CRIZ BON APPETITE

Savoring The Best All Over Town…

The Tiger STREATS 2017, the unique street food experience from Tiger Beer, recently arrive at the shore of Penang at Hin Bus Depot, enabling Penang foodies to enjoy Malaysian cuisine with some twists. It was indeed a new experience for many non-muslim party-goers to wash down the food with ice cold Tiger brews throughout the night.

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With more than 14 types of one-of-a-kind takes on local favorites, Tiger STREATS will be more than enough to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Let’s look at the “specials” available during the eventful night.

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BBQ Ribs with Sambal Sloppy Fries – Tender on the inside, crackly on the outside! The signature BBQ ribs marinated with own secret recipe, paired with in-house famous Sambal Sloppy Fries on the side.

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Yummitori – A new age ‘satay’ pork slice skewers, grilled perfectly with crunchy greens in between. You can choose from 4 different types of flavors, namely ‘Sambal Hainanese’ Pork, ‘Chewbakwa’ Pork, ‘Caramelized Roast’ Pork and ‘Once You Go Black’ Pork.

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K-Pop Maggi Goreng – ‘Wok Hei’ filled Maggi Goreng ala Chili Pan Mee twist. Served with stirred fried instant noodle, accompanied with minced chicken, crunchy ikan bilis and a fried egg.

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Pisang Goreng with Lemon Curd – Fried banana fritters with coconut milk and honey drizzle, topped with lemon curd and toasted sesame.

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Bacon & Gula Melaka Popcorn – Rich, dark and mysterious Gula Melaka (palm sugar) caramelized over low fire and then drizzled over freshly popped corn and salty homemade bacon. This “Asian-inspired” popcorn is then sprinkled with desiccated coconut before they are slow baked to little precious, crackling Krakens! Whatever that means!

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Bacon & Sambal Ikan Bilis Popcorn – Light buttery popcorn tossed with sambal, crispy salty bacon and toasted whole anchovies.

Bacon & Bourbon Caramel Popcorn – Freshly popped corns are drizzled with hot bourbon caramel. They are then tossed with our homemade salty bacon and slow baked to crunchy perfection.

Bacon & Run Butterscotch Popcorn – Light buttery popcorn tossed with our homemade rum butterscotch, crispy salty bacon and toasted whole almonds. Take a bite of these little babies and feel the paper-thin crispy coating explode in your mouth.

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Bacon & Salted Egg Yolk Cookies – Crispy homemade bacon bits and salted egg yolk in this traditional cookie batter.

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Roti Aiskrim – Ondeh-ondeh and Teh Tarik flavoured ice cream sandwiched in between fluffy Hainanese bread, adding a little twist on the classic Roti Aiskrim, topped it off with homemade kaya drizzle.

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Fried Cempedak Ice Cream – Inside Scoop’s bestselling Cempedak Ice Cream fried in a secret coating for that local twist and of course, absolute enjoyment.

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Lo Mai Kai with a Twist – Indulge in this contemporary Lo Mai Kai with sautéed button and Portobello mushroom, smoked duck breast, fried shallots, micro herbs, dried shrimps, and accompany the chewy and fragrant glutinous rice.

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Creamy Butter Chicken Nachos – Crunchy tortilla chips with Chinese restaurants go-to-dish, minced creamy butter chicken topped with Japanese nori, sesame seeds and chilies.

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Curry Flavor Waffles – A savory twist of well flavored dessert – minced chicken waffles with onions, and served on a bed of citrus romaine with curry sauce drizzle.

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Lemak Chicken Sandwich – The signature Malaysian dish where rice replaced with sourdough bread, ikan bilis, peanut, homemade sambal, toasted coconuts, and a chicken waffle.

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Mr. Bao – Soy-sauced braised pork belly sandwiched in between slider buns, alongside coriander, fermented vegetable, fried shallot, peanut powder and pork sauce.

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Mamak Fries – Crispy shoestring fries served with the nation’s staple Nasi Lemak sambal sauce and seasoning, garnished with parsley flakes.

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In addition to the amazing array of dishes to sample, Tiger fans were kept entertained throughout the events with retro-inspired games, experiential activities, and performances from great local artistes, Color Noise.

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To pair with all that delicious food, ice cold Tiger brews were sold at a special price throughout the evening.

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Tiger STREATS launched in December in Kuala Lumpur, where 700 guests sat down together to feast on array of treats prepared by two chefs from very different worlds, but who shared the honour of Michelin Star fame. Hawker Chan, the owner of the first hawker stand to win the prestigious award, and Chef Ramsey, owner of progressive modernist restaurant Babe KL combined their culinary talents to craft an extraordinary dining experience with a unique collection of fusion dishes merging traditional Asian street food and contemporary fine dining cuisine.

Jessie Chuah, Marketing Manager of Tiger Beer said, “The response to Tiger STREATS so far has been incredible, and we’re thrilled to bring this unique culinary experience to even more Tiger Beer fans in Penang and Johor.”

A big thank you to Heineken Malaysia Berhad for the great experiences in the recent Tiger STREATS Party in Penang. It was truly an enjoyable event with memorable games of the past.

About Tiger STREATS: Tiger STREATS, by Tiger Beer, is the world’s first ‘street food meets fine dining’ culinary collaboration. Featuring a unique culinary mash-up between chef Hawker Chan, owner of world’s first Michelin-starred hawker stall and top fine dining chefs from around the world, the series of Tiger STREATS events, taking place in Sydney, Auckland, New York and Kuala Lumpur, aims to bring people from different backgrounds together to share a Tiger Beer and a memorable meal at the street food table.
About Tiger Beer: ROARING SINCE 1932 – A bold lager, born and brewed in the heart of Asia through our tropical lagering process. Tiger’s uniquely refreshing and full-bodied flavor is enjoyed in more than 70 countries, winning us friends and awards the world over. The brand received its first award in 1939, beginning its journey as an Award Winning beer on an international stage. The recognition of its product excellence catapulted Tiger’s internationalization in the early 1990s, with over 50 international awards and accolades to date. It is now known as a symbol of contemporary international Asia, enjoyed by discerning drinkers in every corner of the globe spanning across Asia with growing popularity in western markets such as, Europe, USA and Australasia amongst others. A true Asian beer at heart, the brand wants to show the world what Asia has to offer. Over the years, Tiger has received more acclaim from the world’s leading newspapers and journals than most other beers. For example, the Washington Magazine, in a blind taste-test involving several hundred brands, unreservedly voted Tiger “positively the best beer in the world”. Tiger has also accumulated over 50 accolades, awards and distinctions. Some of the more notable awards include a Gold medal in the International-Style Lager at the World Beer Cup 2010 and a Gold Medal for the International Golden Lagers category at the Brew NZ Awards in 2011. Each year from 2004 to 2006, Tiger was named a UK Cool Brand Leader. The recognition reaffirmed Tiger’s popularity and was given only to the coolest brands in the UK.
About Heineken Malaysia Berhad (formerly Guinness Anchor Berhad): HEINEKEN Malaysia with its portfolio of iconic international brands is the leading brewer in the country. The Company brews, markets and distributes:
• The World’s No. 1 international premium beer Heineken® ;
• The World-acclaimed iconic Asian beer Tiger Beer, and its doubly refreshing variant Tiger Radler and its other innovative brew Tiger White – Asia’s Wheat Beer;
• The World’s No. 1 stout Guinness;
• The all-time local favourite Anchor Smooth and its strong beer variant Anchor Strong;
• The premium Irish ale Kilkenny;
• The real shandy Anglia
HEINEKEN Malaysia also produces the wholesome, premium quality non-alcoholic Malta. HEINEKEN Malaysia’s brand portfolio also includes the World’s No. 1 cider Strongbow, the No. 1 German wheat beer Paulaner, Japan’s No. 1 100% malt beer Kirin Ichiban and the World’s No. 1 ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage Smirnoff Ice. The Company continues to lead the responsible drinking agenda through its Drink Sensibly campaign. Listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia, HEINEKEN Malaysia’s principal shareholder is GAPL Pte Ltd based in Singapore. GAPL Pte Ltd is 100% owned by Heineken N.V. Heineken Malaysia Berhad officially changed its name on 21 April 2016 following Heineken N.V.’s acquisition of GAPL Pte Ltd on 7 October in 2015. For more information please visit: www.heinekenmalaysia.com

