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While visiting Penang, most tourists would look for some gifts to take home to share with their family members and friends. What gifts could those be since Penang has a vast variety of traditional and local products that would impress just anyone? Could they be some handicrafts, herbs & spices, pickled fruits, fermented seafood by products or confectioneries of many kinds? Why not Pineapple Cakes? Huh? Isn’t that the local product of Taiwan? Yup! You’re right but as in concept. However, the pineapple filling itself is 100% home grown in Nibong Tebal, Penang, carefully handpicked and processed under strict quality control right in the heart of George Town, Penang. Where else can you get these delicious pineapple cakes except from Gartien (小田佳園), located within a heritage house along Lorong Macalister, Penang.

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You may ask me why I chose Gartien’s Pineapple Cakes (RM38nett/box of 10 pcs) over other almost similar product on the market. Firstly, I support local products as the ingredients used were extremely fresh from the farm. Secondly, it was the texture of the pineapple filling that caught me by surprise. Instead of the normal blending the pineapple into puree form prior to cooking, brunoised pineapples (pineapple cubes) were used. The brunoised pineapples were then simmered with minimal amount of raw sugar and honey for 12 hours to produce a tasty, tangy and yet juicy pineapple jam that was perfect as filling. On the other hand, the slightly golden brown baked pastries had just the right amount of flour, pure butter, egg and milk powder to give them the perfect buttery and milky flavors, not forgetting its fluffiness. With a good combination of 3:2 on filling versus pastry, each bite was heavenly~ 🙂

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The handmade pineapple cakes, which do not contain any preservatives and artificial coloring, would be sealed in little internal laminated packages to maintain its freshness up to a month. I’m sure such delicious temptations would not even last more than 2 days in any household~ LOL!

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I also did some personal tests on the best beverages to complement these heavenly sweet treats by preparing a series of hot and cold beverages such as coffee, chocolate, water and various Chinese & English teas. Hot beverages were unanimously voted as the best, especially unsweetened teas with unique fragrance such as Oolong (烏龍茶), Jasmine (茉莉花茶), Ginseng Tie Guan Yin (人參鐵觀音) and sugarless Earl Grey with a slice of lemon. Pu Er (普洱茶) and Lok Pou (六寳茶) with chrysanthemum (菊花) were nice but the thick black tea somehow overpowered the natural sweetness from the pineapple cakes.

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Other than having the pineapple cakes as your breakfast, tea, supper or anytime in between when you need your boost of sweet temptations, when else can you purchase them? Of course, you can also purchase them during any festive season. Since the pineapple cakes would come in a nicely printed box in a beautifully designed paper bag, it would be ideal as gifts to your family members, relatives and friends. You can even serve them during auspicious occasions such as Chinese New Year or house warming parties as pineapples carry a deep meaning in the Penang Hokkien dialect – “Ong Lai”, meaning “Prosperity Comes”.

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Since pineapples also bring about a good gesture of great beginning (Hou Yi Tao) in the Cantonese community, the pineapple cakes would also be ideal to be served during weddings or as token of appreciation door gifts during wedding receptions. Who knows? A little package might even brighten up the face of a beneficiary with a sweet smile during any charitable event? The option is vast as per your imagination. You can practically serve these delightful sweet treats at anytime and anywhere throughout the year.

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Overall, I find the pineapple cake to be awesome, not only through its freshness and real pineapple texture but also due to its versatility to be served during any occasion. After all, pineapples are low in fat and cholesterol and contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, Vitamin B1, B6 & C and dietary fiber, which are rich in nutrients for the body.

Finding the bakery won’t be hard as it is situated right in the heart of George Town, Penang. If you are coming from KOMTAR along Jalan Penang into Jalan Burma, just keep to your left. Immediately when you see Hong Leong Bank, turn left into Lorong Macalister. Drive on for about another 200m and you would see the shop on your left right before Lorong Bertam. For those staying in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, you are in luck as Gartien has a few retailers located there. Just check out the address below. For those who yearn for the delicious pineapple cakes but not in Penang, there’s always the postal order link. Shipping fee is RM8/box within Malaysia. The shipping fee may vary depending on the quantity ordered as stated in the checkout form.

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HEADQUARTER & FACTORY:
Name: GARTIEN @ 小田佳園
Address: 68, Lorong Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 0068
Website: www.gartien.com
Email: info@gartien.com
FaceBook: www.fb.gartien.com/
Business Hours: 10.00am-5.00pm (weekdays), 9.00am-6.00pm (weekends)
GPS: 5.416195, 100.328433

ALSO AVAILABLE IN MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA:
• DRAGON BOAT PALACE (龍坊酒家)
149 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3175, Australia.
• STRAITS KITCHEN
Pinewood Shopping Centre (Centreway), Mount Waverley VIC 3149, Australia.
• LAGUNA QV
QV Retail 221 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 30000, Australia.
• WING CHEONG CHINATOWN (WING CHEONG TRADING & CO)
14-22 Heffernan Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 4/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

NOTE: This outlet has ceased its operation around the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Nowadays, diners are getting quite fussy about their food intake due to health reasons. They prefer food made from natural ingredients, no MSG, less oil, less sugar and with more nutrients. Recently, a group of housewives led my Mdm. Lim Lay Gaik had decided to join effort to cook some of their favorite dishes, of course the healthy way, to serve their family, friends and guests. Hidden within a corner lot bungalow unit along Jalan Pemancar, Gelugor, Penang, this little spacious yet comfortable eatery by the name of Yummy Tummy Delight sure knows how to pep up good food.

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As the food served here are randomly cooked based on the ladies’ choices for the day, there would hardly be fixed dishes. Nevertheless, you can still be assured of some home cooked main courses, snacks, desserts and beverages daily. One of the almost available daily dishes would be the world’s #7 ranking Penang Assam Laksa (RM6.90nett). One sniff and you would know that the stock has been skillfully prepared with lots of fish bones, tamarind juice, herbs and spices. Although a bit spicy, this flavorful and thick soup based bowl of delicacy would sure soothe your sourness crave. It would come with lots of vegetable and fillet of a yellow-tailed scud (ikan selar) or sardine (ikan sardine), depends on market availability.

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Occasionally, you would also find them serving Penang Hokkien Mee (RM6.90nett). The heavily simmered prawn shells and pork ribs indeed flavored the soup real well. The soup had that touch of mild sweetness; obviously from some add ons of rock sugar. The dish would be served with some yellow noodles/rice vermicelli, shrimps, pork ribs and egg garnished with some homemade deep fried shallots and chili paste. As a Hokkien Mee lover, I simply love the natural flavors of the overall dish. Slurps~ 🙂

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There also do serve Seafood Nasi Lemak (RM4.50nett) on certain days. The fragrantly coconut milk steamed high quality rice sure complemented well with the thickly spiced up prawn curry, turmeric marinated fried fish (ikan gelama/jewfish), egg and some vegetables.

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You would also get a fragrant home style Yang Zhou Fried Rice (RM5.90nett) with some shrimps, egg and Chinese sausages. It may look like any common fried rice but every single rice grain was skillfully flavored. More sambal belacan please~ 😛

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The next dish which was the Fried Radish Cakes (RM5.90nett) was my all time favorite. Not only was the dish less oily than those I have tried elsewhere, it had that nice mild wok hei (high heat frying) with just the perfect flavors in it. The egg used was fresh and the bean sprouts were cooked just right for that extra crunchiness.

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As for snacks, you might get to try out their homemade Yam Cakes (RM3.90nett/3pcs). Each bite had that generous amount of sandy bites yam pieces plus some dried shrimps. On top of that more deep fried dried shimps, fried shallots, chopped spring onions and red chilies were add as garnishes, accompanied by their homemade chili sauce. However, I found the texture to be a bit on the soft side. It could be due to their healthy way of omitting the usage of some lye water. The perfect combination would be 400g rice flour, 20g tapioca flour, 1 teaspoon lye water and 1 litre water, to be mixed with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings, prior to steaming for about 45 minutes.

