Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Restaurants

Stone Bay Restaurant At Jelutong Expressway

Posted by Jason Wong On March - 3 - 20142 COMMENTS

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:

Taste
  • 3.0/5 (Average)
Texture
  • 3.0/5 (Average)
Service
  • 2.5/5 (Borderline)
Cleanliness
  • 3.5/5 (Averagely Good)
Atmosphere
  • 3.5/5 (Averagely Good)
Price
  • $$$ (Total spending was RM1,037.85 for 12 adults & 1 child below 4 years old)
Portion
  • 3.0/5 (Average)
Value
  • 2.5/5 (Borderline)
Consistency
  • N/A

Address: 12, Tingkat Satu, Fortune Park, Jalan Perusahaan Jelutong 2, 11600 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-288 8888

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7 Wonders of Pizza Promotion By Italiannies

Posted by Jason Wong On October - 16 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

It was in June 2013 that we first cross path with Italiannies in Gurney Paragon when we were invited to sample their “Festa della Pasta Promotion“, this time round our paths meet again for their “7 Wonder of Pizza Promotion”.  Available for a limited time, until 31st October 2013 the end of the year (2013),  the pizza promotion aims at introducing 7 new varieties of unique pizzas that is said to give foodies, especially pizza fans, an opportunity to try  and taste some interesting and uncommon pizza topping combinations and flavours.

The 7 Wonders of Pizza promotion hopes to excite pizza lovers nationwide by introducing the new and exciting Specialty pizzas, variety is the spice of life. The new pizza dishes feature rich toppings harmoniously prepared together with other fresh ingredients on Italiannies’ traditional artisan thin pizza crust. “It is with effort and strive, Italianies hopes to be food lovers’ choice place for the best pizza in town,” said Andrea Rossi, Regional Manager for Italiannies.

Throughout the promotion period, Italiannies will also be offering one of a classic Italian dessert, Panna Cotta, and Mountain Dew Pitch Black with citrus grape flavour, to complement this pizza extravaganza. Customers will receive a complimentary glass of Mountain Dew Pitch Black with any order of the 7 Wonder pizzas, after which you could purchase a second glass bottomless at RM5++.

Seafood Pesto Pizza (RM39.90), Cajun spiced prawns with a pesto base topped with tomatoes, chopped yellow and red capsicum, mozzarella cheese and arugula. It’s crust had a nice fluffy yet crisp texture and the topping had a hint of tingling spiciness, but the prawns were slightly over salty for our liking.
Sicilian Pizza (RM24.90), Romaine lettuce with Sicilian dressing topped with grilled chicken, anchovies and Parmesan cheese. The crust was fragrant and crisp. The saltiness of the anchovies and creaminess from the alfredo sauce were well balanced with the juicy, light and refreshing Romaine lettuce. And ending with an inkling of spiciness from the garlic. It was one of our two favourites.Spicy Smoked Duck Pizza with Buffalo Mozzarella (RM39.90), sliced smoked duck breast, Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, fresh red chillies/chilli padi, arugula and Pomodoro sauce. The second out of our two favourites, the chilli padi (birds eye chilli) though delivers a punch but is not too hot, with the nutty (pine nut like) and bittersweet taste of arugula compliments well with the tangy Pomodoro or tomato sauce.Barbeque Smoked Duck Pizza (RM35.90), smoked duck breast with a barbeque base topped with peaches, onions, chilli flakes, mozzarella cheese and arugula. It had very Asian flavours, heat and mustard taste, but the sweetness of the peaches cuts through the smokiness of the smoked duck.Roasted Chicken with Hot Sauce Pizza (RM39.90), shredded roasted chicken with hot sauce, marinated black beans, tomatoes, arugula and topped with Buffalo Mozzarella cheese. It has Mediterranean influences flavours; earthy creamy beans, smoky chicken and spicy hot sauce to combine the flavours with arugula for the hint of bittersweetness and Mozzarella for a lighter touch of taste.Baby Shrimps Pizza (RM34.90), sauteed baby shrimps, arugula and lemon wedges. With only salt and pepper, the baby shrimps were sautéed to al-dente texture. The arugula and lemon wedges add additional flavour to the otherwise light tasting pizza, the lemony tartness penetrates through the hints of fishiness and bittersweet and nutty arugula adds a layer of flavour.Roman Vegetarian Pizza (RM31.90), fresh spinach, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, fresh garlic topped with Mozzarella cheese with Alfredo sauce base. Though light in taste, it was not a boring piece. It had unique layers of texture with earthy, salty, tangy and sweet flavours held up with the creamy Alfredo base.