 

Many people would have passed through the stretch of Jalan Kelawei without noticing that there’s this little cozy yet simple setting restaurant just two doors away from Meijiya, a Japanese products crockery store. Named Eighty Eight Restaurant, after the birth year of the chef-cum-owner, Chef Danny Ng (center in photo below), the restaurant has proven to be one of the best of the best in Penang. Trained at the reputable At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore, Chef Danny Ng has brought home many international style of cooking techniques that not many restaurants in Penang are executing as it involved humongous investment and is rather time consuming. To the chef, getting a dish done perfectly in taste and texture to the fulfillment of a diner is what he’s passionate about and time is another matter. Sous-vide, a vacuum cooking technique, is regularly practiced in this restaurant. We were glad to be invited to try out their ala carte dinner menu for the month. Set lunch would also be available at RM30+ daily, except for their off day on Tuesday.

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As the meal starter, we were served with hot Muffin Bread with Burned Butter. The clean sliced homemade muffin bread had the texture which I like as it has a bit chewy consistency. It went well with the chef’s burned butter, a browning process of unsalted butter until the required almost nutty flavor. Everyone was pleased with this starter and was eagerly waiting for the chef’s next surprise.

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The chef’s version of Caesar Salad (RM20+) was served. Though simple as it may look, the cold starter was indeed a master piece by itself. It had sliced crispy baby romaine lettuce, confit cherry tomatoes, anchovies, shredded egg white and yolk, dressed in their homemade caesar dressing, garnished with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano and some thinly sliced muffin bread crouton. It was perfect for any occasion.

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In case you might want to try a different cold starter, I would strongly recommend the Jamón Ibérico (RM30+). The cold starter came with some paper thin slices of Spanish Cured (Black Iberian Pig) Ham, drizzled with balsamic reduction, Spain imported extra virgin olive oil, garnished with some leafy baby rockets and served with their homemade fried dough, Gnocco Fritto, little pillows as they have been known.

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The crispy surface of the fried dough, wrapped with a slice of the cured ham, combined with a leaf of baby rocket was amazing. I could have this starter all night long without any main course~ LOL~ 😛

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As for hot starter, we tried out their Saute Clams (RM20+). It was a totally new experience at all compared to the Vongole in White Wine Sauce I had tried elsewhere. The clams here were cooked differently as in prawn stock, fresh tomatoes, oven dried tomatoes, basil and parsley with a light touch of brandy. The light bitter sweetness sauce was heavenly. How I wished I could dip some toasted bread in it and drained up any remaining of the sauce. Of course, the clams were super fresh and cooked with just the right texture.

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We were also served with bowls of Prawn Bisque (RM26+), a soup that was milder than the Lobster Bisque I had in another restaurant. Though it had a quite intrusive roasted white prawn shells flavor which some might not be used to, I found the soup to be quite interesting. It had chunks of squids and clam meats added in on top of halved big prawn, some diced tomatoes and chopped parsley plus sprinkles of grounded black pepper with a light pep up in taste from some parsley oil. The whole concoction was very flavorful, though I quite like it to have some additional white wine and cognac flavors in it for some extra boosts~ 😛

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The restaurant was kind enough to compliment us with their homemade Strawberry Sorbet (normal price for a larger scoop is RM8+) for clearing off the lingering seafood after taste. The sorbet had some light sprinkles of fleur de sel, a hand harvested and expensive salt to pep up the flavors.

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We also had their signature Seafood Linguine (RM45+) next. Instead of the usual pasta which consisted of basically tomato puree, the version here had the pure flavors from the fish broth used. The ala-minute pasta came with some sundried tomatoes, black olives, cherry tomatoes, capers, clams and prawns with a mild touch of fresh herbs. Though it was a bit pricey for most of us, the contentment was until the extreme. It was the best pasta I had tasted for ages and every bite was worth the value paid.

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As for main, we were served with a fish dish of the month – France imported Whole Baked Sea Bream (RM75+), which was air-flown directly from France with the best care to ensure its freshness. The fish was marinated simple with just some chopped parsley, salt and lemon zest, to ensure that we get the best natural sweetness from the fish. The oven-roasted fish was served with some mashed potatoes, white wine sauce and rocket salad. The texture of the fish was lean and coarse-grained, almost similar to that of the sea bass but thinner. I personally find the price for the barely 400g sea bream to be rather costly. Even though the chef was rather selective in his fish choices, there are still options for other fish species in the local market for self caught fish other than those reared ones. At least, it would enable more diners to savor his skills in preparing his fish dish.

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Another great main dish would be their Oven Roasted Baby Lamb Rumps (RM68+). The Australian imported lamb rumps had gone through many stages of herbs infused pan searing to seal in the flavors prior to being oven roasted until perfection. I would say this dish was the best ever with my experiences in consuming lamb dishes. The tenderness of the lamb pieces were just right without the oozing blood as you would get from most restaurant. The evenly coated charcoal powder added some smoke flavors which complemented the meat real well. The skillfully prepared lamb rumps came served with some Japanese pumpkin pureé, mint jus and baby rocket.

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Finally, desserts were served. We were served one of their signature desserts which was their “Chocolate & Banana” 2012 (RM22+). The dessert had a combination of some frozen Varlhona chocolate mousse with some banana mousse, sprinkled with some chocolate & coffee crumbles and served with their homemade banana ice cream. This was so far one of the most luxurious desserts I have taken, considering that the Varlhona brand is a high-grade luxury chocolate marketed and this choice had 50% dark chocolate content.

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Another of my award winning choice would be their Gratin Sabayone (RM18+). I would anytime choose this dessert over Crème Brulee as the flavors were spectacularly undeniable over the latter. It had some fresh strawberry cuts, dressed with some fortified Marsala wine infused egg based custard prior to being torch burned. This dessert was served with their homemade and non-stabilizer used vanilla ice cream. Be sure to consume the ice cream as it would melt fast.

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We also had a try out on their Vanilla Panna Cotta (RM20+). This Italian style pudding had the natural usage of fresh Vanilla pods as you can clearly see the seed at the base of the pudding. The taste of the Vanilla Panna Cotta served here was way more superior in quality than those served elsewhere with the usage of Vanilla Essence. It was served with mixed berries compote which gave the dessert an extra fruity flavor.

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Overall, I personally felt that this is one of the best fine food restaurants in Penang, considering that all the dishes served here were of fresh ingredients and homemade with the strictest possible discipline to ensure that diners get the best in freshness, taste and presentation. No doubt some of the dishes may look rather simple, you could sense that each dish had the heart of the chef in it, ensuring that every single detail in the dish has the right balance in taste right from the basic stock alone. The creativity of the young chef is beyond his age through his knowledge and experiences throughout his overseas culinary journey. In short, he knows his stuff all too well~ 🙂

If you are coming from George Town towards Tanjung Bungah/Batu Ferringhi along Jalan Kelawei, just watch out for a tall orange flat (Pulau Tikus UDA Flats) at the junction of Jalan Jones/Jalan Kelawei on your left. Slow down and switch on your left indicator, Eighty Eight Restaurant is just right after Kitchen Shop on your left. There would be ample parking spaces right in front of the restaurant.