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Another option might be the Pumpkin Cakes (RM3.90nett/3pcs). Basically, the method of cooking would be the same except of the replacement of yam chunks with pumpkin chunks. Although still a bit soft to my liking, the nice sweetness from the ripe pumpkin chunks was just right. I personally prefer the pumpkin cakes than the yam cakes.

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Whenever they served the Penang Assam Laksa, there might also be some Spring Rolls (RM2.90nett/3pcs). Basically, there was nothing much to shout about as these were just some common finger food. You can either eat these rolls with their chili sauce or just dip them into your laksa soup.

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On and off, they would also utilize their home grown screwpines (pandan) to make some nice Nyonya kuih. I have tried their Kuih Talam (RM2.90nett/3pcs) and these were sinfully delicious. The balance between the pure pandan juice and mildly salted coconut milk topping was perfect.

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For those who love to have mildly sweetened desserts, you are at the right place. Their Bubur Cha Cha (RM3.90nett/bowl) was heaven! It had just the right amount of coconut milk with added rock sugar as sweetener. Other than with sweet potatoes and yam, it also came with some tapioca flour made sweet potatoes and yam just like the ones you have at those Taiwanese dessert shops such as Blackball.

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The Red Bean Soup (RM3.90nett/bowl) was also nice as it had blended red beans soup coupled with some whole azuki beans, kidney beans and some tapioca flour made sweet potatoes and yam too. Mildly sweetened and perfect to end my meal.

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Sometimes, they might also cook some herbal type of desserts such as the Snow Fungus with Ginkgo Nuts (RM3.90nett/bowl). This Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recipe would be great during this season for those who have cough and cold. The way they cook this dessert was based on their liking of having a softer textured snow fungus, thus you would find the soup to be rather starchy. The snow fungus is great to nourish the body, heal dry coughs and clearing heat in the lungs. The dried longan would nourish blood circulation and has a calming effect on nervous system. The red dates are basically for balancing the formula with a light touch of sweetness. The ginkgo nuts on the other hand would help in lungs related ailments, urinary incontinence and also as a digestive aid.

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Overall, some of the dishes served here can be quite nice. However, there are still some rooms for improvements for some of the dishes I have tried. There are still many other dishes I have yet to try out such as their Jawa Mee (RM6.90nett), Nissin Noodles with Sausage & Egg (RM6.90nett), Curry Chicken with Mantou (RM5.90nett), Pandan Ang Koo (RM2.90nett/3pcs), Loh Bak (RM2.90) and more. Drinks such as their daily brewed herbal tea and soy bean milk are priced at RM2.90nett each. If you fancy healthier version of street food, this is the place for you. Delivery can be arranged for purchases of over RM30.00nett within the vicinity of Gelugor, Jelutong, Green Lane, Bayan Baru and Bayan Lepas areas.

Since this is a private owned house within a rather upmarket residence area, you might just pass it as just another house. Moreover, it’s hidden from the main street. If you have a GPS, it would be hassle free to find the location as I have listed below. If not, just follow the directions as mentioned here. If you are coming from Bayan Baru/Bayan Lepas area along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah towards Green Lane/Jelutong, do watch out for the Gelugor Post Office traffic lights (Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah/Hilir Pemancar). Drive on after the traffic lights until you see a Mobil petrol kiosk on your left. Slow down and keep to your left. Turn left into the first left junction (Hala Pemancar). Drive about 50m and you would see a 3-level corner lot bungalow with green transparent awning at 11 o’clock. Park your car along the road and walk in towards the stainless steel gate. The auto bell will ring and there will be people inside opening the door for you. You can’t miss it as there’s a banner there stating “Yummy Tummy Delight”.

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Name: YUMMY TUMMY DELIGHT
Address: 378A, Jalan Pemancar, 11700 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 019-280 7560 (Ah Gaik)
Business Hours: 11.30am-7.00pm (Tuesday-Saturday ONLY)
GPS: 5.372685, 100.308112

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

 

AFFORDABLE MEALS AT TAIPEI 101 @ BAYAN INDAH PENANG

Posted by crizlai On August - 6 - 2012

Taipei 101 – Taiwan Cuisine Restaurant has been in operation for almost 3 years and I had just managed to pay them a visit recently. The restaurant would serve quite a number of Taiwanese dishes but tweaked to suit the locals’ taste buds. The food here could be real economical for all consumptions as prices would be in nett.

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The restaurant practically served quite a variety of bento sets just like the one I had at Kim Tavern @ Sunway Carnival, Bandar Sunway, Penang. One of the sets was the Sweet & Sour Garlic Pork Bento (蒜泥白肉便當 – RM9.90nett). The bento set came with some stir fried sweet and sour garlic pork, a bowl of rice, half a braised egg, some vegetables and some bean curd stick and seaweed soup. The deep fried eggplants were somehow rather hardy and the stir fried mixed vegetables were somewhat overcooked, thus losing the crunchiness. The dishes were just some simple home cooked dishes which was nothing much to brag about. It would be better if they could give those pork slices a touch of batter and presented it in a semi dry sauce just like how Kim Tavern mentioned above did.

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The next bento set was the Deep Fried Lemongrass Chicken Rice (檸檬香茅雞腿排飯 – RM9.90nett). The crispy chicken drumstick portion was humongous but somehow the taste was not up to my expectation as it lacked the taste of the lemon and lemon grass marinates as the said name. Maybe some finely chopped lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves added in the batter would have given the chicken choice piece a better flavor. Alternatively, some thick lemongrass gravy on the crispy chicken would be another good solution. This dish also came with some steamed rice with braised pork sauce, spicy chili tofu and half a braised egg. Unfortunately, the sauce did not have the fragrance as in the traditionally served Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice just like the one I had at my favorite Formosa Restaurant. It lacked the lard flavors.

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They do also serve claypot dishes sets which would come with a bowl of rice, some spicy chili tofu and some egg. One of the dishes would be the Spicy Pork Ribs Claypot (辛辣排骨 – RM11.50nett/set or RM9.50nett ala carte). This dish was somewhat like the dim sum version of Steamed Pork Ribs with some fermented black soy beans (黑豆豆豉/tao see) and some spicy spices but with more gravy. Though the pork ribs were tender and packed with flavors, the gravy was rather diluted. The kitchen should simmer the gravy more to thicken it or use less water in the process of cooking. Else, the gravy was quite nice to go with hot steaming rice.

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We were also served with the Braised Pork Trotter Claypot (滷豬手 – RM12.50nett/set or RM10.50nett ala carte). Obviously, some pork belly meat had been added into the dish to create more bulk as pork trotters usually would not contain much meat. The sweet black vinegar based dish had some mushrooms added in too. I personally prefer more old ginger added in to pep up the flavor but overall the dish was still great enough to go with a hot steaming bowl of rice.

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Another claypot dish that you would hardly get at any Taiwanese fast food restaurant chain would be duck dishes. Taipei 101 do serve Braised Ginger Duck Claypot (子姜鴨砂煲 – RM11.50nett/set or RM9.50nett ala carte). The dish had some choice duck pieces braised in ginger and Chinese wine with some wood ear fungus added in. Not a bad dish but the flavors from the Chinese wine might be overpowering for some diners.

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A visit to any Taiwanese restaurant won’t be complete if you did not try out their mee suah (麵線/wheat grass noodles). Taipei 101 has the options for ingredients such as oyster, mushroom, squid, mock abalone, mussel and scallop. We had their Neptune Mian Xian (海皇麵線- RM7.80nett/1 ingredient, RM10.80nett/2 ingredients or RM12.80nett/3 ingredients) with mock abalone (貴妃鮑魚/processed calamari slices). Instead of using the Taiwan imported noodles, Taipei 101 was using a local version which had been deep fried. Thus, the noodles had more al dente than the Taiwanese’s but still flavorful for the dish. The almost miso taste-like soup has a distinctive bonito flakes flavor with additional omelette slices, crabstick slices and some spring onions added as garnishing on top of the mock abalone slices.

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The noodle dish would go well with some dry chilies in oil from the table.

