CRIZ BON APPETITE

Savoring The Best All Over Town…

Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine, an upscale restaurant that serves All-You-Can-Eat buffet with specialties ranging from Japanese, Chinese, Thailand and other foreign or ethnic food plus a different concept outlet by the name of Yea Japanese BBQ & Shabu Shabu, has officially opened another branch at Penang Times Square recently on 25 September 2012. The latest branch, which is also a pork-free outlet, was the biggest amongst all the branches and can accommodate more than 150 pax at one time with quite a handful of private cubicles for private functions. Priced at RM46++ for lunch*, RM62++ for dinner* and child (90cm to 140cm in height) having to pay half price, this branch has the most buffet spreads (other than the ones ordered from the menu) amongst all their outlets in Malaysia. Currently, they have an “early bird” promotion where a 10% discount would be given to those who had checked in between 5:30pm and 6:30pm from Monday until Friday.

Important Note (*): Please check the time and price as stated right at the end of this post for more detailed information as they can differ on different days.

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The unique part about dining in this branch compared to their other branches would be that this one has an almost a full buffet spread without even having to order from their ala carte menu. Let’s start by studying what they have to offer at their appetizer section. Firstly, it was the cold section where you have options for fresh mussels, oysters and cooked prawns, followed by a vast variety of sushi for just anyone. Fresh seafood and sushi lovers would surely love this section.

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The next section along the U shaped counter would be the cold cuts and other appetizers. Sashimi lovers would love this section as it had fresh cuts of white & red tuna, salmon, smoked squids. On top of that, there were some sugar coated cashew nuts for you to munch while waiting for your food to be prepared at a later stage. Next to those cold cuts would be some appetizers for the day. Those appetizers would be like chuka wakame (pickled seaweed), salmon salad, salted anchovies with peanuts, honey lotus roots, jellyfish salad, flavored deep fried sakura ebi and 3 layer egg.

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Opposite would be the section for salads and some precooked dishes. You would have some greens and fruit to create your own salad with the dressings provided. There would also be the Oden stove for you to savor those skewers of goodies. Basically the stock was made out of a light soy based dashi stock with additional flavors emitted by the skewers of meat, fish cakes and vegetables. That was the Japanese way of having “Yong Tau Fu” during winter. Two dishes of precooked dishes were provided on that day and they were Sweet & Sour Salmon and Beef Stew.

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The next section was the Kushiyaki (skewer grill) and Teppanyaki (iron griddle cooking) section. There were a large variety of skewed items and raw items at the counter. Just pick whatever you like and the chefs would cook them perfectly to your preference and send to your table.

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Finally, you have the dessert section to pick what you like. There would be the chocolate fountain, pastries, jellies, “tong sui” and King’s ice cream to look out for.

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Now let’s have a look at some of the common dishes that would be available in the Ala Carte Menu throughout all the branches. The menu would have different categories such as cold cut, soup, agemono (fried dishes), yakimono (grilled), itame mono (main dish), nabemono (noodle soup), mushimono (steamed) and temaki (hand roll). Since the buffet spread were already real impressive, we just tried out some of the dishes in the menu. We started with the Abalone Slices. It came with some salad dressing. The dish’s name might be classy and pricey but what we had were actually mock abalone which had the common name “gui fei” abalone. They were processed squid meat, cut to have a standard shape and thickness.

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I quite love the next dish which was the Pickled Papaya Salmon. The slight sour sweet papaya pickles wrapped with a fresh layer of salmon and dressed with a tangy dressing was perfect for my meal.

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I have always been a fan of Chuka Idako (Seasoned Baby Octopus). The preparation was not like those I have tried at other Japanese restaurants. The ones here had a more personal touch with a more coarsely prepared homemade sauce. However, I found them to be lacked of a unique flavor – toasted sesame seeds. This addition would surely boost up the taste further.

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The next dish was the Japanese version of croquette called Cheese Korokke. It was nothing fanciful except for some cheese flavored minced meat and potatoes with an over sprinkles of black pepper.

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Then there was the Coconut Shrimps. It was oily a bit without an underlay kitchen towel to soak the excess oil but can be palatable with some nice dressings.

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We also had some Fried Fish Balls. It was just normal with some fish paste coated with some bread cubes and deep fried until golden brown.

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The Tori Miso Yaki (Grilled Chicken Thigh) was rather impressing as the chicken pieces were well marinated and given a nice caramelized texture on the skin. Delicious!

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Beef Bacon Skewers were served next. It was simple and yet fulfilling with a kani (crab) stick and some enoki mushrooms wrapped within the beef bacon prior to a light grilling.

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We also ordered some Motoyaki Scallops. They were average as the sauce applied was on a saltier side.

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There was also the Kyuri Wasabi Saba (Grilled Mackerel with Wasabi) which had a light grill. It was nicely done with a nice flavor and not fishy at all.

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For lamb lover, you should go for the Teppan Lamb. It was heavenly delicious. I won’t mind having the dish with some garlic rice if not for the wide selection at the buffet line. LOL!

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Carefully prepared with a light touch of spiciness, the Tsubu Gai Itame (Stir Fry Japanese Whelk) would also go well with rice. The chef did a great job of not cooking the sea snail meat to be too rubbery.

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Their Chawan Mushi was simple but nice with light steamed egg. However, I still prefer the ones at Sakae Sushi with added toppings such as vegetarian shark’s fin and shimeji mushrooms.

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Lastly, we tried the Jade Scallops. The steamed scallops had some seasoned glass noodles as base and topped with some sweet paste and chopped spring onions. Somehow, I prefer this version more than the Motoyaki Scallops.

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As for beverages, it would be by order. Cold or hot beverages such as lemon tea, peach tea, green tea, coffee and more would be included in the buffet price. Other beverages may incur more cost into your bill. Please ask carefully on the free flow beverages available for the day prior to ordering.

Overall, I quite like the buffet concept here as I can choose whatever I like to eat at the buffet line (what I can see is what I would get) instead of wondering what I would get from the menu as most of the items are with Japanese names without further descriptions in English. For those Chinese educated diners, you won’t have this issue at all as Chinese names are available. Taste wise, there are still rooms for improvement as some of the dishes in the menu were not up to my expectations. They were rather towards the commercial taste rather than being authentic. Price wise, it’s a bit high for those who could not consume much unless you are a true oyster and sashimi lover to get your money worth. Moreover, there are the confusions of the applicable 2.5 hours time limit and pricing. Please digest the information CLEARLY before dining to avoid any disappointment. The pricing and time limit would differ even during the same dining period but on different days. Please take note of this important information as stated at the end of this post.

