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CUISINE EXTRAVAGANZA AT CHIN BEE TEA CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 12 - 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MALAICHONG

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

CHINBEEMAP

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

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

 

RELAXING MYSELF AT JJ CAFE

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 9 - 2009

Note: This restaurant has ceased operation. In its place is a seafood restaurant. Will review them soon.

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I had just realized that I have been in quite an adventurous trend for the past few weeks visiting restaurants by the beach or on an island within the Penang areas. This time it was a combination of both. I was by the beach watching the scenic view of the Penang Bridge while being opposite an island – Pulau Jerejak. LOL! Although this cool “more than a year in business” restaurant named JJ Café is within the premise of the Penang island jetty to Pulau Jerejak and near to the Queensbay Shopping Mall, not many people knew about its existence. Most would just assume this Malay restaurant as part of the jetty. The restaurant’s patrons were still guests and visitors to the nearby Pulau Jerejak Resort & Spa and some workers within the surrounding areas. I would just show you some clips of how relaxing this place could be after a hard day’s work.

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Don’t expect to get all the traditional Malay cooking in this restaurant as it merely served some light meals and finger food. Who’s to complain when the most expensive dish in the menu would cost you only RM6 and it is tax-free. I was there to find some inspirations and to relax mentally and physically on a few occasions and managed to collect some shots to share with my readers. The drinks served there were big and cheap. The thick Iced Milo was only RM2.10. Iced Black Tea was at RM1.70, whereas Can Drinks would be at RM2 each (with ice cubes).

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There would light meals such as the Nasi Lemak (steamed coconut milk rice – RM4) served with chicken curry, potato slices, half an egg, peanuts, fried anchovies and some cucumber slices. The rice was cooked in a different way and did not have the strong taste of coconut milk (santan). The chicken curry did not contain any santan as well. Overall, it was cheap but tasted just average.

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The Curry Noodles (RM4) tasted better as the soup base had all the natural ingredients in it but it could be real tongue burning for some. The dish came with some yellow noodles, lots of baby cockles, some cubes of fish cakes & balls, chicken slices, vegetables and half an egg. It had the spiciness that I love. Argh! Bring me more water please! 😛

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As I had mentioned earlier, the most expensive item would be the Chicken Lasagna (RM6). It had some layers of lasagna pasta with some tomato puree based minced chicken meat in between. Somehow the dish lacked the taste of mixed crushed herbs such as oregano, thyme, garlic, etc. On top of that, the serving was small with only a slice of tomato and some lettuce as garnishes.

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As tea time prior to my dinner appointment, I ordered some Roti Bakar Double (toasted bread slices with coconut jam and butter – RM2) as snacks. Although it was nice and cheap to have as tea, I still prefer my kaya (coconut jam) to have more eggy taste in it.

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I also ordered some Chicken Samosa (RM3) to try out. The popiah (spring roll) skin was crunchy but somehow there were more spicy potatoes inside then chicken meat. I guessed they would have over minced their chicken to have that meaty mouthful bite.

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Overall, JJ Café would be a great place to hang out with friends for a drink but the food quality has to be improvised and improved further. I found that not all the dishes had the required herbs and spices as I would have expected from a Malay establishment.

It would be easier to reach the restaurant if use the Jelutong/Bayan Lepas Expressway. Just follow the direction towards Queensbay Mall. Drive on until you see an overhead pass when nearing the mall. Watch out for a signboard (as shown below) to Pulau Jererak Resort & Spa. Turn left into the road and drive until the T-junction. Turn right and drive on a bit more and you will see the jetty on your left. JJ Café is within its premise.

