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DECENT MEALS AT BON APPETIT WESTERN DELI

Posted by crizlai On September - 19 - 2011

NOTE: Effective May 2012, Bon Appetit Western Deli has relocated to Golden City Restaurant (GPS: 5.404561, 100.286574), 10K Jalan Air Putih air Itam, 11500 Penang. Business Hours: 12.00noon until 9.00pm (Closed Alternate Tuesday). It’s behind the Keat Seng Restaurant in Reservoir Garden.The outlet here has ceased it’s operation end of 2012.

Penang has always been the best destination for food lovers from all over the world as there would never be an end to any kind of cuisine at any time of the day. Other than the famous local hawker fares, there’s also the availability of street Western food at any nooks and corners of the beautiful state. One such Western food stall has popped up recently at the newly constructed area of Paya Terubong, namely the Bon Appetit Western Deli within the premises of EQ Kopitiam. The existence of the stall has no doubt given the residence there a new taste of great grilled Western dishes at an affordable price.

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Most people would think that having Western food quite often might cause a burn in the pocket. Well, this perception has to be changed as Bon Appetit Western Deli has its way to promote its dishes at an unbelievable price that would make dining a total different experience, thus by combining Western food with our local staple food, namely steamed rice. There would be 3 types of SET LUNCHES available daily which consist of either chicken, fish or pork, with an option to choose your preferred sauce such as brown sauce, sweet & sour sauce or black pepper sauce. We tried out the Chicken Chop Rice (RM5.00). The dish came with rice, an omelette, a generous amount of greens dressed with some mayonnaise and grilled chicken with brown sauce. The grilled chicken chunks were well marinated and cooked until perfection while maintaining the tenderness of the meat. The brown sauce on the other hand has only managed a mild herb taste and was not as thick and flavorful as I would have expected. I would think a bit more of rosemary and plain/potato flour added in would have a better outcome. Nevertheless, the grilled chicken was awesome on its own.

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The next set lunch meal with was the Fish Fritter Rice (RM5.00) also consisted of rice, an omelette, a generous amount of greens dressed with some mayonnaise but with deep fried breadcrumbed dory fish fillet, topped with sweet and sour sauce. The chef did a great job as the fish had just the right crispiness while maintaining the moist within. The sweet and sour sauce which basically used some chili sauce with some sautéed chopped garlic, onions and a sprinkle of herbs, complemented the fillet well.

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The third set lunch meal was the Pork Cutlet Rice (RM5.00). Most Western food stalls nowadays do not serve pork as they are also targeting at those non pork takers. At Bon Appetit Western Deli, this was an exception as their pork chop which also came with rice, an omelette, a generous amount of greens dressed with some mayonnaise but with grilled pork cutlet with black pepper sauce was superb. The well marinated and grilled pork cutlet went well with the slightly pungent tasting sauce.

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Other that the above Set Lunches, there are also some delicious items available in their Ala Carte Menu for both meals. As starter, you can always order the Soup of the Day (RM3.00) which happened to be Mushroom Soup on that day, accompanied by a slice of crunchy toasted Garlic Bread. The soup was normal but at least it was creamier than others.

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They do also serve the rural Canada originated Poutine (RM4.50), which traditionally consisted of French fries, brown sauce and cheese curds. Somehow, the chef created his own version by replacing the cheese curds with mayonnaise. No doubt the whole concoction was creamy but it was too sour to my liking due to that fact that Mayonnaise has that sourness from either the usage of lemon juice or vinegar in the recipe. It would be better if the orange colored cheesy mayonnaise or ranch dressing be used here. Alternatively, some grated cheese sprinkled over the dish would have provided a different taste altogether. There are actually many variations to this dish. The Italians love to replace the gravy with Bolognese sauce with some sprinkles of grated cheese. The Mexicans love them in some dipping sauce such as blended avocado with sour cream, topped with grated cheese. Other variation might add in items such as turkey, chicken, bacon, ham, sausages, crab meat, chopped onions and more. There’s actually no right or wrong method in preparing poutine but one thing for sure is that cheese (mostly from the Cheddar cheese family) would never be left out. As for presentation, some sprinkles of paprika and chopped spring onions would make the dish more flavorful and colorful.

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One of the hot selling items here would be their Grilled Chicken Chop (RM7.00), topped with the gravy of your choice. The dish would come with some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread. I simply love the caramelized texture on the chicken. It was flavorful even without the gravy.

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As for the fish section, many diners would go for their Grilled Fish in Lemon Butter Sauce (RM7.00), which would also come with the standard serving of some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread. The Dory fish fillet was well grilled but I personally felt that it lacked that buttery taste as well as some herbs. A small cube of butter on the grilled fillet before serving plus some sprinkles of mixed herbs or even capers would provide the dish with a better justice.

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The Grilled Salmon Steak (14.00) was something to crave for as it was the star of the day. I quite like the natural taste of the fish without the heavy usage of marinates and sauces. The only worry I had was the cut. The steak has bones in it. It would be a disadvantage for those elderly or kids to savor such a beautifully done dish without worrying about being choked by the small bones within. It would be great if a fillet version being served here. This dish also came with the standard serving of some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread.

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As I had mentioned earlier, Western food stalls serving pork would quite hard to come by. Do try out the Grilled Pork Chop (RM8.00). This is one dish not to miss out too. This dish also came with the standard serving of some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread.