 
Participating outlets:
• The Curve, Mutiara Damansara
• The Gardens Mall, Mid Valley City
• Empire Shopping Gallery, Subang Jaya
• Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya
• Gurney Paragon, Penang

For more information, please visit www.italiannies.com.my.

Our overall experience:
Taste
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • We especially like the Sicilian  Pizza and Spicy Smoked Duck Pizza.
  • The pizza crust was fragrant and different, I guess it was the semolina.
  • Baby Shrimp Pizza was not as attractive as the other six were to us, two . 
Texture
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • The pizza crust had good texture, crisp and not hard nor dry.
Service
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • This time round their staff were basically more attentive.
Cleanliness
  • 4.0/5 (Good)
  • The dining area was neat and clean.
Atmosphere
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Cosy and homely with alfresco seatings.
Price
  • 3.0/5 (Average)
  • The pasta prices are more or less on the average with other Italian or specialty pasta restaurants.
Portion
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Portion wise is that the toppings were generous, and the pizza size is most suitable for 2 person sharing with some additional side orders to perk up the meal..
Value
  • 3.5/5 (Good)
  • Good quality toppings, we especially like the arugula on all the varieties, smoked duck breast and roasted chicken.
Consistency
  • N/A.
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Five27 New Nordic Cuisine At Penang’s Straits Quay

Posted by Jason Wong On April - 3 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

Last month we were invited yet again to a newly establish restaurant in Straits Quay. Taking over from Agua, Five 27 serves Nordic cuisines that are prepared by Executive Chef cum General Manager, Nizar Achmad. Chef Nizar has spent 14 years of his live establishing and mastering his culinary skills in Sweden, where it was said that he has cooked for a list of high-profile patrons which includes the likes of stars, royalty, and Nobel Prize winners.

It is an unusual name Five27 is! The named was conjured from the precise latitude coordinate of the restaurant. Established in January 2013 and officially launched in March, Five27 is publicized as the first New Nordic concept restaurant in Malaysia that offers fine and refreshing selection of healthy seasonal food, prepared using the freshest ingredients possible, and put together with groundbreaking and sometimes provocative techniques that exemplify the true spirit of the New Nordic cuisine.

Nordic refers to the North-Western European countries of Scandinavia that consist of mainly Denmark, Norway, Sweden and as well as Iceland and Finland. Thus, Nordic cuisine encompasses the traditional eating cultures, cooking practices and ingredients from the Scandinavian countries. The new Nordic cuisine was created in an attempt to promote natural produce as a basis for new dishes both in restaurants and in the home.

Apart from serving wholesome food minus the MSG, located on the ground floor of Penang’s Straits Quay that overlooks the breathtaking view of the Andaman Sea beyond the private yacht dock, Five27 was conceptualized with comfort and uncompromising service that sets the mood for fun casual dining, and harnesses the spirit of sharing and togetherness for quality time with their friends and family.

During the simple launch event, we were given a sample taste of what Five 27 and Chef Nizar was capable of. In the buffet line up, they put onto plate some of their signatures which were quite intriguing. To start off was their creamy and earthy ‘Chanterelle soup’ which has generous amounts of chopped and whole mushrooms. Then there was their ‘Nordic Salad’ which a balance of tartness and sweetness, and a wonderful selection of crisp and fresh mixed greens and root vegetables.

