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YELLOW LIGHT RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 16 - 2009

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Most Penangites would have known about this Thai Restaurant with no signboard except for a yellow round light along Jalan Fettes since 1982. Yellow Light (Thai Food) Restaurant was one of the finest Thai cuisine restaurants ever existed in Penang, managed by the then founder, Madam Yoke Payong. Subsequently her daughter, Chef Loh took over the business and continued to serve great Thai cuisines to patrons from all over the world. The business eventually moved to 8 Row along Jalan Krian off Jalan Macalister. Somehow, I guessed another golden opportunity knocked at the right time and she’s right now with her new restaurant along East Coast Road, Singapore.

The continuity of the current restaurant, under the same name, is under a different management now. Will the food be as good as before ever since Chef Loh had moved to Singapore since January? Let’s look at some of the dishes I had ordered here compared to the one I had tasted by Madam Yoke as well as her daughter, Ms Loh.

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The first dish that was served was just another simple dish in any household, Phad Phak Ruam (Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables – RM9). Except for some Chinese cabbage, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and wood ear fungus, there was not a piece of meat or prawn in it. The taste was just normal without any Nam Pla (fish sauce) to bring out the best in the dish.

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Next was Yam Woonsen (Glass Noodles Salad – RM12). The dish has cooked glass noodles, prawns, dried shrimps, chicken dices, onions and chili paddy mixed all together with some sauces and garnished with some coriander. The dish was a bit too sour and the glass noodles were so soggy that all were lumped up. We had to request for a pair of scissors to cut them up.

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Thailand is famous for some of their seafood dishes. We tried out the Poo Cha (Deep Fried Stuffed Crab – RM6/pc) and Poo Neung (Steamed Stuffed Crab – RM6/pc). Both had the same ingredients such as minced meat, prawns, crab meat, water chestnut, Chinese celery, chopped chillies and topped with some salted egg yolk. The fried one came with some breadcrumbs. As for the taste, I find the stuffing rather soft to my liking. I guessed the cook might have put too much of corn starch into the mixture, thus making the stuffing too sticky and slimy.

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One of my most ordered dishes in Thailand other than Tom Yam Gung would be the Thod Nam Pla (Deep Fried Fish Cake –RM2.50/pc). The ones served here was not as spicy and thick as those I had taken before. I find the whole fish cake rather bland to my liking. Moreover, the amount of vinegar in the chili sauce provided was too strong.

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A Thai meal would not be complete if you do not try out the Gai Bai Toei (Fried Pandan aka Screwpine Chicken – RM2.50/pc). This was another let down as I could not really bite out the toughness of the chicken pieces. There were just too much of spices in each wrapping than the actual meat. Moreover, the meat was over marinated until they became over soft like minced meat.

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As for dessert, I ordered the Tub Tim Krob (diced water chestnut in colored starch and jackfruit strips served with thick coconut milk –RM2.50). The dessert was rich with coconut milk but was too sweet to my liking.

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Maybe I could have ordered the wrong dishes from the drastically reduced food list compared to the previous ones I had at the original house but if the basic dishes from a Thai cuisine had failed my taste bud, it would mean that the rest would not be as interesting anymore. The damages were RM55.35 for all the food ordered with drinks, optional wet towels and 5% service tax. I hope that the new management would try to improve further with the food quality. I also hope that I don’t get to see the good image and reputation of the former heavenly Yellow Light tarnished and vanished from the face of Penang.

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If you are driving down from Komtar into Jalan Macalister, you will see a petrol kiosk on your left and then Grand Paradise Hotel. Immediately after the hotel and before the traffic light, there is a left turning, Jalan Krian (Krian Road), where the 8 Row heritage restaurants are situated. The restaurant is occupying the first two shop houses.

YELLOWLIGHTMAP

Name: YELLOW LIGHT RESTAURANT
Address: 2-4, Jalan Krian, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 6072 (Mr. Ooi/Ms. Wong)
Opening Hours:
Restaurant: 11.00am-11.00pm
Bistro & Karaoke (upstairs): 9.30pm-2.00am (min 3 tables)
GPS: 5.416714, 100.322076

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

CUISINE EXTRAVAGANZA AT CHIN BEE TEA CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 12 - 2009

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Who would have expected hidden amongst some of the heritage houses in Georgetown would have a tea café that served quality choices of tea as well as food? Of course, that would be Chin Bee Tea Café, an established tea supplier to most of the restaurants and hawker centers in Penang. I found out about this place a few months’ ago when they were still undergoing renovation works and this place ended up as a treasure to me and I would strongly recommend them to my friends. I have even lost count of how many visits Steven Goh, whom I had first introduced this cafe, had brought his family along to patronize this place.

From the exterior of this place, most people would just assume it as a place serving solely tea and some light bites as most tea houses. If you look into the clear glass panels, you would even see rows of cupboards and urns filled with tea leaves and flower tea buds. Anyone would surely have that wrong perception.

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Going into the café is like moving into a place filled with hospitality. You would be served by the members of this family run business with all smiles. The service is remarkable. You would be given a menu with a list of tea which you would like to have as well as a simple menu for the food.

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Do try out their quality Chrysanthemum bud tea which would give you the unique sweet after taste as well as their Ginseng Tie Guan Yin which would energize your moods and alertness.

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Do not be fooled by the simple list of food as shown in the menu as there are still many other wonderful dishes that the over 60 years old Sifu (Grand Master of the Kitchen), Mr. Malai Chong, have under his sleeves. I was truly surprised on how impromptu and creative this Sifu was in coming up with dishes that will make anyone drool just by looking at it. This showed that with his seasoned experiences, he could just combine any ingredients in the kitchen to make great dishes. What else would you expect from a chef who had work in overseas restaurants such as Ireland and UK, and also in reputable Malaysian hotels and restaurants for the past 40 plus years?

