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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)

MUD CRABS FEASTING AT PANG HAINAN SEAFOOD

Posted by crizlai On June - 28 - 2011

Mud crabs which are found in the estuaries and mangroves of Africa, Australia and Asia, are often sought after as a seafood delicacy, mostly in the South Asian countries. They can grow up to a few kilograms with lots of meat to savor. With a large crab sanctuary through its mangrove reserves especially in the east Malaysia, Pang (Hainan) Restaurant had decided to import such mud crab for the huge appetite of the Penangites on top of other seafood such as the grouper, mantis prawns, lobsters and so on. Presently, the mud crabs available in this restaurant are priced at RM58/kilo with a minimum order of two crabs (approximately 1.2 kilograms) with a choice of 6 flavors such as Baked Crab, Sweet & Sour Crab, Black Pepper Crab, Steamed Crab, Chili Crab and their latest addition of Kam Heong Crab.

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We took the opportunity to try out 3 of the 6 options. The first was the Black Pepper Crab. The crabs were stir fried with a generous amount of black pepper, onions, capsicum and curry leaves. Although the crabs were fresh, the taste was somehow overpowered by the over usage of sliced onions and capsicum which subdued the spiciness from the black pepper. Thus, it lacked the required fragrance to pep up the overall taste of the crabs. Sometimes, I do think that simplicity such as the usage of just some plain butter, curry leaves and black pepper would do more justice to a more flavorful bite.

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The Sweet & Sour Crab on the other hand was more flavorful compared to the former except that it had that strong and sweet chili sauce after taste. The restaurant again tried to create their own recipe by implementing lots of sliced onions with some traces of bird eye chilies (cili padi), stir fried with some beaten eggs. It was basically quite dry without much gravy. Moreover, the gravy lacked a slight sprinkle of vinegar for those wonderful sweet and sour flavors to boost up the appetite.

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The next version was the Kam Heong Crab. The name itself spelled out that the dish should be spicy and fragrant. Although the traces of sliced onions had reduced substantially, the usage of curry leaves and traceable dried shrimps somehow did not provide that flavorful “kick”. One reason could be that the dried shrimps they were using were rather big and thus did not omit that fragrance as required. The next reason was that the dish was not sautéed dry enough to get the flavorful “wok hei” (high heat cooking).

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You can also order some Mantou (80sen each) to dip in the gravy. They would normally come deep fried to have that crisp on the surface with a soft bun-like texture within.

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Other than just crabs, there are other side seafood dishes that you can order here. One of the dishes would be the Assam Prawns (RM11/100gms – 5 prawns ~ 200gms). I wonder if that was the intention of the restaurant to serve the prawns as a whole without slitting the back for the flavors to seep right into the flesh. Somehow, the usage of tamarind plus some sugar and salt did not marinate the prawns at all. The flesh was rather bland in taste. Moreover, the prawns were not fried as dry and tasty as the Nyonya Assam Prawns.

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You can also order some Deep Fried Squids (RM11/RM17/RM25). This was a lovely dish, considering that every single cut were evenly covered with batter and maintained that crispiness. The only thing I would prefer would be the slight touch of spiciness from either turmeric powder or chili flakes to pep up the flavor.

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It does not mean that you would need to have just seafood as your meal as there are also rice, noodles and porridge dishes for you to order. We tried out the Fried Rice (RM9/RM14/RM19). Well, it was just normal without the “wok hei” I preferred but with lots of small prawns and chicken cubes in it.

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Overall, the seafood dishes served here are no doubt fresh but the firmness of the crab meat would depend on the season. As for taste wise, the restaurant has their own recipe with a touch of fusion which might not be the traditional way of preparation as per your preferences. Anyway, the whole meal was still a hearty one for the few of us, considering that everything served was super fresh.

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Drive all the way up to Tanjung Bungah. Immediately after the curve at the UDA flat traffic lights, keep to your left. Drive on until you see Viva Café then Chinese Swimming Club on your right, slow down and watch out for the Pang Seafood neon signboard on your left right after the Thong Sin Building.

