CRIZ BON APPETITE

Savoring The Best All Over Town…

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)

 

Penang Times Square has been a mall that has been lacking in retail shops but has many new eateries and bistros opening up there. In no time, it would be more of a food mall than a shopping mall. Do not underestimate those little eateries around there as some of them would surely blow you away with their simple and yet mouth watering cuisine. One such eatery would be the Get’em Smack Café. It’s small but yet the interior had that little touch of coziness that would be great for a casual dining for just any age group of diners. The hospitality there is great with lots of regular expatriates. Don’t feel surprise if their staff suddenly communicated with their diners in Japanese. It’s quite normal for them. 🙂 The café do serve quite a few types of cuisine but their pastas and desserts excel amongst other dishes.

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As for starter, there’s the Soup of the Day which happened to be Mushroom Soup (RM5.90nett). It may look like a normal bowl of soup with a slice of toasted garlic bread displayed but it definitely would give the required punch. The soup has just the right creaminess with hints of fragrance and sweetness coming from the chef’s secret recipe of combining different types of fresh mushrooms and carrot. It was indeed a touch of difference done tactfully compared to the ones I’ve tried before.

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As for main dishes, there were about 9 dishes ranging from pasta, fish and poultry. We started off with the Roast Chicken (RM13.90nett) which in fact was pan-grilled to perfection. The usage of a boneless drumstick combined with the right usage of herbs and spices made this dish remarkably palatable. The outer layer of the chicken maintained a bit of crisp while the inner part was still as tender and juicy. Not a bad choice for a meal. This was served with their unique homemade mash potatoes and some greens, topped with some brown sauce. Their mashed potatoes side dish was unique in the sense that it had kyuri (Japanese cucumber) and carrot slices added in, something that you won’t get from elsewhere. As for size wise, it was just adequate for a normal diner. It would be great if one or two slices of garlic bread being added in for those with bigger appetite.

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Their pastas had that wonderful buttery yet fragrant aroma floating about the surrounding. One such pasta would be their Mascarpone Cheese Walnut Spaghetti (RM13.90) with the cheese being one of the main ingredients for making modern styled Tiramisu. With the milky-white coagulated crème cheese skillfully folded into the sautéed chopped garlic in olive oil, prior to being stir mixed with the spaghetti, it would be a great dish for those carbonara pasta lovers. This pasta came with some chopped walnuts and parsley as garnishes and topped with some slices of nicely herbed roasted chicken. The portion was also just right with approximately 180g of pasta being given.

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Two new pastas were added in recently. One of the new ones not stated in their menu was the Aglio Olio with Prawns (RM13.90nett). This dish would be one of my favorite pastas served here. The mildly spiced pasta with the fragrance coming from some dried chilies, combined with the briny taste of fresh prawns, sautéed with some chopped garlic and parsley, made this dish remarkably appetizing. Do not leave the café without trying out this perfectly concocted dish.

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Another new pasta dish would be their Eryngii Spaghetti (RM13.90nett). For those healthy and meatless diners, this would be my most recommended pasta dish. The usage of eryngii mushrooms (king trumpet mushroom/エリンギ/杏鮑菇) was indeed delicious. The meaty bite from the slightly toasted mushroom slices, combined with the nicely sautéed chopped garlic, parsley and pasta made this dish remarkably tasty. The earthly flavor was one flavor which I would not forget for a long time. Superb dish indeed!

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On a lighter side, they do have some nice finger food available. One of them would be the Smoked Duck (RM18nett for 8 skews). This dish would come with some fresh lettuce all wrapped with a slice of smoked duck, dressed with some homemade dressing and herbs. Another dish would be their Greek Pie (RM6.90nett for 3 pieces). This would be another meatless dish as the pies do not contain any meat such as the Kotopoulokopita (Greek Chicken Pie) or Kreatopita (Greek Meat Pie). In fact, it was not even near to the Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie). The café do serve their version as there are a thousand and one ways for filling up the pita based pies but each would definitely has some cheese on them. The Greek pies served here had some freshly made tomato puree, topped with some yoghurt and herbs prior to baking.

