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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)

 

Make this Valentine’s Day your soulful journey towards greatest love by sharing what’s the best for both parties. Nothing can turn out as romantic as a candlelight dinner. Let the experts serve both of you as king and queen on this special day. Let yourself enjoy all the romantic and precious moments you have together. Let Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel Penang, offer you the ultimate ardent indulgence of a delectable Valentine’s Day Set Dinner at RM198++ per couple while being serenaded by sentimental music on this romantic evening.

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Other than getting a beautiful and fluffy pair of imported teddy bears, you would be complimented with either a glass of red wine or mocktail. You have the option to choose the Argentina produced Merlot 2010 red wine or Lover’s Isle mocktail. The mocktail would consist of a concoction of pineapple juice, orange juice, mango juice with grenadine syrup.

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As for Appetizer, you would be served with Chilled Ocean Tartar with Pickled Mushroom, Asparagus and Beetroot Dressing. The freshly peeled crab meat, chopped prawns, onions, parsley with a hint of chopped red chilies all mixed up in some tartar sauce was a great seafood experience. This concoction was topped on some vinegar picked button mushroom slices and blanched asparagus, garnished with some black colored sturgeon caviars and served with some beetroot dressing. The beetroot dressing had a hint of chopped onions, vinegar and sugar. The taste was simply refreshing when combining a bit of everything in the mouth. This appetizer with a tad of creaminess, sweetness and sourness sure boosted up my appetite for more dishes to come.

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As for Soup, we were served with the Oven Baked Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Pumpkin Seeds. One sip and you would realize that it was not simply done. The soup had that sweetness not only from the baked pumpkin but also from some thick vegetable stock. Combined with the creaminess from the whipped butter cream and coarsely crushed roasted pumpkin seeds, it was indeed my perfect kind of soup. You can get the waiter to grind in some black pepper for that extra peppery flavor.

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As for the Main Course, it was either fish or chicken. We were first served with Pan Fried Cod Fish on Sweet Potato Puree with Carrot Mustard Sauce. For fish lovers, this dish would indeed suit you well. It was a thick slab of cod fish, mildly herbed, salted and pan fried to perfection with the juiciness still locked within the fillet. With a little twist of some lemon juice, a small scoop of the sweet potato puree and a little dab on the carrot mustard sauce, it was a mouthful of freshness.

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The next main course option was the Baked Chicken Wellington with Spinach and Gravy. Well, I did fell in love with the Baked Beef Wellington dish once at the Swez Brasserie and this dish was done just as good as the other. The preparation of this poultry dish was somewhat quite similar to the chicken cordon bleu with rolled up chicken fillet. Instead of having ham and cheese rolled up and coated with breadcrumbs prior to deep frying, this dish had a sprinkle or two of paprika, chopped onions and mushroom rolled up and wrapped in puff pastry prior to baking. It went well with the accompanied brown sauce and sautéed baby spinach with chopped garlic.

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The Dessert truly would express your love for each other significantly with the Endless Love being served. It had a chocolate fenced up heart shaped strawberry mousse served with two mini jackfruit filo pastry wraps with clear vanilla sauce, a strawberry and a chocolate stick. You would also get a Valentine’s Day Mocha Praline on that day. It was a simple dessert to me but was very well presented.

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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.

EASTINHOTELMAP

Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128
Business Hours: 6.30pm-10.00pm (Valentine’s Day only)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

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

 

NOTE: THE HOTEL HAS CEASED THIS PROMOTION.

Unless you have been residing overseas for quite awhile, having a chocolate dessert buffet in Malaysia is not a norm. Moreover, it’s one of the first few of its kind in this region. Who would have thought of bringing such a great concept to Penang other than the Soy @ G Hotel, Penang? This new concept would surely bring those devilish treats to those who can’t get enough of chocolates, whether it’s dark, white or with milk. Indulging in the luscious Chocolate Dessert Buffet that stretches from one end to another in the beautifully settings of the restaurant would surely be a great experience for many. Who cares about the calories at the mean time anyway if one can indulge in something so heavenly and delectable once in awhile right? Moreover, those chocolates are handmade with ingredients imported from Switzerland and they were not as sweet as I assumed they would be. At RM45++ per adult (Child: 1-6 years old FREE, 7-12 years old at half price), you can have all you can eat chocolate spreads to conquer your yearning for some sweet treats on any of the Saturdays from 8.00pm until midnight (from February 2012 onwards). As Valentine’s Day is just around, wouldn’t it be a unique way to pre-celebrate this occasion with your partner and loved ones?

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Leave it to the skillful hands of the resident pastry chef, Chef Tan Kwee Lian (陳桂蓮), a Johorian, to introduce to you her exquisite presentations of various chocolates cookies, chocolate fountains, hot chocolate dishes, chocolate cakes, chocolate desserts and pralines.

