Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Up and Above European Cuisine @ Cantonment Road, Pulau Tikus, Penang.

A new kid in town- Up and Above European Cuisine has secretly opened a couple weeks back. The name "Up and Above" surely did not give us much hints, little did we know that our visit signs us up for an extraordinary gastronomic journey, though the interior decor suggests otherwise. Housed in one of the shop houses along Cantonment Road, the classy-sophisticated setting is surely misleading, stepping into the restaurant makes you think that you are actually walking into a fine-dining restaurant with hefty prices but in actual fact, Up and Above European Cuisine targets upper-middle price range... affordable luxury-kind of quality and experience. The restaurant even introduces Set Lunch at unbeatable price... from a bargain price of Rm 17. If you like being stuffed with mostly good things at a romantic-joint without putting a dent on the wallet, this is your venue.

Many Thanks to Up and Above European Cuisine for hosting us that evening. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Famous Balik Pulau Assam Laksa has moved to Kim Seng Kopitiam @ Balik Pulau, Penang.

The famous Balik Pulau Laksa that sits within the wooden, heritage house at the junction from the new market towards the main road is now relocated to a new space. Kim Seng Kopitiam can be found within the new Botanica development area; not only Laksa but Pasembur and Char Koay Teow are now available either. The operators discontinued the business due to personal reasons but has since resumed and running their own right now. The location is a little far but finding a place to park requires less effort right now. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hai Nan Town (海南) @ Weld Quay, Georgetown, Penang.

The Peranakan specialties are of acquired taste and only those with trained palate would know how to appreciate them. One may still find a handful of decent restaurants that serve Nyonya food in Penang but it would not be easy to find that cuts through the novelties and get down to the solid perennial favorites that would not go out of fashion. Hai Nan Town that sits in between the bustling Ferry Terminal and Port Swettenham, the restaurant is about to celebrate its 11th anniversary and has been the de facto restaurant in town, especially for Nyonya cuisine. The restaurant knocks out an extensive range of home styled Nyonya staples- Curries, Kerabu, Stir Fries and desserts; it has always been the popular choice for Penang companies hosting events and staff  gatherings (due to Pork-Free status). There are only one private room available (that houses two tables) so the heat-intolerant visiting in a large group may call in a few days earlier for advance reservation while the others would have to settle for the tables at the outdoor terrace... but be rewarded with a breath-taking sea view overlooking the ferry terminal. 

Many Thanks to Hai Nan Town for hosting us that afternoon.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

J'aime Le Cafe @ Centrio Avenue, Jalan Permai, Gelugor, Penang.

Unassuming is the best word to describe J'aime Le Cafe at Jalan Permai... it's tucked away at the residential area of Jalan Permai and there are chances you will drive past without noticing its presence if you are not paying attention. Small but cozy and cutely furnished with knick-knacks such as miniature Eiffel Tower, Coffee Bean Pot etc. There's even a couch for those who wish to chill at a more relaxed pace. The menu is well-thought of, though very likely designed to suit the local palates and for the residents staying in the vicinity. Some notable dishes are Curry Laksa Spaghetti, Squid Ink Aglio Olio but with unbeatable price tags. It may not have a very sturdy and attractive menu (to some), but if you wish to skip the traffic and beat the crowd, add J'aime Le Cafe to your cafe-hopping list. To find the cafe, drive from Jalan Yap Chor Ee until the junction to turn into Jalan Permai, go straight for another minute and J'aime Le Cafe is on your left (housed under the affordable housing project- Centrio Avenue. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Auction Rooms @ Kimberley Hotel, Jalan Sungai Ujong, Georgetown, Penang.

Housed in an iconic building along Jalan Sungai Ujong, Auction Rooms is Kimberley Hotel's in-house restaurant. You may not be convinced by its exterior but stepping in the restaurant will change your mind. It has the traditional English elegance with a touch of the modern industrial vibe. It links to Kimberley Hotel, though the restaurant is housed in a heritage house along the same road. On the menu, it has a nice blend of Western elements with an Oriental touch; but prices are far-affordable than those established hotels in town. Auction Rooms can be a picturesque place, the vintage furniture aids in fostering the atmosphere. Kimberley Hotel is just opposite to the famous Yong Pin Dim Sum at Jalan Sungai Ujong.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Rakkii Izakaya @ Icon city, Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

Arriving late for lunch at Icon City might get you into trouble as most restaurants are closed after 2:30 pm, though they will reopen for dinner at 6 pm. Rakkii Izakaya seems deceivingly quiet from outside, had we not entered the place to check it out, we would not know that they serve Set Lunch.  The name "Izakaya" gives an impression that the place opens in the evening and serves light snacks to go with the alcohols; in fact, Rakkii Izakaya is a Japanese-Fusion restaurant that serves full-fledged menu covering Appetizers, Ramen, Mains (Japanese Rice dishes) and even desserts. The setting is spacious and the decors are Japanese-influenced with a huge bar counter displaying various Japanese-Sake bottles. The menu may put you off with hefty prices but as far as quality is concerned, they are quite good at it. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Botanica Mansion @ Balik Pulau, Penang.

Far deep inside Balik Pulau (approximately 10 min-drive), you will find a new piece of development area... named Botanic CT, the Mansion perches at one the hills over there... also in the vicinity is Prince of Wales Island International School. It is a beautifully restored mansion (it was there since decades ago) with a charming garden overlooking the greens at Balik Pulau, there are Gym and Pool facilities too... for the Botanica residents. There's an in-house restaurant that caters to the needs of the nearby schools and residents. It has the classic English setting... elegant, sophisticated yet modern in its own way. The restaurant has a small menu... featuring a blend of Malaysian cuisine and English-styled dishes.The historic villa reminds me of those classy ones at Cameron Highlands; for the ambiance and sense of heritage... their Afternoon Tea Package (Rm 52.90 nett for 2 pax) is especially popular and well-received. The servers were young but we were assured of the seamless and attentive care. 

