Sunday, October 15, 2006

Vegetarian Steamboat

I am at Kocha again!!! Yippee....hehe... and this round we tried the Vegetarian steamboat which costs about RM15 (it is a mini version but enough to feed 2-3 pax) and they also give you glass noodles as condiment.
Anyway, I had this twice because I kinda liked it and it was quite worth the price compared to what we usually order; the Cod fish set...or rather cheaper. Since I am not talking about the Cod Fish set with rice, we will just concentrate on the steamboat.
So, as you can see, there's plenty of stuffs and vege (duh....they don't name it vegetarian steamboat for nothing:p) and those vegetarian artificial emulation of the seafood such as sea cucumber, prawn, fish balls, sotong balls and fish I come to think of it, there's no artificial meat wor....means this is also a vegetarian seafood steamboat huh :p
There are also yam, a piece of triangular tofu, vege(don't know what vege that is) ,cabbage(I like this :), sweet corn cob (4-5 pieces), and the golden needle mushrooms. All in all, a happy delightful meal and there is the plate of glass noodle with their special sauce to go with the meal which I found was a little saltish:p The soup itself included a little herbs and there's the dried red dates.

As you can see, I am enjoying my Kiwi ice-blended again...ooooh...not forgetting the pearls...hahaha.....nice simple meal and I am happy:)

Ice Ice Baby

Yeahhhh....we went back to Ice Ice Baby after some time (since I was addicted to Kocha:p)
Anyway, we decided to have our lunch here last Friday and furthermore, we had our surprise dessert up for claim (we were given a card on our first visit which allows us to receive a stamp upon every visit - at least RM15 per visit and after collecting 12 stamps on the card, we are entitled to a surprise dessert:)
So that was our collection day and we were given a bowl to draw or pick the dessert from the little folded paper)
I took the pick and got the Chocolate Fondue....but my dear thought I do not take chocolate and requested for a change. Then we changed our mind again and told the waiter that we wanted the Chocolate Fondue which is actually the 2nd most expensive item on the menu which costs RM23 after the Cheese Fondue whichs costs about RM26.

You probably cannot understand why the whooping price for just dessert; but hey, feast your eyes on this Chocolate Fondue which consists of a bowl of chocolate which they lit a fire underneath to allow the slow boil and perfect melting of the chocolate and then the array of fruits and little titbits for your to dip and enjoy the blend with the chocolate. The items were watermelon(6 balls), honeydew(5 balls), lychee(3), longan(6), banana (at least 2), strawberry slices, 6-7 grapes, 5 marshmallows, bread cubes, and cake cubes.....phew....that is enough to cover for a meal:p

But it looked pretty cool and interesting...although I only eat the fruit items...he also ordered a fresh fish fillet spaghetti set and I ordered a Grape Ice Blended but we were too intrigued by this to actually take pics of the others....hehehe...
Worth a try and it is not something you can find elsewhere although I noticed that the fondue concepts is starting to be the "in" thing nowadays.....
Well, we were given another card with a stamp on it and guess we will be collecting the next 12 stamps again...hehehe......*winks*
Nice place for chatting and meeting up; fully air-conditioned; they even have function room upstairs and the ambience is cute; with baby posters everywhere.
They have pretty nice dessert collection...worth a try :)

OFA Restaurant

Located along the Northam road and before reaching the fork junction next to the Tennis court, you may miss this place; OFA which stands for Old Frees' Association and it is a restaurant which serves Oriental cuisine and your normal rice and dishes style of food. In fact some (like me) may mistaken this as a membership-only kinda place or that you have to be an ex-student of the Free School:p I know....I am ignorant but I am not a local Penangite, okay? :p
Anyway, we decided to try our luck with lunch here. There is a decent parking area as you enter the gate and I noticed there were already 4  cars there; mainly Honda City, Toyota Vios, BMW, and another Toyota I think which gave me the idea that this is probably the type of place where only the locals or old regulars know of.
So, I walked towards the main entrance and noticed lots of tables and chairs arranged on the left; probably this place is also popular for functions or gatherings.