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Snacks most probably play an important part in the lives of any Taiwanese. One of the snacks that I like most was their Deep Fried Kumara Potatoes with Plum Powder (甘梅地瓜 – RM4.80nett). The sweet red potatoes were done with the perfect crispiness and they were generous with the plum powder too.

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Another of their snack was the Popcorn Chicken (鹽酥雞 – RM5.00nett). Great chunks of chicken were used but the batter was not up to my expectation as there were some parts of the coating which were rather hardy. Moreover, the juiciness of the meat seemed not to be in presence as drumstick meat pieces were not used in the preparation. Some seasoning powder with high hints of salt and pepper were tossed into the chicken chunks but it lacked the slight spiciness from some finely grinded chili flakes. I wish they could have done up the dish as great as Formosa Restaurant.

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We were also served with their Taiwanese Sausage (臺灣香腸 – RM5.00nett). There were two sausages given compared to other places with only single serving. It was a great bargain. However, the lightly grilled sausage slices were obviously not handmade as the meat within was rather finely minced. Taste wise, they were still acceptable except for the missing chunky bites.

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As for beverages, the options were rather standard except for some with a slight twist. We tried out their Winter Melon Lemon Tea (檸檬冬瓜茶 – RM3.90nett), Chocolate Pearl Milk Tea (朱古力珍珠奶茶 – RM3.90nett), Mango Smoothie (芒果沙冰 – RM5.90), Ice Blended Red Bean (紅豆冰沙 – RM4.90nett) and Papaya Milk Shake (木瓜牛奶 – RM4.50nett). The own created recipe of Winter Melon Lemon Tea was rather unique.

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Overall, Taipei 101 could be quite an ideal place for a quick and simple meal without worrying much on your budget. Food wise, they are not much into the authentic Taiwanese cuisine but a bit more towards fusion food. There are still rooms for improvements as some of the dishes were a bit out of track with more localized flavors. I also hope the kitchen would improve on their balance in flavors as I found a large amount of their dishes lacked the required usage of ingredients. Let’s hope they could revamp a better menu in the future with the help of some qualified professionals in the industry. Free delivery services would be available for purchase over RM25.

Taipei 101 Taiwan is located just opposite 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 traffic lights. Drive on until you see a stretch of shop houses before the open space car park opposite Queensbay Mall. Taipei 101 is at this stretch of shop houses. The entrance is just before the open car park. Turn left and drive one round to find your parking space.

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Name: TAIPEI 101 TAIWAN CUISINE RESTAURANT
Address: 35G Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-642 1339
Business Hours:
11.00am-3.00pm (Lunch), 5.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner), 11.00am-10.00pm (Weekends)
GPS: 5.334662, 100.307305

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

 

A GREAT THAI CUISINE AT THAI FOOD RESTAURANT PENANG

Posted by crizlai On August - 1 - 2012

More and more diners in Penang are beginning to appreciate the wonders of Thai cuisine, which has an unquestionable harmonious balance of Yin and Yang. Thus, a new restaurant by the name of Thai Food Restaurant has recently opened its door within the vicinity of Green Lane, Penang to enable diners to enjoy the coexistence of all the major flavor characteristics, namely sweetness, sourness, spiciness and saltiness”. The provincial style of cooking basically came from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, almost similar to those dishes served at Aroy Chang Moo Kata in Pulau Tikus, Penang.

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Instead of starting off with the commonly available Mieng Kam aka One Mouthful, we started with Nam Prik Kapi (น้ำพริกกะปิ/Thai Style Ulam aka Fresh Green Salad – RM9.00nett). I always have phobia having the hot sauce as in the Nam Prik as different provinces in Thailand have their own different level of spiciness. Surprisingly, I felt in love with the version here as the hot sauce has just the balance of sweetness, sourness, spiciness and saltiness to my liking. The vegetables consisted of long beans, cucumbers, carrots and cauliflower.

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Next, we started off with some appetizers. A simple and nutritious Yam Hed (ยามเห็ด -Black & White Fungus/เห็ดหูหนู & เห็ดหูหนูขาว – RM9.00nett/RM12.00nett) would be a great appetizer to start off a meal. The flavors were quite similar to that of Lab Moo Sub (ลาบหมู/Spicy Minced Pork Salad) but minced chicken was used instead. I love the crunch on both the black and white fungus used as well as the well balanced flavors from the onions, chopped chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, spring onions and coriander. This combination would also go well with chicken feet in place of the fungus.

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Another appetizer we had was the Yam Abpen (ยำแอปเปิ้ล/Spicy Green Apple Salad – RM9.00nett/RM12.00nett). The crunchiness of the Granny Smith green apples used combined with chopped chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, fried dried shrimps and garnished with some cashew nuts was nice. Again, the level of spiciness was just right for everyone.

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Another nice dish to start off a proper meal would be the Pak Boong Krob (ปากบุ้งกรอบ/Batter Fried Crispy Morning Glory aka Kangkung – RM8.00nett). It went well with some Thai chili sauce. Instead of serving it just this way, I have seen a few restaurants tossed these vegetables with some sauce and served as a salad.

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The next dish which was the Tod Man Goong (ทอดมันกุ้ง/Shrimp Nugget/Shrimp Cake – RM3.00nett each) was my favorite amongst all those that I had tried elsewhere. The dish was quite simple to make but required the right balance between the usages of minced meat to prawns. The balance here was 1:2 and the patties were coated with breadcrumbs prior to being deep fried until golden brown. These delicious shrimp cakes would be a must order item.

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The Pik Gai Yat Sai (ปีกไก่ญาติซ้าย/Stuffed Otak Chicken Wings – RM3.50 each) is another of the restaurant’s signature dishes. The spicy egg paste or so called otak otak was stuffed into the partially boneless and marinated chicken wings and deep fried to perfection. The combination was great and it could be even better if a bit more of chili paste and sliced kaffir lime leaves were added in to pep up the flavors more.

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Other than the Germans, the Thais are also great cooks for pork knuckles. Instead of having the stewed version, we opted for the Kha Moo Krob (ขาหมูกรอบ/Crispy Pork Knuckle – RM18.00nett). Each bite was amazing crispy and flavorful. Moreover, it was convenient for everyone as they had removed the bones too.

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Sometimes, a simple Thai dish such as the common household dish of Khai Jiu Cha Om (ขายจิ๋วจะออม/Cha Om Omelette – RM8) would please me most. The feathery young shoots of the food plant (also known as climbing wattle/Acacia pennata) are commonly used in omelettes, soups, curries or simply by stir frying in mild sauce in Thai cuisine. The shoots have a unique smell similar to that of the stink beans (buah petai) but with a subtle flavor. It was great to have it with some hot sauce as served with the green salad.

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The Thais loved squids as well and we were also served with Pla Mek Sam Rot (ปลาหมึกสามรส/Squids in 3 Flavors Sauce). The boiled squids were tossed in chopped garlic, chilies/bird’s eye chilies, fish sauce, palm sugar and coriander and served on a hot plate. Even though this was another version of the wetter version with some added stock, it was real appetizing.

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We also tried out their Gaeng Som Pla Grapong (แกงส้มปลากะพง/Gaeng Som Sea Bass – RM25nett-RM45.00nett). The sour and spicy curry may differ in different parts of Thailand but I love this clearer version with just the right amount of sourness from the tamarind as well as a generous portion of vegetables used. However, I would prefer to have fresh fish rather than deep fried ones for my Gaeng Som.

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Their Green Curry Chicken (แกงเขียวหวานไก่/Gaeng Kiew Wan Gai – RM14.00nett/RM20.00nett) was reasonably tasty. The dish was not as spicy as expected as they were using a light amount of sliced red chilies instead of bird eye chilies. There were some bigger version of mini Thai eggplants being used here plus a generous amount of fresh Thai basil leaves. The gravy had a strong hint of coconut milk being used but was a bit less concentrated than I expected due to the chef’s method of cutting down on the level of spiciness from the pre-prepared green curry paste. Alternatively, some long beans could be added in to reduce the spiciness rather than diluting the gravy too much.

