CRIZ BON APPETITE

Savoring The Best All Over Town…

If you are a pork lover, you are in for a great treat as Sticky Bones from the reputable Morganfield’s, Kuala Lumpur, has finally set its foot up north in Penang since 1 June 2011, with the opening of its second outlet at Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang. The Western dining outlet with an American Midwest concept is set in a rustic, raw and retro ambience, serving appetizing soulful cuisine while enabling diners to relax in a blue-jazz tunes environment. Basically, the restaurant would serve a huge selection of pork related dishes with Sticky Bones being the main attraction. Other choices would include some mouth-watering appetizers, crispy garden salads, succulent steaks & chops, matching combos, fresh seafood from the sea, innovative poultry meals and glam burgers to delightful sandwiches. There would surely be something palatable available here to suit the liking of any non-Muslims regardless of age. All the pork ribs are imported from Holland, Spain, Belgium and Germany, thus you can be assured of the quality.

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We had quite a hearty appetizers and salad even before we started with the main course. The first dish that was served was the Spicy Chicken Wings (RM16.90++). It had 6 pieces of succulent deep fried chicken wing, tossed with spicy BBQ sauce and served with crunchy romaine lettuce and ranch salad dressing. They were reasonably tasty.

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The next appetizer was the Sauteed Mushrooms (RM14.90++). I love Eryngii mushrooms a lot as the fresh mushrooms have that nice crunchiness and earthly flavors to my liking. Morganfield’s would definitely be my next alternative venue to please my craving for Eryngii mushroom dishes other than at one of my most frequent café, Get’em Smack. This restaurant did a step further by infusing the flavors with merlot garlic butter. The mild flavors from the white and red wine used sure pepped up the mushy flavors in the dishes. The dish came garnished with some chopped spring onions and grated Parmesan cheese. Thumbs up!

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We also had the Appetizer Platter (RM34.90++). The platter came with 4 pieces of the Spicy Chicken Wings, 4 pieces of baked Russet Burbank Potato Skins and a basket of Corn Tortilla Chips (about 20 pcs) serve with the dip of your choice, either Crab & Spinach Dip or Chili Con Carne Dip. Both options would come with some ranch dressing and BBQ ranch dressing.

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Most of the diners would order the Crab & Spinach Dip, especially when you don’t have to peel them. Haha! The dip indeed had the creamy and cheesy flavors, which complemented the corn tortilla chips well. There were some mild presence of drained and chopped spinach, Parmesan cheese, garlic, yoghurt, salt and pepper on top of some chunky crab meats. This dip will be best taken fast when it’s served hot. I won’t mind having a few twist of freshly grounded black pepper added in too. Alternatively, you could substitute the dip with the Chili Con Carne. This Texas state official dish had chunky minced pork cooked with some tomatoes, various chili peppers, garlic, onions, herbs, pepper and salt. Although this wonderful dip had all the chili peppers added it, it was not as spicy as I expected. Thus, it would still suit any ages of diners.

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The next appetizer was the Pork Sausage Platter (RM32.90++) that would come with 4 different types of grilled pork sausages, namely the Spicy Hungarian (thick reddish brown), Bratwurst (thick beige), Smoked Sausage (thin & short) and Emmentaler Cheese Sausage (thin & long). These delicious pork sausages were served with garlic aioli, Dijon mustard and fresh coleslaw. Of the 4 sausages, I kind of like the Emmentaler Cheese Sausage as the meat was flavorful and has a mild cheesy flavor from the oozing Swiss cheese. As for the condiment, the garlic aioli was our favorite as it has that nice combination of minced garlic in mayonnaise with some mild mix of salt and black pepper and light squeeze of lemon juice.

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We also had the Chicken Caesar Salad (RM19.90++). The salad had some fresh Romaine lettuce tossed with their homemade Caesar dressing, topped with tender grilled ranch chicken breast meat and garnished with some crispy pork bacon bits, croutons, some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some freshly grounded black pepper. The salad dressing had some eggy texture with a light hint of Dijon mustard. The salad was simply refreshing but it would be great if those croutons were replaced with garlic croutons for the additional flavor.

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Of course, a visit to Morganfield’s would not be complete without ordering their signature BBQ spare ribs – the Sticky Bones (RM38.90++ half slab, RM68.90++ full slab)! These heavenly and succulent spare ribs would come in 3 flavors, namely the Hickory BBQ Spare Ribs, Tuscan Baked Spicy Spare Ribs and Smoked Peppercorn Spare Ribs. We opted for half slab of the Hickory BBQ Spare Ribs. It was huge and meaty with some presence of cartilages compared to the size of the baby back ribs I had tried elsewhere. The meat on the tender and flavorful slow cooked spare ribs in coal and hickory wood just fell off easily from the bones. It was perfect with some sweet, hickory and cider tanginess flavored barbeque sauce glazed on the meaty ribs. Maybe I’m a strong flavor eater but it would be more than perfect if a bit more of liquid smoke being added in the BBQ sauce for that extra smoky flavor. Anyhow, this dish would still remain as my all-time favorite and would definitely fit your palate for delicious BBQ spare ribs.

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In case it might get a bit messy since the Sticky Bones are meant to be eaten the American way of using both the hands, a themed apron would be provided to avoid getting your attire dirty. Of so many versions, I kind of like this one most – “Money can’t buy me love, but it can buy me pork ribs”. Nice one there! 🙂

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On top of all the porky dishes, there would also be some poultry dishes. One of my favorites was the Chicken Roulade (RM32.90++). The dish had grilled bacon wrapped chicken thigh meat stuffed with juicy sausage and served with red skin mashed potatoes, blanched garden vegetables with pommery mustard sauce. The slices were amazingly flavorful with the heavenly creamy pommery mustard spiced sauce. The red skin mashed potatoes was also great, considering that it was coarsely mashed to my liking.

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There would also be some mouth-watering desserts to complete a meal. We had the Bread Pudding (RM12.90++), served warm in whiskey sauce with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Wow! The nicely baked bread pudding with some custard went so well with the whiskey sauce and ice cream. You would not have to worry on getting drunk as the alcohol content would have been evaporated after the whiskey has been sweetened on fire.