PANGSEAFOODMAP

Name: PANG (HAINAN) SEAFOOD
Address: 501-K&L, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-899 4863, 017-452 4863
Business Hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.00pm-10.00pm
GPS: 5.462728, 100.303191

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

If you remembered the beautiful chill out place formerly call Sunset Bistro up at Bayu Senja, Batu Ferringhi area which was burnt down due to the so-called arson attack in late January 2011, you would surely not miss out the reincarnation of such cool bistro which now carries the name of Bora Bora By Sunset. A brainchild of Ms. Melynda Soon, the bistro was opened towards the end of May this year at a new location. It’s located just a shop lot away just before the Tarbush Lebanese Restaurant, hidden right behind some night market stalls along the famous Batu Ferringhi stretch. It has a better ambiance compared to the former with more cozy and dimly lighted corners for romantic couples. The bistro covers a long stretch of cemented pathways up to the edge of the beach, with an ejected wooden platform in between, to watch the beautiful sunset over the horizon of the Andaman Sea. Comfortable and uncomplicated, this snazzy bistro is actually a reminiscent of those smaller water holes by the beaches of some South East Asian countries. With an open rainforest concept, you are assured of cheap beers, reasonable priced beverages and a decent spread of cuisine, done in the simplest way to tempt any taste bud.

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An uprising star on the night scene in Penang, Bora Bora By Sunset without fail has attracted a steady stream of regulars amongst the locals, tourists and expatriates. Even the workers there were all well trained to make the best out of your visit. Occasionally, there could be some well-heeled guests swinging and twisting out from nowhere. Are you sporting enough to put on your best dancing shoes and join in the crowd? After all, this would be the best opportunity to let your hair down and mingle with everyone.

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Do check out how fun-filled the crowd can be even on weekdays. 🙂

There would never be an ending to the choices of cuisine available here, ranging from light snacks, sandwiches, local food fares, spaghettis, pizzas to western cuisine and desserts. The Special Fried Rice (RM8.90nett) had a twist of everything Malaysian. The rice had a mild spiciness with chunks of chicken meat and prawns. The only thing that it lacked was that “wok hei” (high heat cooking) that the locals would love to have but the tourists just loved the way it was presented. It came with an Indian papadam, two big skews of succulent Malay satay, a sunny side up omelette and an assortment of fresh greens. Everything tasted well except that the kitchen should take note of the excess oil from the satay gravy. It made the rice a bit oily.

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The newly introduced Pan Grill Lemon Citrus Butter Beef (RM31.90nett) had a touch of Mediterranean flavors. It had side dishes such as sautéed potatoes and fresh greens. The slight smoky flavor from the pan grilled beef, combined with the citrus butter with a touch of black pepper and herbs blended in well with the freshly handpicked greens. Although the dish was quite appetizing, in my opinion, this concoction would suit seafood better, preferably fish. Another thing that the kitchen should take note of would be the species of potatoes used. Certain potatoes imports such as those Australian or China ones are more suitable for deep frying or boil cook rather than being sautéed. Indian potatoes would be the ideal ones as they have that nice soft texture. Diners’ choice of meat should also be considered here as some might not like their meat to be so well done. It should be a norm when ordering but somehow the waiter kind of forgotten about the importance of the diners’ preferences.

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Pizzas… I always love thin crust pizzas or those wood fire ones. We ordered The Bora Bora Special Pizza (6” – RM12.90nett or 8” – RM13.90nett) which has turkey ham, pineapple, button mushrooms and olives. Compared to the dough for the pizza base from the former outlet, this one would need more experimenting. The base was rather compact and did not provide that mild crunchiness. Moreover, the pizza base sauce was rather thinly spread and did not have that distinctive tomato taste. On top of that, fresh pineapple cuts were used instead of the sweetened canned ones. There’s nothing wrong with that except that the kitchen should have chosen a riper pineapple and got rid of the harder parts. It did not flow smoothly with each bite.

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The best part was the dessert time. We ordered the Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream (RM7.90nett). It was simply marvelous after a hearty meal. The slightly oven burned taste for the almond bits and raisin filled brownie went well with the scoop of vanilla ice cream. I just wished the scoop would be larger… haha! 😛

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As for beverages, you can get just anything from coffee, tea, soda, fruit juices, lassi, milkshake, punch, cocktail, beers to any of your preferred hard liquor. Beer lovers would surely love this bistro as they have Skol (RM8nett per bottle), Anchor (RM9nett per bottle), Tiger (RM10nett per bottle), Carlsberg (RM10nett per bottle), Guinness Stout (RM12nett per bottle), Heinekken (RM13nett per bottle) or Corona (RM19nett per bottle) which ranges from as low as RM38nett per bucket to RM93nett per bucket. Paulaner is at RM26nett per bottle. Well, we just got ourselves Iced Peach Tea (RM5.90nett) and Mango Lassi (RM8.90nett).

