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BALANCING YOUR YIN AND YANG QI AT YOU SHAN FINE SOUP HOUSE

Posted by crizlai On May - 15 - 2011

Penangites finally have the opportunity to lead a healthier lifestyle with the opening of You Shan Fine Soup House, located at Auto World Complex, Penang. The restaurant was officially opened on 14 May 2011 by our YB Ms. Betty Chew, wife of the Penang Chief Minister, YB Mr. Lim Guan Eng. The one and only of such restaurant in Penang, would help diners to balance their Yin and Yang Qi, two hidden forces that would cause illness if found to be out of balance. This is something that most of us ignored with our hectic lifestyles as we find the lack of time in spending hours brewing nutritious soup for our own health. Leave it to the experts to help you in your food therapy as the restaurant has the strong backup of their advisor, Mr. Chew Hock Eam, a Chinese Physician, who has over 3 decades of experience in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medication), to help you in seeking out the healing powers from their selected soups.

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There will be over 60 types of soups, whether savory or sweet, available at this restaurant, ranging from as low as RM5 to as high as RM68. Most of the soup would need to be preordered at least 24 hours before dining. This would enable the kitchen to slowly select the best herbs to brew up your personalized bowl of nutritious soup. You don’t have to worry too if you missed out ordering your favorite soup as they would also be having 3 different types of soups available each day. To avoid the disappointment, I have attached below the full menu of the soups. Please do click on the individual photo for a clearer view of your PREORDERS.

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Two soups were served during the opening day. One of them was the Fine Soup King which contained sea cucumber, fish maw and scallop. This soup would help in relaxing the body muscles, promote blood circulation and delay the process of aging. It would be suitable for those with bone degradation and high blood pressure. The other soup was the Yang Xin Ning Shen Soup. The rejuvenating soup has the citrus flavor of tangerine to strengthen the stomach and lily bulbs to reduce the body heat.

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You might think that this is just a soup house from the name but you are wrong as they do serve dishes just like any other Chinese restaurants. There would be options such as fish, crabs, frogs, prawns, squids, pork, chicken, venison, vegetables, tofu to general soups. The price, depending on serving size, would range from RM8 to RM 30 or based on market rate for some seafood dishes.

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If you think the items from the ala carte would be a bit too much for a small group, you should also check out their daily set lunch and set dinner deals. Each set would come with individual portion of 3 dishes, a soup plus a drink, ranging from RM12 to RM19.

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If you are coming from Penang Bridge towards the North-South Highway, you would see the Juru Rest Area on your left. Drive further a bit and you would see an overhead bridge which would lead you to the Juru Interchange. Do not drive up the overhead bridge but turn left instead until you see a traffic light. Turn right into Jalan Kebun Nenas. Drive on until you see the second traffic lights at a T-junction (Jalan Kebun Nenas/Jalan Perusahaan). At the traffic light, turn right into Jalan Perusahaan. A few meters away, keep a look out for Maybank at Kompleks Auto World on your right. The restaurant is just on the left of the bank.

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Name: YOU SHAN FINE SOUP HOUSE
Address:
1797-G-12, (Beside Maybank), Kompleks Auto World,
Jalan Perusahaan, Juru Interchange, 13600 Perai, Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours:
11.00am-2.00am (Lunch), 2.00pm-5.00pm (Tea), 5.00pm-9.30pm (Dinner)
Contact: 017-488 3400
GPS: 5.33994, 100.429605

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

DINE AND WINE PROMOTION AT SOMMERZ HERITAGE BISTRO PENANG

Posted by crizlai On May - 2 - 2011

Note: Surprisingly with such good business, this outlet has ceased its operation. All that was left is the Heritage Coffee.

Many of you might not be aware the along the heritage stretch of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (previously known as Northam Road) lies a cozy colonial building which houses two restaurants with pork dishes. The heritage building which was named as Hardwicke House would provide diners with two concepts of dining. On the ground floor there is the Heritage Coffee which offers a wide range of local, Chinese and Western fare for an informal lunch or dinner. The place caters to the younger crowds who enjoy the “chill-out” atmosphere. On the upper floor for this building is a smart and casual bistro called Sommerz Heritage Bistro with a wonderful heritage ambience, perfect for an inexpensive dinner over a glass of imported wine (starting from just RM55++ per bottle) or beers (Hoegaarden, Paulaner, Victoria Bitter, Erdinger, Corona, etc).

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Sommerz Heritage Bistro is currently having their “Free Flow Wine” 4-course dinners at only RM50++ (10% ST+6%GT) on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with a live band singing jazz, evergreens, oldies and popular songs. The place can cater for parties and functions up to 120 persons. The 4-course Set Dinner with Free Flow of Wine Promotion Menu is as below:

Cream of Mushroom
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Mixed Salad
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BBQ Baby Pork Ribs (half slab) served with sauteed onions, wedges and coleslaw
or
White Wine Grilled Salmon in Hollandaise mustard sauce, served with mixed vegetables and wedges
or
Grilled Lamb Chop in black pepper sauce, served with mixed vegetables and wedges
or
Oven Roasted Chicken with Bacon Strip in red wine sauce, served with salad and mashed potatoes
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A scoop of ice cream with colorful dots
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Free Flow of Wine or Iced Lemon Tea

We also did try out some of their exclusive dishes from the Sommerz’s ala carte menu such as the Sommerz Caesar Salad (RM12++). The salad has fresh romaine greens, mixed in their own Caesar sauce and garnished with real pork bacon bits and croutons and topped with a poached egg. The whole combination was perfect to start the meal off. The next was our favorite – BBQ Baby Pork Ribs (Half Slab – RM26.90++ or Full Slab – RM44.90++). This dish has been the top seller at Sommerz. The Texan recipe pork ribs had imported special ribs (not as oily as our local ones), carefully marinated and cooked until tender for that delicious taste. It came with sautéed onions, wedges and coleslaw. Next on the list was the Sommerz Rice Set (RM23.90++). This dish looked like a classier version of our local Nasi Lemak (Steamed Coconut Rice) but this version came served with Devil Pork Curry, Chicken Rendang, half a hard-boiled egg and Acar (pickled salad). I simply loved the creativity in this unique combination. Even the Acar complimented well with the dishes. The next dish which was the Devil Curry (Roasted Pork or Chicken – RM12.90++) is a popular spicy dish amongst the local Portuguese community. It had the touch of a family taste. It went well with some fresh buns and some beer or white wine. If you feel that these dishes are a bit heavy, you can even their Seafood Bisque in Bread Bowl (RM13++) or even some of their general dishes from Heritage Coffee downstairs.

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Some of the dishes that you can get from Heritage Coffee would be their tasty Char Koay Teow (Regular with 2 prawns – RM8.90++ or Extra with 4 prawns – RM12.90++). It was quite equivalent to those hawker stalls with that extra “wok hei” (high heat cooking). For that extra “kick”, do ask for extra chili. Another street food they served was the Hokkien Mee (Regular – RM8.90++ or Extra Prawns in a Claypot – RM14.90++) or commonly known as prawn noodles in other states. Although the soup had the flavor of slowly simmered prawn shells, it was not the thickness I preferred. The soup might need a bit of toasted belacan (shrimp paste – trade secret) added in. The claypot version had additional large prawns, hard shelled clams and squids. Both would taste better if some specially prepared hot chili paste were to be mixed into the soup. There was also the “Dong Po” Pork (RM22.90++), served in a mini rice bucket. Pork belly meat would be wine marinated with a combination of spices, slightly fried and braised until the perfect tenderness. A piece of the meat in some gravy would then be served on steaming rice accompanied with some blanched vegetables and an omelette. I found the meat on that day was a bit too fatty and overcooked as there was hardly any meat on it and the fat just melted into the rice. The kitchen should take note on this. The Seafood in Claypot (RM33.90++ – for 2-3 pax) had a combination of fresh prawns, mussels, scallops, clams and squids in a spicy, sweet and sour soup. It has a strong hint of chopped lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and chilies. This dish would go well with rice. I find this Vietnamese-like dish a bit strong in the usage of sugar. I hope the chef would take note of this unhealthy over usage too. Their Seafood Aglio Olio (RM15++) had the right al dente for its pasta. I simply loved how they maintained the “wetness” by tossing enough of olive oil, chopped garlic, onions and bell pepper in it. The dish came with fresh mussels, prawns, squids and fish, garnished with some chopped coriander. Just a note here that you might get different seafood served based on their availability. Another of the hard-to-get in Penang dish was their signature Pork Burger (RM16++). The well flavored minced pork patty was cooked just right to maintain its juices within. This delicious cooked patty was presented on a fresh bun, laced with fresh lettuce, topped with an omelette, cheese and sautéed onions. The set came with some fresh greens and fries. They also have the Chicken Chop Burger (RM15++), served with some fresh greens and fries. The burger which has oozing mixture of tomato ketchup and chili sauce was just another way of having normal chicken chop. Other than that, you could also try out their Markpalia Chicken (RM18++). This quite similar to Cajun style prepared grilled chicken with praprika and herbs marinates, came with mashed potatoes and a mixture of blanched and sautéed vegetables. Somehow, I was over disappointed with strong recommendation as the whole dish tasted extremely salty. Moreover, the portion did not justify its price, considering that I was dining at the al fresco area. Their Roasted Pork Knuckle (RM53++ for 3-4 pax) was huge. You would need to wait at least 30 minutes for this dish to cook. The crispy skin and juicy pork knuckle came with two special dipping sauces and some fresh greens.