As I stepped into the air-conditioned restaurant, I saw that there were already 3 tables seated and waiting patiently for the food despite the fact that it was still pretty early for lunch - it was only 11.30am at that time:p Most of the patrons here were families and we took our seat at the side of the shop.
The menu offers the local Oriental dishes; ranging from fish to poultry, vegetables, prawns, soup and beancurd. The prices were pretty normal; ranging from RM6 to RM15 or RM20 per dish.
We ordered a sweet sour fish fillet and also kai lan stir fried with mushrooms; which cost about RM8 and RM7 respectively. I would say the fish is reasonable for a small serving. We ordered iced Horlicks and for me, Lime+Plum juice which is about RM1.90 and RM2.30 each.
After the order was made, we noticed another menu on another table which listed all the specialities for the day and found those interesting. Hehehe...was tempted to change but since I cannot decide, we stuck to the inital order.
I noticed that most of the staff were ladies; thought that Free School is a boys' school? Probably their spouses who are helping to run the business while those "old boys" are at the wok in the kitchen. Possibly these ladies were just hired to serve at the front desk :)
The food did not take too long to come; and this is me posing with the food.
Not bad; enjoyed my food and total bill came to about RM19.20 which I think was not too expensive for two people. Will come back again to try out other items....the thing is most of the time, I can't order too much due to limited eating ability and furthermore, there are only 2 of us...hehe

Place: OFA Restaurant
Location: Northam Road (next to sports club and tennis court)
Serves: Oriental food (rice, noodles and dishes)
Price: RM6-RM20
Environment: Air-conditioned and quiet.

Maxim's Dim Sum

Yesterday we decided to break away from our normal routine of dimsum at the Sg Ara place or our usual Tai Thong in town and decided to go to this Maxim's dim sum place in Taman Pekaka in Sungai Dua, near Makro (USM area).
Weird huh....when I was staying in Sungai Dua, I never wanted to try it out and always opted for the Sungai Ara dim sum but now that I have moved to stay in Sungai Ara...I came back for the dim sum...haha....well, I always do weird stuffs though and don't they say that the neighbour's grass is always greener or the grass is always greener on the other side:P
We reached there at about 6.15 am (which was still pretty dark then) and went into the brightly lit shop (yeah, they turned on all the white fluorescent lights which really brightened up the shop - well, those dimly lit shops (exception of coffee houses) should learn a thing or two from them to boost their business).

Having seated ourselves at the side (and enduring stares from a lone old man in front of me and also another 3 men from behind), we ordered our usual chrysanthemum tea and then proceeded to serve ourselves (they practise self-service here....) with the food; they categorized their food items to steamed and fried.

So, we only had the following items;
from left (the prawn dumplings aka Har Kao which was mixed with meat, steamed fishballs and mussels with garlic sauce).

(Me posing with the food :)

Okay, for the food review; the fishballs tasted weird and too bouncy soft for my taste; I was a little creeped out by it and didn't finish my bite. Then I tried the mussels which were not too bad.
Then we took a plate of prawn fritters which I did not capture here which was not bad.
The pricing here is not too bad actually; probably to cater for the USM students - in fact, my friend explained that is probably the reason why they mixed the meat in the prawn dumplings -> to save manufacturing cost.
Overall, I would say it is probably worth a try but for me; I do not have much to look forward to and guess I should have listened to my good friend that it was not that good...hehehe :p

Kafe Dajie Dessert House

Found a little(not so little actually; there's actually 2 shop lots to form this place) dessert house on Church Street; the road which faces the famous and oldest temple; Temple of the Goddess of Mercy (more fondly known in Hokkien as "Kwan Yin Teng" among the local Penangites).

The famous Temple of the Goddess of Mercy in Penang; one of the oldest temple in Malaysia as well. The road where this shop is located is the road directly facing the temple.
Saw this shop a couple of times when I roam around that area that night but somehow it was always closed. The operating hours are actually from 9am-7pm only which relates to why I never see it open since I only go there after work; normally even after dinner which it during the 7pm time frame - exactly when it ends its business hours.
Weird that dessert house should close this early; but then again, the area around the Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is pretty quiet at night; since most of them there are into either Money Changer business and close early. Even the temple closes in the evening; which according to my mom is due to the antique collections of the deities' statues in the temple which is way too valuable. Thus, I guess that is the main reason this dessert house closes early as well.