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Let us now looked at some of the dishes the café is famous for such as the Special Pork Ribs (RM3/pc). The inner part of the ribs will always been soft while the outer layer has that crunchiness from the chef’s secret formulated flour. The dish would be served in some sweet and delicious sauce. This dish is highly recommended for those who would not mind some fatty layers on the belly cum ribs portion of pork.

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The next dish was a surprise. I wanted something nice mixed with some greens. The Sifu concocted a new dish called the Smooth Journey (一帆風順 – RM12). From the outlook of the long and round food on the plate, I was not sure what they were until I sliced open both of them. The long one appeared to be stuffed capsicum with some juicy minced pork and prawns. It was unique and yummy. The round one appeared to be stuffed button mushrooms with the same type of fillings. The slightly sweet and sour sauce made both simply irresistible.

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I wanted something lighter next and the Sifu recommended a homely dish called Three Jewels Steam Egg (三黃蛋 – RM8). It had three types of eggs, basically chicken eggs, salted duck egg and century eggs, all whipped up with some seasoning and steamed to perfection. The dish would then be garnished with some quality soy sauce, some fried garlic & oil and chopped spring onions. It was marvelous too as the texture of the steamed egg was without much bubbles and it was as smooth as consuming Japanese tofu.

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Next, I got my “sort of personal chef now” (LOL!) to serve me with some chicken dish that he did not have in his menu. Again I was stunned by how well he had presented in the next dish which was the Sweet & Sour Chicken (燒汁雞 – RM10). It was basically a large chicken drumstick (the size as you would get from Western food) but the preparation was ten times tastier than I have tasted anywhere. I guessed the Sifu used only the best sauce to come out with something as great as this dish. The batter coated chicken was very crispy. It blended real well with sliced onions, chillies, sugar snap peas (mange tout) with some touches of sweet and sour sauce.

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The next dish which was the Rakkyo In-house Tofu (蕎光豆腐 – RM12) was another eye opening dish for me. When I thought it was just the usual fried in-house made special tofu cooked with minced meat and mixed vegetables, the taste was totally not as I had expected. It was so appetizing. It has that unique sweetness combined with quality Chinese wine. The added sliced sugar snap peas, carrots and button mushrooms made the dish real colorful.

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Do you want to know the secret behind the appetizing dish? Here they are. The dish has finely sliced pickled ginger (調味醋姜片) and pickled Rakkyo bulbs (酸甜蕎頭). You might want to know what Rakkyo is. It is a native plant in South East Asia, mostly grown in China, Japan and certain parts of Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) where the bulbs would me made into pickles. It also believed to have some medicinal properties such as the prevention of thrombosis, treatment of heart diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), remedy for fever, stomachache and eye infections. There are many names to this midget spring onion or allium-like plant such as the widely used English term which sounded so Japanese – Rakkyo, Japanese scallion or Allium chinense.

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Another dish that the Sifu had specially prepared for the Chinese New Year season would be the Dried Oyster, Scallop & Black Moss Stew (大蠔燉乾貝髮菜 – RM20-40). This is a wonderful dish as the dried oysters and scallops were braised in some seasonings such as ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and Shao Xing wine until soften. These would then be simmered along with some young lettuces and black moss. This specially prepared dish would normally be served in family reunion dinners on the eve of Chinese New Year.

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On top of the above dishes with would be taken with rice, you could always opt for something lighter. They have only rice or Ee Foo noodles. Either you can ask the Sifu to cook Fried Ee Foo Mee or their famous Hong Tu Mian (鴻圖面 – RM8-15). This would be best taken with some black vinegar.

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If you feel that you would like something drier, you can try out their Yong Chow Fried Rice, Egg Wrapped Fired Rice or my favorite Hot & Spicy Fried Rice (特色炒飯 – RM5-RM15). The “Wok Hei” aka high heat frying for this fried rice dishes is real good.

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Overall, Chin Bee Tea Café is a great place to buy various quality tea leaves/flower teas as well as for family dine-in. There would always be surprises for you as you would not know what other delicious food the Sifu would stir up for you. The price for the food is reasonable, so are the selections of quality tea drinks. I will surely drop in to try out their other reputable dishes such as the exotic deer meat and fish head curry. By the way, the Sifu would also like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year in the coming Ox year.

MALAICHONG

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

CHINBEEMAP

Name: CHIN BEE TEA CAFE
Address: 124, Lebuh Noordin, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 1761, 012-499 9972 (Mr. Ong)
Opening Hours: 12noon – 3.00pm, 6.00pm-9.00pm (Closed Alternate Wednesday)
GPS: 5.412361, 100.329541

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

 

RELAXING MYSELF AT JJ CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 9 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased operation. In its place is a seafood restaurant. Will review them soon.

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I had just realized that I have been in quite an adventurous trend for the past few weeks visiting restaurants by the beach or on an island within the Penang areas. This time it was a combination of both. I was by the beach watching the scenic view of the Penang Bridge while being opposite an island – Pulau Jerejak. LOL! Although this cool “more than a year in business” restaurant named JJ Café is within the premise of the Penang island jetty to Pulau Jerejak and near to the Queensbay Shopping Mall, not many people knew about its existence. Most would just assume this Malay restaurant as part of the jetty. The restaurant’s patrons were still guests and visitors to the nearby Pulau Jerejak Resort & Spa and some workers within the surrounding areas. I would just show you some clips of how relaxing this place could be after a hard day’s work.

