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Located within one of Penang’s newest premium food and beverage hub venues, Precinct 10, along Jalan Tanjung Tokong, Penang, is a little bistro by the name of BeerBQ Bistro. A large percentage of their dishes are cooked with bee. It had such a German concept of dining where they would pair different type of beer with selected dishes. The thing that the bistro did best was to watch out for the usage of over hoppy beers that would sometimes emit unpleasant bitterness in dishes. Thus, the dishes served here would be mild enough for the consumption of any age group of diners.

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The first thing that caught our eyes was the special of the day which was the BeerBQ Pork Burger (RM21.90++) as it was rather hard to get great pork burgers in Penang. The approximately 250gms pork patty was superb as it has the right proportion of meat and fat with the right thickness and flavors. The juicy patty went well with the slightly crisp toasted sesame bun with fresh greens and fries. The BBQ sauce dressing was awesome as it had that rich, tangy and thick liquid hickory smoke flavors that complemented the grilled patty real well. I wondered if the kitchen did add in some beer in the sauce as it was not distinctive at all. If you see this dish on their special of the day, do not hesitate to order one. You sure won’t regret even though the pricing might be a bit high.

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The beer pairing session started when we started off our appetizer meal with Roast Pork (RM16.90++) paired with Belgium’s pale lager, Stella Artois (RM22++/bottle). The dish had some crispy and crackling pieces of herb roasted pork belly. No doubt it was a flavorful plate of heavenly meat but the pieces were somehow a bit dry. It could be due to the lack of some fatty layers or the pre-roasted was exposed too long in the air. I guessed they would have to find a way to prevent the meat from drying off or it would turn away many roasted pork lovers.

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The next appetizer was the Smoked Salmon Salad (RM19.90++) paired with USA’s pale lager, Budweiser. The smoked salmon was wrapped around a small stalk of skinned celery and served with some homemade cheese sauce and Mesclun lettuce with their special dressing. I personally felt that the celery stalks were rather obsolete as they looked clumsy in the whole presentation. It would be better if some juicy cucumber strips were used instead. The smoked salmon went well with the cheese sauce which had a light hint of bleu cheese. The dressing for the salad was unique as it had sweet and fruity vinaigrette flavors from some grapes used.

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We also had the BeerBQ Pork Ribs (RM38.90++) paired with Germany’s dark lager, Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel. The chargrilled pork ribs were tender and filled with flavors from their special BBQ sauce. However, I personally felt that the sauce was not enough as it did not cover every part of the pork ribs thoroughly. This was served with some crispy potatoes wedges and fresh greens with their special dressing.

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One of the recommended dishes here would be their BeerBQ Seafood Platter (RM40.90++) paired with Germany’s light lager, Lowenbrau (RM22++/bottle). It had quite a number of BBQ large prawns, scallops, squids and mussels cooked with their signature BeerBQ sauce and served on a big bed of mashed potatoes. This dish came with some greens. The sauce blended in real well with the seafood and mashed potatoes. The setback would be that it could be a bit too filling for a person’s portion.

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We also tried out their Fish and Chips (RM21.90++) paired with Belgium’s witbieren (white beers), Hoegaarden White (RM20++ for 1/2 pint, RM30++ for 1 pint) since it had crispy beer battered fish fillet. The dish came with some fries, greens, tartar sauce and malt vinegar. Somehow, the crispiness did not maintain long as I presumed that the batter lacked some baking powder, self rising flour or even cornmeal flour? Moreover, frozen dory fish was used in this dish and that did not give the freshness that I would have expected. It would be great if options would be given for other species of fish such as seabass, grouper, mahi mahi, cod, etc would be served too. Of course, those would come with a different price range.

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Since there were pastas being served here too, we decided to try out their Spaghetti Vongole (RM18.90++). The al dente of the spaghetti was just right together with the freshness from the local clams. The clams were cooked with chopped garlic, chili flakes, mixed herbs, salt and pepper in olive oil with a very mild dash of white wine. Somehow, the dish lacked the fresh herbs flavors from either flat leaf parsley or chives. Moreover, the soup was not thick in flavors as I expected since clams do not have that distinctive seafood richness. They could have thought out of the box by adding in some baby anchovies, baby shrimps or even the seasonal baby crabs to pep up the extra seafood flavors.

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As dessert, there were not many choices as there was only one alcohol boosted cake available which was the Stout Chocolate Cake (RM12.90++). However, this was one flavorful dessert as the warm stout chocolate cake, topped with melting chocolate sauce with a light touch of whipped cream was heaven.

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Here’s a chart where you would find out more on which type of beer would pair well with which type of food, cheese and dessert. Please click to have a larger view of the chart below:

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There are two types of beer cocktails that attracted quite many drinkers. One would be the Blue Ocean Beer (RM22.90++), a concoction of lager beer, blue curacao with a slice of lemon and also the Chili Beer (RM22.90++) which had a concoction of lager beer, bird’s eye chili (cili padi), black pepper, and a dash or two of Tabasco sauce.

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For those non-alcoholic drinkers, there would always be the mocktail to quench your thirst. You can try out the BeerBQ Triple (RM9.90++) which had a combination of orange, apple and pineapple juices.

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Overall, the food served here can be a bit too mild for those who prefer to have stronger hop flavors. Fortunately, they are still quite good at pairing the beers with food based on the basic 3 rules: matching beer strength with food strength, food harmony and balancing of the bitterness (hops), sweetness (malt), bubbles (carbonation), spiciness (hot peppers) and richness of the beers with the dishes. A 10% Service Tax and 6 % Government Tax would be imposed on all orders.

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 BeerBQ Bistro at the far left corner next to SOHO.

BEERBQBISTROMAP

Name: BEERBQ BISTRO @ PRECINCT 10
Address: 10-B-06, Precinct 10, Jalan Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-890 5157
Business Hours:
12.00pm-3.00pm, 6.00pm-11.00pm (Monday-Wednesday)
12.00pm-3.00pm, 6.00pm-12.00am (Friday-Sunday)
GPS: 5.448970, 100.306020

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

 

FABULOUSLY FRENCH AT SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

Posted by crizlai On May - 1 - 2012

Bonne fête~ Happy holidays everyone~ 🙂 After a tantalizing Thai cuisine promotion, Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, is currently having a Fabulously French promoting for the whole month of May 2012 (1-31 May 2012). You can now savor mouth-watering and delicate French cuisine ranging from délicieux soup, prawn persillade, baked mussel Provancal to a spread of sweetness from desserts such as caramelized crepe suzette, macarons and more, under the skillful hands of Chef Daniel Tan, Senior Sous Chef and Chef Franco Ho, Pastry Chef. There would also be a 15% off the bill for all MAYBANKARD & VISA card members.

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As for starter, Crevettes et Avocat en Salade (French Shrimps with Avocado Salad/南美梨鮮蝦沙拉) was served. The orange color of the salad looked as though it was dressed with thousand islands dressing but it was not. It had that fruity citrus flavor with a slight peppery cream filled spiciness. I could be sure there was some Dijon mustard being added in with a mild touch of balsamic vinaigrette or maybe Tabasco sauce. It was light and refreshing to start off the meal.

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I love the next one which was the Petite Salade de Fruit de Mer en Vol-au-Vent (Marinated Seviche of Seafood/酸橘汁腌海鮮沙拉) most. It was like having very creamy rich seafood chowder with added fruit cubes served on a buttery puff pastry. The combination of flavors was perfect as finger food. Anyone going to make these lil’ heaven for canapé party, please count me in~ 😛

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The French are good in preparing their soup with the abundance of fresh crustaceans, herbs and spices available. The Bisque de Crabe Armoricaine (Crab Bisque/法式螃蟹浓湯) was good, even better than the lobster bisque I had at QEII. Somehow, even without the usage of wine or cognac, the soup was filled with flows of seafood freshness that were not too intruding with heavy brine taste. Each scoopful was filled with rich aromatic flavors from the accumulated roasted crab shell, slight bitterness at first followed by a fresh and buttery aftertaste. I just hope they will reduce a bit of salt in there as crab meat would absorb some salt water too. There were bits of chunky crab meat, some cream and a sprinkle of chopped chives.

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On the other hand, the seafood boasted Bouillabaisse (Mediterranean Seafood Soup/地中海風味海鮮湯) came with clearer soup. This soup tasted rather different compared to the ones I had tried before. Maybe it’s due to the hotel being HALAL certified and can’t add wine in their dishes. The taste was quite similar to onion vegetables soup, a bit saffron spiced, with mild sourness from the added tomatoes, carrots and a light touch of lemon juice. It has large prawns, scallops and mussels to pep up the seafood richness.

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As entrees, you could also be served with the Canard al’Orange (Roasted Duck with Orange Sauce/橘子醬烤鴨) as one of the options. Well, the roasted duck meat tasted just like any other boiled meat without the distinctive roasted flavor. I still love the smoked duck served here though. The meat was not to the tenderness of my choice and the orange sauce was just as thin as orange juice. I would prefer something thicker like puree base to blend in well with the meat. I hope the kitchen would improve more on this dish.

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The Carre d’agneau Provencale (Rack of Lamb Provencal/普羅旺斯烤羊排) was something to yearn for. The roasted rack of lamb had just the right texture, flavors and juiciness as it was done medium rare. What was killing was the crust. It was awesomely prepared with just some mixture of basic herbs (thyme & rosemary), lots of chopped garlic, onions, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and egg for the glue effect. Each slice had the fragrant and aromatic flavors. It went well with the brown sauce and mint sauce served.

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The Riz Pilaf au Poulet et Pois (Chicken and Peas Pilaf/雞肉豌豆烤米飯) was how the French cook their rice dishes such as how the Spanish would cook their paella like the one I had at Sigi’s Bar & Grill on the Beach, Golden Sands Resort, Penang. To me, it tasted more like stewed chicken meat mixed with buttered steamed rice with added green peas, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and capsicum. There was nothing much to shout about on this dish.