If you know how to go to Penang Times Square, you won’t have problem at all to find the Tao Authentic Asian Cuisine. The restaurant is located at the central atrium of Penang Times Square. Just walk towards the escalator within the mall and go up to Level One. You would see the restaurant on your right.

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Name: TAO AUTHENTIC ASIAN CUISINE @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE
Address: Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-228 5826
Business Hours & Price:
WEEKDAYS (Monday – Thursday)
Lunch: 12.00noon – 4.00pm (RM46++)
Dinner: 5:30pm – 10:30pm (RM62++)
WEEKENDS & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS (Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays)
Lunch: 12.00noon – 4.00pm (RM46++ for Friday ONLY/RM62++ for Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays)
Dinner Session 1: 5:30pm – 8:00pm, RM62++
Dinner Session 2: 8:30pm – 11:00pm, RM62++
Note: Early bird (5:30pm – 6:30pm) entitled for 10% discount. This offer is only applicable from Monday until Friday.
GPS: 5.411728, 100.324879

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

 

APPETIZING SPREADS AT SAKAE SUSHI @ 1ST AVENUE PENANG

Posted by crizlai On June - 13 - 2012

The name Sakae Sushi is already well known throughout the Asian region since its establishment in Singapore in 1997. Today it had expanded to more than 70 branches in Malaysia (Penang, Perak, Selangor & Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam to as far as China. The menu is ever changing with special theme promotion monthly such as the Anago Promotion for the month of June 2012. Economically priced compared to most of the Japanese restaurants around, it catered to the demands and budgets of locals and tourists alike real well. On top of being the first Japanese restaurant to enrich its sushi rice with Vitamin E, it also flew in fresh supplies of Omega-3 rich Norwegian salmons to ensure the satisfactions of every Japanese food enthusiasts. There are many choices of items available just for anyone, ranging from their Sakae’s Signature Sushi & Sashimi, Appetizers, Tempura, Rice, Udon and Soba to simple yet impressive kids’ meals.

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We started off with a large bowl of Kaisen Salad (海鮮沙拉 – RM16.90++). The tantalizing salad was large enough for the consumptions of 2 persons. It came with refreshing selections of coral green and red lettuces, seaweed, cabbages, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, topped with fresh prawns, tuna flakes, snow crab leg meat, ebiko and dressed with their specially concocted goma dressing. What excelled here was the goma dressing. It had that earthly yet peanut nutty flavor with sesame oil, salad oil, soy sauce, sugar and rice vinegar and mayonnaise being added. It was so appetizing that we had to ask for more dressing to coat every part of the vegetables. Thumbs up!

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Well, one of my favorite at most Japanese restaurants would be the Chuka Idako (凉拌小八爪魚 – RM7.99++), a marinated boiled baby octopus flavored with mirin, teriyaki, miso, brown sugar, sesame oil, red food coloring with a mix of toasted sesame seeds. The portion served here came with 4 flavorful baby octopuses with a high hint of sesame oil just to my liking.

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Their Sakae Chawanmushi (榮茶碗蒸 – RM3.99++) was also nice as it had that thick high stock flavors. The dish had chicken, crabstick, ginkgo nut and shitake mushroom slices in the steamed egg and garnished with some vegetarian shark’s fin and fresh shimeji mushrooms.

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We were introduced to some of the innovative sushi creations and one of them was the Inari Avocado Ebi (稻禾酪梨蝦 – RM7.99++). It basically came with a sweet bean curd skin filled with some sushi rice and topped with some cuts from a whole prawn mixed with avocado and salad dressing plus a battered coated prawn head. The crispy prawn head can be eaten but do watch out for the spike on the head. The creaminess of the avocado blended in well for this combination.

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The next sushi which was the Sakae Blossom (榮之花 – RM9.99++) not only impressed us with its intricate design but also on its taste. The maki had cucumber and finely cubed crabstick in mayonnaise wrapped in nori (dry seaweed sheet) and sushi rice, rolled with some ebiko (shrimp roe) and topped with a flower shaped mildly grilled salmon, some mayonnaise and a petal of parsley. The whole combination was so smooth flowing in the mouth. 🙂

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Next on the list was the Soft Shell Crab Maki (辣味軟殼蟹卷 – RM5.99++). The maki had cucumber and battered deep fried soft shell crab wrapped in nori (dry seaweed sheet) and sushi rice, capped with sweet bean curd skin and dressed with some spicy mayonnaise. It was not bad but I wished the soft shell crab was a bit crispier.

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Another new introduction was the Ebi Crepe (黃金蝦卷 – RM5.99++). This was a totally out of the norm way of making sushi without nori and/or sushi rice. It had some lettuce, egg mayonnaise with slight butter peppery taste and prawn wrapped in a thin layered crepe. It was nice but too Westernized for a sushi.

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The next sushi which was the Hana Maki (鮭魚花卷 – RM9.99++) was also one of our favorites. It had a little sushi rice ball wrapped with a slice of fresh and appetizing salmon fillet, topped with some mayonnaise, garnished with some ebiko and a petal of parsley. It was heavenly smooth to the bite.

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For scallop lovers, there would be the Hotate Mentaiyaki (香烤明太子扇貝 – RM20.90) to savor. It had 4 half shell scallops topped with a combination of cod fish roes (mentaiko/明太子) extracts, mayonnaise and mozzarella cheese and grilled to perfection. With a mild squeeze of lemon juice, it was rather appetizing.

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On top of those sushi choices, we were served with Kaisen Pirikara Nabe (海鮮泡菜湯 – RM24.90++), an appetizing hot pot with prawns, scallops, squids, salmon, shitake & enoki mushrooms, tofu, onions, cabbages, leeks, carrots, spinach, kimchi (fermented vegetables of specific kind) and glass noodles. Although the soup had a rather red color, it was rather mild on the spiciness unlike those kimchi soup you would get from a Korean restaurant. It would be great if the restaurant have options for the level of spiciness. Moreover, it lacked some shoyu to pep up the salty flavor for the right balance. Overall, it was still an acceptable bowl of soup, considering that the seafood added were extremely fresh.

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We also tasted out their Curry Udon (日式咖哩雞烏冬麵 – RM12.90++). This bowl had quite a large portion of wheat noodles (udon) topped with a mild curry flavored potato stew like gravy. It has a generous amount of chicken meat, some fish cake slices, cubed potatoes and carrots. Personally, I would prefer to have chunks of chicken drumstick meat for the curry rather than chicken breast meat slices as they were rather bland to my liking.

