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THAI FOOD PROMOTION AT TERRACE BAY RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On September - 7 - 2010

After a hilly Thai food experience just barely two weeks ago, there was another feasting last weekend. This time we ate until our hearts’ contents at Terrace Bay Restaurant, Copthorne Orchid Hotel, Penang. The restaurant is currently promoting their August/September weekend Thai Food Buffet. With great responses from the public, the management would be extending this promotion until further notice. It’s only RM30nett per pax, RM20nett per Senior Citizens (55 years old & above) and RM18nett per child. With such an attractive pricing, who would want to miss out this wonderful promotion?

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As the menu for the promotion would change for both buffets, let me brief you roughly on what to expect for each meal. Let’s start with the salad bar/appetizer section. There would be at least 5 type of premixed salad for you as well as those DIY vegetables to top either with thousand island sauce, ranch dressing, vinaigrette, sambal belacan or sambal cincaluk.

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At the main course section, there would be at least 8 dishes which would comprise of meat, seafood, vegetables, eggs, rice and soup.

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There are more at the al fresco area by the swimming pool. This would be where you can get all those easily accessible Thai hawker food, specially cooked for you out from the wok, pot or pan.

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Desserts would be abundant here ranging from fresh fruit cuts, traditional Thai desserts, cakes to crushed ice desserts.

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It’s not hard to locate the restaurant as it’s within the premises of Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang. Drive all the way up towards Batu Ferringhi. As you see the Toy Museum on your right, keep to your right and make a U-turn at a junction further up. The hotel is just behind the Toy Museum. There would be ample car parks and the ground level of the hotel as well as the basement.

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Name: TERRACE BAY RESTAURANT @ COPTHORNE ORCHID HOTEL PENANG.
Address: Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-892 3333
Opening Hours:
Saturday Buffet Dinner: 7.00pm – 10.00pm
Sunday Buffet Lunch: 12.00 noon – 2.30pm
GPS: 5.463599, 100.229199

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

ATTENDEES:
Criz Lai – http://crizfood.com/
Eunice, Siew Ying & Kelvin Tan – http://foodpromotions.com.my/
Carrie Soon & hubby – http://www.cariso.net/
Alan Choong & Amanda Teoh – http://allaboutpenangfood.blogspot.com/
Steven Goh & Tan Kim Penag – http://www.stevengoh.com/
Chan Chee Wah (Waco) – http://www.noweating.com/
Jason Wong & Gill Giam – http://www.gourmetgarden.com.my/

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Thanks the food promotion gang for the invites, Steven Goh for the group photo, Ms. Sally Lai (PR Manager of Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang) and Mr. Sivalingam (F&B Manager of Copthorne Orchid Hotel Penang) for the wonderful hospitality.

Hidden amongst the leafy hilltop of Teluk Bahang, lies a natural gem that Penang would sure be proud of. Built high at the edge of the hill adjoining the Tropical Spice Garden on an elevated almost nail-less constructed wooden platform, emerged a beautiful back to nature Thai restaurant with attap leaves covered gazebo and mini bar. The restaurant, Tree Monkey, was thus born on 30 July 2010, which name was prompted by the nearby free roaming dusky leaf monkeys. Thanks to the management of the restaurant as well as the liaison expertise of Warren Tan and CK Lam that a group of us Penang bloggers and floggers managed to gain the experience of jungle dining.

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The strategically built al fresco structure promised a panoramic view of activities along the Andaman Sea. It gets even better towards late evening as one can be mesmerized by the beauty of the sunset on the horizon and also the lighted up of the whole place with lamps and candles. This would indeed be a nice place to hang out for romantic couples and families.

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As the Tropical Spice Garden would also supply the herbs and spices required by the restaurant, you can be assured of freshly cooked dishes by their North East Thailand chefs. There would also be many varieties of dry herbs and spices that you can purchased at their jointly shared shop within the premises.

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What would be more ideal to start the evening off other than to enjoy their limited edition of mocktail – the Sunset Paradise (RM10)? The concoction of orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine tasted great and this special would only available between 6.00pm and 7.00pm.

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There are many items in the ala carte menu that would include items ranging from appetizers, snacks, salads, soups, curries, stir fried dishes, vegetables, seafood, bean curds, eggs, desserts and alcohol. If you are adventurous in trying out Thai food but indecisive on which dish to choose from as a large plate each would be too much for just the few of you, why not try out their tapas sets? Each tapas set would consist a little bit of a few dishes as stated in the menu. The tapas menu dishes might change from time to time.

To start off with appetizers, you can opt for the Thai Tapas (8pcs@RM30, 12 pcs@RM45 or 16 pcs@RM60). There are 12 options on menu such as Thai Toast, Money Bag, Herbs Chicken, Spring Roll, Pandan Chicken, Otak-otak, Mussels Salsa, Lemongrass Stick, Prawn Sarong, Prawn Sabai, Thai Fish Cake and Darling Crab. You can try all of the dishes or select any of the items you think would suit your taste bud (a maximum order of 4 pieces on each item).

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If you are still indecisive, let me brief you more on the individual taste of each item. The OTAK-OTAK which was actually a banana leaf wrapped steamed spiced egg paste with seafood would be mild enough for anyone although I personally like it to be a bit spicier. The MUSSEL SALSA, a half shelled mussel steamed with chili lime salsa plus chopped garlic is a must have. Although a bit pungent for some, the right combination of sour sweet taste was perfect. The THAI FISH CAKE, a deep fried curried fish paste mixed with sliced kaffir lime leaves had the right texture and moist. The LEMONGRASS STICK which had crumbed minced seafood and wrapped around a lemongrass stalk was normal except that it did have the strong flavor of the lemongrass. The THAI TOAST, a crispy toast with minced chicken and topped with sesame seeds was quite normal. I actually preferred to have minced prawns instead. The MONEY BAG with minced chicken and frozen mixed vegetables wrapped in spring roll skin did not impress me much. It lacked the sweetness from some freshly chopped carrots, onions and coriander. The PRAWN SARONG which was a deep fried prawn wrapped with crispy rice noodles was normal, just like those you would get from the dim sum shop. The SPRING ROLL wrapped with shredded vegetables was nothing spectacular either. The PRAWN SABAI was another version of the Prawn Sarong but wrapped with spring roll skin. The PANDAN CHICKEN with turmeric and kaffir lime leaves marinated chicken wrapped in screw pine leaves was tasty but it would be better to if they have a bird eye chili added in for that extra flavor. The HERBS CHICKEN was a chicken drumlet coated in lemongrass batter. Not bad but a longer marinate period would be better as the meat was a bit bland. I can’t comment on the Darling Crab as the half shelled crab stuffed with mixed seafood was not available at that time.

