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HOMELY COOKED MEALS AT IVY’S KITCHEN

Posted by crizlai On May - 8 - 2009

There are hardly many restaurants left in Penang that cater for food as good as your mother’s home cooked food, especially those food with a delicate touch of Nyonya cuisine in them. Of course those dishes would be MSG free and pork free as well. Thanks to Carrie for inviting me to such a restaurant in town.

Ivy’s Kitchen has been in business for the last two years and they have been providing Mummy’s style of home cooked dinners and set meals to the public ever since. Unfortunately, not many people realized about its existence as this colonial build restaurant has the simplest dining layout with just a few tables and chairs. Many people would just forgo this place for the ambience but do not forget that some of the great food around town do come from places you would least expect.

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Some of the dishes that you would expect would be like the Sweet and Sour Flower Crab (RM50 – based on market price and may differ from time to time). One taste on the gravy and I knew that the ingredients used were freshly blended. Most restaurants would just use some ready made sauces that have high vinegar after taste. The flower crabs were indeed fresh and delicious. You can practically peel pieces by pieces of the flesh fully intact. This dish would be great for those non spicy food consumers although I would prefer to have them to be a bit spicier but less sweet.

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The next would be the Nyonya style of Gulai Tumis Chinese Silver Pomfret (RM62 – based on market rate). Although most restaurants would use Black Pomfret (or cheong) in this dish, Ivy’s Kitchen decided to use Chinese Silver Pomfret (Tao Tay – the most expensive fish of the pomfret family which would cost about RM55 per kg) instead for this dish. I guessed you would have to preorder this fish prior to dining there as the local pomfret would not always be so commonly available in the market. The gravy was richly filled with the sour taste of tamarind, the colors and spiciness of blended chilies, turmeric, onions, chopped ginger flower buds, lemongrass and a few more leafy herbs. Although the fish was fresh (but a bit overcooked due to a bit of hiccups at our side), it was slightly sweet to my taste bud. I think the cook should take note that fresh fish should not be cooked prior to the complete arrival of the customers, especially when it was such an expensive fish. Moreover, a lighter hand in the application of sugar (or none due to many health conscious consumers nowadays although I understood that it was a way to replace the sweetness by not using MSG) would have to be taken note seriously.

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The Assam Prawns (Tamarind Prawns – RM20 for 10 prawns) was indeed a favorite amongst some of us as it was fried drier than what you would get elsewhere and with a bit of crispy sensation on the shell. The dish was marvelous except that I would still prefer my food to be a bit less sweet but then you would not get that extra crispy fragrance without sugar right? Well, another thing the restaurant should take note would be on the marinating time for the prawns. The inner taste was a bit bland as the tamarind did not soak into the flesh. My advice would be to have the prawns slightly slit at the back. The restaurant should also reconsider the price for the prawns (RM20-25 per kg in the wet market). I felt that it was a bit pricey considering that I can get five 3 times larger prawns cooked elsewhere at less than RM25.

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I love the next dish which was the Fried Beancurd with Leeks (RM12). The savory dish came with sliced carrots, big onions, leeks and many prawns (same sized as the above dish which I would like the management to reconsider the price compared to the quantity of prawns served in this dish). The dish had all the necessary tastes for a perfect dish. Maybe the cook can consider adding a bit of gravy when all the dishes served would be of a drier based.

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It has been quite some time since I had Tofu with Seaweed Soup (RM15). The soup in fact has lots of ingredients added in on top of the tofu cuts and seaweed. The other ingredients included sliced carrots, fish balls, cabbage, minced chicken balls and prawns, garnished with fragrant garlic oil. The soup was rich in flavor with the seaweed enhancing further the taste. I would personally prefer a bit more of clearer based soup added for this dish.

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No homely meal would be complete without the serving of a vegetable dish. We were served with a simple yet nutritious Fried Snow Pea Shoots with Bean Sprouts (RM10). The fibrous snow pea shoots  (dou miao) combined real well with the smooth bean sprouts and these were just fried with some oil and soy sauce, garnished with some fried garlic. To enhance the color and taste of this dish, a little carrot and ginger strips would make this dish beautiful. Maybe adding a bit of fried salted fish, fried dried sole fillet or even fresh seaweed strips would make the dish more flavorful.

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The dinner ended with a Fruit Platter (RM12) which consisted two freshly cut mangoes, half a papaya and some longan.

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Finding Ivy’s kitchen would not be hard as it is located just 3 shop houses away from Jemputree at Jalan Burma but the only problem would be finding your way to get into Jalan Chow Thye as the road had recently being converted into a one-way street. There are actually a few ways to get to the restaurant but I will show you the easiest way to reach there with the minimum turns. If you are coming from Jalan Penang into Jalan Burma, drive all the way to the Jalan Larut traffic light (Giant Supermarket). Keep to your right after the traffic light and look out for Neww BT Café. Turn right into Jalan Arraton immediately after the food court. Drive on until you see a junction on your left (Jalan Irrawadi). Turn into the road and keep a watch out for the third road on your left (Jalan Phuah Hin Leong, Jalan Tavoy and Jalan Chow Thye) for Restoran Ros Mawar which is located at the end of Jalan Chow Thye. Turn left into the road and you will see Ivy’s Kitchen on the right immediately before Isaribi Tei Japanaese Restaurant. Alternatively, you can drive up to Goodall 2 Café (next to Jemputree) and park your car in the food court’s car park and walk to the restaurant.

IVYKITCHENMAP

Name: IVY’S KITCHEN
58 Jalan Chow Thye,10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 9.00am-9.00pm (except Saturday), 6.00pm-9.00pm (Saturday)
Contact: 013-433 7878 (Mr. Tan), 016-433 7130 (Ms. Ivy)
GPS: 5.424715, 100.320686

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: 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: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

THE OPENING OF BUKOTSU RAMEN HOUSE AT PENANG TIMES SQUARE

Posted by crizlai On May - 2 - 2009

NOTE: This restaurant has ceased its operation at Penang Times Square.

Thursday was the opening day for two new restaurants at Penang Times Square. Needless to say, most people would have known about the delicious ice creams served at Swensen’s. In fact, they have added some new local dishes that did look real impressive in terms of photos and pricing with the same “buy one eat the next one free concept”. The other newly opened restaurant would be Bukotsu Ramen House with a simple dining layout downstairs and a Japanese styled “sit-on-the-floor” concept upstairs.

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Since I’m a spicy food lover, I have decided to check out the Volcano Ramen (RM12.90). The texture and springiness of the ramen was good. The dish came with an almost curry noodles type of soup (except the taste of lemongrass), rich in flavorful stock, with a slice of the pinkish Japanese fish cake, half a hard boiled egg, a few large slices of BBQ pork (char siew), bean sprouts, chopped spinach, corn kernels, chopped spring onions and a spoonful of chili paste. The chili paste was somewhat like the Korean chili paste, chili hotness minus the oil. It was supposed to be a spicy hot dish but I found it to be real mild. Moreover, the portion was too little as a main dish for the price paid. Even with the side order (one discounted side order allowed per bowl of ramen), I did not feel full at all.

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The side order was Pan Pan Chi (RM2 in a smaller portion compared to RM8 for a larger serving from the ala carte menu). This is in fact a cold dish. The smoothness of the chicken slices was great, combined with the tenderness and juiciness of each slices. The dish has sliced cucumber with dressing that tasted quite like concentrated miso paste and garnished with some roasted sesame seeds. This dish would be beautiful as starter.

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The next order was the Chicken Teriyaki Bento (RM16). At least the price for this dish quite justified with the dishes ranging from miso soup, appetizer (kimchi), salad (finely sliced cabbage/purple cabbage and carrots with sesame oil and fish sauce, served with cucumber slices), chicken in teriyaki sauce, Japanese rice and dessert (fruit cuts). As for the soup, I prefer it to have a stronger miso flavored broth. The kimchi was normal as it contained more vinegar and was not as spicy as it should be. The salad was fine but it was nothing real special on the dressing. The chicken slices, cooked in teriyaki sauce has the quality of a good dish but it was too diluted to my liking, especially when I tried to dip my not so compact Japanese rice pieces. The chef should have made them more compact to avoid the rice to loosen wildly when use chopsticks. The fruits were just watermelon and papaya.