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Name: THE EIGHTY EIGHT RESTAURANT
Address: 49-A Jalan Kelawei, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 2821
Business Hours: 12.00noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.00pm (Closed Tuesday)
GPS: 5.431671, 100.314493

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

 

SEAFOOD ASPIC WITH FRUITS & VEGETABLES

Posted by crizlai On July - 16 - 2012

Not many people are aware of the benefits you would get by occasionally having Aspic in your diet. Aspic would normally consist of well cooked items such as meat, seafood, vegetables or even fruits in a jellied meat stock. It’s a healthy calcium-packed cold appetizer where the natural gelatin in the meat stock would boast stronger joints and bones. I have created a recipe here where I had infused this Russian style staple food with some twists by using some Japanese ingredients. Let’s enjoy this SEAFOOD ASPIC WITH FRUITS & VEGETABLES recipe for a healthier lifestyle. 🙂

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Here’s the recipe for making the meat stock which eventually after chilled would become the aspic.

INGREDIENTS:

GELATIN MEAT STOCK:
1kg chicken feet (wash with salt and drain well)
1 big carrot (roughly chop up)
1 large onion (roughly chop up)
1 stalk celery (roughly chop up)
250gms jicama (roughly chop up)
3 small bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2L water

As each individual would have their own cooked items to add in the aspic, I would just show you what cooked items I’ve used as below:
Chuka Idako (Japanese seasoned baby octopus)
Baby shrimps
Crab Meat
Ebiko
Seedless grapes
Blanched carrot
Blanched broccoli

PREPARATIONS:
• Bring 2L of water to boil in a pressure cooker.
• Add in all the ingredients above and pressurized under MEDIUM-LOW fire for 20 minutes.
• After the pressure has been released from the cooker about 10-15 minutes later, use a cloth sieve to filter out the cooked items. You would get about 1L of meat stock.
(Alternatively, you can use a normal stove and boil the ingredients under MEDIUM-LOW fire until you get half the portion left, meaning from 2L of liquid until 1L left.)
• Get a deep bowl/plate/any container of your preference.
• Lay your cooked ingredients of your choice layer by layer in the container, leaving the heaviest last as it would prevent the lighter cooked ingredient from floating up.
• Pour the meat stock into the container slowly until it covers just at the last ingredient.
• Chill for 2-3 hours for the natural gelatin to harden.
• When the dish is ready, turn it upside down on a flat plate.
• Serve chilled.

Note: The balance of the meat stock can be stored in the freezer and reused by adding in other ingredients as another soup.

(Serves: 1-10)

YOU CAN CHECK HERE FOR MORE RECIPES.

 

CRAB MAYONNAISE & PRAWN CANAPE WITH WASABI BALL

Posted by crizlai On July - 14 - 2012

There are many choices of canapés to bring along to parties or even to serve during your own hosted parties. Are yours the ones to impress everyone? Let me share with you a simple yet delicious canapé I created which I called the CRAB MAYONNAISE & PRAWN CANAPE WITH WASABI BALL which would surely make those diners yearning for more. These colorful cuties have the taste of Western canapés with a touch of Eastern influence. Do enjoy! 🙂

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Here’s the quick and delicious canape recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

GROUP A: (crab meat mayonnaise spread)
100gm fresh crab meat (steam & drain well)
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 small onion (finely brunoise)
2 tsp parley stalk (finely chop)
Black pepper

GROUP B:
3-4 pcs flat bread (Pita, Focaccia, Tortilla, etc, cut into 60mm round or square)
1 box of small tomatoes (cherry or honey tomatoes, 4 cuts into blossom, remove seeds)
50gms baby prawns (steam & drain well)
Olive oil

GARNISHES:
Parsley leaves (chop & whole)
Ebiko (prawn roes)
Wasabi (make into 5mm diameter balls)

PREPARATIONS:
• Mix everything in GROUP A and put back in chiller.
• Cut the baby tomatoes 4 cuts (8 petals), Remove seeds if possible.
• Put a steamed baby prawn in between the tomato petals. Chill them.
• Cut your bread into 60mm round or square to your preferences. I use pita bread here as I like the slightly firm crust and yet soft inner texture after baking.
• Brush the surface of the cut bread with some olive oil and bake in 170°C for 3 minutes.
• To present the canape, just take a teaspoon of the crab mixture and roughly spread evenly on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with some chopped parsley. Lay the stuffed tomatoes on it. Garnish with some ebiko, wasabi ball and a whole parley leaf.
• Serve immediately

(Make: 15-20)

YOU CAN CHECK HERE FOR MORE RECIPES.

 

A GENTLE TOUCH OF FUSION AT KOI JAPANESE GURNEY PLAZA PENANG

Posted by crizlai On March - 22 - 2012

If you need something Japanese and with a touch of fusion by infusing some parts of the Western culture into the Eastern ways, then Koi Japanese would be the ideal place for you. Not only were the dishes prepared in many unique ways, they are also economical for the consumers. Thus, you won’t get your pocket burned when dining here. The design of the restaurant was simple and yet elegant enough for any crowd.

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I had the opportunity to pay a visit to this restaurant to try out some of their signature dishes. The first dish which was the Popeye Salad (RM18.80+) may look simple at the first glance but each mouthful was very refreshing. Who would have thought that just some sautéed dried shrimps and garlic in olive oil plus a mild dash of soy sauce on a big plateful of fresh Chinese spinach would have giving the overall taste such a punch? The crunchy sensation from the slightly salty dried prawns combined with the fragrance from the garlic was a great experience for me. It was indeed a perfect salad for any ages.

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They also serve a number of colorful and tasty signature maki with catchy names such as the Pink Sakura, Surf & Turf, Hawaii, Rock & Roll and more. What caught my attention was the Bread Crunch (RM14.80+/8pcs or RM7.80+/4pcs). The maki stood out amongst the rest as it did not contain any vinegar boosted steamed Japanese rice (sushi rice) but instead it used soft and fluffy bread. It had a piece of bread on a nori (dried seaweed sheet) rolled up with crabstick, cream cheese, ebiko (prawn roe), shredded cucumber, sweetened egg, crunchy butter toasted croutons with a light touch of mayonnaise. Each square shaped maki had some coarsely pounded cheese roasted peanuts garnished on it. I love the slightly chewy yet crunchy bite, especially with some added wasabi~ 🙂 You should not miss out this dish!

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As for the Koi Signature Cold Dishes section, I tried out two of their most ordered items. One of them was the Salmon Kelp Roll (RM24.80+/8pcs). The roll had a thinly and translucent piece of salmon wrapped with crabstick, cream cheese, chopped spring onions and garnished with some ebiko. These rolls were served on a plate with some mayonnaise and the chef’s signature dressing which had a sandy grated daikon (radish) texture plus some sweet soy sauce and vinaigrette. This would be one dish that would be worth ordering, especially when there’s the seasonal 35% discount (RM16.12+ only) until end of March 2012.

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The next of the cold dish would be the Australian Beef Tataki Koi Style (RM38.80+/10slices). For non beef eater, you can have the option for tuna too. The grounded black pepper marinated Australian beef was seared to perfection and cut into thin slices, dressed with a special sauce and garnish with some chopped spring onions and grated daikon. The sauce had some hints of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, olive oil, rice vinegar, grated ginger and most probably with a touch of sake or rice wine as it had that mild sourness.

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As for the Koi Signature Hot Dishes section, I tried out the Tuna Steak (RM28.80+). Other than having the tuna raw for my sashimi, I have yet to try out a thick slab of red tuna fillet seared medium-rare. If you like steak, you would love this meaty black pepper crusted tuna steak. It had that nice and tender rawness to my liking. From the texture of the tuna steak, I’m sure that the fish was seared for barely 2 minutes on each side. Instead of serving plain or with teriyaki sauce, this tuna steak had the chef’s signature sauce with some deep fried garlic slices garnished on it. The sauce had some apple fruity sweetness with hints from some grated ginger, shallots, garlic, radish, soy sauce, mirin sauce, miso paste and some spices. This is one of my favorite fish dishes so far.

