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POON CHOI CRAVING AT ZI ZAI RESTAURANT PENANG

Posted by crizlai On November - 6 - 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZIZAIMAP

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

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

 

BUSINESS SET LUNCH AT THE SOY RESTAURANT G HOTEL PENANG

Posted by crizlai On October - 30 - 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DELICIOUS THAI CUISINE & PORK PAN AT AROY CHANG MOO KATA

Posted by crizlai On September - 27 - 2011

This post practically covered the last of the five Thai restaurants within the district of Pulau Tikus, Penang – Aroy Chang Moo Kata which would serve dishes from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces in Northern Thailand. The other four would be home cooked dishes from the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat in Southern Thailand at Annathai-Kitchen, beef noodles from Sukhothai in Central Thailand at Sukhothai Beef Noodles House, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) style Thai dishes at Aroi Thai Restaurant and Wang Thai Restaurant. So, what are the dishes from this one year old Thai Restaurant that had attracted a steady flow of diners? Let’s read on below.

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It’s always nice to start a meal with some salad to boost up the appetite such as the Som Tam (ส้มตำ/Spicy Papaya Salad – RM5), which in Thai means “pounded sourness”. The usage of ingredients varies from different parts of Thailand but basically it would consist of quite similar sauces such as lime juice, bird’s eyes chili, fish sauce (nam pla) and palm sugar. The ingredients in the salad served here included shredded young papaya, tomatoes, yardlong beans, cabbages, dried shrimps and toasted peanuts. The taste was just right to my liking as it was not overly sour and pungent as served elsewhere.

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There are many variations on how you would want your fish dish to be prepared. I had Pla Phat Phet (ปลาผัดเผ็ด/Deep Fried Fish in Spicy Sauce – RM35-RM45) with deep fried sea bass in it. The flavor was rather unique as it had a strong hint of galangal in the sauce, freshly blended spices, Thai basils and some coconut milk just to make it a tad more saucy and fragrant. The sauce was great to go with rice but this dish could be a bit spicy for some. Somehow, the taste of Thai basils was not prominent in the dish as they were deep fried.

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The next dish was something that most diners would not miss out. It’s Tom Yam but the version served here had a clearer soup based and it’s called Tom Yam Nam Sai (ตมยามนามซ้าย/Clear Tom Yam with Mixed Seafood – RM15-RM25). It had prawns, fish, squids, abalone mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and spring onions all cooked in a flavorful hot pot of sweet and sour soup. It tasted almost similar to the Thai style steamed fish with sour plums but with some hints of fish sauce, tamarind juice, lime juice, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal being added in. I also noticed that they did not include the small spicy killer aka bird’s eyes chilies inside. The spiciness was not as strong as the common tom yam with red chilies oil included.

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We were also served the common household dish of Cha-Om Omellete (ขายจิ๋วจะออม /Khai Jiu Ja Awm – RM8). The feathery shoots of this the Thai’s staple food plant (also known as climbing wattle/Acacia pennata) are common used in omelettes, soups, curries or simply by stir frying in mild sauce. Only young shoots are used as the older ones can be rather fibrous, just like the bottom part of an asparagus. The shoot has a unique flavor almost like a much milder version of the stink beans (buah petai). It was just a simple dish but it fulfilled my contentment.

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The restaurant does serve some nice prawn dishes such as the Ma Kam Goong Grawp (มะขามกุ้งกรอบ/Crispy Prawns in Tamarind and Thai Basils – RM3.50 each/Min 6 pieces). Each batter coated prawn had a nice dressing of tamarind paste with a hint of plum sauce added in. The prawns were garnish with some deep fried Thai basils and onion. This is a must try dish! Awesome!

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The next dish which was the Lab Moo Sub (ลาบหมู/Spicy Minced Pork Salad – RM12) was delicious but it has a “wasabi” type of spiciness. It would be best to go with some rice or just complement it with some vegetable cuts to lessen the hotness. This dish can be prepared easily with just some water cooked minced pork, toasted glutinous rice powder, sliced kaffir lime leaves, onions, chili flakes, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and garnished with some spring onions and coriander.

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Instead of having with rice, this dish which was the Khoon Ob Woon Sen (คุณอบวุ่นเส้น/Thai Style Glass Noodles – RM15) can be eaten just by itself. In fact, this was one of my favorites. The delicious glass noodles had all the nice gravy penetrated right into each strand, making each mouthful flavorful. The dish contain a generous amount of sautéed prawns, topped on the glass noodles, which have been simmered with some stock, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, black pepper, garlic, ginger, cilantro roots and garnished with some chopped cilantro. Yummilicious!

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Most people would think that Aroy Chang Moo Kata is just the name of the restaurant. Well, they were not wrong. In fact, Moo Kata (หมูกาต๊ะ/pork pan/pork skillet/meat pot – RM30 for 2-3 pax) is actually the Northern Thais’ way of having a feast with a cheaper budget. The moo kata pan would consist of two sections. One part on the dome-like structure would be used for barbequing while the circular shallow area below the dome would allow you to boil-cook some items. Some restaurants such as the BBQ Plaza at Gurney Plaza, Penang would be using gas stove but at Aroy Chang Moo Kata, they were as traditional as can be with the usage of burning charcoal. You would have 3 options of soups here, namely clear chicken stock, tom yam stock or the clear tom yam stock. With the spicy and sour dishes before this meal, we opted for the clear chicken soup. It was indeed a good choice as the soup was very flavorful. The set would come with a plate each of pork and chicken (with 3 marinates such as sesame, tom yam and black pepper), squids, fish, prawns, fish/pork balls, fish cakes, pork bacons and a basket full of vegetables, shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and some glass noodles. Some pork fat would be given to you to oil the skillet prior to barbequing your food. This is truly a great bargain for such an amount paid.

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The restaurant has only one type of dessert, mainly the Tub Tim Krob (ทับทิมกรอบ/Jellied Water Chestnut with Jackfruit in Coconut Milk – RM2.50/bowl). Somehow, the dessert served here was not to my liking as the mock pomegranate seeds (water chestnut cubes in red colored corn starch) were flavored and colored with rose essence. The dessert lost its originality of its jackfruit flavor as the overall taste was overpowered by the taste from the rose essence. Moreover, the water chestnuts were cubed too finely, resulting in a blob of clumped starch.

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The beverages here are rather limited too. You would get canned drinks, packet tea or beers easily. The only item that was freshly brewed was the Lemongrass Tea (RM2.50). You can either have it hot or iced.