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French desserts have been internationally known as one of the finest in the world. In fact, their pastries had gotten many dessert lovers going crazy over them. One of such dessert served here is their Tarte aux Pommes (French Apple Tart/法式苹果塔). This version is different in the sense that it’s healthier and less sugar content than what you would get from an American Apple Pie. It’s totally not McD’s version. Think about Portugese Egg Tart with semi cooked Granny Smith green apple slices and you would get your Tarte aux Pommes.

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The one dessert that I can’t get enough of is the Creme Brulee (Trinity Cream/焦糖雞蛋布丁). The ones served here were the best I had so far although they were just plain. These were smooth, melt-in-the-mouth goodies with just a light touch of burnt sugar on the surface. In fact, this is the right way to make Crème Brulee rather than some outlets with a thin layer of caramelized sugar on its surface. It’s a double thumbs-up for this dessert! 🙂

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Wherever you go, you would surely spot those colorful mini burger lookalike treats that got the whole world crazy over them. Those are macarons, a sweet meringue based confectionery which are made from egg whites, sugar, almond powder and food coloring, then sandwiched with some sweet cream. The ingredients may sound simple but this is one of the hardest recipes to manage. I loved the Assorted Macarons (馬卡龍蛋白杏仁餅) as Chef Franco had decided to stick to the basic without using much artificial colorings. I have to declare that these macarons were the best! Both the macarons served had the minimum sweetness with the right balance of Yin and Yang. The first one was the Vanilla Macaron with Coffee Cream. The sweetness of the vanilla meringue cookies went well with the bitter sweet coffee cream. The next macaron was the Pandan Macaron with Lemon Vanilla Cream. Sweetness plus sourness have always been a great combination for desserts.

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Overall, Swez Brasserie fairs better in Western cuisine. Chef’s Daniel’s knowledge in utilizing Western herbs and spices sure made the dishes more appetizing. Moreover, now is the best time to savor all his nicely cooked French cuisine. On the other hand, I’m beginning to love their desserts even more. It looked as though the pastry chef has moved towards a healthier lifestyle by lessening the sugar content in all his pastries. I truly support that move, Chef Franco! 🙂

Here’s the summary of the promotion.

FABULOUSLY FRENCH PROMOTION (1-31 MAY 2012)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion (Mother’s Day): RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Monday – Thursday
RM48++ per pax

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

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Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

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

 

TAIWAN FRANCHISED FORMOSA RESTAURANT HAS SET FOOT IN PENANG

Posted by crizlai On April - 15 - 2012

More and more Taiwanese restaurants and dessert houses have popped up in Penang recently with the latest being the Formosa Restaurant (臺灣風味館) which opened two weeks ago at Penang’s first smart office – The C.E.O, Penang. The restaurant is the 7th branch in Malaysia with the other 6 branches based in the central. Some of the best Taiwanese delicacies with some homemade touches would be served here daily. I went over to the restaurant recently and tried out some of their signature dishes. Basically, the menu was simple and consisted of 4 categories – noodles, rice, appetizers and beverages.

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We started off with their signature noodles – Dry Noodles with Bean Sauce (炸醬乾麵 – RM7.90+). The dish has quite a generous amount of nice al dente textured ramen topped with bean sprouts, sliced cucumber and carrot with some sinfully delicious braised pork belly in bean sauce. It had a mild saltiness as there were loads of vegetables in it. Although flavorful with nice bites, the kitchen should take note of the surplus oil at the base. It has chopped spring onion and fried shallots as garnishes.

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There was also the spicy version of the dry noodles – Spicy Dry Noodles (麻辣乾麵 – RM9.90+). The noodles basically was stirred in some spicy chili in oil and garnished with some Chinese cabbage, wood ear fungus, boiled deep fried pork skin, squids and fried shallots. Well, this dish was not in my favorite list as there was only the spiciness in the noodles and nothing else. They should have followed how I Mum Mum Pan Mee handled their cooked noodles by tossing in some dark soy and soy sauce for that extra flavors on each strand of the noodles. There were also too much water taste in the soggy pork skin and the squids were tasteless. Seriously, there should be some soy sauce, pepper and chili oil available on each table for us to tweak the taste to our liking. Maybe I’m an extreme spicy eater as I found the level of spiciness was too low for me.

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I also tried out their Beef Noodles (牛肉麵 – RM10.90+) since I’m also a fan the Taiwanese style of recipe. Since this is a franchised restaurant, there was nothing much that can be done to pep up the flavors further. The ramen noodles were perfect as it should be but the soup base was a bit too mild for me. It lacked the thick flavor that it should have from the herbs and spices used. It practically tasted more towards the soup for tempura dip rather than for a beef soup. There were hints of star anise, soy sauce and some brown sugar without flavors from some dried orange peels, garlic, scallions, ginger and rice wine. The beef slices also lacked the beefy taste as all the flavors had gone into the soup. The kitchen should time the cooking time of the beef better in the future to maintain its flavors. The noodles were served with beef slices, Chinese cabbage, chopped spring onions, pickled mustard greens and some mala chili sauce. The only garnishing missing was the chopped cilantro which would also add in some extra flavors. This dish would be suitable for those who prefer a lighter soup base.

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The next dish which was the Braised Pork Rice (滷肉飯 – RM5.90+) was a hit amongst the diners. It may look simple with just the braised pork plus pickled mustard greens on some steamed rice, but each bite was filled with awesome melting moments from the flavorful pork belly cuts. This is a must have dish for those who would not mind some fatty meat occasionally.

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We also tried out their signature Deep Fried Pork Chop Rice (排骨飯 – RM 10.90+). The dish came with a plate of deep fried pork chop, sprinkled with some seasonings and paprika, a bowl of soup and a plate of steamed rice with four side dishes, namely deep fried eggplant, stir fry cabbage, stir fry celery with carrots and tomato omelette. It was a fulfilling set meal at an affordable price.

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There were also some delicious appetizers available here such as their signature homemade Taiwan Sausage (自製臺灣香腸 – RM6.90+). This plump looking sausage is a killer. Not only were the thinly sliced sausage pieces sweet and flavorful, they were juicy for each bite. The dish would go well with some sliced raw garlic. It would be best if the garlic were to be sliced thinner (7-8 slices instead of the current 2 cuts) for a more delicate presentation.

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The was also the Stewed Pork Steamed Sandwich (割包 – RM4.90+/pc). The delicacy had a piece of specially seasoned steamed pork belly slice sandwiched in between a flat steamed bun, together with some chopped cilantro, pickled mustard greens and some pounded roasted peanuts. The pork belly was actually stewed in a recipe almost similar to the Nyonya Hong Bak (Stewed Pork Belly in Fermented Bean Sauce). The concoction was nice but it lacked a bit of thick sauce on the meat for a more moist bite. It would be better if the meat were to be stewed with red fermented bean curd (tao joo/nam joo/南乳) rather than fermented beans paste (tao cheong/豆醬) for more flavors.

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Another light and refreshing appetizer would be their Century Egg with Tofu (柴魚皮蛋豆腐 – RM5.90+). It had a small block of chilled tofu and four quarters of a century egg, dressed with their homemade sauce and topped with a generous amount of katsuobushi shavings (bonito flakes). The sauce tasted like a concentrated version of the tentsuyu sauce with some hints of dashi, mirin and shoyu. There was a mild taste of kelp (large seaweed), most probably from the dashi sauce which has an extract from the boiling of kelps and bonito flakes. There were requests from diner for additional bonito flakes on the dish but I felt that the abundant cuttlefish taste like flakes overpowered the natural taste of the whole dish. Personally, I would rather go for the delicious Japanese style Agedashi Tofu which would be served in a hot tentsuyu broth.

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Other than the Deep Fried Pork Chop, they also have the Shi-Lin Chicken Chop (士林大雞排 – RM7.90+). I love how they prepared this dish as the coated batter was just right, not too thick and not too thin. Combined with the seasoning and paprika, it was heaven! I prefer this chicken chop more than the pork chop as it was more tender and juicy than the former. It was more delicious than Uncle Bob’s for sure. Beware when you bite it as it may contain some tiny bones which are quite common in Taiwanese chicken snacks.

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For a boneless version, there was the Taiwan Salted Chicken (臺灣咸酥雞 – RM6.90+) that got me munching endlessly. Talk about juiciness and flavors and this dish had it all. Although the coating was similar as the Shi-Lin Chicken Chop, I prefer these cubed chicken pieces more. You can forget about other Pop Pop Chicken as I would call them, this dish rules! It’s a dish not to miss~ 🙂

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Do you fancy glutinous rice? If you do, you can try out their Rice Burger with Sausage (大腸包小腸 – RM9.50+). It had a sausage bun like deep fried glutinous rice mixed with peanuts, stuffed with fresh cucumber and pickled mustard green, topped with the delicious Taiwanese sausage. The dish had a special thick soy sauce (豆油醬) dressed on it. The slightly crisp glutinous rice blended in real well with the vegetables and the sausages, except it was a bit salty due to the dressing. It would be best if the dressing were to be served separately for diners to adjust to their level of saltiness. This dish is best taken when served hot or it would be a bit chewy when cold.

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If you are a fresh oyster lover, the next dish which was the Oyster Mee Sua (蚵仔麵線 – RM6.90+), better known as Oh Ah Misua in Taiwan, might suit you well. The dish had Taiwan imported tan-brown salted wheat grass noodles (misua/mee sua/mee suah) served in a starched broth with some mildly blanched fresh oyster in boiling water with some dashes of pepper, sesame oil and shallot oil. This dish would be best taken hot when served. Although the dish was slightly cold after my photography session, I found the soup base lacked in thick broth flavors. Somehow, it did not have the flavors as I would get in a bowl of rich sharksfin soup with high quality broth (上湯). The usage of some shaoxing wine plus some deep fried shallots/garlic in oil might pep up the taste better. I also found this dish to have too much soup than mee sua. Moreover, they did not serve this dish with some black vinegar.

