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Posted by crizlai On September - 22 - 2016

“Good music and good food always go hand-in-hand and we are looking to make Art & Soul Café the place for people stop by and enjoy both,” said Melvin Ooi, General Manager of Hotel NEO+ Penang by Aston. It was indeed well said as there’s nothing better that would lift the spirit and strengthen the soul more than an array of great food over some soothing yet soulful music. For every Saturdays in the month of September and October 2016, guests would get to enjoy various genre of music from awesome musicians as early as 8.30pm at the Art & Soul Café, located at the ground floor of Hotel Neo+ Penang by Aston. We were serenaded by the amazing duo of Leo & Viv on one fine Saturday night and were truly impressed by the powerful yet soothing voice of Vivian with her jazzy and bossa nova music numbers.

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Basically, you can enjoy their Daily Set Menu (Sep/Oct: 11.00am-11.00pm) and/or their Saturday BBQ Skewers (Sep/Oct: 7.00pm-11.00pm) during your visit to the café. Each BBQ Skewers set would be served with a complimentary baked potato. Price would be with a 6% Government Tax per skew and last order from kitchen would be at 10.30pm.

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On top of that, there would be two specially concocted beverages for the promotion, namely Captain Oat Milkshake (RM15nett – September only) and Mr. Peanut (RM15nett – October only). The Captain Oat Milkshake would have a concoction of oat, honey, vanilla ice cream and fresh milk whereas the Mr. Peanut would have a concoction of peanut butter, vanilla ice cream and fresh milk. Both beverages had their own unique flavors which I quite like and they could be quite filling too. You could also order other beverages too such as Chamomile Tea (RM8+) or Cappuccino (RM12+).

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Do check out on their Daily Happy Hours (3.00pm-8.00pm) too as shown below.

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Overall, I loved the BBQ skewers, especially the beef and prawns skewers with their peri-peri condiment.

The Art & Soul Cafe is located at ground floor of the hotel. As you enter the hotel, you can see the café on the left side of the building.

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Address: 68 Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-255 1000 (ext 1103)
Business Hours: 11.00am-11.00pm (Sunday-Friday), 11.00am-12.00am (Saturday)
GPS: 5.479097, 100.254663

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: 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)

About Hotel NEO: Hotel NEO+ Penang features 196 guest rooms and suites decorated in a modern-contemporary style that befits the new trends in hotel design. With uncluttered open spaces, the atmosphere is at once stylish and relaxed, topped off with twenty-first century conveniences such as complimentary high-speed WiFi, LED TVs and home entertainment systems. The new NEO concept aims to open doors to a world of wellbeing and sensual satisfaction. Designed in a stylish and contemporary style befitting the latest trends in hotel design, NEO Hotels offer uncluttered open spaces for an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility within these chic yet reasonably priced new-build hotels and resorts. The brand has been described as “hip and new,” with aesthetics reminiscent of cutting-edge fashion designs. Customer Focus Groups have credited Archipelago International for “bringing sexy back”, thus hailing NEO Hotels as a brand fit for savvy young travelers and Generation Y parents alike. Images of NEO Hotels can be found at
About Archipelago International: Archipelago International is Indonesia’s largest hotel management chain with a portfolio of over 110 hotels and 15,000 rooms. It also continues to have the fastest growing brands with over 100 properties in the pipeline across Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Their 7 core brands include favehotel, NEO, Quest, Harper, Aston, Alana and Kamuela, ranging from ultra-luxurious villas to select-service, economy-class hotels to serviced apartment residences. You can view more at


Right in the heart of George Town, Penang, lies a cozy and yet sophisticated café by the name of Auction Rooms Café Georgetown (ARG). Under the umbrella of Kimberley Hotel, Penang, this café promised some great dishes that would suit your appetite real well, such as salad, soup, munchies, various meat, seafood, pastas and beverages. All orders would be inclusive of 6% GST.

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We started off with their Fruit Salad (RM14) with a variety of fruits and greens, drizzled with some yoghurt and honey. It was just a simple and healthy boost before our main meals. It would be great if the kitchen would garnish the salad with some granola or chopped nuts to make the salad more nutrients perfect, especially for those who would take salad as their main course.