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Grilled Pork Chop might be rare but the next dish which was the Pork Cordon Bleu was even scarce in Penang. The golden fried breadcrumb coated Pork Cordon Bleu (RM9.50) was heaven. One cut and you would see the melted cheese oozing out to welcome my presence. The dish was done perfectly to my liking with the flavors from the stuffed ham and cheese seeping right into the pork fillet. I think I would go without the gravy next time as it did soil the crispiness on the awesomely prepared dish. This dish also came with the standard serving of some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread.

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The chef has always been a lamb chop lover, thus you would know how enthusiastic he would be in preparing his favorite Grilled Lamb Chop (RM9.50). At such a price with such a big portion, this is another dish you should not miss out. By having the patience to watch over the meat over slow fire, the chef did a great job in providing a nicely flavored lamb chop, served with some tasty mint sauce. This dish also came with the standard serving of some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread.

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Finally, there was the Grilled Rib-Eye Steak (RM16.00) which was grilled just as tasty as the lamb chop. It was grilled medium-rare to maintain the tenderness and juiciness of the choice piece. This dish also came with the standard serving of some French fries, greens and a set of butter spread white bread.

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Overall, the dishes served here, especially those grilled items are delicious. The chef sure knows how to handle his grills well… just as good as Robert Rainford, the AFC’s License to Grill’s host. As for the sauces as well as presentation, he would need to explore more into the styles served by others to further improvements. My most frequent western food stall with the best sauce in town would be the first one he should look into. Here is the full menu in case you are interested in other available dishes. Please click on the menu for a clearer look.

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It’s not hard to locate the shop as it’s just a unit off the newly constructed Pine Valley Business Centre along Jalan Paya Terubong. If you are coming from the Air Itam district along Jalan Paya Terubong towards Relau/Balik Pulau, drive on until you see the second traffic lights (Lebuhraya Thean Teik/Jalan Paya Terubong – Shell petrol kiosk is on your right). Drive on for about 500m and you would see the Pine Valley Business Centre sign on your left. Turn left into the service road and drive on until the end of the shop houses. Bon Appetit Western Deli is at the last third unit along the row of shop houses.

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Name: BON APPETIT WESTERN DELI @ EQ KOPITIAM
Address:
Pine Valley Business Centre, 1049 Jalan Paya Terubong, 11060 Air Itam, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-452 5311 (Mr. Pierre Choo)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.381342, 100.275470

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

 

THE ALL NEW LA FRANCE CAFÉ & RESTAURANT IN PENANG

Posted by crizlai On September - 11 - 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

La France Cafe & Restaurant would not be visible by the main road. If you are from town towards Pulau Tikus along Jalan Burma, keep to your right after passing the Giant Supermarket (Penang Plaza) at the junction of Jalan Burma/Jalan Larut. Keep driving until you have passed Him Heang, a church, Jemputee (junction of Jalan Burma/Jalan Chow Thye), a vegetarian food court and Malaysian Chin Woo Association on your right. Turn right into Jalan Servis (between Chin Woo Association and Malaysian Buddhists’ Association) and drive all the way in until your see a right junction (Jalan Irrawadi). At the corner lot, you would see the El Case Wine & Dine Restaurant. La France Café & Restaurant is just opposite the café in a state-of-the art mansion. You won’t miss it at all.

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

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

 

MORE DELICIOUS THAI CUISINE AT WANG THAI RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On September - 8 - 2011

Over the past few months, Pulau Tikus in Penang has become a little Thai cuisine paradise for Thai food lovers. With different style of cooking and flavors from 6 regions with 76 provinces (excluding Bangkok which is the capital city) in Thailand, Penangites now have more options to try out these restaurants. We now have some home cooked dishes from the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat in Southern Thailand at Annathai-Kitchen, beef noodles from Sukhothai in Central Thailand at Sukhothai Beef Noodles House, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) style Thai dishes at Aroi Thai Restaurant and at the newest outlet in Penang – Wang Thai Restaurant.

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It’s quite normal for diners to start off a meal with Mieng Kam (Chiang Mai Leaf-Wrapped Appetizer – RM15), an appetizer originated from the Northern provinces of Thailand. The palate of appetizer would come with wild betel leaves (daun kaduk) to wrap in some dried shrimps (hae bee/har mai), peanuts, cubed galangal, shallots, kaffir lime, chili paddy (bird’s eye chili), toasted grated coconut and topped with some sweet plus salty based sauce. Now you know why this dish is also known as “One Mouthful” as your handy work would be put right into your mouth for that flavorful chewing. One distinctive difference compared to major Thai restaurants elsewhere would be the sauce served here. Instead of the normal caramel looking sauce, which basically consisted of melted palm sugar, fish sauce and water, this version had grated coconut and chopped dried shrimps added in. It’s a superb dish to start a meal.

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Another great dish would be their Yum Pla Duk Fu (Deep Fried Catfish in Spicy & Sour Mango Salad – RM12.90). This dish had deep fried flour coated steamed catfish flakes, topped with a combination of raw mango strips, sliced onions, carrot strips, chili paddy, dressed with some sweet spicy sauce and garnished with some roasted peanuts. This is a must try dish! Just as good as the one I tried at the outskirt of Hatyai, Thailand some years back. Note: Do consume this salad fast in order to have that crispiness from the deep fried catfish.

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An alternative salad would be Yum Cha-Om Tod Krob (Crispy Cha-Om with Thai Sauce – RM12.90). This is another great dish to compliment. Cha-Om (climbing wattle/Acacia pennata) is actually the young leaves from a tropical “coconut leaves lookalike” shrub which had became a staple food in Thai cuisine. These leafy vegetables would be deep fried in batter and laced on the plate, prior to being topped with a sliced onions, carrots, spring onions, chili paddy, dressed with some sweet and sour Thai sauce and garnished with some roasted peanuts. This is a must try dish! Note: Do consume this salad fast in order to have that crispiness from the batter fried vegetables.