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As for beverages, there are tea, milk tea and others which you could add on either magic crystal, coffee jelly or pearl at an additional RM1.00 per cup. Obviously, you can see clearly from the photos below that my favorite was the Lavender Milk Tea (RM4.50+). The milk tea had just the right sweetness to my liking with a fragrant lavender flavor coming from the added lavender seeds. This refreshing drink would be great for sleep and relaxation. The next drink that I quite like was the Taro Milk Tea (RM4.50+). The creaminess and sweetness for this beverage was just right for me too. The honey used in this restaurant was rather unique. It had a flowery chrysanthemum after taste in it. The lemon juice too had that sourness unlike the usual ones as I can taste that there were some Calamansi (Calamondin/Limau Kasturi) juice added in. Thus, you should not miss out their beverages such as the Honey Lemon Jasmine Green Tea (RM4.50+) or even the Honey Lemon Juice (RM3.50+). I also tried out the Honey Black Tea with Coffee Jelly (RM3.90+ plus RM1.00+ for add on). It was a perfect combination with a distinctive coffee flavor coming from the al dente jelly cubes.

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Overall, the items served here can be considered real reasonable in price compared to those within malls, considering that only a 5% service fee would be charged. Taste wise, some of the dishes can be real delicious while others were quite common. As a franchised restaurant, it has the necessary standards to please any diner. This restaurant would be a great venue to hang out with family, friends and colleagues over some nice Taiwanese cuisine.

Formosa Restaurant is located just opposite Kayu Nasi Kandar at the ground floor of Penang’s first smart office, The CEO. If you are driving up towards Bukit Jambul via Jalan Yeap Chor Ee/Jalan Bukit Gambier, just take note of the USM traffic lights. Immediately after the traffic lights, take note of the 4th traffic lights (1st traffic lights to Taman Perkaka/USM, 2nd traffic lights to Bukit Jambul/Equatorial Hotel, 3rd traffic lights to Taman Lip Sin/Super Tanker Food Court, 4th traffic lights to Kayu Nasi Kandar/The CEO – Penang’s first smart office). At the 4th traffic lights (Jalan Bukit Gambier/Lebuh Nipah 5), turn left into Lebuh Nipah 5 and drive until the T-junction (Lebuh Nipah 5/Lebuh Nipah). Turn right into Lebuh Nipah and take the first right turning into Lebuh Nipah 7 (as stated in Google map but Kayu address is stated as Lebuh Nipah whereas the opposite CEO address is stated as Lebuh Nipah 5~ A bit of confusion here~ LOL!). You can see the double floors restaurant on your left. In case you cannot find parking spaces surrounding that area, you can park your car at the CEO multi-storey cark behind the restaurant.

FORMOSAMAP

Name: FORMOSA RESTAURANT @ THE CEO PENANG
Address: The CEO, 31-1-16 Lebuh Nipah 5, Sg. Nibong, 11950 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-611 1988, 012-286 9912 / 016-629 1632 (Mr. Brandon Ong)
Business Hours: 11.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.336566, 100.292797

BRANCHES:
Kuchai Lama (HQ):
No. 5, Jalan 10/116B, Kuchai Entrepreneur’s Park, Off Jalan Kuchai Lama, 58200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 603-7980 1888
Sunway Pyramid (New Wing):
Unit 167, Asian Avenue, 1st Floor, Bandar Sunway, 46150 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
SS Two Mall:
No. 40, Jalan SS2/72 (PT21680), 47000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Sungai Wang Plaza:
TC 037 & 038, Third Floor, Sungai Wang Plaza, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 50250 Kuala Lumpur.
Seri Kembangan:
KG03, Ground Floor, Mines 2, The Street Mall, Jalan Balakong,
Mines Resort City, 43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor.
Setapak:
25, Jalan Prima Setapak 3, Off Jalan Genting Kelang, 53300 Kuala Lumpur.

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: 8.5/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

“Eat your vegetables!” was the first thing that came into my mind when I was approached by Idealite – Malaysia’s 1st Wellness Education Restaurant to write on their NO MEAT, NO GLUTEN, NO MSG, NO WHITE SUGAR & SALT, NO PEANUTS, NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORING, ETC healthy menu. It may sound like some sort of imprisonment torture for many foodies but I can guarantee you that I did not suffer from any hunger side effects. LOL! The restaurant is not similar to any other vegetarian restaurants as it also uses other fresh/organic produce such as garlic, onions and eggs, minus the mocked items of course. As opposed to the normal dining experiences, Idealite would focus on satiating your appetite with a well balanced diet such as adequate protein, carbohydrate, fiber, mineral and vitamin for a healthy living. Their cuisine would be based on the usage of natural/organic and quality ingredients to boost up the food in taste, colors and flavors with some light touches of uniqueness and creativity. Even their fruits and vegetables are washed by an ozone machine to remove any existing chemicals and pesticides.

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Idealite would serve healthy and well balanced breakfast as low as RM4.70 from 8.00am to 11.00am daily (except Monday). Being an adult with a kid in the heart, I could not resist ordering their Kid’s Breakfast Meal (小孩營養早餐 – RM10.70) with a “Hello Kitty” wholemeal bread mascot (upon request). This breakfast set meal would ascertain that your kid/adult get the right amount of carbohydrate, protein, mineral, vitamin and fiber for the day. Items given might differ from day to day as they have yet to firm up on the actual menu.

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We started our lunch with the Curry Tofu Salad (咖喱豆腐沙拉 – RM5.70). The dish had a block of tofu on a colorful bed of fresh greens (purple cabbage, carrot, cucumber & coral green), dressed with a combination of soy yoghurt and curry powder and garnished with some raisins, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chopped almonds. The taste of the dressing had that mild beany soy sourness, very mild spiciness with a touch of fruity after taste. I presumed the soy yoghurt was cultivated with fructose instead of glucose or sugar. This dish would only be suitable for consumers with an acquired taste for such flavor. Soy yoghurt is low in fat and is suitable for people with milk allergy, diabetes type II and high blood pressure. I believed that the curry powder used had a high content of turmeric in it. Turmeric has been used for centuries as a wonder spice with anti-inflammatory medicinal values.

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As for side dishes, we were served with Chee Cheong Fun (酵素珠常粉 – RM3.70), a steamed rice roll made from a mixture of rice flour, tapioca flour and water in cream consistency batter for that al dente texture. The special order made rolls were benzoic acid free. The rolls were served with a secret recipe sauce in placement of the usual prawn paste (蝦膏), red sweet sauce (紅甜醬) and chili paste (辣椒醬). The secret sauce had that sea brine saltiness with a darkish purple color which I presumed was from some species of seaweed. The overall taste was still acceptable but it lacked that thick creaminess. Since they do not use peanuts as it contained a high level of aflatoxins (黃曲霉素) which is bad for the liver, maybe some finely blended hazelnuts would add in the slight nutty creaminess? The Chee Cheong Fun came garnished with some toasted white and black sesame seeds.

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We were served with two versions of vegetarian sushi. The first was the Vege Sushi (蔬菜壽司 – RM6.70). It had strips of raw carrot, cucumber, purple cabbage, jicama (sengkuang), coral green lettuce and some pounded hazelnuts all wrapped within a poh piah (traditional Chinese spring roll) skin and garnished with some toasted sesame seeds. Some sweetened lime juice was dressed for that refreshing bite.

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The second version of sushi was the chef’s latest creation named as the Jade Seaweed Vege Sushi (白玉紫菜蔬菜壽司 – RM7.70). This sushi will be available in the menu soon. Except for the usage of the benzoic acid free steamed rice roll and nori, the fillings were the same as above. Most of us preferred this version as the earlier one got soggy too fast due to the moist within the vegetables.

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There was also the Seaweed Roll Sushi (紫菜壽司筒 – RM7.70). This was the unique one amongst the rest as there was some taste difference. This sushi has coral green lettuce, jicama, cucumber, carrot, spring onion and pounded hazelnuts all wrapped up with a thin strip of nori. There were some drizzles of sweetened lime juice, sesame oil and some dashed of black pepper. I love this sushi most~ 🙂

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The next side order was the Poh Piah (健康薄餅 – RM4.70). Somehow this dish was rather disappointing. It lacked flavors and texture as the carrot, jicama and mushrooms were too finely shredded and easily got overcooked. It became too mushy to even being wrapped firmly with the lettuce and poh piah skin. The vegetables should be coarsely shredded and cooked until translucent but still maintaining the slight crunchiness. The mushroom was totally bland without the addition of some marinates. I just wondered why bean curd and some toasted garlic were not added for the extra flavors. Even a light coat of red sweet sauce would have done more justice to this local delicacy.

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For those who would want to have some rice with dishes, there would be a few set meals to choose from. We tried out the Dry Curry Set Meal (香辣乾咖喱套餐 – RM9.70) and it was amazingly delicious. The main dish consisted of dry curry stir fry savory and sweet potatoes filled with herbs and spices. The only two ingredients missing that would add in more aromatic flavors and benefits would be the curry leaves which have Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, calcium and iron in plenty and mustard seeds which would help in supporting healthy blood circulation, appetite, pancreas, metabolism, overall digestive and gastrointestinal health. Each of the set meal would come with a bowl of organic brown rice with soy bean in olive oil, a healthy salad with homemade mayo dressing, tofu with tom yam sauce and a slice of fresh fruit.