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Don’t expect to get all the traditional Malay cooking in this restaurant as it merely served some light meals and finger food. Who’s to complain when the most expensive dish in the menu would cost you only RM6 and it is tax-free. I was there to find some inspirations and to relax mentally and physically on a few occasions and managed to collect some shots to share with my readers. The drinks served there were big and cheap. The thick Iced Milo was only RM2.10. Iced Black Tea was at RM1.70, whereas Can Drinks would be at RM2 each (with ice cubes).

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There would light meals such as the Nasi Lemak (steamed coconut milk rice – RM4) served with chicken curry, potato slices, half an egg, peanuts, fried anchovies and some cucumber slices. The rice was cooked in a different way and did not have the strong taste of coconut milk (santan). The chicken curry did not contain any santan as well. Overall, it was cheap but tasted just average.

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The Curry Noodles (RM4) tasted better as the soup base had all the natural ingredients in it but it could be real tongue burning for some. The dish came with some yellow noodles, lots of baby cockles, some cubes of fish cakes & balls, chicken slices, vegetables and half an egg. It had the spiciness that I love. Argh! Bring me more water please! 😛

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As I had mentioned earlier, the most expensive item would be the Chicken Lasagna (RM6). It had some layers of lasagna pasta with some tomato puree based minced chicken meat in between. Somehow the dish lacked the taste of mixed crushed herbs such as oregano, thyme, garlic, etc. On top of that, the serving was small with only a slice of tomato and some lettuce as garnishes.

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As tea time prior to my dinner appointment, I ordered some Roti Bakar Double (toasted bread slices with coconut jam and butter – RM2) as snacks. Although it was nice and cheap to have as tea, I still prefer my kaya (coconut jam) to have more eggy taste in it.

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I also ordered some Chicken Samosa (RM3) to try out. The popiah (spring roll) skin was crunchy but somehow there were more spicy potatoes inside then chicken meat. I guessed they would have over minced their chicken to have that meaty mouthful bite.

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Overall, JJ Café would be a great place to hang out with friends for a drink but the food quality has to be improvised and improved further. I found that not all the dishes had the required herbs and spices as I would have expected from a Malay establishment.

It would be easier to reach the restaurant if use the Jelutong/Bayan Lepas Expressway. Just follow the direction towards Queensbay Mall. Drive on until you see an overhead pass when nearing the mall. Watch out for a signboard (as shown below) to Pulau Jererak Resort & Spa. Turn left into the road and drive until the T-junction. Turn right and drive on a bit more and you will see the jetty on your left. JJ Café is within its premise.

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JJACAFEMAP

Name: JJ CAFE
Address: 1 MK13 Daerah Timur Laut, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-401 2779 (Azhar), 017-553 2105 (Zamani)
Opening Hours: 3.00pm-11.00pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.342083, 100.311763

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (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: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 7 - 2009

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With the inspiration from a plant with heart shaped leaves called Sweetheart Hoya, a restaurant known as Sweet Heart Restaurant was established since 2005. Strategically located nearby the hustle and bustle of the Pulau Tikus market, this restaurant surprisingly gives you the relaxing environment with the peace and tranquil one would hardly expect. It’s a cool place to be in as the whole theme would be based on their motto “The Fragrance of the Refreshment comes from the Heart”. What would be the best way than to present them in edible forms?

The best part of indulging yourself in such a restaurant is that the food served here would be of home cooked styles without any unnecessary flavorings. The dishes would be cooked in the simplest and most healthy way and yet bringing out the best in each dish. Even those fragrant flower tea drinks served there were refreshingly healthy. It’s indeed a healthy place for everyone.

Other than their famous dumplings, noodles and impressive set lunch menus, the restaurant has recently cooked up some promotions to cater for the Chinese New Year crowds. A few of the Penang floggers had the privilege to try out the dinner last night. Prior to starting the food tasting for the Chinese New Year promotion, we were given a few types of sauces. There were fried onions, ginger in black vinegar and chili powder in oil meant for the jiaozi and guotie which we would be having later on. On top of that, we were also given some Chinese, Japanese and Siam sauces too.

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Lotus Root with Sugar & Vinegar (RM3) was also served as an appetizer where slices of lotus root were marinated in sugar and apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is believed to be able to lower cholesterol level. This is indeed something different for us.

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During most Chinese dinners, soup would always be the first to be served. We were treated with Hot & Sour Soup (RM5/bowl). The soup contained 3 types of vinegar, namely black, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar with cube of bean curds, crabsticks, wood ear fungus, pickled shanghai vegetable, chopped chilies, fish maws, beaten egg white and so on. It was indeed appetizing.

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Another few appetizers worth mentioning would be their paper rice rolls. We had the opportunity to try out their Prawn Vegetable Rolls (RM7.60), Egg Vegetable Rolls (RM6.60) and Unagi Vegetable Rolls (RM7.60). They were perfect as each roll was filled with freshly sliced vegetables.

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There were also the restaurant’s in-house specialties such as Fried Bean Curd (RM4.80), Prawn & Leeks Guotie (RM9.60) and Cheese & Chicken Guotie (RM10.80). The Fried Bean Curd was extremely tasty as the inner part has so many ingredients in it. The outer part has the crunchiness of the special batter, making the whole mouthful very delightful. It was great having these with the Siam Chili Sauce provided.