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JJACAFEMAP

Name: JJ CAFE
Address: 1 MK13 Daerah Timur Laut, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-401 2779 (Azhar), 017-553 2105 (Zamani)
Opening Hours: 3.00pm-11.00pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.342083, 100.311763

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

YOUNG HEART RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 7 - 2009

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With the inspiration from a plant with heart shaped leaves called Sweetheart Hoya, a restaurant known as Sweet Heart Restaurant was established since 2005. Strategically located nearby the hustle and bustle of the Pulau Tikus market, this restaurant surprisingly gives you the relaxing environment with the peace and tranquil one would hardly expect. It’s a cool place to be in as the whole theme would be based on their motto “The Fragrance of the Refreshment comes from the Heart”. What would be the best way than to present them in edible forms?

The best part of indulging yourself in such a restaurant is that the food served here would be of home cooked styles without any unnecessary flavorings. The dishes would be cooked in the simplest and most healthy way and yet bringing out the best in each dish. Even those fragrant flower tea drinks served there were refreshingly healthy. It’s indeed a healthy place for everyone.

Other than their famous dumplings, noodles and impressive set lunch menus, the restaurant has recently cooked up some promotions to cater for the Chinese New Year crowds. A few of the Penang floggers had the privilege to try out the dinner last night. Prior to starting the food tasting for the Chinese New Year promotion, we were given a few types of sauces. There were fried onions, ginger in black vinegar and chili powder in oil meant for the jiaozi and guotie which we would be having later on. On top of that, we were also given some Chinese, Japanese and Siam sauces too.

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Lotus Root with Sugar & Vinegar (RM3) was also served as an appetizer where slices of lotus root were marinated in sugar and apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is believed to be able to lower cholesterol level. This is indeed something different for us.

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During most Chinese dinners, soup would always be the first to be served. We were treated with Hot & Sour Soup (RM5/bowl). The soup contained 3 types of vinegar, namely black, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar with cube of bean curds, crabsticks, wood ear fungus, pickled shanghai vegetable, chopped chilies, fish maws, beaten egg white and so on. It was indeed appetizing.

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Another few appetizers worth mentioning would be their paper rice rolls. We had the opportunity to try out their Prawn Vegetable Rolls (RM7.60), Egg Vegetable Rolls (RM6.60) and Unagi Vegetable Rolls (RM7.60). They were perfect as each roll was filled with freshly sliced vegetables.

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There were also the restaurant’s in-house specialties such as Fried Bean Curd (RM4.80), Prawn & Leeks Guotie (RM9.60) and Cheese & Chicken Guotie (RM10.80). The Fried Bean Curd was extremely tasty as the inner part has so many ingredients in it. The outer part has the crunchiness of the special batter, making the whole mouthful very delightful. It was great having these with the Siam Chili Sauce provided.

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Next on the list was the 7-course Chinese New Year Promotion, which consists of Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Mushroom (RMRM16.80), Golden Scallop Dumpling (RM18.80), Fried Prawns with Garlic (RM18.80), Steamed Cod Fish with Bean Curd (RM29.80), Prosperous Year in Malaysia (RM6.80), Snake Squash with Pork (RM11.80) and Sponge Gourd with Pork (RM13.80).

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The Stir Fry Mixed Vegetables with Mushroom had some nice and sweet gravy with lots of greens and mushroom in it. Simple but yet it contained great vitamin and minerals to the body. The Golden Scallop Dumpling which has some carrot juice made skin contained a juicy fresh scallop each. The Fried Prawns with Garlic was another great dish as the prawns were mixed with some chopped garlic batter and oil fried to perfection, giving each prawn the fragrant bite. The Steamed Cod Fish with Bean Curd did not let anyone down as some even ordered some rice to be taken with the tasty gravy. The Prosperous Year in Malaysia was actually deep fried chicken wings and drumlets. What made this dish stood out was the smell and taste of sliced Kaffir lime leaves and shallots within the marinated pieces. The Snake Squash with Pork was a rather unique dish for many as most of us had not known the existence of such a vegetable. The taste was somewhat like munching cooked celery minus the strong celery herby taste. The Sponge Gourd with Pork was somewhat different compared to the rest as it was cooked with Angelica sinensis (dong guai or female ginseng). This would be an ideal dish for those who like Chinese herbs cooking.