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They also serve Express Set Lunch as low as RM8.90 nett, inclusive of free flow soup (normally clear soup eg. Old Cucumber Soup, Watercress Soup, etc) and ice lemon tea. The set meal would only be available from 11.30am – 2.30pm on weekdays (Monday – Friday).

Current Express Set Lunch Menu:

1. Wok Fried Soy Sauce Chicken Rice (RM8.90nett)
2. Penang Char Koay Teow (RM8.90nett)
3. Baked Cheese Spaghetti Bolognaise (RM10.90nett)
4. Fresh Mushroom Chicken Steamed Rice (RM10.90nett)
5. Nasi Lemak with Rendang Chicken (RM10.90nett)
6. Baked Cheese Rice with Chicken Chop (RM10.90nett)

I would say the set lunch was worth it considering that I could have as much soup and drink as I wanted. The Penang Char Koay Teow (RM8.90nett) was great. So was the Nasi Lemak with Rendang Chicken (RM10.90nett). The worth mentioning dish of my choice would be the Baked Cheese Rice with Chicken Chop (RM10.90nett). Instead of having some plain rice baked with cheese as some fast food chain would normally provide, it came with fried rice with ham cubes. The chicken chop baked with cheese was amazingly tasty. You can even order some Caesar Salad (RM9++) to share out if you are there with a group. The only differences between the Sommerz Caesar Salad and this salad would be the omission of the poached egg. If you feel that you would need a dessert after your meal, you could always try out their variety of ice cream cakes. I loved their Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake (RM7.90++) as it was chilled enough and simply melted in my mouth. The cake came with some caramel and chocolate dressing which was perfect for my liking. As for beverages, there are many types of hot and cold beverages for you to choose from, ranging from coffee, tea, chocolate, juices, milkshakes, smoothies, soda, beer to wine. I tried out their Hazelnut Latte (RM5.90++) and Macademia Nut Café Latte (RM6.90++). Both came light and frothy but I had a problem identifying which was which as both had the same nutty taste.

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Overall, Sommerz Heritage Bistro can be quite a bargain for diners who love wine with their meals in a cozy ambience while listening to some nice music being played by a live band. Moreover, there’s the games room where you can have a game or two of pools and darting. The management would also be planning for a Sunday Champagne Brunch from as early as 11am soon. Do check up with them on any updates on the launch.

If you are coming from town along Jalan Burma, drive all the way until you see a “Y” junction. Left would lead you to Pulau Tikus. Right would lead you to Gurney Drive. Turn left into Jalan Pangkor (keep to your right). Immediately after you see Gleneagles Medical Centre on your right, slow down. Turn right into the service road and you would see a purplish building (Northam Tower). The restaurant is just in front of the building. You would not miss the colonial architectural building.

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Name: SOMMERZ HERITAGE BISTRO / HERITAGE COFFEE
Address: 67 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 Penang, West Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am-1.00am (Heritage Coffee), 6.00pm-1.00am (Sommerz)
Contact: 017 – 474 7478 (Sommerz: Ms. Jacque), 604-227 3393, 604-229 3393 (Heritage Coffee)
GPS: 5.427643, 100.320806

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

NOSTALGIC MOMENTS AT YENG KENG HERITAGE HOTEL

Posted by crizlai On April - 19 - 2011

Within the buffer zone of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site lies one of the oldest surviving intact buildings in the historic enclave of Chulia Street, Penang. Originally built in the 1800’s as a private residence to Shaik Eusoffe bin Shaik Latiff, an Indian Muslim family, the unique Anglo Indian bungalow had gone through many hands, such as the trustees of the Cantonese Club ‘Yin Han Pit Shu’ and the Straits Chinese British Association, before being leased out to Yeng Keng Hotel in the early 1900’s. One main feature that remained distinctive from the rest of the buildings along Chulia Street (Lebuh Chulia) today is the unique Chinese architectural gate entrance and the many artistic murals scattered all over the premises. Some of the artifacts dated as far back as tens of decades ago can still be found here in the mini museum set up by the present establishment.

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With the conservation and upgrading efforts by the present owner, Hoo Kim Properties Sdn. Bhd. since 2009, the new Yeng Keng Hotel was completely refurbished in mid 2010. The new establishment has a mix of the past and present state-of-the-art facelift, with heritage accommodations, swimming pool and an al fresco area for dine and wine. The hotel is now managed by Mr. Jacky Chung, Hotel Manager and Mr. Tan Jie Yong, a seasoned chef who had traveled throughout a few Asian countries, cooking as well as lecturing Hainanese cuisine, as its Executive Chef.

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There are 20 rooms in this heritage hotel. The suite of all suites would be the Yeng Keng Suite (RM600+, Present Promotion RM500+). There are also 2 units of the Chulia Suite (RM500+, Present Promotion RM400+), 2 units of Family Triple (RM440+, Present Promotion RM380+), a unit of Garden Suite (RM440+, Present Promotion RM350+) and 14 units of others such as the Courtyard Doubles, Mansion Doubles and Courtyard Twins (RM380+, Present Promotion RM300+). A 10% service charge would be applicable to all check-ins which would include a quantity of American Breakfasts set by the management. Check in would be from 2.00pm while check out would be at 12.00pm. Just call in to check out on their ongoing promotions.

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As for food, there would be a mix of Western and Hainanese cuisine served here, with a note that some of the Hainanese dishes might need to be preordered earlier. Breakfast would be served from 8.00am until 10.30am. Lunch and dinner would be from the ala carte menu as early as 11.00am until 10.00pm. Presently, there’s the Hi-Tea Promotion at only RM7.00+. You get to have free flow of coffee or tea with a cake-of-the-day (eg, Apple Strudel, etc). The bar would open all day long until late.

Here’s a peek at what are the dishes available in this hotel. Firstly, there’s the Hainanese Spring Rolls (RM12.00+ for 2pcs or RM24.00+ for 4pcs). Each piece of the spring roll has stir fried cabbages, carrots, onions, mushrooms, chicken meat and crab meat. Although the rolls tasted nice, it came in a form rather moist compared to the ones I have tasted elsewhere. This could be due to the fact the vegetables were cut in strips as in Cuttle Fish Strips Stir Fry Vegetables (Jiu Hoo Char) instead of being cubed as in Sole Fish Stir Fry Vegetables (Phnee Hoo Char). A bit of diced water chestnuts added in would also be great for that extra crunchiness. These rolls were served with a condiment of a mixture of tomato ketchup, LP Sauce, sliced onions and chilies, a combination more suitable for Western diners. I would prefer mine to be served in the traditional way of herbed soy sauce, mustard paste (somewhat like LP sauce) and sliced chilies. The Hainanese Mushroom Soup (RM10.00+ per pax or RM45.00+ for 10 pax) was something quite similar to the Japanese Miso Soup with the usage of some blended fermented black beans. Instead of using cubed tofu, the Hainanese version has sliced button mushrooms, glass noodles, chicken meat and chicken gizzards. This dish would be suitable for those who love internal organs in a much clearer soup.

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The Yeng Keng Chicken Chop (RM15.00+ per pax or RM30.00+ for 10 pax) was presented with crispy boneless chicken on a bed of shoestring chips and topped with mixed vegetables, cubed onions and sliced button mushrooms in some tomato base gravy. It tasted not bad but a bit too salty for my liking due to the over salty marinates. Moreover, frozen mixed vegetables were not my preferences due to the fact that they lacked the natural taste of fresh vegetables. The Grilled Fish with Butter Sauce (RM18.00+ per pax or RM36.00+ for 10 pax) was rather unique and tasty except it had a bit of marinate problem. Since it was served with salted caper pickles and butter sauce, the fish fillet should not have been marinated in salt. The outer batter coated part was fine except for the a bit salty fillet within. Maybe it was the hotel’s way of cost effectiveness, but I don’t quite fancy dory being used for this dish as it would not provide the juiciness as in other fishes such as the barramundi, mari mari or grouper. It would be great if the hotel would opt for these fishes (with different price tag of course). The sautéed sliced potatoes with onions went great with this dish. This is the type of originality that I love most when dining outside.