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We also tried out their Cream of Wild Mushroom (RM10), served with slices of garlic toasts. Though it was not the best mushroom soup to my preference, it was still a decently prepared one with the earthliness of the wild mushrooms bits. I would think that the kitchen should toast some of the mushrooms to bring out some smokiness for the overall flavors. I’m not too sure what type of mushroom they were using but if they could ad in more types of mushrooms such as Portobello, Shitake, Oyster, etc would surely make the soup even tastier.

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While waiting for our main courses to be served, we tried out some of their munchies, starting with some Nachos with Cheese (RM12). The dish had some baked tortilla chips dipped in hearty Italian Bolognese sauce and topped with melted mozzarella. I quite like the overall flavors as the added sauce was one of the better ones I had tried before. This would be a bite perfect dish for any ages.

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The next munchies item we tried out was the Seafood Bruschetta (RM14). It had some succulent fish chunks, squid and prawns in a house cream sauce on baguette slices and toasted perfectly with some melted mozzarella cheese. It was a crunch perfect dish. However, I would think that some sprinkles of mixed herbs on the cheese would have pepped out more flavors.

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We practically tried out everything that was on their meat main courses, starting with their Grilled BBQ Chicken (RM22). There was nothing much to shout about the dish as it was just a simple preparation of grilled chicken fillet, glazed with some in-house made BBQ sauce, accompanied by sides of sautéed vegetables and steamed white rice. Though the chicken fillet was juicy and flavorful as it should, the overall combination was a bit too dry to my liking. Maybe the kitchen should consider dressing the blanched vegetables with some butter white sauce since the dish was served with rice.

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The Chicken Roulette (RM25) served was not bad at all considering that it was an orient-inspired roulette with tender chicken breast slices rolled with Japanese pickles, carrot, chicken frank and cheddar, served with house gravy, mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. However, I personally think that there could be more improvements on the gravy itself with more creatively inspired sauces by utilizing the zesty mandarin orange, lemon or even a combination of the creamy avocado with a light touch of wasabi and lime juice.

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I quite like the next dish which was the Stuffed Chicken (RM28). It was an infusion of smoked chicken stuffed with duck breast, cream cheese and spinach, along with wild mushroom sauce and accompanied by some golden potato fries and sautéed vegetables. It would be great if some salsa be added in to cut down on the heaviness of the meat.

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The Lamb Shoulder (RM38) served was another dish I enjoyed as it had succulently grilled lamb shoulder braised in mint sauce, served with sides of mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. For me, it would be great if they were to be some added mint jelly served together with this dish. However, there were some inconsistencies in the grilling as some of us did encounter certain part of the lamb shoulder to be a bit too well done.

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We also did try out their Australian Rib-Eye (RM52). It has medium-rare fine Australian rib-eye steak served in a black pepper corn sauce with sides of fried mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. The meat had just the right tenderness and texture to my liking and the fresh grounded flavors of the black pepper corns in the sauce was just right. However, the kitchen could be a bit heavy handed with the salt during the grilling process. Moreover, I would advise the kitchen to serve the sauce separately as not everyone would like their meat to be drowned in sauce.

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As for seafood main courses, we had their Grilled White Tuna (RM28), wild ocean tuna fillet, served with creamy wild mushroom sauce, accompanied by sides of mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. Personally, I would think that there should be justice given to the sauce as it tends to get boring after some time with their basic mushroom sauce for just anything. No doubt it was fine but I would think a more citrus and zesty flavors would complement seafood items better. The kitchen should consider using Lemon Butter Sauce or even some lime juice pepped up salsa to go with the fish.

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The last of the main course we had was the Pan-Seared Mackerel (RM30). The dish had a perfectly pan-seared mackerel fillet served in leek pesto sauce, served with sides of mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. What amazed me most was the presentation. It was one of those unique ones I’ve seen so far, especially for Western cuisine. I’ve to compliment the chef for best effort on this dish. Everything was perfect for this dish except that I would think it lacked some garnishing. It could be just anything from roasted nuts, a curled piece of lemon slice for those who love to have some zesty squeezes on their fish, chili flakes or even some toasted chopped black olives.

