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BIG COFFEE – A CAFÉ OUT FROM NOWHERE IN LUNAS KULIM KEDAH

Posted by crizlai On January - 3 - 2016

“Curiosity kills the cat” may be a common term used but it sure did not kill this adventurous cat. In fact, it fattened him up even more~ LOL~ 😛 At times, we should just leave everything behind, go for a short excursion to some place secluded, adapt to its environment and find out more on what it has to offer. To my luck, I stumbled upon a small make shift café named Big Coffee along the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim). The “café” served a variety of beverages from coffee, tea, chocolate to some local beverages.

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If you are a regular at a certain coffee chain, you would know about volume for Tall (12 US fl oz/350ml), Grande (16 US fl oz/470ml), Venti (20 US oz/590ml) or even their Trenta (31 US fl oz/920ml – at times known as “Thirty”). What about something bigger (42 US fl oz/1.24L – at times known as “Forty”) with a cute container to bring home for just RM10nett? If more than a liter of coffee were to be too big for you, you can always opt for their so called “Trenta” size at RM7nett with a cute container or “Venti” size at RM5nett with normal disposable container. You can choose the color of your container too (transparent – RM5 each, big container without white base – RM7 each and big container with white base/football shaped – RM10).

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Here’s my JUMBO SIZE “FORTY” Iced Horlick at RM10nett.

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The best part of the deal is that you can order anything listed based on the price (RM5/RM7/RM10) and not on the type of beverage ordered. Beverages type which mostly are Thailand-imported include Vanilla, Mixed Coffee, Latte, Mocha, Milo, Red Tea, Horlick, Nescafe, Chocolate, Cappuccino, White Coffee, Green Tea, Classic Coffee, a variety of Cordial Juices and more.

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Overall, I would say the beverage was quite concentrated with quite a reasonably quality thick plastic container. Though the sweetness could be a bit too much for my sugar intake, it was still a great bargain as the containers (RM7 & RM10 ones) can be recycled.

It’s not really hard to locate the little shed by the roadside but you have to slow down and keep a watch out for it as it could be highly congested at times. From Butterworth towards Kulim/Baling/Pengkalan Hulu via Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (Lebuhraya Butterworth-Kulim), you would need to pay RM1.60 toll. Upon paying and exiting the toll booth, drive another 11KM (pass Kulim Hi-Tech Park junction) and you would reach Big Coffee & Tea by the roadside on your left. When you see Dongwha Malaysia (Kulim Branch) on your left, slow down and drive another 250m ahead towards your destination. You can see the Sime Darby factory directly opposite the “café”. As this is an expressway with high traffic, please make sure that the road is all clear before making any turn. The best way to reach Big Coffee is to key in the GPS (5.487308, 100.600595) onto your WAZE app and set to go.

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Name: BIG COFFEE
Address: Butterworth-Kulim Expressway roadside at Lunas, Kulim, Kedah.
Contact: N/A
Business Hours: 11.00am-6.30pm (daily)
GPS: 5.487308, 100.600595

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

 

Many of you are aware that St Giles Wembley Hotel, Penang, is offering great spreads of buffet at their Wembley Café but are you aware that they do also have Cake & Coffee Promotion right at their Lobby Lounge? Currently, their Lobby Lounge is offering its Cake & Coffee Promotion from 2.00pm until 6.00pm daily right until the end of August 2015. For every piece of cake you order at RM23nett each, you would have a choice of in-house coffee or tea brew on the house. At the moment, they have 3 options such as their Raspberry Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Banana Cake and Durian Cheese Cake.

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If you are in need of a comfortable and quiet spot for a short meeting or even chill out with your friends or family members, this is the ideal venue. There are many secluded areas too for your total privacy. Other than just cakes and coffee, they do also have an extensive spread of main meals, snacks and beverages.

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Overall, if you are a dessert lover and like to chill out at a comfortable spot away from all those overcrowded cafes, you would find that the Lobby Lounge is the ideal place to indulge in your dessert with a calm peace of mind. After all, the pricing for a set of cake and coffee would not be as exorbitant as some of those cafes out there.

To get to the Lobby Lounge, just walk into the main entrance of the hotel and head to your right. You would see a bunch of friendly staff at your service.