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The Braised Lamb Shank (RM35.00+ per pax or RM70.00+ for 10 pax) served with spaghetti, roasted potatoes and blanched vegetables was a great recommendation. The meat was tender and has the right ingredients used while braising. If only I could get them to add in a bit of red wine during the braising process for that extra flavor. 😛 There was also the Hainanese Style Chicken Pie (RM25.00+ for 3-5 pax or RM35.00+ for 10 pax with extra filling) which would require a pre-order of 24 hours. I always love dishes with butter brushed pastry. It had small chopped chicken pieces stewed with onions and shitake mushrooms (instead of button mushrooms), topped with mixed vegetables (again? sweat~) plus cut hardboiled eggs, prior to being laced with puffy pie pastry and baked to perfection. The dish was slightly different compared to the one I had in another Hainanese restaurant as it lacked the creaminess from some sliced potatoes and the sweetness from fresh carrots. The next dish was the Inchi Kabin (RM10.00+ per quarter chicken, RM16.00+ per half chicken or RM30.00+ per whole chicken), a common Hainanese household fried chicken served with crackers. Although the dish tasted not bad, it could be due to my spoiled habit of having mostly drumsticks in my meal as I found the chicken pieces a bit too dry for my liking. We were also served with Curry Tumis Tau Teh Fish (RM100.00 – RM120.00 based on market price). The Chinese Pomfret or commonly known locally as Tau Teh is one of the most expensive species in the pomfret family as it has thick, smooth and juicy flesh. The fish dish was nice but it was in a drier version due to the likings of the hotel’s guests in dipping with bread or served with rice. Unfortunately, it spoiled the quality of such an expensive fish as there were not enough liquid in the gravy to be absorbed into the fish. The flesh ended up a bit too dry. It would be better if black pomfret or even stingray (which can be arranged) be used for a lower price. This dish came with sliced lady’s fingers and tomatoes. The next dish which was the Braised Duck with Yam (Ar Or – RM50.00+ per half duck or RM85.00+ per whole duck) also came in thick gravy compared to norm. It has a strong taste of sliced ginger. As for this dry version, it would be ideal to be taken with rice. Normally, most Hainanese would have this dish as a sort of soup dish.

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On top of the above few dishes for a larger group of people, you could always order other individual dishes such as noodles and rice from their ala carte menu. Their Hainan Mee (RM10.00+) was quite big a portion and tasty. Somehow, it looked darker just like the local Hokkien Char with the usage of dark soy sauce. I wondered if the chef got it right as the gravy should be quite similar to that of the more pale looking Fried Oyster Yellow Noodles. The next noodle dish consisted of another version of flat rice was the wet Beef Hor Fun (RM15+). It was also big and delicious. I loved the well marinated beef slices as well as the beaten egg enhanced flavorful gravy.

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As for dessert, they have some simple ice cream desserts but I went for something that has been quite rare in the dessert scene nowadays – the Bomb Alaska (RM20.00+). The dessert has 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with some mixed fruit cocktail and wrapped in a layer of butter cake slices. This wrapped cake would then be sprinkled with some rum and covered with a layer of airy and slightly sweet meringue. The following process would be to burn some brandy over the meringue to create the lightly burnt taste. I found the dessert to be delicious if I leave it a bit longer for the ice cream to moist the cake well. If you consume the cake immediately after the fire is out, you might find the cake to be a bit too dry. As an option, it would be better for the chef to firstly moist the cake with a mixture of the fruit cocktail juice and rum or just add some soda (such as 7-up or Sprite just as how you would do it for the base of a truffle) with rum. At least this would have a consistent moist for the whole dessert.

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Unless you are there just for the Bomb Alaska, I would advise you to get at least 3-4 diners to share out this big dessert. Here’s the burning process video of the dessert.

Overall, Yeng Keng Hotel is a nice place for couples and families. Not only are the rooms modernly equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, it also offers great heritage living experiences in a romantic and tranquil environment. Let’s hope the new restaurant would be constructed fast enough to draw in more crowds, thus having more choices as well as a higher standard in food quality.

Finding the hotel won’t be hard as it’s the only hotel along Chulia Street with a beautifully constructed Chinese arch right at the entrance. If you are coming down from Cititel along Penang Road, just turn into the second lane on your left which is Chulia Street. Drive further for another 300m and you would see the hotel entrance on your left. Next to it is a guard house where you can get permission to park your car at the back of the hotel. There are limited parking spaces here. If you can’t get any car park within the hotel, just drive a bit further up and you would see a no through road next to Sky Hotel. You might find some parking spaces here.

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Name: YENG KENG HOTEL
Address: 362 Chulia Street, World Heritage City of Georgetown, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
Contact: 604-262 2177
Business Hours: 8.00am-10.30am (breakfast), 11.00am-10.00pm (lunch & dinner)
GPS: 5.419162, 100.334959

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (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)

LIGHT AND ECONOMICAL MEALS AT ASIAN WHISPER’S

Posted by crizlai On April - 5 - 2011

NOTE: THIS STALL HAS CEASED ITS OPERATIONS

Nowadays, with the increased price of most raw ingredients, dining at a posh restaurant would not be the chosen choice for most families with kids. From my knowledge, more and more families are looking for places with reasonable priced servings and taste just to ease on the family’s monthly food expenses. Just as a comparison, I had a double Bratwurst Sausage served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables at a prominent mall in Penang not long ago. With all the taxes added in, it cost even more than the 5 dishes I had ordered at a stall that I had stumbled upon recently. The only difference is that this place did not have air-conditioning. Let’s look at what Asian Whisper’s located within the Delima Mas Café has to offer.

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The single Bratwurst Sausage (RM7.00 nett/set) served with a huge scoop of mashed potatoes plus delicious brown sauce was far better tasting than the one I had earlier at Straits Quay. Even with a double serving of the sausage, it would only cost me RM11.50 nett/set compared to the one I had at RM20.90 (excluding taxes), which of course came with some extra “discarded” mixed greens. The next dish was the Sausages with Onions (RM5.00 nett). The dish had 2 sliced honey chicken sausages plus one sliced chicken frankfurter sautéed with sliced onions in LP sauce and served with a huge scoop of mashed potatoes with brown sauce. This dish would be quite ideal for those light eaters.

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The next dish was even lighter – Roti Ayam (RM3.00 nett/set – a poultry version of the normally minced pork version). The taste was average, considering that the chef changed her usual preparation methods to suit the taste buds of the local people there. I found the filling to be a bit too moist and there were only some “too finely minced” chicken plus “overcooked” onions in it. This dish lacked the textures and bites. The chef should have added some chopped cabbages and carrots for that extra crunch. Moreover, the minced chicken should be cooked more coarsely rather than having a sandy and no bite like texture. A bit more of the 5-spice powder would also do more justice to the overall taste. The Cordon Bleu de Roti (RM5.00 nett) was normal. It had a piece of chicken ham and cheese clamped between two slices of white bread, dipped in beaten eggs and fried to perfection. Both of the light meals were served with LP mixed with chili sauce.

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I was curious on how the Thai Chicken Burger (RM3.50 nett) would taste like. Well, the preparation and presentation were exactly how you would get from the roadside burger stalls except that the patty was home prepared. It had some hints of turmeric powder with sliced kaffir lime leaves. It was really mild even for kids. I would have expected it to be more spice and herb enhanced but I guessed it was another local preferred taste. Moreover, the patty was a bit too thin for a prominent bite. I actually don’t mind paying a bit extra for a thicker patty but that would be over the budget of the locals here. The choice of bun was perfect. It was almost McD like with sesame seeds sprinkle above.

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You can also get Crinkle Cut Fries (RM3.00 nett) and Hot Dog (from RM2.50 nett onwards) here. What surprised me most is the stinginess of certain district locals. Prices of raw ingredients had gone up crazily and yet they still expect to get the same size of food with the same amount they paid years ago. Thus, you would still have food as all the above mentioned, priced at RM23.50 nett, much cheaper compared to just a dish at a local mall (RM24.25 nett). So, as a household head, would you go for mediocre food that would feed more mouths in your family or one that would feed only yours?

Please take note that this is the place ONLY for early dinner. The shop will close slightly before 10.00pm. Other than this stall, there is a bakery there for fresh buns and cakes. (The mini chicken pie is not bad at RM1.20 each but only on weekends), economy rice, nasi Melayu, nasi kandar, roti jala, char hor fun, bak kut teh, sweet & sour pork rice and chicken rice/hor fun (not bad… all boneless chicken given).