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Aroy Chang Moo Kata can be easily located right next to the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple and diagonally opposite Wat Chayamangkalaram, the home of Penang’s Reclining Buddha. As this is a one way street, the best way would be through Jalan Kelawei. If you are coming from town along Jalan Burma towards Pulau Tikus, turn right into Jalan Pangkor when you see a “Y” junction just next to the Chinese Recreation Centre (CRC). Drive further on, keep left and turn left into Jalan Kelawei. Drive alaong Jalan Kelawei and keep a watch out for the fourth junction on your left. When you would see the yellow wall of the Wat Chayamangkalaram, turn left into Lorong Burma. Aray Chang Moo Kata is only 2 houses away after the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple on your left. You can find ample parking space along the road. If not, drive further up to Solok Burma on your left to find more parking spaces.

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Name: AROY CHANG MOO KATA
Address: 22 Lorong Burma, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 010-379 9852 (Mr. Jerry Lim)
Business Hours: 11.00am-2.30pm, 6.00pm-11.00pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.431036, 100.313624

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

 

Many of you would be wondering who would be replacing the former Kopi Cine outlet along Lorong Stewart within the heritage area of George Town, Penang. You don’t have to guess any longer as the premises together with the other 4 lots along the row would now house Coffee Atelier, which consists of 55 Café & Restaurant (Mediterranean), Kopi (Coffee Museum), Gehrig Art Gallery, 47&49 Residence (Suites 47A&B, Suites 49A&B). The whole place would be manned by yet another foreign couple, Swiss Stefan Gehrig and his lovely wife from Hong Kong, Lorina Gehrig. While waiting for the renovation works for the rest of the lots to be completed, 55 Café & Restaurant had a soft launching yesterday, serving delicious Mediterranean dishes and aromatic coffee, the best of its kind in Penang. Even the aroma emitted from the fine graded coffees could not stop an American traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, from stopping by for a sip of the beautifully brewed coffee.

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Since we were quite late for breakfast due to the heavy rain yesterday, we had a try out on the lunch items instead. There were a few selections in menu, starting with choices for breakfast, salads, starters, hot & cold tapas, pasta, desserts and beverages. We started with some tapas of hot and cold, all served with a plate/bowl of your selected item and a basket of baguette slices. The first one was with Chicken Liver Pate (RM14+). The pate was well prepared with traces of fresh herbs, butter, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper to cover up the bitterness from the chicken liver. It would even be better if they could just add in some dashes of brandy for that extra flavor.

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The next batch was with Aubergines (eggplant), Tomato and Garlic (RM9+) in a paste form. It had some traces of black pepper being added in and was quite spicy but it complemented well with the baguette slices.

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We also had with some tapas with Grilled Eggplant (RM9+), garnished with some sweet basil and chili slices for that light touch of spiciness.

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The next set of tapas was the Gambas Aljillo (RM13+) served with some baguette slices. It was a hit amongst us as the fresh and firm prawns were beautifully cooked with chopped garlic, chili and some herbs in extra virgin olive oil. The dish was so lovely that we wiped out the whole plate dry with the baguettes served.

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After the light finger food to boost up our appetite, we went for the Al Chef (RM28+). The dish had pan-fried sea bass fillet, served on spaghetti stir fried with potatoes and carrot casserole and seafood emulsion, garnished with a cherry tomato and some chopped chives. The sauce was awesome as it had some distinctive flavors from some toasted prawn shell, almost similar to the flavors of the lobster bisque I had at QEII. I won’t mind having some dashes of white wine in the sauce to go with the nicely pan-fried sea bass fillet.

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We also had some Spaghetti Carbonara (RM22+). The al dente pasta had a generous amount of back bacon slices, mushroom slices, egg, parmesan cheese, black pepper, hint of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh herbs cooked in white cream sauce, garnished with some chopped chives, tomato cuts and some lettuce slices. Although the whole combination was flavorful, the meaty back bacon with less fat somehow did not provide that nice fragrant bacon taste for the dish. Moreover the bacon tasted more cooked in sauce rather than being sautéed slightly prior to cooking. Ideally, but not totally healthy for those health conscious diners, sautéed slab bacon or streaky bacon would have a better justice to the overall taste of the pasta.

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The Aglio Olio with Smoked Salmon (RM25+) in extra virgin olive oil was somewhat different to the ones I had tried elsewhere. It did not have some deep fried dried chilies added in for that nice pungent flavor. Moreover, it lacked the taste from some sautéed garlic slices which played an important part in this dish. Although some crispy chopped garlic were added in as garnishing, those were not adequate enough to pep up the overall taste. The pasta was presented with two cherry tomatoes, garnished with some chopped chives and grated parmesan cheese. The dish had the required amount of extra virgin oil added in but with overused of grated parmesan cheese. It was slightly on the salty side as the chef might have forgotten that the smoked salmon might have been treated with some salt during the preparation process.

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They do have some different type of desserts served daily. So you might need to enquire about them from the counter. We tried out the Baked Cheese Cake (RM9+). It was not as what we expected as the cake was rather dry without much traces of the cheesy taste. Moreover, the slight sour after taste was rather mild instead of the usual lemon zesty flavor. The Chocolate Coffee Cake (RM6+) tasted better, considering that it was fluffy, moist with some traces of some chopped almond but it lacked a stronger taste of coffee. Moreover, the chocolate coating was rather sauced based. A bar of wrapped cheesecake by Gateau which had not been officially sold was passed around for our comments. This version indeed had our praises as the usage of cheese on the digestive biscuit base was of standard. I guessed the café should take note on the quality of cakes supplied to them in the near future.

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As for beverages, there was a wide selection to choose from ranging from coffee, chocolate, tea, ice cream milkshakes, mocktails to beers. We tried out the Caramel Hot Chocolate (RM10+). It was frosty and nice. The Chamomile Dream (RM9+), a fragrant and flavorful flower tea served in a pot was as fine as it should be. This flower tea has always been my favorite tea due to the fact that it’s a cure all tea for building up the body immune system against cold related infections, relaxing the nerves, strengthen the liver function, relieving back pain, rheumatism, etc. There was also the Vanilla Ice Cream, Banana and Chocolate Chips Milkshake (RM16+). It had just the right flavors but was not as creamy as the one I had at Delicious, Straits Quay, Penang. When it comes to coffee, the café sure can declare they are the best with their state-of-the-art coffee maker. The Hot Latte (RM8+) I had was the best I had taken so far with the right thickness, sweetness and creaminess it should have. Simply awesome!

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Here’s a sneak preview of the almost completed hotel interior. The charges would be between RM300 and RM400, with or without breakfast. The rates would be confirmed very soon by the management upon completion of the heritage hotel.