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The next set meal was the Eryngii Mushroom Set Meal (特色杏鮑菇套餐 – RM9.70). The set meal also came with a bowl of organic brown rice with soy bean in olive oil, a healthy salad with homemade mayo dressing, tofu with tom yam sauce and a slice of fresh fruit. The slightly sour based stir fry eryngii mushroom had some sprinkles of black pepper to pep up the flavors. Although the main dish was rather appetizing, I personally felt that the sour sauce had overpowered the natural taste of the mushrooms. It would be great if they were to present the dish in just plain mushroom sauce. Get’em Smack did a great job in maintaining the mushroom flavor by mildly sautéing them in olive oil with some chopped garlic and these mushrooms went well with pasta too.

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One of the most healthy dishes by the Hakka clan would be the Hakka Lei Cha (客家擂茶飯 – RM12.70) and the dish would also be available here at Idealite. The dish came with a bowl of steamed brown rice and soy bean in olive oil, garnished with mixed sesame seeds and pine nuts, served with cabbage, long beans, carrot, homemade preserved radish, sweet leaves (sayur manis/star gooseberry/馬尼菜), chickpeas, fried bean curds and dressed with a concoction of blended basil (九層塔/羅勒), mugwort (蒌蒿/艾草), coriander (香菜), mint (薄荷) and tea leaves (茶葉) with mild seasoning. The dressing was just right and not overpowered by the intense taste from the basil. It was an ideal dish for anyone. People who often consume this dish are believed to benefit from improved vitality, relaxation and body detoxification.

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We also tried out a few of their noodles which were made from Spinach (菠菜), Pumpkin (南瓜) and Buckwheat (蕎麥). We started with Green Curry Ramen (招牌青咖喱拉麵 – RM9.70) served with Pumpkin Noodles. Due to their principles of not using coconut milk or lactose filled milk, the dish lacked the creaminess. The soup had some potato sweetness almost similar to the Jawa Mee gravy. As it was green curry, there was a strong Thai basil flavor in it minus the spiciness from some green chilies. The pumpkin noodles were smooth and had the right al dente but were overpowered by the strong flavors from the green curry.
The dish was served with some potatoes, long beans, carrot, eggplant, tofu puff, and half a hardboiled egg. They should find ways on how to improve the creaminess maybe with the usage of lactose-free soy milk, almond milk or even hempseed milk (大麻子).

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The next version of noodles which was the Organic Curry Ramen (有機咖喱拉麵 – RM9.70), served with Spinach Noodles, was far better tasting. The dish was served with some long beans, bean sprouts, chick peas, tofu puff and dark soy sauce brewed bean curd aka “pig’s blood”. The soup base basically had thick curry paste with mild flavors. Overall, it was still a nice bowl of ramen. It would be even better if they could add in some lemongrass for the extra fragrance. The only setback was that the curry flavors overpowered the distinctive taste of the spinach noodles.

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The Organic Lo Ramen (有機滷味拉麵 – RM9.70) served with Pumpkin Noodles was another dish that was not within my acceptance level. They failed in getting the right flavors into the gravy. It was rather diluted and bland in taste except from the overwhelming flavors from some star anise (八角). They could have blended in some potatoes to thicken the texture plus sweetness of the gravy and also add in some mushroom stock/juice. The dish was served with some bean sprouts, radish, mushroom, mildly dark soy sauce brewed bean curd and half a hardboiled egg. I rather have some bean curd stick rather than the flavor-drained radish slices.

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Of all the ramen dishes, my pick would be the Organic Dry Ramen (有機乾撈拉麵 – RM9.70) served with Buckwheat Noodles. It was an uncomplicated dish where I get to savor the true flavor of the buckwheat noodles, together with some mushroom slices, purple cabbages, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts and green coral lettuces. There was the simple fruity flavor dressing that made the whole dish awesomely refreshing. I could have this dish all the time.

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Frankly speaking, I loved all types of pastas and also cooked them frequently. I was not impressed at all with the next dish which was their Tomato Spaghetti (番茄意大利麵 – RM9.70). The dish lacked flavors, textures, colors and taste. It was basically some overcooked pasta minus the al dente in some quite diluted homemade tomato and basil puree, lightly garnished with some dry herbs. They should have added in some blanched carrots, cauliflower and broccoli for the extra bite and colors. Of course they won’t use cheese which contained dairy but alternatively they can utilize non diary nutritional yeast with nutty, creamy and cheesy flavors would have boasted up the flavors. Moreover, they lacked more varieties in this category. They could have given more options such as the Aglio Olio which consists of garlic and olive oil or Eryngii Pasta with mushroom, garlic, olive oil and parsley. Even Pesto (blended garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and cheese) which is good for constipation would make great pastas. They can always replace the cheese with non diary nutritional yeast.

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Idealite also serves Tomyam Steamboat (營養健康東炎火鍋 – RM17.70-1 pax/RM27.70-2 pax) served with olive oil steamed brown rice with soy beans. It was a mild spicy but sour soup steamboat filled with plentiful vegetables such as sweet corn, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and seaweed. The soup practically had the flavors from the vegetables especially a strong seaweed taste and got saltier as it reduced. Somehow, I could not taste the presence of lemongrass and kaffir lime leave being used to boost up the taste. Moreover, the dish lacked more options such as tofu and bean curd sticks which would go well with the tomyam soup.

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We were also served with a numbers of desserts with my favorite being the Signature Sesame Paste (招牌黑芝麻糊 – RM5.70). It had that mild sweetness from the organic brown sugar used and nice flavors from the blended black sesame seeds, cashew nuts and brown rice. This is one must have dessert during your visit.

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I also quite like the 7 Color Bean Paste (七色豆養生糊 – RM4.70) which had blended mung beans, azuki red beans, soy beans, white kidney beans and black beans aka black turtle beans, cooked with blended 10 multi grains such as organic sorghum, organic millet, organic buckwheat, organic pearl barley, organic oats, mountain red rice, black rice, unpolished brown rice, parboiled rice and wheat. It was also mildly sweetened with organic brown sugar.

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We were also introduced to a weekend special dessert which was the Bubur Cha Cha (摩摩喳喳 – RM4.70), a Nyonya dessert. The dessert was cooked in a broth like texture with some blended grains plus sweet red potatoes, yam and black eyed peas. It had oat milk instead of coconut milk as a healthier version, thus it lacked that creamy and fragrant coconut taste.

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There was also the Dragon Fruit Konyaku Jelly (龍珠果蒟蒻 – RM1.70/3 pcs) available here. It had that bouncy and chewy texture as how a konyaku jelly should be with a mild fruity flavor. No doubt it was a nice dessert but it would be best if some of the fresh fruit meat be added in for that extra freshness.

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As for beverages, the selections were rather limited. We had the Organic Cocoa Oatmilk (有機朱古力植物奶 – RM6.70), Organic 5 Grain Energy Oatmilk (有機五穀植物奶 – RM4.70), Sugar Free Organic Soy Milk (無糖有機豆奶 – RM4.70), Organic Masala Chai (有機馬薩拉口味茶– RM3.70), Organic Lemongrass Green Tea (有機柠檬香草绿茶– RM3.70), Organic Assam Tea (有機酸梅茶 – RM3.70) and Pumpkin Barley (金瓜薏米 – RM3.70). I quite like the Organic Cocoa Oatmilk as it tasted quite similar to my daily breakfast boost of Cocoa with Malt. The Sugar Free Organic Soy Milk was also thick and nice. The Pumpkin Barley was one drink to compliment too as it has the natural sweetness from the pumpkin and fibrous barley grains for great bowel movements.

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Here’s the young and energetic Chef Hung with his creative meals the healthy way~ 🙂

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Overall, the dishes served here were extremely healthy with a reminder to us to follow the age old principles of cooking and dining healthily. Some dishes served indeed required an acquired taste bud as we are all so used to the taste from today’s world of fast and processed food. As for the dishes, there are still rooms for improvement as the choices of dishes were just average with not many options. The restaurant basically concentrated on the Eastern way of cuisine without providing much insight into the healthy diet from the West. They could have added in items such as the asparagus soup which is great for irritable bowel system. Even the usage of tofu has not been explored further other than the usual few selections. As an example, it could just be steamed tofu with egg in pumpkin paste to name one option. As for beverages, it lacked the creativity in combining fruits and vegetables as juices. One such drink would be the usage of cucumber to benefit the skin, nails and hair. Cucumber plus mint leaves juice would be a refreshing and nutrient rich drink for any ages. All price stated is nett.

It’s not hard to find Idealite at it’s located just two shop houses away from Hotel Waterfall (Little Cottage 2) and next to Double Dragon Inn Restaurant along Jalan Gottlieb. Parking spaces could be rather limited during weekends especially when Little Cottage 2 is having their weekend buffet. Currently, they are utilizing only the first floor of the shop house.

IDEALITEMAP

Name: IDEALITE – MALAYSIA 1ST WELLNESS EDUCATIONAL RESTAURANT
生命陽光-馬來西亞首創正食養生餐廳 (Beside Waterfall Hotel)
Address: 27C Jalan Gottlieb, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 3650
Business Hours: 7.30am-11.00am, 12.00noon-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Closed on Monday)
GPS: 5.430574, 100.299698

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

 

In conjunction with the Thailand’s Songkran Festival, Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be promoting mouth watering Thai cuisine named Tantalizing Thai for the whole month of April 2012 (1-30 April 2012). The Songkran Festival 2012 would be over 3 days from Friday, 13 April 2012 to Sunday, 15 April 2012. Mahasongkran on 13 April 2012 would mark the end of the old year. Wan Nao (14 April 2012) is the day after and 15 April 2012 is Wan Thaloeng Sok, the start of the Thai’s lunar calendar aka New Year Day. The Songkran Festival is also known as the Water Festival where locals as well as tourists would splash strangers on the streets with water, all in the spirit of good fun.