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If you want to try out the World’s #1 Most Delicious Food – Massaman Curry from Thailand based on the recent CNN Go results, this delicious dish is also available here. The Gaeng Massaman Gai (two drumsticks – RM12.90) actually had a bit of Indian Muslim influence as some of the ingredients used are quite similar. The gravy looked somewhat like the Nyonya Kapitan Curry without the use of kaffir lime leave and lime juice. Instead, the dish has a more Indian flavor with a distinctive flavor from some blended galangal, palm sugar, cardamom and cassia leaves (Indian bay leaves). This dish had added potatoes and roasted peanuts. Although the taste was still acceptable to many, I personally found that it had a little bitter after taste. It could be due to too high a fire when the chef sautéed the blended curry paste. Moreover, there was this rough ingredient which I had suspected to be some toasted grated coconut being added in. The preparation for this dish is somewhat different here.

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You should never go without a Thai style steamed fish whenever you visit a Thai restaurant. We had a different version called Pla Kra Pong Neung Manow (Steamed Fish in Lime & Chili Marinade – RM35 for small fish). This signature dish has concocted flavors from some lime juice, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, chili paddy, chilies and sugar. Although this dish was rather appetizing, I personally prefer the normal salty steamed ones with just sour plums, tomatoes and tofu as most of the dishes were already having too much of spiciness, sourness and sweetness. We had sea bass here.

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Another dish that was presented differently was the Hor Mok Talay (Steamed Seafood Otak-Otak – RM23.90) served in a fresh coconut. The dish was a wetter version of the Nyonya Fish Otak-otak without the usage of wild betel leaves (daun kaduk) and sliced kaffir lime leaves. I had a feeling the ingredients within the coconut were stir fried rather than steamed as mentioned earlier. It had a heavy usage of Thai basil leaves combined with blended spices, sliced cabbages, onions, fresh coconut milk, prawns, squids and fish with a touch of beaten eggs. The dish was garnished with fresh coconut flesh. Overall, the dish was still acceptable by many.

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I was surprised that they do serve Ped Sam Rod (Deep Fried Roasted Duck with Triple Sauce – RM18.90) as well, which you don’t usually get this dish from elsewhere. The duck meat was rather tender and flavorful. There were strong hints of garlic, tomatoes, chilies and plum sauce being used in the dish.

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Never leave a Thai restaurant without trying out their Tom Yam soup. What we had was the Tom Yam Ruam Mit Talay (Mixed Seafood Spicy Thai Tom Yam – RM21.90). The soup had large prawns, fish, squids, oyster mushroom, tomatoes with some chopped spring onions and coriander. Well, the soup tasted like those easily available tom yam paste with a strong sweetness and lime juice sourness. I prefer Tom Kha, a clearer soup based and not so spicy version. There was a bit of evaporated milk added in this soup for that extra creaminess.

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As for dessert, we had the Tub Tim Krob (Red Starched Water Chestnut & Jackfruit in Coconut Milk – RM4.50). I love the taste of the mildly sweetened concoction with generous amount of cubed water chestnuts and sliced jackfruit given.

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The next dessert was the Khao Neow Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice – RM9.90). The dessert came with a long roll of steamed glutinous rice, garnished with some deep fried mung beans, served with slightly salted sweetened coconut milk and mango slices. The combination was good, except that I would prefer a thicker coconut milk on my glutinous rice dessert. I had tasted a thicker coconut milk version elsewhere, which had some corn starch added in for a thicker and creamier spread.

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Overall, the food here is quite nice if you know how to have some mix and match dishes that would not be almost similar in taste. Most of the recommended signature dishes here are towards a spicy, sweet and sour taste. You should ask the person-in-charge to combine some dishes more of a salty based such as the Gai Hor Bai Toey (Pandan Chicken – RM3/pc), Kar Moo Nan Dang (Stewed Pork Trotter – RM27/RM45.90), Gai Phad Kraprow (Stir Fry Chicken with Basil Leaves – RM12.90/RM22.90) or just a simple sty fry mixed vegetables with prawns/roasted pork (Pad Phuk Ruam Mit Goong/Moo Grob – RM12.90/RM19.90).

It’s not hard to locate the restaurant as it situated along a row of shop houses at the main road of Jalan Burma in Pulau Tikus, Penang. If you are coming from town towards Pulau Tikus, watch out for Jalan Burma/Jalan Cantonment traffic lights. You can see the restaurant diagonally on your right (Pinang Medical Supplies is at the corner lot). Immediately after the traffic lights, turn right into the service road and find your parking space there. It might be a bit hard to get a parking space at certain peak hours, so another option would be go straight into Lintang Burma for more parking spaces.

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Name: WANG THAI RESTAURANT
Address: 294 Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 5168
Business Hours: 11.00am-2.30pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Monday except on Public Holiday)
GPS: 5.432003, 100.311637

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (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)

For more information, please visit <http://www.tourdirections.com.my/directory/>. Planning your Penang food tour? TourDirections Penang helps you discover Penang cafes and restaurants, Penang hawker food, Penang budget hotel and Penang homestay at TourDirections.com.my.

BORA BORA BY SUNSET PENANG PAREO PARTY 2011

Posted by crizlai On September - 5 - 2011

Criz Bon Appetite together with a few bloggers had the privileges to be invited to the Bora Bora By Sunset’s Pareo Party 2011 at Batu Ferringhi, Penang, on Saturday night. The pareo party was a blast with a huge crowd of ladies and men trying to outwear each other with their best pareo displays. We have Shahriman Gunter as the emcee for the night.