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As for the desserts which were quite limited here, I opted for the Ice Cream Tempura (RM6.80+ with either green tea or vanilla ice cream). It tasted just like the fried ice cream recipe I did, except it had that extra tempura crisp. The green tea ice cream was awesome as it was homemade with a rich macha flavor. Unfortunately, the bread use was a bit on the thick side, thus not having that extra crispiness and got soiled easily by the melting ice cream. The chef should have rolled the bread flat before wrapping in order to have a more dense texture to avoid the sogginess issue. Other than that, it was still a nice hot and cold dessert. The dessert was served with a squeeze of honey.

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As for beverages, you can have teas, juices, sodas, floats, soft drinks, beers, sake or even sochu. I tried out the Tokyo Blue (RM5.80+) in the soda section. It had a concoction of blue curacao syrup and pineapple juice, jazzed up by some fizzy soda water. It was quite thirst quenching.

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Overall, some of the dishes served here were quite extraordinary compared to most of the Japanese restaurants I have been to. The culinary team members were quite innovative in incorporating some of the Western spices into the Asian cuisine. Price wise, some of the dishes could be on the high side but they do have seasonal and membership (RM20 per annum) discounts throughout the year to enable diners to savor their dishes comfortably and economically. For more information on their menu and promotions, you can check out their website at http://koijapanesecuisine.com/

I don’t think I would need to describe the way to Koi Japanese as most people would know how to get to Gurney Plaza. Just walk towards the new wing of the mall and go to level 2, above McDonald’s and next to Sushi King.

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Name: KOI JAPANESE
Address:
170-02-59 & 60, 2nd Floor, Gurney Plaza (New Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 7112, 012-414 5885 (Ms. Daisy Lee)
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.437696, 100.309592
Website: www.koijapanesecuisine.com/

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

 

Another new heritage building has popped up in Penang within the buffer zone of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. The place has been named Nostalgie, a French word for nostalgia. It sure got me nostalgically yearning to be stuck in the days of my ancestors where life has been much simpler and uncomplicated as today. Nostalgie has been refurbished with cool heritage settings while maintaining its colonial days architectural structures. The place has a comfortable ambience with some genuine Nyonya style structures, a mini garden and some state-of-the-art decors, to give you the feel of the good old days with a touch of the modern lifestyle. If you are an antique lover, you would surely chance upon some skillfully crafted structures with embedded ancient iridescent nacre or also known as the “Mother of Pearl”. The nacre consists of blends of minerals that are secreted by oysters and other mollusks and deposited inside their shells, coating and protecting their bodies from parasites and foreign objects. It has the same compounds as in pearls and you would experience the optical phenomenon of hues changes as you view them from different angles, thus giving you the iridescence effect.

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Nostalgie is still quite new in this business with its operation started just a few weeks’ ago. It’s a family run café cum hotel business, managed and operated by siblings, Jean Lee and Jason Lee. Currently, they have started their café while waiting for their rooms to be fully furnished. The rooms would probably be available in December 2011. As for the café, they do serve some delicious and homemade pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and dessert. All the items are freshly made daily without the usage of any preservatives. The menu has a rather limited selection at the moment as they have plans to expand it in due course when the place is officially opened for business. Nevertheless, the chef had the passion to pep up dishes that would woo any diners.

We started the meal with their Spaghetti Marinara with Prawns (RM24). This dish came with two super king sized pan-fried prawns freshly obtained from the nearest fisherman’s wharf. The marinara sauce was thick and flavorful with a light touch of saltiness from the accompanied grated parmesan cheese. The pasta had just the right al dente and each mouthful had all the taste of freshness from the tomatoes, onions and chopped basils used. It was a heavenly dish although it needed a bit more of extra virgin olive oil for that extra moisture. With prawns being used, it would be great too if the chef would have added in some dashes of white wine and chopped parsley or oregano to pep up the herby taste even more. By the way, you could request for additional parmesan cheese to tempt your cheesy taste bud.

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Another of their signature pasta would be their Chicken and Basil Pesto Fettuccine (RM21). This dish would also come served with linguine upon availability. The dish was awesome. The chef did a great job in preparing the sauce that complemented well with the pasta. The sauce had that nutty flavor from what I presumed was blended walnuts as it was much drier and less oily than that of pine nuts, with stronger hints from the sweetness of basil leaves and garlic. It also had a much lighter hint of crushed black peppers in which I would prefer them to be a bit stronger. The pasta came with some slightly sautéed cherry tomatoes, a skillfully pan-fried chicken breast meat and garnished with a mixture of pesto, red chilies and Kalamata black olives. The chicken breast meat was much juicier than I anticipated. A job well done! Alternatively, instead of Parmesan cheese being used in the pesto, Romano cheese would also be great for that extra cheesy and creamy flavor.

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If you are a pizza lover, you would love the next dish. It’s their Prawn & Chilies Pizza (RM30). The pizza came with their homemade thin base, spread with their moist tomato sauce, topped with fresh prawns, onions, mozzarella cheese, chopped basils and red chilies. It may look Italian but had some Asian flavors in it. Simply Irresistible with the cheesiness! Although the pizza tasted great, I have a feeling that the chef loved basils a lot. A bit of chopped parsley/oregano would provide a better justice to any cheese based dishes, regardless of seafood or meat.

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Another of their good pizza would be the Chicken with Feta Cheese Pizza (RM28). The pizza came with their homemade thin base, spread with their homemade basil pesto (the same recipe as above), topped with cubes of chicken meat, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese with some sprinkles of dried oregano. I could have this pizza for the whole day. The combination of mozzarella cheese and feta cheese was great as it had that unique and fragrant cheesiness. Each bite was heaven with a little squeeze of juices coming from the baked cherry tomatoes. You should not leave this place without trying this pizza out!

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They also serve sandwiches here. One of their hot items is the Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich (RM14). It had a juicily pan-grilled chicken fillet in teriyaki sauce, served with lettuce, onion and mayo between a pair of whole meal bread slices and some French fries. I would say that the teriyaki chicken fillet was nicely done but the usage of this kind of bread might not be suitable as it was rather dry. It would be nice if these were to come with some steamed dinner rolls. Even if the kitchen had decided to use whole meal bread in the future, it would be recommended if they had a thicker spread of mayo with some thinly sliced fresh tomatoes. At least with these solutions, diners would have a much juicier bite, even if those slices of bread were toasted more.

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Currently, they only have their homemade Carrot Cake with Crème Cheese Frosting (RM12/slice) for dessert. More options would be available in due course. This was one great secret recipe by Jean Lee. The carrot cake was moist and flavorful from the sweet grated carrots with a hint from some grounded cinnamon. It had some little bites from the added roasted walnuts and raisins. Combined with the creamy cheese frosting with a touch of lemon zest, the cake would be a target for dessert lovers. Unfortunately, I’m not such a sweet tooth and I found the cake to be a bit sweet to my liking. I prefer mine to be more towards the healthy version with the natural sweetness coming from some sweet Australian carrots and raisins. The cake would go well with a cup of hotly brewed coffee… minus the sugar for me. 😛

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As for beverages, it was more of a kopitiam style with fresh juice, chilled juice, coffee, tea and soft drinks. More options would be available in due course such as cocktails and mocktails. What we had were some iced/hot coffee/white coffee (RM5) and a Chilled Cranberry Juice with Longan (RM9).

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Here’s a little sneak preview of the unfurnished rooms and their surroundings. The rates would definitely be much cheaper than some of the scattered boutique hotels along that heritage zone. The rooms are scheduled to be available somewhere in December 2011.