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Overall, the food served here can be quite unique on its own. All the dishes served here are of fresh ingredients and can be well accepted by the locals as well as foreigners but there are still rooms for improvements for some of the dishes as I had mentioned above. The prices for food can be a bit high for some dishes and beverages. Please also note that there would be a 10% service charge applicable for all purchases.

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

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

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

 

THE ALL NEW LA FRANCE CAFÉ & RESTAURANT IN PENANG

Posted by crizlai On September - 11 - 2011

If you are a frequent diner at the Northern Beach Café situated along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah in Penang, you would notice that there was this little stall selling great French food by the name of La France. Well, that was history! Today, that former little stall by the beach cafe, manned by the loving couple, Frenchman Nathan (who lives near to the border of Germany) and his lovely wife, Ginny, has moved into a cozy mansion of their own, right in the heart of the beautiful George Town, Penang. The all new La France Café & Restaurant now promises a more unique and fresh home cooked French cuisine with a little touch of German. Merveilleux! Wonderful!

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There are two type of menus available here, namely the Menu Dejeuner (lunch from 12.00 noon onwards) and Menu Diner (dinner from 6.00pm onwards). The latter has a few additional items added in for a more fulfilling dinner. Let’s start with the entrees (starter). One of the dishes which I tried out was the Potage du Jour (Soup of the Day – RM5.90) which happened to be Mushroom Soup. It would be served fresh from the kitchen with some sprinkles of black pepper. The soup had a distinctive earthly taste from the finely chopped Shitake mushroom within (most restaurant would just blend all in). It had this sweet but not too creamy taste which was quite different from elsewhere. Instead of the normal usage of flour to create that broth like soup version, the chef applied a healthier method by substituting flour with some freshly mashed potatoes and a mild touch of chopped parsley. Simply healthy and delicious! The soup would not come with any bread or bun, so you might want to order some Pain d’ail (garlic bread – RM3 for 5pcs ciabatta slices).

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There was also the Croques Monsieur (Oven baked Ciabatta) – Croc’ Ham & Cheese (Pork Ham – RM9.80) served with some sautéed potatoes and fresh greens. The whole dish was heaven! The half-sliced ciabatta had just the right crisp on the surface while maintaining the softness within. The bread has some light spread of butter, chopped parsley, pork ham and cheese, prior to being oven baked to perfection. The taste of the cheese was rather different as Mozarella cheese alone would not have that sharp salty cheesy taste. Some crumbles of bleu cheese were used too. The other two side dishes needed some compliments as well. The sautéed potatoes were awesome with a nice aromatic taste from some added herbs. The fresh greens may look normal but when you mix them together with the special dressing created by the chef, it was totally another response. The slightly mustard spiced dressing with some butter-flour roux béchamel sauce and herbs was superb for any salad.

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Another dish that you should not miss out for any meal would be the savory croissants. The Croissant Poulet (Yoghurt Chicken – RM10.90) which was crispy, flavorful yet healthy was another dish to remember. The stuffed chicken meat mixed with some yoghurt and fresh herbs, topped with some cheese and baked to perfection was a perfect lunch for me. It also came with two delicious side dishes as above. You can also try out their Croissant Jambon (Pork Ham – RM10.90), Croissant au Thon (Tuna – RM10.90) or Croissant Saumon Fume (Smoked Salmon & Egg – RM14.90)

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As for pasta, they would use the twirl like fusilli pasta. I tried out the Aglio Olio with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (RM9.00). This version was totally different compared to others. I guessed different restaurant prepared this dish differently. Basically, Aglio e Olio means garlic and oil. The pasta came with some cut dried chili pepper, cut black olives, chopped parsley, sliced garlic, some sprinkles of black pepper, mixed with some extra virgin olive oil and garnished with some parmesan cheese. Overall, it may look rather dry for some but each mouthful gave a totally different cheesy experience. Finally, the whole dish was cleared. Personally, I felt that it may need just a bit more dashes of olive oil, a more fragrant sautéed garlic slices and some available chili flakes for those who love the dish to be a bit more spicy.

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There was also the Crepes de Bleu (Savory French pancakes) section to try out in the menu but I opted for other dishes as it basically consisted of fillings such as eggs, chicken, tuna and smoked salmon but there was this dish that caught my attention. It was the Oven Baked Crepes Beef Bolognese (RM13.90) with cheesy toppings. Well, I had too much of meat and cheese for a day, so I leave it for another day. Instead, I headed for the Dessert Maison section. I had the Crepes Suzette (RM5.90). It was a hot and cold dessert with two folded hot crepes, topped with slightly sweetened fresh orange juice and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The tangy taste of the juice on the crepes combined with the creaminess from the ice cream was simply refreshing.

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The next dessert which was the Crepe Compote (Apple & Banana – RM6.80) was another great dessert. The crepes were rolled up with some fruit compote, sprinkled with some icing sugar and garnished with some hot chocolate sauce. This was another superb dessert for all. The natural sweetened compote had a bit of wine after taste due to the cooking reaction by the combination of the two fruits. It had some raisins and a bit of grounded cinnamon added in for that flavorful taste.

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As I had mentioned earlier, the menu had some additional dishes added in. Let me share with you what you would expect from here. There’s the Omelettes Soufflees (Fluffy) with choices such as the Omelette Champignon (Fresh Mushroom – RM9.90) Omelette Fromage (Cheese – RM9.50), Omelette Jambon Fromage (Ham & Cheese – RM10.50) and Omelette Forestiere (Mushroom, Ham & Cheese – RM12.90). I had decided to go for the Omelette Jambon Fromage (Ham & Cheese – RM10.50) which had chopped hams, onions, chopped parsley, black pepper and cheese. It was cheesy and flavorful. The dish also came with some Pomme Frite (French Fries) and greens. This was another marvelous dish by the restaurant.

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There are two additional dishes for dinner in the Les Regionales (French Local Specialties) section. Other than the Quiche Alsacienne with Bacon & Cheese (RM9.50) and Bratwurst with Sauteed Potatoes (RM11.80) available for both meals, I tried out the Kartoffelpuffer (Alsacien Potato Pancakes – RM10.90). It was a thin fried savory pancake originated from Europe which consisted of grated potatoes, flour, eggs, onions, chopped parsley, topped with sautéed mushrooms in bechamel sauce and served with greens. It tasted quite normal to me as it was but when combined with the sauce, the creaminess and buttery taste of the evenly coated pancake was awesome. The slightly burned edges of the potato pancake gave it that extra flavor. The dish also came with some fresh greens.