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Name: LOBBY LOUNGE @ ST GILES WEMBLEY HOTEL
Address: 183, Jalan Magazine, 13000 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-259 8000
Business Hours: 12.00pm–12:00am (Sundays–Thursdays), 12.00pm–1.00am (Fridays & Saturdays)
GPS: 5.413164, 100.330428

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

 

* Published in HungryGoWhere Malaysia Food Guide: THE EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL @ Penang

To celebrate Merdeka month, let’s look at 1885 @ Eastern & Oriental Hotel (E&O Hotel) that had existed since pre-independence and is still thrilling diners even until today. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel (E&O Hotel) started in the late 1800s when the renowned Armenian Sarkies brothers, Martin and Tigran, settled down in Penang and established the Eastern Hotel in 1884. With its success, they opened another hotel in 1885, the Oriental, on an adjacent piece of land facing the sea. Both combined, these two hotels became the largest hotel in Penang. In 1891, another Sarkies brother, Arshak, joined the business and a large ballroom in 1903. Thus, the E&O became the centre of the social life and gaiety of Penang and its surroundings. In 1922, Arshak secured a large plot of land for the hotel which extended its already impressive sea frontage. The land now housed the magnificent Victory Annexe with more rooms, making the property larger with 842-foot seafront, the longest of any hotel in the world.

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Today, E&O Hotel still treasures its heritage by retaining its charm and weathered the passage of time with character and grace. Hence, they do have a posh yet affordable eatery named 1885, serving Traditional Afternoon Tea daily at RM56++ per pax. You will get the experience of having tea time snacks with nice crockery tea set and silverware just like how it was during the colonial days. The custom of having afternoon tea was the creation of Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, one of HM Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, in the late 1700s. The experience was so delightful that it became the tradition of every English household, especially the upper echelon of the English Society.

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For each 1885 Traditional Afternoon Tea set, you would have the option to choose the tea of your choice from 16 types of tea, namely Assam Mokalbarie, Morgentau, Vanilla Roibosh, Raspberry Royal and more. There will be sugar cubes and fresh milk to tweak to your liking.

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Each set will also come with a selection of Finger Sandwiches, Cakes & Tea Pastries and Scones. As for Finger Sandwiches, you would get Smoked Beef Brisket on Village Bread, Cucumber with Sour Cream on Marble Toast, Cheesy Sausage Roll, Smoked Salmon on Poppy Seed Roll, Egg Mayonnaise on Mini Croissant, Marinated Chicken with Horseradish Cream in Mini Vol Au Vent and Marinated Tuna Flakes on Whole Meal Loaf. As for Cakes and Tea Pastries, you would expect to see at least 5 types of dessert of the day. For Scones, you would get one each of Plain and Raisins, served with their homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you would expect for two persons. The shot for the two sets of the tea of your choice is not shown here.

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Overall, their Finger Sandwiches were great as all the bread and rolls were made fresh from their own in-house bakery daily. Three of my favourites were the Cucumber with Sour Cream on Marble Toast (a must have item for English Tea Time), Smoked Salmon on Poppy Seed Roll and Egg Mayonnaise on Mini Croissant. As for Cakes and Tea Pastries, their Cheese Cake is a die for – soft, creamy and cheesy with a light hint of citrus lemon zest. As for Scones, whether it’s a plain one or with raisins, they were heavenly the best ones in town, reputable for that too. With a fragrant outer crust and a warm plus fluffy inner, each mouthful with a light spread of their homemade strawberry jam or clotted cream, will leave you yearning for more. These scones are superbly the best.

You can also check out their National Day Hi-Tea at Sarkies @ E&O Hotel on 31 August 2014 from 12.00noon until 2.30pm, priced at RM78++ (adult) and RM39++ (child). The Hi-Tea will also cover most of their signature dishes such as Roasted Duck, Sushi & Sashimi, Char Koay Teow and more.

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1885 @ E&O Hotel, Penang | Address: 10 Lebuh Farquhar, 10200, Malaysia. | Tel: 604-222 2000 | Opening hours: 2.00pm-5.00pm (Daily) | GPS Coordinates: 5.423311, 100.335874 | Halal

 

PENANG HERITAGE FINE DINING AT SUFFOLK HOUSE RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On September - 20 - 2010

Being one of the heritage prides of George Town, Penang, Suffolk House has been the residence of our founder, Sir Francis Light and many subsequent governors of Penang and Straits Settlements during the 1800’s. It was later bought by Mr. Lim Cheng Teik, the youngest Municipal Commissioner in the history of Penang, and after that being sold to the Methodist Church of Malaya to house the Anglo-Chinese High School (currently the Methodist Boys’ School). The building was later abandoned by the school in 1975 due to rapid deterioration. With the determination of the Penang state government to preserve this piece of Penang’s heritage, a neighboring plot of land was exchange with Methodist Boys’ School in 2000. Restoration funded by the state government and a few private sectors through the many years thereafter managed to refit the mansion to its present state. Within the compound of the present mansion was a restaurant – the Suffolk House Restaurant. The restaurant brought back many fond memories of the yesteryears by serving colonial style fine dining for lunch, tea and dinner daily.