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Overall, Nostalgie is a great place for some relaxations with the companionships of family members and friends. The charges for the food and accommodation would also be reasonable and affordable for all walks of lives. The only problem would be the scarcity of finding a comfortable parking space. Well, that won’t be a problem if you would park your car a bit further away and take a mild stroll towards the venue while enjoying the heritage of George Town.

The café is located just a stone throw away from 55 Café @ Coffee Atelier. If you are driving along Lebuh Farquhar into Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling, keep a watch out for the Goddess of Mercy Temple on your right. Immediately after the temple, turn right in Lorong Stewart and make a zig zag turn and you will see the café on your right, just right after to the only mansion there with a compound. Parking can be quite limited during peak hours. I would advise you to find whatever parking space you can along some of the lanes there and walk to the venue. Alternatively, you can drive a bit further up after the Goddess of Mercy Temple and park your car at the designated metered car park. Be warned here that the local Municipal Council can be quite strict in unpaid meter. Make sure that you have enough of coins inserted to last your visit to the café. Another warning would be that the place would be quite flood-prone during heavy rains but on VERY RARE occasion. Do pick a nice and sunny day for your visit.

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Name: NOSTALGIE (CAFÉ & BOUTIQUE HOTEL)
Address: 34, Lorong Stewart, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 0977
Business Hours: 10.00am – 9.00pm (Closed Thursday)
GPS: 5.419378, 100.337458

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

 

BUSINESS SET LUNCH AT THE SOY RESTAURANT G HOTEL PENANG

Posted by crizlai On October - 30 - 2011

A lot of people are not aware that there is a Business Set Lunch available at the “Soy” @ G Hotel at RM30++ per pax. This restaurant is one section of the “Sesame+Soy”, a Pan Asian Chinese restaurant that offers a luxurious new dining experience for the most discerning food connoisseurs about town. The “Sesame+Soy” restaurant’s uniqueness lie in its dual dining ambience in one space. “Sesame” is the epitome of fine dining while “Soy” is casual yet elegant. Both specialize in tantalizing fusion contemporary and classic Chinese cuisine.

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As for the Business Set Lunch, you would be served with Soup of the Day, either steamed rice or fried rice accompanied by any 2 items from the menu of 8 dishes and followed by Dessert of the Day, all within the cool and cozy ambiance of the restaurant. It would be great if you could have a company of 4 pax to share out all the dishes from the menu. The menu items would be changed every few weeks.

To start the meal off, we were served the Soup of the Day which was the Radish Chicken Soup. It was just a simple home cooked soup with radish, carrot, wolfberries and chicken. Taste wise, it was just a normal soup with the natural sweetness from the vegetables. It somehow lacked the most important item to create that unique flavor which was the toasted baby cuttlefish. Moreover, it did not have that purity as in all clear soups. There were traces of blood remnants present, normally due to the meat (especially chicken), being dropped into water not at its boiling point. Let’s hope the kitchen would be more aware of this golden rule in cooking clear soup.

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We had the option to choose either steamed rice or fried rice for the set meal. Since we had quite a number of people present, we chose both equally. The steamed rice consisted of rice from a good quality grain. So was the rice for the fried rice. Although the fried rice was just nice to go with the dishes, it would be great if it were to have some toasted garlic slices added in (just like those Japanese Teppanyaki style) to boast up the flavor.

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As we had more than 4 pax, it was just nice to try out all the dishes from the menu. The first dish was the Stewed Bean Curd. Instead of the normal style of cooking this dish with oyster sauce in starch, this tofu dish had that rich flavors from some seafood stock with traces of crab meat and crab roes. The chef was wise enough to add in some cut snap peas for the extra crunch rather than having those soft and thin snow peas. It was appetizing.

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Next on the list was the Jin Dou Chicken with some honey dew cubes. The batter coated chicken pieces were stir fried in Jin Dou sauce. I could be wrong but the chicken tasted like it had been marinated in some fermented bean curd (nam joo) as the meat indeed had that distinctive flavor. The Jin Dou sauce was good as there were hints of LP sauce, black vinegar, plum sauce, tomato sauce, 5-spice powder and sugar being used here, together with some fruity flavors from the cubed honeydew. Overall, the dish was good but I would rather have the meat pieces to be boneless as well as from some drumsticks for a more juicy bite.

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We were also served the Steamed Snapper Fillet. The snapper fillet was steamed on a bed of angled luffa (kak kua/丝瓜) and wood ear fungus (black fungus/黑木耳) in superior soy sauce and garnished with deep fried bean curd crumbs, sautéed garlic and coriander. It was a simple dish but the fish was indeed fresh.

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The next dish which was the Hunan Style Beef Cubes had us yearning for more. It was delicious with the flavorful beef cubes immediately melting in our mouth. Hunan cuisine has always been very flavorful with the liberate usage of garlic, shallots and chili pepper. This dish had a little bit of twist with the usage of celery and some chopped dried shrimps on top of the usual usage of chili pepper, oyster sauce and black pepper corns. The meat was tender and juicy. It was super good!

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Braised Moi Choi Duck Breast was also presented to us. It was just a small amount on a huge plate. Somehow the taste of the whole dish was overpowered by the deep flavors from the duck meat. Moreover, the moi choi (pickled Chinese cabbage either salty or sweet) basically lost its taste by being soaked too long. The kitchen should take note that the unique taste from the pickled cabbage should not be lost totally when preparing such a dish no matter with what type of meat they would be using.

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There was also the Stewed Baby Chinese Cabbage with enoki mushrooms, shitake mushroom slices and dry scallops garnished with some wolfberries. Although this dish was healthy with the mild taste from some oyster sauce in starch, it tasted rather bland to us. Alternatively, this dish should have the mushroom being marinated in some ginger juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper and sautéed slightly to pep up some flavors. Moreover, the soaked dry scallops should be deep fried and served as garnish instead.

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They do serve another beef plus vegetable dish in the menu as well – Stir Fried Snake Beans with Beef Bisket Slices in Shrimp Paste. The dish was good with a notable taste from the wet shrimp paste (belacan) but it was a bit salty by itself. This dish would go well with steamed rice.

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The 8th and last dish in the menu was the Crispy Snapper Fillet. It had batter coated snapper stir fried with some red curry paste. It had a touch of Indian flavor and tasted more toward the tandoori style of preparation. Not a bad choice too.

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The Dessert of the Day was the Palm Sugar Brulee with Homemade Ice Cream. The whole concoction was marvelous. The natural sweetness from the palm sugar (Gula Melaka) blended in just nice with the crème brulee. It would be great if the brulee was torch burned a bit more for that burnt flavor. The hotel’s homemade ice cream was something not to miss out too. It was served on some sprinkles of crushed toasted peanuts and had that fineness and creaminess to my liking.

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They also have a Taipei Specialty Cuisine Promotion for September/October 2011. We did try out a few main courses from the selection of 8 dishes. Each set of the selected main course would come with Chilled Braised Bean Curd, Century Egg with Pickled Ginger and Taiwanese Stewed Rice with Minced Pork & Mushroom.

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The first main course consisted of Stewed Chicken with Basil Leaves & Taiwanese Chinese Wine (RM26++). This dish tasted quite similar to the Cantonese style of Gu Lou Yoke (Sweet & Sour Pork) with the freshness of some tomatoes but with a stronger taste from the added basil leaves. This dish would taste better if boneless chicken especially from those drumstick and thigh parts were used for a smoother bite.

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The next main course was the Braised Duck Web & Duck Wing with Spicy Master Stock (RM24++). This dish would suit people with acquired taste with the strong spicy taste from the duck as well as the flavors from the master stock.

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The last of our choices was the Braised Beef Cubes with Stir Fried Tomatoes (RM42++). No wonder the price was the most expensive on the menu. This was a superb dish just like the Hunan Style Beef Cubes. The chef did a great job here in serving another tender yet flavorful palate here.