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Thanks to Ms. Melynda Soon and the Bora Bora staff for making our presences there so enjoyable and fun-filled. Almost everyone is aware of the existence of Bora Bora By Sunset by now and the ever friendly staff sure knows how to keep their patrons happy with great food, cool beverages, electrifying entertainment in a nice Balinese style setting by the beach.

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The event started with a contest to test out the drinking power of both sexes. Finally, we did find out that certain ladies can drink faster than the other even though they have shapely figures. Amazing! There was also the men’s category. I don’t have to disclose which blogger was one of the winners right? It was so obvious~ LOL! Well, all of them must thank Carlsberg for giving them free beers. Haha!

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The staff of Bora Bora By Sunset also did put on their best costumes to present us with a Hawaiian number. All the ladies were so sexily dressed. Oops… did I say all ladies? Well, it did take lots of courage for Wipeout Jacob to be cross dressed as a female dancer. Well done Jacob but I hope those “inspectors” did not harass you much at all. Haha!

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Here’s the video of their performance:

Next in the program were the Best Dressed Women and Men in Pareo Contest. I guessed the men chickened out as they have nothing much to show in public. LOL! The women excelled better in pareo dressings as you can see them at all the corners of the bistro. Eventually, the winners went to a lady with the most creative way of dressing in pareo and a tourist with his “sarung” and Scottish cap. Haha! Each of the winners won a bottle of wine home, courtesy from the management of Bora Bora By Sunset.

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Educators always say that it would not be too late to learn something new. Teacher “Ernest” sure has “her” way to teach the guys how to wear a pareo well. Of course, those “students” needed to be taught the right way, with wigs and hamburger buns stuffed in front to be more “feminine”. We all had a good laugh!

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There was also the special fire show by Anita (nicknamed Nita by the locals) during the night. It was an energetic and superb performance under the dimly lighted surroundings.

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Do catch part of her performances in the video below:

Eventually, the staff did a catwalk in their best pareos while dragging more of the patrons up onto the stage for a few dance numbers.

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A display of fireworks presentation was set off to mark the bistro’s appreciation to the patrons for a wonderful night there.

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The party went on until the wee hours of the morning.

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If you love great food and beverages in a relaxing and breezy place, do head to Bora Bora By Sunset for your next great dining and entertainment experience. They do have fusion local and Western delights to please all taste buds. It might be a bit hard for foreigners to find this bistro as it would not be visible from the main road. But no worries as I’m going to show you some landmarks that would lead you directly to their door step. Just drive all the way up to Batu Ferringhi until you reach the traffic lights with Petronas petrol station at the junction. Further up would be Lone Pine Hotel on your right. Drive slowly and watch out for the tall Tarbush Lebanese Restaurant neon signboard on your right. Just before the restaurant is the Beach Corner Seafood Restaurant (Happy Mart Mini Market is just across the road). Park inside the car park (RM3 per entrance/RM5 on weekends) and you would see a green gate on the right. Walk through that gate, turn left and you would see the bistro there waiting to greet you with open arms.

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Note: The entrance to Bora Bora By Sunset is actually opposite the Desire Reflexology Centre and Fish Spa (left side of Jalan Batu Ferringhi) but quite unnoticeable with a small signboard in yellow neon lights with a beach view background. As parking spaces would be very limited inside there, it would be a better idea to park your car next door (Beach Corner Seafood Restaurant) with ample parking spaces.

BORABORAMAP

Name: BORA BORA BY SUNSET
Address: Lot 415, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours:
12.00noon-1.00am (Sunday to Thursday)
12.00noon until 3.00am (Friday, Saturday and Eve of Public Holiday)
4.00pm-7.00pm (Happy Hours)
Contact: 012-553 1313 (Ms. Melynda Soon)
GPS: 5.474476, 100.248114

 

DELICIOUS MEALS AT SUKHOTHAI BEEF NOODLES HOUSE

Posted by crizlai On September - 1 - 2011

Note: This eatery had moved to Gurney Paragon, Penang.

If you are observant enough, you might realize that more and more Thai restaurants have mushroomed within the district of Pulau Tikus, Penang. Hot tourist spots such as the Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple (Reclining Buddha/Sleeping Buddha) and the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple, had daily attracted a steady flow of locals and tourists, who by any chance would love to have a taste of some nice Thai dishes. With Thailand having 6 regions with 76 provinces (excluding Bangkok which is the capital city), these restaurants have gone all out to serve diners with their unique specialties from their own province. Some of the notable ones include Annathai-Kitchen, Aroi Thai Restaurant, Wang Thai Restaurant and the latest being Sukhothai Beef Noodles House.

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As the name has been described quite clearly, Sukhothai Beef Noodles House specialized more towards beef noodles and other street food from the Sukhothai Province. The Sukhothai Beef Noodle (RM12.90) would come in 3 options, namely the original, glass noodles or instant noodles. We had the original which had thin Thai noodles, served with a variety of beef chunks (3 different parts of meat), beef balls, bean sprouts and garnished with lots of chopped coriander. Each bowl would come with some additional raw bean sprouts and Thai basil leaves for you to add in. The soup had the taste of some selected herbs (somewhat milder than our local Bak Kut Teh) and a mild sweetness from some rock sugar. The beef chunks were tender to my liking. I love the beef balls the most as they have the bounciness texture. There would be some chili flakes, fish sauce, sugar and Thai chili sauce to pep up the taste of the soup to your preferences but beware of the Thai chili sauce as it could be too spicy hot for many.