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Another great dessert would be their Chocolate Lava Cake (RM14.90++). The moist and warm chocolate cake with rich oozing dark chocolate on caramel sauce, served with vanilla ice cream was simply fantabulous! As semi sweet 46% dark chocolate was being used in making this cake, it looked quite charcoal black but the overall taste was superb.

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As Morganfield’s is one of those relaxing venues with only sports and cartoon channels being shown as entertainment, it’s a great place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of your busy schedules and spend some relaxing moments with the companionships of your group of friends, colleagues and guests. You can pick from more than 100 types of beverages such as mocktails, cocktails, wines, spirits and more for unwinding. They have the longest Happy Hours from 11.00am to 8.00pm (Monday – Saturday) and full operation hours on Sundays. Draught beers would be at “Buy 1 pint FREE 1/2 pint” and wines would be sold NETT per glass. Don’t you think it’s a great bargain to pair the alcoholic beverages with your meaty meals? For non-alcoholic drinkers, they do have some impressive chilled and blended coolers to quench your thirst. Some of those beverages we had included the Virgin Apple Mojito (RM13.90++: fresh apple juice, apple chunks, mint leaves & brown sugar in soda), Iced Cold Lemonade (RM9.90++: freshly squeezed lemon juice, splashed with lemon lime in soda), Mango & Lime Lassi (RM14.90++: mango puree with yoghurt, lemon and lime squeeze) and Lipstick (RM14.90++: blended strawberries, banana and crème of coconut). Well, I did not get my lips red after having this beverage. LOL!

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Do check out their 3 days promotion (15-17 June 2012) for Fathers’ Day 2012. It’s a great bargain at RM119++ for two persons. Please click on the menu below for a clearer picture on the menu.

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Overall, I’m quite happy with the choices of food served here compared to other quite related restaurants and the ambience was so cottage homely. Though the price might be a bit steep for some Penang diners, the portion served for major dishes can be quite filling. There would be 10% + 6% tax imposed on all items ordered. But no worries as Morganfield’s is giving away a “RM10 voucher for your next visit” for every receipt above RM100 for a limited period.

The Gurney Paragon Mall is just two blocks before the G-Hotel along the beautiful promenade of Gurney Drive. As you enter the place, you would see the east wing of the Gurney Paragon Residences/Condominium on your left and the west wing on the right. Walk right into the premises and you will see the skillfully reconstruction of the St. Joseph’s Novitiate which former used to house the Upland’s School. The restaurant is prominently located at the left side of the building with ample seating places indoor as well as at the el fresco area. You’ll surely get great views of the seaside as well as the fountain show daily.

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Name: MORGANFIELD’S @ GURNEY PARAGON MALL
Address: Lot 163-G-01, Gurney Paragon Mall, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 2487
Business Hours: 11.00am – 12.00am
Website: http://www.morganfields.com/
GPS: 5.436072, 100.311693

Other outlets:
Kuala Lumpur: C4.03.00, Level 4, Pavilion KL Shopping Mall. Tel: 603- 2141 3192
Singapore: To be opened at 1 North Buona Vista by September 2012

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

 

DELICACIES FROM DRAGON-i GURNEY PLAZA PENANG

Posted by crizlai On March - 28 - 2012

Inspired by the delicious spread of cuisine from China especially from the regions of Shanghai, Szechuan, Beijing and Lanzhou, Dragon-i has set up yet another branch at Gurney Plaza to cater to the increasing demands of locals as well as tourists in Penang. There’s a great spread of spicy and non spicy dishes available here for just anyone, ranging from appetizer, soup, la mian (fried & soup), hot stone & steamed rice, fried rice, pork & duck, chicken & beef, seafood (frozen & live), bean curds, vegetables, dim sum, desserts and beverages.

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Upon seated, you would be complimented with some Braised Peanuts. Their version was somewhat different compared to my recipe as there was some thick gravy presence. Although the peanuts were semi soft, they tasted not bad.

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I had something light to start off my meal. The first dish was an appetizer called Chilled Spicy Chicken in Szechuan Style (四川麻辣口水雞 – RM16++). The chilled chicken pieces were smooth and tender, just like those you get from quality Hakka chicken rice shop. It came with some spicy and mildly salted chili flakes in oil with hints of some sesame oil. It was awesome but it might be a bit too spicy for non spicy food diners. The dish also had some al dente type of noodles made out of mung beans flour (綠豆粉) which complemented the overall dish real well.

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Dragon-i is also famous for its la mian (ramen/拉麵). I tried out one of their signature dishes which was the Szechuan “Dan Dan” La Mian in Hot & Sour Soup ((四川擔擔麵 – RM13++). I would say that their portion for the noodles was rather large for a person. It practically came with some minced meat in the chef’s specially pepped up soup stock and garnished with some sesame seeds and pounded peanuts plus some chopped spring onions and cilantros. The hand pulled noodles had that nice springy aka al dente texture. The soup has a rich nutty flavor which I believed was from the addition of some grounded raw peanuts during the process of cooking. The added chili oil gave out that Spanish pimiento like aromatic sweetness and spiciness. This is another hot and spicy dish to watch out for.

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Another of their signature dishes would be the Shanghainese Braised Pork Belly with Bean Curd Leaves (上海百頁結紅燒肉 – RM28++). For pork belly lover, you would love this multi layered piece of meat and fat which has been slowly braised with a selection of quality soy sauce, together with some rock sugar, spring onions, ginger, star aniseeds with a light touch of Chinese wine. It had that awesome melt-in-the mouth sensation. The firmed textured bean curd leaves which has been soaked in the rich and thick gravy was nice. There were some beautifully hand crafted steamed buns (mantou/饅頭) provided.

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The next dish which was the Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Lotus Seeds & Deep Fried Bean Curd Skin (蜜汁燻鴨胸烤雙方 – RM28++) was a heavenly DIY dish. This dish was somewhat different compared to how the Peking Duck dish was served. It did not have any accompanied sauce. Somehow each honey glazed duck slice was succulent enough to be taken all wrapped up together with a slice of bean curd skin, some honey braised lotus seeds and cucumber. The sensation of having the honeyed ham taste like duck combined with the sweet nutty lotus seeds, crispy bean curd skin and crunchy cucumber was a nice experience. My advice would be to halve the lotus seeds prior to wrapping to avoid them falling out.