If you know how to get to Genting Café where the famous peanut butter based chee cheong fun is, you would surely know how to get to this café as it’s situated right at the other end of the shop houses. Drive all the way up Jalan Mesjid Negeri towards Penang Bridge. Immediately after Lam Wah Ee Hospital, keep to your right and watch out for the last traffic lights before the underground tunnel to Penang Bridge. At the traffic lights, turn right into Jalan Delima. Keep to you left and turn left into the first junction (Lorong Delima 6). As this is a one way street, you have to make a left turn into Lorong Delima 3 then right turn into Lorong Delima 5 and another right turn into Lorong Delima 7. Delima Mas Café is just at the corner of Lorong Delima 7 and Lorong Delima 6. You can find some parking spaces along Lorong Delima 6.

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Name: ASIAN WHISPER’S @ DELIMA MAS CAFE
Address: 2 Lorong Delima 6, 11700 Penang, Malaysia
Contact: 016-443 3304 (Ms. Michelle Tan)
Business Hours: 6.00am-10.00pm (Closed Thursday)
GPS: 5.382081, 100.304172

RATING:
Ambience: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 6.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

TAJAI THAI FOOD AT SUNGAI DUA

Posted by crizlai On March - 25 - 2011

With a never ending appetite for Thai cuisine, I have constantly been exploring all those secluded areas in search of delicious spreads. There’s this little Thai food stall, located within the premises of a corner coffee shop, nearby Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Sungai Dua area. This stall has been pepping up nice stir fry (choo char) Thai dishes for many years, mainly to cater to those frequent university students as well as workers around that vicinity. That stall which has been known for its cheap and good (C&G) Thai food, is manned by a few local Thais and goes by the name of Tajai Thai Food.

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I have not been visiting this place for quite some time now and decided to pay them a visit recently. Cheap? I won’t say that, unless you order fried rice/noodles with a sunny side-up, as what those students would do. Good? This is again a topic for debate. Unless you are an expert in combining your Thai dishes, the dishes might not turn out to be how you would want them to be. Your combination might end up to be a bunch of sweet and spicy dishes as the Thais are believed to have sweeter taste buds.

Let’s just have a look at some of dishes I had tried through a few visits. First there was the Fried Chicken with Cashew Nuts (Kai Pad Met-Mamuang – RM9.00). Instead of being presented in gravy form, this dish has batter coated chicken fillets with some sliced Kaffir lime leaves, stir fried in some sweet sauce with a light hint of fish sauce. These came with some fried cashew nuts. This dish was not bad, except that it could be quite dry without any gravy. The next dish was the Stir Fried Chicken with Basil Leaves (Kai Pad Krak Praw – RM8.00). This chicken dish has the right combination of Thai basil leaves, shallots, garlic, red chilies, fish sauce, dark soy sauce and many more ingredients. The only difference compared to the others was the usage of chilies. It did not have the spiciness from some smashed bird eye chilies, which made this dish quite ideal for all age groups. You would be surprised that their Thai Onion Omelette (Khai Cheow Homyai – RM3.50) was so simple and yet so appetizing. With high heat and lots of oil, you would get a crispy omelette. The only setback was the excessive oil remains at the base. They should have drained it well. Their Sambal Asparagus (Pad Phak Naw Mai Farang – RM8.00) was a new experience. Instead of using stalks of asparagus, the vegetables were sliced thinly (just like French beans) and stir fried with lots of prawns in a more diluted version of Thai sambal. The dish has more hints of oyster and fish sauces.

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There are all together about 100 types of dishes to choose from the menu. Another of the common ones would be the Special Thai Omelette (Khai Yad Sai – RM7.00), a wrapped omelette with meat and vegetables. I somehow detested the usage of frozen mixed vegetables in dishes. This is the most disappointed dish I had there as it was just some mixed vegetables stir fried with minced pork with a touch of chili sauce and wrapped in a tasteless omelette. I won’t recommend this dish as it did not have any distinctive flavors. Fortunately, the Green Curry Chicken (Gaeng Kheow Wan Gai – RM8.00) was reasonably good. The dish was not as spicy as expected without the usage of bird eye chilies. Instead of the mini Thai eggplants being use here, it has a bigger version and all sliced up. There were some cut long beans being added in too. The Bangkok Pandan Chicken (Kai Bai Toey – RM6.00 for 5 pieces) was another disaster. They were practically swimming in oil. If not with the help of some tissues, I would have put them aside. There were neither traces of any spices nor sliced lemon grass being used here. Each pandan (screwpine leaves) wrapped chicken just tasted sweet with a hint of soy sauce. Banned! Their Fried Prawn Cake (Tod Mun Koong – RM3/pc) was not up to my expectation too. I just do not know how such a simple dish could have that somewhat almost fermented seafood flavor in it. It could be due to the not properly stored lard being used in it too.

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Now I know why most of the students would go for their fried rice or noodles as it could be safer for their digestive systems. I did try out one of their noodles to test on the flavor. Their Seafood Tomyam Glass Noodles (Tomyam Woon Sen – RM5.50) sure had lots of squids in it but it was not my plate of noodles. Somehow the noodles tasted real sweet with the usage of some Thai chili sauce with a dash of fish sauce.

Overall, this stall serves average Thai dishes which would suit common people. If you would like to have a more authentic Thai cuisine, it would be better to go for Annathai-Kitchen or Aroi Thai Restaurant, both shops located in Pulau Tikus, Penang. In fact, Lang Sae Lee Thai Food down at Tan Jetty, Weld Quay, Penang, also serves an above average Thai cuisine but the prices had soared sky high recently and most average income people are avoiding them.

If you are driving up from Gelugor area, drive all the way up Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah towards Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). When you see USM on your right, keep to your right until you reach the traffic lights (Sunny Point Complex on your left). Turn right into Jalan Sungai Dua. Drive on until the third traffic lights (Tesco Extra on your right) and turn left into Lintang Merak. Immediately after the first junction (Jalan Merak), slow down and watch out for a service road on your left. Turn left into the road and you would see the Thai food stall at the far end of the row of shop houses within the premises of Kedai Kopi Paimay. There will be ample parking space there. Do take note that you may encounter parking problem on Saturday as there will be a night market (pasar malam) on that day.

TAJAIMAP

Name: TAJAI THAI FOOD
Address: 23 Lintang Merak, Sungai Dua, 11700 Penang, Malaysia
Contact: 016-469 0305
Business Hours: 11.30am-10.00pm (Closed Last Sunday of the Month)
GPS: 5.349925, 100.298597

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

Sigi’s Bar & Grill on the Beach (SBG – formerly known as Sigi’s by the Sea) at the Golden Sands Resort, Penang, is currently celebrating its first anniversary. The stylish, casual and fun beachfront restaurant, over the short period of one year, has successfully attracted both in-house guests and locals with its simple, fulfilling and yet value for money cuisine with the freshest ingredients right from their own home-grown herbs and spices plot. With the appointment of John Brock, a New Zealander, as its Executive Sous Chef to head the SBG and the Western culinary offerings of the hotel, you would indeed experience great cuisine at the next level.

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So, what’s sizzling up in SBG’s kitchen to commemorate its first anniversary? There’s the First Anniversary Set Meal at RM100++. This promotion comes with a “1+1” offer, where you can bring along your partner to enjoy the breezy evening by the beach while getting yourself pampered with the great food served here. Pizzas are at 50% off for a limited time. Make yourself available between 7.00pm and 10.00pm nightly (except Thursday and Sunday) to indulge in the fine creations of John Brock. This promotion is available until 31 March 2011 (NOTE: The promotion has been extended until 15 April 2011 due to great demands).

As for entrée, you can opt for Gourmet Flat Bread, Salt & Pepper Calamari, Arancini Balls or Wild Mushroom Soup. Since it was an offer for two, I tried out two of the dishes from the list. The Salt & Pepper Calamari is a must-order. The crispy salt and pepper batter fried calamari on a bed of caramelized onion with nahm jim (spice enhanced sauce with a hint of fish sauce and lime juice), generously garnished with some greens and red chilies was something that I could not stop eating. The combination was perfect! On the other hand, the Wild Mushroom Soup, served with truffle cream, had just the right amount of earthly taste that I like.

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As for the Main Course, there were 5 options, namely Peppino’s Classic Lasagne, Tandoori Pizza, Tagliatelle Pasta with Prawns, Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast and Sigi’s Signature Fish & Chips. Since I’m a lover of wood-fired pizzas, I went for the Tandoori Pizza. The concoction was nice without too much of spiciness as I would have expected. The huge 12” pizza came with some cubed tandoori chicken, red onion slices, chopped cashew nuts, cheese with a garnish of mint chutney and yoghurt based raita. With a dash of my favorite Tabasco sauce, the pizza was almost great for me except for the base which I would prefer to be slightly thinner. I also tried out the Sigi’s Signature Fish & Chips. The crispy beer-battered butterfish fillet combined with the tartar sauce was nice. At least, the mildly marinated fillet still maintained its juiciness. Although the dish was tasty, I would think it still needed a stronger dose of beer to give it that extra sour beer flavor. I loved the deep fried hand cut chips with cloves of garlic. Simply irresistible!