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As for main meal you can go for their Asian Tapas (8 dishes@RM60 or 12 dishes@RM90 served with 2 sets of turmeric rice). There are 12 options on menu such as Mango Salad, Satay, Nam Tok, Crispy Herbs Fish, Chili Paste Prawn, Sweet Bean Curd, Kangkung Belacan, Son-In-Law Egg, Masaman Curry, Panaeng Curry, Tomyum Soup & Tomkha Soup (a maximum order of 4 dishes on each item)

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We had CHILI PASTE PRAWNS, prawns stir fried in chili paste. Nice. Next on the set was the CRISPY HERBS FISH where two pieces of batter fried seabass fillets were topped with deep fried curry leaves, shallots and ginger slices. The freshness of the fish combined with the fragrant from the herbs and spices was indeed delicious. The KANGKUNG BELACAN where stalks of morning glory were stir fried in nice aromatic flavor of shrimp paste (belacan) was refreshing and it had some deep fried garlic as garnish. The SWEET BEAN CURD where cubes of deep fried bean curd were topped with Thai sweet chili sauce, fresh onions and chopped spring onion were normal. I wished they could have served a smoother textured bean curd.

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The next dish on the set was the PANAENG CURRY. It had beef slices stir fried in red curry with chilies, Thai eggplant, long beans and sliced kaffir lime leaves. The taste was nice except that the beef might need some ginger juice as tenderizer. There was also the HOT STIR FRIED BEEF WITH THAI BASIL (supposed to be NAM TOK, a beef salad as proposed in the menu), a stir fried beef dish with chopped garlic, onions, chillies and Thai basil leaves. This dish was lovely with rice. The MASAMAN CURRY was actually chicken slices stir fried with potatoes in red curry and garnished with cashew nuts. Not bad. We also had three sticks of SATAY as one of the dishes. The chicken meat was well marinated in turmeric and chopped kaffir lime leave. Well, these looked deep fried than the normal grilling to me but the meat was still tender.

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On the same set was also the MANGO SALAD. The shredded green mango, carrots, onions and chopped dried shrimps, were well tossed in some chili lime juice. There was a hint of fish sauce added in too. The SON-IN LAW EGG got most of the ladies giggling. What a name! We had two deep fried hard boiled eggs, topped with some chili and tamarind sauce and garnish with some fried shallots. These were normal but appetizing. Lastly, we had two soups. The TOMKHA SOUP had chicken slices slowly simmered with galangal and abalone mushroom with a touch of evaporated milk for that additional creaminess. On the other hand, the TOMYUM SOUP was more likeable by many as it had the nice fragrant of some chili paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leave, tomatoes and a touch of lime juice. The spicy and sour soup came with a variety of seafood.

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As for dessert, we had the Thai Coconut Ice Cream (RM8.80 – topped with jackfruit and attap palm seeds with a dash of evaporated milk). It was a nice dessert as a change to those served in Songkhla where cubed bread, attap seeds and roasted peanuts were used instead.

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The memorable meet up evening with the bloggers ended with Spiced Tea and Coffee with Condensed Milk (RM8 each – hot or cold) being served. Most of us preferred the Spiced Coffee more as it did not have such a thick spiced flavor. The tea on the other hand has a stronger presence of cinnamon, cloves and cardamon.

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Overall, this place would be a nice and serene venue for couples and small groups. The menu is pork free. Vegetarian dishes can be arranged. It has WIFI facility and can cater up to 80 people at one time. I have to thanks the management, namely, Mr. PattKhor and his beautiful assistant, Ms Wisakha for the lovely evening.

Getting to the restaurant would not be hard as it’s located just next to the Tropical Spice Garden. Just drive all the way up to Teluk Bahang but do watch out for some nooks and corners as you might just miss the restaurant especially during late evening. I have drafted out a simple map with photos to lead you to your destination. Upon seeing Hard Rock Café (Map A), drive pass Bayview Beach Resort until you see a housing estate on your left (Map B). Drive further on and round a corner, you would see a hilltop Chinese cemetery (Map C) on your left. Before you reach the next corner (Map D), slow down as the restaurant is barely 50m away on your left (Map E). There would be ample parking space in front and opposite the restaurant. You can also park your car along the hawker area diagonally opposite the restaurant (Map F). Do click on the map for a clearer view.

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Due to the steepness of the tar trail and many steps involved in getting to the restaurant, those elderly, handicapped or those with knee problems may have some difficulty in dining there. Let’s hope the management might consider having a buggy car to transport these people. After all, they also should have the privilege to enjoy the food and scenic view up there.

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Name: TREE MONKEY @ TROPICAL SPICE GARDEN
Address: Lone Craig Villa, Lot 595, Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-881 3494
Opening Hours: 9.00am – 11.00pm (Sun – Thurs), until midnight (Fri & Sat)
GPS: 5.463599, 100.229199

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

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ATTENDEES:

1. William Tan – http://www.genesissix.com/
2. Warren Tan – http://www.genesissix.com/
3. CK Lam – http://www.what2seeonline.com/
4. Criz Lai – http://crizfood.com/
5. Carrie Soon – http://www.cariso.net/
6. Lingzie – http://www.lingzie.com/
7. Alan Choong – http://allaboutpenangfood.blogspot.com/
8. Amanda Teoh – http://allaboutpenangfood.blogspot.com/
9. Steven Goh – http://www.stevengoh.com/
10. Mary Teo – http://reginatravel-foodparadise.blogspot.com/
11. Cheah BH (Bee) – http://buzzingbee.blogsome.com/
12. Patrick Soon – http://studiomoonspell.blogspot.com/
13. Tiffany Thor – http://sexydracula.blogspot.com/
14. Yeap Jian Ming – http://cokeworldcitizen.blogspot.com/
15. Chan Chee Wah (Waco) – http://www.noweating.com/
16. Nel Ng – http://bearyinformative.blogspot.com/
17. Emily Chong – http://www.millymin.com/
18. Xherlyn Chong – http://hysteric-elegance.blogspot.com
19. Calvyn Lee – http://www.icalvyn.com/
20. Sherming Chua – http://www.sherming.com/
21. David Lee – http://www.limpek.com/
22. Joanne Chong – http://www.joannechong.com/
23. Danny Ooi – http://www.joannechong.com/

A CASUAL DINING EXPERIENCE AT CAFFE STRADA

Posted by crizlai On August - 31 - 2010

NOTE: This restaurant has ceased its operation in 2011.