The meal ended up with noodles, namely Black Jelly Mushroom Fried Noodles (RM8.80), Shredded Pork Noodles (RM7.50) and Ground Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce Noodles (RM7.50). All the handmade noodles tasted great with their own unique tastes, except that the Ground Pork with Spicy Bean Sauce Noodles could be rather pungent for some.

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On top of the food, we were also served with two unique combinations of beverages. One would be the Honey Lemon with Aloe Vera (RM6/glass) and sweetened Chamomile & Chrysanthemum Tea (RM4.50/glass). The Honey Lemon with Aloe Vera was lovely as it has cubes of jelly-like Aloe Vera cubes in it. The Chamomile & Chrysanthemum Tea on the other hand was refreshing as Chamomile is believed to be good for the digestive system as well as fighting against fatigue and insomnia. Chrysanthemum has the medicinal value of fighting against flu related viruses.

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Attended Floggers:
Criz Lai of Criz Bon Appetite
CK Lam of What2See Online (Organizer – Thanks!)
Tam Chiak & Huat Koay of PenangTuaPui
Steven Goh of Steven Goh dot com
Allen Ooi of Yummy Station
Gill & Jason of Gourmet Garden
Carrie of Cariso Delicacies Corner
Mary of Food Paradise
Allie of Heavenly Allie
Bee of Buzzing Life

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.

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

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: 8/10 (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)

CHOO CHOO HENG BBQ MEAT

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 5 - 2009

Note: For 2014, please check the price of the meat as stated below.

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Chinese New Year (26-27 January 2009) is just around the corner and many Chinese are already busy preparing some gifts for their family, relatives, friends and clients prior to the celebration. Some would buy hampers filled with canned and dry stuff whereas some would still go for the traditional way of giving away some BBQ meat (Bak Kua/Rougan), a Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product similar to jerky. There are actually two variants, one with minced meat slices and the other with slices of meat straight from the solid meat blocks. It could either be made out of pork or chicken.

Have you ever wonder how these juicy dried meat slices were made? Let me share with you what I have learned through my recent visit to a BBQ meat maker in Georgetown who has been making this delicacy from her home for over a decade. The preparation is actually quite simple but the process of making the dried meat could be real time consuming. Pieces of choice meat (80% lean and 20% fat) would be minced and then mixed with some seasonings such as soy sauce, salt, sugar (some would use honey), 5-spice powder, pepper and rose wine. The mixture would be left to marinate for awhile before proceeding to the next process.

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The mixture would then be spread evenly but thinly onto customized large aluminum trays. Some makers, especially those older ones would still use bamboo trays to spread the mixture.

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These trays would then be placed inside a slightly heated oven to dry the meat. Traditionally, these would be left out in the sun to dry but the modern generations of people had shy away from purchasing food using this method as the food might be contaminated with dust particles and bugs. Thus, through this hygienic process, the food would be safe for consumption.

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After leaving those trays in the oven for some time, this would be the result. You will get huge slices of dried meat but this is not the end of the process. There would be the final preparation.

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These huge meat slices would then be trimmed into smaller slices and BBQ to perfection. The maker has two ways of barbequing the meat slices. She would either use a metal net over some burning charcoals or by using an electrical BBQ machine when the orders get too many.

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The other variant which I had mentioned earlier would be the dried chicken. The preparation would be the same except that they would use a customized mould with holes on it to make them round.

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They do also produce the Red Dried Pork which is of a lesser quality and flavors compared to the ones mentioned above. These are normally used by our local hawkers to prepare Roti Bak Kua (Dried Meat Buns).