I walked into the shop, expecting some fancy settings or at least some unique and relaxing environment. However, besides the air-conditioned shop, I think it's pretty much plain for a dessert place where it's "all sweet and everything's nice" type of place. To me, it looks just like any ordinary kopitiam and a normal environment.
What attracted me were the shaved ice dessert and also those hot traditional desserts they have such as the red bean, gingko with soy sheets, sweet potato, etc.
We went to look for a table in the second shop and sat by the window. Then we waited for a while and observed another table which had 3 ladies enjoying their dessert and snack.
A lady in her mid-40's approached us and handed us the menu which consists of the light meals such as fried noodles, rice, etc. I browsed through the menu and find that they had limited choices for desserts and light meals which probably explains the popularity. I was deciding between the Soursop, Strawberry and Kiwi shaved ice and opted for the Soursop in the end. Reason is simple; I tried this out in Singapore while on a business trip early this year and kinda liked it. My friend wanted to order another one but I warned that it is better to try it out and furthermore we were there at an odd hour; almost towards lunch. Initially we planned to have our lunch there since it had that Vegetarian banner and there was also the mention of light meals - we thought it would be okay since I am not a meat-eater and they have desserts anyway :)
However, we were tad a bit disappointed with the menu and decided to go somewhere else for lunch. Therefore, we had to restrict ourselves to tryout mode and beckoned to the lady to take our order. Man, my friend told me her face turned sour when she heard we are only ordering one single shaved ice...and tried to ask whether we are interested in the light meals. Telling her that the menu does not suit us, she walked away with our one single order....(haha, kinda bad of us too, huh?)
Anyway, the shop looked pretty clean and well kept as we noticed the Indonesian maid cleaned up well.

Soon, our dessert came and it looked...icy....they topped it with a slice of peach and 2-3 cubes of fruits (small pieces).

A view of the shaved soursop ice dessert.

Tasted normal but I would say it is a little pricey for RM4 since they did not give much of the soursop anyway and in this area (Penang), it would be expensive. Guess that is why the Penangites; despite their sweet tooth for food, do not come flocking to this shop.

Me posing with the soursop ice...not as nice as the one I tried in Singapore :(

Then we paid up and left the shop and I noticed some local delicacies; locally made "cakes" (kueh) which were placed near the counter which included curry puffs (RM1 each - very expensive - my friend grabbed one of these and according to him, it is not worth the price as it is so not tasty as well:p).

There are also the common bowl cakes, chocolate cakes, vegetarian cakes, crackers and that's about it.
Forgive the blurry images; I was leaving the shop.

These are the menu of the shaved ices they have; I wanted to take of the other menu anyway but there is this couple sitting by the door who gave me those gawky looks when I took the pics so I just hurried off.
I will probably come back again to try out the other items and provide another review :)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

City Bayview Revolving Restaurant

First of all, wishing everyone a Happy Mooncake Festival :)

I did not get to go back to my hometown; unfortunately, since my parents will be coming up soon and they sort of "disapproved" of me going back to KL when either they will be coming to Penang or I will be going home to KL in approximately 2 weeks', in short, I was left here miserably watching everyone in the company packing and leaving early (half-day's work) on Friday to make it home in time for the festive reunion dinner.

Anyway, things were not that bad as I had company and was invited to go for a buffet dinner in hotel and we decided to check out the City Bayview Hotel's Revolving Restaurant offering of buffet dinner for the Ramadhan month.
We reached in time to watch the 19 couples congregation (mass wedding) which appeared in The Star on Oct 7th, 2006 - organized by France Taipei bridal departing from the prestigious E & O hotel. In fact, everyone was so entranced by the possession that it caused the cars to pull to a slow crawl on the road. As our car turned into the City Bayview carpark; which coincidentally was situated just across the road, the parking attendant ran just in time to issue us the parking ticket...and he was apologetic.