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One of my favorite dishes here would be the Sauteed Diced Chicken & Prawns with Dried Flower Chili in Szechuan Style (四川辣子雙拼:雞丁,明蝦 – RM35++). Each piece of the deep fried batter crusted chicken drumstick meat plus prawns were tossed sauteed with some chili flake seasoning and stir fried with abundant dried chilies and curry leaves. Although the portion would be large enough for 5-6 persons, I won’t mind finishing up this flavorful plate of delicious combination all alone. Haha! 😛

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A visit to Dragon-i would not be complete if you did not try out their signature Shanghainese Steamed Meat Dumplings (上海小籠包/Xiao Long Bao – RM9.80++ for 4 pieces). The minced meat was perfectly done with hints of some minced Chinese ham, ginger and a slight touch of soy sauce. The soup confined within the pagoda shaped dumpling was indeed rich in flavors. Most people are not aware of the right way of having the Xiao Long Bao and got splattered with juice. The right way (view here) would be to gently pick up the dumpling and place onto a spoon. Nibble a small corner and sip up the soup. Apply some slivers of ginger in black vinegar on it and enjoy the dumpling.

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I also tried out the Shanghai Pan Fried Meat Buns (上海生煎包 – RM9++ for 3 pieces). The light and fluffy bun had exactly the same flavored filling as the Xiao Long Bao with that extra fragrant from the pan frying. Not bad.

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Whenever I’m at any dim sum outlets, I would always go for something cute to share with my reader with children. The Steamed Red Bean Buns (豬仔豆沙包 – RM9++ for 2 pieces) caught my attention. It was nothing special except for the unique design with mildly sweetened and silky smooth red bean paste.

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As for desserts, I went for something different and out of the norm. I tried out the Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls with Osmanthus Sweet Wine Soup (桂花酒釀湯丸 – RM8++). This dessert required an acquired taste as it tasted just like Tapai, a Southeast Asia delicacy made from fermenting a selected rice grain (normally white rice or glutinous rice) with dry yeast biscuit. The dessert has a sweet and sour alcoholic taste with a nice flowery taste from the osmanthus. This dish came with some soft black sesame filled mini glutinous rice balls. To me, it was a nice dessert after having such a heavy meal.

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There are a few nice beverages available here. The recommended ones would be the Dragon-i (龍的傳人 – RM12++). It was made from a concoction of red dragon fruit and passion fruit juices with a twist of lemon juice. The other one would be the Iced Jasmine Tea with Lemon Grass (檸檬香草茉莉花茶 – RM10.80++). The presentation was rather unique. The combination would provide the drinker with a soothing and calming effect.

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Overall, some of the dishes served here can be quite nice except that the price can be a bit high for many as there are the extra 10% service tax plus 6% government tax imposed on all orders. To get to the restaurant, all you need to do is to find your way to Gurney Plaza. Just walk towards the new wing of the mall and walk straight towards the Jalan Kelawei entrance and you would see the restaurant right after the Manila Place.

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Name: DRAGON-i @ GURNEY PLAZA
Address:
170-G-66 & A1, Ground Floor, Gurney Plaza (New Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 1686
Business Hours: 11.00am-10.00pm, 10.30am-10.00pm (Sat, Sun & Public Holidays)
GPS: 5.436617, 100.30945
Website: www.dragon-i.com.my/

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

 

Located at a secluded corner lot of the newly renovated level 6 F&B section of Gurney Plaza, this unadorned yet quaint little eatery may have been overlooked by many as just another dessert café in the mall. Carrying the name Macaron Café and with a vast display of delicious yet colorful treats, I won’t be surprise that many passers-by would have the misperception. Other than desserts, Macaron Café would also serve other items ranging from appetizers, salads, soups, pastas and many little snacks of the day.

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Indeed as the name depicts, this cafe serves one of the best macarons I have tasted. They were as crispy, chewy and flavorful as they should be. Those served here were to my liking as the chefs had created a version that had the minimal usage of sugar for the best texture. Thus, those macarons were not overly sweet as others. The meringue base confectioneries are practically made out of egg whites, a combination of different types of sugar, almond powder, permissible food flavors and colorings. The café would serve at least one third of the over 30 flavors that would be available daily. Although it would take a skillful chef to come out with great shaped macarons, the dessert is quite versatile for great creativity. You can have it just by itself with butter cream or jam filling or even use it for dessert decorations. One thing I would love to see from this café would be a Macaron Burger since it looked just like one except for the filling. This would surely attract more out-of-curiosity diners for the uniqueness. Hmm… I’m now thinking of macarons filled with fresh/butter cream, fresh fruit cuts with some toasted almond flakes~ 😛 At the time of my visit, there were about 9 flavors of macarons left. My personal pick: Rum & Raisins, Jaffa (orange macaron with chocolate filling) and Chocolate.

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Left – (back to front): Black Sesame, Chocolate & Coffee, Right (back to front): Rum & Raisins, Lemon, Jaffa, Strawberry Bubble Gum, Mint Chocolate and Double Mint. Price Range: 1 pc-RM3.00+, 5pcs-RM14.00+ and 10pcs-RM27.50+

There are a few types of beverages available here such as coffee, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks. What would be the best beverage to go for with macarons or other sweet treats? It’s none other than latte! I had the Irish Cream Latte (RM8.90+) and it went well with my desserts.

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The café also serves a few different types of cakes daily. The selection varies daily based on the creation of its pastry chef. One of the favorite pick by customers would be the Rainbow Cake (RM8.90+). It has seven layers of colored vanilla butter cakes filled with strawberry jam and butter cream at alternative layers. It was soft and spongy with a mild sweetness. If you had a hard time remembering the colors of a rainbow, here’s a tip. Just remember the first character of this phrase: “Royal Of Yolk Goes Battle In Vain” meaning R-Red, O-Orange, Y-Yellow, G-Green, B-Blue, I-Indigo and V-Violet.

