in the menu as well – Stir Fried Snake Beans with Beef Bisket Slices in Shrimp Paste. The dish was good with a notable taste from the wet shrimp paste (belacan) but it was a bit salty by itself. This dish would go well with steamed rice.

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The 8th and last dish in the menu was the Crispy Snapper Fillet. It had batter coated snapper stir fried with some red curry paste. It had a touch of Indian flavor and tasted more toward the tandoori style of preparation. Not a bad choice too.

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The Dessert of the Day was the Palm Sugar Brulee with Homemade Ice Cream. The whole concoction was marvelous. The natural sweetness from the palm sugar (Gula Melaka) blended in just nice with the crème brulee. It would be great if the brulee was torch burned a bit more for that burnt flavor. The hotel’s homemade ice cream was something not to miss out too. It was served on some sprinkles of crushed toasted peanuts and had that fineness and creaminess to my liking.

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They also have a Taipei Specialty Cuisine Promotion for September/October 2011. We did try out a few main courses from the selection of 8 dishes. Each set of the selected main course would come with Chilled Braised Bean Curd, Century Egg with Pickled Ginger and Taiwanese Stewed Rice with Minced Pork & Mushroom.

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The first main course consisted of Stewed Chicken with Basil Leaves & Taiwanese Chinese Wine (RM26++). This dish tasted quite similar to the Cantonese style of Gu Lou Yoke (Sweet & Sour Pork) with the freshness of some tomatoes but with a stronger taste from the added basil leaves. This dish would taste better if boneless chicken especially from those drumstick and thigh parts were used for a smoother bite.

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The next main course was the Braised Duck Web & Duck Wing with Spicy Master Stock (RM24++). This dish would suit people with acquired taste with the strong spicy taste from the duck as well as the flavors from the master stock.

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The last of our choices was the Braised Beef Cubes with Stir Fried Tomatoes (RM42++). No wonder the price was the most expensive on the menu. This was a superb dish just like the Hunan Style Beef Cubes. The chef did a great job here in serving another tender yet flavorful palate here.

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The Soy Restaurant is located at the first floor of G Hotel. If you walk in through the front entrance along Persiaran Gurney, just head for the stairways on your left, just right before the reception. Walk up and you will see the restaurant entrance.

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Name: SESAME + SOY @ G HOTEL
Address: 168-A Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-238 0000
Business Hours: Soy: 12.00pm-2.30pm, Sesame: 6.30pm-10.30pm
GPS: 5.437637, 100.310567

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

 

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