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Over the years, Bak Kua has evolved into something different. They are now being produced in strips form that made eating easier. These yummy and juicy strips are called the Gold Bars (金條). Unlike the step of spreading the seasoned meat thinly, they are rolled into long bars and followed the same drying process as above. These would then be fried instead of being BBQ, leaving the inner layer to be moist with rich flavors. These have been my all time favorite. Sad to say, they only produce them once a year, just a month before the Chinese New Year. Even my friends and relatives had not stopped reminding me to order them yearly. I had tried from many sellers but theirs had been the best so far.

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Another fried version would be the Gold Nuggets (金錢肉乾) which have thinly spread meat as the base and a small amount of minced meat on the middle. These again have been the much sought after dried meat after the Gold Bar. I could not get enough of these either.

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You should also not miss out their Pork Floss too. The floss was always fresh, well flavored and crunchy. I’m still trying to remember how many slices of bread, spread with butter and sandwiched with the yummy pork floss I had last evening. LOL!

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The price of the items (2014):
Dried Pork (Bak Kua) – RM33 per 600gms/kati
Dried Chicken (Kay Bak Kua) – NOT AVAILABLE (2014)
Pork Floss (Bak Hu) – RM33 per 600gms/kati
Gold Bars (Kim Teow) – RM34 per 600gms/kati
Gold Nuggets (Kim Chee) – RM34 per 600gms/kati

Since the festive season is near and stock could be quite limited, MAKE SURE YOU CALL UP to book your order prior to visiting them. They do not have a counter (remember? It’s a house) to sell you the delicious dried meat if you did not make any reservations. The house is strategically located along a small lane off Lebuh Carnarvon. If you are coming from Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong, turn left into Lebuh Carnarvon. Drive on until you see a police station (on your left), turn into the first right turning back into the other side of Lebuh Carnarvon. You will see a mamak store on your left. Drive on until you have reached the second left junction (Lorong Carnarvon). The house is on the left somewhere almost towards the end of the lane with a small red sign with gold wordings stating (處處香肉乾)Choo Choo Heng Dried Pork.

CHOOCHOOHENGMAP

Name: CHOO CHOO HENG BBQ MEAT
Address: 51 Lorong Carnarvon, 10100 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 12.00noon – 7.00pm
Contact: 604-261 4223 (Ms Loh)
GPS: 5.414097, 100.335645

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

 

COFFEE ISLAND IN PENANG

Posted by Criz Lai On January - 3 - 2009

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The latest happening in town other than the New World Park would be the newly open Coffee Island situated along the promenade of Gurney Drive. It has the buzzing crowd ranging from families, YUPpies (Young Urban Professionals), college and school students. Moving into the premises was like being greeted by a mini party of giggles and laughs, setting the mood of the environment to happy and lively modes.

Coffee Island could be a great place for those who love to drop in for late breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper or even early breakfast in a relax environment as they would be open for business as early as 10.00am until 3.00am. I was there for a late dinner. The menu was rather impressive as it has more than 160 types of food and beverages to choose from. There was also a section for those late owls.

It was a surprise that with such a packed crowd that night, service was still up to par. Waiters and waitresses would check on the provided chit upon serving and supervisors would double check on the orders per table. Meals were served within few minutes too.

The first order that came was the Chicken Maryland (RM11.50nett). It was just a normal presentation with side dishes such as salads, mashed potatoes and some greens. As usual, the dish would also have sausage, pineapple and banana fritters on top of the usual breaded chicken. I would think that the sausage could be improved as it tasted “cheap” and the breaded chicken had a hard outer batter while the meat was extremely dry. It tasted as though it was double fried and lost its juiciness. Somehow this dish was not up to my expectation.

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The next one was the Traditional Chicken Curry served with Roti Jala (Net Egg Crepe – RM9.50nett). The dish has only three piece of roti jala, two with pandan (screw pine flavored) and one plain, served with spicy chicken slices curry (8 small slices in fact). The taste was great but the amount could hardly fill my tummy, considering that the dish was served with only 4 thin slices of cucumber. Great taste but too pricey.