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Some of the dishes in the promotion would include dishes like appetizer such as the Spicy Seafood Salad (Yum Talay/ยำทะเล/泰式海鮮沙拉). The dish would have a seafood combination of cooked prawns, mussels and squids, together with some big onions, tomatoes and spring onions, all tossed in a spicy, sweet and sour dressing. The dressing was simple as it had some chopped garlic, red chilies, green chilies, some sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Although the salad was fresh and appetizing, it lacked the authentic Thai flavors. It would be better if some mint and cilantro leaves were to be added in. Furthermore, the sugar should be replaced with palm/brown sugar for that unique sweetness. I won’t mind having some juicy scallops and fish fillet added in this dish too~ 😛

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Thailand’s Spicy Prawn Soup with Lemongrass & Lime Juice (Tom Yam Goong/ต้มยำกุ้ง/泰式酸辣鮮蝦東炎湯) would be one dish that you should not miss out in any Thai cuisine due to the unique unity of tastes from the 4S – spicy, sour, sweet and salty. If not, the dish won’t be ranked #8 in the Top 50 Most Delicious Food in CNNGO recently. With the teaming of flavors from the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, shallots, garlic, chilies, fish sauce and lime juice, it was a bowl of heavenly dish. The dish had straw mushrooms instead of the usual abalone mushrooms. The flavor was rather mild for a spicy lover like me but it would be subtle enough for general consumers. I would love to have the dish with a mild touch of nam prik pow (น้ำพริกเผา/Thai chili paste) added in plus some natural fresh taste from some cilantro and fresh tomatoes. This dish had some evaporated milk added in for that extra creaminess. The prawns used were from a harder shelled species. I still prefer mine with white shelled prawns.

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Thai style steamed fish would also be another dish not to miss out as it has all the nice flavors from the freshly used ingredients. We had the Steamed Sea Bass with Spicy Garlic & Lemon Sauce (Pla Kapong Neung Manao/ปลากะพงนึ่งมะนาว/泰式酸辣蒸石甲魚). The dish had cilantro roots flavor boosted sea bass fillet topped with a spicy, sweet and sour dressing. The dressing basically consisted of chopped garlic, red chilies, Serrano pepper fiery like local chili paddy with a mild sprinkle of sugar and lemon juice.

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Great Thai style duck dishes would be quite limited outside of Thailand but Swez Brasserie managed to come out with one flavorful duck dish such as the BBQ Roasted Duck in Red Curry (Gaeng Phed Ped Yang/แกงเผ็ดเป็ดย่าง/紅咖喱燒烤鴨). This curry had a sweet, creamy and salty taste from double coconut cream, red chili paste, sugar and fish sauce, enhanced with flavors from Thai basil, Thai apple eggplant, pineapple, cherry tomatoes and seedless grapes. This was an awesome dish as the roasted duck slices had all the flavors soaked within the meat. Although it was a nice dish to go with hot steaming rice, I found the creaminess to be a bit too thick to my personal liking. Moreover, the sweetness was not close at all to the sweetness from the usage of some natural palm sugar.

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There would always be some Thai street food served during the promotion. One such dish would be the Thai Style Fried Noodles with Prawns (Pad Thai Goong/ผัดไทยกุ้ง/泰式鮮蝦炒粿條). The noodles were Thai made flat rice noodles, soaked to soften to get the right al dente. The noodles were fried with some garlic, shallots, unsalted turnip, dried shrimps, deep fried bean curd, fish sauce, tamarind paste, some sprinkles of sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. These fried noodles would then be wrapped into a thin layer of fried egg and serve with some deep fried prawns. The noodles would be served with some coarsely crushed peanuts, chili flakes, sugar, raw spring onions and raw bean sprouts. You can adjust your level of spiciness and sweetness by adding in the chili flakes and sugar a bit at a time.

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Thai desserts are something to crave about especially when you need some sweetness to boost up your day. We had the Mango Sticky Rice (Khao Niao Mamuang/ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง/香芒糯米粒) which had coconut milk steamed glutinous rice, served with sweet golden Thai mangoes and slightly salted coconut cream. It had some deep fried mung beans garnished for that extra crunch. The whole combination was perfect to end a meal. It would be great if the kitchen would add in some screwpines (pandan) flavored steamed glutinous rice too.

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Overall, the dishes served here were more towards the taste buds of the general consumers. Thai dishes used a lot of fresh ingredients such as fiery hot chilies and fresh herbs to enhance the flavor of its cuisine in which the kitchen did not level up to that extent. It would be good for the general consumption who could not take much spiciness but the dishes were nowhere near to the authentic flavors of the real Thai cuisine such as what I had at my favorite Annathai-Kitchen at Pulau Tikus, Penang. The good news would be that you would be served with lots of fresh seafood.

Here’s the summary of the promotion.

TANTALIZING THAI PROMOTION (1-30 APRIL 2012)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday & Sunday
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Sunday – Thursday
RM48++ per pax
Seafood Supreme Themed Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Friday
RM80++ (adult), RM40++ (child)
Mongolian Grill Themed Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Saturday
RM80++ (adult), RM40++ (child)

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

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Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

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: 7/10 (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)

 

DELICACIES FROM DRAGON-i GURNEY PLAZA PENANG

Posted by crizlai On March - 28 - 2012

Inspired by the delicious spread of cuisine from China especially from the regions of Shanghai, Szechuan, Beijing and Lanzhou, Dragon-i has set up yet another branch at Gurney Plaza to cater to the increasing demands of locals as well as tourists in Penang. There’s a great spread of spicy and non spicy dishes available here for just anyone, ranging from appetizer, soup, la mian (fried & soup), hot stone & steamed rice, fried rice, pork & duck, chicken & beef, seafood (frozen & live), bean curds, vegetables, dim sum, desserts and beverages.

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Upon seated, you would be complimented with some Braised Peanuts. Their version was somewhat different compared to my recipe as there was some thick gravy presence. Although the peanuts were semi soft, they tasted not bad.

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I had something light to start off my meal. The first dish was an appetizer called Chilled Spicy Chicken in Szechuan Style (四川麻辣口水雞 – RM16++). The chilled chicken pieces were smooth and tender, just like those you get from quality Hakka chicken rice shop. It came with some spicy and mildly salted chili flakes in oil with hints of some sesame oil. It was awesome but it might be a bit too spicy for non spicy food diners. The dish also had some al dente type of noodles made out of mung beans flour (綠豆粉) which complemented the overall dish real well.

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Dragon-i is also famous for its la mian (ramen/拉麵). I tried out one of their signature dishes which was the Szechuan “Dan Dan” La Mian in Hot & Sour Soup ((四川擔擔麵 – RM13++). I would say that their portion for the noodles was rather large for a person. It practically came with some minced meat in the chef’s specially pepped up soup stock and garnished with some sesame seeds and pounded peanuts plus some chopped spring onions and cilantros. The hand pulled noodles had that nice springy aka al dente texture. The soup has a rich nutty flavor which I believed was from the addition of some grounded raw peanuts during the process of cooking. The added chili oil gave out that Spanish pimiento like aromatic sweetness and spiciness. This is another hot and spicy dish to watch out for.

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Another of their signature dishes would be the Shanghainese Braised Pork Belly with Bean Curd Leaves (上海百頁結紅燒肉 – RM28++). For pork belly lover, you would love this multi layered piece of meat and fat which has been slowly braised with a selection of quality soy sauce, together with some rock sugar, spring onions, ginger, star aniseeds with a light touch of Chinese wine. It had that awesome melt-in-the mouth sensation. The firmed textured bean curd leaves which has been soaked in the rich and thick gravy was nice. There were some beautifully hand crafted steamed buns (mantou/饅頭) provided.

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The next dish which was the Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Lotus Seeds & Deep Fried Bean Curd Skin (蜜汁燻鴨胸烤雙方 – RM28++) was a heavenly DIY dish. This dish was somewhat different compared to how the Peking Duck dish was served. It did not have any accompanied sauce. Somehow each honey glazed duck slice was succulent enough to be taken all wrapped up together with a slice of bean curd skin, some honey braised lotus seeds and cucumber. The sensation of having the honeyed ham taste like duck combined with the sweet nutty lotus seeds, crispy bean curd skin and crunchy cucumber was a nice experience. My advice would be to halve the lotus seeds prior to wrapping to avoid them falling out.

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One of my favorite dishes here would be the Sauteed Diced Chicken & Prawns with Dried Flower Chili in Szechuan Style (四川辣子雙拼:雞丁,明蝦 – RM35++). Each piece of the deep fried batter crusted chicken drumstick meat plus prawns were tossed sauteed with some chili flake seasoning and stir fried with abundant dried chilies and curry leaves. Although the portion would be large enough for 5-6 persons, I won’t mind finishing up this flavorful plate of delicious combination all alone. Haha! 😛

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A visit to Dragon-i would not be complete if you did not try out their signature Shanghainese Steamed Meat Dumplings (上海小籠包/Xiao Long Bao – RM9.80++ for 4 pieces). The minced meat was perfectly done with hints of some minced Chinese ham, ginger and a slight touch of soy sauce. The soup confined within the pagoda shaped dumpling was indeed rich in flavors. Most people are not aware of the right way of having the Xiao Long Bao and got splattered with juice. The right way (view here) would be to gently pick up the dumpling and place onto a spoon. Nibble a small corner and sip up the soup. Apply some slivers of ginger in black vinegar on it and enjoy the dumpling.

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I also tried out the Shanghai Pan Fried Meat Buns (上海生煎包 – RM9++ for 3 pieces). The light and fluffy bun had exactly the same flavored filling as the Xiao Long Bao with that extra fragrant from the pan frying. Not bad.

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Whenever I’m at any dim sum outlets, I would always go for something cute to share with my reader with children. The Steamed Red Bean Buns (豬仔豆沙包 – RM9++ for 2 pieces) caught my attention. It was nothing special except for the unique design with mildly sweetened and silky smooth red bean paste.