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Dobin Mushi (RM8) would be a must order for soup lovers. The soup has been double boiled for more than 24 hours and it was rich in flavor. It came in a cute ceramic teapot with a nice teacup and a slice of lime. In the teapot was some chicken slices, a prawn, carrot slices, a pinkish Japanese fish cake, mushrooms, ginkgo nut and some chopped spring onions. I prefer this dish to be taken in its original form although adding some squeezes of lime juice did give it a bit of sourness plus reducing the strong aroma of the chicken soup.

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Shochu Cheese Cake (RM7 for two slices) was served as dessert. Shochu or soju as it may also be called in the US export market is actually a distilled beverage made out of barley, rice or sweet potatoes starches. It has a 25% alcohol volume. It has a nutty taste compared to the fruity taste of sake. I found the cheese cake to be far less in the taste of shochu. It was too mild with the overpowering taste of milk with a less cheesy taste. In fact, the dessert had too much of gelatin added, thus it was rather hard. Moreover, too much of butter had been added to the digestive biscuit type of base and it was too salty to my liking. Maybe margarine would be a better choice to firm up the base for this dessert.

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Green Tea Ice Cream (RM3.50) was served free just for the opening day. The ice cream came with some sweetened boiled kidney beans and some pine nuts. The kidney beans were just nice for my sweetness but it would be better if they were to be a bit softer. The pine nuts were nicely roasted but the ice cream to me tasted a bit too artificial. Although it was creamy and smooth, it has a strong taste of commercially produced green tea powder. Let’s hope the restaurant would look into a better alternative or solution to this dessert.

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Iced Green Tea (RM1/glass) was served free flow for the day.

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The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to the open space area with all the fountains. The restaurant is located at the same row with Marrybrown, Tsuruya Sushi Bar and a few shops away from Swensen’s and Roti Bakar Kopitiam.

BUKOTSUSMAP

Name: BUKOTSU RAMEN HOUSE
Address:
Lot BPC-G-7, Ground Floor, Penang Times Square,
73 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am-10.30pm
Contact: 604-227 0053
GPS: 5.412683, 100.326141

RATING:
Ambience: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

AN INSIGHT VIEW OF HAVEN DELIGHTS @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE

Posted by crizlai On April - 23 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operations at Penang Times Square and has moved to Gurney Plaza, Penang, under the name of Xiao Nan Guo Cuisine.

INTERIOR

When I mention about insight, please do bear with me on a long post with a detailed study into Haven Delights. Ever since my first visit to Haven Delights, I must admit that I just could not get enough of their various ranges of cuisine from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It was not the food alone that attracted my attention but the friendliness, smiling faces and wonderful services from every level of the restaurant management. It has also been quite awhile ever since I had encountered innovative chefs and management that were so receptive to feedbacks and their willingness to post mortem mistakes to serve their best to meet the demands and requests of their patrons. This is the true quality of how good a restaurant should be and the success story behind Penang Times Square’s latest restaurant, Haven Delights.

TEAPOTS

It was truly a privilege to be invited by the management of Haven Delights and also a wonderful experience working closely with the Chairman & Managing Director, Mr. Ng Boon Tong, Executive Chef, Mr. Edwin Teo, Sous Chef, Mr. Alex and staff to provide some of the Food Blogging Community members the opportunity to try out their fabulous cuisines last Saturday. The turnout was marvelous with 19 of us from Penang and KL. Without much ado, let’s hit the review items that were served to us.

MDCHEFS

COLD CUTS:

The Hotzzz Abalone (from the Buffet Menu) dish came as a real surprise for many of us as it was topped with the chef’s homemade spicy paste and eel sauce, then garnished with fried garlic and spring onions. This was the first time I had tasted abalone served in this method (the next closest would be the abalone salad I had at Sarkies Corner in E&O Hotel) where the chili paste was not too spicy and yet very appetizing. The Unagi Tofu (from the Buffet Menu) on the other hand was milder with a grilled eel slice being laid above a silky and smooth tofu with chopped fried garlic, spring onions and bonito flakes as garnishes. The accompanied sweet sauce combined well with each of the ingredients.

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MAIN DISHES:

The Chicken Ban Ban (RM10) which had fried chicken pieces, deep fried eggs and topped with the chef’s 3 types of special sauces and shredded nori was another great tasting dish. The only hiccup was that although the chicken pieces were juicy enough, it lacked a bit more of seasoning which would make the whole dish perfect. Moreover, the presentation for the night was kind of flat compared to the few times I had tasted out this dish. The kitchen had now reverted to the earlier style as shown in the comparison photos below. Try combining all the 3 sauces (mayo, wasabi mayo & sweet sauce) on the dish and you will feel the sensation of sweet, creamy and spiciness with each bite. With almost all the items being fried, there were hardly any signs of the dish being oily.

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The Red Dragon Prawn with Jammy Sauce (RM20) which was presented next was a colorful dish. It had giant battered prawns, ball-like white dragon fruit cooked with the chef special fruity sauce. The tangy and slightly spiced flavor from the dish was unique to many. Due to the existence of so many food critics in our group that night, I guessed the chef was a bit nervous and came out with a slightly overcooked dragon fruit ball. Most of us thought it was kiwi fruit instead. I hope the kitchen staff will take note that fruits are not meant to be overcooked or they would lose out on their Vitamin C nutrient. Overall, the dish was still great for many, especially when taken with the shredded radish side dish.

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Next on our review list was the Motoyaki Scallop (RM14 for 5pcs). Since I’m a heavier flavor and spicy rich eater, I have no problem with the scallops served that night, except that I found them to be potentially spicy for many people, especially children. Moreover, the tabasco pepper sauce-like spiciness and thousand island type of creaminess from the toppings had somehow overpowered the freshness taste of the scallops. I would recommend the kitchen to look into the possibility of coming out with a milder dish for those non-spicy food patrons, e.g. plain grilled scallops with some lighter flavored sauces.

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For those Korean food lovers, the next dish which was Korean Beef Kimchi (RM16) would be ideal. The homemade kimchi was good as it was just nice without the overpowering taste of chili and vinegar. The beef slices were tender and juicy. I won’t mind having this dish with a bowl of hot steaming rice.

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The Lamb Teriyaki (RM18 for 2 cuts) had a sweet and slightly grill-burned taste. It tasted nice except that the lamb cuts for that night was not as perfect as the ones I had earlier. It somehow lacked the little fatty portions that would be ideal for any grilled lamb cuts. That might be the reason why certain parts of the meat were not well flavored or tender enough for the consumptions of some of the floggers.

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I loved the uniqueness in taste of the restaurant sous chef, Alex’s creation – Homemade Spicy Chicken (RM15). The fried chicken pieces, chopped fermented black beans, red chilies, garlic, spring onions, curry leaves and sesame seeds were cooked in thick, sweet and spicy gravy and these complimented each ingredients wonderfully. This would be another great item to be taken with hot steaming rice or mantou.

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The newly menu added Shanghai Honey Spare Ribs (RM18) served for the night was the most disappointed dish to be served for the night as most of us considered the dish to be over salty. Somehow the saltiness overpowered the sweetness of the honey. Moreover, the meat on the ribs was rather hardy to be taken in a chopsticks serving dining. I would suggest that spare ribs be braised prior to frying as it would loosen the meat more on the ribs. On top of the awareness on the correct combination of taste, a fattier choice of ribs would be more ideal in this type of dish. As for presentation wise, the rearrangement of the ribs by our own flogger, Jason, would be better as the dish would not look so flat.

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NOODLES:

Although the next dish Japanese Yaki Udon (RM12) was a common dish, the paper thin bonito flakes made it livelier as they were moving along with the heat from the dish. Most of us found the dish to be a bit too wet and the high heat frying (wok hei) was a bit overpowering. The revised version served later was drier and tasted better.

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CHEF’S SPECIAL SURPRISE:

The Tempura Cheese Maki served to us individually was the new creation of Edwin Teo, the executive chef of Haven Delights. The mildly burn tempura unagi roll topped with creamy Mozarella cheese was wonderful. I wished I could have more serving of this dish on that night.

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There were also another two unexpected food testing from the kitchen for the event. One was the beautifully blue fuel gel flamed and aluminum foil wrap baked Chicken Bomb. The presentation was good but the spicy and thyme enhanced flavor of the mashed salmon somehow did not match well with the fiber texture of the chicken meat. The whole combination did not meet our likings much. I personally felt that salmon should be taken in bigger chunks or in thin slices and should not be mashed up to taste like tuna. Maybe a milder herb usage or a non spicy version would be better for the dish. Let’s leave this to the chef to figure out.