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To fill up my tummy, I had to order the Ham & Cheese Toast (RM4.60nett). I was expecting something fragrant and crunchy but in the end I had 3 thick but springy slices of white breads stuffed with a semi fried ham and a piece of cheese. Moreover, there were no vegetables inside, except for some over lime juice taste mayonnaise. I would rather have non toasted bread with butter spread as the whole combination was too dry to my liking.

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There was nothing special in the drinks too. The Iced Cappuccino (RM5.90nett) was really ‘ice filled” and not to my liking as it tasted so “thin”. The Pink Holiday (RM6.90) was a laugh. It tasted like a sugarless Ais Manis (red syrup iced drink) with some fizzy soda. It was nothing special at all.

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Maybe it was just due to my wrong timing to dine there when the place was so packed or my expectation could be too high. Anyway, I was not quite happy with the RM43 paid (plus tips) to have these types of food served. If I were to visit there again, I would surely choose other dishes to test them out again. Let me share with you what they have in their menu.

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Overall, the place would be ideal for meet-ups if the taste of food is not your main concern. The pricing might be a bit high though for the amount of food served and the drink could be a bit “thin”. I would advise can drinks instead. You can opt to dine indoor rather than the al fresco area. There would be two free 1MB WIFI line available, namely Coffee Island 1 and Coffee Island 2. Downloading could be quite fast but uploading is rather slow. There are other “unsecured lines” such as MyBroadband and Gurney67 available but I’m not sure about the speed.

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The shop is strategically located along the sea front of the famous Gurney Drive (next to Crepe Cottage). If you are coming from town center towards Gurney Drive into Jalan Kelawei, turn right at the first junction (Jalan Lim Chin Guan) where Gurney Tower is. Drive towards the end and turn left. You would pass through Evergreen Laurel Hotel and a stretch of hawker centers on your left. Slow down as Crepe Cottage is immediately after the last hawker center (Song River Café). You can park your car next to the café. The car park is in fact behind Crepe Cottage. If you visit this place during weekends, I would advise you to park your car in the Jalan Birch Car Park (the road after Song River Café) and walk up to the cafe.

COFFEEISLANDMAP

Name: COFFEE ISLAND
Address: 77 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 3.00am
Contact: 604-2272378
GPS: 5.432556, 100.316592

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: 5.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

PULAU TIKUS MARKET SUSHI CORNER

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 29 - 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

PERAK LANE PEANUT SOUP

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 26 - 2008

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Sometimes after a dinner, I would love to drive around and hunt for some desserts to fill up the remaining of my tummy. I have been passing through the Jelutong area quite often and had seen this auntie selling sweet peanut soup for quite awhile but did not manage to try her dessert out. It was only last night that I was on a bike and was able to pop by there as it has always been hard to find a parking space for cars there.

To my surprise, the stall has more add-ons than any regular stall for their sweet peanut soup. Instead of serving the dessert with Chinese crullers (you tiao), they even have steamed sweet potatoes and yam to add in the peanut soup.

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Well, I ordered one each with a bowl of Chinese crullers. The look on the Peanut Soup with Sweet Potatoes (RM1.50) was impressive but the taste was very disappointing. The soup tasted bland with no peanut flavors at all and was rather diluted with hardly any sweetness in it. Moreover, I do not think that sweet potatoes can combine well with the peanut soup. The combination was rather out.

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Again, the same combination problem goes for the Peanut Soup with Yam (RM1.50). The taste was totally out. I still think that yam should always be cook in a creamier soup based desserts such as the Bubur Cha Cha (Nyonya Pengat) with thick coconut milk and Malaccan palm sugar. Somehow, the powdery texture of the yam just tasted so out with clear soup based desserts.

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The only thing that I enjoyed was their bowl of Chinese Crullers (You Tiao – RM1).

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If you are coming from the Jelutong Expressway into Jalan Jelutong, just drive forward until the next traffic lights (You will see a lot of hawker stalls there). Turn right and you will see the stall along the road side of Lorong Perak.

