On certain weekends, you just feel an overwhelming urge to drive out somewhere far from your house (but not too far) and to venture out of the norm and if you are as adventurous as I am, make sure Leisure Forest is on the list. The location's a little tricky though, it's somewhere between the border of Penang and Kedah. While the distance is a little further than usual, it's a good opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city by enjoying a delicious meal in a serene neighborhood. Leisure Forest is well-hidden in a forest-village and its accessible from Jalan Kulim. Navigate your way through the greens and narrow, labyrinth road and you will find yourself arriving in a man-made paradise with a tranquil scene. The restaurant serves a Chinese menu with some Asian-Fusion dishes; most of them are reasonably priced and the budget watchers need not worry about putting a dent on the wallet.
Directions: From St. Anne's Church opposite Taman Tenang, go straight on Jalan Kulim. Drive for another 10 minutes (after entrance to Machang Bubuk). Continue to go straight for a couple of minutes and you will reach a Traffic Light (with a huge sign board indicating Nirvana Group's Memorial Park).Turn in and drive straight for another 5 minutes. You will notice a sign board indicating Leisure Forest on your left and follow the road. You will reach the destination shortly (though you have to go through a narrow but long road to reach there).
Steamed Catfish with Galangal and Garlic/ 沙姜蒸白须公 (Rm 30/ small)
Fresh Fish at its unadulterated best; Leisure Forest's simple way of serving Catfish was most delicious. The fish was carefully steamed till perfection and loaded with a concoction of Galangal, Garlic, Bird's Eye Chilies, Ginger. The pristine white flesh speaks for itself and together with the savory-spicy sauce (and fish fats); it was lip-smacking.
Braised Free Range Chicken with Chinese Yellow Wine/ 黄酒鸡 (Rm 33/ small)
We caught in a whiff of alluring aroma of Yellow Wine when the dish was served to our table. The broth carried a remarkable depth of flavor; Yellow Wine carries a sleek of sweetness and to paired with Chicken, it was a dish perfectly spooned over rice. The texture was a little chewy and the fats were well-rendered but the highlight of the dish was the Chicken but in fact, the sweet, boozy Yellow Wine broth. An extremely comfortable yet bountifully served dish.
Braised Sponge Gourd with Flower Clams/ 丝瓜拉拉 (Rm 14/ small)
Braised Sponge Gourd with Flower Clams may sound deceptively simple but the avalanche of flavors will definitely blow you away. It is a dish that you get to taste the natural sweetness of the ingredients. The squash was expertly cooked to the right doneness, it was still crunchy and well-simmered in the sweet Seafood broth. The Flower Clams were fresh and free-of-sands. We thoroughly enjoyed the dish.
Nutmeg Juice (Rm 11 per bottle)
Octopus Kerabu/ 泰式八爪鱼 (Rm 12/ small)
Deep Fried Hakka Cured Meat/ 客家咸肉 (Rm 13/ small)
Taste: 8/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service: 6/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Price: 7.5/10 (1-3 expensive, 4-7 average, 8-10 cheap)
Parking: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Ambiance: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service Charge: No
Government Tax: No
Address: Lot 2284, Mukim 17, Jalan Mengkuang, Sungai Lembu, 14000, Bukit Mertajam, Penang.
Business Hours: 12 pm to 9 pm (last call at 8:30 pm). Closed on Mondays.
Contact Number: 6011- 1172 6636