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I managed to pay a visit to this fine heritage mansion one fine afternoon to try out their set lunch. Each set meal would come with a fresh homemade wholemeal roll and butter. For starter, we can have either salad which was the Watercress Salad with Citrus Poached Pears, Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes, Walnut and Parmesan Cheese Shavings or a soup of the day which happened to be Potatoes & Leeks Soup. They could have put more dressing on the salad as it was a bit too raw and dry to my liking. The soup on the other hand was quite acceptable with some croutons and chopped spring onions as garnishes. I was hoping that it would be a bit creamier.

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As for main course, we have an option to choose one of the 5 listed ones in the menu. The Chargrilled Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with Mint Lamb Jus, Roasted Potatoes and Buttered Turned Vegetable (RM44+) has the necessary flavors. Unfortunately, they weren’t much meat on the lamb rack and accompanied radish, carrot and beetroot were rather tough for the teeth. The Beef Goulash with Timbale of Vegetables and Chunky Paprika Potatoes (RM42++) was rather tasty with hints of mixed herbs in the stew. The beef chunks were tender and juicy but lacked the flavors being seeped into the meat. Another option which I ordered was the Seafood Ravioli with White Wine Cream Sauce (RM36++). It tasted just like minced seafood wonton but had a Western approached of dressing the 5 pieces of ravioli with some tasty and creamy white sauce. Not a bad combination though.

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As for Desserts of the Day, I had a bite size Chocolate Mousse Cake with half a strawberry on some orange juice and an option to choose between a cup of Nespresso Coffee or Tea.

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The set lunch menu would change every few weeks so you would be expecting something different during your next visit. Other main courses (out of 5 choices) that were available during my visit included steamed red snapper with ginger soy sauce plus shallot rice pilaf, wilted kalian and cilantro leaves (RM40++) and roast chicken breast with feta cheese and spinach stuffing plus confit new potatoes and Persian style grilled vegetables (RM38++). As this is a fine dining concept, the portion served might not be enough for big eaters. So be prepared to order other items from their Ala Carte menu. English style tea time would be available at RM64++ per set, which would be enough for 2 persons. You can check out Steven Goh’s Tea Time Review. As for set dinner aka Table D’Hote Menu, there would be more items with main courses ranging from RM100++ to RM140++. You can check out CK Lam’s Dinner Review.

If you are into heritage buildings, you must not miss out the tour of this old Euro-Indian-Georgian mansion which went through a complete major restoration in March 2007. The wonders of the beautiful architecture and green gardens would surely amaze you further. It would cost you merely RM10 per adult on a self guided tour (free for children below 6 years old except on school excursions) or a guided tour of RM15 per pax for a group of ten persons or more. Tours would be available from 10.00am until 6.00pm (last admission at 5.30pm). You can contact Ms. Maiane at 604-228 1109 for further enquiries.

It could be quite a maze to locate the restaurant even if you are a Penangite as the place would not be visible by the main road but no worries as I have put it in a pictorial direction format to lead you there safely. 🙂 Please click on the map below for a larger view.

If you are coming from Penang Bridge through Jalan Mesjid Negeri, it would be quite easy. As you see the Penang State Mosque on your left, kept left and drive to the traffic lights below the flyover bridge. Turn right into Jalan Air Itam and do keep to your left. Immediately after the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Al-Manshoor Lelaki, keep a look out for a small lane on your left. Turn left and drive up to the T-junction. Turn right and do watch out for a smaller lane on your left. At this left junction, you would see sign boards showing you the way to Suffolk House, Malaysian German Society and Penang Japanese Association (Map D). Turn left into this junction and you would see another few signs leading you to Suffolk House (Map E). Drive further in and you can see a river/bridge on left with lots of parking spaces (Map F). Park your car there and walk into the compound.