To cut the story short, we reached the Revolving Restaurant after switching to a different lift and upon reaching the restaurant, we found that most of the tables were reserved and I was already thinking to myself "This must be good since people are making reservations to secure the places" (what more with the Penangites' witty taste buds, the crowd always give you the idea of the rating of the restaurant).
We started helping ourselves....hehe, him picking up some stewed vegetables for me which had a combination of broccoli, cauliflower, mushroom (shittake, button), sweet corn, carrots in a brownish stew. Then we proceeded to get some prawns; fried prawns (we actually took the food separately - more efficient and effective)

First of all, the soup was pretty ok; the stewed vegetables were not too bad as well. Taken some quick snapshots of the food; enjoy :P
Salad section; helped myself to the fresh veggies here but was still pretty disappointed with the veggies; not too fresh:p

Stewed vegetables - broccolis (my favourite!), cauliflowers, sweet corn, shittake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms, carrots....yummy; combination of all my favourite veggies!!~

These are the other food which were taken by my friend (I only took the vege plate in the first picture). These stewed vegetables were nice oooo....and those were the prawns which everyone seems to take a load of. Disappointing though; it is not fresh and the flesh was too hard; not juicy and succulent with each bite...sighhh....i just took 1 or 2 )

There's chicken, and roti jala I think

The Szechuan hot and sour soup; okaylar - with some bamboo shoots; black fungus and also shreds of fish cake.
Forgot to take pics of the fruits and the desserts - basically little kueh and cakes:P
Done with the fruits; not too nice also lar.
More and more people coming by the time we are done:) The revolving part makes me a little dizzy in the beginning...if you can see where the people are helping themselves to the food, there's the circular thing there; it keeps rotating. So, wherever you are seated at, you will see the other section. At the same time, the dining area rotates as well. Too bad we cannot see the night view of Penang city since we were eluded by the thick haze that time...sighhhh.
Anyway, the whole dinner costs about RM80++ and I'd say the food is not good enough for the price.
For drinks, they only provide sirap bandung, iced water, and coffee.

In case you are looking at this hotel, take note that there are 2; one in town (this is the one with the Revolving Restaurant) and the other one is slightly more exquisite in Batu Ferringhi.
Place: Revolving Restaurant, City Bayview Hotel (Georgetown, Penang)
Review: 2/5

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Red Tea Garden Dim Sum Restaurant

This is a new place located on Macalister Road - you will not miss it if you are using the road to head towards town or KOMTAR area. It is actually on your right; somewhere near the red painted Bata outlet.

So, we decided to try out the dim sum here last Sunday morning; a side track from our regular dim sum shop in Kimberley Street.
It was pretty packed with people and I was wondering what is the attractive part about this place.
They do have a wide variety of dim sum and finger food - mostly meat though...they even had steamed vegetables!
Haha....the normal variety includes siew mai, har kao, egg tarts, pork ribs, fish ball, pau, lor mai kai, chai kueh, fried stuffs, etc etc.
The food were placed on the main table near the kitchen and it is more of a self-service thing although they do have their own staff making rounds to sell their fresh from the oven dim sum (most of their hired staffs are foreigners so they can't even tell you what is the content of the dim sum they are carrying...bummer:(

Anyway, I didn't quite like the dim sum here and I actually ended up with gastric after having dim sum comments....

Wang Zhao Jun

Wang Zhao Jun (Wong Chiew Kuan) is one of the 4 most beautiful ladies in ancient China; one would wonder why on earth is a normal shop which is not even fancy is named after this beautiful lady warrior...I haven't even figure it out myself.
So, I heard of Wang Zhao Jun from my mum who tried this out; courtesy of my 5th aunt during her last trip to Penang which was last month.
Located on Rangoon Road, this restaurant, as my mom told me specializes in fish and also a couple of typical Chinese dishes such as chicken and pork.
However, their main menu consists of fish fillet in soup -> Fish head bee hoon in clear soup, Hor fun fish fillet - either steamed or soup or dry.

The couple of times I wanted to try out this shop, it was always closed...anyway, I went after work which led me to deduce that it is probably only open in the day; during lunch time.
So, on a Friday 2 weeks back, my luck got the better of me when I saw the shop was open in the afternoon. However, the bummer here was; due to the peak hour during lunch, there were no parking space. Typical scenario in downtown Penang - what more with the narrow roads.

After more than n rounds, we finally found a parking space right opposite the shop and then ordered the food. It is just like a typical coffee shop without your luxurious A/C. It's located next to a Vegetarian restaurant and a Chinese coffee shop less than a few metres away.