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Since having another version of the beef noodles with instant noodles would be a bit too common. We decided to go for the Sukhothai Beef Noodles (RM12.90) with glass noodles. Most of us felt that this version tasted better than the previous one although the soup base was the same. Somehow with the soup seeped right into the glass noodles, the whole concoction tasted better. This is a must try dish!

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There was also the Thai Fried Rice (RM12.90). The chef sure knows how to handle the heat for frying rice well. The dish was awesome with some distinctive taste of fish sauce with a mild sprinkle of sugar. Each grain of rice was well flavored with a nice aroma from the high heat cooking (wok hei). This would be a nice dish for all ages.

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I actually have a phobia for Phad Thai (RM12.90) as most of the ones I had tasted contained too much of sugar to my liking. This restaurant indeed changed my perception on this dish as it had just the right sweetness and taste which suited me well. The dish had deep fried bean curd cubes, prawns, bean sprouts, chopped chives, Chinese sausage slices and a sprinkle of some coarsely pounded roasted peanuts. What surprised me was the usage of the Chinese sausages as I have not seen anyone in town using them. Moreover, the whole presentation looked so much like our local Char Koay Teow, except that they were using the thin Thai noodles instead.

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If you think that having beef noodles or the fried stuff might be a bit too heat strong for your internal organs, do try out their Fish Maw Soup (RM19.90). This soup was starch-like, similar to the Oriental Sharksfin Soup. The outlook was more dish-like than soup-like as it would go well with rice too. The whole mini pot had a generous amount of well flavored fish maw, pork chunks, mushrooms and quail eggs, garnished with chopped coriander, filled with a punch of tasty flavors.

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Although the menu was quite limited to only 4 main dishes, the dessert section which also had limited 3 options did not let us down. The Durian Sticky Rice (RM8.90) was heaven! Instead of using solely the white glutinous rice, the restaurant also combined some black glutinous rice. It had some mildly sweetened coconut milk with almost no fiber and creamy local durian flesh. This is a must have dessert after your meal. Another option would be the Mango Sticky Rice (RM8.90). It tasted nice with ripened mango but somehow it was still incompatible to the smoothness from the former dessert. There was also the Banana Sago (RM4.90) which tasted just as great as the rest. The dish had sago in mildly sweetened coconut milk and steamed banana slices. The banana was from the dwarf Pisang Mas (Bee Chio) breed. Most of the Nyonya households would use steamed Pisang Raja instead for a more sweetened taste. As for beverage, we decided to try out their Sweet & Sour Roselle Juice (RM4.90) and Green Tea (without milk – RM3.90/with milk – RM4.90). All the drinks ordered were thick and nice.

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Overall, the food here is quite healthy as the dish did not have overused of oil and sugar as in some of the Thai restaurants scattered everywhere in town.

It’s not hard to locate the restaurant as it situated along a row of shop houses in Pulau Tikus, Penang. If you are coming from Jalan Burma towards Pulau Tikus, watch out for Lebuhraya Codrington on your left. Immediately after the junction, turn left into the service road (TanMark Bookstore/7-11) and park your car there. The restaurant is just across the road next to Klinik Bala.

SUKHOTHAIMAP

Name: SUKHOTHAI BEEF NOODLES HOUSE
Address: 238, Jalan Burma, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 9262, 016-438 7788 (Joanne Ang), 016-433 5588 (Ce Ang)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm (Closed Wednesday)
GPS: 5.430093, 100.313247

RATING:
Ambience: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 6/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

THE GRAND OPENING OF DRAGON9INE AT BELLISA ROW PENANG

Posted by crizlai On July - 24 - 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DRAGON9INEMAP

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

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 6/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

Not many people are aware that hidden at a little corner of the Pasar & Balai Rakyat Gelugor, Penang, lies a humble man by the name of Sulaiman Hameed (nicknamed Mamu and from a Pakistani parentage), selling his much sought after Chapati & Roti Jala. Some dignitaries such as the Governor of Penang and members of the Perlis royal families had the opportunity to try out his specialties. Even with the constant increase in ingredients prices, Sulaiman had without fail maintained his mother’s traditional recipe since he started his business 16 years ago. To him, he believed in serving his customers with the best while maintaining low charges. That’s the reason why until today, his steady flows of loyal customers are still queuing up to get hold of his soft and nutritious chapati.

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The Chapatis, flat unleavened breads made with the combination of atta flour (grinded whole wheat flour) and water, mildly toasted on a preheated dry skillet (tava). Thus, it’s and fiber-rich and low in cholesterol, making the bread healthy for just everyone, especially those with diabetics. The Roti Jala (Netted Bread or Lacy Crepe) on the other hand, is a local delicacy, especially during the fasting month in Malaysia. The mixture prior to being molded on a preheated skillet, “screwpine” brushed with oil, consists of flour, eggs, milk, salt, turmeric powder (coloring) and water. Both these delicacies would go well with any curry dishes.

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Here’s a summary of the food available at Sulaiman’s stall (price update as on 5 March 2012):

Chapati (RM0.80/pc)
Roti Jala (RM1.00 for 3 pcs)
Chicken Curry (RM3.00/pc with potatoes)
Minced Beef Curry (RM1.60/plate)
Vegetables Curry (RM1.60/plate)
Sardine Curry (RM1.60/plate)

Set Meals (2pcs Chapatis/4pcs Roti Jala)
With Chicken Curry (RM4.50/set)
With Minced Beef Curry (RM3.00/set)
With Vegetables Curry (RM3.00/set)
With Sardine Curry (RM3.00/set)

The Chicken Curry was way the best I had so far as the curry was amazingly fragrant from the thick creamy coconut milk, mint leaves, tomatoes and screwpine (pandan) leaves other than the usual herbs and spices. With each set ordered, they would be a slice of potato. This dish is my all the time favorite.