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With such a relaxing and stress-free environment combined with the ever friendly and fun-filled staff, it would be a great hangout place for just any ages. Moreover, all the items are at nett price. As for the food, there are still rooms for improvement since the newly appointed chief, Chef Mady Ahmad, just came in barely a week ago to revamp the whole kitchen. I guessed I may have to comment more on their food during my next visit.

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) 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

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

 

Unless you are a hard knocked angler, you might not even be aware that such a seafood restaurant as the Gertak Sanggul Fishing Stage existed at the far south-east end of the Penang island. A paradise amongst anglers who prefer to relax under the shady areas next to the man-made fishing pond rather than heading up the hilly path of the Gertak Sanggul’s secondary jungle to the jackpot angling destination, this place would always be their favorite fishing spot. You can try your angling luck by paying RM40 for 3 hours of hooking up fishes such as the red snapper (ang cho), sea bass (siakap) or mangrove jack (ang ka tia). Presently, there’s an ongoing jackpot of over RM3,000 for whomever that can capture the sole goliath grouper (long tan). An additional RM200 would be given for the return of the prize fish. Business hours would be from 9.00am until 1.00am.

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The setting up of the restaurant is simple with just a few tables by the pond and a few more along the patio area. It was amazing that you can’t find any menu here as they would just cook up anything upon your request, even with the fish that you had just landed. Dishes could include any fried rice or noodles, ala carte dishes to preordered course dinner with cold plate (RM80) as starter.

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As the few of us just dropped by impromptu, we tried out their ala carte dishes with rice. The first dish that arrived was their Steamed Thai Style Red Snapper (RM28). The fish was barely 500gms, thus we did not get much meat on this skinny fellow. Fortunately, the gravy with traces of onions, chopped garlic, button mushrooms, green pepper, tomatoes, tamarind and lemongrass was quite appetizing. It had the mild sourness and saltiness that could be just as good as the Wong Chau Jun sour fish vermicelli noodles down at Jalan Rangoon, Penang.

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The next dish that was presented was the Marmite Chicken (RM10). All the crispy meat pieces were from a drumstick. The yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing, combined with some sprinkle of sugar, caramelized and stir fried with some chopped onions and curry leaves blended in real well with the deep fried chicken pieces. They were rather tasty except that I would prefer to have deboned ones instead.

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Frankly speaking, the next dish which was the Kung Po Mantis Prawns (RM10), tasted quite similar to the Marmite Chicken as it also had some sugar added in rather than having the savory flavors as I had expected it to be. The dish had some chopped onions and dried chilies added in but there was not much spiciness in it as it lacked the more usage of dried chilies. Overall, the dish tasted quite nice with the crispiness from the batter infused mantis prawns but somehow this process drained the juiciness within the mantis prawns. I would recommend that you order either the former or the latter but not both due to the close similarity in taste.

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You should try out the Sambal Asparagus (RM10). It was palatable as the dish had that nice fragrance from some toasted prawn paste (belacan). Not only was the dish less oily, the crunch from the asparagus and the freshness from the prawns were just right. I only wished the portion was a bit bigger.

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The main highlight of the night was the Spicy Salted Egg Crabs (RM48). We had two huge and really fresh meat crabs stir fried in some curry based concoction together with salted duck eggs. The added curry leaves made the flavors from the dish even more irresistible. It had all the nice flavors but I found something missing from the dish. It was the significant amount of salted egg yolk bits. I guessed the chef would have used his bowl of pre-prepared salted eggs instead of providing one whole duck egg. What a joke! Moreover, the price of the dish had increased tremendously over a few months. It used to be around RM36 sometime last year. I actually don’t mind paying that amount if the crabs were filled with delicious but high cholesterol egg yolk~ 😛

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Overall, this restaurant could be quite nice for a family outing after an evening stroll along the beautiful beaches of Gertak Sanggul. Price wise, it could be a bit high considering that I can get quite similar quality dishes nearer to the town area without driving all the way through the dark corners of the beach stretches. Moreover, the brewed beverages here were too diluted for my liking.