If you need a casual dining place or even for a business meet up place, where would you go? You can start with Caffe Strada, a nice pork free restaurant at Krystal Point, Bayan Baru, where all your indoor and al fresco dining needs would always be served well. Upon entering, the simple yet sophisticated setup would give you that homely feel. Thanks to Alan Choong, a group of the Penang bloggers managed to pay this restaurant a visit.

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We started with some appetizers, namely the Green Garden Salad (RM8.90). It was a refreshing start as the dish had all the crunchy vegetables such as iceberg lettuce, onion rings, capsicum and glazed with some smoked chicken slices and eggs, followed by a garnish of sunflower seeds and croutons and some of their in-house special salad dressing. This was indeed a healthy dish.

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The next appetizer was the Seafood Chowder in Bread Bowl (RM15.90). The presentation was unique. There were hints of seafood chunks such as prawns, squids and fish combined with the sweetness from the mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, heavy cream and a touch of butter. Maybe it was just my preference, but I would rather have more bites in the soup. A touch of evaporated milk might make the soup a bit creamier. The bread was also a bit on the hard side as it tasted more like biscuit than bread. I guessed the chef would need to lessen the baking time in future.

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As for the main, we started with the Asian Delights section, where rice and noodles ruled. We had 3 rice dishes served with rice, omelette, greens and crackers. First was the Kung Pao Chicken (RM9.90) where chicken chunks were stir fried with onions, dried chilies, spring onion in kung pao sauce and garnished with some cashew nuts. This was quite a nice set. It would be even better if only the chef were to put in more high heat cooking style (wok hei) as I could not find the pungent taste from the dried chilies. Next on the list was the Kam Heong Seafood Combo (RM8.90) with prawns and squid rings in kam heong sauce. This again lacked the fragrance from the curry leaves. I hope the chef would look into this as the leaves had to be slightly fried in oil to get that unique fragrance prior to adding in the rest of the ingredients. Salted Fish with Chicken Fried Rice (RM8.90) was served next with a honey coated roasted chicken wing. Not bad but it still lacked the “wok hei” required. On top of the deep fried salted fish bits, maybe the chef might want to consider adding in some deep fried rice for that extra crunch.

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We were then served with Bao Zhiang Mien (RM11.90), a combination of deep fried wonton noodles, garnished with shredded carrots, cucumber and purple cabbage and topped with their special minced chicken gravy. I would advise diners to consume this soonest possible as the moisture from the vegetable might just kill the crispiness of the noodles. The dish tasted just like the one I had at Restoran Esquire Kitchen at The Mines Shopping Fair in Selangor but the portion here can be a bit too big for my consumption.

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Next on the list was the Tomyam Seafood (RM8.90) with a choice of either rice vermicelli (bee hoon) or instant noodles. Well, this did not taste like any Thai style tomyam at all but rather Malay style where it had more tomato taste rather than the usual Thai style spiciness. I would still prefer the Thai style here.

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Before proceeding to the next set of dishes, we had a try out on the beverages. The management sure did invest quite well in this section as the beverages were quite uniquely presented except that some could be rather sweet to my liking. We were served with Fluffy Hot Chocolate (RM6.90) which came in many decorations, Strawberry Kiss Frappes (RM8.90), Choco Banana Frappes (RM8.90) and Chocolate Chip Frappes (RM8.90). I kind of like the Choco Banana Frappes as it was the least sweet amongst the rest and it had the unique creamy blended bananas that I love most.

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The next round of beverages included Mango Frappes (RM8.90), Orange Jewel Milk Shake (RM7.90), Ice Bear (RM6.90) and Italian Lime Soda Float (RM6.90).

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We then continued with some lighter Western Delights such as the Spaghetti Bolognese (RM9.90) with minced chicken sauce served with a slice of garlic bread. Although the al dente of the pasta was just right but the sauce was a bit too sweet to my liking. The sauce should be tame with just the natural sweetness from the tomatoes, garlic and herbs with hardly any sugar added just like the one I had at Kafe Soul Kitchen Trattoria.

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If you prefer bread instead, you can try out their Club Sandwich (RM12.90). It had toasted bread slices stuffed with smoked chicken breast meat, cheese and vegetable. This would be served with fries and salad.

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The next few dishes were chicken based. We were served with Caffe Strada Roast Chicken (RM13.90) complimented with mashed potatoes, corn and vegetables. The skin of the roast was perfect with the right flavors and the mashed potatoes was marvelous considering that it was made fresh with bits of potatoes remained. The only setback was the meat. It should either be marinated for a longer period (fork some holes into the meat would be ideal) or roasted with some stuffing. It was rather bland. Next was the Mongolian Chicken (RM15.90), served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. This was good. The sweet and spicy sauce complimented well with the chicken and both the side dishes were gorgeous. Cheezy Grilled Chicken (RM17.90) was next in line. The melted cheese on the chicken with a dash of paprika did give that punch.

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Grilled Butter Fish (RM19.90) was served next with steamed vegetables, corn and mash potatoes. I believed that salmon was used in this dish but it was a bit overcooked as the flesh was dry. The chef might have to take note on lowering the heat when grilling this to maintain the moist within.

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At least the next dish which was the common Fish & Chips (RM8.90) did please me. The crispy batter coated fish was great while maintaining the juiciness of the flesh inside. The side dishes of coleslaw and fries with tartar sauce complimented each other real well.

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You can also try out their Grilled Lamb Shoulder (RM19.90). Although it was well done, the taste with hints of butter and mints as marinates was great, especially the fatty parts. 😛 It went well with the mint sauce.

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With such a great investment by the management, you can be assured that your next cup of coffee would be great. We were treated with Cappucino (RM6.90), Espresso (RM4.90) and Caffe Latte (RM6.90).

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What amazed me most was the Iced Coffee Slush (RM9.90). It really brought back many fond childhood memories when I started having that concoction. It was just plain Espresso combined with a scope of Vanilla ice-cream. Each mouth was a different bitter sweet sensation. Nice!

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What would be better to end a dinner with a cup of coffee and some nice cakes? We were also treated with 3 types of cakes, namely Marble Cheese Cake, Oreo Chillied Cheese Cake and Chocolate Mint Cake (RM6.90 each). They were mild as I liked it and delicious indeed.

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If you think that all you need would be some snacks with your group of companies, then you should try out the Caffe Strada BBQ Chicken Wings (2pcs RM5.90, 4pcs RM9.90), served with house chicken wing sauce. Each wing was nicely marinated with the right texture for bites. The accompanied spicy sauce complimented real well.