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Next on the list was the 7-course Chinese New Year Promotion, which consists of Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Mushroom (RMRM16.80), Golden Scallop Dumpling (RM18.80), Fried Prawns with Garlic (RM18.80), Steamed Cod Fish with Bean Curd (RM29.80), Prosperous Year in Malaysia (RM6.80), Snake Squash with Pork (RM11.80) and Sponge Gourd with Pork (RM13.80).

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The Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Mushroom had some nice and sweet gravy with lots of greens and mushroom in it. Simple but yet it contained great vitamin and minerals to the body. The Golden Scallop Dumpling which has some carrot juice made skin contained a juicy fresh scallop each. The Fried Prawns with Garlic was another great dish as the prawns were mixed with some chopped garlic batter and oil fried to perfection, giving each prawn the fragrant bite. The Steamed Cod Fish with Bean Curd did not let anyone down as some even ordered some rice to be taken with the tasty gravy. The Prosperous Year in Malaysia was actually deep fried chicken wings and drumlets. What made this dish stood out was the smell and taste of sliced Kaffir lime leaves and shallots within the marinated pieces. The Snake Squash with Pork was a rather unique dish for many as most of us had not known the existence of such a vegetable. The taste was somewhat like munching cooked celery minus the strong celery herby taste. The Sponge Gourd with Pork was somewhat different compared to the rest as it was cooked with Angelica sinensis (dong guai or female ginseng). This would be an ideal dish for those who like Chinese herbs cooking.

The meal ended up with noodles, namely Black Jelly Mushroom Fried Noodles (RM8.80), Shredded Pork Noodles (RM7.50) and Ground Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce Noodles (RM7.50). All the handmade noodles tasted great with their own unique tastes, except that the Ground Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce Noodles could be rather pungent for some.

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On top of the food, we were also served with two unique combinations of beverages. One would be the Honey Lemon with Aloe Vera (RM6/glass) and sweetened Chamomile & Chrysanthemum Tea (RM4.50/glass). The Honey Lemon with Aloe Vera was lovely as it has cubes of jelly-like Aloe Vera cubes in it. The Chamomile & Chrysanthemum Tea on the other hand was refreshing as Chamomile is believed to be good for the digestive system as well as fighting against fatigue and insomnia. Chrysanthemum has the medicinal value of fighting against flu related viruses.

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Attended Floggers:
Criz Lai of Criz Bon Appetite
CK Lam of What2See Online (Organizer – Thanks!)
Tam Chiak & Huat Koay of PenangTuaPui
Steven Goh of Steven Goh dot com
Allen Ooi of Yummy Station
Gill & Jason of Gourmet Garden
Carrie of Cariso Delicacies Corner
Mary of Food Paradise
Allie of Heavenly Allie
Bee of Buzzing Life

Reaching the restaurant would be easy if you are coming from Jalan Burmah into Jalan Cantonment. Just drive along Jalan Cantonment until you reach the first left junction (Pulau Tikus Market – Jalan Pasar). Just go further up after this junction and you will see Wisma Kota Kembar – Pulau Pinang-Medan Information and Promotion Centre on the corner lot. The restaurant is just next to this centre.

YOUNGHEARTMAP

Name: YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT
Address: 44A, Jalan Cantonment, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-10.00pm (Closed Monday)
Contact: 604-228 8084, 016-410 8098 (Ms. Ann Kee)
GPS: 5.430508, 100.311350

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

COFFEE ISLAND IN PENANG

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 3 - 2009

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The latest happening in town other than the New World Park would be the newly open Coffee Island situated along the promenade of Gurney Drive. It has the buzzing crowd ranging from families, YUPpies (Young Urban Professionals), college and school students. Moving into the premises was like being greeted by a mini party of giggles and laughs, setting the mood of the environment to happy and lively modes.

Coffee Island could be a great place for those who love to drop in for late breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper or even early breakfast in a relax environment as they would be open for business as early as 10.00am until 3.00am. I was there for a late dinner. The menu was rather impressive as it has more than 160 types of food and beverages to choose from. There was also a section for those late owls.

It was a surprise that with such a packed crowd that night, service was still up to par. Waiters and waitresses would check on the provided chit upon serving and supervisors would double check on the orders per table. Meals were served within few minutes too.

The first order that came was the Chicken Maryland (RM11.50nett). It was just a normal presentation with side dishes such as salads, mashed potatoes and some greens. As usual, the dish would also have sausage, pineapple and banana fritters on top of the usual breaded chicken. I would think that the sausage could be improved as it tasted “cheap” and the breaded chicken had a hard outer batter while the meat was extremely dry. It tasted as though it was double fried and lost its juiciness. Somehow this dish was not up to my expectation.

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The next one was the Traditional Chicken Curry served with Roti Jala (Net Egg Crepe – RM9.50nett). The dish has only three piece of roti jala, two with pandan (screw pine flavored) and one plain, served with spicy chicken slices curry (8 small slices in fact). The taste was great but the amount could hardly fill my tummy, considering that the dish was served with only 4 thin slices of cucumber. Great taste but too pricey.

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To fill up my tummy, I had to order the Ham & Cheese Toast (RM4.60nett). I was expecting something fragrant and crunchy but in the end I had 3 thick but springy slices of white breads stuffed with a semi fried ham and a piece of cheese. Moreover, there were no vegetables inside, except for some over lime juice taste mayonnaise. I would rather have non toasted bread with butter spread as the whole combination was too dry to my liking.

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There was nothing special in the drinks too. The Iced Cappuccino (RM5.90nett) was really ‘ice filled” and not to my liking as it tasted so “thin”. The Pink Holiday (RM6.90) was a laugh. It tasted like a sugarless Ais Manis (red syrup iced drink) with some fizzy soda. It was nothing special at all.