The ‘Home-made Traditional Swedish Meat Balls’ where juicy tender and chunky, well complimented by its equally flavourful brown sauce that did not overwhelm the gentle flavours of the beefy meat balls.

The ‘Lightly Cured Salmon in Traditional Swedish Marinate’ were firm and tender with a dash spice and caramel sweetness that were easy going to the palate. The fresh dill gave the dish a hint of freshness and herby aroma.

The ‘Slow Cooked Lamb’ (bottom 1st) and ‘Braised Beef Ribs’ (botom 2nd) were both juicy and fall-off the bone tender with a sweet savoury taste that went well with their paired side dishes and garnishes.

Their ‘Shiitake Mushroom Lasagne’ was equally sexy in the sense that cheese combination reminded us of the unique taste of the Swedish cheese fondue that we greatly enjoy and long for.

Their simple ‘Potato Mash with Truffle Oil’ was exquisite in the sense that they have included the richness of Swedish cheese and the sweet earthy flavours of truffle oil. Simple and yet comforting at times of need.

As for dessert we were served a  rich chocolate flavoured cake that kept me going for more and a carrot cake that was filled with fine julienne of “real” carrot and aromatic spices.

All in all, the experience at Five27 was casual and well attended to, and the food was equally simple and comforting. Therefore it is a place that warrants a revisit to properly figure out and judge what are their real “products” that would persuade diners to return for more experience.

Addres: 3AG18-19 Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
Phone No.: +604-8900435
Website: http://five27.asia/
Business Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm & Friday-Saturday 11am – 12pm.
GPS Coordinates: E5.457777, N100.313405

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The name “Cheers” reminds me of an American situation comedy television series that ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. The tag line “Everybody Knows Your Name” from the theme song is still deeply edged in my memories. I guess it would be great to go to a place for some chow and drinks, relax and be recognised for who you are!

Last weekend we were invited over to “Cheers Restaurant & Bierhous” situated off Jalan Tanjung Tokong, directly opposite of Caltex petrol pump. We have been there before on our own accord and didn’t give much thought of the place then but after the current visit, we did find that the kitchen have made some fine tuning and were able to present a better meal. It was an open invited review and attended by 10 and the food served had their portion increased to suit our numbers.

Let’s start with their “Homemade Mushroom Soup” (RM9.80) as an appetizer to warm the palates. The soup was thick and creamy with a sweet earthy taste. There were bits and pieces of mushroom blended into the soup to give it some texture.We were given 5 of their signature main courses to sample and review, starting with their “Cheers Fisherman Sensation” (RM29.80). On the plate were pan grilled sea-bass and dory fish fillets, prawns, cheese baked mussels and chuka idako (marinated baby octopus) dressed in a garlic butter sauce. There was contrast of texture from the well seasoned seafood items which were finished with a non-fail able sweet buttery garlic sauce.Continuing with the mains was their “Cheers Seafood Chicken” (RM31.80). A perfectly butterfly chicken thigh baked until tender with a layer of seafood mix and a rich and fragrant cheese jacket and served with fresh greens, creamy Japanese sweet potato mash and a sweet tangy mandarin sauce.  The chicken chop is an alternative to the usual chicken chops, but the price tag was slightly on the high side on our accounts though the combination was exotic and quite appealing. Then came their “Cheers Burger Special” (RM21.80), a double patty burger on a toasted bun and served with golden fries and coleslaw. The moist and tender pork patty was peppery, well seasoned and a good compliment to the earthy sweet and savoury seafood patty that contains salmon, scallop, mussels and prawns. The burger is worth every single cent “paid”!The fourth to be sent out from the kitchen were their “Cheers BBQ Ribs” (RM29.80), marinated with their special combination of herbs and spices overnight, then wrapped in foil and slow roasted in a conventional oven until tender and off the bone. The ribs were glazed with their BBQ sauce that had a sweeten end which was slightly over for us, but the texture well compensated.Lastly, we had their fusion “Cheers Knuckles for 1” (RM29.80). De-boned tender pork knuckle meat served with its crackling, spicy green mango salsa and malty beer reduction brown sauce. Though is not an original, the combination of German taste and Asian flavours did managed to peep out. The last time we had this item at Cheers; it was quite a disappointment with its dry and unappetizing meats.