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Another of the dinner dish would be the Schnitzel (Grilled Chicken Cutlet – RM14.90). The grilled chicken with a flavorful layer of pork ham and served with white sauce was very tasty. It had some nice crisps at the edges while keeping the moist with the tender meat. This came with some sauteed potatoes and greens.

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La France Café & Restaurant is not just a place for your meals but also a great place for meet ups. You can have some nice desserts during tea time or supper over some hot and cold beverages. On top of that, they do serve imported lager such as the Kronenbourg 1664 (RM16.90), which was reported symbolized the French art of pleasure, exquisite in every details and universally desirable.

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Overall, the dishes served here are delicious, provided you are a lover of cheese and healthy food, as all the food served here are made fresh from selected quality ingredient and does not contain any monosodium glutamate (MSG). The portion may look rather fine and small in some dishes but it’s the standard size as served in France. It would be more than enough to fill up your appetite… unless you are an extremely big eater. Some of the cheese based dishes may contain some crumbles of blue (bleu) cheese which would give the dish a unique, sharp and a bit salty flavor. All dishes are fairly charged with a nett price tag.

La France Cafe & Restaurant would not be visible by the main road. If you are from town towards Pulau Tikus along Jalan Burma, keep to your right after passing the Giant Supermarket (Penang Plaza) at the junction of Jalan Burma/Jalan Larut. Keep driving until you have passed Him Heang, a church, Jemputee (junction of Jalan Burma/Jalan Chow Thye), a vegetarian food court and Malaysian Chin Woo Association on your right. Turn right into Jalan Servis (between Chin Woo Association and Malaysian Buddhists’ Association) and drive all the way in until your see a right junction (Jalan Irrawadi). At the corner lot, you would see the El Case Wine & Dine Restaurant. La France Café & Restaurant is just opposite the café in a state-of-the art mansion. You won’t miss it at all.

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Name: LA FRANCE CAFÉ & RESTAURANT
Address: 3B, Jalan Irrawaddi, 10050 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-412 7355 (Ginny), 012-491 3360 (Nathan)
Business Hours: 12.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Tuesday – Dinner 6.00pm onwards)
GPS: 5.42628, 100.320936

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

 

MORE DELICIOUS THAI CUISINE AT WANG THAI RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On September - 8 - 2011

Over the past few months, Pulau Tikus in Penang has become a little Thai cuisine paradise for Thai food lovers. With different style of cooking and flavors from 6 regions with 76 provinces (excluding Bangkok which is the capital city) in Thailand, Penangites now have more options to try out these restaurants. We now have some home cooked dishes from the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat in Southern Thailand at Annathai-Kitchen, beef noodles from Sukhothai in Central Thailand at Sukhothai Beef Noodles House, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) style Thai dishes at Aroi Thai Restaurant and at the newest outlet in Penang – Wang Thai Restaurant.

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It’s quite normal for diners to start off a meal with Mieng Kam (Chiang Mai Leaf-Wrapped Appetizer – RM15), an appetizer originated from the Northern provinces of Thailand. The palate of appetizer would come with wild betel leaves (daun kaduk) to wrap in some dried shrimps (hae bee/har mai), peanuts, cubed galangal, shallots, kaffir lime, chili paddy (bird’s eye chili), toasted grated coconut and topped with some sweet plus salty based sauce. Now you know why this dish is also known as “One Mouthful” as your handy work would be put right into your mouth for that flavorful chewing. One distinctive difference compared to major Thai restaurants elsewhere would be the sauce served here. Instead of the normal caramel looking sauce, which basically consisted of melted palm sugar, fish sauce and water, this version had grated coconut and chopped dried shrimps added in. It’s a superb dish to start a meal.

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Another great dish would be their Yum Pla Duk Fu (Deep Fried Catfish in Spicy & Sour Mango Salad – RM12.90). This dish had deep fried flour coated steamed catfish flakes, topped with a combination of raw mango strips, sliced onions, carrot strips, chili paddy, dressed with some sweet spicy sauce and garnished with some roasted peanuts. This is a must try dish! Just as good as the one I tried at the outskirt of Hatyai, Thailand some years back. Note: Do consume this salad fast in order to have that crispiness from the deep fried catfish.

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An alternative salad would be Yum Cha-Om Tod Krob (Crispy Cha-Om with Thai Sauce – RM12.90). This is another great dish to compliment. Cha-Om (climbing wattle/Acacia pennata) is actually the young leaves from a tropical “coconut leaves lookalike” shrub which had became a staple food in Thai cuisine. These leafy vegetables would be deep fried in batter and laced on the plate, prior to being topped with a sliced onions, carrots, spring onions, chili paddy, dressed with some sweet and sour Thai sauce and garnished with some roasted peanuts. This is a must try dish! Note: Do consume this salad fast in order to have that crispiness from the batter fried vegetables.

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If you want to try out the World’s #1 Most Delicious Food – Massaman Curry from Thailand based on the recent CNN Go results, this delicious dish is also available here. The Gaeng Massaman Gai (two drumsticks – RM12.90) actually had a bit of Indian Muslim influence as some of the ingredients used are quite similar. The gravy looked somewhat like the Nyonya Kapitan Curry without the use of kaffir lime leave and lime juice. Instead, the dish has a more Indian flavor with a distinctive flavor from some blended galangal, palm sugar, cardamom and cassia leaves (Indian bay leaves). This dish had added potatoes and roasted peanuts. Although the taste was still acceptable to many, I personally found that it had a little bitter after taste. It could be due to too high a fire when the chef sautéed the blended curry paste. Moreover, there was this rough ingredient which I had suspected to be some toasted grated coconut being added in. The preparation for this dish is somewhat different here.

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You should never go without a Thai style steamed fish whenever you visit a Thai restaurant. We had a different version called Pla Kra Pong Neung Manow (Steamed Fish in Lime & Chili Marinade – RM35 for small fish). This signature dish has concocted flavors from some lime juice, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, chili paddy, chilies and sugar. Although this dish was rather appetizing, I personally prefer the normal salty steamed ones with just sour plums, tomatoes and tofu as most of the dishes were already having too much of spiciness, sourness and sweetness. We had sea bass here.

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Another dish that was presented differently was the Hor Mok Talay (Steamed Seafood Otak-Otak – RM23.90) served in a fresh coconut. The dish was a wetter version of the Nyonya Fish Otak-otak without the usage of wild betel leaves (daun kaduk) and sliced kaffir lime leaves. I had a feeling the ingredients within the coconut were stir fried rather than steamed as mentioned earlier. It had a heavy usage of Thai basil leaves combined with blended spices, sliced cabbages, onions, fresh coconut milk, prawns, squids and fish with a touch of beaten eggs. The dish was garnished with fresh coconut flesh. Overall, the dish was still acceptable by many.