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Name: PERAK LANE PEANUT SOUP
Address: Lorong Perak, 11600 Penang, Malaysia.
Opening Hours: 6.00pm-11.00pm (Closed Monday/Tuesday)
GPS: 5.399363, 100.320430

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

CHUAN CHUAN XIANG MALACCA SATAY CELUP

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 25 - 2008

Note: This restaurant has ceased its operation.

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On 7 July 2008, George Town, the historic capital of Penang was formally inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside with Malacca as both states were officially recognized as having a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia. Although the food served in these two states of Malaysia have their own identity, there tend to be some crossovers. Two of the Malaccan dishes introduced in Penang recently are the Malaccan Satay Celup (food on bamboo skewers cooked in thick peanut sauce) and Chicken Rice Balls. Thanks to Steven for showing me the existence of such a shop in Penang.

The experience of dining in this restaurant is totally different compared to the one I had in Malacca as the pot for dipping in the skewers has two sections instead of one. It’s a combination of the local boiling water method and the Malaccan Satay Celup concept. The Malaccan dipping pot has a thicker and stronger gravy compared to the one served here. Moreover, the Malaccan gravy would be served in one boiling peanut sauce pot with more grounded peanuts and Malaccan palm sugar (Gula Melaka) in it.

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Well, one thing great about the place is the cleanliness of the Lok Lok (food on skewers). All the skewers are kept in two designated chillers within the premise and you would need to pick what you want to consume. At 70sen per skewer or RM15 (adult) & RM7.50 (child) with free flow of can drinks, you can savor over 60 types of meat, seafood, processed fish balls or vegetables skewers. There would also be a 10% discount for those diners with more than RM20 bill.

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On top of the peanut sauce in the pot, you could also try out their three special sauces such as Thai Spicy Sauce, Blended Cili Padi (chili Paddy/Birdseye Chili) and Tomyam Sauce. I find the spicy sauce to be a bit too sour, the chili paddy sauce to be a bit bland but the tomyam sauce was still fine to my liking.

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Other than the Lok Lok, you can also try out the Malaccan Hainan Chicken Rice Balls at RM3-RM4 per set. One note, please get the boss (Mr. Lau) to heat up the dish for you as the set dish would taste better if warmer. The taste for the chicken was fine although it was cold for my case. The meat was tender and the sauce was just right. Even the accompanied chili sauce has that blended ginger taste in it. As for the rice balls, I felt that there was nothing special except that my rice came in ball shapes. I guessed that must be the Malaccans’ way for better presentation.

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Overall, the food there was just average considering that I had tasted the actual Malaccan dishes before but it could be a great experience for those people who had not tried out Malaccan dishes before. It would also be a great bargain for those who can consume a lot as the price of RM15 per person is reasonable. The restaurant also caters for birthday gathering as well as having certain offers on certain days of the week.

For those who are not staying in mainland Penang, going to the Raja Uda area might be quite a hassle. I’m going to show you the ways to reach the restaurant by either ferry or through the Penang Bridge. Just click on the map below to enlarge to have a clearer view of the direction by following the red (bridge) and blue (ferry terminal) dotted lines.

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To elaborate further when you have found your way to Jalan Raja Uda, just drive forward until you see SJK (Cina) Kwang Hwa on your left. Immediately after the school, there would be a row of shop houses. Keep at look out for the Lekker II Claypot House (stated as LCH in map) restaurant at the corner lot and turn into the road (Jalan Pangsapuri Emas). The restaurant is just at the corner lot of the apartment.

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Name: CHUAN CHUAN XIANG
Address:
Tingkat 08, Jalan Pangsapuri Emas, Taman Emas, Raja Uda,
12300 Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-484 2088 (Mr. Lau)
Opening Hours: 5.30pm-11.30pm (Closed Monday)
GPS: 5.428874, 100.383384

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: 6/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 7/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

PENANG TIMES SQUARE CHINESE NEW YEAR STEAMBOAT REUNION DINNER

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 24 - 2008

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Chinese New Year would be celebrated on 26 & 27 January 2009. It’s time to give your Mum a rest and pamper her to a buffet steamboat dinner instead. Let your Mum have an enjoyable dinner without worrying about the hassle of cleaning up for once. She ought to be given the chance to have a full rest this coming year.