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Most people would think that Thai food would always be spicy until the max but not at all as you can still order some oyster sauce based dishes such as the Phat Phak Naw Mai Goong (ผัดพักหน่อไม้กุ้ง/Stir Fry Asparagus with Prawns – RM12.00nett/RM16.00nett). this dish would be served with some prawns stir fried with young asparagus shoot and carrots in light oyster sauce.

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The next dish was something that I almost would not miss out in my list of orders in a Thai restaurant. It’s the Tom Yam. I would normally order the clear version as the red version would only consist of added chili oil. We ordered the Tom Yam Nam Sai (ตมยามนามซ้าย/Clear Tom Yam with Mixed Seafood – RM18nett/RM28nett) instead. It had prawns, fish and squids. The soup was rather mild, considering that the chefs were quite careful in the usage of bird’s eyes chilies which would give a really powerful spicy punch. Although there were traces of fish sauce, lemongrass and galangal found within the soup, I found the soup to be too mild in sourness. It needed a tad bit more of tamarind/lime juice or even some added tomatoes to pep up the flavor more. Moreover, some added oyster mushrooms would be nice too.

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Instead of steamed rice, you could also order their Khao Pad Sapparot (ข้าวผัดสับปะรด/ Pineapple Fried Rice – RM5.00nett/RM12.00nett). This was one of the best pineapple rice dishes I have tasted as the dish had the nice “wok hei” (high heat cooking) and flavors. Moreover, there was the bonus of having some meat floss and chopped coriander as garnishes. It would be great if some chopped spring onions and fried shallots being added in.

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You can also order the Khao Krok Kapi (ขาวกรอกกะปิ/Belacan Fried Rice – RM5.00nett/RM12.00nett). The dish basically had shrimp paste (belacan) fried with rice and served with side dishes such as bird’s eye chilies, onions, egg, mango, cucumber, dried shrimps and meat. Compared to the Pineapple Fried Rice, the former had better flavors.

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To end the meal, we had the Tub Tim Krob (ทับทิมกรอบ/Jellied Water Chestnut Rubies with Jackfruit in Coconut Milk – RM4.50/bowl). It was a decent dessert with added jellies. It would be even better if the coconut milk added was more concentrated.

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Currently, the beverages served here were rather limited but they do serve freshly brewed Lemongrass Tea (RM1.50nett Hot/RM2.00nett Iced). They should consider importing Nam Daeng (red – sala flavored syrup) and Nam Kaew (green – cream soda flavored syrup) and add in some soaked sweet basil seeds in making the drinks. These two drinks have cooling effects for the burning sensation in your mouth whenever you have taken too high level of spiciness.

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Overall, the dishes served here were quite fulfilling for a Thai cuisine hunter like me here. The wonderful thing is that they managed to control the level of spiciness well for the general local consumers. You could always get them to spice up the dishes if you find them to be too mild for you. However, they are not quite close to the homely style of cooking as I had at Annathai-Kitchen yet but some of their dishes served here surely exceeded my expectations.

The Thai Food Restaurant is located just at the back portion of the Batu Lanchang Market Food Court and won’t be hard to locate at all. If you are coming from Jalan Mesjid Negeri towards the Penang Bridge, you would pass by Lam Wah Ee Hospital. Just drive on until you see a Petronas petrol kiosk on your left. Drive on about 100m more and you would see a left turning. Turn left into Lebuhraya Batu Lanchang and drive on until you see CIMB Bank/KFC. Turn left into Medan Batu Lanchang and drive on until the other side of the shop houses and you will see the restaurant just at the back of the food court on your right. Try finding some legal parking spaces here. If you can’t, I would advise you to park your car within the Batu Lanchang Market car park compound as the local MPPP officers could be rather summons happy here. LOL!

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Name: THAI FOOD RESTAURANT
Address: 19L, Medan Batu Lanchang, 11600 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-486 9191 (Mr. Christopher Choong)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm
GPS: 5.389492, 100.305363

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

 

With National Day just around the corner, Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang is promoting its Marvelous Malaysia Cuisine for the whole month of August 2012 (1-31 August 2012). There would be an array of Malaysian dishes ranging from appetizers, main dishes and desserts to fill your appetite. This promotion would be arranged under the skillful hands of Jr. Sous Chefs, Chef Mohamad Bakri and Chef Mohd Fauzi. For the month of August, there would also be a 15% off the bill for all MAYBANKARD, VISA, CIMB and UOB card members.

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As for appetizer, there would be some juicy skews of Chicken Satay with Condiments. Of so many styles and flavors of satays I’ve tried from so many buffet lines, I would say that Swez Brasserie did a great job in maintaining the juiciness of the meat within each skew. The flavors were just right with the creamy and flavorful spicy peanut sauce. The satays were served with some onion, cucumber and ketupat cuts.

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Another option was the Pasembur with Peanut Sauce. The dish came with some julienned cucumber and jicama, topped with deep fried items such as potatoes, hard boiled eggs, fish balls, bean curds, chicken rolls, pita bread, prawns and more. It was appetizing.

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As for the main course, we were served with a variety of dishes accompanied by Nasi Briyani. Each grain of the used Basmati rice was evenly coated with briyani seasonings, topped with some raisins and chopped roasted almonds.

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One of the main dishes that I like was the Daging Rendang Tok. The dish had chunks of beef slowly simmered in herbs and spices until the meat prices were tender and nice. It was creamy dry with a large amount of coconut milk and desiccated coconut being used. The dish just lacked a bit more of ginger in it to cover the beefy taste as many of the guests could not get use to the overpowering flavors.

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Next was the Curry Chicken which was of a drier version compared to the normal style served elsewhere. The dish has a tad of Indian influence and would go well with chapatti or any types of bread.

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I love the Ikan Panggang (Grilled Fish) a lot as the kitchen made a right choice of choosing stingray as the flesh was the best for any type of grilling. The flavorful turmeric coating on the fish as well as the beautifully prepared condiment of sauce made the dish the perfect dish for all.

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The next dish which was the Assam Prawns was another well prepared Nyonya dish. The nicely fried tamarind with a light touch of sugar and soy sauce marinated prawns were quite a hit. However, due to the limitation of the prawn supply, tiger prawns were used instead of the ideal white/green shelled prawns.

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The Malaysian sea has an abundant supply of flower crabs, thus Flower Crab Curry was served. For crab lovers, this would be an ideal dish for you as those crabs were indeed super fresh.

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With such a humid weather in Malaysia recently, no one could resist the temptation of having a large bowl of Ice Kacang being served. You can choose all the ingredients you like such as corns, kidney beans, jelly, grass jelly, cendul, attap nuts, nutmeg strips and crushed peanuts for your shaved ice dessert, on top of having a large scoop of ice cream on it. How I wished there could be peanut ice cream as well. Haha!

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Other than cakes, pastries, local kuih or even fresh fruits as desserts, they also would serve some local fruits and vegetables fritters. There would be choices of batter fried Goreng Pisang, Goreng Ubi Keledek, Goreng Ubi Keladi, Goreng Cempedak, Goreng Buah Sukun (bread fruit) or even Kuih Kodok. They sure know how to handle the batter well as each piece of the fritter had a nice crispiness that won’t go soggy even left for a long time.

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Overall, Swez Brasserie do serves quite a variety of delicious Malaysian cuisine with a touch of kampong style. There dishes during our review were reasonably up to the required standards.

For MAYBANKARD, VISA, CIMB and UOB card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Marvelous Malaysia Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday – Thursday: 21 August 2012 onwards), Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday – Sunday) and Ramadan Buffet Dinner from 6.30pm – 10.00pm daily (21 July – 18 August, 2012).

Here’s the summary of the promotion.