So, we settled down (it was raining on that day - heavy drizzle) and ordered fish - since that's the only thing I actually eat furthermore it is a Friday (not like I take meat anyway:P)

We ordered the steamed fish and a separate hor fun also with steamed fish - basically they are the same- just that my friend wanted to have some hor fun to go with.
The food came and it was not too bad but I think the pieces of fish fillet were overcooked and also it was a little too oily for me :( Furthermore, there were bones ...hmmm, what is the main objective to have fish fillets in the first place?Sigh....

Anyway, despite that, I would say it is not that bad and in fact, we plan to come back again for the soup style.
However, haven't seen it open for the last few days....hmmmm...
Also, I noticed the lady in that shop looks familiar - like the cashier lady in the dim sum shop I frequent in Kimberley Street....hehehe....moonlighting job and probably she is focusing on her dim sum shop....well...:)

Recommendation: Not a bad place; but without A/C lar and the price is reasonable as well :)
Will come back and try it again *winks*

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kocha Taiwanese Delight

Kocha....basically means Tea in Japanese (if I still remember my Japanese correctly that is)..hehehe..which is why the relationship between the Taiwanese theme and a Japanese description does not mix. In fact, they are not even close relatives nor fan or each other:P

Anyway, I noticed this little place by the roadside which was quite hidden if not for its brightly lit neon lights on the signboard which was placed high. Located along Burmah Road, this is one green little place you should be able to notice.
As I approach the entrance door upon parking my car, I noticed there were free books on the shelves (mostly Chinese and meditation/religious books) and there was a wooden table with chairs and a little fountain at the entrance.
As I pulled and stepped into the restaurant, there was this little pre-recorded voice which uttered the welcoming note to customers.
I noticed that the placement and positioning of the furniture settings in the shop was unique and there were also little paraphernalia and memorablia displayed in a glass cupboard with price tags; indicating that they are on sale.
My friend actually commented that this place is focusing on feng shui as we can see bamboo, aquarium, placement of the tables, etc.
However, I kinda like the quaint little design and cosy factor of the place itself.

Anyway, the menu boasts of nothing special actually (in my opinion); just typical Chinese dishes we can get anywhere - soup, fish, rice, meat, etc.
They have sets for the dishes which are the McValue kinda thing where you pay RM18++ for the dish which will come along with rice, fruits, dessert, a drink (milk tea) and 2 vegetables.
So, pretty much worth it as well.
Since I am not one for eating; hehehe....I eyed the drinks :)
(I did try the fish - cod fish cooked with 5 tastes; don't really know what were the 5 tastes about - mainly tasted sour and sweet and spicy)
Tried the steamed cod fish before as well....not too bad but tad a little too oily:P

Anyway, the drinks were the fascinating ones to me....since I am one for ice-blended drinks; they have a limited list (not covering ALL fruits - only passion fruit, love fruit, soury plum, pineapple, strawberry, kiwi, mango)
Ooooohhh....and they add the pearls as well (still remember those pearl milk tea craze during our school days...yeah, it's those pearls for an additional of RM0.50)
My personal favourite will be the Kiwi ice-blended.....
We also noticed that they tend to put sliced hard jelly in the drink which does not have the slicing of the actual fruit. So far, only Kiwi has the actual fruit ; the others are mostly flavoured drinks...that's why it's my personal favourite *winks*

The prices were pretty reasonable and I should note that it was pretty cold in the restaurant...
And the relation to the Kocha, it is actually your typical tea garden or tea house since their speciality is the different types of Taiwanese tea they offer on the menu which I have yet to try since I am still hooked on to the ice-blended fact, I am addicted to it!!

Will further update you if I try more of the stuffs they have here....I am a regular now and will continue my, there will be updates again on Kocha....

**Oh ya, Kocha in Hokkien also means ancient....pretty much suitable for the settings and the layout of the restaurant. **
Chinese name of the restaurant: Koo Zhao Yuan
Location: Burmah Road, Penang
Comment: A nice and cosy (COLD) place for chatting and meeting up with old friends; the lights were dim and the environment and ambience is perfect even for a romantic dining :)


As usual, just a little welcome note on the start of this new blog which will post all the reviews and also findings on food or any restaurants - either from my personal experience or even those I hear from my close friends.

I will bring you on a ravenous journey as we embark on our hunt for the food eateries and label them in our hall of fame/shame...hehe....

So stay tune, jiak jiak, and mum mum.....