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The Soy Restaurant is located at the first floor of G Hotel. If you walk in through the front entrance along Persiaran Gurney, just head for the stairways on your left, just right before the reception. Walk up and you will see the restaurant entrance.

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Name: SESAME + SOY @ G HOTEL
Address: 168-A Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-238 0000
Business Hours: Soy: 12.00pm-2.30pm, Sesame: 6.30pm-10.30pm
GPS: 5.437637, 100.310567

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

 

THE GRAND OPENING OF DRAGON9INE AT BELLISA ROW PENANG

Posted by crizlai On July - 24 - 2011

NOTE: The restaurant has ceased its operation and in place are Chatime and 102 – Taiwanese Cuisine.

Yesterday marked another great milestone in the journey of Dragon9ine (九龍餐廳) with its Grand Opening after being in operation for more than 5 months. It now proved a better menu, a better style and a more mature chef who had extensive experiences from overseas, Chef Pele Khor. There was a lion dance troupe presence during the opening to give them blessings for a successful business venture.

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Dragon9ine is not too new in the scene of the F&B world in Malaysia as they are indirectly linked to other food & lifestyle outlets such as the BED Belissa Row, BED Autocity and BED E-Gate, RED Lounge & Karaoke, Sixty9ine Mansion (Batu Ferringhi) and MOIS. Dragon9ine has a unique ambience to suit the needs of different clientele. There are many dining areas with a touch of Chinese culture handy craftsmanship. It gives the al fresco feel but enclosed within the premises itself, suitable for any small gathering of friends and family. The upper level of the restaurant was built to suit more private dining, with the availability of a private room upon reservation. Rows of comfortable sofas with a much cooler and dimmer lighting, would suit those executives who would like to discuss some serious matters over some hot meals.

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There were some food served during the grand opening day but let’s just not touch on those dishes as they were just as typical as what any opening function would provide. The dishes included steamed rice, stir fried yellow noodles, chicken curry, squid curry, fragrant butter prawns, stir fry mixed vegetables, fish in oyster sauce, spring rolls, potato samosa and pandan chicken wraps.

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Instead of the ala carte dishes which consist of their cool & light snack delights, shark’s fins, prawns, fish, chicken, beef, pork & spare ribs, tofu, vegetables, double boiled soups, noodles, congee, rice, desserts, fresh juices and coffee, I would concentrate more on what they have to offer for their fine dining dinner experience. At RM69.90+ (10% service tax – min order 2 pax), you would be served with 11 items, ranging from entrée, main course, dessert to beverages. Please note that the items would be changed from time to time to suit the needs of the diners. The entrée consisted of 4 items served on an individual square plate.

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The first item was the Golden Sand Soft Shelled Crab (金沙軟殼蟹). It had half a batter deep fried soft shelled crab garnished with a concoction of chili flakes, garlic flakes, five spice powder, salt and toasted sesame seed. It was simple but yet appetizing to my liking.

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The next dish was the Fresh Oyster in Bloody Mary Cocktail. The name itself is self described. The dish had one big fresh oyster drowned in a shot glass filled with some Bloody Mary cocktail. The cocktail was actually a bit of fusion from the original with pure tomato juice, HP sauce, balsamic vinegar, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice with a dash or two of vodka. Although the oyster was fresh, not all of us could consume the acquired taste of the seafood. Moreover, the Bloody Mary recipe was more towards cocktail rather than as a sauce to complement the oyster. It was rather mild with the lack of distinctive spicy flavor from the Tabasco sauce and a bit of black pepper sprinkles. Overall, it was still fine for most of us.

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There was also the Ginger & Spring Onions Fried with Chicken. The chef played a safe hand in having chicken slices in this serving rather than having beef slices as not many people here are acceptable to beef. Overall, the taste from the ginger slices and spring onion stalks matched well with the chicken slices too.

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The last dish on the entrée included the Mango Prawn Spring Roll. We were all impressed with how the chef could come out with this delicious combination. The tempura-like texture spring roll has the freshness from the well marinated pounded prawn paste plus the unique flavors from the mango. Perfect!

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The Main Course also consisted of 4 items, served on individual plate. The first course was the Smoked Duck Breast Meat with Mongolian Sauce. The serving style was quite similar to that of the Peking Duck or Roasted Piglet. It has four pieces of thinly sliced smoked duck breast meat served with crepes, spring onions, sliced cucumber and served with their version of Mongolian sauce. All you need to do is to place everything onto the crepe, wrap it up and enjoy the nice flavors from the combination of ingredients. Everything was just fine, except that I would prefer the sauce to be a bit more concentrated with a stronger taste from the blended ginger. Moreover, spring onion bulbs should be used here for that extra flavor rather than sliced leaves from the spring onions.

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The next course was the Fried Tofu and Minced Prawns in XO Sauce. I always could not resist the taste of XO sauce cook with just any dish. The spicy seafood sauce which originated from the Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine scene was something that could be rather addictive for spicy food lovers just like me. The fragrance from the dried scallops and dried shrimps soaked in Sake (as some do) prior to cooking, combined with the nice flavors from the sliced Chinese ham, shallots, garlic, oyster sauce, dried chilies, black pepper, brown sugar with a touch of salt, had the unique taste that would make just anyone yearning for more. With the extra flavor coming from some stir fried minced prawns, capsicum, snow peas and snap peas (I wished they would just get rid of the fiber for a smoother bite), this combination was almost perfect. If not for the deep fried tofu which I found to be lacking in some silky smooth beaten eggs, I could have just this dish over a few bowls of hot steaming rice.

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More seafood dishes were served as the main course such as the Crispy Sea Bass with Butter Orange Sauce and Tempura Greens. The chef had marinated the sea bass fillet with some salt and herbs prior to pan grilling it to get that crispy sensation. Well, it was salty indeed, almost like the fillet has been salt-baked, but it went well with the chef’s special concocted butter orange sauce. This fish was served on a bed of fresh young corns, capsicum and asparagus, along with some salsa like condiment of chopped tomatoes, onions, lime juice and herbs. It was a nice dish, except that they should have got rid of the fibrous skins from the asparagus stems for a smoother bite.

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The last main course was the Stir Fried Seafood “Yee Mee” Noodles with Grandma Sauce. The name of the dish had me in stitches which made me asked the chef why there was no Grandpa sauce. LOL! This dish had almost the same taste as Aglio Olio with a more significant flavor coming from some stir fried dried chilies. It had a mild spiciness and combined with the toasted sesame seeds, it was a palate of heavenly fried noodles. Although the flavorful noodles dish was perfect to sum up the meal, it would even be better if wanton noodles were being used here for a more al dente texture.

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Sweet desserts are always the best dish to have towards the end of most oriental cuisine and Dragon9ine did not disappoint me by serving us with their Sweetened Red Beans served with Tang Yuan (glutinous rice ball). The blended azuki beans dessert had just the right sweetness to my liking. Moreover, the tang yuan was another bonus to us as it came with sweetened black sesame seeds filling. The combination was perfect.

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The set dinner package also included two types of beverages such as the Provence Lavender Black Tea and a glass of Red Wine. These beverages would also be dependable on the availability. Instead of the “Herbs de Provence”, they might replace with another type of herbal tea. As for the wine, I would think that the management would be glad to replace it with other beverages for those not alcohol consuming diners.

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Overall, the fine dining dinner menu was creative and up to par compared to my other visit here during their initial shop opening. I hope with a new and committed chef, this restaurant would be the next ideal place for diners to enjoy their food in a stress-free and comfortable environment. However, the service here is still a bit slow as per before. I hope the staff would be more service oriented and knowledgeable in the future.

It’s not hard to locate the double shoplots restaurant as it situated along Bellisa Row in Pulau Tikus, Penang. If you are coming from Jalan Burma towards Mt. Erskine, drive all the way pass the Jalan Burma/Jalan Cantoment traffic lights. About 300m away, you would see Bellisa Row just before the Church of The Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic Church). Turn right into the service road and find a parking space. The restaurant is just along the row of shoplots just next to the RED Lounge & Karaoke.