MARVELOUS MALAYSIA PROMOTION (1-31 AUGUST 2012)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion (National Day- 31 August 2012): RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Monday – Thursday (From 21 August 2012)
RM48++ per pax
Weekend Themed Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm):
Friday: Seafood Supreme
Saturday: Japanese
Sunday: East Meets West
RM80++ (adult), RM40++ (child)

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

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

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

 

The month of fasting for the Muslims is just around the corner and Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its Ramadan Buffet Dinner from 21 July until 18 August 2012 (6.30pm – 10.00pm) for those who want to “buka puasa” in a comfortable environment. Adult would be at RM85++/pax while child would be at RM43++/pax. The Ramadan Buffet Dinner would consist of delicious authentic Malay cuisine the traditional kampong style under the experienced hands of the Jr. Sous Chefs, Chef Mohamad Bakri and Chef Mohd Fauzi.

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Together they would storm out some of the greatest Malay kampong recipes to please the taste buds of diners.

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Of course appetizers such as the Lemang & Serunding Ayam (Steamed Bamboo Glutinous Rice & Spicy Chicken Floss) would be a must have, may it be during the Ramadan month or during the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Though it quite hard for the chef to bake the Lemang in green bamboo in open space, the duo did quite a good job in preparing the Lemang through steaming. The Lemang was soft and filled with the nice fragrant from the coconut milk used. Even the Serunding Ayam was done in a superb way. Every strand of the chicken was evenly spiced up with a nice crunch.

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Another of the appetizers would be the Kerabu Nangka Muda (Young Jackfruit Salad). The young jackfruits were specially cooked in such a way that the flesh remained tender such as the texture of young coconut flesh. These would be then tossed with some ginger flowers, kerisik (toasted desiccated coconut), toasted belacan (shrimp paste), cooked squids and more with a squeeze of lime juice. Overall, the dish was nice but the nice sweetness and flavor from ripe jackfruit was not present.

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No matter which Malay cuisine outlet you would visit, Ulam-ulaman (assorted fresh greens) would be available. They would consist of raw vegetables, herbs and occasionally with tempeh (fermented soybean).

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The only difference at Swez Brasserie is that you might get different condiment such as the Sambal Cincaluk (Salted Baby Shrimps Sambal) and Sambal Mempelam (Mango Sambal). The Sambal Cincaluk could be a bit salty for many while the Sambal Mempelam would be a great alternative for something spicy sweet.

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One of the more notable dished for more energy and stamina would be their Gearbox Soup. The spices and herbs used in slowly simmering the bull’s thigh bones combined with some potatoes and carrots were indeed “powerful”. A bowl of this heavenly dish would sure keep anyone’s body energetic for any activities during the fasting month.

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As for main course, there will be quite a variety of dishes to go with their fragrantly cooked Nasi Tomato (Tomato Rice). You can taste out the rich flavors from each rice grain with has fresh tomatoes, cloves, star anise, cardamom, curry leaves with chopped almonds and raisins as garnishing. Thumbs up! I love this rice a lot as the texture was just as fluffy as I would have expected.

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Some of the main dishes would include Ayam Masak Ros (Rose Chicken). The supposing red colored curry was not spicy at all as it had more of tomato puree plus a combination of herbs and spices to give it the necessary oomph~ What I like most was the thick gravy which has some hints of coconut milk for the extra creaminess.

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Next on the list was the Ikan Keli Goreng Cili Merah (Fried Cat Fish in Red Chili Paste). The fish was indeed fresh and the mild sourness from the tamarind used plus some hints of lemongrass and coconut milk really complemented each flavor well.

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Another unique dish would be the Pucuk Paku Masak Lemak (Stir Fry Fern Shoots in Coconut Cream). The creamy gravy with some turmeric and lime juice was quite good, except that the fern shoot were rather old for a smoother bite.

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As for dessert, we had an assortment of Malay Kuih which consisted of Kuih Cara, Ketayap and Goreng Pisang (Banana Fritter). The chefs did a great job in maintaining the crispiness of the banana fritters, most probably with a light touch of bicarbonate soda in the batter.

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Since the durian season is still around, we were also treated with some Bubur Kacang Hijau with Durian. It had some durian flesh added in the mung bean porridge. It was a totally great experience having dessert this way except that I would prefer a stronger touch of coconut milk added in for the extra creaminess.

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Overall, the Ramadan Buffet Dinner spreads fairs better in term of choices and taste as the dishes were prepared by the two Malay chefs who know their cuisine real well. The dishes were rather family-oriented with a nice touch of kampong style cooking. I love the way the chefs pepped up dishes that would impress even the non-Muslims like me. Well done~ 🙂

For MAYBANKARD, VISA, CIMB, UOB and CitiBank card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Ramadan Buffet Dinner from 6.30pm – 10.00pm daily (21 July – 18 August, 2012).

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, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 6.30pm-10.00pm (Ramadan Buffet Dinner only)
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: 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)

 

Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its Peranakan Cuisine Promotion for the whole month of July 2012 (1-31 July 2012). The Peranakan cuisine or commonly known as Nyonya cuisine, is a combination of Chinese (different origins), Malay and other influences such as Thai and Indian into a unique blend of its own. This promotion would be under the skillful hands of the Jr. Sous Chef, Chef Ong Chin Hock and Pastry Chef, Chef Franco Ho.

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We were served with the Nyonya Acar Awak (娘惹阿渣泡菜), a spicy mixed vegetables which consisted of cabbages, carrot, cucumber and cauliflower, stir mixed in a spicy sauce which has hints of shallots, garlic, chilies, turmeric, coarsely pounded toasted peanuts and toasted sesame seeds and more. The Acar Awak served here was extremely simplified and was not anywhere near the authentic version. Firstly, the vegetables were overcooked. The dish should have fast blanched vegetables rather than cooked vegetable to preserve the mild crunchiness. Moreover, long beans were not added. The overall taste lacked the creaminess from more added pounded peanuts, the fragrance from some added red and green chilies and a more distinctive sourness from some added vinegar.

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The Nyonya Kerabu Ayam (Nyonya Chicken Salad/娘惹涼拌雞肉) was a better choice for me as it had a Thai twist to the authentic recipe without the usage of wood ear fungus. It was creamier than the normal Nyonya version with distinctive flavors from the added ginger flower, lemongrass and toasted desiccated coconut (kerisik). However, the red chilies should be julienned rather than sliced for a more fine display and they should not be too overpowering as served.

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Another appetizer that we had was the Nyonya Kuih Pie Tee (娘惹金杯薄餅) or commonly known as the Singapore Top Hats. The version served here was totally different as it had stir fried minced chicken filled in each cup and topped with some fried shallots and chopped spring onions. I would say they were too dry to my liking as the filling lacked some vegetables such as julienned carrot and jicama for some moist bites.

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As main course served with steaming rice, we had the Itik Tim (Duck & Salted Vegetable Soup/鹹菜鴨湯). The duck pieces had the right tenderness. The soup had the right flavors from the salted green mustard (kiam chye), preserved salted plum, tomatoes, peppercorns, onions, dried chilies and young galangal but it was rather salty. This Nyonya duck soup may look easy to cook but without the right skills to get rid of the excess saltiness in the salted vegetables and the right tuning in saltiness and sourness from the preserved salted plums, the whole dish may end up disastrous. I was also wondering why young galangal were used in this recipe as old ginger would be a better choice to pep up the flavors with a more gingery spice taste. Moreover, this was one great ingredient to get rid of the “gas” as believed in the traditional Nyonya cooking.

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As for the Nyonya Yellow Curry Chicken (娘惹風雞肉黃咖哩), it did not amaze me much as the usage of curry powder was overwhelming. It was not even near Nyonya, Malay or even Indian style of cooking. The flavor was rather flat, sweet and sandy without the prominent flavors from star anise, cloves, cinnamon bark, cardamom and more. There were no traces of tomatoes too for that mild sourness and a pinch or two of salt would have given the dish a better justice.

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The next dish which was the Assam Prawns (阿參蝦) also had a big twist in the recipe. Other than the normal marinate of tamarind, sugar and salt, the prawns had some shrimp paste (belacan) added in. I won’t say it was a totally bad fusion but it indeed tasted out from the norm. As this is a hotel and having white shelled prawns which were costlier would be quite impossible for their budget, tiger prawns were used instead. It really did not bring out the flavors as I would have expected.