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The other unexpected dish was the HK Style Wan Than Mee (RM22). Most of us considered the price to be a bit high even if the wonton were to be big and fully filled with prawns. The dish had four big wontons and a generous amount of young kalian (Chinese broccoli/kale) on top of the springy thick wonton noodles. The soup broth was thick and suited the noodles well but the wontons had some problems. The usage of some blended squid paste resulted in the prawns to be rather soft and powdery taste like as though they were not fresh. I would personally prefer either a bit of minced meat were to be used for the extra bite sensation or some chopped spring onions/Chinese celery to be added to the fresh prawns with a drop or two of sesame oil and light seasoning. Having some chopped jicama, carrots or water chestnuts would surely be an added bonus to the wontons. I also felt that plain fried garlic oil on top of the chopped spring onions served as garnishes would give would give the extra fragrance to the noodles compared to using fried shallots.

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HOMEMADE DESSERTS:

We also had the options to try out two of their special homemade desserts which were Macha Ice Cream and Kuru Goma Ice Cream. The Macha Ice Cream (RM8) had thick green tea extract blended into the ice cream, served with two mochi (glutinous rice balls) and topped with red bean paste. There were many disputes over this dessert as some prefer it not to be so strong in green tea flavor and to be sweeter in taste. Some prefer the red bean paste to be blended finer and even suggested the usage of kidney beans so that it would go smoother with each luxurious mouthful. There were also feedbacks on a less chewy mochi or had the mochi filled with red bean paste instead. To me, it would be each individual’s preferences as not everyone will have the same taste bud. I would think this dessert would be suitable for those who love to indulge in having dessert but are afraid of their blood sugar level. On the other hand, the mochi were indeed chewy hard but it has a great scientific explanation to that. Which item would not turn hard at freezing point? Even the Tempura Ice Cream which I had tried during my earlier visit had harder tempura bits compared to the actual room temperature ones I had tried before. Maybe the kitchen might want to consider having a nutty, chocolate or fruity version by considering the usage of roasted peanuts, pistachio, chocolate rice or even bananas. Simplicity might even be the better solution for this dessert.

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Next of the dessert option was the Kuru Goma Ice Cream (RM8) which had a ratio of 3:7 of grinded black sesame seeds to the ice cream, topped with crushed peanuts. Most of the floggers loved this flavor as this dessert was sweeter compared to the Macha Ice Cream but there were still some who prefer to have more black sesame flavor in the ice cream. Moreover, some had also considered the presentation to be a bit too plain and lack in colors. I would think sprinkling some roasted black sesame seeds and garnish with a leaf or two of mint leaves would be the solution.

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The above items were the food specially arranged for us to review. There are still many hundreds more of new items available in the Ala Carte and Buffet menus. Buffet lunch and dinner would be priced at RM49.90+ per person (Children 50% off). You can order as many items as you like in their over 90 dishes buffet menu list within the allocated two hours duration from as early as 10.30am until 11.00pm daily. Do take note that wastage above 100gms would be charged accordingly. Here are some of the side dishes they may serve on the buffet line on top of those orders you can make from the buffet menu.

BUFFETSIDEDISHES

There were also some great dishes that I had tasted from this restaurant during my other visits other than the ones I had reviewed last month and I would like to share with you here. If you like to have a lighter meal, you can try out the Karapachio Salad (RM10). It would come with a variety of greens, some fish cake slices and served with their specially prepared sashimi raw fish mix sauce. It was indeed refreshing and unique.

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If you are keen on trying out cold noodles, you should try the Tenzaru Soba (RM14). It would come with a rack of noodles on ice cubes, served with tempura prawns and vegetables, a thick broth for dipping and some condiments for you to adjust your level of flavor. I loved every items served in this dish.

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Even the Silky Lau Mee (RM12), almost similar to the taste of the tested HK Style Wan Than Mee except for the wonton, tasted great with broiled young kalian, crab stick strips and boiled chicken slices. The taste of the broth blended well with the springy thick wonton noodles.

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Another quite similar to the Tempura Cheese Maki dish was the Aburi Ebi Cheese Maki (RM18). This was a marvelous dish indeed. It has 6 pieces of lovely Mozarella cheese enriched rolls (maki) and 2 pieces of tempura prawn rolls. There were also a lot of tobiko (flying fish roes) sprinkled on them. It was simply yummylicious!!

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Just to prove to you that the restaurant would do anything to accommodate to the request of its customers, I had presented them with a task of coming out with a dish with a packet of mixed flavored beans and seaweed as rice garnishes I had received from Japan. The result was amazing… A well presented plate of triangular shaped Traditional Onigiri (三角形日式飯糰), a cooked Japanese white rice finger food wrapped in nori (edible seaweed). Thanks to Mr. Melvin Loo, the sushi assistant, for coming out with this wonderful out-of-the-menu item. You have indeed proven your worthiness to be amongst the top in sushi making.

ONIGIRI

Last but not least, I would like to thank the management and staff of Haven Delights for giving us, the Food Blogging Community, the opportunity to try out the food and in trusting us in our feedbacks for further improvement to the quality of food in Penang.

MANAGEMENT

I would also like to thank the following attendees for making this review gathering an enjoyable one with constructive feedbacks to the management of Haven Delights. Thank you guys and ladies… you were great!

Rebecca Saw
Steven Goh
Nicholas Chan
Jason & Gill
Cariso
CK Lam
Mary
Allie
Bee
Allen Ooi
Lingzie
Ken Chan
Sidney, Sunny & Alex
Albert Yap
Huat Koay

The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to Level 1. The restaurant which is facing the main road of Jalan Dato Keramat is very prominently located either by mode of escalator or elevator.

HAVENDELIGHTSMAP

Name: HAVEN DELIGHTS
Address: 77-L1-34, Jalan Dato Kramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-210 8855, 210 8856, 016-492 1658 (Ms. Angie Ng)
Opening Hours: 10.30am-11.00pm
Buffet Hours: 10.30pm-11.00pm (2 hours duration per person)
GPS: 5.414701, 100.331871

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

THE CHEAPEST DIM SUM IN PENANG?

Posted by crizlai On April - 13 - 2009

After patronizing more than 14 dim sum restaurants within the Georgetown vicinity, I had found one that suited my taste best. Surprisingly, this barely a year old restaurant is the sister company of the famed Restoran Zim Sum along Jalan Anson and they do share the same premise with another sister company named The Steamboat Restaurant along Jalan Macalister, Penang. The name of this restaurant is Dim Sum Food Restaurant.

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When I mention about being the cheapest, do not have the wrong perception as in monetary terms or on the restaurant serving extremely cheap food. I had based my judgment on the quality, freshness and amount of ingredients used in each of the dishes. Moreover, the food here did fill the two of us here until the beam. Let me share with you my experiences of dining in this restaurant.

Not many restaurants in town would provide quality and delicious dim sum from Shanghai or Hong Kong and at the same time at an affordable price but this restaurant proved me wrong. The have Gyoza (Jiaozi – 餃子) , Egg Dumpling (蛋餃), Shanghai Sheng Jian Mantou (生煎饅頭) and many more at less than RM3 for a plate of threes. Just to try them out without overeating, I just ordered one of each at RM1 per piece. That’s cheap in my context as I had paid RM8+ before just to savor 5 pieces of smaller sized Gyoza in other restaurants.

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The Gyoza was great and had the mild crisp still on the skin and the filling was well stuffed wile maintaining its juiciness. It went well with lots of young ginger strip soaked in black vinegar. The Egg Dumpling tasted great as well although it looked just like an egg coated dumpling. What impressed me more was the Sheng Jian Mantou (Pan Fried Steamed Bun), a common street food in Shanghai. The filling within was so compact and it has lots of ingredients such as minced pork, chopped shrimps, jicama and mushroom seasoned with a mild fragrant taste from some dashes of sesame oil. This is a must try.

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Just for information purposes, you might want to know how to differentiate the many versions of the Chinese dumpling, Jiaozi (餃子). Depending on the way these dumplings are cooked, boiled ones are called Shuijiao (水餃), shallow pan fried ones are called Guotie (鍋貼) and steamed ones are called Zhengjiao (蒸餃). Some people may use egg as the wrapper or coat the Jiaozi with beaten eggs prior to frying. These would be called Danjiao (蛋餃/蛋餃子).

Next was the Har Gao (Shrimp Bonnet due to its pleated shape). The skin was so thin that the basket of three looked so translucent. With the freshness of the mildly seasoned prawns, the whole dumpling just melted smoothly inside my mouth.