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For those who yearn for some rice, there would always be the bento meals such as the Ebi Ten Jyu (海老天婦羅飯 – RM15.90++). The dish would be served with an onion omelette with sauce on steamed Japanese rice and topped with 3 tempura prawns. I personally found the tempura batter on the prawns to be a bit too thick to my liking, unlike those nice ones I had eaten at Miraku Japanese Restaurant, G Hotel, Penang. Moreover, I had to request for some tempura sauce since it was not provided for this set. At least, the sauce did pep up more flavors for my rice.

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Alternatively, there was also the Haru (春 – RM24.90++) which had salmon and chicken teriyaki served with plain steamed Japanese rice, chawanmushi and miso soup. The finely grilled salmon fillet with a salty sweet taste and the flavorful tender chicken pieces with a slightly sweeter teriyaki flavor went well with the rice. Even the chawanmushi and miso soup were up to their standards.

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Another new introduction was the Kids’ Sushi Meal – Little Sushi Home (RM3.99++). It was a very creative sushi. The triangular sushi which had cucumber and crabstick stuffed nori and sushi rice, rolled in finely chopped parsley, came with a halved breadcrumbs battered scallop topped with some mayonnaise and a petal of parsley. From the side, it really looked like a house. Flavor wise, it was normal.

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We ended up the meal with a selection of 4 flavors of ice cream, namely Dragon Fruit Ice Cream (RM5.90++/scoop), Passion Fruit Ice Cream (RM6.90++/scoop), Goma Ice Cream (RM6.90++/scoop) and Matcha Ice Cream (RM5.90++/scoop). The Goma Ice Cream had the highest vote for being the best amongst the 4 flavors but I personally preferred the more sourness Passion Fruit Ice Cream as it was a great digestion remedy after such a heavy meal.

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Those who would love ice cream more than just a scoop would surely like the Matcha Parfait (RM13.90++). The parfait would also be available in other flavors such as strawberry and chocolate. The 6-layered parfait had corn flakes as the base, followed with sweet red bean, matcha ice cream, corn flakes, whipped cream and matcha ice cream, garnished with some sweetened red bean, whipped cream, strawberry and a wafer. Price wise, it was more economical than having just one scoop of matcha ice cream at RM5.90++ per scoop.

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Overall, those new dishes introduced were better than those common ones I have tasted during many visits. The pricing were also quite economical for diners. Some dishes as mentioned above truly needed that little touch to pep up the flavors further. I hope that more creations would be available soon for those Japanese food enthusiasts. Lastly, I would like to thank Foodsion for giving us the opportunity to try out these new dishes.

There are many branches of Sakae Sushi in Penang but the one we went to was located at 1st Avenue, Penang. Just find your way to the mall, go to Level 4 and you can find the outlet just opposite Carrefour. Alternatively, you can visit the surrounding Penang outlets as stated below or based on the other outstation outlets as shown in their website.

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Name: SAKAE SUSHI @ 1ST AVENUE
Address:
Lot 4-16, Level 4, 1st Avenue Mall Penang,
182 Jalan Magazine, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 2218
Website: http://www.sakaesushi.com.my/
Business Hours: 11.30am-10.00pm (Mon-Fri), 11.00am-10.00pm (Sat & Sun)
GPS: 5.413391, 100.331202

Surrounding Penang Outlets:

Sunway Carnival Mall
UG-28, Upper Ground Floor, Sunway Carnival Mall,
3068 Jalan Todak Pusat Bandar Seberang Jaya,
13700 Seberang Jaya, Penang.
Tel : 604-380 3368
Gurney Plaza
170-03-87/88/89, Plaza Gurney,
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang.
Tel: 04-229 5930
Queensbay Mall
2F-49 Queensbay Mall, 100 Persiaran Bayan Indah,
11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Tel: 604-643 0015
Tesco Tanjung Pinang
Lot G4, Tesco Tanjung Pinang, No.1, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang,
Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang.
Tel : 04-899 0063
1st Avenue Mall
4-16, Level4, 1st Avenue Mall
No.182, Jalan Magazine
10300 Penang
Tel : 604-261 2218
Auto City
1815-B Jalan Perusahaan, Auto-City,
North-South Highway Juru Interchange,
13600 Prai, Penang.
Tel : 604-508 0268

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

 

A 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)

 

GOKU RAKU RAMEN IS NOW AT GURNEY PARAGON PENANG

Posted by crizlai On December - 29 - 2011

Just in the month of December 2011 alone, Penang has another two new venues opened up with more eateries. One would be the Precinct 10 located at Tanjung Bungah just next to the Island Plaza, whereas the next one would be the Gurney Paragon Mall located along the seafront of Gurney Drive. Goku Raku Ramen with its first branch at Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur has finally set its foot in Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang, since 24 December 2011. This restaurant is believed to serve one of the best broths for ramen, especially with its rich and aromatic Tonkotsu broth which had gone through ten of hours of tedious preparations and slow simmering.

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To start off as appetizer, I ordered their Pirikara Negi Char Siew (RM7.90++). It was just 5 thinly sliced Char Siew, laid on a bed of sliced romaine lettuce and leeks, garnished with their special spicy sauce, some sauteed onions, chopped spring onions and a sprinkle of deep fried garlic bits. I did not find this dish appealing, not because I’m not a total health freak who would take lots of greens, but because the whole concoction lacked a few distinctive flavors. The meat lacked a slight saltiness and fragrant that you would get from a bacon. The garlic bits did not have that aromatic strong flavor. The spicy sauce was not as spicy as I expected. One great example of a great meaty vegetable wrap dish would be the Korean styled Jokbal (족발) I had some time back at Sa Rang Chae (사랑채/舍廊居).

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Since Goku Raku Ramen is also known as “The Ramen Haven”, no doubt it was a must to try out their specialty. I ordered a bowl of their signature ramen which was the Ultimate Ramen (RM21.90++ Big Bowl or RM16.90++ Small Bowl). You would have 3 options for the soup base such as the traditional Tonkotsu Soup (the mother of all soup bases with the rich creaminess coming from the long simmering of pork, chicken and fish bones), Shoyu Tonkotsu Soup (Tonkotsu with added Japanese soy sauce) and Miso Tonkotsu Soup (Tonkotsu with added miso aka blended fermented bean paste). I opted for the Ultimate Ramen with Miso Tonkotsu Soup. The bowl of ramen came topped with a few slices of Char Siew (Grilled Pork), half a flavored hard-boiled egg, bamboo shoot, black fungus, spring onions, leeks and garnished with fragrant blended burned garlic in oil. Although the broth was not as much as how you would get from other ramen shops, you can be assured that this was cooked with ultimate passion. Each drop of the broth was rich in flavors, leaving a trace of gelatin like creaminess that would linger in your mouth for some time. The mild touch of miso paste added in set the taste to a totally different dimension. It was indeed a great bowl of ramen! The only setback was the texture of the ramen. I could be sure that those noodles were not made upon request. They could be frozen-packed and send over from their main outlet in Kuala Lumpur. Somehow, it had that slight powdery texture that might be the cause of frost-bite due to improper storages. Well, that did not deter me from slurping off the whole bowl within a few minutes.