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Overall, this is a nice place to hang out with friends for a drink. As for food, some of the dishes can be quite appetizing and filling. If you are driving from town towards Bayan Lepas, upon seeing Queensbay Mall, keep to your left and go over the flyover leading to Bayan Baru (Lebuhraya Sungai Nibong). Drive until you reach the traffic lights at the roundabout and make a U-turn back to the other side of Lebuhraya Sungai Nibong. On your left now would be Krystal Point 1. Ignore the first turning and drive further up to the second left turning to Krystal Point 2. Turn left and left in Lebuh Bukit Kecil 6 and you would see the 3 shoplots restaurant on your right.

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Name: CAFFE STRADA
Address:
Block 1-01-12, 13 & 14, Krystal Point Corp Park, Lebuh Bukit Kecil 6,
Krystal Point II, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-643 6643
Opening Hours: 12.00 noon – 12.00 midnight (9pm onward happy hour)
GPS: 5.331159, 100.298164

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

 

LOCAL AND WESTERN CUISINE AT THE GATE CAFÉ

Posted by crizlai On August - 25 - 2010

Hunting for an early dinner in Taiping, Perak can quite tedious especially those good ones would only operate from 6.30pm onwards. I never had such problem in Penang at any odd hours. LOL! Anyway, after a few failed attempts to locate good hawker food stalls along the Taiping Lake Garden as well as at the Pusat Penjaja Taiping, I ended up at The Gate Café. Initially, I thought it was just another mamak store but upon checking, they have both local and western cuisine in their menu. Better still, all items were at nett price. Cool!

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Since I had a car load of other Taiping local goodies, especially the Huan Chu Leng, I decided to go for a light dinner. We just ordered a set each of Grilled Chicken with BBQ Sauce (RM8.90) and Grilled Chicken with Black Pepper Sauce (RM8.90). To my surprise, the grilled chicken drumstick fillet came out better than my expectation. The surface still had the crispiness from the grilling and the meat was tender and juicy. There was a hint of turmeric being used as marinates. Nice! The BBQ sauce was also great. Although the black pepper sauce was a bit diluted but it was quite flavorful to compliment the grills. Each set came with some greens and potato salad. The potato salad was beautifully prepared too. What a nice change from the usual fries.

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As for beverage, we had Iced Lemon Tea (RM2.50) and Sprite Float Jumbo (RM8.50). Just look at the size of the mug! I was wondering how my friend could gobble up that much liquid mixed with 3 large scoops of Vanilla ice cream. Amazing! Anyway, that drink was a good bargain.

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What amazed me were not the Western dishes but the spread of buffet dishes they have for breaking fast during this Ramadhan Al Mubarak period (16 August – 8 September 2010, 6.30pm-8.30pm). I should have waited to try out those dishes cooked by their Chef Emer, Chef Ahmad and Chef Hassan although driving back to Penang alone with a full stomach might not be a good idea after all. 😛 There was a little corner with all those ulam-ulam (raw vegetables with sambal belacan), Mee Kari Bali, cut fruits, local desserts (kuih-muih), rainbow jelly, cendul and many more. On the other corner were the main dishes with hot steaming rice or Nasi Briyani, Sayur Goreng Buncis Ala Malaysia, Ikan Keli Masak Lomak, Kari Daging Kampung and so on. The menu changes daily with at least another 20 proposed attractive dishes such as Ayam Rendang Trengganu, Daging Arab Utara and Udang Goreng Nestum. It’s only RM18.00 nett (per adult) or RM12.00 (per child). Hmm… maybe I shall visit the café in another visit. Those dishes sure gave out a nice and flavorful aroma.

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If you are driving in through the Simpang highway, go all the way up the flyover until you see a “Y” junction (Masjid India Jalan Kota). Turn right into Jalan Kota and drive all the way until you see Public Bank on your right. Turn right into the junction before the bank (Jalan Sultan Abdullah) and drive all the way pass a cross junction (Jalan Sultan Abdullah/Jalan Panggung Wayang). From here you can see Pusat Penjaja Taiping (Chu Chang Ka/樹下) on your right and Taiping Studio on your left. The Gate Café is just below the Taiping Studio at the cross junction between Jalan Sultan Abdullah/Jalan Maharajalela. There would be ample free parking spaces behind the building. For your information, if you turn left into Jalan Maharajalela, it would lead you directly to the Taiping Lake Garden/Taiping Zoo.

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Name: THE GATE CAFE
Shop Address: 33 Jalan Maharajalela, 34000 Taiping, Perak, Malaysia.
Contact: 05-805 7748
Opening Hours: 9.00am – 12.00am
GPS: 4.85038, 100.74421

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 6.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

A TOUCH OF ITALIAN DOWN THE PENANG HERITAGE TRAIL

Posted by crizlai On August - 16 - 2010

“Melaka and George Town, Cities of the Straits of Malacca” was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee on 7 July 2008. From then on, more and more little restaurants can be seen booming up along the George Town Heritage Trails within the beautiful island of Penang. One of the notable ones opened for business barely two months ago was a nice trattoria manned by a German-Malaysian couple, Tonio Neuhaus and Michele Yim along Lebuh Muntri. Kafe Soul Kitchen Trattoria is the name, food and music is their soul rejuvenating theme.

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What made Soul Kitchen a nice venue for some relaxation for families and couples was the simplicity of the layout with great Italian food. Every single item in their menu was personally created by Tonio and his wife fresh from the kitchen. What could be better than having some healthy breakfast to start your day off? One of the most recommended breakfasts would be the Tramezzini (grilled sandwich-RM10) with a choice of salami, mushroom, tuna, turkey ham and gammon ham. You also have another option of choosing your preferred sauce such as roasted balsamic garlic, sweet onions or mustard. Tramezzini with gammon ham and roasted balsamic garlic grilled perfectly between two slices of sesame seeds wholemeal bread was my favorite.

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It had been quite some time since I last had scrambled eggs for breakfast. Now I can have them at ease with the availability of two types of scrambled eggs set over at Soul Kitchen Cafe such as Scrambled Eggs with Bacon (RM8) or Scrambled Eggs with Mushroom (RM6). These would be perfectly served with the chef’s special magic touches.