If you are coming from the Bayan Lepas FTZ area along Jalan Bayan Lepas towards the Penang International Airport, drive over the overhead bridge towards Teluk Kumbar. Drive on for around 6-7km and watch out for a big “Hai Boey Seafood” direction signboard on your left at a junction. Turn left into the junction which would also lead you towards Gertak Sanggul. Drive on until you see the “Hai Boey Seafood” signboard on your left. Drive all the way until the end of the road and watch out for the old signboard (Pusat Makanan Laut dan Memancing Ikan Gertak Sanggul Fishing Stage) on your right which is just before to a bus stop (Bus Route #308). Turn right into the sandy road and you would see the restaurant on the left. Make sure you visit this restaurant as early as possible (as at 6.00pm) or you might have to drive back under quite dimly lighted stretch of road home.

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Name: GERTAK SANGGUL FISHING STAGE
Address: 388, MK 8, Gertak Sanggul, Teluk Kumbar, 11910 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: 6.00pm-12.00am (Closed Wednesday)
Contact: 604-649 1812, 012-494 7322, 012-470 8989, 016-480 9109
GPS: 5.283129, 100.191296

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: 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)

I was honored to be invited to grace the launching of Time Out Penang, The Insider’s Guide to Penang 2011/2012 yesterday, together with the honorable Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Lim Guan Eng at Aseana Café & Bar, Straits Quay, Penang. This guidebook is published by Mongoose Publishing (M) Sdn Bhd, and showcased the wonderful state of Penang, from the historic architecture and the unique street food culture to the world class hotels and resorts. “Here’s a guidebook which captured the spirit of Penang. I felt like I was being shown around Penang by a proud Penangite,” said YAB Lim Guan Eng.

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Time Out Penang, The Insider’s Guide to Penang 2011/ 2012 is a 150 pages, A4 sized, glossy magazine-guide, presenting a typically comprehensive, honest and trustworthy account of Penang’s travel hotspots for the high-end tourists, business travelers, expatriates, and huge affluent local readership who enjoy and act upon what they were told by Time Out. This annual publication is distributed to relevant countries across the region and key international destinations around the world. This well-traveled audience is eager to explore more of the world and cannot wait to read and see more about the breathtaking sights and sounds of Penang, from the historic architecture and the unique street food culture to the world class hotels and resorts.

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Time Out is an international, multimedia publisher of cultural experiences that provides inspiration to city dwellers around the world. Currently operating regular magazines in 40 cities around the world and guidebooks in several more, the Time Out brand is instantly recognized and trusted by residents from the world’s top cities. “Time Out Penang is no exception as it derives deep into Penang and presents the best that this beautiful state has to offer, as recommended by insiders who know the best,” said Graham Paling, Group Managing Director of Mongoose Publishing. We are glad to have CK Lam, one of the best food writers around Penang to be part of the Time Out Penang team.

The invited guests were served with some refreshments during the Time Out Penang 2011/2012 launch by Aseana Café & Bar, Straits Quay, Penang at their sophisticated yet cozy restaurant. Some of their finger food could be quite impressive in terms of presentation and taste.

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On top of that, there were numerous ongoing programs that kept the Straits Quay visitors occupied. Amongst them were the weekend flea market and promotional booths that had interesting items up for sales, ranging from natural soap, herbs and spices, cakes, magazines and books, toys, costume jewelries, hotel promotions, tea & wine and more.

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Many fun-filled activities were held throughout the day such as dance performance by the Burlesque troupe from SuperStar Libra, traditional Nyonya dance, fashion show by the Bran et Daguet boutique, Straits Quay, which specializes in elegantly cut couture and ready-to-wear cocktail dresses and occasion wear with international appeal and local bands.

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I guessed the highlight from the one-day event would be the belly dancing from the SuperStar Libra’s Burlesque troupe that caught most of the ladies there putting on their best pair of binoculars to stare at the handsome and hunky European dancers. On top of that, the guys were not excluded as I saw some jaws dropping with eyes fixed on the belly dancer from Ukraine. Well, here’s the video on the dance performance in case you missed it~ LOL! 😛

If you would love to get your hand on a copy of the newly launched Time Out Penang 2011/2012 or the soon to release Time Out Malaysia 2011/2012, do check out your nearest newsstands or any leading bookstores. Each book would cost you RM38. You could also buy direct and get a 10% discount if you purchase online through their website. Those who would like to enquire more about their coming issues, whether it’s Time Out KL, Time Out Malaysia, Esquire, Expatriate Lifestyle, Gold Vacations, RSGC’s The Circular, Al Musafir, Essential Education or the newly launched Time Out Penang, can do so by filling up their contact form or call up +603-2166 6650.