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There are 5 types of pastas for you to choose from too ranging from the Vegetarian Pesto Pasta (RM18), Fried Cuttlefish Spaghetti (RM20), Smoked Duck Carbonara (RM22), Crabmeat Pomodoro (RM24) and Smoked Salmon Aglio E Olio (RM28). Amongst all, the Smoked Salmon Aglio E Olio remained my favorite as its had al dente textured spaghetti with pan-fried cherry tomatoes, broccoli, wild shitake mushrooms tossed in their infusion of rich olive oil and garlic and garnished with some smoked salmon with a light sprinkle of chili flakes. It was a well balanced pasta for me.

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For dessert, we had their Warm Crepe with Mochi & Chocolate Ice Cream. It was just a normal dessert to tempt the craving of those dessert lovers.

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As for beverages, they have coffee, tea, juices, beer, mocktail and more.

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Overall, the dishes served here were simple and yet filled with flavors. I would think that the young chef there knows his stuff quiet well. However, there should be more improvements on the dessert section as there were hardly many options for dessert lovers. Maybe they could consider waffles, egg waffles or even churros into their menu. Anyway, ARG is still a great place to hang out with business associates, family members and friends.

You can check out more of the menus here:

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If you are coming from Jalan Penang into Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong (KOMTAR Walk), drive further up until you see the first left turning. Turn left into Jalan Sungai Ujong and you would see ARG a few shop houses away on your left. Parking can be quite limited here during peak hours. Alternatively, you can ask the guard there if there are parking spaces behind the hotel.

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Address: 38A Jalan Sungai Ujong, 10100 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: +604-263 6688
Business Hours: 10.00am-10.00pm
GPS: 5.415785, 100.331781

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



Posted by crizlai On January - 1 - 2013

Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its Aussie Tucker Promotion for the whole month of January 2013 (1-31 January 2013). This promotion would be under the skillful hands of the Jr. Sous Chef, Chef Kelvin Cheong with the help of Chef Zaidid. As Australian cuisine has the influence of globalization from different nationalities, the Aussie Tucker may include just anything from sandwiches, rolls, wraps, salads, hot from the oven to snack treats. Please note that there will be a 15% discount for all MAYBANKARD, Standard Chartered Bank and VISA card members. More details below.


We started with some appetizers namely the Uluru Calamari Salad (烏魯魯魷魚沙拉). Named after the famous sandstone rock formation in Australia that was formerly called Ayer’s Rock in Australia, this simple yet fulfilling plate of salad had amazed me. It had slices of cooked calamari tossed with some chilies, grapes, frisee and bits of fresh orange with some walnut sauce. It was simply refreshing as an appetizer.


Next was the Chiko Roll (澳式雞蛋卷). The first impression I had was that of our local Spring Roll (Choon Piah/春卷) but the filling was rather unique with lamb filling almost similar to the taste of shepherd pie filling. Each roll had chunks of lamb, cooked with celery, carrot, and onions in stock reduction and wrapped with spring roll sheet. It went well with the accompanied spicy sweet sauce and lemongrass chili condiments.


We also had some Aussie Oyster Soup (澳洲牡蠣湯) with slices of lemon to pep up the fresh oyster flavor. Though the soup was creamy with a significant usage of flour as thickening, it lacked the sweetness from the added carrot, celery and onions. It was rather bland at one point without the addition of salt and pepper. I guess the kitchen has to improve further on the usage of relevant stock for this dish. The soup had some ebiko and monk fish caviars as garnishing.


As for the main course, we had Macadamia Crusted Fish Fillet (堅果酥脆魚片) served on a bed of Ratatouille with Ham, dressed with orange ginger sauce. The choice of a thick slab of pan seared sea bass was great except for the chewiness on the skin.


There was also the Aussie Swiss Chicken (澳洲瑞士雞) which was nothing spectacular except with a piece of ham and cheese melted on the grilled chicken. This was served with some onion sauce.


The next dish that caught my confusion was the Onion Monegasque (摩納哥酸甜洋蔥). Do those people in Monaco really take Corn Tortilla or Pita Bread with this dish as a main course? It seemed to be rather light to me. Compared to the Texan’s Chili Con Carne, this dish was rather too mild for my liking. At least the former had some minced meat in it to fill up the stomach.