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As for desserts, Get’em Smack do serves some great crepe related desserts on top of their occasionally available Chocolate Brownie, Tiramisu and so on. One of the more notable ones which you won’t get easily from elsewhere in Penang would be their Crepe Cake (RM6.90nett per slice). Since the cake which would not last for too long in the chiller due to the moist from the fresh crème and fruits, the Café is proud to serve them as theirs are made fresh daily. Each slice has multiple layers of freshly buttered pan-made crepes filled with fresh crème and fruits. The taste was simply refreshing. There also have Mango Crepe (RM6.90), Banana Crepe (RM6.90), Kiwi Crepe (RM7.90) and Strawberry Crepe (RM7.90). The more recommended one would be the Banana Crepe as the fruity and creamy flavors of the ripened fruit complement well with the fresh crème and Vanilla ice cream.

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The beverages served here can range from just a soda drink, tea & coffee, fresh fruit juices or just a cup of brewed tea. The Café would serve well-known brands such as the UK based Twinings products such as the English Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Camomile Tea and Jasmine Green Tea. Each refillable pot of tea would cost RM8.90nett. You should try more of the Camomile Tea as it has the effect of relaxing the body and calming the mind after a hectic day of work.

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The café is located at the exterior part of the mall. It’s actually at the ground floor below the biggest food court in Penang aka Penang Times Square Food Gallery, behind Soju Café and two shop lots away from the Roti Bakar branch. If you intend to park at the open car park at the entrance of Penang Times Square, just drive all the way towards the end where you would see a big “Entertainment City” signage and park your car there. It won’t be that hard to locate them from there on.

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Name: GET’EM SMACK @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE
Address: 77-G-44, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012- 401 6888 (Esther Chan) / 017- 478 4901 (Celynn Tan)
Business Hours: 12.00pm – 9.00pm
GPS: 5.411485, 100.32556

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: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8.5/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

Many of you would be wondering who would be replacing the former Kopi Cine outlet along Lorong Stewart within the heritage area of George Town, Penang. You don’t have to guess any longer as the premises together with the other 4 lots along the row would now house Coffee Atelier, which consists of 55 Café & Restaurant (Mediterranean), Kopi (Coffee Museum), Gehrig Art Gallery, 47&49 Residence (Suites 47A&B, Suites 49A&B). The whole place would be manned by yet another foreign couple, Swiss Stefan Gehrig and his lovely wife from Hong Kong, Lorina Gehrig. While waiting for the renovation works for the rest of the lots to be completed, 55 Café & Restaurant had a soft launching yesterday, serving delicious Mediterranean dishes and aromatic coffee, the best of its kind in Penang. Even the aroma emitted from the fine graded coffees could not stop an American traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, from stopping by for a sip of the beautifully brewed coffee.

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Since we were quite late for breakfast due to the heavy rain yesterday, we had a try out on the lunch items instead. There were a few selections in menu, starting with choices for breakfast, salads, starters, hot & cold tapas, pasta, desserts and beverages. We started with some tapas of hot and cold, all served with a plate/bowl of your selected item and a basket of baguette slices. The first one was with Chicken Liver Pate (RM14+). The pate was well prepared with traces of fresh herbs, butter, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper to cover up the bitterness from the chicken liver. It would even be better if they could just add in some dashes of brandy for that extra flavor.

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The next batch was with Aubergines (eggplant), Tomato and Garlic (RM9+) in a paste form. It had some traces of black pepper being added in and was quite spicy but it complemented well with the baguette slices.

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We also had with some tapas with Grilled Eggplant (RM9+), garnished with some sweet basil and chili slices for that light touch of spiciness.

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The next set of tapas was the Gambas Aljillo (RM13+) served with some baguette slices. It was a hit amongst us as the fresh and firm prawns were beautifully cooked with chopped garlic, chili and some herbs in extra virgin olive oil. The dish was so lovely that we wiped out the whole plate dry with the baguettes served.

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After the light finger food to boost up our appetite, we went for the Al Chef (RM28+). The dish had pan-fried sea bass fillet, served on spaghetti stir fried with potatoes and carrot casserole and seafood emulsion, garnished with a cherry tomato and some chopped chives. The sauce was awesome as it had some distinctive flavors from some toasted prawn shell, almost similar to the flavors of the lobster bisque I had at QEII. I won’t mind having some dashes of white wine in the sauce to go with the nicely pan-fried sea bass fillet.

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We also had some Spaghetti Carbonara (RM22+). The al dente pasta had a generous amount of back bacon slices, mushroom slices, egg, parmesan cheese, black pepper, hint of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh herbs cooked in white cream sauce, garnished with some chopped chives, tomato cuts and some lettuce slices. Although the whole combination was flavorful, the meaty back bacon with less fat somehow did not provide that nice fragrant bacon taste for the dish. Moreover the bacon tasted more cooked in sauce rather than being sautéed slightly prior to cooking. Ideally, but not totally healthy for those health conscious diners, sautéed slab bacon or streaky bacon would have a better justice to the overall taste of the pasta.