For those coming from town, it would be a bit messier as there won’t be a U-turn for you to reach the restaurant. Just drive all the way the Padang Brown/Convent Dato’ Keramat traffic lights until you see the second traffic lights (Masjid Jamek Shaik Yusoff on your left before the traffic lights). Turn right into Jalan York and drive all the way until the end (Union High School on your right corner). Turn left into Jalan Scotland. Immediately after you see the Ramakrisna Orphanage on your left, slow down and keep to your left (Map A). Drive all the way and keep to the left of the flyover bridge (Map B). Turn left into the junction immediately after Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Al-Manshoor (Lelaki). Drive all the way passed the school (Map C) until you reach a lane on your left (Map D). You would see sign boards showing you the way to Suffolk House, Malaysian German Society and Penang Japanese Association as mentioned earlier. Turn left into this junction and you would see another few signs leading you to Suffolk House (Map E). Drive further in and you can see a river/bridge on left with lots of parking spaces (Map F). Park your car there and walk into the compound.

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Name: SUFFOLK HOUSE RESTAURANT @ SUFFOLK HOUSE
Address: 250 Jalan Air Itam, 10460 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-228 3930
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-2.30pm (lunch), 2.30pm-6.00pm (tea), 7.00pm-10.30pm (dinner)
GPS: 5.410361, 100.306183

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

DISHES THAT WOULD FIT A KING AT CHIN BEE TEA CAFE

Posted by crizlai On June - 24 - 2010

I have written some time back in early 2009 when Chin Bee Tea Café first opened up its door to give the best of what Chinese cuisine was all about. It’s time for me to share with you in depth why until today I still claim them as my most recommended restaurant in Penang as this restaurant is not just any Chinese restaurant you would find scattered all around Penang island but one that would provide you with a personalized dining experience (私房餐廳). Thanks to the last remaining of the top few Chinese cuisine chefs in Penang, Sifu Malai Chong, I was able to have so many wonderful dining experiences.

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Over the last one year plus, there were endless streams of famous people such as dignitaries, celebrities and food critics patronizing this small and simple restaurant located along the secluded area of Georgetown. From then on, it had not stopped anyone from coming back to try out more of their delicious dishes. To some, dining here would be quite exorbitant but I can assure you that quality is the main virtue of this restaurant. All ingredients used are of high standards and freshness. Even the teas they served were of a higher grade since they are also one of the main distributors of tea leaves in Penang. Their Ginseng Tie Kuan Yin would always remain as my energy booster. Simply refreshing!

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Let’s start with the introduction of one of the most sought after dishes that even the Hong Kong food critic, Mr. Hugo Leung Man-to aka Toto would not deny during his visits to Malaysia. Can you guess what would be the main ingredient in that dish? It’s the most expensive freshwater fish in Malaysia – the Empurau (wild mahseer/ 忘不了aka unforgettable). What made the Empurau so different compared to its other mahseer family members, namely the Kelah? It’s a slowing growing fish, living in the natural habitat in Sarawak and would take around 5-6 years to reach a “so-called” recommended 3kg dining size as it’s believed that the flesh would be firmer from 3kg onwards. This omnivorous fish’s diet consists of smaller fishes, algae, crustaceans, insects, frogs and also fruits, namely from the endemic irregular fruit bearing engkabang (illipe/Shorea macrophylla/light red meranti/pontianak illipe) trees. It’s the flavors from the fruits that gave the fish that unique fragrant, even when uncooked. The price for a cooked Empurau would range safely between RM800 and RM1000 per kilo, depending on where the fish comes from. Wild Empurau would fetch a higher price compared to those reared ones. By having prior booking, the restaurant would assure you the best Wild Empurau you would have in your life by serving you with their signature Steamed Empurau (上湯浸忘不了). As you can see from the RM2200 Steamed Empurau dish below, even the scales are edible. They were carefully scraped off the fish and given some deep frying. It was like biting onto some crunchy crackers. You can even see that the bones were uniquely constructed. Nature’s wonder right?

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If you feel that the above fish dish would be a bit taxing to your budget, you could always check out what’s new in their fish menu. Anything that’s not fresh or having a muddy taste would surely not be served on your table. At times, you might even get some exotic freshwater fish that even I could not get any scientific name for it, namely the Steamed Ngan Wu (上湯浸銀湖). Depending on the weight, a cooked fish would cost between RM100 and RM150. From the outlook, the freshwater fish resembled a cross between the shape of a Chinese pomfret (tao tay/斗底魚/正鯧) and the color of a golden pomfret (金昌) but with bigger eyes. The flesh of the fish tasted just like the smoothness you would get in a Chinese pomfret, except that it was thicker and meatier. I love the simplicity of this dish with only some quality soy sauce, a dash of Shao Xing Wine, some garlic oil and a generous garnish of chopped coriander.

