PEr FYI

October 6, 2018

Imperial Thai, Penang…goodbye to the knots in my back!

It’s no secret that Singaporeans are stressed. Traditional Thai deep-tissue massage appeal to a growing interest in treatments and proving particularly popular amongst Singaporeans and Malaysians.

Khun Pha had some power behind her. For over an hour, every inch of my body was stretched, pummeled and finally, relaxed. I was seriously impressed with Khun Pha and her technique. Goodbye to the knots in my back!

Hit Imperial Spa to relax from the insanity of the city. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 9, 2018

Ming Garden, Penang…the price for a meal can be more than a mortgage payment (or two)

Ming Garden is not just expensive; it’s outrageously overpriced, serving Chinese food to diners with deep pockets. But sometimes, you just want to splurge (and other times, you’re on an unlimited expense account or your rich relative is treating!)

The food presentations are stunning, but of course, for that kind of money, they should be. However, the quality and taste of the food lacks wow-factor is very average for its elevated price.

Although eye-wateringly expensive, you get the least bang-for-buck given the fairly unimaginative repertoire for which mediocre would be a flattering description. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 5, 2018

979 Nine Seven Nine Kopitiam, Penang…salted vegetable minced pork bihun soup is unmissable.

Penang is replete with high quality dining options that won’t break the bank, it just takes a little local knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff. NSN is a super cheap local eat where you can stay stuffed without emptying your wallet. It may be a simple, humble little joint, but it’s astoundingly satisfying.

The star of the show?

The real deal comfortingly basic  salted vegetable minced pork bihun soup is remarkably deep, savoury and a wonderful depth of flavour. It is a contender for “best food in Penang” and I was told it regularly attracts long queues of devotees. It succours the old school and the hungry. It is no beauty but a winner. Seriously incredible, now I can NEVER stop craving for it. The deep fried wanton from a nearby stall in the same eatery is equally unmissable. Both are perplexingly cheap and  insanely economical.

Take friends, and order big. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 29, 2018

7 Village Noodle House, Penang…nothing special

In Penang, kway teow thng shops shops and stalls are stacking up like jets over Changi Airport. Every third shop or stall seems to knocking out kway teow thng.

7 Village Noodle House now find themselves in a market almost as crowded as the MRT train on a Monday morning. The kway teow thng was quite good, although not as good as the authentic stuff in Hutton Lane or Pitt Street but if you just want a fast, clean, comforting bowl of noodles, it’s a good call.

Its a good noodle place but nothing out of this world. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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