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The Aglio Olio with Smoked Salmon (RM25+) in extra virgin olive oil was somewhat different to the ones I had tried elsewhere. It did not have some deep fried dried chilies added in for that nice pungent flavor. Moreover, it lacked the taste from some sautéed garlic slices which played an important part in this dish. Although some crispy chopped garlic were added in as garnishing, those were not adequate enough to pep up the overall taste. The pasta was presented with two cherry tomatoes, garnished with some chopped chives and grated parmesan cheese. The dish had the required amount of extra virgin oil added in but with overused of grated parmesan cheese. It was slightly on the salty side as the chef might have forgotten that the smoked salmon might have been treated with some salt during the preparation process.

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They do have some different type of desserts served daily. So you might need to enquire about them from the counter. We tried out the Baked Cheese Cake (RM9+). It was not as what we expected as the cake was rather dry without much traces of the cheesy taste. Moreover, the slight sour after taste was rather mild instead of the usual lemon zesty flavor. The Chocolate Coffee Cake (RM6+) tasted better, considering that it was fluffy, moist with some traces of some chopped almond but it lacked a stronger taste of coffee. Moreover, the chocolate coating was rather sauced based. A bar of wrapped cheesecake by Gateau which had not been officially sold was passed around for our comments. This version indeed had our praises as the usage of cheese on the digestive biscuit base was of standard. I guessed the café should take note on the quality of cakes supplied to them in the near future.

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As for beverages, there was a wide selection to choose from ranging from coffee, chocolate, tea, ice cream milkshakes, mocktails to beers. We tried out the Caramel Hot Chocolate (RM10+). It was frosty and nice. The Chamomile Dream (RM9+), a fragrant and flavorful flower tea served in a pot was as fine as it should be. This flower tea has always been my favorite tea due to the fact that it’s a cure all tea for building up the body immune system against cold related infections, relaxing the nerves, strengthen the liver function, relieving back pain, rheumatism, etc. There was also the Vanilla Ice Cream, Banana and Chocolate Chips Milkshake (RM16+). It had just the right flavors but was not as creamy as the one I had at Delicious, Straits Quay, Penang. When it comes to coffee, the café sure can declare they are the best with their state-of-the-art coffee maker. The Hot Latte (RM8+) I had was the best I had taken so far with the right thickness, sweetness and creaminess it should have. Simply awesome!

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Here’s a sneak preview of the almost completed hotel interior. The charges would be between RM300 and RM400, with or without breakfast. The rates would be confirmed very soon by the management upon completion of the heritage hotel.

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Overall, the food served here can be quite unique on its own. All the dishes served here are of fresh ingredients and can be well accepted by the locals as well as foreigners but there are still rooms for improvements for some of the dishes as I had mentioned above. The prices for food can be a bit high for some dishes and beverages. Please also note that there would be a 10% service charge applicable for all purchases.

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 left at the junction of Lorong Stewart/Lorong Chulia. Parking can be quite limited during peak hours. I would advise you to find whatever parking space you can and walk to the café.

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Name: 55 CAFÉ & RESTAURANT @ COFFEE ATELIER
Address: 47-55, Lorong Stewart, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 2261, 016-469 8228 (Lorina Gehrig), 016-464 8118 (Stefan Gehrig)
Business Hours: 8.30am-10.00pm daily
GPS: 5.419143, 100.337772

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: 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)

 

THE ALL NEW LA FRANCE CAFÉ & RESTAURANT IN PENANG

Posted by crizlai On September - 11 - 2011

If you are a frequent diner at the Northern Beach Café situated along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah in Penang, you would notice that there was this little stall selling great French food by the name of La France. Well, that was history! Today, that former little stall by the beach cafe, manned by the loving couple, Frenchman Nathan (who lives near to the border of Germany) and his lovely wife, Ginny, has moved into a cozy mansion of their own, right in the heart of the beautiful George Town, Penang. The all new La France Café & Restaurant now promises a more unique and fresh home cooked French cuisine with a little touch of German. Merveilleux! Wonderful!