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Note: If you prefer a stronger and creamier version of this ramen, you could always order the Goku Raku Miso Ramen (RM24.90++ Big Bowl or RM18.90++ Small Bowl). The Goku Raku broth has been simmered almost twice the time used in simmering the Tonkotsu soup.

Other than ramen, there are many other rice based dishes available here, either in a bowl or in a stone pot. I ordered the Stamina Don (RM17.90++). It basically had some pan-fried pork slices in their special sauce, topped on some steamed rice and garnished with a poached egg, some chopped leeks and sun-dried chili slices. There was nothing special about this dish except for some sweetness from the special sauce. I would think that their other sister company, Miraku Japanese Restaurant @ G Hotel, which is also under the Texchem group, did fair better in rice dishes. The rice set came with some pickled radish and cucumber.

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Only 2 desserts such as the Annin Tofu (Almond Jelly – RM6.90) and Rare Cheese Cake (RM8.90) were available. I opted for the latter since it impressed me more as seen from the menu. Unfortunately, the experience turned into a nightmare. How could the restaurant serve me with “discarded” stuff? What I saw from the menu was not what I got! It was just another plain tasting cheese cake on a terribly presented twirl of blueberry sauce. Again the dish had the right name – RARE CHEESE CAKE! It was really RARE to see a part of the base missing (look carefully at the base of the cake towards the end). Moreover, it was RARE to see INVISIBLE strawberries and blueberries. On top of that, it was such a RARE occasion to guess the identity of the brutally severed fruit used as the décor. I presumed that was part of a plum since it has red skin with orange flesh. The whole ugly scene would have been avoided if the staff would just inform me on their shortage of fruits for the presentation instead of throwing me something that was not fit to be served. I could have just taken the whole cheese cake plain as it was. What disappointed me most was the chef’s lack of creativity in coming up with an alternative solution when faced with such a scenario. What amazed me too was that no one had the initiative to run down to the nearest supermarket (Cold Storage @ Gurney Plaza – 300m away) to temporary stock up whatever they were short of.

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Just look at the menu photo. It’s a world of difference right?

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As for beverages, I opted for just a plain tall glass of Iced Green Tea (RM2.90++) since I have been reviewing one too many dessert shops recently.

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Overall, I’m not too happy with the choice of food served here as a large quantity of dishes and beverages served at the Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur outlet were not available here at the Gurney Paragon Mall branch. The whole menu would surely not worth my revisit unless I’m desperately in need of a good bowl of ramen soup. The pricing for some of the items is much higher than other Japanese restaurants, considering that it has an additional 10% + 6% tax imposed on all tags. Let’s hope we’ll see some improvements in the near future.

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 located at the left side of the building right up towards the end of the Gurney Paragon Residences/Condominium east wing.

GOKURAKURAMENMAP

Name: GOKU RAKU RAMEN @ GURNEY PARAGON MALL
Address: Lot 163-D-1-05, Gurney Paragon Mall, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 0961
Business Hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm
GPS: 5.436072, 100.311693

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 6.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 6.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 7/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

YET ANOTHER GREAT FLOGGERS GATHERING AT JURIN EXPRESS

Posted by crizlai On April - 12 - 2010

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operation.

Yesterday marked another great gathering for the Penang floggers as we had our 5th Penang Floggers Gathering. This time, it was Japanese cuisine at Jurin Express aka Jurin Japanese Restaurant located within the notable mall, Gurney Plaza. At a specially arranged RM50 nett per pax deal, we had more than we had bargained for with everyone going home feeling contented.

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We had free flow of Hot or Cold Honey Green Tea. The beverages were thicker than the normal ones as they were specially prepared for us with loose green tea leaves instead of those in sachets.

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The meal started with 3 types of appetizers. The first was Tempura Kani. The dish had crabstick (kani kama) sushi rolls coated with tempura and deep fried until golden brown, topped with sweet soy sauce and garnished with some herbs and chili flakes.

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Next was the Sushi Combo with a colorful array of sushi rolls. It was simple but very filling.

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The last of the appetizers was the Sushi Fried Maki. This version was a bit different as it had nori rolled sushi in vinegar rice. These were then topped with some mayo and ebiko (shrimp roes).

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The specially arranged main meal consisted of 4 options.

Set A: Ginmutsu Teriyaki (Deep fried cod fish in sweet sauce), Chicken Ban Ban (Boneless fried chicken chunks served with Japanese sauce and mayo), Ebi Tempura (Deep fried shrimps in batter), Yaki Tamago (Sweet omelette), Garlic Fried Rice and Miso Soup.

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Set B: Salmon and Tuna Sashimi, Unagi (BBQ Japanese eel), Tamago Kikurage (Black fungus with chilies), Yaki Tamago (Sweet omelette), Garlic Fried Rice and Miso Soup.

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Set C: Salmon and Tuna Sashimi, Spicy Salmon (deep fried and topped with spicy sauce), Kakiage (Deep fried shrimps, squid and vegetables in batter), Yaki Tamago (Sweet omelette), Garlic Fried Rice and Miso Soup.

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Set D: Karubi Beef (Stir fried beef with onions), Nama Ika Teriyaki (Grilled cuttlefish in teriyaki sauce), Karaage (Deep fried soft shell crabs), Yaki Tamago (Sweet omelette), Garlic Fried Rice and Miso Soup.

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A scoop of Green Tea Ice Cream with Red Beans was served as dessert. The ice cream was not as smooth as I had expected and with a mild green tea flavor. On top of that, I would also prefer to have blended red beans instead of the whole ones for that extra smoothness.

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We ended the gathering with everyone bring some sponsored gifts home. We had the Vouch Magazine, a bottle of each of Chili Bao and Chili Red, sponsored by Bao Bao Restaurant from Puchong, Selangor, Stuffed You Tiao vouchers sponsored by Te Chang You Tiao Wang from Paya Terubong, Penang and Fried Fish Tom Yam Noodles vouchers by Siong Ho Fish Head Tom Yam Noodles & Porridge, Weld Quay, Penang.