Our overall experience:

Taste 3.0/5 (Average) They try to fusion Asian taste with some Western & European favourites. Some did hit the mark, but some had near misses.
Texture 3.0/5 (Average) There were combinations of texture in one dish.
Service NA/5 (N/A) Was an invited event.
Cleanliness 3.5/5 (Good) Clean dining area and tables.
Atmosphere 3.5/5 (Good) There is a pub feel to the area, plus a second floor specially catered for dining. Al-fresco seating are comfortable but have some hard working mosquitoes.
Price 3.0/5 (Average) Averagely priced.
Portion 3.0/5 (Average) Portions were on a average scale.
Value 3.0/5 (Average) Price, portion and food taste is acceptable.
Consistency 3.5/5 (Good) There was a mark improvement in some dishes.
Cheers Restaurant & Bierhaus
  • Add: 3X, Jalan Pantai Molek, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang, Malaysia
  • Tel:  +60 (4) 8999 757
  • Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheers-Restaurant-Bierhaus/227503800646941
  • Business Hours: Monday –  Sunday 3.00pm – 1:00am
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Food Find:Fusion Japanese Cuisine in Jit Xin

Posted by Jason Wong On March - 2 - 20107 COMMENTS

We have found a new Japanese Restaurant in town. The exact location is the junction of Macalister Road and Madras Lane. The restaurant serves fusion Japanese Cuisine. The taste is more suited for the local tongue rather than Japanese.  For a quick dinner, we had pork chop rice, noodles and a stir fired chicken rice.

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As usual, for starters at a new Japanese restaurant, I would try out one of their basic dish which is their pork chop rice or tonkatsu don. It was average to my standard. The pork chop was breaded and deep fried to slightly over brown, but it was still tender inside. May be they should look into the oil temperature or the lifespan of the frying oil. Taste wise was a bit more salty comapre to the ones I have eaten.

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As the stir fry chicken rice that Gill had, taste was also on the heavy side of savory and sweet. The pairing of  french beans gave the dish a fresh and crunchy feeling. For rice lovers, it went well with the bowl of plain white rice.

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Our business associate had a bowl of their noodle. We were busy talking and rushing for time, thus I did not had an opportunity to taste or ask him of what he felt about the noodle.

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To sum up our experience at Jit Xin:

Taste & Texture: 2.9/5 (average with room to improve)
Money Value : 3.8/5 (price wise is quite cheap with a standard portion for my tonkatsu don)
Service: 2.5/5 (need to be more pro-active)
Cleanliness: 4.0/5 (still new, lets wait and see)
Atmosphere: 3.0/5 (quiet)

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Sometime last month we were had the opportunity to dine and review Who’s Bryan at the Raja Uda area on the expense of it co-owner, Bryan. We actually got to know about this new place from one of our business acquaintances. It is a typical boy’s interested in F&B line, went for basic training, go to work in cafes and restaurant, then came back and open cafe of his own with his friends or family. FV-090910-Who's Bryan_56

This newly set-upped cafe is located just opposite the Apex cafe in Raja Uda. Upon arrival, the out look of the cafe seems to have brought in some liveliness to the other otherwise dull looking place. It has an open concept with full height glass panels and no doors. It looks like something that one would find shopping malls or upmarket areas. Bryan’s intention is to bring something fresh, good food and enjoyment to the Raja Uda area. We could see that much effort has been put in to refurbish the old and run down corner shop unit, which used to serve as the storage area for a ‘nasi kandar’ business. FV-090910-Who's Bryan_64