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This was followed with 3 choices of desserts such as Chilled Rice Pudding, Bread & Butter Pudding or Chocolate Tart, served with either Coffee or Tea. The Chilled Rice Pudding with Strawberry Soup and White Chocolate was somewhat different compared to the recipe I had tried by Jamie Oliver from Jamie at Home. Instead of having the rice pudding served on top of some crumbled meringue, this came rather compact with rice on a pool of strawberry soup garnished with some fresh strawberries and a piece of white chocolate. This dessert would suit those with an adventurous taste bud. Compared to the former, I loved the Bread and Butter Pudding more. The baked and silky smooth pudding was simple with some hints of soaked bread slices. With a little sprinkle of grounded cinnamon, raisins and vanilla anglaise, this dessert was heaven! It had just the right amount of sweetness to suit any ages.

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You should also not miss out their Thursday’s Beach Seafood BBQ Night. This promotion is available until 28 April 2011 at RM59.90++ per pax. SBG offers a different style of seafood BBQ. The spread was rather unique compared to those I had tried elsewhere. I’m sorry you would not find any local fare here as the dishes served here had touches of cuisine from all over the world. Won’t that be great for you to try out the cuisine of other continents?

You can start off your meal by visiting the soup and salad corner. You would find Seafood Chowder, French Baguette, Chef’s Selection Nori Maki, Prawn Cocktail Salad, Coleslaw with Pineapple, “Chorizo, Calamari & Spiced Yoghurt Salad”, Salad Niciose or even a simple Garden Salad with selected dressings. The “Chorizo, Calamari & Spiced Yoghurt Salad” is worth mentioning here as it had that unique and mild spicy flavor. With a concoction of chorizo (herbed sausages), tender calamari, yoghurt, herbs and a hint of paprika, this salad was indeed a great appetizer. Another salad which caught my attention was the Salad Niciose, a famous French salad with a combination of cooked and raw vegetables, canned tuna in oil with a touch of vinaigrette and served with wedges of hard-boiled eggs. This was a very healthy starter indeed.

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At the BBQ grill and buffet line, were some of the uniquely prepared seafood dishes that I had ever tasted. It was time for me to be adventurous then to test out the dishes from the different parts of the world. The spread included Grilled Slipper Lobster with Tarragon Butter, Coriander & Cumin Marinated Prawns, Butterfish with Chimichurri Rub, Moroccan Fish Tagine with Cous Cous, Jumbo Seafood Skewers, Grilled Chicken Tenders, Jumbo Chicken Sausages, Salmon En Papillote with Ginger & Shallot, Seafood Paella, Buttered New Potatoes, Steamed vegetables and Vegetable Ratatouille.

To name some of my favorites, the Grilled Slipper Lobster with Tarragon Butter deserved a big thumb up. The distinctive flavors from the tarragon (king of herbs in most French cuisine) butter, seeped right into the flesh, thus giving the lobster that unforgettable buttery experience. The coriander and cumin marinated tiger prawns were also good. The Butterfish with Chimichurri Rub was another great experience for me as the South American green sauce had a nice combination of fresh herbs, olive oil, vinegar, etc, that injected a unique flavor into the grilled fillet. It was also the first time I tried out the couscous, a type of North African originated dish which looked almost like cooked rice. The couscous granules are produced by rolling moistened coarsely ground semolina wheat into small balls and then coated with finely ground wheat flour. This dish is normally topped with some stew and I had Moroccan Fish Tagine on it. The combination was perfect. The Salmon En Papillote with Ginger & Shallot was another dish I love a lot. Unlike the normal Chinese paper-wrapped chicken dish which would be deep fried, the salmon fillet was baked in a sealed parchment paper envelope with some chopped ginger and shallots. It was simple and yet the taste was great. Another great dish to mention would be the Spanish originated Seafood Paella or commonly known as the seafood pan. This dish was enriched with the flavors of the seafood. From the look, I would say the restaurant used short grain bomba rice. The dish has mussels, prawns, calamari, chicken cuts with some baked chorizo strips and finely sliced fresh herbs as garnishing.

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The dessert section consisted of Crepe Station, Apricot Crumble, Blueberry Cheesecake, Victoria Sponge, Selection of Pastries and fresh fruit cuts. You can choose your choice of fillings for your hotly made crepe, namely chocolate, crushed peanuts, raisins, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, chocolate rice and chips.

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Here were some of the selections I had on my plate. Don’t you think it was a hearty meal? 😛

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If you feel that having buffet would be rather heavy for your diet, do check out their latest Ala Carte Menu for lunch and dinner. The restaurant has a wide spread of dishes to suit you, including a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. Do try out their delicious Vegetarian Pumpkin Spinach with Ricotta Rotolo (RM34++). It has smashed pumpkin, chopped spinach, ricotta (goat cheese), wrapped in lasagna sheet and mildly burnt in sage butter. This is truly an amazing dish. Another hot item in the menu is the Kataifi-Wrapped Prawns (RM28++). The dish consists of a few tiger prawns being wrapped in kataifi (fine strips of phyllo dough) prior to being deep fried. The prawns would then be served on a bed of aioli (a mayonnaise like sauce made from garlic, oil, salt, egg with a touch of Dijon mustard at times, sometimes known as garlic mayonnaise) and garnished with some gremolata (a chopped herb condiment with lemon zest, garlic and parsley).

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Having a typical seafood meal might not be the preference for a few. If you feel that there are too much of seafood for your consumption during the Beach Seafood BBQ Night, you can always try out their Beach BBQ Dinner, same time, on Sunday instead. You can be assured that there would be lots of meat choices. You can also check out the Garden Café and Spice Market Café promotions for March and April 2011.

The restaurant is just located within the premises of Golden Sands Resort. Drive all the way up towards Batu Ferringhi. When you see the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa on your right, slow down and watch out for the Golden Sands Resort entrance which is right after the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa. Park your car at the ample car park there and walk into the main lobby of the resort. Head towards the beach area and you would see Sigi’s Bar & Grill on your right.

SIGIMAP

Name: SIGI’S BAR & GRILL ON THE BEACH @ GOLDEN SANDS RESORT
Address: Batu Ferringhi Beach, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-886 1852 (Direct Restaurant Line)
Business Hours:
11.00am-6.00pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm (Bar: 11.00am-11.45pm)
GPS: 5.477405, 100.251657

RATING:
Ambience: 9/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (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)

SIMPLE AND DELICIOUS MEAL UNDER THE BIG TREE

Posted by crizlai On January - 19 - 2011

Sometimes, it’s great to dine in where no one else would ever take a second look at when passing by the place. Who knows you might just stumble upon another hidden food treasures of Penang. Located within the heritage stretch along Church Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Gereja) right under a big huge tree, is a little shed, that had been pepping up delicious meals for those office workers around that area for many years. The place looked like it has been worn out through time but no one could have imagined that such a place would churn out meals that got many loyal customers coming back for more. Commonly known as Under the Big Tree by the locals, this little kopitiam is manned by Ah Lai and his wife, Ah Lim and their son.

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So what’s the fuss over this kopitiam when they would just serve any common meals like some of the old coffee shops or mamak stalls scattered around Georgetown? You would be surprised as they have a truly 1-Malaysia concept here where all races would come in daily to have a boost of their delicious meal, basically instant noodles soup and toasted bread. Huh? Are you serious? Indeed I am! They do serve delicious instant noodles (RM3.50 per bowl – Maggi Mee to be precise) just like how you would cook at home, boiled with some cabbages, carrots and big onion, topped with a poached egg and 4 parts of a sausage. Next you would be asking why you should be paying for that amount when you could easily cook your own at home, in fact much cheaper than that pricing. The secret lies within the soup base. You surely won’t get that taste as you would here. On top of maintaining the al dente of the noodles, Ah Lai somehow managed to perfect his secret paste to be added into the soup. On top of that, some of the noodles had some evaporated milk added in for that extra creaminess. There are four types of noodles you can choose from here ranging from Clear Soup Noodles, Duck Noodles, Curry Noodles and Tom Yam Noodles. The Curry and Tom Yam Noodles are the two most sought after noodles here, a bit spicy for many but they were definitely delicious.

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Their toasted breads here are indeed done to the crisp I always like. This place has been my second alternative for toasted bread after Ah Wang’s Cafe at Tanjung Tokong. The Toasted Butter & Kaya Bread (RM1.40/set) has the eggy type of coconut jam (kaya) just like how my granny would have made. What got the customer coming back for more were not these toasted breads or their half boiled eggs but their Toasted Sandwich Special (RM3.80). This item was so uniquely prepared that it would only be available at this place. The bread would be laced with some cheese, topped with omelette, sausage slices and sauce prior to being toasted. The sausage has been carefully peeled to get even thickness, thus you would get an even flavor throughout your bites. Other than these, there would also be some Nasi Lemak in-a-box (RM2 each) with different combinations, supplied by other vendors, for you to choose from.