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Although many people are against the brutal killing of sharks for their fins but there still existed some limited supplies for the consumption of those sharksfin lovers here. The Dragon & Tiger Sharksfin (龍虎扒翅: RM250-RM300) was another unforgettable seafood dish. Porcelain spoons of stir fried mixed shredded vegetables with eggs combined with sharksfin were steamed to be in shape. These would then be displayed in the center of a large plate and topped with a generous amount of sharksfin, crab meat, scallops and prawns in a thick stock of gravy. This dish is the most value for money dish I have ever encountered so far.

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Another of the exotic seafood dishes that you can try out here would be their Spicy Fish Bladder (甘香魚鰾: RM100-RM150). The fish bladders were not just any ordinary fish bladder but of a higher quality ones. They were rare eel bladders. This mildly spicy dish was a hit amongst us as it had the chewiness from the fish bladders and the crunchiness from the added vegetables. The whole combination was perfect!

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If you feel like having some lighter dish in between your meal, you can preorder some Fragrant Crispy Duck (香酥鴨: RM80-RM120). This is another way of serving compared to the normal roasted Peking Duck style. Instead of roasting, the duck meat pieces were marinated in their special sauce and deep fried until crispy. These would then be sliced into smaller bite sizes and served with some chopped pickled ginger, shredded cucumber, Chinese wheat flour crepe (popiah skin) and some lining sauce. This was a fun DIY dish and the combined taste was remarkably delicious.

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The next dish had a funny name – Granny Asking Direction (婆婆問路 – RM20). Haha! In another word, it’s another poor man’s dream of having an expensive sea cucumber dish. The sifu did a good job in braising the fuzzy melon/squash (毛瓜/mo kua) to look just like sea cucumbers and the dish had some seafood, vegetables and mushrooms. The whole presentation was rather exclusive. If I did not take a bite into the melon, I would think those were sea cucumbers instead. As for taste, the thick gravy matched well with the rest of the ingredients. Unfortunately, the chewy bite on the “sea cucumber” was not there. What would you expect from a braised melon right? 😛

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This restaurant seemed to have many catchy names for their dishes. The next dish was a common dish but the name can be quite bombastic – United Nation Mixed Vegetables With Tofu (聯合國炒菜與豆腐 – RM20). I always love the Cantonese way of preparing stir fry mixed vegetables as they have a way of preserving the bright colors of the vegetables and at the same time giving them a taste of its own. The accompanied deep fried tofu slices were the specialty of the restaurant as well. They would simply melt in your mouth. It was simple and yet very appetizing.

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Do you know that there’s one dish that would almost always appear in my dining receipt? It’s another of my recommended Special Spareribs (家好骨 – from RM12 onwards). Each piece of the spareribs was specially selected for this dish with a bit of fat and lean meat still attached to the bones. In fact, the ribs came from the best part of a pig. I always have a phobia of ordering sparerib dishes as some would be too tough to bite. However, the way the ribs were prepared here got me yearning for more. From each bite, you could feel the crispiness of some mildly coated batter on the surface while the meat within maintained the tenderness, juiciness and right flavors.  Even the fatty parts melted in my mouth. There were strong hints of Lea & Perrins Worchester sauce and tomato sauce being used here. Yummilicious always!

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Another of the signature dish you would get here would be their Mixed Seafood Curry (from RM30 onwards). This is another of the sifu’s concocted chili paste recipe. Other than being very fragrant and appetizing, the prawns and fish fillet within were real fresh. Do keep a watch out soon as the sifu has every intention to market his special chili paste to the public.

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Other than the restaurant’s smooth and delicious Three Jewels Steamed Egg (三黃蛋), there’s another dish that the sifu cooked up impromptu for me – Hot Plate Egg Wrapped Mixed Vegetables (蛋包炒菜 – RM20). Wow! I’m impressed! Although it did look like any egg wrap dishes but the amount of vegetables and ingredients used were very generous. Even the gravy of the stir fry vegetables complimented each other well. Delicious!

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Chin Bee Tea Café does not only serve dishes with rice. In fact, you could also order ala carte dishes (upon availability of noodles) such as Oriental Fried Rice, Hot & Spicy Fried Rice (特色炒飯), Hong Tu Noodles (鴻圖麵), Seafood Noodles (海鮮炒麵) and many more. My favorite would always be their Gui Hua Mien (桂花麵 – from RM15 onwards). The noodles were of a deep fried noodles (Ee Mee/伊麵), skillfully stir fried with generous amount of crab meat, scallops, prawns and egg, garnished with lots of sliced lettuce. I must admit. I’m so stuck with this delicious and flavorful plate of noodles.