CHEFTAN

The Chocolate Dessert Buffet at G Hotel has the same concept as any other buffets, starting with sections for appetizers, hot dishes, desserts, ice cream and hot beverages (DIY teabags and coffee). Each diner would receive a complimentary cup of Hot Coco Chocolate upon seated. The beverage which had hot boiling milk folded into melted chocolate was thick and rich with creaminess. In fact, it had the mild sweetness, thickness and richness that I like.

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Starting from the Appetizer Station, we had all the bite size pralines, all skillfully crafted by Chef Tan. On the display were Arancia Praline, Coconuts Praline, Dark Chocolate Praline, Caramel Fleur De Sel, Mascarpone Stracciatella Praline, Pistachio Praline and assorted pralines.

The Arancia Praline is a combination of fine dark chocolate (65% cocoa) with a touch of orange essence. It was very impressively crafted. However, I found the orange flavored filling to a bit on the sweet side.

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The Coconut Praline consisted of pure white chocolate with some coconut flavored milky filling and cocoa nibs. It looked impressive but it had that strong milky flavor with a strong oily coconut flavor as such from desiccated coconut. Since we are in an Asian country, it would be best if freshly dried ones being used here.

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The Dark Chocolate Praline was one of my favorites here as it was not too sweet. The dark chocolate outer crust blended in real well with the creamy melted chocolate cream (ganache). It had that crunchy sugar bits at the base. It was decorated with some matching colored mini wafer balls. In my opinion, it was a perfect praline.

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On the other hand, the Caramel Fleur De Sel was a bomb in the sense that it was a high calorie one filled with oozing caramel. The outer crust was with chocolate milk. The caramel with was not as buttery flavored as butter scotch as fleur de sel (sea salt) was used instead. Somehow, it was a bit sweet to my liking.

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Another of the chef’s signature items was the Mascarpone Stracciatella Praline. The dark chocolate item had that shell-like feature with brushed edible gold dust. It was filled with a mixture of cocoa nib and creamy mascarpone cheese. It was not bad at all.

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Most of us like the next item which was the Pistachio Praline. The dark chocolate used went well with the nutty flavored within. However, it would great if there were some pistachio chunks inside instead of being blended so finely.

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The next dish contained Assorted Pralines. It had chocolate milk crust with different type of fillings. It would be up to your luck to choose your preferred flavors.

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At the Hot Dishes Station, we had the Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Strudel, Chocolate Fruit Pizza, Chocolate Bread Butter Pudding, Chocolate Banana Puff and Chocolate Jackfruit Pie.

I love the Chocolate Pudding as it was slightly moist within while having a bit of crisp on the surface. According to the chef, the pudding was half baked on the inside to create the moisture in this hot dish. Awesome!

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On the other hand, the Chocolate Strudel was made with a dense of chocolate, roasted almonds, rolled up with filo pastry, brushed with a bit of egg yolk and sprinkled with some sesame seeds. I love that puffiness on the strudel with a mildly sweetened chocolate sauce and some nice crunches from the roasted almonds.

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I could not believe my eyes when I saw the label on the next hot item – Chocolate Fruit Pizza. Is there such a dish? The only pizza that I had tried with fruits on it is the savory version of the Hawaiian Chicken Pizza with pineapples on it. How would this pizza taste then? Well, it was unique. The taste reminded me of my childhood days when I had spread some Nutella (Italian chocolate hazelnut spread) on my bread with some cut bananas. It was cool! The pizza had a chocolate powder flavored based, topped with cut strawberries, kiwis, grapes, some sweetened orange peels and a generous amount of chocolate sauce. Mummy~ Can I have another? 😛

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The next item was the Chocolate Bread Butter Pudding, topped with lots of almond flakes. It was simple and yet not too sweet.

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We were also served with Chocolate Banana Puff. It has a similar bite as the Chocolate Strudel but with a nice natural sweetness from the baked bananas with. Not bad!

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Somehow the Chocolate Jackfruit Pie did not have the smooth bite that I had expected in a hot pie dish. I personally felt that the texture did not suit such dessert as it was rather chewy. It could be due to the usage of banana in the earlier dish that the chef had decided to switch to another fruit. Banana is still the best fruit because it has that soft, smooth and creamy texture that would match well with any chocolate. Anyway, the top 3 fruits to go with chocolate as voted by consumers are bananas, apples and strawberries.

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All the hot dishes would go well with some Vanilla Sauce.