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I was surprised that they do serve Ped Sam Rod (Deep Fried Roasted Duck with Triple Sauce – RM18.90) as well, which you don’t usually get this dish from elsewhere. The duck meat was rather tender and flavorful. There were strong hints of garlic, tomatoes, chilies and plum sauce being used in the dish.

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Never leave a Thai restaurant without trying out their Tom Yam soup. What we had was the Tom Yam Ruam Mit Talay (Mixed Seafood Spicy Thai Tom Yam – RM21.90). The soup had large prawns, fish, squids, oyster mushroom, tomatoes with some chopped spring onions and coriander. Well, the soup tasted like those easily available tom yam paste with a strong sweetness and lime juice sourness. I prefer Tom Kha, a clearer soup based and not so spicy version. There was a bit of evaporated milk added in this soup for that extra creaminess.

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As for dessert, we had the Tub Tim Krob (Red Starched Water Chestnut & Jackfruit in Coconut Milk – RM4.50). I love the taste of the mildly sweetened concoction with generous amount of cubed water chestnuts and sliced jackfruit given.

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The next dessert was the Khao Neow Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice – RM9.90). The dessert came with a long roll of steamed glutinous rice, garnished with some deep fried mung beans, served with slightly salted sweetened coconut milk and mango slices. The combination was good, except that I would prefer a thicker coconut milk on my glutinous rice dessert. I had tasted a thicker coconut milk version elsewhere, which had some corn starch added in for a thicker and creamier spread.

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Overall, the food here is quite nice if you know how to have some mix and match dishes that would not be almost similar in taste. Most of the recommended signature dishes here are towards a spicy, sweet and sour taste. You should ask the person-in-charge to combine some dishes more of a salty based such as the Gai Hor Bai Toey (Pandan Chicken – RM3/pc), Kar Moo Nan Dang (Stewed Pork Trotter – RM27/RM45.90), Gai Phad Kraprow (Stir Fry Chicken with Basil Leaves – RM12.90/RM22.90) or just a simple sty fry mixed vegetables with prawns/roasted pork (Pad Phuk Ruam Mit Goong/Moo Grob – RM12.90/RM19.90).

It’s not hard to locate the restaurant as it situated along a row of shop houses at the main road of Jalan Burma in Pulau Tikus, Penang. If you are coming from town towards Pulau Tikus, watch out for Jalan Burma/Jalan Cantonment traffic lights. You can see the restaurant diagonally on your right (Pinang Medical Supplies is at the corner lot). Immediately after the traffic lights, turn right into the service road and find your parking space there. It might be a bit hard to get a parking space at certain peak hours, so another option would be go straight into Lintang Burma for more parking spaces.

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Name: WANG THAI RESTAURANT
Address: 294 Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 5168
Business Hours: 11.00am-2.30pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Monday except on Public Holiday)
GPS: 5.432003, 100.311637

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

For more information, please visit <http://www.tourdirections.com.my/directory/>. Planning your Penang food tour? TourDirections Penang helps you discover Penang cafes and restaurants, Penang hawker food, Penang budget hotel and Penang homestay at TourDirections.com.my.

BORA BORA BY SUNSET PENANG PAREO PARTY 2011

Posted by crizlai On September - 5 - 2011

Criz Bon Appetite together with a few bloggers had the privileges to be invited to the Bora Bora By Sunset’s Pareo Party 2011 at Batu Ferringhi, Penang, on Saturday night. The pareo party was a blast with a huge crowd of ladies and men trying to outwear each other with their best pareo displays. We have Shahriman Gunter as the emcee for the night.

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Thanks to Ms. Melynda Soon and the Bora Bora staff for making our presences there so enjoyable and fun-filled. Almost everyone is aware of the existence of Bora Bora By Sunset by now and the ever friendly staff sure knows how to keep their patrons happy with great food, cool beverages, electrifying entertainment in a nice Balinese style setting by the beach.

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The event started with a contest to test out the drinking power of both sexes. Finally, we did find out that certain ladies can drink faster than the other even though they have shapely figures. Amazing! There was also the men’s category. I don’t have to disclose which blogger was one of the winners right? It was so obvious~ LOL! Well, all of them must thank Carlsberg for giving them free beers. Haha!

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The staff of Bora Bora By Sunset also did put on their best costumes to present us with a Hawaiian number. All the ladies were so sexily dressed. Oops… did I say all ladies? Well, it did take lots of courage for Wipeout Jacob to be cross dressed as a female dancer. Well done Jacob but I hope those “inspectors” did not harass you much at all. Haha!

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Here’s the video of their performance:

Next in the program were the Best Dressed Women and Men in Pareo Contest. I guessed the men chickened out as they have nothing much to show in public. LOL! The women excelled better in pareo dressings as you can see them at all the corners of the bistro. Eventually, the winners went to a lady with the most creative way of dressing in pareo and a tourist with his “sarung” and Scottish cap. Haha! Each of the winners won a bottle of wine home, courtesy from the management of Bora Bora By Sunset.

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Educators always say that it would not be too late to learn something new. Teacher “Ernest” sure has “her” way to teach the guys how to wear a pareo well. Of course, those “students” needed to be taught the right way, with wigs and hamburger buns stuffed in front to be more “feminine”. We all had a good laugh!

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There was also the special fire show by Anita (nicknamed Nita by the locals) during the night. It was an energetic and superb performance under the dimly lighted surroundings.

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Do catch part of her performances in the video below:

Eventually, the staff did a catwalk in their best pareos while dragging more of the patrons up onto the stage for a few dance numbers.

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A display of fireworks presentation was set off to mark the bistro’s appreciation to the patrons for a wonderful night there.

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The party went on until the wee hours of the morning.

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If you love great food and beverages in a relaxing and breezy place, do head to Bora Bora By Sunset for your next great dining and entertainment experience. They do have fusion local and Western delights to please all taste buds. It might be a bit hard for foreigners to find this bistro as it would not be visible from the main road. But no worries as I’m going to show you some landmarks that would lead you directly to their door step. Just drive all the way up to Batu Ferringhi until you reach the traffic lights with Petronas petrol station at the junction. Further up would be Lone Pine Hotel on your right. Drive slowly and watch out for the tall Tarbush Lebanese Restaurant neon signboard on your right. Just before the restaurant is the Beach Corner Seafood Restaurant (Happy Mart Mini Market is just across the road). Park inside the car park (RM3 per entrance/RM5 on weekends) and you would see a green gate on the right. Walk through that gate, turn left and you would see the bistro there waiting to greet you with open arms.