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The Minced Beef Curry had a similar curry taste compared to the above but with distinctive flavors coming from the coarsely minced chunks of beef combined with potato cubes and onions. Beef lovers would love this dish as you won’t find any tough parts in this concoction.

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The Vegetables Curry was cooked differently as in korma style with traces of green peas, onions, carrots, mint leaves and potatoes. It had a slight nutty taste as I would suspect that grinded almonds or cashew nuts were added in for that creaminess and that mild fragrant from the added screwpine (pandan) leaves. It was tasty indeed.

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The last curry available would be the Sardine Curry. Of course, the dish would come from the tomato paste canned sardine stir fried with lots of sliced onions and green chilies. Somehow, the boss had a little twist in cooking up this dish by adding in mild spices and mint leaves with the right amount of sugar. I’m not a fond lover of canned sardines but this dish went well with the roti jala I had.

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On top of selling chapati and roti jala, they would also have some sweet desserts such as bubur kacang hijau (mung beans porridge), bubur kacang merah (azuki beans porridge), bubur gandum (wheat porridge) bubur pulut hitam (black glutinous rice porridge), bubur ubi keledek (sweet potatoes porridge) and so on, alternate on different days. Each packet would only cost you RM1.30.

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Overall, the curries would go well with either the chapatis and/or roti jala. It would be advisable to visit the stall as early as possible to grab your choice chicken pieces as the flow of customers could sometimes be quite unpredictable, especially during the Ramadhan period. Most of the time, their products would be sold out by 7.00pm although their business hours is until 9.00pm. Do try to call up if you are unsure. You can also make booking in advance for any function such as house warming, reunion, party, Chinese New Year, etc. It would be great if you could bring your pots and plates to contain the food prior to collection. Gosh! Little did I realize that I had engaged them for my functions for the past 10 years. Amazing! 🙂

If you are coming from the Penang Bridge via Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah in Gelugor area, keep to your right and drive all the way up to the traffic lights (Hindu temple on your left). Turn right into Hilir Pemancar (Post Office Gelugor is at the left corner building) and drive on for about 600m and you will see the beige colored roofing Pasar & Balai Rakyat Gelugor on your right. Turn right into the service road and you will see the chapati stall just next to the food court there.

MAMUCHAPATIMAP

Name: SULAIMAN CHAPATI & ROTI JALA
Residence Address: D-1-7, Taman Tun Sardon, 11700 Gelugor, Penang, Malaysia.
Site Address:
Pasar & Balai Rakyat Gelugor (next to food court), Hilir Pemancar, 11700 Gelugor, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-594 6116 (En. Sulaiman / En. Johan)
Business Hours: 3.30pm-9.00pm (Closed Wednesday)
GPS: 5.369192, 100.305819

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: 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)

 

During the recent Penang Food Hunting Trip 2011, organized by Food Digest Magazine, Malaysia’s No. 1 food and lifestyle magazine, Taiwanese Celebrity Chef Chen Hong (陳鴻), together with renowned Chef Park Tae Yeong (from Korea) and Chef Billy Ng Yih Lee (runner-up of 8TV’s Hot Chef Season One) were bought to a little Chinese restaurant down town in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. The restaurant by the name of Chin Bee Tea Restaurant, coincidentally, was also my most recommended restaurant in 2009 as well as in 2010. The chefs were glad that they had the privileges to meet up with the last remaining of the top few Chinese cuisine chefs in Penang, Sifu Malai Chong, 68 years old. With over 5 decades of cooking experiences locally and internationally, the Sifu managed to capture the chefs’ hearts with his creative culinary skills and dishes.

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Three signature dishes from the old chef’s own creation were presented namely the Stuffed Pork Trotter with Eight Treasures (八寳豬手 – RM80nett), Dry Fry Grouper Head (生炒石斑魚頭 – RM30nett) and Five Continents Under the Moonlight (月光照五洲 – RM30nett). All the chefs were impressed with the “Stuffed Pork Trotter with Eight Treasures” as it was rich in flavors and without the strong pork smell, evidently stated by Chef Chen Hong during his audio interview with the bloggers. He even tried to survey more on the ingredients used in the dish. I’ll brief more on the ingredients and preparations in our recent interview with the Sifu below. The “Dry Fry Grouper Head”, on the other hand, was specially marinated in the chef’s secret sauce and dry fried in the fish’s own juice, WITHOUT ANY DROP OF WATER. It had some vegetables such as carrots, onions, snow peas and the pungent taste from the added chilies. The “Five Continents Under the Moonlight” was actually the chef’s smooth and silky steamed egg with five different types of toppings, namely mussels, prawns, grouper fillets, squids and century eggs.

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Other than the three main dishes, Chef Chen Hong was also introduced to two of their signature noodle dishes such as the Hong Tu Mien (鴻圖面) which had Ee Foo Noodles (伊麵), in a sharksfin soup like broth with chopped prawns, chicken slices and eggs, served with black vinegar and the Gui Hua Mien (桂花麵) which also had Ee Foo Noodles but stir fried with a generous amount of crab meat, scallops, prawns and egg, garnished with lots of sliced lettuce, served with the chef’s own concocted fragrantly fried chili paste (sambal).