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We had a small photography session after the gathering had ended. In presence were Daisy Lee (boss) & hubby, Alan Choong & Amanda Teoh, Eunice, SY, Kelvin Tan, CW Chan, Criz Lai, JK Beh, Cheryl Wee & hubby, Kok Ann, Lay Min, Sam Ong, Gill & Jason and Steven Goh. (Not in photo – Carrie & partner, Lilian Chan & son).

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Overall, I found the dishes served here were just average. The restaurant could have served a better quality of fresh seafood, thus less deep fried items for seafood related dishes. Fish cuts were a bit too thin for the value of money paid. The fried garlic rice was normal and lack of wok hei (high heat fragrant) as I believed that it was prepared much earlier before our arrival. However, these few hiccups did not spoil our moods in mingling around with old and new found friends. A special thanks to Jason & Gill for organizing this gathering.

I don’t think I would need to describe the way to Jurin Express 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. You would see the restaurant just next to Sushi King.

Name: JURIN JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Address:
170-02-59/60, 2nd Floor, Gurney Plaza (New Wing),
Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 7112
Business Hours: 11.30am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.437696, 100.309592

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

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.

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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)

MUMMY’S NIGHT OUT TO NIPPON YATAIMURA

Posted by crizlai On May - 11 - 2009

Although I do get my Mum the best food around town frequently, it was a special day yesterday to bring her out for some live-on-the-spot dinner. After all, it was Mothers’ Day and she ought to be treated like a queen. We ended up having Japanese food at Nippon Yataimura which is located in Pulau Tikus, Penang. From the exterior, it looked like a normal restaurant. As we stepped inside, it was totally another world by itself with lanterns hanging everywhere on little roofs just like in a village. Now I got it why they had named the shop as “日本屋合村”, meaning Japanese House in a Village.

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There were just too many choices available in this restaurant with even a specially created 9-course set meal priced at RM48+ just for Mothers’ Day but we ended up ordering some other set meals with a few dishes from the Ala Carte menu. Let me share with you the set meals that we had ordered. One of the set was Saba Syioyaki (RM25). This is one of the most ordered fish dish in Japan where a small mackerel was grilled to perfection while maintaining the moisture within the fat. The fish had a nice grill and with a squeeze of lemon juice and grated daikon (mild flavored white radish), it was good.

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Next were two sets of teppanyaki (鉄板焼) style dishes. One of them was the Teppan Chicken (RM20). The dish came with some iron griddled mixed vegetables with some toasted garlic slices. The chicken slices were good with their special sauce and they tasted a bit like the spicy version of sate.

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Teppan Salmon (RM24) was the other wonderful dish as the sauce was somewhat unique. It was slightly sweet and mildly spiced up. Even with the crisped sensation I had, the fish managed to retain its juice. It was beautiful.

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Something caught my eyes in the set menu and I ended up ordering Pork Mayonnaise (RM20). The dish was real creamy with the flavors coming from the mayo and a hint of Lea & Perrin sauce. This dish was cooked with lots of sliced big onions. This would be good if taken with rice.

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The above four sets came with side dishes such as a bowl of beautifully steam Japanese rice, Salad, Miso Soup, Chawan Mushi and fruit cuts. The Salad had a mildly gingered chili paste. The Miso Soup was thickly flavored with some tofu cubes and chopped spring onions in it. The Chawan Mushi (Steam Egg) came beautifully decorated and was silky smooth with a few chopped chicken meat pieces within.

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Other than the above set meals, we also tried the Seafood Fried Rice (RM22). The dish came with freshly cooked squids, prawns and fish fillet. Although the taste of the rice was nice, I found it to be wet for my preference. It could be due to my liking for “wok hei” (high heat cooking) style of plain white rice rather than the usage of Japanese rice.

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The next dish which was the Fish Ball Ramen (RM13) may look plain but one sip into the soup and you would yearn for more. The soup was richly flavored with a hint of fresh prawn juice. It was just like the Dobin Mushi I had at Penang Times Square. Even the portion of ramen served was rather filling. The dish came with fish balls, sliced wood ear fungus and some spring onions.

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We also ordered some of the dishes from the Ala Carte menu and one of them was the Ocha Soba (RM13). We had a small serving of cold noodles served with cold soup, raw quail’s egg, spring onions and chopped fried garlic. We indeed left the quail’s egg untouched. One reason was that it was raw and the next was the 3640 calories it will bring into our bodies. The noodle was springy and blended nicely with the soup but somehow I still prefer the Tenzaru Soba I had at Penang Times Square as the soup was more flavorful.

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Next side dish was the Agedashi Tofu (RM6). It was nothing special with some pieces of fried tofu garnished with nori (Japanese seaweed strips), spring onions and daikon, served in a pool of soy sauce but the tofu cubes were indeed silky smooth.

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The Ishiyaki Kinoko Nomori (RM18) was my favorite amongst the rest of the side orders. The shiitake (Chinese black mushroom – 香菇) and enoki/enokitake (golden needle mushrooms – 金針菇) mushrooms were stone-cooked so perfectly with their special sauce while maintaining the fragrant mushroom taste. The gravy for this dish tasted great with my rice. Both mushrooms are believed to be great antioxidants.

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The most wonderful dining experience in this restaurant was their free flow of green tea, either cold or hot at no extra cost.

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I felt that the pricing here is reasonable compared to the quality of ingredients and portion served. After all, I was really filled up with each set meal I had ordered. The service here was good considering that almost all the food came within minutes upon ordering. There are more dishes which I would love to try out next from their ramen (noodles), gohan (rice), sushi (vinegar rice finger food), sashimi (raw cold cuts) and dessert sections.

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There is another branch of this franchise restaurant located within Queensbay Mall up in Bayan Baru, Penang. The main restaurant which I had visited in Pulau Tikus, Penang, is located next to a service road along Jalan Burma. If you are coming from Jalan Burma into Pulau Tikus district, you would see a police station on your right. Drive on until you have reached the Jalan Cantonment/Jalan Burma traffic light. After the traffic light, you would see a row of shop houses. Slow down and keep a watch out for a service road on your left. Turn in the service road and you would see the restaurant on your left just next to Teow Chew Meng restaurant. Parking can be quite limited during office hours and weekends. You can either try finding some behind the restaurant or opposite along Bellisa Row. The worst alternative would be within the Bandar Baru Supermarket car park along Jalan Cantonment and walk back to the restaurant.