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In most of the dim sum restaurants locally as well as those from Taiping, Perak, you would get Siu Mai (Pork Dumpling) as a common item. This restaurant had put in the extra effort to have some prawns in the dumpling, thus making them into Har Mai (Prawns and Pork Dumpling). The best part was that they have four in the basket compared to the normal three I get elsewhere. With the fresh juicy prawn dumpling served steaming hot on my table, they were one of the best around.

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I also realized something unique in this restaurant. They do not use Kani Kama, artificial crab sticks which have no crab meat in it but processed to resemble snow crab legs with surimi (grounded) white fish meat (pollock or hake). Most dim sum restaurants would use Kani Kama to dress each dumping differently but with the same type of filling just to impress on the look. I guessed this restaurant believed in freshness of each dim sum they serve. I had chunks of fresh crab meat garnished on my richly prawn filled dumpling. Moreover, it’s really cheap at RM4 for a basket of threes.

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The next order was something that I have not had in ages. It’s Steamed Prawns on Pan Fried Tofu and served with egg white gravy. The minced prawns were mildly flavored and the fried tofu was silky smooth.

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A visit to any dim sum restaurants would not be complete if you did not try out the Hong Kong Style Prawn/Char Siu Chee Cheong Fun (Rice Noodle Roll with Prawns/Honey BBQ Pork). Although the rolls were not as soft and as translucent as they should be, the tasty special soy sauce, fried onions and blended dried shrimp chili paste complimented each other well.

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The waitress also recommended their hot selling Nam Yu Bao (Red Fermented Bean Curd Roasted Pork Steam Bun). It was superb! Choice pieces of roasted pork belly meat were marinated with red fermented bean curd, sugar, salt and some sauces and steamed until tender prior to rolling them into the steamed bun dough. These would then be steamed until the dough rose up beautifully. This is another must try in this restaurant if you love fatty meat items.

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The last order which was supposed to be our first order came last. It was a mistake order, not as in quality but in quantity. We did not expect our small order to end up so big. The Fried Grouper Fillet Hor Fun was enough to feed three persons and it was priced at only RM8. The dish had lots of snow peas, carrot slices, cabbages, onions, roasted pork slices on top of the generously garnished fried grouper fillets. The first taste of the gravy was beautiful but we ended up felling disgusted due to the oversized portion of the hor fun (broad rice noodles). The chef should have fried the noodles dry instead of serving them plain. That would have cut down on the soggy feeling.

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With our tummies being over expanded, we did not manage to try out the remaining fried items out of their over 80 types of dim sum served there. I was also being informed by the chef that they would still be coming out with new items by the end of the week. Although I did have some takeaway, it would unfair to judge them when the food had cooled down but I can assure you that the taste of the brought back items were rich in flavors. Some of the items which I could not manage to capture on shots included the Fish Bladder Prawn Dumpling and Shark’s Fin Prawn Dumpling. Gosh! Those eaters sure know how to grab good food fast. Anyway, I would just share what I had photographed below.

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Overall, the whole dim sum breakfast meal came up to RM30 nett inclusive of a pot of chrysanthemum tea for two. Do you think the food here is expensive then?

Dim Sum Food Restaurant is just located along Jalan Macalister between Jalan Kek Chuan and Lorong Susu. The most prominent landmark would be Menara UMNO which is directly opposite the restaurant. In case you might miss the restaurant, just look out for The Steamboat Restaurant sign as both share the same premises.

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DSFOODRESTAURANTMAP

Name: DIM SUM FOOD RESTAURANT
Address: 63, Lorong Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 7273
Business Hours:
9.00am-3.00pm (Monday-Friday)
8.00am-3.00pm (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday)
GPS: 5.415606, 100.324736

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

LOCAL DELICACIES VERSUS FRANCHISED FOOD

Posted by crizlai On April - 7 - 2009

If you were in Penang, where would you dine? Would you go sweating under the humid weather and hunt for yummy street food or just visit any of those air-conditioned franchise fast food outlets for your meal? Again, it will also depend whether you are a local or a tourist but the end results would still be the preferences of individuals. With the current unpredictable weather from skin scorching weather to wet and chilly nights, I had decided to opt for the later by visiting the latest fast food outlet – Marrybrown within the premise of the upcoming Penang Times Square.

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What did I have then? It’s definitely not any of the burgers and fried chickens but a bowl of Chicken Curry Noodles with a medium sized 7-Up set at RM8.50nett. Surprised? Yes, they do serve local hawker food in the 28 years of establishment Malaysian franchise restaurant. I order this dish just to compare how great it would be at that pricing compared to the local street food. Unfortunately, the results had my pocket burning with the size of the bowl of noodles and ingredients within. There were only 4 mouthful of noodles, some not fully cooked long beans, half an egg, 3 thinly sliced fish cake and 4 miserably soggy chicken pieces in the bowl. The soup tasted like curry powder with some coconut milk with not even a single hint of lemon grass or ginger flower. To my taste bud, it’s truly flat and the amount of oil floating would be quite bad for anyone’s health. Although the restaurant has been serving halal (non-pork) dishes ever since its opening, I still prefer to get my Chulia Street Curry Mee with cuttlefish slices, cockles, tofu puff, fish balls with the onion enhanced flavor of the chili paste and a glass of herbal tea at barely RM3.50.

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I also did try out the Spicy Chicken Rice with a topped up 7-Up (additional 90sen for top up) at RM8.90nett. It came as a multi-racial combination in which consist of Malay style rice, salad and soup, Chinese style sweet and sour sauce garnished on sliced Marrybrown crispy chicken piece and Indian papadam. The amount of rice was small and there were nothing really special in the taste except that the chicken slices were quite crispy. The soup was just average too. If only they can provide this dish as the one from Rosli Nasi Ayam at Lorong Kulit. At least this simple type of serving tasted better and priced only at RM3.50 minus a drink.

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Even the soup there tasted richer than this one I had from Marrybrown. The restaurant should really improve on their mildly flavored chicken soup.

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Buck up Marrybrown! It does not mean that you are originated from Malaysia with outlets in Indonesia, China, India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Dubai, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Iran and yet we are not getting the best food quality from you.

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The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to the open space area with all the fountains. The restaurant is located a few shop away from Tsuruya Sushi Bar.

MARRYBROWNMAP

Name: Marrybrown Restaurant
Address: 77-G-12, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Kramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 6000
Opening Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.413067, 100.325767

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

A HILLY ADVENTURE TRIP TO BUKIT GENTING

Posted by crizlai On March - 30 - 2009

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Ever since my crazy adventurous island trip to Pulau Aman just to try out the famous Mee Udang (prawn noodles), who would have expected that I would go for another two food hunting trips along the river of Sungai Juru on the Penang Mainland district of Juru, i.e. Restoran Kampung Nelayan Kuala Juru and Warung Pak Su. From the island hopping adventure (Pulau Pinang aka Penang to Pulau Aman) and the panoramic river dining, this time I had driven up a hill by the name of Bukit Genting (Genting Hill) on Penang island itself for some dining experience.

Well, I almost did not make it for I was spooked on the way up the sloppy hill. Although it was just 10.30am, I felt a presence watching over my movements. Sure enough there was a moving shadow in sight amongst the trees and it made my hair stood up in fright. Can you guess what made that shadows? It was this playful villain!!

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I would not have expected such a handsome peacock roaming so freely amongst the area but that was not the only reason I almost did not make it to the top. Well, I almost rammed into another one in the middle of the sloppy track and it almost killed my constantly braked stationed car with overheated engine.

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Guys! Since when will they stop wooing a lady? LOL! Anyway, the peahen was a beauty too. I saw a few scammed for hiding as my car passed by. In fact, I saw around 8 peacocks and peahens roaming freely as if someone have been breeding them there.

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Before I knew it, I saw some smokes emitted at the front portion of my car and had to rush all the way up without making any more stops on the tracks. Luckily, the destination was not that far away and the wound was not that serious. My advice, it’s better to get a 4-wheel drive up there. The view there was great. I could see the township of Teluk Kumbar on one side of the hill. It was a surprise how much the place had developed now with sight of some beautiful buildings by the beach front.

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On the other side of the hill where the restaurant was situated had another great view. It was the township of Balik Pulau, a haven for durian lovers. You could even see clearly Pulau Betong, the turtle shaped island on the southern west part of Penang.

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I had inspected every loops and corners of the leisure park and found them to be real cool during the day. I could not imagine how beautiful it’s going to be when all the lights were switched on during the late evening.