The Penang State Chinese New Year Celebration committee would be holding an exclusive Chinese New Year steamboat buffet dinner with live entertainment from 23-25 January 2009, along with Penang Times Square and Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant. Dinner would be served at the mall’s Urban Square, the largest open space in Penang, between 7.30pm and 10.00pm. Tickets are sold at RM280 for 10pax and RM140 for 5pax. Get your tickets fast before they are sold out at Ivory Corporate Communication Department, 73 Jalan Dato Keramat, Penang, 604-210 8000 or at Golden BBQ Steamboat Restaurant, 38, 40, 42 Jalan Nagore, Penang, 012-438 8324 (Joseph).

PULAU AMAN FLOATING RESTAURANT

Posted by Criz Lai On December - 19 - 2008

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Please bear with me this time on the lengthy post as it involved traveling and trying out new food during a totally out of the way island hopping adventure trip. I was off exploring for great food again and this time it was an adventurous trip involving traveling by land and by sea. The destination was Pulau Aman, an island covering an area of 288 acres and is 25 nautical miles from the mainland just off the coast of Seberang Perai’s southern district of Penang, Malaysia. It’s quite a nice island to be on with affordable chalets. You could also book your lodging through KOPEL HomeStay Project or Ministry of Tourism HomeStay Project to stay with the locals and experience their daily lifestyles. There are many activities on Pulau Aman as well as nearby Pulau Gedung such as fishing, snorkeling, camping, hiking, jungle trekking, kayaking, canoeing, historic site visits or just a visit to the bullet warehouse plus the pirates’ cave. It’s truly a back-to-the-nature outdoor experience for those who won’t mind roughing it out in the wild.

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A 10-15 minutes boat ride from the Batu Musang new jetty brought us to Pulau Aman where there existed the famous floating seafood restaurant. The seafood is real fresh as you can see fishermen bringing in all the live catch, which include varieties of shell fish, fish, flower crabs, prawns and mantis prawns. You can even try catching your own and get the restaurant to cook for you at minimal charges.

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The only disadvantage of patronizing this restaurant is their limitation of food choices. There are only three choices of rice/noodles dishes for you to choose from. Each plate of rice or noodles would cost differently depending on the sizes of the fresh prawns given. It could be as low as RM5 and as high as RM10.

The first dish that arrived was the Prawn Noodle Soup (RM5.50). This was the best prawn noodles I had tasted so far. The soup base was slightly sweet but was rich in flavors with one fresh gigantic prawn, some slices cabbages and fried bean curd. The prawn was almost half the size of the plate of noodles. This is a must to have if you ever visit Pulau Aman. In fact, this dish is one of the most ordered in this restaurant.

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The next was the Fried Prawn Noodle (RM5.50). The fried noodles were cooked in a different way compared to the Indian style fried noodles which was slightly drier. It has 3 medium sized prawns, some cabbages and bean curd slices, garnished with chopped spring onions and chillies. Somehow the Malay lady cook knew the combination of sauces real well. The dish was also superb.

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Fried Rice with Large Prawns (RM5.50) was served next. I had frequent so many Malay styled hawker stalls and restaurants but normally found their fried rice to be a bit damp. This Malay lady cook surprised us with one of the best fried rice I had eaten. I could not had imagined how such an elderly lady would be able to provide us with a plate of wok hei (high heat cooking) filled fried rice full of flavors. Accompanied by 3 large and juicy prawns, I almost ordered a second round. Unfortunately, she was out of rice. What? At 1.10pm? She must have a great demand for the day.