NIPPONYATAIMUREMAP

Name: NIPPON YATAI MURA (日本屋合村)
Address: 403-A, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours:
12.00noon-2.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Weekdays)
12.00noon-10.00pm (Saturday & Sunday – No reservation on these days & Public Holiday)
Contact: 604-226 6018
GPS: 5.432746, 100.310593

RATING:
Ambience: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

THE OPENING OF BUKOTSU RAMEN HOUSE AT PENANG TIMES SQUARE

Posted by crizlai On May - 2 - 2009

NOTE: This restaurant has ceased its operation at Penang Times Square.

Thursday was the opening day for two new restaurants at Penang Times Square. Needless to say, most people would have known about the delicious ice creams served at Swensen’s. In fact, they have added some new local dishes that did look real impressive in terms of photos and pricing with the same “buy one eat the next one free concept”. The other newly opened restaurant would be Bukotsu Ramen House with a simple dining layout downstairs and a Japanese styled “sit-on-the-floor” concept upstairs.

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Since I’m a spicy food lover, I have decided to check out the Volcano Ramen (RM12.90). The texture and springiness of the ramen was good. The dish came with an almost curry noodles type of soup (except the taste of lemongrass), rich in flavorful stock, with a slice of the pinkish Japanese fish cake, half a hard boiled egg, a few large slices of BBQ pork (char siew), bean sprouts, chopped spinach, corn kernels, chopped spring onions and a spoonful of chili paste. The chili paste was somewhat like the Korean chili paste, chili hotness minus the oil. It was supposed to be a spicy hot dish but I found it to be real mild. Moreover, the portion was too little as a main dish for the price paid. Even with the side order (one discounted side order allowed per bowl of ramen), I did not feel full at all.

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The side order was Pan Pan Chi (RM2 in a smaller portion compared to RM8 for a larger serving from the ala carte menu). This is in fact a cold dish. The smoothness of the chicken slices was great, combined with the tenderness and juiciness of each slices. The dish has sliced cucumber with dressing that tasted quite like concentrated miso paste and garnished with some roasted sesame seeds. This dish would be beautiful as starter.

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The next order was the Chicken Teriyaki Bento (RM16). At least the price for this dish quite justified with the dishes ranging from miso soup, appetizer (kimchi), salad (finely sliced cabbage/purple cabbage and carrots with sesame oil and fish sauce, served with cucumber slices), chicken in teriyaki sauce, Japanese rice and dessert (fruit cuts). As for the soup, I prefer it to have a stronger miso flavored broth. The kimchi was normal as it contained more vinegar and was not as spicy as it should be. The salad was fine but it was nothing real special on the dressing. The chicken slices, cooked in teriyaki sauce has the quality of a good dish but it was too diluted to my liking, especially when I tried to dip my not so compact Japanese rice pieces. The chef should have made them more compact to avoid the rice to loosen wildly when use chopsticks. The fruits were just watermelon and papaya.

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Dobin Mushi (RM8) would be a must order for soup lovers. The soup has been double boiled for more than 24 hours and it was rich in flavor. It came in a cute ceramic teapot with a nice teacup and a slice of lime. In the teapot was some chicken slices, a prawn, carrot slices, a pinkish Japanese fish cake, mushrooms, ginkgo nut and some chopped spring onions. I prefer this dish to be taken in its original form although adding some squeezes of lime juice did give it a bit of sourness plus reducing the strong aroma of the chicken soup.

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Shochu Cheese Cake (RM7 for two slices) was served as dessert. Shochu or soju as it may also be called in the US export market is actually a distilled beverage made out of barley, rice or sweet potatoes starches. It has a 25% alcohol volume. It has a nutty taste compared to the fruity taste of sake. I found the cheese cake to be far less in the taste of shochu. It was too mild with the overpowering taste of milk with a less cheesy taste. In fact, the dessert had too much of gelatin added, thus it was rather hard. Moreover, too much of butter had been added to the digestive biscuit type of base and it was too salty to my liking. Maybe margarine would be a better choice to firm up the base for this dessert.

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Green Tea Ice Cream (RM3.50) was served free just for the opening day. The ice cream came with some sweetened boiled kidney beans and some pine nuts. The kidney beans were just nice for my sweetness but it would be better if they were to be a bit softer. The pine nuts were nicely roasted but the ice cream to me tasted a bit too artificial. Although it was creamy and smooth, it has a strong taste of commercially produced green tea powder. Let’s hope the restaurant would look into a better alternative or solution to this dessert.

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Iced Green Tea (RM1/glass) was served free flow for the day.

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The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to the open space area with all the fountains. The restaurant is located at the same row with Marrybrown, Tsuruya Sushi Bar and a few shops away from Swensen’s and Roti Bakar Kopitiam.

BUKOTSUSMAP

Name: BUKOTSU RAMEN HOUSE
Address:
Lot BPC-G-7, Ground Floor, Penang Times Square,
73 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 11.00am-10.30pm
Contact: 604-227 0053
GPS: 5.412683, 100.326141

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

AN INSIGHT VIEW OF HAVEN DELIGHTS @ PENANG TIMES SQUARE

Posted by crizlai On April - 23 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operations at Penang Times Square and has moved to Gurney Plaza, Penang, under the name of Xiao Nan Guo Cuisine.

INTERIOR

When I mention about insight, please do bear with me on a long post with a detailed study into Haven Delights. Ever since my first visit to Haven Delights, I must admit that I just could not get enough of their various ranges of cuisine from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It was not the food alone that attracted my attention but the friendliness, smiling faces and wonderful services from every level of the restaurant management. It has also been quite awhile ever since I had encountered innovative chefs and management that were so receptive to feedbacks and their willingness to post mortem mistakes to serve their best to meet the demands and requests of their patrons. This is the true quality of how good a restaurant should be and the success story behind Penang Times Square’s latest restaurant, Haven Delights.

TEAPOTS

It was truly a privilege to be invited by the management of Haven Delights and also a wonderful experience working closely with the Chairman & Managing Director, Mr. Ng Boon Tong, Executive Chef, Mr. Edwin Teo, Sous Chef, Mr. Alex and staff to provide some of the Food Blogging Community members the opportunity to try out their fabulous cuisines last Saturday. The turnout was marvelous with 19 of us from Penang and KL. Without much ado, let’s hit the review items that were served to us.

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COLD CUTS:

The Hotzzz Abalone (from the Buffet Menu) dish came as a real surprise for many of us as it was topped with the chef’s homemade spicy paste and eel sauce, then garnished with fried garlic and spring onions. This was the first time I had tasted abalone served in this method (the next closest would be the abalone salad I had at Sarkies Corner in E&O Hotel) where the chili paste was not too spicy and yet very appetizing. The Unagi Tofu (from the Buffet Menu) on the other hand was milder with a grilled eel slice being laid above a silky and smooth tofu with chopped fried garlic, spring onions and bonito flakes as garnishes. The accompanied sweet sauce combined well with each of the ingredients.