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The Dessert Station was plentiful starting with all the cookies, biscuits, dried and fresh fruits to go with your Dark and White Chocolate Fountains. On the spread were Assorted Biscuits/Cookies (Chocolate Almond Cookies, Chocolate Chips Cookies, Cream Crackers, Finger Biscuits & Chocolate Cream Oreo Cookies) & Dried Fruits (Prunes & Apricot), Strawberries, Dragon Fruit, Grapes, Longan, Red Watermelon, Honey Dew, Pineapple, Jambu Air, Pisang Mas, Golden Pear and Marshmallows.

Note: It’s advisable to let those dipped items cool a bit prior to putting them on your plate. As these are thick and quality melted chocolates, they tend to harden on the plate real fast. You won’t to eat those stuck dips with the plate right? LOL!

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On top of that, you would have quite a classy variety of cakes and mousses for your palate of heavenly goodies. Available for the day were Chocolate Mud Cake, Chocolate Marquise Cake, Chocolate Muffin (Chocolate Chips), Chocolate Muffin (Rainbow Candy Rice), Mini Chocolate Cupcake, Chocolate Chiffon Cake, Macadamia Nut Brownies, Chocolate Cherry Mousse Torte, Flourless Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Mango Rosemary Entremets, Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake, Chocolate Macaroon, Chocolate Crème Brulee, Pistachio Mousse with Passion Fruit Pudding, Chocolate Panna Cotta, Black & White Chocolate Mousse in Glass and Chocolate Soul.

The Chocolate Mud Cake was a simple yet fulfilling piece of recipe for just any occasion. It was moist, not too sweet and had that rich dark chocolate taste, obviously from another of their imported chocolate brands.

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On the other hand, the Chocolate Marquise Cake tasted somewhat different compared to the rest. It had some chocolate cake base, topped with a layer of lemon flavored mousse and a thin layer of chocolate glaze. It tasted bittersweet, maybe due to the top layer of dark chocolate topping with a bit of coffee powder? Somehow, I felt that something was missing there. No usage of whiskey or brandy in the recipe for that extra punch? Well, they are certified HALAL, so we can’t expect much. Moreover, the cake was not chilled enough and I preferred to have a bit of whipped cream to go with it.

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Personally, I felt that the Chocolate Muffin (Chocolate Chips), Chocolate Muffin (Rainbow Candy Rice) and Mini Chocolate Cupcake had the same taste. Except being moist with different styles of decoration, there was nothing extraordinary about them.

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There was nothing so special about the Chocolate Chiffon Cake. It had the same sponginess just like any other flavors of chiffon cakes. Maybe the chef should consider combining other flavors such as screwpine (pandan), coffee or even orange for a better presentation?

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The Macadamia Nut Brownies was awesome. It has some chunky bits of macadamia nuts brownie at the base with some chocolate mousse and a thin layer of creamy chocolate. It was a nice combination.

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I loved the Chocolate Cherry Mousse Torte too as it was a twist from the norm since we indeed had too much of chocolate for the night. However, the cake still lacked the chill I would personally prefer. With a humid weather such as in Malaysia, I guessed the kitchen has to think of a way to have those mousse-like cakes well chilled.

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Although the theme was Chocolate, I still think that there should be a twist in all the chocolate based cakes. The Flourless Chocolate Cake was no different. It still tasted like the rest. Maybe some fresh fruits with fresh cream or even some fruity jams such as black forest, strawberries and more would do more justice to the cake. Frankly speaking, I would have removed this cake since there were too many repetition of almost the same flavor and replaced it with some crepe-like items.

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At least the next cake which was the White Chocolate Mango Rosemary Entremets stood out amongst the rest. It was the unique one with the usage of white chocolate. The cake had an exotic flavor with the mild use of rosemary. It was made with multi layers of mousse-based cake with mango compote, chocolate and a touch of rosemary to enhance the taste altogether. No wonder this is one of the signature cakes of the chef. Well done! 🙂

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I’m always fond of cheese cakes and the Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake was good. The skillfully coagulated chocolate cream cheese with a cake base with chopped hazelnuts complemented each other well. It was a superb combination!

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The Chocolate Macaroons were as chewy and sweet as they should be with some chocolate sauce in between. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of macaroons anyway as I found them to be too sweet to my liking.

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It may looked beautiful in a glass with a macha leaf-shaped white chocolate and a bit of edible gold flake, I found the combination of peach mousse on Chocolate Crème Brulee to be a bit weird. Both did not blend well as the chocolate crème brulee was slightly on the hard side without much creaminess.

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The Pistachio Mousse with Passion Fruit Pudding was another of the chef’s pride. I would say it was one of its kinds. Nice! There were some chunky pistachio bits in the mousse, giving it that slight buttery yet nutty flavor. The passion fruit pudding has that clear yet mild fruity flavor. There were some chocolate crumbles in between. The dessert was rather sweet if taken layer by layer. According to the chef, the best way to consume would be by having all the layers in one scoop. My advice would be to leave the orange colored gooseberry to the last as it would somehow pacify the sweetness in the mouth prior to your next dessert.