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Another flavorful noodle choice would be their Fried Glass Noodles (炒冬粉 – from RM12 onwards). Each strain of the noodles was evenly flavorful with the right wok hei (high heat fragrance) and the ingredients used were generous too.

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My post title may have sounded like the restaurant is meant for the rich and famous. Do not get me wrong as there are many more dishes available here to fit the budget of any income group earners. You would surely not regret stepping into this restaurant ever after.

If you are coming from Trader’s Hotel along Jalan Magazine, keep to your left and drive on until you have reach the second traffic light. Turn into the first road on your left (Jalan Gurdwara – left of the Gama Supermarket) and then the first left turning into Lebuh Noordin. The shop is just somewhere in the middle on your right within a row of heritage houses. In fact, this shop is just two houses away from another recommended confectionery manufacturer by the name of Hock Lok Siew Biscuit Trading. Please make sure you call up for reservation as this place could be packed during lunch or dinner hours.

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Name: CHIN BEE TEA CAFE
Address: 124, Lebuh Noordin, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 1761, 012-499 9972 (Mr. Ong)
Opening Hours:
12noon – 3.00pm, 6.00pm-9.30pm (Closed Alternate Wednesday)
GPS: 5.412361, 100.329541

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

CUISINE EXTRAVAGANZA AT CHIN BEE TEA CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 12 - 2009

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Who would have expected hidden amongst some of the heritage houses in Georgetown would have a tea café that served quality choices of tea as well as food? Of course, that would be Chin Bee Tea Café, an established tea supplier to most of the restaurants and hawker centers in Penang. I found out about this place a few months’ ago when they were still undergoing renovation works and this place ended up as a treasure to me and I would strongly recommend them to my friends. I have even lost count of how many visits Steven Goh, whom I had first introduced this cafe, had brought his family along to patronize this place.

From the exterior of this place, most people would just assume it as a place serving solely tea and some light bites as most tea houses. If you look into the clear glass panels, you would even see rows of cupboards and urns filled with tea leaves and flower tea buds. Anyone would surely have that wrong perception.

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Going into the café is like moving into a place filled with hospitality. You would be served by the members of this family run business with all smiles. The service is remarkable. You would be given a menu with a list of tea which you would like to have as well as a simple menu for the food.

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Do try out their quality Chrysanthemum bud tea which would give you the unique sweet after taste as well as their Ginseng Tie Guan Yin which would energize your moods and alertness.

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Do not be fooled by the simple list of food as shown in the menu as there are still many other wonderful dishes that the over 60 years old Sifu (Grand Master of the Kitchen), Mr. Malai Chong, have under his sleeves. I was truly surprised on how impromptu and creative this Sifu was in coming up with dishes that will make anyone drool just by looking at it. This showed that with his seasoned experiences, he could just combine any ingredients in the kitchen to make great dishes. What else would you expect from a chef who had work in overseas restaurants such as Ireland and UK, and also in reputable Malaysian hotels and restaurants for the past 40 plus years?

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Let us now looked at some of the dishes the café is famous for such as the Special Pork Ribs (RM3/pc). The inner part of the ribs will always been soft while the outer layer has that crunchiness from the chef’s secret formulated flour. The dish would be served in some sweet and delicious sauce. This dish is highly recommended for those who would not mind some fatty layers on the belly cum ribs portion of pork.

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The next dish was a surprise. I wanted something nice mixed with some greens. The Sifu concocted a new dish called the Smooth Journey (一帆風順 – RM12). From the outlook of the long and round food on the plate, I was not sure what they were until I sliced open both of them. The long one appeared to be stuffed capsicum with some juicy minced pork and prawns. It was unique and yummy. The round one appeared to be stuffed button mushrooms with the same type of fillings. The slightly sweet and sour sauce made both simply irresistible.

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I wanted something lighter next and the Sifu recommended a homely dish called Three Jewels Steam Egg (三黃蛋 – RM8). It had three types of eggs, basically chicken eggs, salted duck egg and century eggs, all whipped up with some seasoning and steamed to perfection. The dish would then be garnished with some quality soy sauce, some fried garlic & oil and chopped spring onions. It was marvelous too as the texture of the steamed egg was without much bubbles and it was as smooth as consuming Japanese tofu.