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MAIN DISHES:

The Chicken Ban Ban (RM10) which had fried chicken pieces, deep fried eggs and topped with the chef’s 3 types of special sauces and shredded nori was another great tasting dish. The only hiccup was that although the chicken pieces were juicy enough, it lacked a bit more of seasoning which would make the whole dish perfect. Moreover, the presentation for the night was kind of flat compared to the few times I had tasted out this dish. The kitchen had now reverted to the earlier style as shown in the comparison photos below. Try combining all the 3 sauces (mayo, wasabi mayo & sweet sauce) on the dish and you will feel the sensation of sweet, creamy and spiciness with each bite. With almost all the items being fried, there were hardly any signs of the dish being oily.

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The Red Dragon Prawn with Jammy Sauce (RM20) which was presented next was a colorful dish. It had giant battered prawns, ball-like white dragon fruit cooked with the chef special fruity sauce. The tangy and slightly spiced flavor from the dish was unique to many. Due to the existence of so many food critics in our group that night, I guessed the chef was a bit nervous and came out with a slightly overcooked dragon fruit ball. Most of us thought it was kiwi fruit instead. I hope the kitchen staff will take note that fruits are not meant to be overcooked or they would lose out on their Vitamin C nutrient. Overall, the dish was still great for many, especially when taken with the shredded radish side dish.

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Next on our review list was the Motoyaki Scallop (RM14 for 5pcs). Since I’m a heavier flavor and spicy rich eater, I have no problem with the scallops served that night, except that I found them to be potentially spicy for many people, especially children. Moreover, the tabasco pepper sauce-like spiciness and thousand island type of creaminess from the toppings had somehow overpowered the freshness taste of the scallops. I would recommend the kitchen to look into the possibility of coming out with a milder dish for those non-spicy food patrons, e.g. plain grilled scallops with some lighter flavored sauces.

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For those Korean food lovers, the next dish which was Korean Beef Kimchi (RM16) would be ideal. The homemade kimchi was good as it was just nice without the overpowering taste of chili and vinegar. The beef slices were tender and juicy. I won’t mind having this dish with a bowl of hot steaming rice.

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The Lamb Teriyaki (RM18 for 2 cuts) had a sweet and slightly grill-burned taste. It tasted nice except that the lamb cuts for that night was not as perfect as the ones I had earlier. It somehow lacked the little fatty portions that would be ideal for any grilled lamb cuts. That might be the reason why certain parts of the meat were not well flavored or tender enough for the consumptions of some of the floggers.

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I loved the uniqueness in taste of the restaurant sous chef, Alex’s creation – Homemade Spicy Chicken (RM15). The fried chicken pieces, chopped fermented black beans, red chilies, garlic, spring onions, curry leaves and sesame seeds were cooked in thick, sweet and spicy gravy and these complimented each ingredients wonderfully. This would be another great item to be taken with hot steaming rice or mantou.

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The newly menu added Shanghai Honey Spare Ribs (RM18) served for the night was the most disappointed dish to be served for the night as most of us considered the dish to be over salty. Somehow the saltiness overpowered the sweetness of the honey. Moreover, the meat on the ribs was rather hardy to be taken in a chopsticks serving dining. I would suggest that spare ribs be braised prior to frying as it would loosen the meat more on the ribs. On top of the awareness on the correct combination of taste, a fattier choice of ribs would be more ideal in this type of dish. As for presentation wise, the rearrangement of the ribs by our own flogger, Jason, would be better as the dish would not look so flat.

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NOODLES:

Although the next dish Japanese Yaki Udon (RM12) was a common dish, the paper thin bonito flakes made it livelier as they were moving along with the heat from the dish. Most of us found the dish to be a bit too wet and the high heat frying (wok hei) was a bit overpowering. The revised version served later was drier and tasted better.

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CHEF’S SPECIAL SURPRISE:

The Tempura Cheese Maki served to us individually was the new creation of Edwin Teo, the executive chef of Haven Delights. The mildly burn tempura unagi roll topped with creamy Mozarella cheese was wonderful. I wished I could have more serving of this dish on that night.

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There were also another two unexpected food testing from the kitchen for the event. One was the beautifully blue fuel gel flamed and aluminum foil wrap baked Chicken Bomb. The presentation was good but the spicy and thyme enhanced flavor of the mashed salmon somehow did not match well with the fiber texture of the chicken meat. The whole combination did not meet our likings much. I personally felt that salmon should be taken in bigger chunks or in thin slices and should not be mashed up to taste like tuna. Maybe a milder herb usage or a non spicy version would be better for the dish. Let’s leave this to the chef to figure out.

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The other unexpected dish was the HK Style Wan Than Mee (RM22). Most of us considered the price to be a bit high even if the wonton were to be big and fully filled with prawns. The dish had four big wontons and a generous amount of young kalian (Chinese broccoli/kale) on top of the springy thick wonton noodles. The soup broth was thick and suited the noodles well but the wontons had some problems. The usage of some blended squid paste resulted in the prawns to be rather soft and powdery taste like as though they were not fresh. I would personally prefer either a bit of minced meat were to be used for the extra bite sensation or some chopped spring onions/Chinese celery to be added to the fresh prawns with a drop or two of sesame oil and light seasoning. Having some chopped jicama, carrots or water chestnuts would surely be an added bonus to the wontons. I also felt that plain fried garlic oil on top of the chopped spring onions served as garnishes would give would give the extra fragrance to the noodles compared to using fried shallots.

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HOMEMADE DESSERTS:

We also had the options to try out two of their special homemade desserts which were Macha Ice Cream and Kuru Goma Ice Cream. The Macha Ice Cream (RM8) had thick green tea extract blended into the ice cream, served with two mochi (glutinous rice balls) and topped with red bean paste. There were many disputes over this dessert as some prefer it not to be so strong in green tea flavor and to be sweeter in taste. Some prefer the red bean paste to be blended finer and even suggested the usage of kidney beans so that it would go smoother with each luxurious mouthful. There were also feedbacks on a less chewy mochi or had the mochi filled with red bean paste instead. To me, it would be each individual’s preferences as not everyone will have the same taste bud. I would think this dessert would be suitable for those who love to indulge in having dessert but are afraid of their blood sugar level. On the other hand, the mochi were indeed chewy hard but it has a great scientific explanation to that. Which item would not turn hard at freezing point? Even the Tempura Ice Cream which I had tried during my earlier visit had harder tempura bits compared to the actual room temperature ones I had tried before. Maybe the kitchen might want to consider having a nutty, chocolate or fruity version by considering the usage of roasted peanuts, pistachio, chocolate rice or even bananas. Simplicity might even be the better solution for this dessert.