Sesame Carrot (芝麻胡蘿蔔) was also available but it was nothing special except for some toasted white and black sesame seeds garnished on some julienned and sliced carrot. It was not as crisp as it should be with some traces of frost bite softness. There were no dressing or marinate at all.


The Australia originated Lamington Cake (拉明頓蛋糕) was also served to us as dessert. This delicacy basically consisted of squares of coffee flavored sponge cake, coated with a thin layer of ganache prior to being tossed in desiccated coconut. They were quite nice but it would be better if there were some cream/jam filling as I had tried elsewhere.


Another great Australian dessert would be the Pavlova (帕芙洛娃甜餅), a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and a light inner softness. However, what we had was something I was not sure of its origin. We had Poached Meringue with Fresh Fruits instead. The poached meringue had the texture almost similar to a softer version of marshmallow, soaked in some canned fruits syrup and garnished with some fresh fruit cuts. Though rather unique, some were not in favor of such combination.


Overall, the dishes served in the Aussie Tucker Promotion were somehow not up to my expectations as they lacked the true identity of nationality as I had mentioned earlier. Though some of the dishes introduced were unique, some of the dishes appeared to be quite common as you would get from the international cuisine spread. I would sincerely hope that the next promotion would be of a better standard in terms of flavors and the usage of relevant herbs and spices.

Here’s the summary of the promotion.

Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Monday – Thursday
RM48++ per pax

For MAYBANKARD, Standard Chartered Bank and VISA card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Aussie Tucker Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday to Sunday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.


Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

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: 6.5/10 (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)



Posted by crizlai On November - 1 - 2012

When you have some good friends around, you tend to receive all different kind of food during their visits elsewhere. Recently, I have received some beautifully made wonton noodles from the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as the most delicious roasted duck from Lunas, Kedah, Malaysia. I was thinking, should I made some nicely wrapped prawn and minced pork wonton soup to go with the noodles but cooking some thick soup with just a small number of noodle s was not worth the effort. Eventually, I combined the wonton noodles and the roasted duck and made a simple noodle dish without much hassle. Let me share with you my simple STIR FRY WONTON NOODLES WITH ROASTED DUCK recipe today.


5 wonton noodles (about 300g)
1/4 roasted duck/chicken (remove bones & tear to bite sizes. Leave some whole piece for garnishing. Roast them a bit if required.)
7-8 Chinese mushrooms (Soak, slice thinly and marinate with some soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, ginger juice and a pinch of sugar. Retain juice for later usage)
1/2” ginger (grated)
1 tbsp garlic (finely chop)
250g cabbage (slice thinly)
1 small carrot (finely julienne)
A light sprinkle of salt & pepper to taste

Noodle sauce:
Garlic in oil (1 tbsp chopped garlic sauté with 3 tbsp oil)
3 tbsp oyster/mushroom sauce
2 tbsp soy soy
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp Shao Xing wine/brandy
Pinch of salt
Some pepper

Red chili (optional)
Iceberg lettuce (optional)
Deep fried shallots (optional)
Roasted duck (optional)

• Heat up about 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a wok and sauté one tablespoon of chopped garlic until golden brown. Scoop out into a small bowl to be used for the noodle sauce.
• Add in some more oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms and sauté until brown. Scoop and leave aside.
• Add in some more oil and sauté some chopped garlic with the roasted duck meat for about 2-3 minutes. Scoop and leave aside.
• Heat up a pot of water and wait until it boils. While waiting, mix all the ingredients in the “noodle sauce” section thoroughly.
• When the water is boiled bubbly, loosen all the wonton noodles and put them into the water. Give it a stir or two for about 30 seconds. Pour into a sieve while giving it a quick splash of cold water. Drain it well.
• Pour in all the noodle sauce and mix the noodles evenly. Leave aside.
• In the wok, add in some more oil and put in the sliced cabbage and julienned carrots. Stir it until cook while adding some of the retained mushroom juice. Throw in a light pinch of salt and pepper.
• Pour in the wonton noodles and stir evenly. When the noodles are evenly mixed, add in the sauteed mushrooms and roasted duck meat. Stir thoroughly.
• Scoop out onto a serving plate and garnish with some roasted duck meat and some sliced iceberg lettuce if available.
• Serve hot with some sambal belacan or pickled green chilies.

(Serves: 4-5)



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