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Note: The entrance to Bora Bora By Sunset is actually opposite the Desire Reflexology Centre and Fish Spa (left side of Jalan Batu Ferringhi) but quite unnoticeable with a small signboard in yellow neon lights with a beach view background. As parking spaces would be very limited inside there, it would be a better idea to park your car next door (Beach Corner Seafood Restaurant) with ample parking spaces.

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Name: BORA BORA BY SUNSET
Address: Lot 415, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours:
12.00noon-1.00am (Sunday to Thursday)
12.00noon until 3.00am (Friday, Saturday and Eve of Public Holiday)
4.00pm-7.00pm (Happy Hours)
Contact: 012-553 1313 (Ms. Melynda Soon)
GPS: 5.474476, 100.248114

 

DELICIOUS MEALS AT SUKHOTHAI BEEF NOODLES HOUSE

Posted by crizlai On September - 1 - 2011

Note: This eatery had moved to Gurney Paragon, Penang.

If you are observant enough, you might realize that more and more Thai restaurants have mushroomed within the district of Pulau Tikus, Penang. Hot tourist spots such as the Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple (Reclining Buddha/Sleeping Buddha) and the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple, had daily attracted a steady flow of locals and tourists, who by any chance would love to have a taste of some nice Thai dishes. With Thailand having 6 regions with 76 provinces (excluding Bangkok which is the capital city), these restaurants have gone all out to serve diners with their unique specialties from their own province. Some of the notable ones include Annathai-Kitchen, Aroi Thai Restaurant, Wang Thai Restaurant and the latest being Sukhothai Beef Noodles House.

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As the name has been described quite clearly, Sukhothai Beef Noodles House specialized more towards beef noodles and other street food from the Sukhothai Province. The Sukhothai Beef Noodle (RM12.90) would come in 3 options, namely the original, glass noodles or instant noodles. We had the original which had thin Thai noodles, served with a variety of beef chunks (3 different parts of meat), beef balls, bean sprouts and garnished with lots of chopped coriander. Each bowl would come with some additional raw bean sprouts and Thai basil leaves for you to add in. The soup had the taste of some selected herbs (somewhat milder than our local Bak Kut Teh) and a mild sweetness from some rock sugar. The beef chunks were tender to my liking. I love the beef balls the most as they have the bounciness texture. There would be some chili flakes, fish sauce, sugar and Thai chili sauce to pep up the taste of the soup to your preferences but beware of the Thai chili sauce as it could be too spicy hot for many.

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Since having another version of the beef noodles with instant noodles would be a bit too common. We decided to go for the Sukhothai Beef Noodles (RM12.90) with glass noodles. Most of us felt that this version tasted better than the previous one although the soup base was the same. Somehow with the soup seeped right into the glass noodles, the whole concoction tasted better. This is a must try dish!

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There was also the Thai Fried Rice (RM12.90). The chef sure knows how to handle the heat for frying rice well. The dish was awesome with some distinctive taste of fish sauce with a mild sprinkle of sugar. Each grain of rice was well flavored with a nice aroma from the high heat cooking (wok hei). This would be a nice dish for all ages.

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I actually have a phobia for Phad Thai (RM12.90) as most of the ones I had tasted contained too much of sugar to my liking. This restaurant indeed changed my perception on this dish as it had just the right sweetness and taste which suited me well. The dish had deep fried bean curd cubes, prawns, bean sprouts, chopped chives, Chinese sausage slices and a sprinkle of some coarsely pounded roasted peanuts. What surprised me was the usage of the Chinese sausages as I have not seen anyone in town using them. Moreover, the whole presentation looked so much like our local Char Koay Teow, except that they were using the thin Thai noodles instead.

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If you think that having beef noodles or the fried stuff might be a bit too heat strong for your internal organs, do try out their Fish Maw Soup (RM19.90). This soup was starch-like, similar to the Oriental Sharksfin Soup. The outlook was more dish-like than soup-like as it would go well with rice too. The whole mini pot had a generous amount of well flavored fish maw, pork chunks, mushrooms and quail eggs, garnished with chopped coriander, filled with a punch of tasty flavors.

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Although the menu was quite limited to only 4 main dishes, the dessert section which also had limited 3 options did not let us down. The Durian Sticky Rice (RM8.90) was heaven! Instead of using solely the white glutinous rice, the restaurant also combined some black glutinous rice. It had some mildly sweetened coconut milk with almost no fiber and creamy local durian flesh. This is a must have dessert after your meal. Another option would be the Mango Sticky Rice (RM8.90). It tasted nice with ripened mango but somehow it was still incompatible to the smoothness from the former dessert. There was also the Banana Sago (RM4.90) which tasted just as great as the rest. The dish had sago in mildly sweetened coconut milk and steamed banana slices. The banana was from the dwarf Pisang Mas (Bee Chio) breed. Most of the Nyonya households would use steamed Pisang Raja instead for a more sweetened taste. As for beverage, we decided to try out their Sweet & Sour Roselle Juice (RM4.90) and Green Tea (without milk – RM3.90/with milk – RM4.90). All the drinks ordered were thick and nice.

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Overall, the food here is quite healthy as the dish did not have overused of oil and sugar as in some of the Thai restaurants scattered everywhere in town.

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

SUKHOTHAIMAP

Name: SUKHOTHAI BEEF NOODLES HOUSE
Address: 238, Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 9262, 016-438 7788 (Joanne Ang), 016-433 5588 (Ce Ang)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Wednesday)
GPS: 5.430093, 100.313247

RATING:
Ambience: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 6/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 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)

 

THE GRAND OPENING OF DRAGON9INE AT BELLISA ROW PENANG

Posted by crizlai On July - 24 - 2011

NOTE: The restaurant has ceased its operation and in place are Chatime and 102 – Taiwanese Cuisine.

Yesterday marked another great milestone in the journey of Dragon9ine (九龍餐廳) with its Grand Opening after being in operation for more than 5 months. It now proved a better menu, a better style and a more mature chef who had extensive experiences from overseas, Chef Pele Khor. There was a lion dance troupe presence during the opening to give them blessings for a successful business venture.

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Dragon9ine is not too new in the scene of the F&B world in Malaysia as they are indirectly linked to other food & lifestyle outlets such as the BED Belissa Row, BED Autocity and BED E-Gate, RED Lounge & Karaoke, Sixty9ine Mansion (Batu Ferringhi) and MOIS. Dragon9ine has a unique ambience to suit the needs of different clientele. There are many dining areas with a touch of Chinese culture handy craftsmanship. It gives the al fresco feel but enclosed within the premises itself, suitable for any small gathering of friends and family. The upper level of the restaurant was built to suit more private dining, with the availability of a private room upon reservation. Rows of comfortable sofas with a much cooler and dimmer lighting, would suit those executives who would like to discuss some serious matters over some hot meals.