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Their Jiu Hoo Char (Stir Fried Jicama with Dried Cuttlefish/魷魚炒甜蘿蔔絲) would have made my Mum screamed for originality. I would rather have this filled in my Kuih Pie Tee instead. Basically, the dish consisted of unevenly julienned jicama, carrots and French beans stir fried with some dried cuttlefish. The taste was just average considering that no meat pieces were added in and no extra fragrance from some thinly sliced Chinese mushrooms at all. I won’t even consider this dish as Nyonya at all although this is one of the signature dishes in Peranakan cuisine.

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As for dessert, we had some Bee Koh Moy (Black Glutinous Rice Porridge/黑糯米粥) topped with some slightly salted coconut milk. Somehow the dessert lacked some white glutinous rice added in to give it the extra thickness. They could have added in some dried longan as well for some natural sweetness and flavor.

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We also had an assortment of Nyonya Kuih such as the Mini Ang Koo, Cai Tao Kuih (Radish Cake with Pounded Peanuts), Kuih Bingka Ubi (Tapioca Cake), 9 Layers Kuih Lapis (Gao Chan Gou) and Kuih Bengkang (purple color).

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Since it’s still the durian season in Penang now, Chef Franco treated us with his latest creation, Durian Layer Cake. It had a mix of some fresh branded durian flesh added in.

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Overall, I would still prefer the authentic Peranakan/Nyonya cuisine rather than the fusion versions served at Swez Brasserie. This dishes served here might suit the taste buds of foreigners but to us Penangites who were born and bred in the Peranakan influenced tradition, the dishes were too mild. Peranakan cuisine is all about making the best usage of herbs and spices to storm out dishes that would be filled with rich flavors for the palate of a family. Some cuisine can’t be too fusion at all as it would kill the authentic flavors of yesteryears. Personally, my preference would still be Ivy’s Kitchen in the heart of George Town for a more authentic Peranakan cuisine.

Here’s the summary of the promotion.

PERANAKAN CUISINE PROMOTION (1-31 JULY 2012)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion (George Town World Heritage Day – 7 July 2012): RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Monday – Thursday
RM48++ per pax

For MAYBANKARD & VISA card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Peranakan Cuisine Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday to Sunday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

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, 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: 6/10 (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)

 

APPETIZING SPREADS AT SAKAE SUSHI @ 1ST AVENUE PENANG

Posted by crizlai On June - 13 - 2012

The name Sakae Sushi is already well known throughout the Asian region since its establishment in Singapore in 1997. Today it had expanded to more than 70 branches in Malaysia (Penang, Perak, Selangor & Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam to as far as China. The menu is ever changing with special theme promotion monthly such as the Anago Promotion for the month of June 2012. Economically priced compared to most of the Japanese restaurants around, it catered to the demands and budgets of locals and tourists alike real well. On top of being the first Japanese restaurant to enrich its sushi rice with Vitamin E, it also flew in fresh supplies of Omega-3 rich Norwegian salmons to ensure the satisfactions of every Japanese food enthusiasts. There are many choices of items available just for anyone, ranging from their Sakae’s Signature Sushi & Sashimi, Appetizers, Tempura, Rice, Udon and Soba to simple yet impressive kids’ meals.

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We started off with a large bowl of Kaisen Salad (海鮮沙拉 – RM16.90++). The tantalizing salad was large enough for the consumptions of 2 persons. It came with refreshing selections of coral green and red lettuces, seaweed, cabbages, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, topped with fresh prawns, tuna flakes, snow crab leg meat, ebiko and dressed with their specially concocted goma dressing. What excelled here was the goma dressing. It had that earthly yet peanut nutty flavor with sesame oil, salad oil, soy sauce, sugar and rice vinegar and mayonnaise being added. It was so appetizing that we had to ask for more dressing to coat every part of the vegetables. Thumbs up!

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Well, one of my favorite at most Japanese restaurants would be the Chuka Idako (凉拌小八爪魚 – RM7.99++), a marinated boiled baby octopus flavored with mirin, teriyaki, miso, brown sugar, sesame oil, red food coloring with a mix of toasted sesame seeds. The portion served here came with 4 flavorful baby octopuses with a high hint of sesame oil just to my liking.

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Their Sakae Chawanmushi (榮茶碗蒸 – RM3.99++) was also nice as it had that thick high stock flavors. The dish had chicken, crabstick, ginkgo nut and shitake mushroom slices in the steamed egg and garnished with some vegetarian shark’s fin and fresh shimeji mushrooms.

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We were introduced to some of the innovative sushi creations and one of them was the Inari Avocado Ebi (稻禾酪梨蝦 – RM7.99++). It basically came with a sweet bean curd skin filled with some sushi rice and topped with some cuts from a whole prawn mixed with avocado and salad dressing plus a battered coated prawn head. The crispy prawn head can be eaten but do watch out for the spike on the head. The creaminess of the avocado blended in well for this combination.

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The next sushi which was the Sakae Blossom (榮之花 – RM9.99++) not only impressed us with its intricate design but also on its taste. The maki had cucumber and finely cubed crabstick in mayonnaise wrapped in nori (dry seaweed sheet) and sushi rice, rolled with some ebiko (shrimp roe) and topped with a flower shaped mildly grilled salmon, some mayonnaise and a petal of parsley. The whole combination was so smooth flowing in the mouth. 🙂

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Next on the list was the Soft Shell Crab Maki (辣味軟殼蟹卷 – RM5.99++). The maki had cucumber and battered deep fried soft shell crab wrapped in nori (dry seaweed sheet) and sushi rice, capped with sweet bean curd skin and dressed with some spicy mayonnaise. It was not bad but I wished the soft shell crab was a bit crispier.

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Another new introduction was the Ebi Crepe (黃金蝦卷 – RM5.99++). This was a totally out of the norm way of making sushi without nori and/or sushi rice. It had some lettuce, egg mayonnaise with slight butter peppery taste and prawn wrapped in a thin layered crepe. It was nice but too Westernized for a sushi.

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The next sushi which was the Hana Maki (鮭魚花卷 – RM9.99++) was also one of our favorites. It had a little sushi rice ball wrapped with a slice of fresh and appetizing salmon fillet, topped with some mayonnaise, garnished with some ebiko and a petal of parsley. It was heavenly smooth to the bite.

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For scallop lovers, there would be the Hotate Mentaiyaki (香烤明太子扇貝 – RM20.90) to savor. It had 4 half shell scallops topped with a combination of cod fish roes (mentaiko/明太子) extracts, mayonnaise and mozzarella cheese and grilled to perfection. With a mild squeeze of lemon juice, it was rather appetizing.

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On top of those sushi choices, we were served with Kaisen Pirikara Nabe (海鮮泡菜湯 – RM24.90++), an appetizing hot pot with prawns, scallops, squids, salmon, shitake & enoki mushrooms, tofu, onions, cabbages, leeks, carrots, spinach, kimchi (fermented vegetables of specific kind) and glass noodles. Although the soup had a rather red color, it was rather mild on the spiciness unlike those kimchi soup you would get from a Korean restaurant. It would be great if the restaurant have options for the level of spiciness. Moreover, it lacked some shoyu to pep up the salty flavor for the right balance. Overall, it was still an acceptable bowl of soup, considering that the seafood added were extremely fresh.

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We also tasted out their Curry Udon (日式咖哩雞烏冬麵 – RM12.90++). This bowl had quite a large portion of wheat noodles (udon) topped with a mild curry flavored potato stew like gravy. It has a generous amount of chicken meat, some fish cake slices, cubed potatoes and carrots. Personally, I would prefer to have chunks of chicken drumstick meat for the curry rather than chicken breast meat slices as they were rather bland to my liking.