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It happened that the pastry chef had created a new cake for the day and I had the opportunity to try it out. It was the Black Sesame Cheese Cake (RM12.90+). Due to the earthly color of the black sesame combined with the milky white color of the cheese, the presentation might look like a sliced strawberry on a concrete floor but this concoction indeed gave a unique flavor to the cheese cake. The fragrance emitted from the blended black sesame seeds complemented the cheesy cream cheese taste well except that it was a tiny bit on the salty side. It might be a good idea to reduce a bit more salt from the recipe as cheese itself has the existing tad of saltiness. The base for the cheese cake was also handmade. Instead of the normal digestive biscuit texture, it had strusel, the same sandy compound used for crumbles.

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There was also the Chocolate Brownie (RM7.50+) studded with a generous amount of chopped walnuts.

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If you need something lighter, you could always go for the Lamington (RM2.50+). It was just a cuboid shaped sponge cake, coated with a thin layer of chocolate and desiccated coconut.

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As I had mentioned above, Macaron Café do serve other savory items ranging from appetizers, salads, soups, pastas and many little snacks of the day. As appetizer, you can try out the Chicken Roulade (RM10.90+). The preparation was almost similar to the Chicken Cordon Bleu but without the bread crumbs. This dish had pan seared chicken breast meat rolled up with turkey ham, cream cheese and spinach served on a salsa-like salad consisted of diced tomatoes, onions, sweet basil with a squeeze of kaffir lime juice. It was a simple yet fulfilling dish to start a meal.

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As for soup, there was the Forest Mushroom Soup (RM12.00+), topped with some cream and served with 4 slices of toasted garlic bread. The soup had 4 types of fresh mushrooms blended in such as shitake, button, shimeji white and brown. Although the creaminess of the soup was just right but it lacked more earthly mushroom flavors. Somehow I would think that the kitchen should add in more distinctive flavored mushrooms such as the fresh Portobello mushroom aka matured Swiss brown mushroom since I personally considered the pricing to be a bit too high for just a soup. I had better ones before at my regular Western cuisine stall at a much lower price of RM5.00nett.

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The Penne Pollo (RM16.90+) had penne pasta mixed in sauteed shimeji white mushroom, shitake mushroom and chicken slices in a creamy pesto sauce. Sweet basil is the main ingredient in any pesto sauce, all blended in with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and olive oil. The café has twisted the recipe a bit by adding in some Thai basil for the extra flavors, thus it had that super strong basil taste which some non basil lovers might detest. Moreover, the dish lacked the color presentation. The whole dish looked rather green and overly sauced. Maybe they should try out what other eateries had done in terms of flavors and presentation such as at Nostalgie along Lorong Stewart, Penang. I personally would prefer pan-fried chicken over sautéed chicken breast meat with some fresh greens such as some cherry tomatoes to suppress the overwhelming taste of basil leaves. This dish was garnished with some parmesan cheese.

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The café would also serve some ad hoc ala carte dishes occasionally such as American Beef Burger (RM16.90+), Chicken Picatta (RM18.90+), Chicken Parmagiana (RM18.90+), Croque Monsieur (RM14.90+), Croque Madame (RM15.90+), Pavlova (RM10.90+) and many more. Overall, the café fair better in sweet treats rather than savory dishes. I guessed they would need more time to balance up the best of both worlds to be a super star in the culinary industry. All items would have a 10% service tax imposed.

If you know how to get to Gurney Plaza, you won’t have any problem finding the café as it’s just next to the escalator up at level 6 of the mall, somewhat hidden behind a big square pillar.

MACARONCAFEMAP

Name: MACARON CAFÉ @ GURNEY PLAZA
Address:
170-06-01A, 6th Floor, Gurney Plaza (Old Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 4389
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.437204, 100.308844

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

 

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)

 

PRE FLOGGERS GATHERING AT 75 CELSIUS RESTAURANT & BAR

Posted by crizlai On August - 21 - 2009

NOTE: This restaurant has ceased its operation.

Prior to our 4th Penang Floggers Gathering scheduled to be held later in the evening, we were given a treat at 75 Celsius Restaurant & Bar, located along the promenade of the beautiful Gurney Drive last Saturday. Thanks to Ken and William for giving us this privilege to savor almost all that they have in the menu.

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Although I did pass through the Gurney Drive stretch quite often, little did I know that the little hidden treasure could provide such a wide range of western cuisine to please my forever craving appetite. Let’s start with what they have in their menu. Initially, they were 3 types of soup being served here. The Creamy Mushroom Soup (RM6.90) came with 3 freshly mixed mushrooms stewed to perfection, garnished with some cream, herbs and served with a slice of garlic bread. The taste was great compared to others except that it would be better if they cut down a bit on the level of saltiness. The Creamy Tomato & Bacon (RM6.90) was my favorite as it was mild enough for my liking and the sautéed beef bacon chips did add in that extra flavorful taste. This was served with a slice of garlic bread as well. The Oxtail Soup (RM8.50) was good too as it had the right amount of herbs and spices usage and the oxtail was tender and superb. This soup was also accompanied with a slice of garlic bread.

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Next on the menu were the salads. The Crispy Chicken Salad (RM12.90) came with some pieces of golden fried bread crumbed chicken, sliced and laid on a bed of mix greens, dressed by some mayonnaise like oriental dressing. Except for the meat slices which were a bit dry to my liking, the whole combination justified each other well. The next salad which was the Chef’s Salad (RM11.90) was normal except that it had additional tuna flakes and crab filament stick slices added in, topped with Thousand Island dressing.

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For those who would like to have some light meal with loads of greens, you should check out the Sandwiches section in the menu. The Turkey Fresco (RM11.90) was indeed lovely with a slightly butter toasted croissant filled with turkey ham, greens and oozing dressing. The Hamburger Delight (RM16.90) was our favorite as the beef patty was firm and tasty. The Cheezy Beef Roll (RM15.90) did not impress me much as it was just some marinated beef slices baked with cheese. The Tuna Supreme (RM12.90) was just another common tuna filled croissant but it was delicious as the filling was rather moist. All the above sandwiches would be presented with some green salads and French fries.