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There are two type of menus available here, namely the Menu Dejeuner (lunch from 12.00 noon onwards) and Menu Diner (dinner from 6.00pm onwards). The latter has a few additional items added in for a more fulfilling dinner. Let’s start with the entrees (starter). One of the dishes which I tried out was the Potage du Jour (Soup of the Day – RM5.90) which happened to be Mushroom Soup. It would be served fresh from the kitchen with some sprinkles of black pepper. The soup had a distinctive earthly taste from the finely chopped Shitake mushroom within (most restaurant would just blend all in). It had this sweet but not too creamy taste which was quite different from elsewhere. Instead of the normal usage of flour to create that broth like soup version, the chef applied a healthier method by substituting flour with some freshly mashed potatoes and a mild touch of chopped parsley. Simply healthy and delicious! The soup would not come with any bread or bun, so you might want to order some Pain d’ail (garlic bread – RM3 for 5pcs ciabatta slices).

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There was also the Croques Monsieur (Oven baked Ciabatta) – Croc’ Ham & Cheese (Pork Ham – RM9.80) served with some sautéed potatoes and fresh greens. The whole dish was heaven! The half-sliced ciabatta had just the right crisp on the surface while maintaining the softness within. The bread has some light spread of butter, chopped parsley, pork ham and cheese, prior to being oven baked to perfection. The taste of the cheese was rather different as Mozarella cheese alone would not have that sharp salty cheesy taste. Some crumbles of bleu cheese were used too. The other two side dishes needed some compliments as well. The sautéed potatoes were awesome with a nice aromatic taste from some added herbs. The fresh greens may look normal but when you mix them together with the special dressing created by the chef, it was totally another response. The slightly mustard spiced dressing with some butter-flour roux béchamel sauce and herbs was superb for any salad.

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Another dish that you should not miss out for any meal would be the savory croissants. The Croissant Poulet (Yoghurt Chicken – RM10.90) which was crispy, flavorful yet healthy was another dish to remember. The stuffed chicken meat mixed with some yoghurt and fresh herbs, topped with some cheese and baked to perfection was a perfect lunch for me. It also came with two delicious side dishes as above. You can also try out their Croissant Jambon (Pork Ham – RM10.90), Croissant au Thon (Tuna – RM10.90) or Croissant Saumon Fume (Smoked Salmon & Egg – RM14.90)

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As for pasta, they would use the twirl like fusilli pasta. I tried out the Aglio Olio with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (RM9.00). This version was totally different compared to others. I guessed different restaurant prepared this dish differently. Basically, Aglio e Olio means garlic and oil. The pasta came with some cut dried chili pepper, cut black olives, chopped parsley, sliced garlic, some sprinkles of black pepper, mixed with some extra virgin olive oil and garnished with some parmesan cheese. Overall, it may look rather dry for some but each mouthful gave a totally different cheesy experience. Finally, the whole dish was cleared. Personally, I felt that it may need just a bit more dashes of olive oil, a more fragrant sautéed garlic slices and some available chili flakes for those who love the dish to be a bit more spicy.

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There was also the Crepes de Bleu (Savory French pancakes) section to try out in the menu but I opted for other dishes as it basically consisted of fillings such as eggs, chicken, tuna and smoked salmon but there was this dish that caught my attention. It was the Oven Baked Crepes Beef Bolognese (RM13.90) with cheesy toppings. Well, I had too much of meat and cheese for a day, so I leave it for another day. Instead, I headed for the Dessert Maison section. I had the Crepes Suzette (RM5.90). It was a hot and cold dessert with two folded hot crepes, topped with slightly sweetened fresh orange juice and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The tangy taste of the juice on the crepes combined with the creaminess from the ice cream was simply refreshing.

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The next dessert which was the Crepe Compote (Apple & Banana – RM6.80) was another great dessert. The crepes were rolled up with some fruit compote, sprinkled with some icing sugar and garnished with some hot chocolate sauce. This was another superb dessert for all. The natural sweetened compote had a bit of wine after taste due to the cooking reaction by the combination of the two fruits. It had some raisins and a bit of grounded cinnamon added in for that flavorful taste.

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As I had mentioned earlier, the menu had some additional dishes added in. Let me share with you what you would expect from here. There’s the Omelettes Soufflees (Fluffy) with choices such as the Omelette Champignon (Fresh Mushroom – RM9.90) Omelette Fromage (Cheese – RM9.50), Omelette Jambon Fromage (Ham & Cheese – RM10.50) and Omelette Forestiere (Mushroom, Ham & Cheese – RM12.90). I had decided to go for the Omelette Jambon Fromage (Ham & Cheese – RM10.50) which had chopped hams, onions, chopped parsley, black pepper and cheese. It was cheesy and flavorful. The dish also came with some Pomme Frite (French Fries) and greens. This was another marvelous dish by the restaurant.