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There were some food served during the grand opening day but let’s just not touch on those dishes as they were just as typical as what any opening function would provide. The dishes included steamed rice, stir fried yellow noodles, chicken curry, squid curry, fragrant butter prawns, stir fry mixed vegetables, fish in oyster sauce, spring rolls, potato samosa and pandan chicken wraps.

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Instead of the ala carte dishes which consist of their cool & light snack delights, shark’s fins, prawns, fish, chicken, beef, pork & spare ribs, tofu, vegetables, double boiled soups, noodles, congee, rice, desserts, fresh juices and coffee, I would concentrate more on what they have to offer for their fine dining dinner experience. At RM69.90+ (10% service tax – min order 2 pax), you would be served with 11 items, ranging from entrée, main course, dessert to beverages. Please note that the items would be changed from time to time to suit the needs of the diners. The entrée consisted of 4 items served on an individual square plate.

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The first item was the Golden Sand Soft Shelled Crab (金沙軟殼蟹). It had half a batter deep fried soft shelled crab garnished with a concoction of chili flakes, garlic flakes, five spice powder, salt and toasted sesame seed. It was simple but yet appetizing to my liking.

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The next dish was the Fresh Oyster in Bloody Mary Cocktail. The name itself is self described. The dish had one big fresh oyster drowned in a shot glass filled with some Bloody Mary cocktail. The cocktail was actually a bit of fusion from the original with pure tomato juice, HP sauce, balsamic vinegar, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice with a dash or two of vodka. Although the oyster was fresh, not all of us could consume the acquired taste of the seafood. Moreover, the Bloody Mary recipe was more towards cocktail rather than as a sauce to complement the oyster. It was rather mild with the lack of distinctive spicy flavor from the Tabasco sauce and a bit of black pepper sprinkles. Overall, it was still fine for most of us.

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There was also the Ginger & Spring Onions Fried with Chicken. The chef played a safe hand in having chicken slices in this serving rather than having beef slices as not many people here are acceptable to beef. Overall, the taste from the ginger slices and spring onion stalks matched well with the chicken slices too.

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The last dish on the entrée included the Mango Prawn Spring Roll. We were all impressed with how the chef could come out with this delicious combination. The tempura-like texture spring roll has the freshness from the well marinated pounded prawn paste plus the unique flavors from the mango. Perfect!

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The Main Course also consisted of 4 items, served on individual plate. The first course was the Smoked Duck Breast Meat with Mongolian Sauce. The serving style was quite similar to that of the Peking Duck or Roasted Piglet. It has four pieces of thinly sliced smoked duck breast meat served with crepes, spring onions, sliced cucumber and served with their version of Mongolian sauce. All you need to do is to place everything onto the crepe, wrap it up and enjoy the nice flavors from the combination of ingredients. Everything was just fine, except that I would prefer the sauce to be a bit more concentrated with a stronger taste from the blended ginger. Moreover, spring onion bulbs should be used here for that extra flavor rather than sliced leaves from the spring onions.

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The next course was the Fried Tofu and Minced Prawns in XO Sauce. I always could not resist the taste of XO sauce cook with just any dish. The spicy seafood sauce which originated from the Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine scene was something that could be rather addictive for spicy food lovers just like me. The fragrance from the dried scallops and dried shrimps soaked in Sake (as some do) prior to cooking, combined with the nice flavors from the sliced Chinese ham, shallots, garlic, oyster sauce, dried chilies, black pepper, brown sugar with a touch of salt, had the unique taste that would make just anyone yearning for more. With the extra flavor coming from some stir fried minced prawns, capsicum, snow peas and snap peas (I wished they would just get rid of the fiber for a smoother bite), this combination was almost perfect. If not for the deep fried tofu which I found to be lacking in some silky smooth beaten eggs, I could have just this dish over a few bowls of hot steaming rice.

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More seafood dishes were served as the main course such as the Crispy Sea Bass with Butter Orange Sauce and Tempura Greens. The chef had marinated the sea bass fillet with some salt and herbs prior to pan grilling it to get that crispy sensation. Well, it was salty indeed, almost like the fillet has been salt-baked, but it went well with the chef’s special concocted butter orange sauce. This fish was served on a bed of fresh young corns, capsicum and asparagus, along with some salsa like condiment of chopped tomatoes, onions, lime juice and herbs. It was a nice dish, except that they should have got rid of the fibrous skins from the asparagus stems for a smoother bite.

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The last main course was the Stir Fried Seafood “Yee Mee” Noodles with Grandma Sauce. The name of the dish had me in stitches which made me asked the chef why there was no Grandpa sauce. LOL! This dish had almost the same taste as Aglio Olio with a more significant flavor coming from some stir fried dried chilies. It had a mild spiciness and combined with the toasted sesame seeds, it was a palate of heavenly fried noodles. Although the flavorful noodles dish was perfect to sum up the meal, it would even be better if wanton noodles were being used here for a more al dente texture.

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Sweet desserts are always the best dish to have towards the end of most oriental cuisine and Dragon9ine did not disappoint me by serving us with their Sweetened Red Beans served with Tang Yuan (glutinous rice ball). The blended azuki beans dessert had just the right sweetness to my liking. Moreover, the tang yuan was another bonus to us as it came with sweetened black sesame seeds filling. The combination was perfect.

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The set dinner package also included two types of beverages such as the Provence Lavender Black Tea and a glass of Red Wine. These beverages would also be dependable on the availability. Instead of the “Herbs de Provence”, they might replace with another type of herbal tea. As for the wine, I would think that the management would be glad to replace it with other beverages for those not alcohol consuming diners.

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Overall, the fine dining dinner menu was creative and up to par compared to my other visit here during their initial shop opening. I hope with a new and committed chef, this restaurant would be the next ideal place for diners to enjoy their food in a stress-free and comfortable environment. However, the service here is still a bit slow as per before. I hope the staff would be more service oriented and knowledgeable in the future.

It’s not hard to locate the double shoplots restaurant as it situated along Bellisa Row in Pulau Tikus, Penang. If you are coming from Jalan Burma towards Mt. Erskine, drive all the way pass the Jalan Burma/Jalan Cantoment traffic lights. About 300m away, you would see Bellisa Row just before the Church of The Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic Church). Turn right into the service road and find a parking space. The restaurant is just along the row of shoplots just next to the RED Lounge & Karaoke.