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The Chocolate Panna Cotta was somehow not as firm as the one I had tried at Chez Weng recently. But the overall taste with a touch of cream and the freshness from the strawberry was still great for my consumption.

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The Black & White Chocolate Mousse in Glass was normal as it just had some dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse decorated in a plastic glass with a beautifully crafted white chocolate flower bud.

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It was love at first sight for the Chocolate Soul. From the look, it sure did involved lots of work with something that took me seconds to consume all. The combination of some different flavored chocolate creams between layers of chocolate flakes and hazelnut cake base was awesome.

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There were also the Chocolate Fruit Tartlets. It had a dark chocolate base filled with chocolate cream and topped with fresh fruits. It was sinfully delicious and refreshing.

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There was also the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Station. Four options of ice cream were served such as the Mint Chocolate Chips Ice Cream, Chocolate Ice Cream, Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream, Chocolate Mousse Royale Ice Cream & Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream.

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Other than the brewed coffee at the DIY Coffee and Tea Station, you have the Lipton brand of tea bags to choose from such as the Morning Breakfast, Earl Grey, Peppermint, Darjeeling, Jasmine and so on. There are also some alcoholic drinks that you can side order to go with your chocolate meal but these would be charged based on the stated price on the menu. As for me, water or a cup of tea without the sugar would be the best to drown the thickness from the dishes.

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I also have a weird urge each time I see ice cream and coffee. I would make some Affogato. LOL! The available Mocha Almond Fudge Ice Cream combined with the bitterness of the freshly brewed coffee made a great cup of Affogato. It was a perfect hot beverage to drown all the sweetness.

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Overall, I would say that the dishes served are of great quality. Luckily, the chef did provide a balanced sweetness for everything served or it would be disastrous to my blood glucose level. At RM45++ (RM52.20nett inclusive 16% tax), it can be considered a bit high for having just desserts, but weighing on the quality of the imported ingredients used and the handcrafting skills of the chef, the Chocolate Buffet is actually reasonably priced. Although I’m a more savory dishes type of person, the sugar content on most of the items were still within my acceptance level. I did throw to them a question on what if I needed something savory in their spread and I found none at all on that night. I did suggest to them on the usage of the Mexican Spanish originated mole (pronounced as mo-lay) sauce which has a tad of spiciness, nuttiness, fruitiness and chocolate flavor such as the Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Mole Sauce dish which I had during a function at Hard Rock Hotel. Other than that, they could have some chocolate bread slices or even some puff pastries with savory fillings such as ham, egg, crabstick, turkey, etc. At least, with a mix and match of sweet and savory items, it would attract more diners from all ages. But you do not have to worry at all if no savory items were available at the Chocolate Dessert Buffet. Special arrangements could be made for you to have some Chinese ala carte savory dishes prepared from Soy or Sesame (last order is at 10.00pm).

Another thing the place lacked was some soft in-house music such as classic ballads, jazz or bossa nova to boost up the atmosphere. A live band performance would indeed be great. Chocolate is supposed to relax the body and mind against stresses and won’t you think that with some relaxing music it could be more romantic as well?

On the health part, chocolate has always been considered as just another confectionery product that would be bad for health and make you put on weight. Well, there may be some truths in that statement only if you endlessly have those filled with caramel, nougat or something sugar and milk based. The fruit extracted chocolate actually contained many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. One of these benefits would be from flavonoids, in which act as antioxidants. Having 100% cocoa would be quite impossible as it would be extremely bitter. There are some available brands with 86% or 65% cocoa which would be great for your consumption. If you still feel that it tasted rather bitter, go for those more organic ones with fruits or nuts instead. Some published analyses had indicated that cocoa and dark chocolate have some compounds within to diminish diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Since you know that dark chocolate is heart-healthy, you can now safely consume your daily intake of chocolates without any worries at all.

Special Note: Parking in G Hotel can be quite costly. Please take note that you can get the staff to give you’re a FREE ONE HOUR PARKING.

Do click on the Chocolate Buffet flyer below to have a clearer view of the information:

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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.

SOYGHOTELMAP

Name: SESAME + SOY @ G HOTEL
Address: 168-A Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-238 0000
Business Hours: 8.00pm-12.00am (Saturday only)
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: 8/10 (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)

 

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

Posted by crizlai On January - 18 - 2012

NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CEASED ITS OPERATION IN LATE 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHEZWENGMAP

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

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

 

GOKU RAKU RAMEN IS NOW AT GURNEY PARAGON PENANG

Posted by crizlai On December - 29 - 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOKURAKURAMENMAP

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLACKBALLMAP

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

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

 

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