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Name: DRAGON9INE
Address: 368-1-5 & 6, Belissa Row, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 4099
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00am
GPS: 5.432788, 100.309939

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

 

WESTERN CUISINE AT EL CASA WINE & DINE RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On June - 30 - 2011

Many outsiders might not notice that within the suburbs of the Georgetown is a little cozy restaurant by the name of El Casa Wine & Dine Restaurant, which serves freshly home cooked pork-free dishes without the usage of monosodium glutamate (MSG). The name itself is self explanatory as this is a place to dine with wine or simply to chill out with partner or friends over a few glasses of wine. A corner lot along the colonial days’ row of residential houses, this restaurant promised a dimly blue lighted ambience with some impressive mini chandelier-like ceiling lamps and a romantic outdoor dining area for those who love dining under the glittering of the stars during dinner time (but do mind those pesky night blood suckers, ok?).

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As for starter, there would always be the Daily Chef’s Homemade Special Western Cream Soup (RM6.90) or Homemade Puree of Forest Mushroom Soup (RM6.90), respectively served with a slice of garlic bread. The daily chef’s homemade soup can vary from tomato, cauliflower, watercress and carrot soups. The Soup of the Day happened to be Tomato Soup which had fresh tomatoes, celeries, onions and so on, all blended and cooked into a smooth paste, with a drizzle of black pepper. Not too bad for the taste but I would prefer to have some cream added on to give it an extra boost of creaminess and that impressive flowery presentation as you would have on your latte. The Homemade Puree of Forest Mushroom Soup on the other hand had the creaminess from some sautéed potatoes blended in with wild mushrooms with a touch of thymes, mixed herbs and olive oil. It was a great chance from those powdered one which you could easily get from those street western food stalls. There was also the El Casa Salad (RM11.90) which in my opinion was rather a small portion to justify against the price. It came with just a few leaves of red leaf lettuce, green apple slices and topped with their homemade honey mustard dressing and some bread crumbs. Although the taste was acceptable, it lacked those crunchy bites from the croutons which they were to have as in their menu description. Moreover, they omitted the sundried tomatoes, which were not suitable for our consumption on that night without any replacements. They could have used some fresh tomatoes or even substitute with raisins or finely sliced carrots to boost up the bulk and colors. What happened to the creativity of the chef?

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Their first signature dish that filled the room with cheesy aroma was their Homemade Chicken Au Gratin (RM17.90). It had layers of creamy cheese made out of a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, topped on some mushroom slices plus chicken drumstick cuts and baked to golden perfection. It comes together with some sautéed garden vegetables, fries and a bowl of spicy tapioca chips. It’s rich in flavors and would surely fit any ages of diners.

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The next dish was their signature Pan Roasted Fillet of Norwegian Salmon (RM27.90) which came with a mixed herb lemon butter sauce and served with mixed herb mashed potato and sautéed garden vegetables plus a bowl of freshly cooked buttered corn kernels. The fillet was well marinated exteriorly but with a bit too much of salt applied. Luckily, the interior part still maintained that moist to justify the whole combination. It blended in quite well with the butter lemon sauce which had a strong citrus sourness. I personally felt that a more buttery and salty brand of butter (such as Butter Cup) with just a light twist of lemon juice would taste better. At least they can just pan roast the salmon without much marinates to maintain its original taste. Their mashed potatoes side dish was lovely.

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For steak lovers, the next dish which was the Sirloin Steak (180 gm – RM28.90) served with some sautéed garden vegetables, potato wedges, and a bowl of freshly cooked buttered corn kernel, topped with black pepper sauce would be the ideal choice for your visit. The medium-rare slab of well marinated grilled beef with some sprinkles of black peppers was just right in taste even without the accompanied black pepper sauce. The only hiccup was the fatty parts which was a bit too tough to my liking. Overall, it was a great dish.

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In between those meaty dishes, we had the Spaghetti Seafood Carbonara (RM18.90), which had pieces of tilapia fillet, squids and prawns cooked in their special creamy white sauce and garnished some grated parmesan cheese and served with a baguette toast. Taste wise, it was not bad but I would prefer my sauce to be a bit creamier or thicker, not drowned in so much sauce and with more sprinkles of mixed herbs. The spaghetti had the required al dente for each bite.

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Next was the Charcoal Grilled Hawaii Chicken (RM13.90) which was served with their homemade tropical barbeque sauce, accompanied by some fries, sautéed garden vegetable, slightly grilled sweetened pineapple and a bowl of freshly cooked buttered corn kernels. This was just a normal tasting grilled chicken with the basic marinates. It lacked some hammer pounding to tenderize the meat through the grilling process, thus certain parts with veins could be rather hard to consume. The tropical barbeque sauce was quite unique with some citrus sweetness.

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The last of the main courses was the Pan Roasted Seabass Fillet with Arrabbiata Sauce (RM19.90), served with some sautéed garden vegetables, potato wedges, and a bowl of freshly cooked buttered corn kernel, topped with Arrabbiata sauce. The sauce was somewhat spicy with some traces of tomatoes, garlic, chilies, herbs and olive oil. The texture and moist within the fillet was just nice to savor the fresh flavors from the fish. It was a unique concoction but somehow it killed the original taste of the fish with an overpowering sauce. A simple sauce of just chopped garlic and butter with a fresh twist of lemon juice would suit the dish more.

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Finally, it was time for some delicious Home Desserts (RM5.90). We had Lemon Mousse with Chocolate Topping for the night. Although this was a nice and light palate-cleansing dessert to end a meal after such heavy main courses, it somehow did not go well with the chocolate topping. It tasted rather weird for many. It would be better if the chef just keep the dessert simple with just a spray of whipped cream with some sprinkles of lemon zest. Alternatively, truffles, mixed fruit yoghurt or just a simple scoop of ice cream with some fresh fruit cubes would end a meal better.

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The best part of dining here other than sipping in wine and other beverages would be having some hot brewing flower teas in their fine China wares. They have a few options here such as the Organic Green (RM6.90) which would help in lowering the cholesterol and blood pressure, strengthening the immune system and fighting against aging, Pink Rose (RM6.90) which would help to regulate blood circulation, purifying, cleansing and detoxifying and to have a glowing and youthful appearances on the skin, Jasmine (RM5.90) which would help to cool the body, refresh mind, help catharsis, and to regulate aging and constipation, Red Tea (RM5.90 – sometimes also known as the Long Life Tea) which is an anti-oxidant-rich, caffeine free tea suitable for people with busy lifestyles and Chrysanthemum (RM5.90) which would help against cough, expectorant, anti-oxidation, enhance immunity, inhibition of blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.

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El Casa Wine & Dine Restaurant would not be visible by the main road. If you are from town towards Pulau Tikus along Jalan Burma, keep to your right after passing the Giant Supermarket (Penang Plaza) at the junction of Jalan Burma/Jalan Larut. Keep driving until you have passed Him Heang, a church, Jemputee (junction of Jalan Burma/Jalan Chow Thye), a vegetarian food court and Malaysian Chin Woo Association on your right. Turn right into Jalan Servis (between Chin Woo Association and Malaysian Buddhists’ Association) and drive all the way in until your see a right junction (Jalan Irrawadi). The restaurant is at the corner lot of Jalan Servis/Jalan Irrawadi. It would be easier to find parking spaces here during dinner time after the working hours of the surrounding offices.

ELCASAMAP

Name: EL CASA WINE & DINE RESTAURANT
Address: No. 2, Jalan Irrawaddi, 10500 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 04-229 9223, 012-979 3318 (James), 017-572 9988 (Colin)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm
GPS: 5.426246, 100.320678

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

A CASUAL DINING EXPERIENCE AT CAFFE STRADA

Posted by crizlai On August - 31 - 2010

NOTE: This restaurant has ceased its operation in 2011.

