Heard and seen much of it, but didn’t really thought of dining in Stone Bay Restaurant. This dining experience would be the first and most probably the last, unless I’m forced to attend events or function held there. Gill and I usually avoid restaurants that have menus that do not have price indications; it is a hassle to ask for the price of every dish.
The occasion for the virgin visit to Stone Bay was an impromptu family gathering of sorts on the 16th of February 2014, Amos and Wendy were visiting from Hong Kong. Prior to choosing Stone Bay, we tried our luck with 2 other more presentable restaurants in terms of food, service and ambience, Ming Garden and CRC, but they were all fully booked for weddings. If it were up to me, I would rather go to Sungai Pinang Food Court rather bring guests to dine in a place that we have not personally tried before. Very dangerous!
Gill and I were not holding the menu and it was not polite to grab them from our elders. We did not know what we were having until the dishes were served to the table. Nothing fancy, just a normal dinner with rice and dishes, but what came later was a shocker.
Hot Platter Item (Four Season Platter, RM200.00), it was a simple platter with 4 individually different small dishes representing the four seasons. Don’t really know which item represents which season as we were not “introduced” formally. Out of the 4 dishes 3 were above average, they are (clockwise from top right) the stir fried cuttlefish if I am not mistaken, stuffed bean curd skin rolls, and some fish paste thingy. The stir fried cuttlefish was savoury sweet and a bit of bite and texture. The stuffed bean curd skins were sweet and smoky with a light and juicy stuffing. The fish paste thing was firm and tender with a meaty sweet flavour.
Chicken Item (Poach Chicken with wine and goji berry or wolf-berry, RM60.00), the small size bird was firm to slightly under hard in texture with little essence or taste of chicken. The sweet taste of the Chinese wine was overwhelming the other flavours of the dish, especially the sweet taste of the chicken itself, but not too much. It was just an average chicken dish.
Pork Item (Boneless Spare Ribs with Grapes, RM40.00), the sliced pork meat from the spare rib region were stir fried with grape juice and pieces of cut grape. Although a sweet dish, it also has a savoury and meaty side that made it one of the better dishes of the night. The meat slices were firm with a bit of bite and crispness.
Tofu Item (Black Tofu with Enoki Mushrooms, RM30.00), the blacken tofu was fried then served with a heap of crisp deep fried Enoki mushrooms and a savoury sauce. The tofu’s texture was slightly grainy, not as smooth that I thought it would be but the slight crisp surface gave the tofu pieces some contrasting texture. The flavours were simple and straightforward; nutty, earthy with some sweetness and umami taste of the sauce.
Special Item (Mushrooms with Abalone, RM350.00), braised mushrooms and abalone slices served with blanched broccoli. To me the dish tasted like the usual mushroom dish one would get during wedding banquets or those package dinner menus, the gravy had a light sweet caramel taste with a savoury umami flavour. Though the mushrooms were plump and tender but lacking in flavour and have excess water in them. The same goes for the broccoli pieces which too were not properly drained but were nicely cooked. As for the abalone slices, I was told that it was not tasty either, it lacked that abalone flavour.
Vegetable Item (String Beans with Minced Pork & Savoury Pickled Radish, RM30.00), the beans were tender but the pickled radish were well aromatised, thus the dish lacked fragrance and taste. In addition, there were some instances that I had mouthfuls of black particles that looks like burnt crust which was quite unpleasant.
Vegetable Item (Stir Fried Kailan, RM30.00), the kailan stirred fried and served with prawns, chicken strips and capsicum slices. It was a simple dish with simple flavours, but a whole lot of ingredients. I quite liked the tender and juicy chicken strips and sweet tasting red and yellow capsicum slices. The kailan itself were not fibres nor stringy.
Fish Item (Steamed Fish Teochew Style RM143.00), the grouper variant was steamed with tofu, tomato, sour plum and salted vegetable to give it that distinctive tangy, sweet and salty, which is one of the best methods to serve fresh and most importantly high price fish stock. But the day’s catch was not as pleasing as we thought, the fish was fishy, a sign that the fish was not fresh, and the meat not sweet. To make things bland, the steaming ingredients had not developed their flavours. I guess that is why the captain suggested that the fish to be steamed with their garlic recipe.
Other than for being not pleased of some of the dishes we had, the service rendered was also found to be mediocre. The first sign of discomfort was that we were reminded 2 to 3 times that we are to spend at least RM350 for the room that we hurriedly booked. It is perfectly correct to impose a minimum spending because VIP rooms are scarce and need more attention from the waiting crew and other general expenses, but in front of other guests! The nights’ expenditure was well over RM1, 000.00 including tax and service charge. Can I ask to use the VIP room for another occasion without a minimum spending?! Then, there was the service provided by the more senior staffs, not professionally executed and lack tactfulness; for example at the end of the dinner we were not even asked of our intention to have dessert. May be I should not blame them because there was a wedding on the second floor and an almost full open dining hall on the ground floor! But I don’t think that we will be walking into their restaurant anytime soon.
On average, our overall experience:
Address: 12, Tingkat Satu, Fortune Park, Jalan Perusahaan Jelutong 2, 11600 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-288 8888