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If you like to have something even lighter, you could always look into their Snacks sections. You could try out their Cheezy Garlic Bread (RM6.90), Tempura Prawns (RM9.90), Tempura Calamari (RM8.50), Fish Cocktail (RM8.50), Mushroom Bruschetta (RM7.90) and Lamb Bruschetta (RM8.90). All snack meals would come with some green salad. Except for the Fish Cocktail which had some blended fish, prawns and squids being a bit too soft for my liking, I loved the Lamb Bruschetta a lot. The lamb slices was stewed perfectly in their own secret recipe until the meat were tender. The only problem I had was the understanding on bruschettas. All along I thought they would be served with filling on top of the bread slices. Instead I had 5 slices of garlic bread served with a bowl of lamb stew. I guessed that would be their way to avoid the bread being soiled by the lamb gravy.

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There would also be pasta dishes available here to tempt your appetite for Italian cuisine. We had the Aglio Olio (RM15.90). This dish was kind of fusion as it had some aubergine (eggplant/brinjal), ham slices and tiger prawns added in on top of the usual garlic, herbs, chili flakes and olive oil. Overall, the taste was still superb as it was just right for my level of spiciness. The Alla Carbonara (RM10.90) was also good with the right amount of creaminess but I would prefer a bit more sauce. It would be even better if only the beef bacons were not chopped so fine and linguini pasta be used instead of spaghetti pasta. My preference would still be the one I had at QEII. The next two pasta dishes which were the Alla Marinara (RM16.90) and Baked Cheezy Seafood Pasta (RM16.90) was a bit disappointment for most of us as both dishes lacked the special unique taste of some white wine and cognac. Moreover, I’m still pondering which item in the ingredients caused the overpowering fishy taste.

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Now, let’s look at the colorful Main Course dishes. The Tagarashi Salmon (RM17.90) was uniquely presented. It had Nori (seaweed) rolled into salmon fillet, mildly grilled and topped with some spicy curry cream sauce. This was served with ratatouille on mashed potatoes and green salad. Each flake of the salmon with the sauce was delicious, so was the ratatouille with the mashed potatoes.

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The Lemon Butter Fish (RM12.90) was next. It had some French fries laid on a pool of buttered lemon cream sauce, topped with a battered fried fish fillet and some shredded carrot strips as garnish. The tangy flavored white sauce blended in well with the whole presentation.

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The Jacuzzi Beef (RM16.90) was presented on a bed of fresh lettuce and was served on a hot plate. It had some paprika sprinkled French fries and black pepper sauce as gravy. Everything on the hot plate was good except that I found the gravy to be a bit mild for my taste bud. This dish would be mild enough for a kid’s consumption.

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For those Ribeye Steak (RM17.90) lovers, the next dish would be a great bargain. The accompanied simple yet fragrantly sautéed potato slices with onions itself was a kill. The steak was cooked medium and the pepper mushroom sauce clicked well.

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The Spice Lamb Leg (RM18.90) was presented on some sautéed potatoes with rosemary. The meat was grilled fragrantly and served with some Pineapple Jack Daniels (JD) sauce. Except for the meat which was a bit dry, that was a great way to have lamb minus the mint sauce.

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There was also the Lamb Cutlet (RM20.90) served with ratatouille on mashed potatoes and mint yogurt sauce. The mint yogurt sauce was something new to me and it was delicious with the grilled cutlets. The ratatouille was as tasty as before. Now, that made me missed Remy from Walt Disney’s Ratatouille more and more. 😛

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Teriyaki Chicken (RM15.90) was served next. Except for the beautiful presentation, everything tasted quite normal. I would suggest to the chef that the chicken be marinated longer to get the best out of the teriyaki taste.

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The Roasted Chicken Drumstick (RM15.90) looked great with the sautéed potatoes with rosemary and orange ginger sauce. The combination might be unique for many but my preference would still be the classic gravy where some chicken broth are to be pan cooked with some remain juices from the roasting, some flour, salt and black pepper to taste. A dash of dry white wine would surely boost up the taste further.

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Everybody was complimenting on the Chicken Chop (RM10.90). It may be the most common item in any Western food menu but the one served here was rather unique. Maybe it was our luck that day but the chicken drumstick fillet was indeed thick and juicy. The outer crust was still crispy after being exposed so long for our photo shooting and the oriental sauce on it was delicious. It’s a great bargain here!

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The last of the main course we had was the Black Pepper Mushroom Chicken (RM10.90). It looked as if the drumstick had shrunk compared to the chicken chop earlier. It surely had something to do with the frying flour as this was grilled. Overall the taste was still fine. This would suit me better if the gravy was a bit spicier for my taste bud.

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Hmm… I had just realized something here. They do not have any desserts in their menu. I think they should consider on having some for those for visiting families with kids. Nevertheless, they do have a wide selection for beverages, ranging from coffee, ice coffee, coffee with liquor, chocolate, blended, milkshake, juice, tea, special, sodas, cocktails, liquor and beer. Here are some of the non-alcoholic drinks some of us had ordered (except for Caffe Baileys which contained some Baileys Irish Whisky Cream). They are Cappuccino (RM5.00), Hazelnut Cappuccino (RM5.50), Ice Expresso (RM7.00), Caffe Baileys (RM8.00), Ice Blended Green Tea Special (RM9.50), Ice Blended Chocolate (RM9.50), Ice Blended Wildfruit (RM9.50), Vanilla Milkshake (RM8.00), Strawberry Milkshake (RM8.00), Lemon Temptation (RM7.00), Philadelphia (RM7.50) and Dawn of The Beauty (RM7.00).

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As for the alcoholic section, I found something interesting. Don’t you think some of the names given were rather kinky? LOL!

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There are over 30 types of cocktails, hard liquor and beers for you to choose here. Some of the alcoholic drinks ordered by us included Michael Jackson (RM10), Lemon Drop (RM10), AK47 (RM18.00), Tequila Sunrise (RM13.00) and Screwdriver (RM13.00).

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Dining here can be rather humid during sunny afternoon as the place is open air. I would advise you to dress casually or dine during late evening. Please take note that all prices would be subjected with a 10% service charge.

The shop is strategically located along the sea front of the famous Gurney Drive (right before Coffee Island and Crepe Cottage). If you are coming from town into Jalan Kelawei, turn right at the first junction (Jalan Lim Chin Guan) where Gurney Tower is. Drive towards the end and turn left. You would pass through Evergreen Laurel Hotel and a stretch of hawker centers on your left. Slow down as 75 Celsius is immediately after the last hawker center (Song River Café). I would advise you to park your car in the Jalan Birch Car Park (the road after Song River Café) and walk up to the restaurant cum bar, especially during weekends.