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Maybe it was just due to my wrong timing to dine there when the place was so packed or my expectation could be too high. Anyway, I was not quite happy with the RM43 paid (plus tips) to have these types of food served. If I were to visit there again, I would surely choose other dishes to test them out again. Let me share with you what they have in their menu.

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Overall, the place would be ideal for meet-ups if the taste of food is not your main concern. The pricing might be a bit high though for the amount of food served and the drink could be a bit “thin”. I would advise can drinks instead. You can opt to dine indoor rather than the al fresco area. There would be two free 1MB WIFI line available, namely Coffee Island 1 and Coffee Island 2. Downloading could be quite fast but uploading is rather slow. There are other “unsecured lines” such as MyBroadband and Gurney67 available but I’m not sure about the speed.

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The shop is strategically located along the sea front of the famous Gurney Drive (next to Crepe Cottage). If you are coming from town center towards Gurney Drive into Jalan Kelawei, turn right at the first junction (Jalan Lim Chin Guan) where Gurney Tower is. Drive towards the end and turn left. You would pass through Evergreen Laurel Hotel and a stretch of hawker centers on your left. Slow down as Crepe Cottage is immediately after the last hawker center (Song River Café). You can park your car next to the café. The car park is in fact behind Crepe Cottage. If you visit this place during weekends, I would advise you to park your car in the Jalan Birch Car Park (the road after Song River Café) and walk up to the cafe.

COFFEEISLANDMAP

Name: COFFEE ISLAND
Address: 77 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 3.00am
Contact: 604-2272378
GPS: 5.432556, 100.316592

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 9/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 5.5/10 (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)

CHUAN CHUAN XIANG MALACCA SATAY CELUP

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 25 - 2008

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operation.

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On 7 July 2008, George Town, the historic capital of Penang was formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside with Malacca as both states were officially recognized as having a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia. Although the food served in these two states of Malaysia have their own identity, there tend to be some crossovers. Two of the Malaccan dishes introduced in Penang recently are the Malaccan Satay Celup (food on bamboo skewers cooked in thick peanut sauce) and Chicken Rice Balls. Thanks to Steven for showing me the existence of such a shop in Penang.

The experience of dining in this restaurant is totally different compared to the one I had in Malacca as the pot for dipping in the skewers has two sections instead of one. It’s a combination of the local boiling water method and the Malaccan Satay Celup concept. The Malaccan dipping pot has a thicker and stronger gravy compared to the one served here. Moreover, the Malaccan gravy would be served in one boiling peanut sauce pot with more grounded peanuts and Malaccan palm sugar (Gula Melaka) in it.

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Well, one thing great about the place is the cleanliness of the Lok Lok (food on skewers). All the skewers are kept in two designated chillers within the premise and you would need to pick what you want to consume. At 70sen per skewer or RM15 (adult) & RM7.50 (child) with free flow of can drinks, you can savor over 60 types of meat, seafood, processed fish balls or vegetables skewers. There would also be a 10% discount for those diners with more than RM20 bill.

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On top of the peanut sauce in the pot, you could also try out their three special sauces such as Thai Spicy Sauce, Blended Cili Padi (chili Paddy/Birdseye Chili) and Tomyam Sauce. I find the spicy sauce to be a bit too sour, the chili paddy sauce to be a bit bland but the tomyam sauce was still fine to my liking.

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Other than the Lok Lok, you can also try out the Malaccan Hainan Chicken Rice Balls at RM3-RM4 per set. One note, please get the boss (Mr. Lau) to heat up the dish for you as the set dish would taste better if warmer. The taste for the chicken was fine although it was cold for my case. The meat was tender and the sauce was just right. Even the accompanied chili sauce has that blended ginger taste in it. As for the rice balls, I felt that there was nothing special except that my rice came in ball shapes. I guessed that must be the Malaccans’ way for better presentation.

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Overall, the food there was just average considering that I had tasted the actual Malaccan dishes before but it could be a great experience for those people who had not tried out Malaccan dishes before. It would also be a great bargain for those who can consume a lot as the price of RM15 per person is reasonable. The restaurant also caters for birthday gathering as well as having certain offers on certain days of the week.

For those who are not staying in mainland Penang, going to the Raja Uda area might be quite a hassle. I’m going to show you the ways to reach the restaurant by either ferry or through the Penang Bridge. Just click on the map below to enlarge to have a clearer view of the direction by following the red (bridge) and blue (ferry terminal) dotted lines.

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To elaborate further when you have found your way to Jalan Raja Uda, just drive forward until you see SJK (Cina) Kwang Hwa on your left. Immediately after the school, there would be a row of shop houses. Keep at look out for the Lekker II Claypot House (stated as LCH in map) restaurant at the corner lot and turn into the road (Jalan Pangsapuri Emas). The restaurant is just at the corner lot of the apartment.

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Name: CHUAN CHUAN XIANG
Address:
Tingkat 08, Jalan Pangsapuri Emas, Taman Emas, Raja Uda,
12300 Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-484 2088 (Mr. Lau)
Opening Hours: 5.30pm-11.30pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.428874, 100.383384

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

AQUATIC CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 12 - 2008

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operation.

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The concept of having little fish to treat your dead skins had boomed in the past few months with more and more fish spa shops mushrooming throughout the whole of Penang. What many might not know is that there’s another evolved kind of fish related business, the first ever concept, started in Penang barely a month ago. What do you think of the concept of dining with fish then? Let us look into this newly open café, brainstormed by a fish breeder cum Arowana Club Penang member, George Liew, who had named his shop as the Aquatic Café.