Directions: From Balik Pulau Market, drive straight until you hit the small roundabout that divides that road into two. Follow the path on your right and keep driving for another 10 minutes, you will find the Botanica CT area on your right, make a right turn in it. Go straight until the very end, Botanica Mansion is right in front of you.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cafe Lagenda @ Campbell Street, Georgetown, Penang.

It is not often you find authentic traditional Malay delicacies in cafes... especially in Penang. Should you find yourself stranded in Georgetown and yearning for Malay-Indonesian food... make your way to Cafe Legenda. Opened for less than half a year, Cafe Lagenda is housed within one of the old shops along Campbell Street. It has an interesting menu that features traditional Malay-eats or Western-Fusion dishes with a touch of Oriental. The waiting time could be long... as the Chef insists on using fresh ingredients so you could really taste the powerful punch of those Herbs and Spices. The place is simple but cozily decorated, though we would prefer the air-conditioners to work better. The atmosphere is generally quite relaxed, probably due to the large space and high ceiling. Their effort in making the dishes more presentable is most commendable.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Hygge @ Green Hall Road, Georgetown, Penang.

Previously Kaffa... the prominent corner lot is now taken up by Hygge, a cafe cum restaurant that serves promising and mouth-watering Western-Fusion dishes. We did not expect Hygge to churn out some lip smacking dishes, probably the exterior did not seem as encouraging as it used to be- dull and not as vibrant as before (a contradiction to the name Hygge- pronounced as Hoo-Gah, which literally means cozy in Danish). They probably need to do something to brighten it up a little; never mind on that, we were more than happy with the quality of food. Prices are most affordable and wallet-friendly; their 20% opening promotion (applicable to all items) is especially note-worthy, which slashes the prices by 1/5. We had a good, thick slab of Steak for Rm 24 nett (original price- Rm 30). There are also a variety of brunch items... that seem conventional but Hygge has certainly added some interesting twists to them. The opening promotion is valid until further notice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lum Khee Wan Ton Mee (林记云吞面) @ Kulim, Kedah.

There's a famous Wan Ton Mee specialist in the serene town of Kulim, a short 10 minute-drive away from Bukit Mertajam (read my previous food trip of Kulim here). Lum Khee has been in business for more than a decade and has been receiving spotlights from the traditional media. Relentless queues can be seen as early as 7 am, we were there at 8 am on a Sunday morning and we had to wait for 20 minutes before our turn or perhaps, it was their cooking speed. Probably the regulars are used to the relaxed pace here and do not mind waiting... nevertheless, Lum Khee serves up a decent plate of comforting ageless delicacy that would not out of fashion. Lum Khee Wan Ton Mee can be found right opposite to the market, in the heart of Kulim, Kedah.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rain Garden Bar, Cafe and Restaurant @ Pulau Tikus, Penang.

Hidden behind a row of shop houses at Burmah Road (right next to Bangkok Lane) is a large compound with contemporary decors and design. It has three different parts- a quaint Cafe near to the main entrance, a retro Bar in the middle followed by a bright and airy restaurant towards the end. It is apparent that they have put in some efforts to make the place looks great; massive choices available so don't be overwhelmed by the selection (there are a few alternatives for a good cut of steak!) and they are best at knocking out grilled meats. Rain Garden bets heavily on the weather: there are no air-conditioners and the pull factor would be their al-fresco garden surrounded by greens, the view is further accompanied by the urbanized high-rise building in the vicinity... the view surely does not disappoint. This however, may be frustrating for the heat-intolerant if the weather goes stuffy. While the place is ideal for a beer & chill-session, we thought there could be some minimal house music to keep the atmosphere more relaxed.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Koffiehouz @ Auto City, Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

Another venture by 2F+ Coffee by Yellow House at Sungai Ara, Koffiehouz takes charge of a large unit at Auto City, a unit that is facing Lorong Perusahaan Maju 8 (behind Sakae Sushi). It's probably a little quieter over that side of Auto City and it requires effort to locate Koffiehouz. The unit is well-covered in shades of dark, seemingly curious and quiet... push the door and you will be overwhelmed by the interior decor. There are plenty of mismatched knick knacks with an industrial touch. The menu is small but fun; the highlights are of course, the Toast-series that come in different forms (apart from the artisan coffee). It's a fun place to be, especially with the spacious and comfortable setting; a little playful but absolutely a pleasant place to spend the afternoon. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat (奇香铜碳鱼头火锅) @ Raja Uda, Butterworth, Penang.

With so many festive seasons around the corner, eating hotpot is undoubtedly a fun thing to do with friends. The folks at Raja Uda would probably recommend Zi Wei Yuan Steamboat but the younger foodies may think otherwise. Another recommendation is Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat, a 4-month old establishment on along Jalan Raja Uda. The clamoring crowd does not lie; they have started the business operation for less than 2 months and has since, proven to be one of the favorite family restaurants by the local residents. They specialize in serving Fish Head Hotpot, just like the market leader- Zi Wei Yuan. There are of course, many other condiments that one could dump in but to save all the hassle, we'd recommend to go for their set menu. The place is fully air-conditioned, with ample seating space so we are not surprised on the popularity of the place.