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As for desserts, I went for something different and out of the norm. I tried out the Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls with Osmanthus Sweet Wine Soup (桂花酒釀湯丸 – RM8++). This dessert required an acquired taste as it tasted just like Tapai, a Southeast Asia delicacy made from fermenting a selected rice grain (normally white rice or glutinous rice) with dry yeast biscuit. The dessert has a sweet and sour alcoholic taste with a nice flowery taste from the osmanthus. This dish came with some soft black sesame filled mini glutinous rice balls. To me, it was a nice dessert after having such a heavy meal.

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There are a few nice beverages available here. The recommended ones would be the Dragon-i (龍的傳人 – RM12++). It was made from a concoction of red dragon fruit and passion fruit juices with a twist of lemon juice. The other one would be the Iced Jasmine Tea with Lemon Grass (檸檬香草茉莉花茶 – RM10.80++). The presentation was rather unique. The combination would provide the drinker with a soothing and calming effect.

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Overall, some of the dishes served here can be quite nice except that the price can be a bit high for many as there are the extra 10% service tax plus 6% government tax imposed on all orders. To get to the restaurant, all you need to do is to find your way to Gurney Plaza. Just walk towards the new wing of the mall and walk straight towards the Jalan Kelawei entrance and you would see the restaurant right after the Manila Place.

DRAGON-IMAP

Name: DRAGON-i @ GURNEY PLAZA
Address:
170-G-66 & A1, Ground Floor, Gurney Plaza (New Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 1686
Business Hours: 11.00am-10.00pm, 10.30am-10.00pm (Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)
GPS: 5.436617, 100.30945
Website: www.dragon-i.com.my/

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

 

Located at a secluded corner lot of the newly renovated level 6 F&B section of Gurney Plaza, this unadorned yet quaint little eatery may have been overlooked by many as just another dessert café in the mall. Carrying the name Macaron Café and with a vast display of delicious yet colorful treats, I won’t be surprise that many passers-by would have the misperception. Other than desserts, Macaron Café would also serve other items ranging from appetizers, salads, soups, pastas and many little snacks of the day.

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Indeed as the name depicts, this cafe serves one of the best macarons I have tasted. They were as crispy, chewy and flavorful as they should be. Those served here were to my liking as the chefs had created a version that had the minimal usage of sugar for the best texture. Thus, those macarons were not overly sweet as others. The meringue base confectioneries are practically made out of egg whites, a combination of different types of sugar, almond powder, permissible food flavors and colorings. The café would serve at least one third of the over 30 flavors that would be available daily. Although it would take a skillful chef to come out with great shaped macarons, the dessert is quite versatile for great creativity. You can have it just by itself with butter cream or jam filling or even use it for dessert decorations. One thing I would love to see from this café would be a Macaron Burger since it looked just like one except for the filling. This would surely attract more out-of-curiosity diners for the uniqueness. Hmm… I’m now thinking of macarons filled with fresh/butter cream, fresh fruit cuts with some toasted almond flakes~ 😛 At the time of my visit, there were about 9 flavors of macarons left. My personal pick: Rum & Raisins, Jaffa (orange macaron with chocolate filling) and Chocolate.

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Left – (back to front): Black Sesame, Chocolate & Coffee, Right (back to front): Rum & Raisins, Lemon, Jaffa, Strawberry Bubble Gum, Mint Chocolate and Double Mint. Price Range: 1 pc-RM3.00+, 5pcs-RM14.00+ and 10pcs-RM27.50+

There are a few types of beverages available here such as coffee, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks. What would be the best beverage to go for with macarons or other sweet treats? It’s none other than latte! I had the Irish Cream Latte (RM8.90+) and it went well with my desserts.

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The café also serves a few different types of cakes daily. The selection varies daily based on the creation of its pastry chef. One of the favorite pick by customers would be the Rainbow Cake (RM8.90+). It has seven layers of colored vanilla butter cakes filled with strawberry jam and butter cream at alternative layers. It was soft and spongy with a mild sweetness. If you had a hard time remembering the colors of a rainbow, here’s a tip. Just remember the first character of this phrase: “Royal Of Yolk Goes Battle In Vain” meaning R-Red, O-Orange, Y-Yellow, G-Green, B-Blue, I-Indigo and V-Violet.

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It happened that the pastry chef had created a new cake for the day and I had the opportunity to try it out. It was the Black Sesame Cheese Cake (RM12.90+). Due to the earthly color of the black sesame combined with the milky white color of the cheese, the presentation might look like a sliced strawberry on a concrete floor but this concoction indeed gave a unique flavor to the cheese cake. The fragrance emitted from the blended black sesame seeds complemented the cheesy cream cheese taste well except that it was a tiny bit on the salty side. It might be a good idea to reduce a bit more salt from the recipe as cheese itself has the existing tad of saltiness. The base for the cheese cake was also handmade. Instead of the normal digestive biscuit texture, it had strusel, the same sandy compound used for crumbles.

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There was also the Chocolate Brownie (RM7.50+) studded with a generous amount of chopped walnuts.

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If you need something lighter, you could always go for the Lamington (RM2.50+). It was just a cuboid shaped sponge cake, coated with a thin layer of chocolate and desiccated coconut.

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As I had mentioned above, Macaron Café do serve other savory items ranging from appetizers, salads, soups, pastas and many little snacks of the day. As appetizer, you can try out the Chicken Roulade (RM10.90+). The preparation was almost similar to the Chicken Cordon Bleu but without the bread crumbs. This dish had pan seared chicken breast meat rolled up with turkey ham, cream cheese and spinach served on a salsa-like salad consisted of diced tomatoes, onions, sweet basil with a squeeze of kaffir lime juice. It was a simple yet fulfilling dish to start a meal.

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As for soup, there was the Forest Mushroom Soup (RM12.00+), topped with some cream and served with 4 slices of toasted garlic bread. The soup had 4 types of fresh mushrooms blended in such as shitake, button, shimeji white and brown. Although the creaminess of the soup was just right but it lacked more earthly mushroom flavors. Somehow I would think that the kitchen should add in more distinctive flavored mushrooms such as the fresh Portobello mushroom aka matured Swiss brown mushroom since I personally considered the pricing to be a bit too high for just a soup. I had better ones before at my regular Western cuisine stall at a much lower price of RM5.00nett.

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The Penne Pollo (RM16.90+) had penne pasta mixed in sauteed shimeji white mushroom, shitake mushroom and chicken slices in a creamy pesto sauce. Sweet basil is the main ingredient in any pesto sauce, all blended in with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil. The café has twisted the recipe a bit by adding in some Thai basil for the extra flavors, thus it had that super strong basil taste which some non basil lovers might detest. Moreover, the dish lacked the color presentation. The whole dish looked rather green and overly sauced. Maybe they should try out what other eateries had done in terms of flavors and presentation such as at Nostalgie along Lorong Stewart, Penang. I personally would prefer pan-fried chicken over sautéed chicken breast meat with some fresh greens such as some cherry tomatoes to suppress the overwhelming taste of basil leaves. This dish was garnished with some parmesan cheese.

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The café would also serve some ad hoc ala carte dishes occasionally such as American Beef Burger (RM16.90+), Chicken Picatta (RM18.90+), Chicken Parmagiana (RM18.90+), Croque Monsieur (RM14.90+), Croque Madame (RM15.90+), Pavlova (RM10.90+) and many more. Overall, the café fair better in sweet treats rather than savory dishes. I guessed they would need more time to balance up the best of both worlds to be a super star in the culinary industry. All items would have a 10% service tax imposed.

If you know how to get to Gurney Plaza, you won’t have any problem finding the café as it’s just next to the escalator up at level 6 of the mall, somewhat hidden behind a big square pillar.

MACARONCAFEMAP

Name: MACARON CAFÉ @ GURNEY PLAZA
Address:
170-06-01A, 6th Floor, Gurney Plaza (Old Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 4389
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.437204, 100.308844

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: 7/10 (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)

 

A GENTLE TOUCH OF FUSION AT KOI JAPANESE GURNEY PLAZA PENANG

Posted by crizlai On March - 22 - 2012

If you need something Japanese and with a touch of fusion by infusing some parts of the Western culture into the Eastern ways, then Koi Japanese would be the ideal place for you. Not only were the dishes prepared in many unique ways, they are also economical for the consumers. Thus, you won’t get your pocket burned when dining here. The design of the restaurant was simple and yet elegant enough for any crowd.

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I had the opportunity to pay a visit to this restaurant to try out some of their signature dishes. The first dish which was the Popeye Salad (RM18.80+) may look simple at the first glance but each mouthful was very refreshing. Who would have thought that just some sautéed dried shrimps and garlic in olive oil plus a mild dash of soy sauce on a big plateful of fresh Chinese spinach would have giving the overall taste such a punch? The crunchy sensation from the slightly salty dried prawns combined with the fragrance from the garlic was a great experience for me. It was indeed a perfect salad for any ages.

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They also serve a number of colorful and tasty signature maki with catchy names such as the Pink Sakura, Surf & Turf, Hawaii, Rock & Roll and more. What caught my attention was the Bread Crunch (RM14.80+/8pcs or RM7.80+/4pcs). The maki stood out amongst the rest as it did not contain any vinegar boosted steamed Japanese rice (sushi rice) but instead it used soft and fluffy bread. It had a piece of bread on a nori (dried seaweed sheet) rolled up with crabstick, cream cheese, ebiko (prawn roe), shredded cucumber, sweetened egg, crunchy butter toasted croutons with a light touch of mayonnaise. Each square shaped maki had some coarsely pounded cheese roasted peanuts garnished on it. I love the slightly chewy yet crunchy bite, especially with some added wasabi~ 🙂 You should not miss out this dish!