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In a recent interview with Sifu Malai Chong, we had the Stuffed Pork Trotter with Eight Treasures (八寳豬手 – RM80nett) recreated to check out what made Chef Chen Hong so impressed with this dish. I would say I was as equally impressed as the chef with the rich taste and quality of the ingredients within the stuffed pork trotter.

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The Sifu had really put in all his time, effort and passion into this dish and at RM80nett, this is super cheap. To get rid of the normal strong pork smell, the pork trotter was soaked and washed many times. After ridding of the excess water, a layer of seasoning was applied to the trotter and then deep fried to perfection. When cool down, the Sifu carefully deboned the trotter, while reserving the meaty parts to be added back into the dish. The stuffing actually consisted of a combination of stir fried meat cubes from the trotter (豬手肉) plus eight other treasures such as scallops (乾貝), sea cucumber (海参), mushrooms (花冬菇), Chinese water chestnuts (馬蹄), Chinese chestnuts (栗子), lotus seeds (蓮子), carrots (紅蘿卜) and glutinous rice (糯米). These stir fried ingredients were then stuffed back into the deboned trotter, sewn up and steamed up to 6 hours. The remaining juice from the steamed trotter together with some corn flour, dashes of Shao Xing wine would then be used to make the gravy with some additional pre-marinated steamed scallops. The taste of the filling was like the Chinese savory dumpling, rich and delicious. You would need to order this dish in advance to avoid disappointment.

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You can have a look at how many bones there were left on trotter. There was only one left and the rest are just cartilages, full of collagen, a protein that is commonly found in the body of mammals. It’s believed to slow down the aging processes and keep you young although there’s no proven medical research that it would really help. It’s just a trend, especially amongst the ladies who would want to try out anything just to be wrinkle free. Anyway, collagen is harmless as it would just break down into amino acid just like any other protein.

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Here’s a short video on the interview with Sifu Malai Chong by our podcaster, Mr. Willy Wah. It’s in Cantonese and is up in Mobile Radio Hong Kong now.

The chef also came out with two more of his self created dishes. One of them was the funny named Granny Asking Direction (婆婆問路 – RM20nett) which I had introduced last year. It’s a poor man’s way of having an expensive sea cucumber dish. The Sifu steamed the fuzzy melon/squash (毛瓜/mo kua) in thick broth (上湯) and seasoning to make the melon looked just like sea cucumbers and the dish had some seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, scallops and sliced chicken sausages. The whole presentation was rather exclusive. This dish would suit the elderly too as the “sea cucumber” aka melon would not be as tough as the real one. Moreover, the thick gravy matched well with the rest of the ingredients.

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The next dish also had a bombastic name – the Iron Net Golden Dragon (鐵網金龍 – RM3.50nett/pcs, Min order 2 pieces). It’s even cheaper than most of the Thai items I had tried before. As for this dish, there was again the hardship in getting the dish out as it was not as simple as it looked to get that shape. Each piece would be molded into a pear-like shape with a “dragon” aka prawn wrapped with salted duck egg and “gold nugget” (金錢肉) as the ones I normally get from Choo Choo Heng during Chinese New Year. This shaped item would then be rolled into some frying flour, wrapped in the chef’s secret “iron net” and then rolled again into frying flour prior to being deep fried. The secret “iron net” which is actually a pig’s caul fat netting (猪油網), a very thin lacy membrane that surrounds the viscera of a pig, is a traditional Chinese way of containing a loose product prior to deep frying. It shaped the product when the fat melts away, leaving that extra fragrant that would be simply delicious. The end products were sliced into halves and served with some coriander, chopped pickled ginger (調味醋姜片), pickled Rakkyo bulbs (酸甜蕎頭) and Thai chili sauce.

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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.

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-9.30pm (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)

 

STREET WESTERN FOOD WITH A CLASS AT DINER’S CHOICE

Posted by crizlai On July - 5 - 2011

When you mention about Street Western Food in Penang, you would get lots of responses that this place is the best or that place served the best whatsoever, from Pulau Tikus area until as far as Fettes Park, right? It’s true that each has their own signature dishes but one thing they have in common is the usage of frozen mixed vegetables which I’m not so much in favor of. Hard green peas, barely fresh frozen vegetables or even tasteless frozen vegetables from China were some of the complaints I mentioned constantly. Some of my friends even suggested that I visit hotels or posh restaurants since I’m so fussy. LOL! Well, I can now prove that you are wrong. I had discovered and revisited this new treasure of mine for the last 4 months just to be certain that they are consistent enough to serve you the best in presentation, freshness and taste at the price of general Street Western Food. Welcome to the latest gem in the world of Street Western Food – Diner’s Choice Western Food.

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The first thing that I would normally do when visiting any Western Food outlets, whether it’s street or restaurant would be to try out their mushroom soup. I have read from many blogs about the soup served at some of the prominent Street Western Food venues and most of them would compliment on the cheap pricing of RM2.50-RM3.00 per bowl. Of course, those bowls of soup would be cheap as they are mostly stirred up from instant mix. At Diner’s Choice, a few varieties of fresh mushrooms were carefully selected, toasted, blended and cooked in a secret recipe that you would yearn for more. Their thick, creamy and flavorful Mushroom Soup (RM5.00nett) would be presented beautifully in a wide dish, together with a slice of garlic bread. For those who do not have such a big appetite, I have to forewarn you that you might not be able to finish up the soup since the rest of the main course could be such a big portion too.

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The main course would consist of chicken, beef, lamb and fish, prepared in your preferred style of cooking – grilled, batter-fried or baked. You also have an option to choose from 3 types of gravy, namely black pepper sauce, garlic sauce and mushroom sauce which had been specially pepped up in taste with brandy. What? Brandy? Yes, indeed. This is what made Diner’s Choice unique compared to the rest as they believed in providing their diners with the best without charging them extra.