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Name: 75 CELSIUS RESTAURANT & BAR
Address: 75, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 3775
Business Hours: 11.00am-2.00am
GPS: 5.433140, 100.316246

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

BEACH VIEW DINING AT KO-FU-LOFT

Posted by crizlai On June - 26 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operation in early March 2010.

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This restaurant with a nice view of the Gurney Drive promenade reminded me of the day when our local internet advertiser, Nuffnang, had its first community event titled “The Orient’s Voice” for the Penang bloggers at the then named Foodloft. Gosh! That was about two years’ ago. Today, the restaurant had been revamped under a different management and renamed as Ko-Fu-Loft. The new restaurant now serves dim sum as well as some Chinese cuisine with a touch of Mamak style beverages. Not long ago, more than 20 floggers from Penang (many oldies and newbies) and one mummy flogger from Singapore were given the privilege to try out the food there. Thanks to Jian for extending the invite to all of us.

The meal started with Ko Fu Sesame Seed Ball (口福芝麻球 – RM10.90). The presentation was rather simple but impressive with the sesame balls laid on some spoons. With some many ingredients added into the minced meat, somehow the appetizer lacked the moisture within. It was rather dry for many of us and the outer lacked the fragrance from the sesame seeds. By adding a bit of chopped onions, some corn flour, a few drops of sesame oil and some sprinkles of pepper would have made them better.

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The next appetizer was the Crystal Spring Roll Skin Stuffed with Vegetables & Chicken Meat (公主水晶卷 – RM6.90). The skin was perfectly done as the name itself as it was almost crystal clear but the filling was not as compactly rolled as it was supposed to be. Moreover, I personally felt that the vegetables and chicken meat were left exposed to the atmosphere for too long and had lost their moisture and sweetness. The sugar content within the accompanied sauce was also too overwhelming for most of us. There would still much room for improvement for this healthy meal and hopefully it could be as good as the ones I had at Metro Café.

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The following were some of the selected dim sum from the restaurant. Both the Steamed Fresh Prawn Dumpling – Har Kau (鲜明虾饺 – RM5.50) and Pork Dumpling with Fish Roes – Siew Mai (鱼子烧卖皇 – RM5.50) had the standard presentation. The prawns within the dumpling were indeed fresh and steamed just right to melt in the mouth.

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As for the pork dumpling, I found too much of fat been added in thus it has the slightly rough bite. Overall, it was still a fine dish.

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The Minced Squid with Crab Claw Meat (百花酿蚧蚶 – RM6.90) which was next was very well presented. The squids were well minced until one would think that it was fish ball instead. It was soft and juicy combined with the freshness of the crab claws. The accompanied gravy was mild enough for us to taste out the true beauty of the fresh seafood.

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The hot and fluffy Signature Steamed Custard Creamy Bun (美味流砂奶黄包 – RM5.50) was next. The texture for the steamed bun could be improved further as it was not as finely textured as it should. Although the custard within suited my taste bud well, the skin somehow was a bit too thick for my preference. Moreover, there were signs of some crystallized parts that made each bite not so smooth flowing.

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The next dim sum which was the Deep Fried Yam Paste with Minced Pork (蜂巢炸芋角 – RM4.50) has always been my favorite in any dim sum restaurant. The crispy outer layer with the smoothly blended yam paste filled with juicy sweetened pork slices (char siew) was good. It could have been even better if some toasted sesame seeds and chopped coriander were to be added to pep up the taste.

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After all the savory dim sum presented, we were served with Deep Fried Pandan Lotus Paste Dumpling (翡翠煎堆仔 – RM4.50). Somehow, I felt that the glutinous rice used was rather thick. Even the screwpine leaves (pandan) flavored lotus paste tasted too artificial. They should have used those freshly squeezed flavoring instead.

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I was looking forward to trying out their Szechuan Aromatic Duck (四川香酥鸭 – RM18.90) as I had from many other restaurants but somehow the restaurant got everything wrong. The crepe like egg wrapper was too dry. It even got torn even before I could wrap anything in it. Even the duck meat slices were tough and coated with some sort of batter. I wondered if this was the right way to serve this dish as what I had before as in Claypot Restaurant was the shredded duck meat version where each mouthful does not require much chewing into the tough meat. Maybe the restaurant would need to look into ways to tenderize the duck meat if they were to present it in this way.

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We were then served with Jingdo Pork Ribs (京都排骨 – RM14.90). I’m normally not a fan of pork ribs, except the ones I had at Chin Bee Tea Cafe, as most of the time I had bad experiences with tough bites. Surprisingly, the ones served here was not as bad as I thought except that a bit too much of black pepper had been added that made the dish a bit too spicy for many. It would be better if this dish were to be taken with steamed rice.

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Although the Deep Fried Five Spices Calamari (五香盐炸墨门 – RM13.90) looked like any fritters, it has the unique taste of some five spice powder and salt that made it appetizing and the calamari was tender and juicy. However, it was just another version of tempura coated calamari.

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We also did try out their Deep Fried Homemade Bean Curd (香炸黄金豆腐 – RM12.90). Although the bean curd was smooth, it lacked the taste of soy bean in it. Moreover, it was also rather bland in taste. To me, it was nothing special except some batter coated bean curd slices. If only they could consider adding some spring onions, finely slices wood ear fungus and so on that would add a little more texture in the dish and make the bean curd taste better.

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The All in 1 Roasted Meat with Vegetables (盆菜 – RM19.90) served here is actually an economical version of “Poon Choy”. The authentic version from other restaurants could cost anything between RM300 – RM600. The restaurants used the basic ingredients here with some stewed cabbage as base, topped with some roasted pork, chicken, duck, broccoli, mushrooms, deep fried prawns and few slices of abalone. The dish would be quite a bargain as it would come with some pickles, stir fry greens and a bowl of rice. However, when you have 4 pots served, you might get different taste as what we had experienced. There were a bit of inconsistency detected here during our review as each has their own unique taste. We had stronger oyster sauce flavored, cabbage flavored, meaty flavored and another one with the right combination of the other three. That’s the suspense you might get when ordering this dish.

