PEr FYI

September 11, 2016

Tsunami Village, Penang…Nothing on the menu would drag me in again

Dining out at a waterfront restaurant is all about simple pleasures. But not just any table will do — the food, after all, has to live up to the setting.

Here, the baked lobster with cheese, crab salted egg and prawn wine are more like upscale pub grub. It is good in the way seafood is good – but it lacks complexity, sophistication and the wow ­factor. The others are a mixed bag. The clam kam heong’s sambal was nice but the clams were so small, they might as well serve a couple of magnifying glass with the dish. The fried chai tak with garlic was so-so while the fried mix ho fun and mee hoon was the only well-executed dish.

Nothing on the menu at Tsunami Village would drag me in again to pay with my own money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 16, 2016

Lollipop Rotitiam, Penang…service can be a little shaky

One cannot fault the ambition. Attempting to be a local coffee-shop with a cafe feel this very unassuming place innovative delicious and comforting Malaysian food. The name is a play with words “roti” (bread) and “kopitiam” (coffee shop).

Well, occasionally inventors come up with something so right it transcends fashion: Land Rovers, iPhones, Angry Birds. Gong Ji Xia Dan is Lollipop Rotitiam’s attempt at this category. A slice of thick slice of bread topped with their homemade duck egg kaya spread and two half-boiled eggs, though delightful, could not be called cutting-edge.

The question is this: should we resent paying more and waiting insanely long for food you could – almost – prepare at home? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 20, 2016

Penang Trick Art Museum, Penang…become part of a painting

Two dimensional painting that trick the viewer into thinking they exists in three-dimensions allowing visitors to ‘crawl into’ the paintings to take amusing, and often bizarre, photographs. This art form originated in Japan and is gradually gaining worldwide popularity.

Sitting on a flying carpet, pulling Sadako out of the TV by her hair, battling mummies are all possible at Penang Trick Art Museum. Unlike other museums where signs such as “do not take photos” or “do not touch” abound, this museum is all about taking photos and being part of the art. It’s a surreal experience walking among art that seems to leap out of the frame.   This is a great place to have some silly juvenile fun.

During an age when ‘virtual reality’ is taking over the digital world, artists have shown that all you really needed is a brush and a canvas to trick the mind. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 27, 2016

Loke Thye Kee Restaurant, Penang…disappointingly bad

Believe it or not, but apparently, Loke Thye Kee, or love boat as it was affectionately known, was once the choice venue of family gathering. To eat here, I was told is that you are in the presence of greatness, while the evidence of my senses tells me that I am in the presence of, at best, okayness. Let’s face it: times have changed drastically. Today, it’s so sub “standard”. Soooo over rated it’s unbelievable.

The people who work in Loke Thye Kee were warm and gracious but the food was another story. The hainanese set – kaya & butter toast, soft boiled eggs and kopi was very ordinary. The spread were woefully lacking richness and savouriness. The nasi lemak and chicken curry was as exciting as hotel buffet fare. For all its past glories, the restaurant is terribly, terribly sad.

Is Loke Thye Kee worth the time and money? In and of itself, no. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 9, 2016

Him Heang, Penang…TASTY! I want a lifetime supply!

Apart from assam laksa and char kway teow, Penang is famous for its tau sar pheah. Although Ghee Hiang was the pioneer, Him Heang is now the standard bearer. Traditional Chinese biscuits are of course a very personal matter. For what is ostensibly a simple concept—you know, biscuits—Him Heang has built a tyranny of choice.

Tambun biscuits or Tau sar pheah is by far the strongest part of the menu: there is nothing I sampled here that I wouldn’t recommend. Rather compact and dense but still flaky, they taste like a mung bean and butter party in my mouth; each ball full of loveliness and crave-starting. I NEED MORE!

It’s good value for money. I’d buy these for my grandma, if she was still around. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 10, 2016

New Lane hawker centre, Penang…avoid this place like a leech-infested swamp

People usually don’t have high expectations from hawker centres. Hot and delicious will do.

New Lane used to be a street food paradise with concentrations of about 50 street side food vendors. USED TO BE!! By all that is holy and good in the world, I say unto you, eat anywhere else in Penang, except at New Lane. For nostalgia reason, I went there recently, and, oh my, I paid the price. The food is, simply, diabolical. It is probably the worst, most overpriced and inedible food I’ve endured in all my visits to Penang since my first trip twenty eight years ago.

The good: the congee with pigs innards was decent. But lest we get lulled into complacency, the texture of the congee was more like porridge than congee.