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You can also have the option to dine in some of the chalet like dining areas by reservation or during bad weather. I guessed there might be a small price to pay for some privacy.

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Now, let’s look at what the place has to offer for their Thai cuisine. There were just the three of us (myself, a guy and a gal friend who happened to share the same birth date. :P) and ordering a few dishes was not that difficult.

The first order had already given me doubt on the quality of the food we will be getting next. The Luo Han Guo (Siraitia grosvenorii – RM1.20) and Iced Chinese Tea (RM0.70) were so diluted as in taste and color that they were like drinking flavored water. I regretted not ordering canned drinks at RM2.20 per can.

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We started the meal with EVERYTHING arriving at the same time. 8 dishes at one go? That was such an express service and I guessed I knew the reason later on. The Pandan Chicken (spiced chicken meat wrapped in screwpine leaves – RM1.30 each) looked impressive but the filling was dry. It tasted just like those frozen ones.

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The Spring Rolls (RM1.60 each) tasted normal with not much of filling. Another pre-packed frozen product? It obviously was as there would always be that defrosted dryness especially on certain types of vegetables no matter how well a restaurant would freeze them.

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The Pucha (Stuffed Crab Shell – RM3.50 each) somehow had the crab meat lost somewhere. I wondered if it had gone into another dish. The minced chicken meat plus a few chopped vegetables was still fine except that they were over fried as well. I has suspected that the above 3 items were all fried in the same wok, thus the lost of juices in the food.

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The next dish which was Fried Kailan with Salted Fish in Oyster Sauce (Chinese Broccoli – RM8) was the worst dish I had ordered. The greenery and crunchiness of the vegetable was gone. It was as though the chef broiled the vegetables for hours in bland tasting oyster sauce gravy. Moreover, the Kailan was old and there wasn’t much presence of any salted fish. They should have used baby kalian instead.

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It’s a blessing that the Pineapple Fried Rice (RM6) was still acceptable. At least the pineapple cubes were fresh and the taste was right to our taste buds.

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The Gai Pud Pet (Red Curry Chicken – RM12) was the best amongst our orders. The meat was tender and at least the gravy has the taste of a true Thai cuisine but it was rather pricey for just a small quantity of sliced chicken meat curry.

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Next was the Yam Woon Sen (spicy glass noodles salad/kerabu – RM8). This dish was filled with the spiciness from all the red and green chilles. It was rather spicy hot of some of us. Moreover, the dish had too much of lime juice in it. At least, this dish was edible compared to the “swollen” ones I had at Yellow Light Restaurant in Georgetown, Penang.

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We had also tried out the White Tom Yam Seafood (RM16). The soup had some squids, prawns and perch fillet. The taste was normal. Somehow I felt that the chef has too much of a light touch in throwing in more herbs and spices. If not, this soup would be quite good.

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The lunch ended up with some desserts and the list was very limited. We had only 3 options and of course we tried out everything. Tang Yuan in Ginger Soup (RM4) was the most expensive item on the menu. I had two colors (yellow and white) of black sesame filled tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) with some ginkgo nuts served in ginger soup. The ginger soup had the overpowering taste of old ginger and it was not well sweetened at all. In fact, it was bitter. The normal tasting tang yuan was of course frozen ones and the soup broth was misty. I would have thought that the chef would have known that tang yuan should be cooked separately and later added on to the soup base to preserve the clarity of the soup.

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Tub Tim Krob (jellied waterchestnuts with jackfruit and coconut milk – RM2.50) was not as creamy and sweet as it should be. There was too much of shaved ice in the dessert that resulted in further dilution in taste. The jackfruit should also be cubed to have a smoother mouthful. This was served in a styrofoam bowl which eventually got my shirt dirtied due to the windy atmosphere. I wonder why they did not use a normal bowl as the rest of the dishes.

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At least the Mixed Ice Cream (RM1.50) has the normal standard. There were a scoop each of chocolate and vanilla flavored ice cream, topped with some raspberry syrup and two halved cashew nuts.

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Overall, the place would be suitable for those who enjoy the beauty of nature as well as to stay away from the hustle and bustle of city lives. This is a great place for testing out your photography skill.

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For entertainment wise, it’s dead quiet except for the frequent crowd there towards the late evening to watch the panoramic view of the sunset at Pulau Betong. The surrounding small gardens would be quite boring after a short visit as it did not have playgrounds for families with children. I won’t blame them too as it would be quite risky to leave children unattended with cliffs on both sides.

As for the food (as in Thai food), it was just edible. There’s nothing to brag about. Now that made me wonder why this place did not get much publicity and tourism support although it has been in existence for more than 5 years.

There are actually two ways you can use in order to start your journey to Bukit Genting. One way would be using the Jelutong Expressway and drive straight up towards Batu Maung traffic lights and move straight on using Jalan Permatang Damar Laut to reach Jalan Bayan Lepas and turn left towards Teluk Kumbar/Balik Pulau. Another way would be using the old road (Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah/Jalan Bayan Lepas) until you reach the Penang International Airport. Use the flyover (instead of the left road leading to the airport) towards Teluk Kumbar/Balik Pulau.

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It’s going to be just one straight road leading to Bukit Genting. All you need to do would be to watch out for my attched landmarks. Firstly, drive on until you have reached Emerald Park/Krystal Country Homes (MAP A) on your left. From here onwards, all the landmarks would be on your left. You would need to drive until you see the Hai Boey Seafood signboard (MAP B), Sekolah Kebangsaan Teluk Kumbar (MAP C), Restoran Ayam Misai (MAP D) and Pusat Pemeriksaan Kenderaan Berkomputer Teluk Kumbar (PUSPAKOM). The journey after this is going to be a short but winding road to reach your destination. You would see a signboard showing the way to Kem PLKN White Resort (National Service Camp Site – MAP E), constructions of new bridges (MAP F&G). Slow down after the bridge/road and keep a look out for the entrance to Bukit Genting Leisure Park and Restaurant (MAP H). In case you have a GPS installed in your car, here’s the reading for the entrance (GPS: 5.315771, 100.22590). Do watch out and if you see a big and white water tank (MAP I) on your right, it means that you have missed the entrance. The rest would be easy as there would be mini sign boards showing how many kilometers left on your way up to Bukit Genting. (You can click on the maps below for a clearer view.)

IMPORTANT NOTE: DO WATCH OUT FOR THE FREE ROAMING BIRDS!! MAKE SURE YOU ARE AN EXPERIENCE DRIVER AS COMING DOWN ANOTHER ZIG-ZAG CEMENTED SLOPPY TRACK CAN BE REAL SUSPENSE. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE FUNCTIONALITY OF YOUR BRAKES AND WATER IN YOUR CAR BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO GO UP THIS HILL.

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Name: BUKIT GENTING LEISURE PARK & RESTAURANT
Address: Jalan Teluk Kumbar, Balik Pulau, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 11.30am-10.30pm
Contact: 604-827 9801/5, 019-465 7100
GPS: 5.308917, 100.220533

RATING:
Ambience: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 5.5/10 (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)

EXPERIENCING THE INDIAN CUISINE OF KARAIKUDI

Posted by crizlai On March - 27 - 2009

Wait! Before I confused more people, I was not in the city of Karaikudi in Sivaganga District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the capital of the Chettinad region but instead I’m in an Indian restaurant in Penang’s Little India by the name of Karaikudi right in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. Thanks to PenangTuaPui for inviting me to try out their food. The food in this restaurant is so much different compared to a few others that I had frequent quite regularly. Here, they concentrate more on the fresh ingredients and spices imported all the way from India. That’s the reason why the taste, the texture and the fragrance emitted for the dishes were so pleasant to my senses.

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To get everyone’s appetite moving, we were first served with Mango Lassi (RM4.00) to hydrate and refresh the body after a tiring day. What could be greater than blending fresh mangoes and yogurt to rejuvenate the body? Not only does the beverage contain Vitamin A, B6&B12, C and many more nutrients, it has the necessary dietary fiber to aid our digestive systems. The Mango Lassi served here was one of the best I have tasted. It was thick, creamy and smooth flowing. How I wished they would blend in some ice cubes to make the beverage maintained its chillness.

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Chettinad Style Vegetable Soup (RM3.00) was served to every individual next. The soup was mild in taste with cuts of fresh cauliflower, carrot, French bean and dhal with a light touch of spices. The soup was light and slightly salted to boost up the pungent taste. Non spicy at all and it would be suitable even for kids.