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Even before you enter the café, you would see two tanks of his prized arowanas and mahseers (ikan kelah) being proudly displayed at the entrance. Don’t you think the golden arowana looks beautiful? A fish with these marking and color could fetch thousands in the aquarium fish market.

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Upon entering the café, there were rows of aquariums on both sides of the dining area. Baby arowanas, baby mahseers can be seen swimming actively in the specially constructed build-in aquariums.

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I was there to check out the food menu recently. The first dish that was served was the Aquatic Nasi Lemak (steamed coconut milk rice with side dishes – RM7). The set has two juicy pieces of curry chicken, some potatoes, half an egg, some crackers, peanuts and their specially prepared sambal ikan bilis (anchovy curry), presented with a few thinly sliced cucumber and tomato. This is not a bad dish actually as the curry chicken was not too spicy and the sambal ikan bilis blended in well with the steamed coconut milk rice. Even a kid would be able to consume this dish. The only problem is that the peanuts could be a bit hard for my consumption.

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Next one the table was the Aquatic Cheese Baked Seashells Pasta (RM9). You can opt for chicken or beef. The dish was served with a large amount of seashells pasta, topped with the pasta gravy and garnished with some parmesan cheese. The dish had some sweet after taste. Maybe I’m used to consuming more fresh ingredients with minimum sugar intake. I hope the boss would add in some pasta carbonara recipes as there would be more choices for people who does not consume tomato puree.

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They also serve Aquatic Home Made Pies (RM8.50) with a choice of Mushroom Chicken, Black Pepper Chicken and Curry Chicken gravy, all accompanied with some French fries and greens.

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This is the amount of meat and gravy you would get for your Mushroom Chicken Pie (pastry not shown here).

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Your Black Pepper Chicken Pie (pastry not shown here) won’t look much different as the above as it had some black pepper sprinkled on it. I prefer this than the above choice.

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You could also savor the Aquatic Cheese Baked Dory Fish (RM9), served with French fries and greens as well.

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There are more items in their menu which I did not try out such as the Aquatic Sandwiches/Toast (RM3.50), Aquatic Chicken Curry with Toast (RM5.50), Aquatic Tuna Cheese Melt (RM4.50), Aquatic Garlic Bread (RM3), Aquatic Home Made Pizza (RM4.50/RM8.50), Aquatic Fish & Chips (RM9), Aquatic Spaghetti Bolognaisse (RM9) and Aquatic Chicken Spaghetti (RM9).

There also have their own brand of coffee (The Only One) in their beverage menu such as Cappuccino, Latte, Vanilla Latte, Caramel Latte, Hazelnut Latte, Irish Cream Latte, Mocha, Flat White Coffee, White Coffee, Aquatic Black Coffee and Hot Chocolate. These all have low sugar content. Thus, quite suitable for diners who are healthy conscious and the pricing is cheap. Hot (RM2.50-RM4), Cold (RM3-RM3.50) and Blended (RM3.50-RM5). If you are not a coffee lover, you can opt for their Mango, Orange or Lychee Juices – Cold (RM2), Blended (RM2.50) Can drinks are at RM2.50 each. Prices for all the above are at net price.

Overall, the food served here can still be improved, considering that they are only in the market for just a couple of weeks. Their beverages price could be a crowd puller. All the drinks are much cheaper than those franchise F&B Cafes around town. Moreover, it is not a bad place for anglers and fishing enthusiasts who would like to sit around, while admiring the beauty of the arowanas and mahseers swimming about. This cafe has WIFI access facility available too. It would also be an ideal place for families to bring their kids along to dine in here. Most of the fishes displayed are also up for sales. Some of the prized arowanas could fetch quite a high price too.

The café is just diagonally opposite the Te Chang You Tiao Wang stall which I wrote about earlier. If you are coming from Jalan Air Itam (near Kek Lok Si Temple) towards Jalan Paya Terubong, you would pass by SJK (Cina) Kong Ming 2 on your right and then East Coast Seafood Restaurant on your left. Keep to your left and drive on until you had reached the Lintang Paya Terubong/Jalan Paya Terubong traffic lights. Turn left and then left into the service road (which is a one way street). Try finding a parking space further up as the café is just on your right next to a Nasi Kandar shop.

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Name: AQUATIC CAFE
Address: 1228-P, Jalan Paya Terubong, 11060 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact:
604-827 6973, 012-433 6724 (George Liew), 016-473 5129 (Seng Wei)
Opening Hours: 12.00pm-11.00pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.393019, 100.276342

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

SUNSET BISTRO FERRINGHI

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 10 - 2008

Note: Every since this beautiful place vanished overnight through ashes, a lot of people has been missing them. Now they are reincarnated as Bora Bora By Sunset. 🙂

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I guessed I might just have to disclose that there was actually a private function during the launching of my food blog on the 4 December 2008. Attendees – two! Some might get the hint from my statement on “Anniversary of Anniversaries” but some may still be in the dark. I could be a real secretive person at times you know. LOL! Anyway, there is no better place for some private moments than at the beach. The luxurious, warm and soft white sandy coastline of the Batu Ferringhi Beach could well be the perfect environment with beautiful panoramic views and privacy to rekindle the sparks or light a new one for years to come.

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Having some soft evening breeze blowing onto your face, while settling down by the sun deck watching over the sunset and listening to the waves lap on the shore, would be an added bonus for romantic trysts. There’s no budgeting for such a memorable moment, although some would prefer a dining table by the beach under a dim candlelight with soft background music that won’t cost too much. Where would be the best place for such event than at Sunset Bistro Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi, Penang.