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The Fried Seafood Emperor Noodle (香炒海鲜王帝面 – RM12.90) served was not as impressive as the name. Somehow, everything was rather mild in taste. The noodles were rather dry and it lacked the wok hei (high heat cooking). There were not even any obvious hints of sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce or even pepper in the dish. Moreover, some gravy on top of the suggested sauces on such noodles would be nice for the overall taste and presentation.

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Lastly, the dessert of the day was Water Chestnut and Sago in Coconut Milk (热马蹄西米椰酱汤 – RM3.50). The dessert did not get many of us interested as the color and aroma from it did not get many of our attention. The water chestnut practically has been boiled for hours and lacked the sweetness in taste. The sago was a bit too soft and the combination of coconut milk served with these two ingredients just did not match well. Moreover, the coconut milk has the strong “packet” taste in it. I guessed the restaurant would have to seek other alternatives to this dessert.

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Overall, the restaurant has a milder way to cook up food for its patrons. It might be good for those with a healthy diet in mind but it might not be such ideal for the Penangites who have stronger taste buds. It would be great if the restaurant would revamp their existing menu to suit both parties.

If you are familiar with the roads in Penang, it would be easy to find the restaurant as it is located within the premises of Gurney Plaza, facing the beach front of Gurney Drive. Once you have parked your car in the complex car park, just move up to level 4 and you can see the restaurant at the far end of the complex.

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Name: KO-FU-LOFT
Branch Address: 170-04-59, Level 4, Plaza Gurney, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 5011
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm (weekdays), 9.00am-10.00pm (weekends)
GPS: 5.438375, 100.308784

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

Invited Reviewers:
Allie
Buzzing Bee
Cariso
Criz
Food4tots
Nutty Eve
Food Paradise
Food Promotions
Gourmet Garden
Now Eating
Penang Tua Pui
Steven Goh
What2SeeOnline
Yummy Station
Yum Yum Bites
Chef Khoon from KDU

Most people will have the preset thinking that dining in a Japanese restaurant could be real expensive, especially when the restaurant is within a hotel. I was one of them too until I stepped foot in Miraku Japanese Restaurant located within the premises of G Hotel which was located along the promenade of our Gurney Drive beach front in Penang. Miraku is actually part of the Texchem Group with another sister company by the name of Sushi King. The restaurant is totally a different entity to management of the hotel.

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Thanks to the company of the 3 angels (Eunice, Siew Ying & Iris), their “Charlie” aka Jimmy and my god brother on different visits that I was able to come out with a more detailed coverage on the restaurant. To set the mood and get pampered to the max, a warm towel would be given to each diner to freshen up prior to indulging in the wonderful spread of the Japanese cuisine.

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Instead of the normal peanuts or crackers as provided by most Chinese restaurants, a small plate of stewed soy beans would be given to each diner while waiting for their meals to be served. Why soy beans? It’s because soy beans remained the vital source of protein to the Japanese for generations. The soy beans were stewed in a slightly sweet salty soy sauce and had nice bites.

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Biting into the soy beans reminded us of how much fun Crayon Shin-chan (蠟筆小新) had while playing with the fermented version of the soy beans. We did try out the so called Natto (納豆 – RM12) and Eunice had a fun time mixing them into the rice to create as many spider web strings as she could. It sounded like the making of the next comic character? Hmm… maybe so – the Malaysian version. LOL! The Natto had a very ammoniacal smell and had that cheesy but bean-like taste and might not be so acceptable by most locals but they do taste a bit like vegemite with its acquired taste.

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The actual meal started with the Miraku Salad (RM18 – small) which would normally be served with all the set and bento meals. The freshness of the greens such as romaine lettuce, cucumber and tomato slices, combined with freshly sliced salmon, octopus and crab meat and served with tomato dressing was simply remarkable. The secret was in the sauce which had a simple combination of blended tomatoes and mayonnaise. I could not stop myself from salvaging the whole bowl of salad until the last drop.

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Next was the Sashimi Moriawase (Take) which was a medium sized assorted sashimi for 3 persons (RM130 per set). What you get on each visit might not be the same as the restaurant would provide only the freshest they have at that time. There would normally be an assortment of at least 6 types depending on availability. What we had consisted of salmon, tuna, amber jack, white fish, octopus and crayfish.

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Cold noodles or Zaru Udon has always remained one of my must order dishes in any Japanese restaurants on top of the usual hot Kake Udon in soup. At Miraku, there was no exception. I tried out their Sanuki Udon (RM35 per set) which was supposed to be the most recommended and sought after udon made with flour from Kagawa. The plain udon came with the usual cold soup, radish, spring onions and wasabi. There was not much to brag about as the taste was almost just like any other cold noodles I had tasted before. In fact, I was expecting more springy bites. Maybe I should have ordered the buckwheat noodles instead for my next visit.

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Trying out the restaurant’s sushi spread is also a must during any visits and we did try out the Mamakari Sushi (RM6/pc). Most people would mistakenly call this fish as silver fish due to it’s shininess on the body. The name has been reserved for an insect instead. This fish is actually sardines, marinated deeply in vinegar before being used in sushi making. You won’t get the texture to be as soft as in those canned tomato based sardines. The texture for this fish would be firmer with a hint of fishy and strong vinegar after taste. It would go well with wasabi and soy sauce.

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The next sushi presentation which was the Dragon Roll (RM28) caught most of our attention as it was very attractive and it really looked like a dragon. The dish a deep fried prawn, wrapped with layers of sushi rice, avocado paste and garnished with some mayonnaise and prawn roes. It was colorful and tasty as well.

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Instead of having the usual Unagi Kabayaki which has been sweet soy sauce grilled, we tried out the freshly grilled Unagi Shirayaki (RM38). No doubt I could taste out the distinguished freshness of the grilled eel, I still prefer the sweet soy sauce grilled version.

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The Japanese loved Nabemono (hot clay pot) so were we when we were served the Miraku Kami Nabe (Petite Paper Hot Pot – RM36). Kami Nabe are pots made of strong washi (Japanese Paper) with an extremely dense texture. It’s normally durable to water and heat and is used mostly for stewing purposes. We had ours stewed in rich broth with lovely vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, chicken, salmon and clams. As the heat got more intense, the broth which has a thicker miso soup based taste got more flavorful with the sweetness of the salmon and chicken submerging distinctively. It was a perfect dish for a colder weather. I wonder if they would produce Hoshoyaki during my next visit since they are into using washi in their cooking method. I’m sure their paper-wrapped roasted fish would taste great as well.