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As appetizer, we were served with some thinly sliced and yet crunchy Bitter Gourd Chips (RM6.00). These were well marinated with chili powder, salt and chickpea flour (Besan) and deep fried to perfection. I love the version here as each piece was sliced so evenly thin and fried without any moisture left within. Moreover, having curry leaves and dried chillies fried together with the bitter gourd had added that special fragrance for the dish. Bitter gourd is also believed to improve the energy level, stamina, eyesight and also to lower sugar level in the blood and urine. This would be a great vegetable dish for diabetics.

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The next dish which is quite common in an Indian restaurant would be the Squid Fry (RM8.00). Slices of squids would be dipped in spicy batter and then deep fried while maintaining the tenderness within while having a crunchy outer layer of batter. It’s better to consume this dish as soon as it had been laid on the table as time would eventually make the fried squids soggy due to the moisture inside.

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Wow! The restaurant sure has a group of hearty people as the next dish which was the Chicken Cutlet (RM6.00) came in the shape of hearts. There were grounded chicken, potato cubes, onions, green chillies, turmeric and chopped coriander inside each cutlet. Seasoned with beaten eggs, these cutlets were coated with bread crumbs and deep fried to golden brown. It was an indeed a beautifully presented dish for all. Anyone want to celebrate Valentine’s here next year? It would surely get you heated up for many years to come. 😛

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No meal in an Indian restaurant would be complete without trying out their Chicken Briyani (RM9.50). Basmati Rice was use in this dish combined with the necessary spices and it has that hidden tangy taste of tomatoes. A chicken drumstick was hidden right at the base of the fragrant rice with a hardboiled egg above. The rice would go well with the accompanied side dressing such as chutney and raita but I personally felt that the chicken should be above. Somehow, the meat had lost its value hidden under the rice although this would be how any Indian restaurant would serve their Nasi Briyani. Moreover, the meat was not as fragrantly cooked as it should be. Another thing that the restaurant might not be aware of was the presentation. The modern generation might not be so concern about it as it would just be another meal to them. To the older generation, especially the Chinese Taoist, the hidden chicken especially in such a small bowl with an egg on top would meant something taboo which would only be performed in certain rituals. My advice to the restaurant would be to turn it into a clay pot style or present it on a plate.

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If you want something with rich gravy to go with your rice, you should order their Kadai Vegetables (RM9.00). There were assorted vegetables such as green peas, tomatoes, carrots and many more, slowly simmered with freshly grinded spices and water until the gravy became thick. This dish was really good as I can taste the freshness of the ingredients very well such as a touch of garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin, etc. The only difference in terms of style of cooking was the added bean curd cubes. Moreover, the freshly sliced coriander and onions garnishing gave that extra fragrance to the dish.

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The Chicken Kothu Paratha (RM9.00) was something unique. Roti Paratha would be what the Malaysian would address as Roti Canai. It’s made of whole-wheat flour, pan fried in cooking oil or sometimes in ghee for the extra crispiness. The Roti Paratha would be cut into strips (somewhat the thickness of koay teow). On the other hand, the chicken meat would be cooked in curry and then hand shredded into smaller pieces. These would then be stir fried with boiled lentil (urad normally would be used in the cooking of dhal), eggs, tomatoes, onions, spices and curry leaves. This is a great dish and was not that oily too.

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When I saw the Ladies Finger Pepper Fry (RM7.00) on our little “test paper”, I thought it would be those slimy wet version of ladies fingers as the Chinese would cook. To my surprise, the dish came with deep fried thinly slices ladies fingers fried with chopped onion, grinded black pepper with some salt. It was so simply and yet it was so delicious with that peppery taste. In fact, we had ordered for a second helping.

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The Mutton Chukka Varuval (RM18.00) caught most of us by surprise with its powerful spiciness. Simple as it may look, the added curry leaves and chillies sent many seeking for more drinks. I suspected that the garam masala that they had used contained more grounded peppercorns than usual. I had no problem with that as spicy food regardless of Indian, Malay, Chinese or Thai has been quite a norm in my daily meals. Surprisingly, I found this dish to be extremely delicious. The meat just melted in my mouth as it was tender, juicy minus the strong mutton taste.

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The Kashmiri Naan (RM6.00) served here is simple but yet delicious. Normally it would be filled with more nuts and dried fruits such as raisins, pistachios, almonds, cashew nuts, shredded coconuts and many more. Instead of making the naan so complicated in ingredients, the restaurant made it simple by only filling it with desiccated multi colored coconuts some powdered cashew nuts and garnish with some chopped cherries. It was slightly sweetened but it was good as each bite was smooth to the mouth.

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The next dish which was the Chettinad Potato Masala (RM6.00) has been my favorite no matter which Indian restaurant I had patronized. The only difference was that the ones served here was richer in taste. It was a perfect dish with potato cubes being sauteed fragrantly with the presence of cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, poppy seed, dried chillies, curry leaves, tomato and garnished with some coriander. The chef sure knew the secret to a good Chettinad masala.

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The Egg Podimas (RM4.00) was actually the Indian version of scrambled eggs. I cook this dish quite often at home but not as spicy as what the restaurant served. It’s basically beaten eggs fried with onions, chili powder (prapika), turmeric powder, coriander leaves, green chillies, mustard seed, curry leaves, salt and pepper. I normally add in slices of fresh tomatoes to cut down on the spiciness.

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Chettinad Special Dosai (RM4.00) was indeed the colorful version of a plain Dosai. It had a generous spread of chopped beet roots, onions, carrots, cabbage, coriander leaves. This crispy thin Indian pancake tasted well with the accompanied chutney and tomato puree.

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There was a surprise in store for us towards the end of the meal and it was the special creation of the owner’s wife. Sizzling Brownie (RM10) as the name stated came sizzling with a freshly baked chocolate brownie on a hot plate of melted butter, topped with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge and some cashew nuts. This was somewhat like the apple crumble I had at Swensen’s but the ice cream here melted just too fast over here. Although the dessert tasted great with the slightly burn taste of the brownie and cashew nuts combined with the saltiness from the boiling butter, I would advise the restaurant to reconsider the brand of the ice cream. This brand does not really suit the sizzling plate concept. It’s either the suggestion mention or to provide a thicker cake base to distance the sizzling heat from the ice cream. Moreover, the presentation was not as impressive as it should be as you can see on the photo below. It would be better if the sauce would be poured right in front of the customer for that wonderful experience, with the advance provision of a napkin of course.

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After a hefty meal, what would be best than to have a hot cup of frothy “teh tarik” styled in-house specially filtered brew, namely the Chettinad Filter Coffee (RM2.80) just like what everyone in Tamil Nadu would do. The distinct taste of the grounded roasted coffee beans, set in boiling water, filtered, then slightly sugared and with added fresh cow milk was indeed bonus for all.

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Alternatively, if you would love to have tea instead, you could always try out their spicy Masala Tea (RM3.00) or sometimes known as Masala Chai which has a strong taste of cloves, star anise, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. There are many variants to the Masala Tea as sometimes ingredients such as grounded peppercorn, mint leaves, nutmeg or licorice roots would be added too. Some might not like their tea to be so spicy but it was surely an aromatic experience for all of us.

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Overall, the quality of food and service here is good. I shall be dropping by to try out their other dishes soon namely their idly, vadai, paratha, poori, naan with chicken tikka as they are my favorites at anytime of the day. 😛

If you are coming from Lebuh Light (Esplanade/Fort Cornwallis), you would reach a roundabout near Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower with one of Penang’s beautiful stainless steel structure known as “Pinang Dibelah Dua”. Turn 3 o’clock into Lebuh Pantai where all the main banks are. Drive on and keep a lookout for the 5th junction on your right (1st-Lebuh Union, 2nd-Lebuh Bishop, 3rd-Lebuh Gereja, 4th-Lebuh Cina and 5th-Lebuh Pasar). Turn right into Lebuh Pasar (Market Street) and you will see the restaurant on your right. Parking space could be quite limited here during certain peak period and office hours. Try to find some along Lebuh Penang, Lebuh King or Lebuh Queen. If you are having trouble finding parking space, I would advice you to park your car at Sri Weld Car Park (next to Sri Weld Food Court) located along Jalan Pantai directly opposite Lebuh Bishop and walk up to the restaurant.