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As you know this is a bistro with music and liquors (RM10 – RM40) all through the night, there’s actually some fruit juice and non-fizzy beverages available too such as the gigantic jug of Fruit Punch (RM9.90) or the Ice Lemon Tea (RM4.90).

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There are also many appetizers, main meals, rice dishes, noodles, finger food, sandwiches, pizza, pastas and desserts to choose from, ranging from as low as RM6.90 (Fried Koay Teow) to RM31.90 (Mixed Grill). The good news is all items are priced nett with no additional taxes. Since we had a late and heavy lunch, we shared out some of the food.

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The Spaghetti Carbonara with Turkey Ham (RM14.90) tasted great. It had this thick yet herb filled taste in it with some shredded parmesan cheese garnished on the pasta. The portion was large enough for both of us to share out.

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Next was the Club Sandwich (RM10.90). The dish came with four slices of fresh white bread, stuffed with a layer of lettuce, a layer of cheddar cheese, a layer of mixed tuna salad, accompanied by some greens and salad, served with some French fries. The sandwich was nothing really special at all as I was expecting the bread to be slightly toasted.

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The last dish to come was the 6” Mauii Pizza (RM9.90). The pizza base was crispy and the topping was beautiful. It had large chunks of chicken meat, mushrooms and pineapple spread over a freshly prepared tomato puree and baked to perfection with lots of mozzarella cheese. The pizza was so tasty that we regretted not ordering a larger 8” one (RM12.90).

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Overall, the simple meal was quite pleasant. Here’s the signboard of some of the food available in this bistro by the beach.

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We ended up strolling along the mile long night market looking for some bargains for items such as shoes, clothing, DVD’s, hand bags, jewelries, wallets, cushion covers, sarongs, luggage, sunglasses, souvenirs, paintings and many more.

Drive all the way up to Batu Ferringhi until you reach Parkroyal Hotel Penang on your right. Turn right into the first junction after the hotel and you will reach the Bayu Senja beach front. When you are at the T junction, turn left. Find a parking space. The bistro is just somewhere further on you right by the beach in front of many beach hostels.

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Name: SUNSET BISTRO FERRINGHI
Address: 56A, Bayu Senja, Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-553 1313 (Ms. Melynda Soon)
Opening Hours:
12.00pm-1.00am Sunday – Thursday)
12.00pm-3.00am (Friday, Saturday and Eve of Public Holiday)
GPS: 5.471436, 100.244333

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

CHA YU KAFEI RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 8 - 2008

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If I’m not mistaken, this place used to be located in the present 7’s Sister Café & Restaurant premise few years back and relocated to another place at Jalan Arratoon for few years before firming itself at the present premise. With more than 5 years of experience in the F&B sector, the restaurant sure knows how to cater to the taste buds of the public. Moreover, the food served would be halal (pork-free). Upon entering the premise, you would think that they are just another tea house serving some finger food. In fact, they are one of those established restaurant with more than 100 types of dishes for you to choose from. Sadly, they could not come up with photos of all the dishes, as they are always creating new dishes.

One thing you have to take note is that photography taking is quite limited as they have their own set of rules. You would not even be allowed to take shots of the interior and exterior. Please remember that it’s always polite to request the permission from them prior to taking shots, with a name card of course.

I was there recently for a visit to try out some of their newly created tea dishes. As usual, we ordered drinks first. The Soya Bean Milk was RM2.00 whereas the Red Dates was RM1.80.

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There would always be snacks prior to any meal in an Oriental restaurant. Braised Peanuts was at RM2.00 per plate.

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The first dish that came was the Fried Fragrant Tea Rice (飄香茶飯- RM6.90). It was good as the “Wok Hei” (high heat cooking) did make the rice very fragrant. Not oily too. One unique taste in the fried rice was the mild tea taste. The rice was cooked with some tea prior to frying. It has some mixed vegetables, vegetarian char siew chunks, large prawns, eggs and garnished with their in-house fried tea leaves. It’s a must to try out.

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Sesame Fried Abalone Mushroom (芝麻鮑魚菇 – RM6.90) was served next. Some Abalone Mushroom were coated with batter and deep fried, prior to garnishing them with some sweetened chili sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Not bad a dish too if you love crunchy food.

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The Stir Fry Fish Bladder Tofu (魚鰾豆腐 – RM10.90) was appetizing. The gravy itself had all the right combination of sauces. The dish has four pieces of homemade fried tofu, cooked with some fish bladder and mini Chinese cabbage.

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The last dish would normally be the best dish as some said. How true it was for the Drunken Tea Chicken Claypot (茶香醉雞煲 – RM11.90). Choice pieces of a chicken drumstick with thigh were cooked in mild tea, ginger strips, mushroom and wood ear fungus slices, some herbs such as dried Gouqi (wolfberries), dong quai (Chinese Angelica) and a large amount of Shao Xing wine. Some in-house fried tea leaves were sprinkled on the soup. The chicken meat was tender and the soup base was simply rich in herb and wine flavors. A must try for those herb soup enthusiasts.

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An Oriental meal would not be complete without some sweet desserts. Foo Chook Ginkgo Nuts Soya Bean Tang Yuan (腐竹白果豆水湯圓 – RM4.20 per bowl) was served steaming hot. The bowl of dessert had thin soya bean milk, cooked with foo chook (dried beancurd sheet), ginkgo nuts, rock sugar and served with two large sesame filled tang yuan (glutinous rice flour balls). Although a bit pricey for the dessert, it would be worth your money paid.