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There are two additional dishes for dinner in the Les Regionales (French Local Specialties) section. Other than the Quiche Alsacienne with Bacon & Cheese (RM9.50) and Bratwurst with Sauteed Potatoes (RM11.80) available for both meals, I tried out the Kartoffelpuffer (Alsacien Potato Pancakes – RM10.90). It was a thin fried savory pancake originated from Europe which consisted of grated potatoes, flour, eggs, onions, chopped parsley, topped with sautéed mushrooms in bechamel sauce and served with greens. It tasted quite normal to me as it was but when combined with the sauce, the creaminess and buttery taste of the evenly coated pancake was awesome. The slightly burned edges of the potato pancake gave it that extra flavor. The dish also came with some fresh greens.

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Another of the dinner dish would be the Schnitzel (Grilled Chicken Cutlet – RM14.90). The grilled chicken with a flavorful layer of pork ham and served with white sauce was very tasty. It had some nice crisps at the edges while keeping the moist with the tender meat. This came with some sauteed potatoes and greens.

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La France Café & Restaurant is not just a place for your meals but also a great place for meet ups. You can have some nice desserts during tea time or supper over some hot and cold beverages. On top of that, they do serve imported lager such as the Kronenbourg 1664 (RM16.90), which was reported symbolized the French art of pleasure, exquisite in every details and universally desirable.

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Overall, the dishes served here are delicious, provided you are a lover of cheese and healthy food, as all the food served here are made fresh from selected quality ingredient and does not contain any monosodium glutamate (MSG). The portion may look rather fine and small in some dishes but it’s the standard size as served in France. It would be more than enough to fill up your appetite… unless you are an extremely big eater. Some of the cheese based dishes may contain some crumbles of blue (bleu) cheese which would give the dish a unique, sharp and a bit salty flavor. All dishes are fairly charged with a nett price tag.

La France Cafe & 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). At the corner lot, you would see the El Case Wine & Dine Restaurant. La France Café & Restaurant is just opposite the café in a state-of-the art mansion. You won’t miss it at all.

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Name: LA FRANCE CAFÉ & RESTAURANT
Address: 3B, Jalan Irrawaddi, 10050 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-412 7355 (Ginny), 012-491 3360 (Nathan)
Business Hours: 12.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Tuesday – Dinner 6.00pm onwards)
GPS: 5.42628, 100.320936

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: 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)

 

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)

SPECIAL MALAY CUISINE AT D’DAPOR EXPRESS

Posted by crizlai On May - 29 - 2011

After a disastrous meal at Bahtera Santai Seafood & Ikan Bakar, finally there’s a nice and cozy Malay restaurant with some heritage feels down in the heart of George Town. At least I can have a proper venue to enjoy authentic Malay flavors in a more comfortable environment without the disturbance from some pesky insects. D’Dapor Express is a sophisticated Malay restaurant, located within one of the shop lots in the newly restored 140 years old pre-war building named Logan Building, along the banking district of Lebuh Pantai. Today, the building has been renamed as Logan Heritage and housed an arcade of food & beverage outlets and other retail outlets.

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Presently, D’Dapor Express is promoting its Set Lunch and Set Dinner with Kari Kepala Ikan D’Dapor (D’Dapor Curry Fish Head), Taugeh Tumis Ikan Masin Salted Fish Bean Sprouts), Telur Bawang (Onion Omelette), Ulam-ulaman (Raw Herbs with Sambal) and steamed rice at RM39.90++ (for 2-3 pax) or Kari Kepala Ikan D’Dapor (D’Dapor Curry Fish Head), Ayam Kelasan Malindo (Indonesian Fried Chicken), Taugeh Tumis Ikan Masin (Salted Fish Bean Sprouts), Telur Bawang (Onion Omelette), Ulam-ulaman (Raw Herbs with Sambal) and steamed rice at RM65.90++ (for 4-6 pax).