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Next, I got my “sort of personal chef now” (LOL!) to serve me with some chicken dish that he did not have in his menu. Again I was stunned by how well he had presented in the next dish which was the Sweet & Sour Chicken (燒汁雞 – RM10). It was basically a large chicken drumstick (the size as you would get from Western food) but the preparation was ten times tastier than I have tasted anywhere. I guessed the Sifu used only the best sauce to come out with something as great as this dish. The batter coated chicken was very crispy. It blended real well with sliced onions, chillies, sugar snap peas (mange tout) with some touches of sweet and sour sauce.

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The next dish which was the Rakkyo In-house Tofu (蕎光豆腐 – RM12) was another eye opening dish for me. When I thought it was just the usual fried in-house made special tofu cooked with minced meat and mixed vegetables, the taste was totally not as I had expected. It was so appetizing. It has that unique sweetness combined with quality Chinese wine. The added sliced sugar snap peas, carrots and button mushrooms made the dish real colorful.

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Do you want to know the secret behind the appetizing dish? Here they are. The dish has finely sliced pickled ginger (調味醋姜片) and pickled Rakkyo bulbs (酸甜蕎頭). You might want to know what Rakkyo is. It is a native plant in South East Asia, mostly grown in China, Japan and certain parts of Malaysia (Cameron Highlands) where the bulbs would me made into pickles. It also believed to have some medicinal properties such as the prevention of thrombosis, treatment of heart diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), remedy for fever, stomachache and eye infections. There are many names to this midget spring onion or allium-like plant such as the widely used English term which sounded so Japanese – Rakkyo, Japanese scallion or Allium chinense.

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Another dish that the Sifu had specially prepared for the Chinese New Year season would be the Dried Oyster, Scallop & Black Moss Stew (大蠔燉乾貝髮菜 – RM20-40). This is a wonderful dish as the dried oysters and scallops were braised in some seasonings such as ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and Shao Xing wine until soften. These would then be simmered along with some young lettuces and black moss. This specially prepared dish would normally be served in family reunion dinners on the eve of Chinese New Year.

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On top of the above dishes with would be taken with rice, you could always opt for something lighter. They have only rice or Ee Foo noodles. Either you can ask the Sifu to cook Fried Ee Foo Mee or their famous Hong Tu Mian (鴻圖面 – RM8-15). This would be best taken with some black vinegar.

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If you feel that you would like something drier, you can try out their Yong Chow Fried Rice, Egg Wrapped Fired Rice or my favorite Hot & Spicy Fried Rice (特色炒飯 – RM5-RM15). The “Wok Hei” aka high heat frying for this fried rice dishes is real good.

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Overall, Chin Bee Tea Café is a great place to buy various quality tea leaves/flower teas as well as for family dine-in. There would always be surprises for you as you would not know what other delicious food the Sifu would stir up for you. The price for the food is reasonable, so are the selections of quality tea drinks. I will surely drop in to try out their other reputable dishes such as the exotic deer meat and fish head curry. By the way, the Sifu would also like to wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year in the coming Ox year.

MALAICHONG

If you are coming from Trader’s Hotel along Jalan Magazine, keep to your left and drive on until you have reach the second traffic light. Turn into the first road on your left (Jalan Gurdwara) and then the first left turning into Lebuh Noordin. The shop is just somewhere in the middle on your right within a row of heritage houses. In fact, this shop is just two houses away from another recommended confectionery manufacturer by the name of Hock Lok Siew Biscuit Trading. Please make sure you call up for reservation as this place could be packed during lunch or dinner hours.

CHINBEEMAP

Name: CHIN BEE TEA CAFE
Address: 124, Lebuh Noordin, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 1761, 012-499 9972 (Mr. Ong)
Opening Hours: 12noon – 3.00pm, 6.00pm-9.00pm (Closed Alternate Wednesday)
GPS: 5.412361, 100.329541

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

 

CHA YU KAFEI RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 8 - 2008

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If I’m not mistaken, this place used to be located in the present 7’s Sister Café & Restaurant premise few years back and relocated to another place at Jalan Arratoon for few years before firming itself at the present premise. With more than 5 years of experience in the F&B sector, the restaurant sure knows how to cater to the taste buds of the public. Moreover, the food served would be halal (pork-free). Upon entering the premise, you would think that they are just another tea house serving some finger food. In fact, they are one of those established restaurant with more than 100 types of dishes for you to choose from. Sadly, they could not come up with photos of all the dishes, as they are always creating new dishes.