Let’s have a look at their Batter-fried Chicken in Black Pepper Sauce (RM9.00nett). The presentation alone had already stunned me at first sight. You won’t get such a presentation with so much of fresh side dishes anywhere else except in a restaurant. The chicken fillet was actually from a deboned drumstick, dipped in batter and deep fried to perfection. The only problem would be the gravy soaked meal. It would be advisable to request for the gravy to be served separately in a small bowl. The black pepper sauce was not that pungent as I would have expected. It had that mild peppery taste with traces of some herbs and fragrant sweetness from the brandy. It would suit even a child’s taste bud.

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The Batter-fried Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (RM9.00nett) was similar to the above except that this time I had different gravy. This style remained my all-time favorite as the slices of Shitake mushrooms has soaked up all the flavors and brandy from the gravy, giving each bite a squeeze of heaven. It went well with any choices of meat.

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There was one item on the menu board that caught my attention. It was the Grilled Chicken Butcher Style (RM8.50nett). I was fooled by the name as it was just grilled chicken spread with my selection of garlic sauce and topped with just a sausage and half a piece of ham. The garlic sauce on the other hand had that nice taste from the chopped garlic, mild traces of black pepper and herbs in brown sauce.

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I also tried out the Sizzling Grilled Chicken Chop (RM8.50) served in my favorite mushroom sauce. It was delicious as the chicken was well marinated and grilled, on top of having that extra charred flavor from the hot plate. The only disadvantage was that my gravy dried up too fast until I had I request for additional top-up.

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The Breaded Fish & Chips (RM7.00nett) was just normal. I found the cut to be a bit too thin and considering that dory fillet was used here, it did not have the required juiciness. I won’t mind paying a bit more if barramundi (siakap) or gold-banded jobfish (kalak) fillets were used here. Unless you love the fish fingers like texture and bite, this dish would not be my preference.

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There’s one dish that I saw many repeated orders and that was the BBQ Grilled Chicken (RM7.50nett). The dish was indeed delicious. The pounded chicken drumsticks fillet had the right flavors and combined with the chef’s specially prepared BBQ sauce, it was very palatable to anyone’s appetite.

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For meat lovers, you sure would love the Diner’s Choice Mixed Grills (RM18.50nett). It came with well marinated grilled beef rib-eye steak, lamb shoulder, chicken drumstick, ham and sausage, with a substantial amount of fresh greens and chips. If only my stomach could contain so much, I won’t mind ordering a second helping. You can choose your choice of gravy here too or you can leave it to the chef to decide for you.

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Another unique dish of theirs would be their Chicken Cordon Bleu (RM8.50nett). Instead of being presented in a dry form as what others would do, this deep fried ham and cheese stuffed chicken fillet with breadcrumbs came with the chef’s special oriental sauce. This tangy yet mildly sweetened sauce blended in real well with the chicken.

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Who said that Street Western Food must have those common items and not something out of the norm? The chef did a great job in presenting a few international dishes in his menu. One of the more noticeable ones would be the Italian Chicken Parmigiano (RM8.50nett). It looked almost like a pizza. Instead of a pizza base, it had the chef’s specially concocted tomato base, spread on a chicken fillet, topped with grated Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano hard cheese (normally substituted with the French’s version of Parmesan cheese) and baked to perfection. Just a look at the dish and you can be assured of the juiciness that remained within the meat.

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Another great recommendation would be their Grilled Fish in Chimichurri Sauce (RM7.00nett). Though it was still dory fillet being used here, at least this version maintained the moist within the fillet. The Argentine-influenced green colored Chimichurri sauce was actually the chef’s own recipe with hints of minced parsley, garlic, olive oil, red chilies (instead of red pepper flakes) and more. It was a bit spicy with a touch of sourness but it suited the fish fillet well.

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Overall, this stall does provide great Western dishes at a reasonable price. Since this is just an open air coffee shop with another stall selling stir fried dishes, it might get stuffy at times with all the oil flying about. There are a few tables away from these stalls for your dining pleasure. You can check out a bigger version of the menu board here.

As the stall within a residential coffee shop is not visible from the main road, it would be hard for those who are not familiar with the vicinity to locate it, especially using some of the small lanes which would also lead to the venue. The easiest way would be by identifying certain landmarks. If you are coming from 1-Stop Midland Park Centre along Jalan Burma, just drive all the way to the Jalan Burma/Jalan Bagan Jermal traffic lights. Drive straight towards Mt. Erskine and keep to your right. After about 1km, you would reach another traffic lights (turn left would lead you to Hong Seng Estate). Switch on your right indicator. Immediately after the traffic light, turn right into Tingkat Mt. Erskine 1 (you can see a Chinese temple at the junction on your right and a fruit stall on the other side of the junction). Turn right into the first junction (Lengkok Mt. Erskine). Drive further up and you can see the brightly lighted up coffee shop on your left at the junction of Gerbang Erskine (Erskine Grove).

DINERSCHOICEMAP

Name: DINER’S CHOICE WESTERN FOOD
Address: 1 Gerbang Erskine (Erskine Grove), Mt. Erskine, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-455 2028 (Patrick)
Business Hours: 5.00pm-11.00pm (Closed Thursday)
GPS: 5.43946, 100.303464

RATING:
Ambience: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

WESTERN CUISINE AT EL CASA WINE & DINE RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On June - 30 - 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELCASAMAP

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

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

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