A trip up Teluk Kumbar today proved fruitful for Chef Chen Hong (陳鴻) and his entourage as they finally get to visit the durian orchard that had named one of their native durians (土榴蓮) as 鴻榴槤/Hong Durian. Even before the chef’s arrival, this species of durians which has been in existence for over 2 decades and was nicknamed as “crocodile skin durian” were already selling like hotcakes amongst the locals.

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It was amazing how the owner knew how to differentiate the dozens species of native durians here. One thing for sure, they chose the ideal one to name it after Chef Chen Hong. The dark yellow colored flesh of this durian has that smooth custard creamy sweetness with a hint of fermented wine after taste. The fruit was almost all meaty with small seed. The quality can be compared to the second hottest selling durian, Hor Lor (Calabash/葫蘆), just right after the hottest selling Ang Hae (Red Prawn/紅蝦). What an honor for Chef Chen Hong to have that fruit under his name. This durian would surely do well if exported to Taiwan.

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An expert in his culinary skills as always, Chef Chen Hong opened up a durian with ease. He charmingly remarked that the durians should be sold overseas not as a fruit but something exotic and unique that can be created in many forms of delicacies. He had even thought up of a few recipes which durian would be the main ingredient impromptu. They don’t address him as the Culinary Prince (美食王子) in Taiwan for no reasons, right? 🙂

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Chef Park (from Korea) and Chef Billy Ng (runner-up of 8TV’s Hot Chef Season One) also had their try outs in opening durians. I wonder if the owner was serious enough to name their two durians as “Korea” and “Billy Boy”. Chef Park who was not a lover for durians eventually took to a liking for them.

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The up the hill durian orchard was still untarnished with man-made pollution. The stream was so clean that you can still drink from it. Many fishes and prawns were sighted swimming about happily without the intrusion of human kind. The atmosphere was fresh and clean with abundant flora and fauna blossoming everywhere. Even a rare species of butterfly flew over and landed on my hand. What a beautiful sight that was. The orchard which spanned from Teluk Kumbar to Tanjung Asam (“chui cheang” where angling trips to the nearby Pulau Kendi was often planned) had many other famous branded durians such as the Ang Hae (Red Prawn/紅蝦), Hor Lor (Calabash/葫蘆), XO, Kapili Susu, Lipan, D2, D24, 604, Ooi Keong Ong (Turmeric King/Kunyit King/黄姜王), Xiao Hong (Small Red/小紅), Ganja (Cannabis), Chneh Poay Kia (Green Skin Boy/青皮仔), Bakuli (Marbles), Phua Cincu (Half Pearl) and many more. Other local fruits such as rambutans, mangosteens, cempedak, etc are also available here.

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The evening event was also attended by the entourage of Chef Chen Hong, Chef Park, Chef Billy Ng, Food Digest crew members, FoodTok, family members and friends of the owner, food bloggers and reporters. It was indeed a fun-filled outing for everyone after some hectic weeks of planning, organizing and food hunting for the best food in Penang.

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If you are coming from the Bayan Lepas FTZ area along Jalan Bayan Lepas towards the Penang International Airport, drive over the overhead bridge towards Teluk Kumbar. Drive on for around 6-7km and watch out for a big “Hai Boey Seafood” direction signboard on your left at a junction. Turn left into the junction which would also lead you towards Gertak Sanggul. Drive on until you see the “Hai Boey Seafood” signboard on your left. Slow down. Drive on for another 400m and watch out for a small slope on your right (GPS: 5.283556, 100.209471). Drive up the slope and you would see a small temple on your right. Just follow the sign boards available and you would reach your destination within 5 minutes.

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Name: SONG HAI’S DURIAN ORCHARD
Address: Teluk Kumbar until Tanjung Asam, 11910, Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Business Hours: To call up
Contact: 016-467 5233 (Mr. Tang Song Hai)
GPS: 5.292088, 100.211914
Sales Office: 26 Lintang Merak, Sg. Dua, 11700 Gelugor, Penang, Malaysia. (Opp. Tesco Extra)
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Song-Hais-Durian/129590123727593

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

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