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What about having something fresh and healthy to inspire your day? Do try out their hot item which was the Yoghurt Muesli on Papaya (RM9). The sweetness of the papaya, the freshness of their homemade yoghurt, combined with the multi bites of the muesli made my day. It was indeed refreshing. What a great way to start my day! 🙂

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As for lunch and dinner, there were a few great options. Boy! I can assure you that you would lick the plates dry. Every single dish in the main menu was the chef’s own concoctions. He sure knew how to handle pasta well by having the right al dente (firm texture) with every bite. I could not get enough of their Penne Amatriciana (RM19). The freshness and natural sweetness from the tomato puree, onions and some chopped carrots, the nice fragrant from the bacon slices, garnished with some oregano herbs, chopped parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese was awesome! I could have this daily.

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Their Spaghetti Carbonara (RM17) was also unique. Normally what you get elsewhere would be some diluted cream based sauce. The one served here had a cool way of thickening the sauce while maintaining the flavors within. I had egg yolk added in on top of bacon, onions, garlic, herbs and parmesan cheese. Another perfect item I would say.

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The next pasta dish was also a unique one as it was the chef’s secret recipe – Penne Chicken Al Limone (RM19). The ladies would love this well as the dish had some nice sour taste in it and was extremely appetizing. It came with some tender chicken chunks, capsicum, carrot, herbs, chopped parsley, lemon juice and a generous amount of parmesan cheese. This is one combination of pasta that you must not miss out during your visit.

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I must admit I can be such a playful kitty cat at times and growing fat is my hobby. LOL! Some do address me as Garfield and guess what’s my favorite food? Haha! Of course it’s Lasagne (RM19). What could be a more perfect dish for me than having that delicious dish right before of my eyes? In fact, I fell in love with what the chef had cooked up with the perfect combination of fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, carrot, minced pork, herbs, parmesan cheese and a crispy mozzarella cheese based topping. Can I have more for a growing cat chef? 😛

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Pizza! I want more pizzas now! That’s was my reaction when I visited the place subsequently for more good food. You can have a few options on your pizza such as Pork Salami (RM9), Mushroom (RM8) or Anchovies & Olive (RM7). What I love most was the crispy thin crust that won’t be too filling. The pizza was presented in the simplest way with fresh tomato puree, mozzarella cheese, herbs and ingredient of your choice. Do try out the Pork Salami Pizza. I can’t get enough of this either.

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If you need a place with free WIFI for a little discussion, this would be a great place to hang out. You can check out their available cakes for the day. Sometimes, there would be a discounted price on the cakes for each main meal you ordered. The one I had was heavenly and I could be so sure that no other place would provide you with such a nice Tiramisu Cake (RM10). The chef even made his own mascarpone cream for this cake. The cake was soft and fluffy and the cream was so light that it just melted in my mouth. Each mouthful had a strong taste of some sweet wine. What a perfect dessert for any occasion!

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You could even get a piece of Moist Chocolate Cake (RM7) to tempt your sweet tooth.

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As for beverage, Café Latte (RM6) or Iced Café Latte (RM7) would be mild enough to go with your cakes for tea.

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You could even order yourself Papaya Orange Smoothie (RM7) to cool yourself down on a hot and humid day.

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Here’s a short interview (in Mandarin) with the nice couple:

I would like to thank CK Lam and the lovely couple for the invitation as well as my friends who had to bear with me while drooling over the food during the photo shooting. LOL! It’s not hard at all to locate Soul Kitchen as it’s just opposite Cititel, Jalan Penang at a cross junction between Lebuh Leith (Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion) and Lebuh Muntri (leading to Kuan Yin Temple).

SOULKITCHENMAP

Name: KAFE SOUL KITCHEN TRATTORIA
Address: 102 Lebuh Muntri, 10200 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-261 3118, 012-594 3522 (Michele/Tonio)
Opening Hours:
10.00am-3.00pm, 6.00pm-9.00pm (Closed Tuesday – Breakfast until 12.00noon)
GPS: 5.420565, 100.334127

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: 8.5/10 (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)

 

MADE TO ORDER DIM SUM AT VIVA DIM SUM DELIGHT

Posted by crizlai On August - 14 - 2010

If you think that made to order dim sum would only be available in hotel-class restaurants, you would be in for a surprise. One of Penang’s newest food court, Viva Local Food Haven (formerly Golden Horse Food Court) has just launched its newest dim sum kitchen, Viva Dim Sum Delight (東城點心) on 10 August 2010. The main objective of the outlet opening is to provide more quality and affordable priced dim sum within the reach of the public. In fact, most of their ingredients were Hong Kong based imports.

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Let’s have a look at how reasonable those delicacies are from the menu. There would be over 30 variety of items for you to choose from, ranging from steamed, deep fried to stir fried food. Click on the photo below for a larger view.

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To start the fiesta, we had the Traditional Steamed Glutinous Rice (古法糯米雞-RM3.80). There was a strong hint that the glutinous rice was flavorfully stir fried prior to steaming with precooked chunks of chicken, Chinese sausage and BBQ pork (char siew). The whole combination was quite fine except I still prefer mine to have a few Chinese mushrooms and wrapped in lotus leaves for that extra flavor.

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The next was the Crispy Dragon Roll (香脆升龍卷-RM3.80). This is indeed the gigantic version of the usual prawn roll, with larger prawns too. It was served on a bed of the chef’s specially created mayo sauce with a hint of mustard added. It was a nice combo deal.

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When I thought I could only get the Shanghainese Meat Dumpling (小籠包-RM4.80) from posh restaurants, I was surprised by the next presentation. What? 3 Xiao Long Bao at that price when others are double or triple fold that pricing? The soup within each dumpling was indeed abundant and tasty. When combined with the provided ginger strips in black vinegar, it was heaven! The only fallback was the amount of meat inside. One can’t complain for the price paid right?

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There was also a manual showing the right way to consume the dumpling without spilling all over your body. Cute!

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What would be dim sum without some beautifully created and tasty buns? The chefs sure know how to tempt the taste buds of their patrons with their delicious sweet and savory buns. One such product would be their recommended Steamed Bun with Butter Cream & Egg Yolk (特制流沙包-RM4.80). Indeed it was the best bun I had in ages. Even the texture of the bun was remarkably smooth and fine. A small nibble at the side saw a large flow of golden egg yolk colored cream oozing out furiously. Well, there’s a skill in consuming this bun as well without drowning your fingers in sweetness. The method of eating is just like the Xiao Long Bao stated above.

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There was such a term as “sweetness will come in pairs”. The next bun which was Steamed Bun with Premium Lotus Paste and Egg Yolk (蛋皇蓮蓉包-RM3.80) was a double happiness. It had a lot of finely ground lotus paste and a big salted egg yolk. A bit sweet for my liking but having 3 buns as a set would surely please those sweet lovers.