One thing you have to take note is that photography taking is quite limited as they have their own set of rules. You would not even be allowed to take shots of the interior and exterior. Please remember that it’s always polite to request the permission from them prior to taking shots, with a name card of course.

I was there recently for a visit to try out some of their newly created tea dishes. As usual, we ordered drinks first. The Soya Bean Milk was RM2.00 whereas the Red Dates was RM1.80.

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There would always be snacks prior to any meal in an Oriental restaurant. Braised Peanuts was at RM2.00 per plate.

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The first dish that came was the Fried Fragrant Tea Rice (飄香茶飯- RM6.90). It was good as the “Wok Hei” (high heat cooking) did make the rice very fragrant. Not oily too. One unique taste in the fried rice was the mild tea taste. The rice was cooked with some tea prior to frying. It has some mixed vegetables, vegetarian char siew chunks, large prawns, eggs and garnished with their in-house fried tea leaves. It’s a must to try out.

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Sesame Fried Abalone Mushroom (芝麻鮑魚菇 – RM6.90) was served next. Some Abalone Mushroom were coated with batter and deep fried, prior to garnishing them with some sweetened chili sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Not bad a dish too if you love crunchy food.

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The Stir Fry Fish Bladder Tofu (魚鰾豆腐 – RM10.90) was appetizing. The gravy itself had all the right combination of sauces. The dish has four pieces of homemade fried tofu, cooked with some fish bladder and mini Chinese cabbage.

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The last dish would normally be the best dish as some said. How true it was for the Drunken Tea Chicken Claypot (茶香醉雞煲 – RM11.90). Choice pieces of a chicken drumstick with thigh were cooked in mild tea, ginger strips, mushroom and wood ear fungus slices, some herbs such as dried Gouqi (wolfberries), dong quai (Chinese Angelica) and a large amount of Shao Xing wine. Some in-house fried tea leaves were sprinkled on the soup. The chicken meat was tender and the soup base was simply rich in herb and wine flavors. A must try for those herb soup enthusiasts.

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An Oriental meal would not be complete without some sweet desserts. Foo Chook Ginkgo Nuts Soya Bean Tang Yuan (腐竹白果豆水湯圓 – RM4.20 per bowl) was served steaming hot. The bowl of dessert had thin soya bean milk, cooked with foo chook (dried beancurd sheet), ginkgo nuts, rock sugar and served with two large sesame filled tang yuan (glutinous rice flour balls). Although a bit pricey for the dessert, it would be worth your money paid.

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On top of the dishes with rice, you can also try out their reputable Hokkien Style Fried Potato Starch (古早味薯粉 – RM6.90). The dish has thinly flavored steamed potato starch fried with fragrant dried shrimps, cabbage, onions, spring onions and prawns. The starch has the color and translucent look of a wood ear fungus but taste springier than hor fun. It was indeed very yummy.

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The Spinach Noodle with Fish Ball (魚滑蚧柳菠菜面 – RM7.90) was somewhat different. A spinach noodle (spinach wan than mee) was cooked in a mild ginger chicken broth, garnished with ingredients such as the chef special fish balls, artificial crabsticks, carrot slices, button mushroom slices and some Chinese cabbage, sprinkled with a bit of fried garlic. The soup taste was fine and the ingredients were a lot.

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If you feel that the noodles were not filling enough, you can also order some side dishes such as the Steamed Egg Rolls (蛋皮巻 – RM5.90 for 5 rolls). Rolls of steamed minced meat, prawns and spinach would be rolled into thinly fried egg skins and garnished with some egg white based gravy. Not bad but I would prefer the filling to be a bit softer.

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Overall, the two of us enjoyed the meal a lot. A 5% tax would be incurred for those orders. The restaurant also caters for indoor and outdoor functions. If you are coming from KOMTAR area/Traders Hotel along Jalan Magazine, turn left into Jalan Gurdwara at the Gama Supermarket traffic lights. Keep to your right after the traffic light and turn right into the small road (Jalan Trang) next to the Gama building. The restaurant is somewhere further up on your left with some beautifully decorated Japanese bamboo gardens.

CHAYUKAFEIMAP

Name: CHA YU KAFEI RESTAURANT
Address: 33 Jalan Trang, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 1028, 012-417 3174, 016-422 1028
Opening Hours: 12.00pm-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.30pm (Closed Tuesday)
GPS: 5.412600, 100.327395

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

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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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