If you need a casual dining place or even for a business meet up place, where would you go? You can start with Caffe Strada, a nice pork free restaurant at Krystal Point, Bayan Baru, where all your indoor and al fresco dining needs would always be served well. Upon entering, the simple yet sophisticated setup would give you that homely feel. Thanks to Alan Choong, a group of the Penang bloggers managed to pay this restaurant a visit.

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We started with some appetizers, namely the Green Garden Salad (RM8.90). It was a refreshing start as the dish had all the crunchy vegetables such as iceberg lettuce, onion rings, capsicum and glazed with some smoked chicken slices and eggs, followed by a garnish of sunflower seeds and croutons and some of their in-house special salad dressing. This was indeed a healthy dish.

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The next appetizer was the Seafood Chowder in Bread Bowl (RM15.90). The presentation was unique. There were hints of seafood chunks such as prawns, squids and fish combined with the sweetness from the mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, heavy cream and a touch of butter. Maybe it was just my preference, but I would rather have more bites in the soup. A touch of evaporated milk might make the soup a bit creamier. The bread was also a bit on the hard side as it tasted more like biscuit than bread. I guessed the chef would need to lessen the baking time in future.

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As for the main, we started with the Asian Delights section, where rice and noodles ruled. We had 3 rice dishes served with rice, omelette, greens and crackers. First was the Kung Pao Chicken (RM9.90) where chicken chunks were stir fried with onions, dried chilies, spring onion in kung pao sauce and garnished with some cashew nuts. This was quite a nice set. It would be even better if only the chef were to put in more high heat cooking style (wok hei) as I could not find the pungent taste from the dried chilies. Next on the list was the Kam Heong Seafood Combo (RM8.90) with prawns and squid rings in kam heong sauce. This again lacked the fragrance from the curry leaves. I hope the chef would look into this as the leaves had to be slightly fried in oil to get that unique fragrance prior to adding in the rest of the ingredients. Salted Fish with Chicken Fried Rice (RM8.90) was served next with a honey coated roasted chicken wing. Not bad but it still lacked the “wok hei” required. On top of the deep fried salted fish bits, maybe the chef might want to consider adding in some deep fried rice for that extra crunch.

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We were then served with Bao Zhiang Mien (RM11.90), a combination of deep fried wonton noodles, garnished with shredded carrots, cucumber and purple cabbage and topped with their special minced chicken gravy. I would advise diners to consume this soonest possible as the moisture from the vegetable might just kill the crispiness of the noodles. The dish tasted just like the one I had at Restoran Esquire Kitchen at The Mines Shopping Fair in Selangor but the portion here can be a bit too big for my consumption.

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Next on the list was the Tomyam Seafood (RM8.90) with a choice of either rice vermicelli (bee hoon) or instant noodles. Well, this did not taste like any Thai style tomyam at all but rather Malay style where it had more tomato taste rather than the usual Thai style spiciness. I would still prefer the Thai style here.

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Before proceeding to the next set of dishes, we had a try out on the beverages. The management sure did invest quite well in this section as the beverages were quite uniquely presented except that some could be rather sweet to my liking. We were served with Fluffy Hot Chocolate (RM6.90) which came in many decorations, Strawberry Kiss Frappes (RM8.90), Choco Banana Frappes (RM8.90) and Chocolate Chip Frappes (RM8.90). I kind of like the Choco Banana Frappes as it was the least sweet amongst the rest and it had the unique creamy blended bananas that I love most.

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The next round of beverages included Mango Frappes (RM8.90), Orange Jewel Milk Shake (RM7.90), Ice Bear (RM6.90) and Italian Lime Soda Float (RM6.90).

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We then continued with some lighter Western Delights such as the Spaghetti Bolognese (RM9.90) with minced chicken sauce served with a slice of garlic bread. Although the al dente of the pasta was just right but the sauce was a bit too sweet to my liking. The sauce should be tame with just the natural sweetness from the tomatoes, garlic and herbs with hardly any sugar added just like the one I had at Kafe Soul Kitchen Trattoria.

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If you prefer bread instead, you can try out their Club Sandwich (RM12.90). It had toasted bread slices stuffed with smoked chicken breast meat, cheese and vegetable. This would be served with fries and salad.

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The next few dishes were chicken based. We were served with Caffe Strada Roast Chicken (RM13.90) complimented with mashed potatoes, corn and vegetables. The skin of the roast was perfect with the right flavors and the mashed potatoes was marvelous considering that it was made fresh with bits of potatoes remained. The only setback was the meat. It should either be marinated for a longer period (fork some holes into the meat would be ideal) or roasted with some stuffing. It was rather bland. Next was the Mongolian Chicken (RM15.90), served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. This was good. The sweet and spicy sauce complimented well with the chicken and both the side dishes were gorgeous. Cheezy Grilled Chicken (RM17.90) was next in line. The melted cheese on the chicken with a dash of paprika did give that punch.

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Grilled Butter Fish (RM19.90) was served next with steamed vegetables, corn and mash potatoes. I believed that salmon was used in this dish but it was a bit overcooked as the flesh was dry. The chef might have to take note on lowering the heat when grilling this to maintain the moist within.

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At least the next dish which was the common Fish & Chips (RM8.90) did please me. The crispy batter coated fish was great while maintaining the juiciness of the flesh inside. The side dishes of coleslaw and fries with tartar sauce complimented each other real well.

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You can also try out their Grilled Lamb Shoulder (RM19.90). Although it was well done, the taste with hints of butter and mints as marinates was great, especially the fatty parts. 😛 It went well with the mint sauce.

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With such a great investment by the management, you can be assured that your next cup of coffee would be great. We were treated with Cappucino (RM6.90), Espresso (RM4.90) and Caffe Latte (RM6.90).

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What amazed me most was the Iced Coffee Slush (RM9.90). It really brought back many fond childhood memories when I started having that concoction. It was just plain Espresso combined with a scope of Vanilla ice-cream. Each mouth was a different bitter sweet sensation. Nice!

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What would be better to end a dinner with a cup of coffee and some nice cakes? We were also treated with 3 types of cakes, namely Marble Cheese Cake, Oreo Chillied Cheese Cake and Chocolate Mint Cake (RM6.90 each). They were mild as I liked it and delicious indeed.

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If you think that all you need would be some snacks with your group of companies, then you should try out the Caffe Strada BBQ Chicken Wings (2pcs RM5.90, 4pcs RM9.90), served with house chicken wing sauce. Each wing was nicely marinated with the right texture for bites. The accompanied spicy sauce complimented real well.

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Overall, this is a nice place to hang out with friends for a drink. As for food, some of the dishes can be quite appetizing and filling. If you are driving from town towards Bayan Lepas, upon seeing Queensbay Mall, keep to your left and go over the flyover leading to Bayan Baru (Lebuhraya Sungai Nibong). Drive until you reach the traffic lights at the roundabout and make a U-turn back to the other side of Lebuhraya Sungai Nibong. On your left now would be Krystal Point 1. Ignore the first turning and drive further up to the second left turning to Krystal Point 2. Turn left and left in Lebuh Bukit Kecil 6 and you would see the 3 shoplots restaurant on your right.

CAFFEESTRADAMAP

Name: CAFFE STRADA
Address:
Block 1-01-12, 13 & 14, Krystal Point Corp Park, Lebuh Bukit Kecil 6,
Krystal Point II, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-643 6643
Opening Hours: 12.00 noon – 12.00 midnight (9pm onward happy hour)
GPS: 5.331159, 100.298164

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

 

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Howdy from the Isle of delicious Asian food and the UNESCO Heritage City of Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. Just call me Criz Lai and I am here to share with you on what’s the best food you can get in town as well as from many other parts of Malaysia.

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