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Next of the dessert option was the Kuru Goma Ice Cream (RM8) which had a ratio of 3:7 of grinded black sesame seeds to the ice cream, topped with crushed peanuts. Most of the floggers loved this flavor as this dessert was sweeter compared to the Macha Ice Cream but there were still some who prefer to have more black sesame flavor in the ice cream. Moreover, some had also considered the presentation to be a bit too plain and lack in colors. I would think sprinkling some roasted black sesame seeds and garnish with a leaf or two of mint leaves would be the solution.

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The above items were the food specially arranged for us to review. There are still many hundreds more of new items available in the Ala Carte and Buffet menus. Buffet lunch and dinner would be priced at RM49.90+ per person (Children 50% off). You can order as many items as you like in their over 90 dishes buffet menu list within the allocated two hours duration from as early as 10.30am until 11.00pm daily. Do take note that wastage above 100gms would be charged accordingly. Here are some of the side dishes they may serve on the buffet line on top of those orders you can make from the buffet menu.

BUFFETSIDEDISHES

There were also some great dishes that I had tasted from this restaurant during my other visits other than the ones I had reviewed last month and I would like to share with you here. If you like to have a lighter meal, you can try out the Karapachio Salad (RM10). It would come with a variety of greens, some fish cake slices and served with their specially prepared sashimi raw fish mix sauce. It was indeed refreshing and unique.

KARAPACHIOSALAD

If you are keen on trying out cold noodles, you should try the Tenzaru Soba (RM14). It would come with a rack of noodles on ice cubes, served with tempura prawns and vegetables, a thick broth for dipping and some condiments for you to adjust your level of flavor. I loved every items served in this dish.

TENZARUSOBA

Even the Silky Lau Mee (RM12), almost similar to the taste of the tested HK Style Wan Than Mee except for the wonton, tasted great with broiled young kalian, crab stick strips and boiled chicken slices. The taste of the broth blended well with the springy thick wonton noodles.

SILKYLAUMEE

Another quite similar to the Tempura Cheese Maki dish was the Aburi Ebi Cheese Maki (RM18). This was a marvelous dish indeed. It has 6 pieces of lovely Mozarella cheese enriched rolls (maki) and 2 pieces of tempura prawn rolls. There were also a lot of tobiko (flying fish roes) sprinkled on them. It was simply yummylicious!!

ABURIEBICHEESEMAKI

Just to prove to you that the restaurant would do anything to accommodate to the request of its customers, I had presented them with a task of coming out with a dish with a packet of mixed flavored beans and seaweed as rice garnishes I had received from Japan. The result was amazing… A well presented plate of triangular shaped Traditional Onigiri (三角形日式飯糰), a cooked Japanese white rice finger food wrapped in nori (edible seaweed). Thanks to Mr. Melvin Loo, the sushi assistant, for coming out with this wonderful out-of-the-menu item. You have indeed proven your worthiness to be amongst the top in sushi making.

ONIGIRI

Last but not least, I would like to thank the management and staff of Haven Delights for giving us, the Food Blogging Community, the opportunity to try out the food and in trusting us in our feedbacks for further improvement to the quality of food in Penang.

MANAGEMENT

I would also like to thank the following attendees for making this review gathering an enjoyable one with constructive feedbacks to the management of Haven Delights. Thank you guys and ladies… you were great!

Rebecca Saw
Steven Goh
Nicholas Chan
Jason & Gill
Cariso
CK Lam
Mary
Allie
Bee
Allen Ooi
Lingzie
Ken Chan
Sidney, Sunny & Alex
Albert Yap
Huat Koay

The best way to reach the shop would be by using Jalan Magazine (Traders Hotel). Drive into Jalan Dato Kramat (2nd junction at the right of Gama Supermarket) until you have reached Penang Times Square on your left. Find a parking space along the road or within the allocated parking bay. Just walk into the mall and go to Level 1. The restaurant which is facing the main road of Jalan Dato Keramat is very prominently located either by mode of escalator or elevator.

HAVENDELIGHTSMAP

Name: HAVEN DELIGHTS
Address: 77-L1-34, Jalan Dato Kramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-210 8855, 210 8856, 016-492 1658 (Ms. Angie Ng)
Opening Hours: 10.30am-11.00pm
Buffet Hours: 10.30pm-11.00pm (2 hours duration per person)
GPS: 5.414701, 100.331871

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

PULAU TIKUS MARKET SUSHI CORNER

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 29 - 2008

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Suddenly I had an urge to go for sushi after having tasted the delicious sushi brought by CK Lam during the 3rd Penang Floggers Gathering. I immediately headed out to the Pulau Tikus Market where all the yummy hawker stalls are. Hidden from the sight of the main road (Jalan Pasar) was this dimly but beautifully decorated stall selling sushi. The two owners, Boon and Sandy, had manned this stall for many years. Although hidden from where all the crowds were, business remained quite smooth flowing with consistent flow of patrons. What attracted their customers was the 100 over selections available, taste, presentation as well as the price of each sushi. Prices can range from as low as RM1 per sushi to RM5 per sushi with large fish roes.

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You would not believe that I had a 7-piece sushi takeaway such as the Califutomaki, chopped baby octopus, tuna, prawn, crabstick & egg, fish roes and prawn roes sushi as shown above for a mere RM7. Yup! You heard it right! Each sushi costs only RM1. There were more available but I chose what was available as the sky was beginning to drizzle at that time. Here are some snapshots of their other sushi.

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You do not have to worry about the unavailability of your preferences as shown on the menus on the stall as well as on the special order menus as either Boon or Sandy would be more than happy to make them for you. In fact, you can always ask them for their house specialties.

If you are coming from Jalan Burmah into Jalan Cantonment, turn left into the first junction. That’s where the Pulau Tikus market is and that’s also where the night hawker area is. Move further up until you see a small lane beside a bakery on your left. You will see the stall at the corner with two lighted up red Japanese lanterns.

PTMSUSHIMAP

Name: PULAU TIKUS MARKET SUSHI CORNER
Address: Lorong Pasar, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 5.30pm-11.00pm (Closed Monday)
Contact: 016-472 2893 (Boon), 016-532 2066 (Sandy)
GPS: 5.430320, 100.312100

RATING:
Ambience: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 9/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

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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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