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As for the Koi Signature Cold Dishes section, I tried out two of their most ordered items. One of them was the Salmon Kelp Roll (RM24.80+/8pcs). The roll had a thinly and translucent piece of salmon wrapped with crabstick, cream cheese, chopped spring onions and garnished with some ebiko. These rolls were served on a plate with some mayonnaise and the chef’s signature dressing which had a sandy grated daikon (radish) texture plus some sweet soy sauce and vinaigrette. This would be one dish that would be worth ordering, especially when there’s the seasonal 35% discount (RM16.12+ only) until end of March 2012.

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The next of the cold dish would be the Australian Beef Tataki Koi Style (RM38.80+/10slices). For non beef eater, you can have the option for tuna too. The grounded black pepper marinated Australian beef was seared to perfection and cut into thin slices, dressed with a special sauce and garnish with some chopped spring onions and grated daikon. The sauce had some hints of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, olive oil, rice vinegar, grated ginger and most probably with a touch of sake or rice wine as it had that mild sourness.

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As for the Koi Signature Hot Dishes section, I tried out the Tuna Steak (RM28.80+). Other than having the tuna raw for my sashimi, I have yet to try out a thick slab of red tuna fillet seared medium-rare. If you like steak, you would love this meaty black pepper crusted tuna steak. It had that nice and tender rawness to my liking. From the texture of the tuna steak, I’m sure that the fish was seared for barely 2 minutes on each side. Instead of serving plain or with teriyaki sauce, this tuna steak had the chef’s signature sauce with some deep fried garlic slices garnished on it. The sauce had some apple fruity sweetness with hints from some grated ginger, shallots, garlic, radish, soy sauce, mirin sauce, miso paste and some spices. This is one of my favorite fish dishes so far.

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As for the desserts which were quite limited here, I opted for the Ice Cream Tempura (RM6.80+ with either green tea or vanilla ice cream). It tasted just like the fried ice cream recipe I did, except it had that extra tempura crisp. The green tea ice cream was awesome as it was homemade with a rich macha flavor. Unfortunately, the bread use was a bit on the thick side, thus not having that extra crispiness and got soiled easily by the melting ice cream. The chef should have rolled the bread flat before wrapping in order to have a more dense texture to avoid the sogginess issue. Other than that, it was still a nice hot and cold dessert. The dessert was served with a squeeze of honey.

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As for beverages, you can have teas, juices, sodas, floats, soft drinks, beers, sake or even sochu. I tried out the Tokyo Blue (RM5.80+) in the soda section. It had a concoction of blue curacao syrup and pineapple juice, jazzed up by some fizzy soda water. It was quite thirst quenching.

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Overall, some of the dishes served here were quite extraordinary compared to most of the Japanese restaurants I have been to. The culinary team members were quite innovative in incorporating some of the Western spices into the Asian cuisine. Price wise, some of the dishes could be on the high side but they do have seasonal and membership (RM20 per annum) discounts throughout the year to enable diners to savor their dishes comfortably and economically. For more information on their menu and promotions, you can check out their website at http://koijapanesecuisine.com/

I don’t think I would need to describe the way to Koi Japanese as most people would know how to get to Gurney Plaza. Just walk towards the new wing of the mall and go to level 2, above McDonald’s and next to Sushi King.

KOIMAP

Name: KOI JAPANESE
Address:
170-02-59 & 60, 2nd Floor, Gurney Plaza (New Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 7112, 012-414 5885 (Ms. Daisy Lee)
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.437696, 100.309592
Website: www.koijapanesecuisine.com/

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: 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)

 

DELICATE DISHES AT SHANGHAI DING HOUSE OF DUMPLINGS

Posted by crizlai On March - 7 - 2012

Shanghai Ding House of Dumplings (上海鼎) has been in Penang coming to a decade now with another branch in Pulau Tikus barely 3 months’ old. The restaurant served some delicate dim sum from steamed, deep fried, fried, pan fried, baked, desserts to starch items such as rice, porridge and ramen. Thus, this restaurant has been a frequent dining place for those who wished to have something light and out of the norm.

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Their Xiao Long Bao aka Mini Meat Dumplings have been one of the hot selling items since day one. You would have a choice for 4 types, namely original, crabmeat, scallop or superior. We opted for the original Shanghai Juicy Meat Dumpling (上海小籠包 – RM6.80+ for 4pcs or RM12.80+ for 8pcs) just to try out the authentic taste. Although the price was relatively cheap compared to other establishments, somehow the broth within was not as flavorful as those I have tasted. Moreover, the meat was rather mushy to my liking. A little bit of sesame oil and rock sugar in the broth plus a bit more of rice wine and corn flour added to the minced meat for a firmer texture would have done more justice to this delicacy. By the way, most people are not aware of the right way of having a Xiao Long Bao and got splattered with juice. The right way (view here) would be to gently pick up the dumpling and place onto a spoon. Nibble a small corner and sip up the soup. Apply some sliced ginger in black vinegar on it and enjoy the dumpling.

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There were also two types of prawn dumplings. I chose the Scallop and Prawn Dumpling (帶子餃 – RM5.00+). The combination was just right – simple and fresh. It went well with the easily available homemade chili sauce and sweet potato sauce (甜醬).

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One of the steamed buns caught my attention. It was the Pockey Mouse (奶皇刺猬包 – RM4.80+). They were cute looking and looked just like the Porcupine Pokemon~ LOL! The filling was different compared to another available steamed bun called the Creamy Salted Bun with oozing salted custard. This one had that more sandy texture and milky taste with the color coming from a very orange egg yolk. The buns tasted great but it would be nicer if some finely chopped salted eggs were added in.

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Mini Egg Tarts (酥皮小蛋撻 – RM3.80+ for 3pcs) were also available during weekends. The overall taste was fine without overpowering sweetness but the crust was not as flaky as I expected. I simply love those which came out straight from the oven.

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On the other hand, the newly introduced Yam Puff (芋泥卷 – RM4.80+ for 3pcs) was amazingly appetizing. Not only were the puffs flaky, they were mildly sweetened to my liking.

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The chef was also good in his skills and creativity. Next on the list were some Fatty Birds (小神雕 – RM3.80+ for 3pcs). Those were some sweetened red bean paste filled pastry in the shape of mini birds.

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Roasted Pork Bun or so called Bo Lo Bao aka Pineapple Bun (菠蘿叉燒包 – RM3.00+ for 2pcs) has a combination of sweet and savory pastry. These buns are famous especially in Hong Kong. The bun actually does not contain any pineapple as named but has a sugar cookie like crusting on top depicting the texture of a pineapple. The baked bun here did not have that design but was great to consume as the sweet crusty topping complemented well with the moist honey roasted pork (char siew) within the bun.

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You can also get Honey BBQ Pastry (叉燒酥 – RM3.00+ for 2pcs) during weekends. Each roll had moist honey roasted pork wrapped with flaky pastry.

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One of the most ordered items here is the Fried Radish Cake with Seafood (海鮮炒蘿卜糕 – RM7.80+). The radish cake which has been steamed with flavors coming from the finely chopped dried shrimps and Chinese sausage were cut in cubes and stir fried with prawns, squids, salted turnip (菜脯), dried chili paste, egg and lots of bean sprouts. It had that wok hei (high heat cooking) that I liked but the texture of the radish cake was a bit too soft to my liking. Moreover, it was a bit overpriced with barely a few cubes of radish cake present but with loads of bean sprouts.

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You can also order some side dishes to go with your meal such as the Stir Fry Broccoli with Scallops (西蘭花炒帶子 – RM15.80+). This was just a normal household dish with blanched broccoli topped with stir fried scallops and prawns in oyster sauce.

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There were also a few types of dry and soup ramen from as low as RM4.80+ available here. One of the restaurant recommended ones was the Shanghai Pork Ribs Ramen (上海排骨拉麵 – RM7.80+). The dish hand smooth and silky ramen with the right al dente, served with clear pork stock with some Chinese cabbage aka baby bok choy (小白菜) and steamed pork ribs. This dish was marked as spicy but it was really mild. The only mild spiciness was from the tender steamed pork ribs which had been marinated with some chopped garlic, chili paddy, soy sauce and rice wine. Overall, it was still a nice bowl of ramen except that the kitchen should have taken note on the choice of pork ribs. My serving had too much of bone splinters from the pork ribs.

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The next dish was amazingly rich in natural sweetness from the 7-8 hours fish bones simmered stock. For those fish lovers, you would love this Yunnan Rice Noodles with Grouper Fillet (雲南石斑魚米綫 – RM19.80+ for 2 pax). I loved everything in this dish from the texture of the imported rice noodles, the freshness of the grouper fish fillet, the baby romaine lettuce (yaw mak/油麥菜) and rich in flavors fish soup. The added Chinese wolfberries sure boosted up the soup with extra sweetness and the gingery flavor from the quality ginger used pepped it up further. The rice noodles looked almost like the traditional laksa rice noodles but had a firmer al dente bite. This was one awesome dish!

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Another of the new ramen dish introduced was the Prawn Ramen (老火上湯鮮蝦拉麵 – RM28.00+ for 2-3pax). This was another great noodle dish by the restaurant. The stock had the flavors from loads of bones and prawn shells which I believed had been sautéed to extract the creamy sweetness. There were hints of some secret ingredients being used such as licorice, a light touch of rock sugar and more. The ramen had all the flavors soaked in and was my perfect bowl of noodles. The dish came with 4 big fried prawns, bamboo pit, some baby romaine lettuce plus some sprinkles of wolfberries and chopped spring onions. Most recommended!

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As for dessert, we had the Ginger Tea with Black Sesame Filled Glutinous Rice Ball (姜茶黑芝麻湯圓 – RM3.80+). I loved the strong gingery taste from the soup, obviously extracted from the reputable old ginger from Air Itam. The tang yuan (glutinous rice ball) was nice and soft with fragrant flavor from the filled black sesame seeds. It would be great if some coarsely crushed toasted peanuts (just like the traditional tang yuan I had in town) were added in for that extra crunch. This dessert would be ideal for those with regular “stomach wind”.