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Name: KARAIKUDI RESTAURANT
Address: 20 Lebuh Pasar (Market Street), 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-263 1345, 604-263 1359
Business Hours:
11.00am-11.00pm (Closed on Deepavali)
11.00am – 4.00pm (Lunch), 4.00pm – 7.00pm (Snacks), 7.00pm – 11.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.416567, 100.340400

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

Plentiful of nice Penang Accommodation are also available if you plan to visit Penang for all the wonderful and multinational cuisine.

HAVEN DELIGHTS AT PENANG TIMES SQUARE

Posted by crizlai On March - 23 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operations at Penang Times Square and has moved to Gurney Plaza, Penang, under the name of Xiao Nan Guo Cuisine.

UPDATED 26 MARCH 2009: Effective today until a time the management had decided to cease this special promotion, the EAT-ALL-YOU-CAN Daily Buffet would be from 10.30am until 11.00pm. Each person would be entitled to order as many items as he/she could eat within the stipulated 2 hours time frame at RM49.90+ per person. No matter what time of the day you had decided to walk in to have your buffet, count down will start the minute you start ordering your food. Please take note that for every 100gms of food wastage, an additional RM10 would be charge.

Prior to the grand opening of another of Penang’s glamorous landmark, Penang Times Square supposedly scheduled to be in June/July 2009, a few restaurants had already popped up recently within the premises, namely Haven Delights, Express Café and Tsuruya Sushi Bar. One of the notable ones would be Haven Delights, a restaurant that served many varieties of cuisine from Shanghai, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. Strategically located at level one of the mall facing the main road of Jalan Dato Kramat with panoramic view of Komtar, Sunway Hotel, Red Rock Hotel and Grand Continental Hotel, this restaurant has set another great standard within the Georgetown area for serving delicious food.

FACADE

Haven Delights has an extensive range of dishes to tempt your every desire. In fact, the restaurant has over 240 dishes, desserts and beverages for you to choose from. I had also faced a hard time trying to figure out what I should have, especially not all the items have photos shown or they were in some foreign language that I could not understand. The best would be to get those experienced staff to recommend to you what’s the best in the restaurant.

Well, the waiters and waitresses sure knew their jobs well with what was recommended for my dining experience. The first dish which was Red Dragon Prawns with Jammy Sauce (RM20) had already caught me off guarded. The whole presentation was so colorful with balls of dragon fruits, capsicums, carrots, yellow pickled ginger and 4 batter fried king prawns stir fried to perfection with a hint of apple cider, lemon and mustard in the sauce. This is a must to order.

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Chicken Ban Ban (RM10) was next. The presentation was awesome. Big chunks of batter fried chicken meat were topped with crispy fried egg white and seaweed strips. The dish has 3 different types of garnishing sauces such as mayonnaise, wasabi and a spicy sweet sauce. Again this would be another dish not to be missed.

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Suddenly, I sensed a unique seafood aroma moving closer to my table and there was my Soft Shell Crab (RM12). Two whole soft shell crabs were deep fried to crunchiness with a generous amount of salad in the middle of the plate. The salad sauce was quite spicy but sweet. It blended in real well with those crunchy soft shell crabs. I would surely order this dish again during my next visit.

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I had also ordered another a small side dish to try out. The Salted Pepper Mantis Prawns (RM15) was indeed salty as the name but still great for my consumption. It has some crispy fried mantis prawns (tasted more like shrimp paste aka belacan frying flour) stir fried with some chopped chillies, spring onions and ginger. This dish would suit well with rice or noodles.

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To compliment with the above dish, I had ordered a plate of Japanese Yaki Udon (RM12). Before I could finish taking shots of the rest of the dishes, I had to switch to video mode. You know why? MY FOOD WAS ALIVE!! Here’s a short video on what happened.

Basically, the hot steam emitted from the Udon has created a sensational effect on the paper thin bonito flakes (Katsuobushi/dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna shavings) garnished on the noodles. It was real impressive. As for the taste, it was indeed a beautifully sour and salty combination of their secret Japanese sauces. This large plate of Japanese Udon has a generous amount of prawns, chicken meat and vegetables. You should try out this dish too.

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Another of their most sought after rice dishes would be their Hong Kong Fried Rice (RM10). Wow! The fried rice was extremely delicious. The Cantonese sure knows how to fry their rice with enough of “wok hei” (high heat frying). Every single grain of the rice was so flavorfully coated with the right taste. The dish had cut prawns pieces, chicken slices, green peas, cashew nuts and egg, garnished with a generous amount of meat floss, chopped spring onions and fried shallots. This is another must to order.

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If you would like something spicier, you can always try out their Cajun Fried Rice (RM10) as the Cajuns are famous for cooking well seasoned and somewhat spicy food. The dish had cut prawn pieces, chicken slices, corn kernels and garnished with chopped spring onions. No doubt this dish has the right spicy taste but my preference would still be the Hong Kong Fried Rice.

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If you feel like having some side dishes, you can always order their Shanghai Juicy Meat Dumpling (RM8). The filling has all the fragrant taste with the well marinated meat. Somehow I find the skin a bit too thick and they should have more soup in each dumpling.

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You could also order their Potato Salad (RM5) for appetizer. The dish has a large scoop of semi coarsely mashed with the right amount of cream, butter and herbs on top of a bed of finely sliced greens. This would be good for light eaters.

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As for desserts, basically the choices are quite limited with many items being ice cream based. The only warm dessert which happened to be my favorite too was the Silky Egg with Water Chestnut (RM6). The dessert had sliced red dates, white fungus and finely sliced water chestnuts simmered with in a beaten egg white broth, mildly sweetened with rock sugar. This is really good.

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The rest of the desserts was rather common as all had ice cream scoops but with different presentations. The most eye-catching one in the menu would be the Tempura Ice Cream (RM8). It was just two large scoops of vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce, garnished with some loose tempura batter and a sweetened cherry.

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The bombastic named Ice Fire Golden Banana (RM8) was another case. It was just a rainbow colored scoop of ice cream presented with some raspberry sauce and batter fried slices of a banana. I felt that this is a bit pricey for the amount served, especially when it was served on a large plate.

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At least the Kuru Gama Ice Cream (RM8) was rather unique with some black sesame seeds blended into the ice cream. The ice cream was mild in black sesame taste, with lots of crushed peanuts. I also felt this dessert to be a bit overpriced as two scoops would at least justify the amount paid.

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Overall, the food here could be real good if you know how to combine them well especially for a family or group eat out. On top of the Ala Carte Menu, you can also check out their other quality food and set meals such as the Chinese Dome Set with 5 dishes priced at RM46+, Grilled Cod Fish with Potato Cream priced at RM35nett or quality Kobe Beef option namely Kobe Beef Tataki (RM88nett), Kobe Beef Ishiyaki (RM58nett) and Kobe Beef Sashimi (RM88nett).

SIDEORDER

They do also have daily buffet lunch and dinner where you have the options to order anything from their 90+ dishes buffet menu priced at RM49.90+ per adult. Children would be at half price. There would also be free flow of finger food, broth, ice cream, etc of the day at another side table buffet line. If you intend to visit the place, do take note of the 2 hours time frame for the buffet. Buffet hours would be as 12.00noon-2.00pm, 2.00pm-4.00pm, 5.00pm-7.00pm, and 7.00pm-9.00pm daily. Everything in the restaurant would come with a 5% service fee.

Just let me share with you some of the night scenes at Penang Times Square prior to the official launch for Phase 1. Phase 2 would be completed within the next two years.

NIGHTVIEW

The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to Level 1. The restaurant is very prominently located either by mode of escalator or elevator.

HAVENDELIGHTSMAP

Name: HAVEN DELIGHTS
Address: 77-L1-34, Jalan Dato Kramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-210 8855, 210 8856, 016-492 1658 (Ms. Angie Ng)
Opening Hours: 10.30am-11.00pm
Buffet Hours: 12.00noon-2.00pm, 2.00pm-4.00pm, 5.00pm-7.00pm, 7.00pm-9.00pm
GPS: 5.414701, 100.331871

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

WARUNG PAK SU MEE UDANG AT BAGAN NYIOR

Posted by crizlai On March - 20 - 2009

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Since I did not have the opportunity to visit another seafood restaurant that was much recommended by the Kuala Juru village folks as it was closed during my visit to Kuala Juru earlier, a small group of us decided to go for another food hunt to the small fishing village deep into the outskirt of Juru. This time, I had revisited Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru as well as the much acclaimed Warung Pak Su. I won’t touch much on my earlier trip as I had updated the post itself with some new information and photos. Let me share what I had dined at Warung Pak Su instead. Somehow this visit had a few hiccups as the sky was pouring heavily and the pricing for the food was a bit of surprise to us but these hiccups did not did not deter us from savoring some of the good food around that area.