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It would rather easy to find this kopitiam as it is situated right under the biggest tree you can find along Gat Lebuh Gereja. If you are coming from Lebuh Light, you would come to a roundabout (aluminium betel nuts sculptures/Queen Victoria’s Memorial Clock Tower). Make a 270 degrees right turn into Lebuh Pantai. Drive all the way and make a second left turn into Gat Lebuh Gereja. You can see the stall on your left. There would be ample parking space there.

BIGTREEMAP

Name: AH LAI KOPITIAM @ UNDER THE BIG TREE CAFE
Address: 15, Gat Lebuh Gereja, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-477 1332 (Ah Lai/Ah Lim)
Opening Hours: 9.00am-5.00pm (Mon-Fri), 9.00am-3.00pm (Sat) – off Sunday & Public Holidays
GPS: 5.416629, 100.34294

RATING:
Ambience: 5.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 6/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

DINING IN KAFFA KAFE AT STRAITS QUAY

Posted by crizlai On January - 6 - 2011

Some of you might not be aware of the latest attraction in Penang where life can become so breezy and exciting throughout the year. With spectacular views of the Andaman Sea and the historical skyline of George Town, Straits Quay, developed and run by Eastern & Oriental Berhad, is the first retail marina enclave within the fast development area of Seri Tanjung Pinang in Penang. The new destination for locals and tourist alike, promised strings of international food outlets, bistros, bars, boutiques, bakery to performing arts and learning centers. Presently, there are just a handful of shops in business but these would be enough to set the crowds in thrills with nice sea front restaurants and bistros everywhere. It’s also a great spot for photography with such great colonial style architecture. Other than visiting the place by car, Rapid Penang buses would also be available (No. 101 & 103). Water limousine service would be available soon via E&O Hotel Pier to enable you to explore the panoramic view of the beautiful island.

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While paying a visit to this newly established Straits Quay some time back, I came across a restaurant by the name of Kaffa Kafe. The place has great ambience with cozy corners and al fresco area for diners to get their best experiences dining by the sea.

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So how was my dining experience here? Well, let you judge for yourself on what I have to share here. First there was the Fresh Wild Mushroom Soup (RM12.90) which had a combination of shitake, enoki, portbello and swiss button mushrooms, supposedly served with toasted garlic bread. Instead, I had some crudely sliced croutons, floating soggily on my soup. The gross dark colored soup had that sour taste which I don’t quite like. Enoki mushrooms are delicate mushrooms that if you do not know how to keep them well refrigerated, they would have that sour fermented taste. At times, they would even spoil the whole taste of any soup base. The restaurant should have replaced enoki with crimini or even oyster mushroom for that extra earthy flavor. This was so far the worst fresh wild mushroom soup I had ever tasted and with a high usage of black pepper in it.

Next was one of the recommended Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken (RM16.90), served with steamed Basmati rice. My next question was whether they double grilled that chicken or even microwave the meat? From the look of such a basic kitchen, I guessed the latter answered me clearly. There was no moisture left in the meat. Neither was there much gravy left. The meat only has the basic taste of lemongrass and nothing else. It was truly bland. The chopped chilies were for decoration only and did not add in any flavors at all. What’s the use of serving the much reputable fragrant enriched Basmati grains but not knowing how to cook the rice well? It was simply tasteless and dry. Buttered Basmati rice would be a more ideal choice. That was not the worst of it yet. In fact for all the accompanying dishes, the vegetables were overcooked with some withered and pale yellowish green French beans. Moreover, the vegetables tasted like they have been blanched in the same pot of water continuously without ever changing the water. A pinch of salt and some olive oil would have given them a better taste too.

We also had their New Year offer of German Styled Chicken Bratwurst (RM20.90), served with mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables. Although the two foot sausages were tasty, both came rather cold within (didn’t microwave enough? LOL!). The potatoes were roughly mashed, not too bad for taste. The gravy was just average with a bit too much of salt in it. Just look at the color of the French beans and you would know my reasons for being pissed off. On top of that, I would think it was a bit too pricey for me for the amount served.

The Homemade Lamb Shank (RM26.90), served with mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables was a joke. I had better ones before. It looked like it was really cooked at home and brought to the outlet to be microwave to get rid of the juiciness. It was real obvious that the lamb shank was left exposed to air for a long period of time as the meat had changed color and was extremely dry. Now I know why AFC’s King of Grill, Robert Rainford, could be rather agitated when his diners were not on time to consume his grills within a stipulated time. The shank was bland too with only a hint of some wine based marinate. The texture of the meat was like 60% in the midst of meat floss preparation. The gravy tasted universal just like the rest of the dishes. I really hated those vegetables.

I just ordered the Crispy Calamari (RM13.90) to test out how well they did in their finger dishes. Well, you can never go wrong with most frozen packed stuff. The tempura coated rings were nice but the fries needed a bit more crispiness. The accompanied salad was normal with dressing neither salsa nor vinaigrette. The condiment was some sort of diluted Thai chili sauce which could hardly stick to my food. I would rather have some creamy mayonnaise to go with my dish.

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As for dessert and beverages, they fair much better than the food here. I tried out their Homebaked Apple Pie (RM8.90), served with a scoop of ice cream. It was supposed to be vanilla but I ended up having a miserable and almost melted scoop of strawberry ice cream, a cheap brand indeed. The Apple Pie crust was quite fine, although I would prefer it to be a bit more buttery in taste. The apple filling had the required tasted of grounded cinnamon but lacked in moisture. The Ice Kaffa Special (RM10.50) would be recommended as the overall combination was perfect. It had double shots of strong flavored coffee, double scoops of vanilla ice cream and topped with whipped cream. That made me wonder why I was not served vanilla ice cream for my Apple Pie. The Iced Lemongrass Tea (RM7.90) was fine, just nice for my liking. The Mocha Mocho Smoothie (RM9.90) was normal.

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Overall, the restaurant would be a nice place to relax over some drinks but not the food. The food quality needed to be revamped soon before they lose out more customers. The kitchen would need more dedicated staff as sloppiness and carelessness would not secure customers well. Price wise, it could be a bit pricey for most people. My total damage was RM141.55 (inclusive 10% service tax) in which I did not get my money worth of satisfaction. Moreover, two out of three of us had some mild stomach problems after the visit. What happened to the quality of food here? The photos and descriptions in the menu can be rather deceiving. For the price, customers ought to have what have been described in the menu and not any remains that they have left in their kitchen. Any restaurant should know that withered or gone bad items are not to be served to the customers. Lucky, none of us had serious food poisoning. As for the staff, they should be more discipline and educated in the happenings in the kitchen as well as dining etiquettes. Although it was great to have the table cleared before the next dish was served, but it was not so polite to ask for dish clearance when the food was not fully consumed. Standard kitchen orders must be briefed to all and not only to a handful of staff. Here I saw one staff turning down some clients while another asked us for the last order. Where’s the logic behind this? I usually don’t criticize business owner this way but it was rather saddening to encounter such bad experiences especially at a highly exclusive area like Straits Quay. There were too many flaws in the establishment.

The restaurant is just located within Straits Quay, the latest landmark in Tanjung Tokong area, Penang. If you are coming from town via Jalan Kelawai, just head towards Jalan Tanjung Tokong. There are two ways leading to Straits Quay but I’ll show you the easiest way as not to get lost within the maze. Drive all the way until you reach the Island Plaza traffic lights. You can turn right but it’s a long way to get to there. Alternatively, keep to your right and drive onwards to the second traffic lights after that and turn right into the road (Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang). You can see the almost completed Tesco building there. Drive on and a short distance away you can see straits Quay on your left. There will be ample parking areas all over.

KAFFACAFEMAP

Name: KAFFA KAFE @ STRAITS QUAY
Address: 3A-G-8, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-890 5136
Opening Hours:
10.00am-1.00am (last order 10.30pm – extended hours during peak period)
GPS: 5.458264, 100.313233

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

THE BEST OF THAI DISHES AT ANNATHAI-KITCHEN

Posted by crizlai On December - 14 - 2010

NOTE: The economy rice concept has ceased operation. Currently, they are serving ala carte dishes plus some set meals for LUNCH as well as DINNER.

If you are a Thai food lover but always find that it’s quite a hassle to order many dishes with only two persons or so, you should then check out the Annathai-Kitchen located within the Pulau Tikus district of Penang. You would find that there would be a wide spread of delicious Thai dishes on display daily for lunch (except on Monday) to choose from. In fact, the restaurant is the only Thai restaurant I have known in Penang to serve dishes in “economy rice” style. With the family members originated from Nakhon Si Thammarat in Southern Thailand, you can be assured that the dishes would be rich in usage of spices, fish sauce, palm sugar and thick coconut milk. On top of that, there’s also the little influence from the Teochew community there, thus making the dishes served here having some similarity with our local Chinese cuisine.