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For those who yearn for some rice, there would always be the bento meals such as the Ebi Ten Jyu (海老天婦羅飯 – RM15.90++). The dish would be served with an onion omelette with sauce on steamed Japanese rice and topped with 3 tempura prawns. I personally found the tempura batter on the prawns to be a bit too thick to my liking, unlike those nice ones I had eaten at Miraku Japanese Restaurant, G Hotel, Penang. Moreover, I had to request for some tempura sauce since it was not provided for this set. At least, the sauce did pep up more flavors for my rice.

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Alternatively, there was also the Haru (春 – RM24.90++) which had salmon and chicken teriyaki served with plain steamed Japanese rice, chawanmushi and miso soup. The finely grilled salmon fillet with a salty sweet taste and the flavorful tender chicken pieces with a slightly sweeter teriyaki flavor went well with the rice. Even the chawanmushi and miso soup were up to their standards.

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Another new introduction was the Kids’ Sushi Meal – Little Sushi Home (RM3.99++). It was a very creative sushi. The triangular sushi which had cucumber and crabstick stuffed nori and sushi rice, rolled in finely chopped parsley, came with a halved breadcrumbs battered scallop topped with some mayonnaise and a petal of parsley. From the side, it really looked like a house. Flavor wise, it was normal.

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We ended up the meal with a selection of 4 flavors of ice cream, namely Dragon Fruit Ice Cream (RM5.90++/scoop), Passion Fruit Ice Cream (RM6.90++/scoop), Goma Ice Cream (RM6.90++/scoop) and Matcha Ice Cream (RM5.90++/scoop). The Goma Ice Cream had the highest vote for being the best amongst the 4 flavors but I personally preferred the more sourness Passion Fruit Ice Cream as it was a great digestion remedy after such a heavy meal.

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Those who would love ice cream more than just a scoop would surely like the Matcha Parfait (RM13.90++). The parfait would also be available in other flavors such as strawberry and chocolate. The 6-layered parfait had corn flakes as the base, followed with sweet red bean, matcha ice cream, corn flakes, whipped cream and matcha ice cream, garnished with some sweetened red bean, whipped cream, strawberry and a wafer. Price wise, it was more economical than having just one scoop of matcha ice cream at RM5.90++ per scoop.

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Overall, those new dishes introduced were better than those common ones I have tasted during many visits. The pricing were also quite economical for diners. Some dishes as mentioned above truly needed that little touch to pep up the flavors further. I hope that more creations would be available soon for those Japanese food enthusiasts. Lastly, I would like to thank Foodsion for giving us the opportunity to try out these new dishes.

There are many branches of Sakae Sushi in Penang but the one we went to was located at 1st Avenue, Penang. Just find your way to the mall, go to Level 4 and you can find the outlet just opposite Carrefour. Alternatively, you can visit the surrounding Penang outlets as stated below or based on the other outstation outlets as shown in their website.

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Name: SAKAE SUSHI @ 1ST AVENUE
Address:
Lot 4-16, Level 4, 1st Avenue Mall Penang,
182 Jalan Magazine, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 2218
Website: http://www.sakaesushi.com.my/
Business Hours: 11.30am-10.00pm (Mon-Fri), 11.00am-10.00pm (Sat & Sun)
GPS: 5.413391, 100.331202

Surrounding Penang Outlets:

Sunway Carnival Mall
UG-28, Upper Ground Floor, Sunway Carnival Mall,
3068 Jalan Todak Pusat Bandar Seberang Jaya,
13700 Seberang Jaya, Penang.
Tel : 604-380 3368
Gurney Plaza
170-03-87/88/89, Plaza Gurney,
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang.
Tel: 04-229 5930
Queensbay Mall
2F-49 Queensbay Mall, 100 Persiaran Bayan Indah,
11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Tel: 604-643 0015
Tesco Tanjung Pinang
Lot G4, Tesco Tanjung Pinang, No.1, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang,
Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang.
Tel : 04-899 0063
1st Avenue Mall
4-16, Level4, 1st Avenue Mall
No.182, Jalan Magazine
10300 Penang
Tel : 604-261 2218
Auto City
1815-B Jalan Perusahaan, Auto-City,
North-South Highway Juru Interchange,
13600 Prai, Penang.
Tel : 604-508 0268

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

 

If you are a pork lover, you are in for a great treat as Sticky Bones from the reputable Morganfield’s, Kuala Lumpur, has finally set its foot up north in Penang since 1 June 2011, with the opening of its second outlet at Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang. The Western dining outlet with an American Midwest concept is set in a rustic, raw and retro ambience, serving appetizing soulful cuisine while enabling diners to relax in a blue-jazz tunes environment. Basically, the restaurant would serve a huge selection of pork related dishes with Sticky Bones being the main attraction. Other choices would include some mouth-watering appetizers, crispy garden salads, succulent steaks & chops, matching combos, fresh seafood from the sea, innovative poultry meals and glam burgers to delightful sandwiches. There would surely be something palatable available here to suit the liking of any non-Muslims regardless of age. All the pork ribs are imported from Holland, Spain, Belgium and Germany, thus you can be assured of the quality.

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We had quite a hearty appetizers and salad even before we started with the main course. The first dish that was served was the Spicy Chicken Wings (RM16.90++). It had 6 pieces of succulent deep fried chicken wing, tossed with spicy BBQ sauce and served with crunchy romaine lettuce and ranch salad dressing. They were reasonably tasty.

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The next appetizer was the Sauteed Mushrooms (RM14.90++). I love Eryngii mushrooms a lot as the fresh mushrooms have that nice crunchiness and earthly flavors to my liking. Morganfield’s would definitely be my next alternative venue to please my craving for Eryngii mushroom dishes other than at one of my most frequent café, Get’em Smack. This restaurant did a step further by infusing the flavors with merlot garlic butter. The mild flavors from the white and red wine used sure pepped up the mushy flavors in the dishes. The dish came garnished with some chopped spring onions and grated Parmesan cheese. Thumbs up!

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We also had the Appetizer Platter (RM34.90++). The platter came with 4 pieces of the Spicy Chicken Wings, 4 pieces of baked Russet Burbank Potato Skins and a basket of Corn Tortilla Chips (about 20 pcs) serve with the dip of your choice, either Crab & Spinach Dip or Chili Con Carne Dip. Both options would come with some ranch dressing and BBQ ranch dressing.

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Most of the diners would order the Crab & Spinach Dip, especially when you don’t have to peel them. Haha! The dip indeed had the creamy and cheesy flavors, which complemented the corn tortilla chips well. There were some mild presence of drained and chopped spinach, Parmesan cheese, garlic, yoghurt, salt and pepper on top of some chunky crab meats. This dip will be best taken fast when it’s served hot. I won’t mind having a few twist of freshly grounded black pepper added in too. Alternatively, you could substitute the dip with the Chili Con Carne. This Texas state official dish had chunky minced pork cooked with some tomatoes, various chili peppers, garlic, onions, herbs, pepper and salt. Although this wonderful dip had all the chili peppers added it, it was not as spicy as I expected. Thus, it would still suit any ages of diners.

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The next appetizer was the Pork Sausage Platter (RM32.90++) that would come with 4 different types of grilled pork sausages, namely the Spicy Hungarian (thick reddish brown), Bratwurst (thick beige), Smoked Sausage (thin & short) and Emmentaler Cheese Sausage (thin & long). These delicious pork sausages were served with garlic aioli, Dijon mustard and fresh coleslaw. Of the 4 sausages, I kind of like the Emmentaler Cheese Sausage as the meat was flavorful and has a mild cheesy flavor from the oozing Swiss cheese. As for the condiment, the garlic aioli was our favorite as it has that nice combination of minced garlic in mayonnaise with some mild mix of salt and black pepper and light squeeze of lemon juice.

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We also had the Chicken Caesar Salad (RM19.90++). The salad had some fresh Romaine lettuce tossed with their homemade Caesar dressing, topped with tender grilled ranch chicken breast meat and garnished with some crispy pork bacon bits, croutons, some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some freshly grounded black pepper. The salad dressing had some eggy texture with a light hint of Dijon mustard. The salad was simply refreshing but it would be great if those croutons were replaced with garlic croutons for the additional flavor.