Being a well established restaurant, Warung Pak Su surprisingly did not provide any printed menus and indeed it was a risk we had to take when ordering a few of the dishes. As most of the seafood items were freshly bought daily, all the items were based on market rate. The first dish that we ordered was the Ikan Siakap Bakar (Grilled Perch – RM30). The fresh fish was cut into halves, marinated with some spices and wrapped in banana leaves and grilled for a certain period of time. The end product was a nicely cooked fish, mild in spices taste and fresh in juiciness. The grilled fish would go well with the special sauce which consists of sliced onions, chili paddy, lime juice, soy sauce and sugar but I personally found the sauce to be a bit overpowering with lime taste.

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While waiting for the fish to be grilled, we also ordered some satay to try out. Although we were still quite full from the earlier meal at Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru, the juiciness and fragrance emitted from the chicken on skewer boosted up our craving for more. The taste of the large sized satays were great and it was only at 60sen each.

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The restaurant will also have Kerang Bakar (Grilled Cockles – RM5/plate) but we did not order them as we were scared of food poisoning after seeing how cockles were harvested. 😛

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Since the villagers highly recommended the Mee Udang (Prawn Noodles – RM10) and Mee Goreng Udang (Fried Prawn Noodles –RM10), we decided to order a plate of each. The difference between this restaurant and the one at Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru was the use of different species of prawns. Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru uses Udang Rotan (Cane Prawns – thicker shells) whereas Warung Pak Su uses Udang Kertas (White Prawns – paper thin shells).

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I found the prawns here to be fresher compared to the ones down at Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru but somehow the noodles were not up to my expectation. Both the fried and soup based noodles tasted kind of sweet without the taste of prawns in them. They tasted just like those you can get at any tea time Malay stalls except that here you will have huge cooked prawns being nicely decorated on the noodles. Luckily, the fresh prawns complimented the noodles or else it would be a total disappointment. My preference would still be those delicious prawn taste enriched noodles at Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru.

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It would be easier to reach the restaurant if you know your way to Auto City. As you come to the Juru Interchange, you would pass through 3 traffic lights to reach Auto City. At the last traffic light at the T-junction (McDonald’s), turn left and drive all the way up Jalan Perusahaan/Jalan Tok Kangar until you have reach a traffic light at Jalan Juru (Map A), turn right into Jalan Juru (Juru Villa Show House) and drive all the way until the end. You would pass through a few sign boards of the district on your left namely Kampung Sekolah Juru (Map B), Bagan Nyior (Map C), and a sign board showing direction to Sungai Sembilang and Kuala Juru (Map D). At the T-junction (Map E), turn right and you will see the restaurant just on your left (Map F). You can click to enlarge the two maps below for a clearer direction.

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WARUNGPAKSUMAP

Name: WARUNG PAK SU MEE UDANG
Address: 385, MK12, Bagan Nyir Juru, SPT, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-10.30pm (Closed Thursday)
Contact: 012-409 0771, 012-493 5771
GPS: 5.326817, 100.414767

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

EXPLORING INTO THE HEART OF KUALA JURU FISHING VILLAGE

Posted by crizlai On March - 7 - 2009

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Ever since my adventurous trip to Pulau Aman to discover the wonderful and tasty Mee Udang (Prawn Noodles), I have been yearning for the similar dish, if not the best, which would be much nearer to Penang island. Eventually after much searching around, I found a place right within mainland Penang – Kuala Juru, the river mouth of Juru. Located next to Persatuan Nelayan Kawasan Seberang Perai Kuala Juru Jetty, lies a quiet and scenic restaurant by the name of Restoran Nelayan Kuala Juru. This place served fresh and delicious seafood dishes. Let me start by recommending the food here prior to introducing other aspects which also did amaze me.

Coming so far away from the island, I would surely try out their seafood dishes rather than the Malay cuisine which they do also serve. They have Mee Udang (Prawn Noodles) and Mee Ketam (Flower Crab Noodles). Instead of having a plate of both, I had the mixed version with two fresh large prawns and a flower crab in halves. All for RM6!!! That’s real cheap considering the size of the prawns and crab although the noodles were a bit too little for my consumption.

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The broth with ingredients such as smashed garlic, chillies, cabbage, onion and a hint of tomato puree combined with the sweetness of the fresh seafood was superb. The prawns and flower crab were so fresh that I wanted to order more. I even bought home a few packets and my parents sipped everything until the last drop. You could imagine how delicious the noodles were. It’s a must try for all seafood noodle lovers.

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Since I was still a bit full with the 5.30am Char Koay Teow breakfast, I managed to try out the second dish which was the Nasi Goreng Udang. Most stalls that I had been to would just fried rice with a few medium sized prawns. The way the restaurant served the dish was totally different. It came with a plate of fried rice which was quite normal to me but the spicy large prawns curry was a real surprise. It may look like it would be a fiery dish from the look of the color but it was not chili hot at all. The thick gravy which consist some freshly grounded spices was very appetizing to be taken with the fried rice. I have a feeling that they did add in some belacan (prawn paste) to have that fragrant and delicious taste. This set was also priced at RM6.

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In case you might want to find out what else they have in this restaurant, you can click and enlarge the attached menu below.

MENU

**** UPDATED 15 MARCH 2009 ****

It was only during the 2nd visit to this restaurant did I know that the prawns used were neither green prawns nor tiger prawns. It was another species that I had never heard of or common in our wet markets. These prawns are called Udang Rotan (Cane Prawns as translated). They are the same family with the tiger prawns but with a harder shell. No matter what species they are, they sure tasted better than fresh water prawns.

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On top of the above fried rice and noodles, we also tried out their Nasi Goreng Padprik (Padprik Fried Rice – RM4). The cook sure knew how to use the stove well as the fried rice has the required grainy texture and the high heat cooking was just right. The accompanied stir fry mixed vegetables with fresh squids in some spicy tomato gravy combined well with the fried rice. You should check this dish out.

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**** END UPDATE ****

Although there are two more such restaurants at Sungai Sembilang and another three restaurants along Jalan Kuala Juru, I like this restaurant the most. Not only was I amazed by the great food and simplicity of the village folks, it’s also a heaven for nature photographers. You just won’t know what you would expect to find along your way to your gastronomic destination. I had seen a few stray otters playfully along the swampy area, a monitor lizard by the roadside, a Haliaeetus leucogaster (white bellied sea eagle) soaring the sky seeking its prey, a low flying stork, hungry looking stray cats and many other unique looking shell fish such as the Horseshoe Crab/King crab along the river banks.

VIEW

One main type of shell fish that you would see here would be the cockles. Kuala Juru is one the many areas in Malaysia that harvests and processes cockles for distribution to the local markets. It was indeed an eye-opening experience to see how cockles were in their original state and the processes to get them clean. I managed to catch the whole action on camera and would like to share with you. As the cockles arrived in sampans, they had that dirty and muddy look mixed with lots of rubbish. After they had been put into a rotating machine that filters out the mud, tiny objects and other dead shells with a constant spray of clean water, they would end up at section where larger objects would be filtered out. Towards the end of the process, these cleaned cockles would be packed in large nylon sacks to be distributed to the local markets. The steps may look simple but it did involve a lot of manpower.

COCKLES

It would be easier to reach the restaurant if you know your way to Auto City. As you come to the Juru Interchange, you would pass through 3 traffic lights to reach Auto City. At the last traffic light at the T-junction (McDonald’s), turn left and drive all the way up Jalan Perusahaan/Jalan Tok Kangar until you have reach a traffic light at Jalan Juru (Map A), turn right into Jalan Juru (Juru Villa Show House) and drive all the way until the end. You would pass through a few sign boards of the district on your left namely Kampung Sekolah Juru (Map B), Bagan Nyior (Map C), and a sign board showing direction to Sungai Sembilang and Kuala Juru (Map D). At the T-junction (Map E), turn right and drive all the way to Kuala Juru (Map F). You would reach a playground not far away (Map G). Find a parking space there as the restaurant is just opposite the playground. You can click to enlarge the two maps below for a clearer direction.

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Name: RESTORAN NELAYAN KUALA JURU
Address: Persatuan Nelayan Unit Kuala Juru, MK12, SPT, 14100 Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-11.00pm (Closed Tuesday)
Contact: 012-567 2423, 019-549 7134, 017-446 7194
GPS: 5.340084, 100.408500

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: 9/10 (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)

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