One of the new sets (RM39.90++ per set) we had tried out inclusive the Kari Kepala Ikan D’Dapor (D’Dapor Curry Fish Head – normal price at RM38++), an all-time favorite amongst the locals. A freshly chosen fish head was carefully prepared with curry spices, chilies, onions, tamarind juice with some dashes of coconut milk, served with sliced eggplants, ladies fingers and tomatoes, with some touches of spring onions and fresh mint leaves as garnishes. This dish was quite similar to the Nyonya style fish curry, without the strong traces of sweet basil (daun kesum) but with the usage of coconut milk. This was quite a reasonably good dish, especially when the dish was served piping hot. Well, the Telur Bawang (Onion Omelette – normal price at RM6.50++) and Kailan Masak Cendawan (Stir Fry Kailan with Mushrooms – normal price at RM8.80++/RM19.80++) were two common dishes you would get anywhere.

The next new set inclusive the Udang Buluh Perindu (Spicy Prawns served in bamboo which in this case it came on a plate – normal price at RM18++/RM27++). The dish came with four juicy prawns cooked in sweet and spicy gravy. The gravy tasted like the Oriental style sweet and sour crab minus the presence of vinegar. There was a strong hint of chili sauce being used in the dish. The Ayam Pandan Berbungkus (Screw Pine Leaves Wrapped Chicken – normal price at RM12.80++/RM22.80++) had some Thai influence with the usage of turmeric powder, ginger, onions and garlic as marinates to the chicken meat chunks, prior to being wrapped in pandan leaves and deep fried. Unfortunately, the marinate time was not enough to let the flavors seeped into the meat. Moreover, the size was rather small for reasonable bites. The Kari Ketam (Flower Crab Curry – normal price at RM25++) was a new addon in the menu. The cooking style again was so much like the Nyonya Masak Lemak Nenas, a spicy and pineapple fruity sweetness curry where seafood such as either some prawns, fish or squids were used as the main ingredient. This dish was rather tasty, considering that the sweetness from the crab has gone right into the gravy.

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Instead of going for the set meals, you can also try out some of the items in their ala carte menu. The Kari Ayam Kampung Melayu (Traditional Malay Chicken Curry – RM12.80++/RM22.80++) was quite tasty. The dish has thick gravy somewhat like the Nyonya Curry Kapitan Chicken minus the strong taste of Kaffir lime leaves. Another dish that would be quite a good appetizer would be the Kerabu Mempelam Tiga Serantai (Mango Salad Trio – RM8.80++/16.50++). The dish used finely sliced raw mango, onions, lemon grass and chilies with a light squeeze of lime juice to pep up the taste. It has a generous amount of crispy satay ikan bilis (deep fried spicy anchovies) and bunga kantan (ginger flower bulb) as garnishes.

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On top of this, there would also be a Buffet High Tea available on weekdays (Monday thru Friday from 3.00pm to 6.00pm). All you need to do is to indulge in any beverages more than RM5+ and you would get to enjoy a free flow of local delicacies. There would also be some quick set lunches on weekdays (with drink) as per shown below:

Monday (RM9.90++):
Set Kari Ayam / Set Ikan Berlada (Fillet) / Set Sotong Kapitan
Tuesday (RM11.90++):
Set Udang Berlada / Set Ikan Berkicap (Fillet) / Set Ikan Asam Pedas
Wednesday (RM12.90++):
Set Ikan Masak Lemak / Set Nasi Lemak D’Dapor / Set Seafood Kapitan
Thursday (RM13.90++):
Set Kari Ketam / Set Sapi Rendang / Set Ayam Berkicap
Friday (RM13.90++):
Set Briyani with Ayam Masak Merah / Ayam Rendang

To get there, just drive all the way along Lebuh Light until you see a roundabout where you would see an stainless steel betel nut structure being displayed there (or Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower) and turn 3’o clock into Lebuh Pantai. Just a few meters away, you would see the Standard Chartered Bank on your right. Turn right into Lebuh Union and you would see the restaurant on your left, right before Maybank Union Street Branch. Unfortunately, they do not have a prominent signage on their entrance yet but you won’t miss it. Parking spaces would be quite ample during off-peak period. If not, you can park in the multi-storey car park after Maybank or the Sri Weld Food Court car park (slightly after Hongkong Bank) along Lebuh Pantai during lunch hours.

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Name: D’DAPOR EXPRESS @ LOGAN HERITAGE BUILDING
Address: 7 Lebuh Union, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-262 9323
Business Hours:
12.00noon – 3.00pm (Lunch)
3.00pm – 6.00pm (Buffet Hi-Tea on weekdays)
6.00pm -10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.418615, 100.342871

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: 7/10 (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)

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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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