The bad: The char kway teow was perversely bad, chewy and insipid and completely devoid of “wok hei”- the flavour imparted by a flaming wok.

The bladdy horrible: The gummy or chien (oyster omelette) contained a lot of starch but hardly any egg and very few oysters. One spoonful of it and you realise it was probably not intended for human consumption. The viciously overcooked ikan bakar (chargrilled fish) was dry and totally inedible that I took one bite and then leave untouched.

I have to stop writing this review, my blood pressure is thru the roof just thinking about that pathetic place. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 1, 2016

Taman Emas Assam Laksa, Penang…I’m a huge fan after one visit.

Assam Laksa has been rated at #7 in the  “Top 10 world’s most delicious foods” by CNN.

A bowl of assam laksa from Penang has a complex balance of distinct tangy, sour, sweet and spicy piquant flavours. Don’t even try to understand it. The one served at Taman Emas is sweeter than most others, which works well for those with low tolerance for heat like yours truly. Combined with the thick springy, slippery noodle, the fragrant translucent broth garnished with mint, strips of pineapple and cucumber is simply mouth-watering and nose-tingling.

I’m a huge fan after one visit. If this is not a stamp of approval, I don’t know what is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 3, 2015

Hiong Hiong Char Kway Teow @ Batu Lanchang Food Complex, Penang…shadow char kway teow

Whip me with a wet noodle, if you must. I suppose I deserve some kind of penance for the following confessions: It looks OK, and tastes OK, but it’s shadow char kway teow.  It really isn’t the same char kway teow from Lorong Selamat or MacAlister Roundabout.  It’s a shadow of that char kway teow. In a word, it was LOUSY.

The good stir-fried flat rice noodles, popularly called char kway teow, usually has a robust flavour, smoky aroma and is low in oil. The cockles and prawns are well-fried but not rubbery, and the thick noodles pack bounce and spring. The one at Hiong Hiong is none of the above. Not good. There is an extreme lack of flavour.

I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be going back.  There are plenty of better locations for solid mediocre and above average char kway teow in Penang. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

Batu Lanchang Food Court Penang

November 16, 2014

Penang Place Restaurant, Singapore….as good as being in Penang

Penang is an island best known as Malaysia’s unofficial food capital. After many trips to Penang, I am hooked on the food and this restaurant is as good as being there.

The buffet line was quite expansive – 30 specialties. There’re hits and misses, with the Penang Fried Koay Teow faring very very well, while the desserts and Assam Laksa less so. This is a no pork no lard restaurant, but the char koay teow, is a winner – not oily but equally fragrant with that smoky flavour as any others around and topped with generous amounts of fresh and big sized prawns and cockles. The nasi lemak was just ok. The rice was not particularly fragrant but the rending was very tender, though a tad too spicy. The curry chicken is also a must try. The assam laksa was a DIY station but sad to say, this dish was not up to par. I actually enjoyed DIY-ing my own rojak because I decide what goes into the mix: cucumber, pineapple, guava and starfruit.

Being an ex-Malaysian, I would say this is the closest to authentic Penang food you will get in Singapore. I had to waddle out of the restaurant stuffed to the eyeballs, moaning that I could never, ever, possibly eat another thing. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

penang place

July 29, 2014

Kafe Heng Huat @ Lorong Selamat, Penang…what can I say, apart from…..just go and try for yourself

If heaven exists,  there will be a plate of char kway teow always waiting for me. Most of my Penang friends wouldn’t recommend this place because of its high pricing and bad, arrogant, grumpy service. I got to say, I haven’t experience this myself but it’s maybe because I don’t go very often. Char Kway Teow, which stands for “stir fried rice flat noodles” is big in Penang. Do not be confused, char kway teow or otherwise also known as Char Koay Teow, Fried Koay Teow, Char Kuih Teow, Fried Kway Teow noodles are all one and the same.

Now let’s get down to business: the food. The char kway teow  here are served with succulent plump juicy and crunchy prawns, fresh and big cockles, bean sprouts, chives and chunks of crispy pork lard. The tasty and relative moist kway teow was filled with smoky wok hei (loosely translated: “breath of the wok”) essence and fragrance from the usage of charcoal fire and pork lard and a testimony to a well-seasoned wok.

One may argue there are many other Char Kway Teow stalls which are better, cheaper and friendlier than this one. But there’s no doubt her Char Kway Teow is one of the best in Penang. Hey, I am hungry already just writing this! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

lorong selamat char kway teow heng huat penang

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