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Name: DRAGON9INE
Address: 368-1-5 & 6, Belissa Row, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 4099
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00am
GPS: 5.432788, 100.309939

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: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 6/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

During the recent Penang Food Hunting Trip 2011, organized by Food Digest Magazine, Malaysia’s No. 1 food and lifestyle magazine, Taiwanese Celebrity Chef Chen Hong (陳鴻), together with renowned Chef Park Tae Yeong (from Korea) and Chef Billy Ng Yih Lee (runner-up of 8TV’s Hot Chef Season One) were bought to a little Chinese restaurant down town in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. The restaurant by the name of Chin Bee Tea Restaurant, coincidentally, was also my most recommended restaurant in 2009 as well as in 2010. The chefs were glad that they had the privileges to meet up with the last remaining of the top few Chinese cuisine chefs in Penang, Sifu Malai Chong, 68 years old. With over 5 decades of cooking experiences locally and internationally, the Sifu managed to capture the chefs’ hearts with his creative culinary skills and dishes.

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Three signature dishes from the old chef’s own creation were presented namely the Stuffed Pork Trotter with Eight Treasures (八寳豬手 – RM80nett), Dry Fry Grouper Head (生炒石斑魚頭 – RM30nett) and Five Continents Under the Moonlight (月光照五洲 – RM30nett). All the chefs were impressed with the “Stuffed Pork Trotter with Eight Treasures” as it was rich in flavors and without the strong pork smell, evidently stated by Chef Chen Hong during his audio interview with the bloggers. He even tried to survey more on the ingredients used in the dish. I’ll brief more on the ingredients and preparations in our recent interview with the Sifu below. The “Dry Fry Grouper Head”, on the other hand, was specially marinated in the chef’s secret sauce and dry fried in the fish’s own juice, WITHOUT ANY DROP OF WATER. It had some vegetables such as carrots, onions, snow peas and the pungent taste from the added chilies. The “Five Continents Under the Moonlight” was actually the chef’s smooth and silky steamed egg with five different types of toppings, namely mussels, prawns, grouper fillets, squids and century eggs.

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Other than the three main dishes, Chef Chen Hong was also introduced to two of their signature noodle dishes such as the Hong Tu Mien (鴻圖面) which had Ee Foo Noodles (伊麵), in a sharksfin soup like broth with chopped prawns, chicken slices and eggs, served with black vinegar and the Gui Hua Mien (桂花麵) which also had Ee Foo Noodles but stir fried with a generous amount of crab meat, scallops, prawns and egg, garnished with lots of sliced lettuce, served with the chef’s own concocted fragrantly fried chili paste (sambal).

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In a recent interview with Sifu Malai Chong, we had the Stuffed Pork Trotter with Eight Treasures (八寳豬手 – RM80nett) recreated to check out what made Chef Chen Hong so impressed with this dish. I would say I was as equally impressed as the chef with the rich taste and quality of the ingredients within the stuffed pork trotter.

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The Sifu had really put in all his time, effort and passion into this dish and at RM80nett, this is super cheap. To get rid of the normal strong pork smell, the pork trotter was soaked and washed many times. After ridding of the excess water, a layer of seasoning was applied to the trotter and then deep fried to perfection. When cool down, the Sifu carefully deboned the trotter, while reserving the meaty parts to be added back into the dish. The stuffing actually consisted of a combination of stir fried meat cubes from the trotter (豬手肉) plus eight other treasures such as scallops (乾貝), sea cucumber (海参), mushrooms (花冬菇), Chinese water chestnuts (馬蹄), Chinese chestnuts (栗子), lotus seeds (蓮子), carrots (紅蘿卜) and glutinous rice (糯米). These stir fried ingredients were then stuffed back into the deboned trotter, sewn up and steamed up to 6 hours. The remaining juice from the steamed trotter together with some corn flour, dashes of Shao Xing wine would then be used to make the gravy with some additional pre-marinated steamed scallops. The taste of the filling was like the Chinese savory dumpling, rich and delicious. You would need to order this dish in advance to avoid disappointment.

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You can have a look at how many bones there were left on trotter. There was only one left and the rest are just cartilages, full of collagen, a protein that is commonly found in the body of mammals. It’s believed to slow down the aging processes and keep you young although there’s no proven medical research that it would really help. It’s just a trend, especially amongst the ladies who would want to try out anything just to be wrinkle free. Anyway, collagen is harmless as it would just break down into amino acid just like any other protein.

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Here’s a short video on the interview with Sifu Malai Chong by our podcaster, Mr. Willy Wah. It’s in Cantonese and is up in Mobile Radio Hong Kong now.

The chef also came out with two more of his self created dishes. One of them was the funny named Granny Asking Direction (婆婆問路 – RM20nett) which I had introduced last year. It’s a poor man’s way of having an expensive sea cucumber dish. The Sifu steamed the fuzzy melon/squash (毛瓜/mo kua) in thick broth (上湯) and seasoning to make the melon looked just like sea cucumbers and the dish had some seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, scallops and sliced chicken sausages. The whole presentation was rather exclusive. This dish would suit the elderly too as the “sea cucumber” aka melon would not be as tough as the real one. Moreover, the thick gravy matched well with the rest of the ingredients.

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The next dish also had a bombastic name – the Iron Net Golden Dragon (鐵網金龍 – RM3.50nett/pcs, Min order 2 pieces). It’s even cheaper than most of the Thai items I had tried before. As for this dish, there was again the hardship in getting the dish out as it was not as simple as it looked to get that shape. Each piece would be molded into a pear-like shape with a “dragon” aka prawn wrapped with salted duck egg and “gold nugget” (金錢肉) as the ones I normally get from Choo Choo Heng during Chinese New Year. This shaped item would then be rolled into some frying flour, wrapped in the chef’s secret “iron net” and then rolled again into frying flour prior to being deep fried. The secret “iron net” which is actually a pig’s caul fat netting (猪油網), a very thin lacy membrane that surrounds the viscera of a pig, is a traditional Chinese way of containing a loose product prior to deep frying. It shaped the product when the fat melts away, leaving that extra fragrant that would be simply delicious. The end products were sliced into halves and served with some coriander, chopped pickled ginger (調味醋姜片), pickled Rakkyo bulbs (酸甜蕎頭) and Thai chili sauce.

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

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Name: CHIN BEE TEA CAFE
Address: 124, Lebuh Noordin, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 1761, 012-499 9972 (Mr. Ong)
Opening Hours:
12noon – 3.00pm, 6.00pm-9.30pm (Closed Alternate Wednesday)
GPS: 5.412361, 100.329541

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

 

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