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Of course, a visit to Morganfield’s would not be complete without ordering their signature BBQ spare ribs – the Sticky Bones (RM38.90++ half slab, RM68.90++ full slab)! These heavenly and succulent spare ribs would come in 3 flavors, namely the Hickory BBQ Spare Ribs, Tuscan Baked Spicy Spare Ribs and Smoked Peppercorn Spare Ribs. We opted for half slab of the Hickory BBQ Spare Ribs. It was huge and meaty with some presence of cartilages compared to the size of the baby back ribs I had tried elsewhere. The meat on the tender and flavorful slow cooked spare ribs in coal and hickory wood just fell off easily from the bones. It was perfect with some sweet, hickory and cider tanginess flavored barbeque sauce glazed on the meaty ribs. Maybe I’m a strong flavor eater but it would be more than perfect if a bit more of liquid smoke being added in the BBQ sauce for that extra smoky flavor. Anyhow, this dish would still remain as my all-time favorite and would definitely fit your palate for delicious BBQ spare ribs.

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In case it might get a bit messy since the Sticky Bones are meant to be eaten the American way of using both the hands, a themed apron would be provided to avoid getting your attire dirty. Of so many versions, I kind of like this one most – “Money can’t buy me love, but it can buy me pork ribs”. Nice one there! 🙂

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On top of all the porky dishes, there would also be some poultry dishes. One of my favorites was the Chicken Roulade (RM32.90++). The dish had grilled bacon wrapped chicken thigh meat stuffed with juicy sausage and served with red skin mashed potatoes, blanched garden vegetables with pommery mustard sauce. The slices were amazingly flavorful with the heavenly creamy pommery mustard spiced sauce. The red skin mashed potatoes was also great, considering that it was coarsely mashed to my liking.

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There would also be some mouth-watering desserts to complete a meal. We had the Bread Pudding (RM12.90++), served warm in whiskey sauce with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Wow! The nicely baked bread pudding with some custard went so well with the whiskey sauce and ice cream. You would not have to worry on getting drunk as the alcohol content would have been evaporated after the whiskey has been sweetened on fire.

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Another great dessert would be their Chocolate Lava Cake (RM14.90++). The moist and warm chocolate cake with rich oozing dark chocolate on caramel sauce, served with vanilla ice cream was simply fantabulous! As semi sweet 46% dark chocolate was being used in making this cake, it looked quite charcoal black but the overall taste was superb.

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As Morganfield’s is one of those relaxing venues with only sports and cartoon channels being shown as entertainment, it’s a great place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of your busy schedules and spend some relaxing moments with the companionships of your group of friends, colleagues and guests. You can pick from more than 100 types of beverages such as mocktails, cocktails, wines, spirits and more for unwinding. They have the longest Happy Hours from 11.00am to 8.00pm (Monday – Saturday) and full operation hours on Sundays. Draught beers would be at “Buy 1 pint FREE 1/2 pint” and wines would be sold NETT per glass. Don’t you think it’s a great bargain to pair the alcoholic beverages with your meaty meals? For non-alcoholic drinkers, they do have some impressive chilled and blended coolers to quench your thirst. Some of those beverages we had included the Virgin Apple Mojito (RM13.90++: fresh apple juice, apple chunks, mint leaves & brown sugar in soda), Iced Cold Lemonade (RM9.90++: freshly squeezed lemon juice, splashed with lemon lime in soda), Mango & Lime Lassi (RM14.90++: mango puree with yoghurt, lemon and lime squeeze) and Lipstick (RM14.90++: blended strawberries, banana and crème of coconut). Well, I did not get my lips red after having this beverage. LOL!

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Do check out their 3 days promotion (15-17 June 2012) for Fathers’ Day 2012. It’s a great bargain at RM119++ for two persons. Please click on the menu below for a clearer picture on the menu.

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Overall, I’m quite happy with the choices of food served here compared to other quite related restaurants and the ambience was so cottage homely. Though the price might be a bit steep for some Penang diners, the portion served for major dishes can be quite filling. There would be 10% + 6% tax imposed on all items ordered. But no worries as Morganfield’s is giving away a “RM10 voucher for your next visit” for every receipt above RM100 for a limited period.

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 prominently located at the left side of the building with ample seating places indoor as well as at the el fresco area. You’ll surely get great views of the seaside as well as the fountain show daily.

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Name: MORGANFIELD’S @ GURNEY PARAGON MALL
Address: Lot 163-G-01, Gurney Paragon Mall, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 2487
Business Hours: 11.00am – 12.00am
Website: http://www.morganfields.com/
GPS: 5.436072, 100.311693

Other outlets:
Kuala Lumpur: C4.03.00, Level 4, Pavilion KL Shopping Mall. Tel: 603- 2141 3192
Singapore: To be opened at 1 North Buona Vista by September 2012

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

 

PALM SUGAR CENDOL AT BIBIK HOUSE IN MALACCA

Posted by crizlai On June - 4 - 2012

Malacca (locally known as Melaka) is well known for many Peranakan cuisine. During the “A Date with Bloggers in Melaka 2012” event organized by 1asiafoodguide.com and bestmelakaguide.com recently, a few of us managed to squeeze out some time to explore some of the nice cuisine outlets surrounding the Jonker Walk area. One of the most loved items was the Malacca Cendol. Compared to the Penang version which would use brown sugar, Malacca Cendol would use their famed local product – the Gula Melaka, a palm sugar which has a unique thick, rich, aromatic and natural sweetness. As we approached Bibik House, the buttery aroma coming from their daily baked pineapple tarts drew our attentions but that was not our target as we had quite many earlier on. What attracted us was the signage showing the Bibik House Cendol with durian. It would be great to try them out to compare with what we have in Penang.

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As the weather in Malacca was crazily hot on that day, we had decided to try out just the plain Cendol (RM4.00nett) instead of the Durian Cendol (RM5.00nett) which would only come with an additional topping of a caramel-like durian paste. Having durians in the system on a humid day with lack of rest would surely be seeking for trouble to be down with illness, right? Haha! Anyway, the bowl of Malacca Cendol was amazingly rich in taste and flavors. It had a separate serving of cendol, a screwpine flavor infused green pea flour made delicacy. The finely shaved ice combined with the creaminess of the thick coconut milk and palm sugar sweetness was heaven, except it could be rather sweet for some health conscious consumers. Hidden within the “ice mountain” were some combinations of sweetened azuki and kidney beans.

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Overall, I felt that the dessert was over rated in term of pricing. Maybe this dessert was sold at a commercialized tourist spot area but that does not mean that it should be charged at such an exaggerated pricing, worst still in a non air-conditioned and posh premises? A bowl of Malacca Cendol would cost almost twice the price of a decent bowl of the Penang Cendol (RM2.00-RM2.50 at roadside stalls). Moreover, what made me curious was the separate serving of cendol in a mini plastic sauce container. Are they trying to control the amount served by charging more for extra orders? You won’t get such a practice in Penang at all as you can always request for some reasonable amount added in without extra charges. On top of that, the cendol here lacked the firm texture. They were too soft to my liking as I would presume that the amount of lye water (sodium hydroxide – NaOH) added was not adjustable to the al dente bites that they should have. An extra charge of RM0.50 would be imposed for each takeaway in a plastic container. Regardless the comparison of pricing, I personally still prefer the ones served in Penang. Other famous outlets with super crazy long queues would be at Jonker 88 and QQ Ice further down the road.

If you are coming from Jalan Kubu entrance into Jonker Walk, you will see the Tamil Methodist Church on your left. Walk into the road next to the church (Jalan Tokong) until you see a “Y” junction (JalanTukang Emas/Jalan Hang Jebat). There’s a stage with an arch “Welcome to Jonker Walk” on your right. Walk into Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk) and you’ll see Bibik House on your right.

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Name: BIBIK NYONYA @ MALACCA (MELAKA)
Address: 129 Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka, Malaysia.
Contact: 606-288 3919
Business Hours: 9.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 2.197842, 102.245287

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

 

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