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Next was the Steamed Bun with Supreme Barbequed Pork (蜜汁叉燒包-RM3.80). The overall taste was nice except that it was a bit too dry to my liking. I prefer to have mine with some added toasted sesame seeds mixed with the ingredients too.

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The next set of buns got all the “wives” rolling their eyes at their “husbands”. How dare you touch these Shanghainese “Mistress” Bun (上海二奶包-RM4.80)? Just look at that shape! Don’t you think they do resemble something? LOL! Anyway, these buns have some nice custard-like buttery cream within.

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You could also get some savory type of buns with some sweet crust on the surface – Baked Hong Kong Style Polo Bun (香港菠蘿包-RM3.80). Each bun would be filled with some barbeque pork slices.

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Do also check out with the staff there on their weekend specials. One of the specials we had was the Scallop and Fish Roe Dumpling (鳳眼帶子餃). I would say this was one of the great fusion combinations as the dumpling was filled with large prawns, topped with fresh scallop and garnished with fish roe, spring onion stalk and a leaf of coriander.

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Another of the weekend specials was the Dragon Whiskers Roll (龍鬚卷). Sweet indeed and it had a rather unique combination of filling. The deep fried delicacy was filled with blended avocado, custard cream, butter and wrapped with a type of rice noodles. Those sweet tooth lovers would surely love this crispy product.

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If you are driving from town towards Batu Ferringhi beach area, you would pass by Island Plaza shopping mall on your right. Drive all the way until you meet with a curve. You would see a traffic light (UDA Flats on your right). The food court is actually a bit further up on your right but you need to make a U-turn to reach the venue. So, drive on and keep to your right until you see the next traffic lights (Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel on your right). Make a U-turn until you see the Chinese Swimming Club on your left. Immediately after the building you would see a lane on your left (Jalan C M Hashim leading to Naza Hotel). Turn left and you would the food court on your right with ample parking space behind.

VIVADIMSUMMAP >

Name: VIVA DIM SUM DELIGHT (东城点心)
Address: Lot 303, Jalan Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 6.00am-2.00pm
Contact: 604-890 2549
GPS: 5.462813, 100.305056

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

ALL DAY LONG VALUE PACKAGES AT YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT

Posted by crizlai On August - 11 - 2010

I have paid many visits to Young Heart Restaurant (養心殿) for some time now and during each visit they have never failed to impress me with their new menus. The recently one was their value packages with over 15 specially selected dishes ranging from meat, seafood and vegetables to choose from. Have a look at the menu here. Please click to have a larger view.

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One of the packages would be the 4 Pax Value Package (RM59.80 nett) which would allow you to choose 3 main dishes, seasonal vegetables, soup of the day and an option to choose either hot steaming rice or their handmade noodles from the menu. Here’s our order for the day. We had Beet Root Soup as soup of the day, Spicy Goa Bean (Kacang Botol) as seasonal vegetables, Stir Fry Broccoli with Mix Mushroom, Stewed Chestnut Chicken and Deep Fried Garlic Prawns, served with a combination of white rice and noodles.

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The other package would be the 2 Pax Value Package (RM39.80) which would allow you to choose 2 main dishes, seasonal vegetables, soup of the day and an option to choose either hot steaming rice or their handmade noodles from the menu. Here’s our order for the day. We had Beet Root Soup as soup of the day, Stir Fry Iceberg Lettuce as seasonal vegetables, Orange Pork Chop and Chinese Teriyaki Prawns, served with a combination of white rice and noodles.

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Note: You may see that there were the additional dumplings (jiaozi) in our order as they were given free during 6pm-8pm promotion throughout the week.

There are also other ongoing promotions at the moment such as their 50% off selected dishes menu throughout the week. Either you want a late lunch, tea or an early dinner, just hop into the restaurant between 3.00pm and 6.00pm to savor what you like best. Most recommended are their handmade noodle dishes as well as their dumplings, spicy crispy prawns, crispy pork and many more great dishes to tempt you. The Deep Fried Belacan Pork Belly and Stuffed Chicken with Dried Oyster are two great dishes you should not miss out!

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You can check out their Foursquare and Rainy Days promotions too. Dining in Young Heart Restaurant sure provide lots of benefits on top of dining the way how your Mum would cook the food for you.

Reaching the restaurant would be easy if you are coming from Jalan Burmah into Jalan Cantonment. Just drive along Jalan Cantonment until you reach the first left junction (Pulau Tikus Market – Jalan Pasar). Just go further up after this junction and you will see Wisma Kota Kembar – Pulau Pinang-Medan Information and Promotion Centre on the corner lot. The restaurant is just next to this centre. There would be a 5% service charge for the food ordered here.

YOUNGHEARTMAP

Name: YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT
Address: 44A, Jalan Cantonment, 10350 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon-10.00pm (Closed Wednesday)
Contact: 604-228 8084              604-228 8084      , 016-410 8098 (Ms. Ann Kee)
GPS: 5.430508, 100.311350

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

DISHES THAT WOULD FIT A KING AT CHIN BEE TEA CAFE

Posted by crizlai On June - 24 - 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

GOING GAGA OVER A NYONYA

Posted by crizlai On June - 14 - 2010

I was at one time crazy over “Little Nyonya – 小娘惹”, a Singaporean TV series being aired on our local channel some time last year. The storyline was based on the lives of a large Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) family during the 30’s where traditions and cuisines played important roles in their daily affairs. What impressed me most were not the great performances by the artistes nor the beautiful arrays of fine dining wares or building architectures but the tedious food preparation time each Nyonya (female) would spend in the kitchen to ascertain that their Baba (male) would be well taken care of. In this modern era, most of the olden methods of using the batu giling (granite grinder) or batu tumbuk (granite mortar and pestle) to get the best flavors and textures out of the many spices available were gradually replaced by the convenience and speedy processing time of the electric blenders. Part of this cooking tradition might be gone but the recipes for these delicious Nyonya cuisines still remained in our generation. One of the restaurants which are real keen in preserving the taste of the good old days is Nyonya Breeze, located right in the heart of Georgetown, Penang.

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The first dish that was served to us was the tedious dish which required much patience in slicing, cutting and chopping of herbs and ingredients – the Nasi Ulam (RM7.00). This healthy dish contained many raw jungle herbs (basically about 6-8 types but different races would have other different add-ons) tossed with cold-down steamed rice plus toasted grated coconut (kerisik), dried shrimps, toasted belacan powder, fried salted fish and other raw spices. You can check out more in detail from my Nasi Ulam recipe here. What was served at Nyonya Breeze was nice, considering that it was meant for commercial consumption. However, some further enhancements could have pep up the taste more. For example, each rice grain could have been a bit more moist and soft to avoid having such dryness in the overall dish. Sliced shallots should be used instead of big onions for that extra spiciness. Dried shrimps and fried salted fish could have been added more generously to bring out the combined fragrance and saltiness in the dish.