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To have a clearer picture of what they have in their daily spread, let me share with you what I have tasted through my few visits there. Firstly, there was the Thai favorite of Chicken with Bamboo Shoot Curry (Kang Nor-Mai Gai/แกงหน่อไม้ไก่). The rich usage of Thai basil leaves, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce (nam pla) with a hint of palm sugar plus the slight crisp from the sliced bamboo shoot made this dish very appetizing. There was also the Yellow Curry Chicken (Gaeng Ka-Ri/แกงกระหรี่ไก่). This dish was my all time favorite as I love the thick kaffir leaves flavored gravy combined with potatoes to go with my rice. There was also the Spicy Stir Fry Pork (Phat Phet Moo/ผัดเผ็ดหมู). How I wished pork belly meat slices were used instead for a more tender bite in that delicious red curry dish. 😛 The Prawn with Radish Curry (Gaeng Separut Koong/ แกงเขียวหวามนไก่) was perfect. I simply love the usage of kaffir lime leaves to pep up the taste of the curry. The Stir Fry Potatoes with Pork (Phat Mum Farang/ผัดมันฝรั่ง) was somewhat like our home cooked dish but minced meat was used instead of the normal pork slices. I love the usage of some tomato slices and spring onions that gave the dish the extra flavors. The Stir Fry Glass Noodles (Phat Wun Sen/ผัดมันฝรั่ง) was another simple dish. This dish had sliced cabbages, carrots, small shrimps on top of the al dente glass noodles. At least this dish was mild enough for everyone compared to the Spicy Glass Noodles Salad (Yum Wun Sen/ยำวุ้นเส้น) with lots of bird’s eye chilies (chili paddy/cili padi/พริกขี้หนู).

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Another non-spicy vegetable dish that was available was the Stir Fry Celery with Pork (Phat Ton Kin Chai/ผัดตนกินจ่าย), which would be great for those who like crunchy vegetables. Another favorite dish would be the Deep Fried Pork Chop (Moo Thord Ka-Tiam/หมูทอดขาเทียม). Although well marinated and tasty, I found this dish a bit too tough and dry for my liking. The Green Curry Chicken (Gaeng Kaew Wan Gai/ แกงเขียวหวานไก่) was another of my favorite dish. I simply love the taste of fresh ingredients being used here with a mild taste of Thai basil leaves and a touch of kaffir lime leaves. This was another remarkably tasty dish for me, considering that they did not use those pre-packed ingredients with green coloring such as the one I had during a Thai food promotion some time back in September 2010. The next dish was one of the more famous dishes from South Thailand namely the Fish in Sour Curry (Gaeng Som Pla/ แกงส้มปลา). They were using barramundi (siakap/石甲魚) fillet that day and it was indeed fresh to my liking. The sourness of the dish with a touch of lemongrass was lovely. The next dish was the Pork Spareribs Curry (Phat Phet Kra-Duk Moo/ผัดเผ็ดกระดุกหมู). The thick gravy dish had the strong flavor from the kaffir lime leaves, almost similar to the taste of the Nyonya Chicken Curry Kapitan, but minus the strong hint of some kaffir lime juice. If you love catfish, you should not miss out the Spicy Catfish Curry (Phat Phet Pla Duk/ ผัดเผ็ดปลาดุก). Wow! The flesh of the fish was so fine and combined with the spices used, it was perfect. But beware of those hidden “bombs” aka bird’s eye chilies within as they could be real fiery. I saw many people made takeaways with the next dish which was the Pork Leg in Black Vinegar (Kha Moo Phraew Wan/ขาหมูเปรี้ยวหวาน). The dish was indeed delicious with the extra flavor coming from some old ginger slices. Before I could have another helping, the meaty parts were all gone. If you love this hot selling item, I would advise you to patronize the restaurant the first few hours of their operation time.

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Do look out for their Steamed Curry Fish Custard (Hor Mok Pla/ห่อหมกปลา), locally known as “Otak-Otak”. Instead of individually packed in banana leaves like the Nyonya style, these came in small metal cups, laced with wild betel nut leaves (daun kaduk) and topped with some coconut cream. They were delicious. Another common dish you could get here would be the Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Pork (Phat Park Ruam Mit/ผัดผักรวมมิตร). The Spicy Stir Fry Eggplant (Phat Mak Kaer Yao/ ผัดมะเขือยาว) was another dish that I love. Somehow, the textures of the eggplants were just right and not overcooked. The chef, Mdm. Anna, who’s the mother of the proprietor, Mr. Jacky Choong, sure knows how to handle the chili combinations well. The dish came with some medium sized prawns. The Spicy Minced Pork Salad (Lab Moo Sub/ลาบหมู) was indeed appetizing and addictive. The boiled and broken up minced meat clumps were spiked with some lime juice, grounded chilies, fish sauce, salt and sugar before being tossed with some chopped mint leaves, cilantro stalks, shallots and many more. Can I request for some lettuces for wrapping this delicious salad now? 😛

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From time to time, the kitchen would also come up with whole fish dish such as the Thai Fried Fish in Fermented Bean Sauce (Pla Tao Jaew/ปลาเต้าเจี้ยว). There may also be halved fish being served at times. Small barramundi (siakap/石甲魚) was used for this dish. The differences between the Thai and the Chinese style would be that the former uses some tomato slices and more chilies in the cooking. If you have been constantly taking sweet food, then the next dish which was the Stir Fry Bitter Gourd (Phat Park Ma Ra/ผัดปาร์กมะระ) would be great for controlling the blood sugar level. The melon slices maintained their crunch while the adding in of pork slices and squids gave the dish the extra flavors. There was also the Stir Fry Spicy Winged Beans with Prawns (Phat Tua Phoo/ผัดถ้วพู). The Winged Beans are also known locally as Kacang Botol or Goa Beans and are rich in vitamins and minerals. I’m very fond of the Thai Fish Cake (Tod Man Pla/ทอดมันปลา) but the next dish got me asking for more. They were the Thai Prawn Cake (Tod Man Koong/ทอดมันกุ้ง). Each piece was richly filled with well marinated minced prawns and meat prior to being coated with special breadcrumbs and deep fried. Simply delicious! Of course during all dining spreads, there would be the Raw Vegetables served with Pounded Chilies in Thai Fermented Shrimp Paste (Nam Prik Kapi/น้ำพริกกะปิ). Three types of raw vegetables were served, namely cucumber, long beans and stinky beans (buah petai).

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Some people might think that Thai food would only be suitable for those with strong stomachs to withstand spiciness and sourness. Well, not all Thai dishes are fiery hot. The restaurant would also prepare some nice set meals daily that would even suit the taste buds of children, nevertheless adults. I for one loved their Thai Chicken Rice (Khao Mun Gai/ข้าวมันไก่ – RM5). The meat was so tender and flavorful. The specially prepared condiment was so tasty that I did ask for more on top of ordering another bowl of rice. 😛 Another of their most sought after set meals would be the Braised Pork Leg with Rice (Khao Kha Moo/ข้าวขาหมู – RM5). The one served here was indeed much tastier and meatier than the one I had at Genting Café. Moreover, the price here was also reasonable for that many dishes served. While you are there, don’t miss out their Thai Rice Noodles with Fish Curry Paste aka Laksa (Kha Nom Chin/ขนมจีันน้ำยา – RM3). This dish would be served with sliced raw cucumber and long beans. The noodles were of a thinner version and less al dente than those as in the Penang Nyonya Laksa but the taste was great. Another set meal that has raw vegetables added in would be the Southern Thai Style Rice Salad (Khao Yam/ข้าวยำ – RM5). The ingredients included steamed rice, toasted grated coconut, pomelo, sliced kaffir lime leaves, bean sprouts, winged beans, wild betel nut leaves, long beans, lemongrass stalk and bird’s eye chilies. Just mix everything up and apply some of the provided sauce before consuming. Taste wise, I’m not too fond of this dish as there were just too much raw vegetables in it to flow smoothly though my mouth. I still prefer my Nyonya Nasi Ulam recipe. 😛