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Since we had almost an hour and a half left before the next boat leaved the island, we went for some sightseeing. It was quite an experience witnessing the lifestyle of the Malay villagers on the island. Although the villagers were living a simple life with basic necessities, they were filled with smiles and contentment. Children were seen playing along the trekking paths and by the semi mud filled beaches but they were seen to be very happy. Even the school and clinic available were such a small scale compared to how fortunate we were to be in the city. One thing which caught my attention was the stray animals on the island. There were barely a handful of dogs but cats could be seen everywhere even by the beaches.

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Visiting a historic site on this island could be real taxing as every site seemed to be so far apart, although it did look near in the map provided on the sign board on the island. We were traveling almost a quarter of the island before we managed to find the Telaga Emas (Gold Well). History stated that a villager found some “gold” in the well. Eventually, those were discovered to be some colored stones. What amazed most of the visitors was that in it contained fresh, energizing and pure water. Although the well was dug just next to the sea, it did not contain any salt water taste in it.

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Strolling within the fishing village, we noticed an abundance of a certain 20m trees. It has leaves almost similar to that of a papaya tree, fruits with texture similar to our cempedak and flesh as white and powdery as tapioca. The locals called them Buah Sukun (Breadfruits), a fruit native to the Malay Peninsula and western Pacific islands.

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We happened to see a stall selling some fried chip-like food by the jetty and thought it was potatoes. As an adventurous foodie, I immediately bought a few packets of the fried chips home, after knowing that they were breadfruit chips. The taste was unique. It was like munching a cross breed of potato and tapioca chips with a hint of jackfruit flavor. After all, a pack was not expensive as it cost me only RM3.50 for a small one and RM5 for a big one. In fact, I bought 3 packets of the smaller ones for only RM10.

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The nearest way to reach the island would be at Batu Musang Jetty (GPS: 5.265888, 100.406928), Batu Kawan, Seberang Perai (Butterworth). A trip from this new jetty at Batu Musang to the island would take about 10-15 minutes or at the Bukit Tambun jetty which would take about 30 minutes (Update: all transports had been redirected to Batu Musang Jetty unless there are some private operator available). If you find it rather taxing to drive all the way to Batu Kawan, you could always board a boat at Batu Uban or Batu Maung jetties but the charges would differ as it would be run by private operators. It would take about 45 minutes to reach the island. Going to the floating restaurant won’t be a problem after all as it’s at the old jetty which is next to the new berthing area. Please get a sea sick pill or a sea sick wrist band from the nearest pharmacy if you are sea sick prone. Just as a precaution, make sure you call up to ensure that the restaurant would be open on the day of your visit (although it’s supposed to be open daily) or you might just waste your effort visiting the island to try out their delicious food. Boat trip charges for return ticket would be RM6 per person (collected at Pulau Aman dock). Operating time would be 8am-7pm (Scheduled ride from Batu Musang: 10am/1pm/4pm/7pm. From Pulau Aman: 8am/1pm/3pm/6pm. There are more trips on weekends and holidays or if there are more passengers to and fro.)

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As you come out from the toll plaza, you would reach a T-junction. Turn right and go over the overhead bridge towards Batu Kawan. Drive a few meters away and you would reach a cross junction. Turn left towards the Batu Kawan Stadium (There will be a signboard showing left towards the stadium. You would pass by the stadium on your left. Drive on until a roundabout. Drive towards your 12 o’clock (leading to Jeti Bandar Cassia) and go straight until you reach a turning on your left (no through road ahead). Turn left into the road (a quarry is on your left) and it would lead you to the Batu Musang Jetty. Take a 10-15 minutes boat ride to the floating restaurant.

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Name: RESTORAN TERAPUNG PULAU AMAN
Address: 120 Pulau Aman, 14100 Simpang Ampat, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 016-495 5125, 019-476 6125
Opening Hours: 11.00am-9.00pm (daily)
GPS: 5.268310, 100.391495

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

 

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