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You can also have Durian Pancake (榴蓮煎糕 – RM7.80+ for 2 pcs) regardless of the season served here. The screwpine (pandan) flavored crepe-like pancake had some durian meat and cream all wrapped up within. Taste wise, it was acceptable but it lacked the strong local branded durian taste as the ones I had at Lucky Dessert (發記甜品) kiosks at Queensbay Mall and Gurney Plaza.

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All items will have a 5% service tax for both branches. Overall, the restaurant would be an ideal place for those who prefer to dine in air-conditioned restaurants. As for taste and price, dishes served here are still within the acceptable level but the pricing can be a bit high for some of the items. As for food choices, there are still rooms for improvement. I do hope that they would have more options for their dim sum such as my regular dim sum shop in town.

The Shanghai Ding House of Dumplings is located just at the entrance leading to Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty) on your left. Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction with the Eastin Hotel sign. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and you will see the restaurant at the corner lot. There are limited car park spaces in front of the restaurant. If you can’t find a parking space, there are many car parks surrounding that area.

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Name: SHANGHAI DING HOUSE OF DUMPLINGS
BAYAN BAY BRANCH:
Address: Block H, 4/G, Persiaran Bayan Indah, Bayan Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-644 1644
Business Hours: 8.00am-10.00pm (Daily)
GPS: 5.336099, 100.307502
PULAU TIKUS BRANCH: (view map)
Address: 417 Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-473 9930
Business Hours:
10.00am-10.00pm (Daily except Closed on Wednesday)
9.00am-10.00pm (Saturday & Sunday)
GPS: 5.431805, 100.310448

Note: The PT branch is hidden from the main road of Jalan Burma. The best way to reach this branch would be through Jalan Cantonment into Jalan Berjaya then turn right into Lorong Aman. The branch would be right at the end of the lane on your left. This building formerly housed the Old Xaverian Association.

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: 7/10 (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)

 

If you are an adventurous diner looking for exotic dishes from other Asian countries, you would realize that Vietnamese restaurants no longer exist in Penang as far as some years back. For the month of March 2012, it’s great to have Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, to come out with such a promotion named Vivacious Vietnam. A large number of Vietnamese dishes would be added in their daily buffet spread. Here’s the summary of the promotion.

VIVACIOUS VIETNAM (1-31 MARCH 2012)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday & Sunday
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Sunday – Thursday
RM48++ per pax
Seafood Supreme Themed Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Friday
RM80++ (adult), RM40++ (child)
Mongolian Grill Themed Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Saturday
RM80++ (adult), RM40++ (child)

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Let’s start from the Soup and Salad Bar Sections. The Soup Section basically consisted of two types of soup such as the Vietnamese Pineapple Chicken Soup which had traces of chicken cubes, bamboo shoots, pineapple and tomatoes. It was mild and nothing special at all as it lacked the strong flavor from the bamboo shoots. At least the second soup which was the Crab Meat Soup with Asparagus had a richer seafood taste that suited me well. There were two “Make Your Own Salad” stations. One station had coral red lettuce, iceberg lettuce, frisee, boiled kidney bean, alfalfa sprouts, corn kernel, cherry tomatoes, pea sprouts, croutons, raisins, pickled olive, pickled onions, pickled zucchini, red pepper in oil, pickled black olive, pickled capers and cheese powder, to be topped with either vinaigrette dressing, French dressing, pesto dressing, thousand island dressing or Italian dressing. The other station had a more meaty selections such as roasted chicken slices, deep fried hams, coral red lettuce, frisee, black olive, cheese cube, carrots, cherry tomatoes, red & green capsicums, cucumber and onions, to be dressed with a citrus tasting green salad dressing and ranch salad dressing. There were also some bread rolls and loaves available with butter and margarine spreads.

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Also at the Salad Bar were two types of Western Cold Platters being served such as the Beef Salami and Smoked Duck Breast cold cuts. The Smoked Duck Breast excelled better in terms of smoky flavor, taste and cuts. Some ready-made salads were also available such as the Bamboo Shoot Salad, Ground Meat & Crab Meat with Grapefruit Salad, Mixed Celery & Sea Bass Fillet Salad, Grilled Eggplant Salad with Vietnamese Dressing, Asparagus Salad, Grilled Paprika Chicken Salad, Fresh Crystal Spring Rolls with Beef and a selection of canapés.

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Three items were served at the Action & Noodle Counter. Firstly, it was the Shrimp on Sugar Cane. As for texture and taste, it was quite fine but on a saltier side. Luckily, the condiment of a lightly fresh greens sweet sauce saved the dish from being too disastrous.

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The Egg Pancake with Prawns was one of my favorite since it was done fresh. The fragrantly cooked prawns with some capsicum slices cooked in some sweet chili sauce blended in real well with some sliced iceberg lettuce, wrapped in an egg pancake.

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The Beef Noodles Soup did not suit my taste bud at all. It lacked the sweetness from some marrow or knuckle bones as it tasted more like chicken stock being used instead. Moreover, local “koay teow” flat noodles were used instead of the Vietnamese bahn pho or Thai chantaboon rice sticks, thus the noodles became too soggy if left alone for a long period of time. On top of the beef slices, fresh bean sprouts, red chili slices, cilantro, spring onions and chili paste being added in, the whole dish lacked the spicy and herb filled punch. I guessed the kitchen has to look more into some additional usage of ginger, clove, cinnamon stick, star anise and fish sauce to push up the flavors for this noodle soup.

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The Hot Dishes Section mainly consisted of a mix and match dishes not only from Vietnam but also from other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Germany, France, Italy and India. The spread included Nasi Tomato, Rendang Ayam, Goreng Sayur Campur, Stuffed Crabs, Sauteed Cauliflower with Prawns, Sliced Beef with Lemongrass, Fried Shrimp with Coconut Sauce, Stewed Sea Bass in Claypot, Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Stir Fried Bitter Gourd with Egg, Stir Fried Rice Vermicelli with Assorted Meat, Sauteed Vegetables with Almonds, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Lamb Chop, Steamed Rice, Spring Rolls, Vegetarian Fried Rice, Long Bean Sambal and Aloo Gobi.

Personally, I quite like some of the dishes from the hot dishes section. The Nasi Tomato was full of fragrance from some of the nicely added spices. The Rendang Chicken cut was rather large and went perfectly well with the tomato rice. The Goreng Sayur was common just like those served at the Nasi Kandar stalls with added turmeric powder. The Stuffed Crab was just average as the stuffing had the texture of fish balls and tasted just like spiced fish balls without some added crab meat. The Sauteed Cauliflower with Prawns was also common. The Sliced Beef with Lemongrass had tender beef slices but lacked the spicy flavors. The Fried Shrimp with Coconut Sauce practically had the taste of frozen prawns without flavors. The back of the prawns should have some slits to allow flavors to seep in the flesh. The Stewed Sea Bass in Claypot tasted quite fine and it had chunks of fresh fish being used. The Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts was nice. The chicken cuts were juicy and tender. With the nutty flavors from the cashew nuts, the whole combination was perfect. The Stir Fried Bitter Gourd with Egg was simple but it had a nice fragrance from the added chili oil. The Stir Fried Rice Vermicelli with Assorted Meat was just average. The Sauteed Vegetables with Almonds no doubt was a simple dish but the roasted almond flakes sure pepped up the flavors. The Roasted Sweet Potatoes was just another simple stir fried dishes with added capsicums and onions. The Grilled Lamb Chop somehow was under marinated and a bit too tough. The chops had a strong lamb taste. Steamed Rice was just steamed rice. The Spring Rolls was normal. The Vegetarian Fried Rice basically was not my type of fried rice dish as it lacked flavors. The Long Bean Sambal which had some added deep fried bean curd was just nice. The Aloo Gobi which had cauliflower stir fried with some turmeric powder and cumin was totally out from the ones I had elsewhere. The dish was rather dry and lacked the taste from more spices and cilantro as garnishing. I saw only gobi (cauliflower) but where were the aloo (potatoes) then?

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The Dessert Section had 6 flavors of Nestle Ice Cream with different types of toppings, Assorted Fruit Platters, Assorted Cakes and Pastries, Jelly, Pudding, Green Bean Soup, Assorted Local Nyonya Kuih and a few choices of Vietnamese delicacies.

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Basically, there were a few of the Vietnamese desserts that caught my attention. One of them was the Banana in Rich Coconut Sauce. It had cooked banana with young coconut meat in slightly sweetened fresh coconut milk. It was perfect to end the meal. Without the availability of shaved iced, I added in some Vanilla ice cream for that extra creaminess. Slurps~ 😛

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Another great dessert was the Glutinous Rice Ball in Gingered Brown Syrup (Che Troi Nouc). The soft glutinous rice ball with either red bean paste or pandan kaya paste went well with the gingered syrup.

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There was also the Vietnamese Rice Cake. The filling tasted like out Malaysian ketupat but with green bean powder sprinkled on those small piece of rice cakes. There was nothing special about this dessert as it was not sweetened at all.

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Another of the dessert that caught my curiosity was the Vietnamese Potato Cake. It looked just like apple pie with sprinkled grounded cinnamon but the taste was not up to my expectation. I was surprised that normal French fries potatoes were used instead of sweet potatoes. Somehow the taste did not blend in real well as a sweet dessert.

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Overall, the spread served here were more towards international dishes with at least half of the dishes consisted of Vietnamese cuisine. No doubt it was a well balanced mix and match dishes that would suit just anyone but I personally found that the taste and flavors for the Vietnamese dishes were too mild to my liking. The dishes somehow did not have much of the authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The kitchen should have looked into dishes with a much heavier usage of fish sauce, shrimp paste, fermented beans, spices and herbs.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

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Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

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: 7/10 (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)

 

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