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Sambal Goreng (RM14.40 small, RM19.20 large), a deceiving name for a dish that looked rather pale white minus the red color of pounded chilies got us dumbfounded. It was not spicy and the dish had thumbs up from everyone. The unique fragrance emitted from the eggplant and prawn dish clearly shown the existence of lemongrass and thick coconut milk with a trace of some tamarind juice, belacan and blended spices, colored by a few chili slices and garnished with fried garlic and cashew nuts. Simply delicious!

Note: The Indonesian version might add in some deep fried bean curd cubes and tempe (fermented soybean).

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Next on the line up was the Heh Ya Kay Char Bak (RM12.00 small, RM16.80 large – stir fry pork belly slices with fermented krill aka cincalok). Cincalok is actually the fermentation of small shrimps (krill) in salt and rice. What I expected was a dish with the signature saltiness from the cincalok but was presented with one in an overpowering sweetness. I guessed the chef should have added a bit more of the cincalok and reduced the sugar usage for a healthier dish.

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There was also the Inche Kabin (RM12.00 small, RM16.80 large) served with some prawn crackers. The Inche Kabin is actually a type of Nyonya deep fried chicken. Some families would marinate their choice chicken pieces with just Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins) plus some chili or curry powder. Some would add in turmeric powder for that extra spiciness or even some ginger juice to tenderize the meat. Overall, the end result would still be a plate of juicy and crispy fried chicken. The restaurant did a good job here in ascertain the crispiness of the chicken while maintaining the golden brown color of the chicken. As for the taste, it would need more hours of marinating as the chicken pieces were not flavorful enough for my liking. This dish was served with “Ang Mo Tao Ewe” aka Worcestershire sauce and sliced red chilies.

Note: The secret to a crispier fried chicken lies in double frying the chicken pieces in low fire. Dip the fried chicken pieces in the existing marinate for a second time and deep fry it again. You have to make sure your timing right to avoid overcooking the meat. Secondly, you can make your own dipping sauce for future usage if you have the time. It needed the brewing some first grade soy sauce with some mustard powder, cloves and cinnamon barks. For every 3 bottles of soy sauce, you would get only two bottles left after brewing and filtering the spices.

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Assam Pedas Ikan Selah (RM16.80) was also served. Fresh and chubby ikan selah (yellowtail scads) were used in this moderately spiced sweet and sour dish. This taste of the soup was almost similar to that of the Penang Nyonya Laksa but with a more prominent sourness from the sliced pineapple. The ladies would surely love this dish.

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We were also served with Pee Hu Char (RM8.40 small, RM12.00 large & RM2.40 for additional lettuce to wrap in). The distinctive differences between this dish and its sister, Jiu Hu Char, lied in the cutting of the vegetables and usage of the dry seafood. The latter would be in strips, a bit moist and using Jiu Hu Si (cuttlefish strips) whereas every ingredient in the Pee Hu Char would in cubes, a bit dry and using deep fried sole fish (pee hu). The ingredients included pork slices, jicama (sengkuang), carrots, cabbages, onions, Shitake mushrooms and of course the boss of the dish, dried sole fish. What lacked in this dish here were the standard thickness and size cutting of the vegetables and the scarcity of the deep fried dried sole fish cubes. The vegetables should have been a bit smaller in size with equal thickness. It was obvious that they have been using a “kitchen helper” to slice them in a hurry as the vegetables were too thin for bites, especially for this dish. Moreover, the deep fried dried sole fish were chopped into too tiny bits and not sufficient enough for me to taste their presence. Although it’s understandable that dried sole fish fillets are rather expensive in this region, I would suggest that they are cut in bigger cubes sizes. After all, that’s the name of the dish and we should enjoy it as it is instead of having some stir fry vegetable cubes.

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I also did request for an additional Nyonya-style Mee Sua Tao (RM6.00, additional crab meat at RM2.40) to try out their ala carte menu. The dish had some mee sua (salted wheat flour vermicelli) cooked in a broth like soup with some sliced pork, prawns and fuzzy melon/squash (毛瓜/mo kua). Although it did look healthy but it was a bit too bland for my liking. I suspected that they were not using thick stock (上湯) to add more flavors into the dish. I guess my home cooked Mee Sua Tao recipe would be a bit too much to ask for. 😛

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As for dessert, we had Seh Liu Chi (RM2.50), a pomegranate flavored jelly served in ice with jackfruit cubes and coconut milk. This much forgotten colorful Nyonya dessert once dominated the dessert scene when I was a kid until more and more of the fusion desserts came into the scene during the 90’s. As for me, I would prefer Cendol instead as it gave more flavors and bites. Moreover, this dessert would be better if served on shaved ice instead of ice cubes.

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As for beverages, you can try out their hot or cold Ginger Tea (RM2.00/RM2.20), Nutmeg Juice (RM2.00/RM2.20), or Chrysanthemum Tea (RM1.30/RM1.40).

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Overall, the food served here can be much better with a bit more adjustments in the recipes. Moreover, from the point of a seasoned diner, I felt that they should look into the availability of certain dishes and desserts for more options.

If you are coming from Traders Hotel/Komtar along Jalan Magazine, you would reach a traffic light (Jalan Magazine/Jalan Penang/Jalan Macalister). Drive all the way straight into Jalan Macaslister. You would see Menara UMNO on your right next to Jalan Zainal Abidin. Drive on until you see Red Rock Hotel on your right. Turn right into Lorong Abu Siti. About 50m away on your left, you would see the single storey restaurant (directly opposite Red Rock Commercial Centre).

NYONYABREEZEMAP

Name: NYONYA BREEZE
Address: 50, Lorong Abu Siti, 10400 Penang, West Malaysia.
Contact: 604-227 9646
Business Hours:
11.30am-2.30pm (lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (dinner)
Closed every Tuesday except public holidays
GPS: 5.417325, 100.323079

RATING:
Ambience: 7.5/10 (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: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

Attendees: Criz Lai, Steven Goh, Carrie Soon, Sam Lee

GREAT EXPERIENCE AT SAKAE TEPPANYAKI & IZAKAYA AUTOCITY

Posted by crizlai On May - 30 - 2010

Some time back before I was down with some health issues, a few of us visited yet another of the Sakae Japanese food chain down at Autocity, Juru Interchange at mainland Penang. This outlet was rather unique as it had a 2-in-1 dining concept wirh the teppanyaki area located downstairs while the Izakaya area being upstairs. Thus, the restaurant is named as Sakae Teppanyaki & Izakaya. Thanks to PenangTuaPui and CK Lam for the wonderful experience there.