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On top of the dishes with rice, you can also try out their reputable Hokkien Style Fried Potato Starch (古早味薯粉 – RM6.90). The dish has thinly flavored steamed potato starch fried with fragrant dried shrimps, cabbage, onions, spring onions and prawns. The starch has the color and translucent look of a wood ear fungus but taste springier than hor fun. It was indeed very yummy.

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The Spinach Noodle with Fish Ball (魚滑蚧柳菠菜面 – RM7.90) was somewhat different. A spinach noodle (spinach wan than mee) was cooked in a mild ginger chicken broth, garnished with ingredients such as the chef special fish balls, artificial crabsticks, carrot slices, button mushroom slices and some Chinese cabbage, sprinkled with a bit of fried garlic. The soup taste was fine and the ingredients were a lot.

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If you feel that the noodles were not filling enough, you can also order some side dishes such as the Steamed Egg Rolls (蛋皮巻 – RM5.90 for 5 rolls). Rolls of steamed minced meat, prawns and spinach would be rolled into thinly fried egg skins and garnished with some egg white based gravy. Not bad but I would prefer the filling to be a bit softer.

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Overall, the two of us enjoyed the meal a lot. A 5% tax would be incurred for those orders. The restaurant also caters for indoor and outdoor functions. If you are coming from KOMTAR area/Traders Hotel along Jalan Magazine, turn left into Jalan Gurdwara at the Gama Supermarket traffic lights. Keep to your right after the traffic light and turn right into the small road (Jalan Trang) next to the Gama building. The restaurant is somewhere further up on your left with some beautifully decorated Japanese bamboo gardens.

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Name: CHA YU KAFEI RESTAURANT
Address: 33 Jalan Trang, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 1028, 012-417 3174, 016-422 1028
Opening Hours: 12.00pm-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.30pm (Closed Tuesday)
GPS: 5.412600, 100.327395

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

SEVEN SISTER CAFE & RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 5 - 2008

NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CEASED OPERATION BUT THE PUB IS STILL IN OPERATION

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If I mention about Restoran Zim Sum along Jalan Anson or its sister companies, Town Steamboat Restaurant and Dim Sum Food Restaurant along Jalan Macalister, most Penangites would know about them. What about another sister company by the name of 7’S (Seven Sister) Café & Restaurant just a few blocks away along Jalan Nanning? Quite a number of people who passes by this nice bungalow lot would think that it’s just another pub in town. You are wrong as this place served one of the cheapest set lunches in town.

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I was there to try out their set menu recently and found their food quality to be real impressive at the price I was paying. The set menu came in 3 categories – Noodle Soup & Pasta Set (RM7.80nett), 4-course Western Set (RM14.80nett) and Rice Set (RM10.80nett). All sets will come with a Dessert of the Day (Ice Cream) and a Drink of the Day (Iced Lemon Tea, Soft Drink, Coffee or Tea).

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Since there were only two of us there for lunch, we tried out two of the set meals. I had the Western set which also included Appetizer of the Day (Classic Caesar Salad) and Soup of the Day (Fresh Mushroom Soup). The salad portion was big and has a few fried sausages in it.

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The Fresh Mushroom Soup was great too with lots of mushroom slices in it. It might not be the best around but it was quite creamy and tasty.

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I get to select my main meal from a list which comprised of Grilled Chicken Chop with Mushroom Sauce, Pan Fried Salmon Steak with Lemon Cream Sauce and Black Pepper Grilled Lamb Chop. I opted for the latest. I did not regret ordering this dish as the presentation was marvelous and the black pepper sauce was thick and tasty. There were lots of potato wedges and greens hidden under 3 big pieces of juicy medium rare grilled lamb meat.

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Dessert of the Day was next. It was just a plain scoop of Strawberry Ice Cream. Who would want to complain? That was a bonus!

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My friend on the other hand tried the Rice Set thinking that it would be small serving. He chose the Seafood Japanese Tofu from a list of dishes which also included Stir Fried Chicken with Dried Chilies, Sweet & Sour Fish Fillet, 7’S Homemade Steamed Chicken in Ginger Sauce and Fried Lamb Cubes in Teriyaki Sauce. The dish came in a clay pot with lots of Japanese Tofu and mixed seafood. The gravy was nice.

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A large bowl of rice with an omelette above and some fresh tomato slices was accompanied with the dish. Dessert followed.

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I would surely drop in to try out their Noodle Soup and Pasta sets when I am down that area again. The list of food listed such as Egg Noodles in Homemade Abalone Soup, Yellow Noodles in Homemade Light Ginger Soup, Spaghetti with Grilled Chicken, and Spaghetti with Grilled Dory Fish was quite impressive.

This place also does provide Happy Hour from as early as 4pm until 9pm.

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Moreover, there’s a public karaoke area for you to sing your heart out until 3am in the morning.

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If you are coming from KOMTAR area (Jalan Magazine and Jalan Dato Kramet) into Jalan Macalister, you would see its sister companies, Town Steamboat Restaurant and Dim Sum Food Restaurant on your left. Drive on and turn into the second junction (Lebuh Nanning) on your left. You will see a big white bungalow with red trims on your right. The famous Lorong Seratus Tahun curry mee is just opposite this restaurant.

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Name: 7’S (SEVEN SISTER) CAFE & RESTAURANT
Address: 26 Lebuh Nanning, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-228 2653
Opening Hours:
Restaurant: 11.30am – 3.00pm, 6.30pm-10.00pm
Pub: 4.00pm-3.00am (Karaoke), 4.00pm-9.00pm (Happy Hours)
GPS: 5.415253, 100.322270

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