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As most of us were not so keen in having fugu (pufferfish or blowfish) which was also available at Miraku, we had something even more exotic – Gyutan Touban Yaki (RM28). These were thinly sliced ham-like beef tongues, well marinated in their special sauce with a squeeze of lemon juice and grilled to our own preference on a provided hot pot. Well, it was not bad as the dish was tasty enough for us to savor more of the rubbery-like pieces.

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If you feel that ordering the ala carte dishes would be too heavy for you, you could always try out the bento and set meals. One of the most ordered ones would be the Miraku Lunch Box (RM36). The bento set would surely fill you up well with bits of everything you would get from the menu such as pickled radish, salad, mixed vegetables (sato imo – Japanese yam, konnyaku – yam jelly cake, carrot, mushroom and snow peas in special soy sauce), sashimi (tuna & amber jack), grilled fish (gindara – grilled cod fish), tempura moriawase (assorted seafood and vegetables tempura), rice, chawan mushi (steamed egg with chicken, mushroom, ginkgo nut and kamaboko fish cake), miso soup and dessert of the day (red bean jelly and ice cream). This was indeed a great bargain meal and I find the combination well balanced.

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Another set meal you might be interested in might sound like a simple meal but it was a real filling one. The Katsu Ju Set (RM24) had the same standard side dishes such as pickled radish, salad, chawan mushi, miso soup and dessert of the day (black sesame jelly and ice cream). This set came in a bento box filled to the brim with layers of steamed Japanese rice, panko (Japanese bread crumbed) chicken and finally topped with some scrambled eggs cooked with onions gravy and garnished with nori (seaweed) strips. The whole dish combination was simple but yet perfecto as in taste. Each mouthful was filled with the awesome creaminess and cheesiness of the egg and crispy chicken slices together with the perfect grains of the Japanese steamed rice. I could take this for every meal too.

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For those beef lovers, you could go for the Yakiniku Zen (RM28) which would also come with the standard side dishes as above. The dish was basically simple with thinly sliced Australian beef (similar to the shabu-shabu thickness) fried with some sliced onions, scallion (spring onion) and bean sprouts in yakiniku sauce. It was a waste that by the time I had finished with my shots, the bean sprouts had gone translucent. If not, I could have imagine the crunchiness of the slightly cook sprouts with the juicy beef slices churning amazingly in my mouth. The gravy was tasty with a hint of some fruity sweetness and quality soy sauce. This was served with hot steaming Japanese rice.

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As for dessert, the Tempura Ice Cream (RM12) caught me yearning for more. The preparation for the dessert was totally different compared to the one I had at Haven Delights at Penang Times Square. It was truly yummilicious! A large scoop of Vanilla flavored ice cream was rolled into crushed digestive biscuits (just like those cheese cake base) and coated with tempura flour and deep fried to a golden ball like. This would then cut into four quarters and topped with sweetened azuki bean paste (red bean paste). The creaminess of the ice cream, the crunchiness of the biscuits, the crispiness of the tempura and the just nice sweetness of the azuki bean paste made this dessert something to crave for during my next visit.

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For those who would want to entertain your guests in large groups or in privacy, there are many dining areas and rooms available in this restaurant. In fact they have two large rooms with tall tables and six smaller ones with lower Japanese style dining experience on first come first serve basis.

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I’m sure no one would want to dine in this small room. From the layout itself, it could well be solely for smokers who needed a quick puff. The restaurant even has such a facility. Think of the extent of how a Japanese restaurant would sacrifice such a place just for its customers. That’s what I would call great service.

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When you have the guests, the quiet and cozy ambience and the food, something else is missing here. Where’s the alcohol? Miraku has them all from beer, wine, whisky, cocktail to sake (日本酒) and shouchu (燒酎). You do not have to worry about not finishing them as the restaurant has the facility to temporary “house” the leftovers up to 3 months. Here’s some of the alcohol you might expect to get here.

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We had the privilege to try out one of the limited edition of sake in Miraku – the Manzai Raku Hakusan (萬歳楽・白山 – RM475 per 720ml bottle), a specially brewed sake from the flowing water of the Hakusan Mountain in Japan. The sake was smooth flowing and was rather mild for everyone. Although the sake was 20% in alcohol content, no one was drunk and dancing on the table ok? LOL!

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There are still many other ala carte and set meals available for everyone’s budget from the restaurant. Presently, in conjunction with their 3rd Anniversary celebration, they have Eat-All-You-Can Sushi at RM50++ per pax on Tuesday and Sunday until end of June 2009. On top of that, you can try out their set lunch meals (lunch only) and assorted sushi-sashimi (dinner only) at 30% off the normal price. These two promotions will also be valid until this month end.

If you are familiar with the roads in Penang, it would be easy to find the restaurant as it is located within the premises of G Hotel, right between the Regency and Gurney Plaza, and facing the beach front of Gurney Drive. Moving into the long lobby of G Hotel, you might have problem locating the restaurant as it’s hidden on the first floor to the building. There are a few stairways and ample signages to lead you there but the simplest would be by using the guests’ elevator to first floor. Parking in G Hotel can be quite expensive for many. I would suggest that you drive further up and park your car at the basement car park of Gurney Plaza or find some along the beach front of Gurney Drive.

MIRAKUFACADE

MIRAKUMAP

Name: MIRAKU JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Branch Address: 1st Floor, G Hotel, 168A Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 8702
Business Hours: 12.00-2.30pm, 6.00pm-10.30pm
GPS: 5.438233, 100.310631

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: 9/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8.5/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

COFFEE ISLAND IN PENANG

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 3 - 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COFFEEISLANDMAP

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

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

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About Me

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.

By the way, you might not notice it but CRIZ BON APPETITE is iPhone/Mobile Compatible. Please do feel free to hop over to http://ip.crizfood.com to get the latest updates! If you want to contact me for any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at crizlai [at] hotmail [dot] com. Spamming would not be tolerated – you are being tracked here!

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