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The evening started with a garlic fried rice demonstration by the young teppanyaki chef, Jie Xian. Three of us, namely Fei Fei, Carrie and Lingzie had a fun time cooking their special version of garlic fried rice for us to try out, with Lingzie having some kimchi add-ons. Basically, the garlic fried rice was simple with the usage of some cooked rice, butter, pepper, salt, shoyu, sakae and egg.

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We eventually landed ourselves at the mezzanine floor for more Japanese culinary experience – Sushi Making Workshop. We were shown the procedures in making good sushi by the sushi chef, Chee Keong. We were taught how to prepare Salmon Sushi, Ebiko Gunkan and California Temaki.

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How do you like my homemade sushi as below? Haha! Anyway, the top 3 winners went to Bee, Fei Fei and Huat Koay.

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We were then introduced to some of the new dishes by the restaurant starting with Fire Dragon Maki (RM13.80). These had raw salmon fillet, tempura prawn, salmon roe, shrimp roe, mango and mayonnaise. Not a bad combination after all.

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There was also the Rainbow Maki (RM12.80). The dish has some raw salmon fillet, red snapper fillet, broiled prawn, crabmeat salad, avocado and mango. Not a bad combination as the avocado blended in real well with the seafood ingredients.

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We also had some Mango Soft Shell Crab Maki (RM12.80). There were some soft shell crabs, wrapped in some sushi rice and nori, topped with some mayonnaise, mango slices and shrimp roe. This dish was rather fusion with a prominent fruity mango taste. It was fine taking it as it is compared to adding with some sushi sauce and wasabi.

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We also tried out the Mixed Agemono with Japanese Curry (RM15.80). The Japanese curry was somewhat like a mild spiced chicken stew with added onions, carrots and potatoes. It came served with skews of fried breaded chicken, salmon, quail egg and shitake mushroom. It would be best to take the skews of food while it’s still piping hot.

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There were also many set items available here such as the Sweet Romance Set (RM49.80 for 2 pax). The set had two bowls each of pickle appetizers, rice and miso soup, served with teppanyaki sukiyaki chicken, assorted tempura, salmon with teriyaki sauce, teppanyaki chicken, squid, half shell scallop, assorted vegetables (bean sprout & pea sprout) and a glass of mocktail. What a nice and fulfilling set for couples except I felt it was rather weird that it came with only a glass of mocktail since this set was meant for two.

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Next was the Live Baked Lobster Set (RM129.80). It had the same two bowls each of pickle appetizers, rice and miso soup with its special Boston flown in live lobster baked with salt as its main attraction. These were accompanied with deep fried live seabass, teppanyaki chicken, squid, assorted vegetables (bean sprout & pea sprout) and live oyster sashimi. The lobster was nice with the burned saltiness from the natural sea salt.

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There was also the Omo Soft Shell Crab (RM7.80 – 2pcs). There were some soft shell crabs wrapped in egg crepe, topped with some Japanese sweet sauce and mayonnaise and garnished with some bonito flakes (katsuobushi shavings). The problem with this dish was the soft shell crabs. It could be a bit crunchier to combine with the already soft egg crepes. Moreover, I felt that it lacked some distinctiveness. Maybe a bit of wasabi and mayonnaise mix sauce added in would give the extra kick.

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Some desserts were added in for those sweet-tooth lovers such as the Love Chocolate Fondue (RM19.80). There were some strawberry and banana cut, green tea mocha (glutinous rice ball) served with decadent chocolate dip. The portion as a bit too small and the banana slices were overripe. Moreover, the green tea mocha was rather hard and the chocolate dip was a bit too diluted to stick on the dips.

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The next dessert was the Love Cheesecake (RM9.80), presented in a cage. Love imprisonment? Caged love? I felt that the concept of presentation for this was rather weird. I rather have it served on a plain plate. The cake was actually a homemade strawberry cheesecake which suited my sweetness liking. I would say it was value for money at that size.

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There were many nice combinations of beverages available here too such as the Azuki Smoothie (RM11.80 – blended sweetened red bean in ice topped with vanilla ice cream and some red bean paste), Bubbling Passion (RM8.80 – passion fruit juice with sparkling soda), Kyoto Sunrise (RM9.80 – blended mango puree with ice), Chocolate Parfait (RM12.80 – vanilla ice-cream, peanuts, cornflakes, herbal jelly and topped with chocolate fudge) and Strawberry Parfait (RM12.80 – vanilla ice-cream with cornflakes, herbal jelly, mango and topped with strawberry syrup). I would recommend the Azuki Smoothie as it was milder in sweetness and was real smooth for consumption.

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You can check out more on the Sushi Workshop and Wedding Packages promotions in the posters below (click to enlarge for a better view):

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I can’t show a clearer map as Auto City Phase 3 is still not available in the Google Maps. If you are coming from Penang Bridge towards the North-South Highway, you would see the Juru Rest Area on your left. Drive further a bit and you would see an overhead bridge which would lead you to the Juru Interchange. Do not drive up the overhead bridge but turn left instead until you see a traffic light. Turn right into Jalan Kebun Nenas. Drive on until you see the second traffic lights at a T-junction (Jalan Kebun Nenas/Jalan Perusahaan). At the traffic light, turn right into Jalan Perusahaan. A few meter away, keep a look out for a left turning into Auto City Phase 3 (KFC). Drive further in and you would see the restaurant on your right. It’s along a stretch of F&B outlets.

SAKAEAUTOCITYMAP

Name: SAKAE TEPPANYAKI & IZAKAYA
Address:
1815-B, Jalan Perusahaan, Auto City (Phase 3), North-South Highway,
Juru Interchange, 13600 Prai, Penang.
Contact: 604-508 0268
Business Hours: Mon-Thu (11.30am to 10.30pm), Fri-Sun (11.30am to 11.30pm)
GPS: 5.338527, 100.428352

RATING:
Ambience: 8.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8.5/10 (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)

Attendees :
PenangTuaPui (Huat Koay, Tam Chiak & Fei Fei), CK Lam, Criz Lai, Buzzing Bee, Alan Choong, Lingzie & Steven Goh

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