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Desserts are something that would be very common in Thailand and most of the time they would be rather colorful. A large number of these desserts would be sweet and rich in the usage of coconut cream and glutinous rice. Some of the desserts you can get here would be the Jackfruit with Glutinous Rice (Khao Niao Kha Noon/ข้าวเหนียวขนุน) and Mango with Glutinous Rice (Khao Niao Ma Muang/ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง). Both would be topped with sweetened coconut cream and sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds. Another one would be the Glutinous Rice with Steamed Custard (Khao Niao Sang Kaya/ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา). The one I loved most was the Mixed Sweetmeat in Coconut Milk (Gaeng Buat Ruam Mit/แกงบวดรวมมิตร), somewhat like our local Bubur Cha Cha. The taste of the added corn kernel had absorbed into the coconut milk thoroughly, thus giving the dessert a sweet corn after taste. A few varieties of steamed sweet potatoes and yam were added in together with some sago and jellied corn starch. You must have this served hot. The Water Chestnut & Jackfruit in Coconut Milk (Tub Thim Krob/ รวมมิตรทับทิมกรอบ) served here had some extra screw pine flavored rice flour jellies (pandan cendol) compared to those I have tried elsewhere. If you are lucky, you might get to try out their Steamed Pumpkin Custard (Sang Kaya Fak Thong/สังขยาฝักทอง) and Steamed Banana in Glutinous Rice (Khao Tom Mat/ข้าวต้มมัด), which would only be prepared on certain days throughout the week. As for the beverage that would cool down the burning sensation in your mouth, do try out their Nam Daeng (red – sala flavored syrup) and Nam Kaew (green – cream soda flavored syrup). Both will be served with tadpole eggs. Huh? You must be joking right? Haha! Those would actually be soaked sweet basil seeds. 😛

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Overall, most of the dishes served here are delicious and reasonable based on market rates. In fact, the ingredients used were of high standards. Even the chicken cuts used consisted of drumsticks and thighs. The only complaints I heard so far were the excessive usage of coconut milk in their dishes and their desserts could be a bit too sweet for many, especially for those who are concerned about their health. Well, there’s always a price to pay for rich food consumption. It’s either you take it or leave it. Anyhow, anything too much would not be good for your body… even healthy diets! 😛 Other than that, there was the “great food ran out too fast” issue, which of course was not an issue if you patronize the place not too near to their closing time. LOL! Anyway, their ala carte dishes during dinner time were superb, especially their freshly cooked Prawn Tom Yam Soup (Tom Yam Koong), Chicken in Turmeric Soup (Gai Tom Ka Min), Spicy Bitter Gourd with Prawns (Phat Ma Ra Koong) and the specialty of the day – Crispy Fried Chicken (Gai Tod).

The restaurant is just located nearby the Pulau Tikus market. To avoid the market traffic in the morning, I’ll direct you through an easier route. If you are coming from town (ex Jalan Perak) along Jalan Burma towards Pulau Tikus district, keep a look out for a Shell Petrol Kiosk on your left. Drive further up and you’ll see the PERKESO (SOCSO) on your left. Immediately after the building, turn left into Lebuhraya Codrington. Drive on until you see the second junction on your right (Jalan Yeoh Guan Seok). Turn right into the road and again right into Jalan Moulmein. There’s a big car park on your right. Park your car there. The restaurant is just opposite the car park.

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Name: ANNATHAI-KITCHEN
Address: 26 Jalan Moulmein, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-2277 599
Opening Hours: 10.30am-2.30pm (economy rice), 5.30pm-9.30pm (ala carte) (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.429693, 100.312099

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

 

WALKING DOWN MEMORY LANE AT LITTLE COTTAGE CAFÉ 2

Posted by crizlai On November - 25 - 2010

Walking into this restaurant reminded me of the good old childhood days when I had regular meals with my family in such a comfortable and family-oriented ambiance. A branch out from the Little Cottage Café (LCC1) located along the busy street of Jalan Burma, this restaurant within the premises of Hotel Waterfall carries the name of Little Cottage Café 2 (LCC2). Established somewhere at the end of 2006, LCC2 has been serving Western and Italian meals as its successor, LCC1. On top of its Ala Carte dishes, their set meals and Sunday Buffet Lunch remains the two top choices of the public.

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A few of us managed to pay a visit to LCC2 prior to my hectic office relocation some time back. It was a totally different experience altogether as the Sunday Buffet Lunch (RM25.90+ adult/RM13.90+ child) crowd was there. Set Lunch (from RM9.90+) and Set Dinner (from RM25.90+) were also available for the day. We started off with some signature cocktails and mocktails – Red and White Wine Cooler (RM9.90/glass), Little Cottage Mocktail (RM7.90), Little Cottage Fruit Shake (RM12.90) and Homemade Sparking Golden Lime Juice (RM6.90). The Little Cottage Fruit Shake remained the favorite of many.

Some of the house specialties were introduced to us. The Clam Chowder in Bread Bowl (RM19.90) came first. It had this thick and creamy soup, served within a local bun called “Penggali” bread (later mispronounced by many and commonly called Benggali bread today). The taste of the chowder was fine but there were just too much potato cubes which overshadowed the already minute-sized local softshell clams (lala). I would also prefer the bun/bun slices to be slightly toasted for that extra flavor. It’s a bit pricey though.

The next dish was the Cream of Mushroom (RM6.90) which had a varieties of fresh mushroom blended. It tasted not bad except that I would like mine to be a bit thicker with some crème added in.

The “Ossu Buccu de Angelo” aka Lamb Shank (RM29.90) got all of us yearning for more. In fact, I would say this was my favorite dish of the day. It had finely stewed, juicy and tender lamb shank served with some fragrant Italian mushroom rice and grilled/fresh vegetables. I can have this dish the whole day! Most recommended! 🙂

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The next on the list was the Seafood “Olio” Spaghetti (RM28.90) which you can have an option for spicy or non spicy (children). The spaghetti came with a combination of prawns, half-shelled mussels and squids in special white sauce. Taste wise, it wasn’t that bad provided you love the fresh fishy taste of seafood. Well, it wasn’t as spicy as I would have expected. Some paprika please~

There was also the Chicken Sausages and Turkey Ham Combo (RM29.90) which would suit kids more but it came with a hefty sum to pay, though the amount of food would be enough to two kids or an adult. It had a combination of chicken sausages, turkey ham streak, baked potato and fresh vegetables, served with house sauce and tartar sauce. The house sauce was really mild.

LCC2 has some impressive set lunches from as low as RM9.90. You would have an option to choose from the 15 items available daily. Each set would come with a butter roll, soup of the day, main choice of set meal, dessert and coffee/tea. For a healthy start, you can order the Garlic Lingguine (RM9.90). It had flat pasta cooked with some chopped onions, chillies, black olives and fried garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Since I’m a garlic lover, I have no problem with this dish although it might not be enough for a big guy like me. This dish would be more suitable for ladies who are rather conscious about their waistline.

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If you think you would like to have something a bit heavier but not too meaty, one ideal set lunch choice would be the Grilled Almond Fish (RM15.90). This dish would come with a grilled fish fillet topped with a generous amount of almond flakes and served with baked potato, boiled vegetables, fresh greens and tartar sauce. This was not a bad dish either except I would prefer some dressings on my fresh greens. Overall, it was kind of “dry”.

Not meaty enough for your set lunch? You may want to try out their Lamb Shoulder (in Black Pepper Sauce) – RM19.90. The dish came with two large slices of lamb shoulders in black pepper sauce and served with baked potato, boiled vegetables and fresh greens. Well, make sure you did state your choice of cooking method here. We should have ordered medium rare instead of getting the well done as it was rather tough with certain bite.

As for set dinner, there would be 10 choices daily from as low as RM25.90. Each set would come with a butter roll, soup of the day, main choice of set meal, dessert and coffee/tea. You would also have the option to add on a piece of Tiramisu Cake (RM4.90) or a change of soup to Clam Chowder Soup (RM5.90 – Friday to Sunday only). What we had was the most expensive item on the list – the Lobster Combo Special (RM49.90). It had a cheesy baked lobster thermidor with a choice of fish, chicken, lamb, steak or mussels. We opted for chicken. Although the lobster was nice, I felt that the price was a bit too high, considering it was just a baby-sized lobster. Moreover, there was nothing so special about the grilled chicken topped with a funny combination of black pepper and house sauce.

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If you intend to have a more romantic meal, LCC1, which has been in operation since 2003, would also be a better choice as it caters food on both floors with a dimmer setting and romantic corners. Do watch out for some of their promotions during off peak days (Monday to Thursday), festive seasons and special occasions.

Getting yourself there won’t be hard as LCC2 is located within the premises of Hotel Waterfall right at the end of T-junction between Jalan Gottlieb and Jalan Kebun Bunga/Jalan Utama. If you are coming from Jalan Burma, turn left into Jalan Jalan Gottlieb/Jalan Bagan Jermal traffic lights. Drive all the way until the end until you see Jalan Ayer Rajah on your left. You can see a big cake house and Hope Children Hospital there. Slow down and watch out for a small service road on your left. Turn left into the service road and turn right. You can easily see the Hotel Waterfall sign there. There should be ample car parks there during non peak period.

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Name: LITTLE COTTAGE CAFÉ 2 @ WATERFALL HOTEL
Address: 31 Jalan Gottlieb, 10450 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-228 1128
Opening Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm
GPS: 5.430484, 100.299531

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

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