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But if you are a person who are allergic to the warm and humid weather, then it would be advisable to visit the place during the evening.   It is not hot during the day, but because of the open concept it would not be as cool as in malls. The food that one would find in Who’s Bryan’s menu is similar to those of Dome, Segafrado, and the likes of it. It is mainly fast western dishes like soups, sandwiches, burgers, chops, snacks, coffee base beverages, sodas, etc. FV-090910-Who's Bryan_46

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Before we arrived, Bryan had already arranged for some of their specialties for us to sample, which include their coffee and coffee base drinks, a snack and 3 main courses. First to be served were the drinks, all coffee drinks in fact, which I have forgotten their  exact names. The coffee was said to be freshly brewed on order. Presentation wise they look standard, but the taste of the coffee base was a bit bland. It lack that nutty taste and pungent aroma of the coffee beans. FV-090910-Who's Bryan_02

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Then we had their Affogato which was served ice-cream and coffee in individual cups. The Espresso tasted a bit stronger than the previous cups but the vanilla ice-cream lack that luxurious vanilla flavor and the ice-cream did not have that rich creamy after taste. Overall verdict on their coffee drink is that effort was put in to present an otherwise common drink to look outstanding, but more care should also be placed on brewing a better cup of coffee and also to look into the beans itself.

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A short chat afterwards, their kitchen started to roll out their main courses and a plate of bruschetta Bryan’ style. The bruschetta had raw garlic and a mixture of cheese and mayo, which did not appeal to us as the mayo had overwhelm the supposing rich dairy flavor. But the texture of the bread base was just nice, crisp on the surface and slightly soft inside.

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We were also give a ‘preview’ of their ‘Pumpkin Soup’, which look presentable and safe. The texture of the soup was average, but it lack the sweetness of the pumpkin and was bland to taste. I guess the best pumpkin soup we had this year was at Louise Cafe, which we have been to since March.

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The ‘Who’s Lamb Shank’ gave me the impression of ‘Lamb Mole’ due to dark brown color of the gravy. The gravy did not stand out from the crowd of lamb shanks that are available at other restaurants, and it was a bit over salty which with some mash potato can help neutralize. Meat wise, it was tender but it did not have the flavor of the gravy infused in to it. Thus, without the gravy this dish would have been bland.

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‘Who’s Crumbly Chicken’ is the signature chop. It is different from other chicken chops as the tender boneless whole chicken  leg was encase in a crispy casing of light batter and corn flakes, not breaded or heavily battered with seasoned flour mix. The corn flakes gave it the extra crunch and corny fragrant. And the mushroom sauce was standard with slices of button mushrooms.  After this dish, it struck us that it would more sensible to have the corn flakes downed size a bit to give ease to diner’s chewing motion.

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We also had the luxury to try out their homemade beef patty burger with cheese and egg  and fries and salad on the side. It was good attempt on their part. The patty was well cooked, tender and moist. The only set back for this dish was that the minced meat was slightly over minced which led to a finer texture. My preference of a good beef patty is that I could still see and feel the grains of minced beef and its fats after every bite of the burger. Other than that, a look in the seasoning the herbs used should also be looked into. With the suggested tuning of the beef patty, with the well melted cheese to added extra flavor  and well prepared sunny side-up egg to give it some moisture and richness, the burger would give the road side burger stalls a run for their money.

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To sum up our experience at Who’s Bryan:

Taste & Texture: 3.2/5 (The chicken whole leg, bread, beef patty were fresh without the frozen meat taste texture, but the tastes of the dishes should be looked into)
Money Value : 3.5/5 (For a place like this and with the price they charge it is considered quite reasonable, but food also plays an important role for our consideration)
Service: 3.0/5 (Their staff would have to pay more attention)
Cleanliness: 3.8/5 (The place is new and well kept, the toilet was also well maintain, but due to the open concept plus the surrounding environment there tends to be flies)
Atmosphere: 3.5/5 (A bit warm for us during the mid afternoon, but the interior looks refreshing for that area)

Address & GPS65(GF), Lorong Teras Jaya 2, Pusat Perniagaan Teras Jaya, 13400  Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia.

Tel: +60 (4) 3329097

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Blogger Events: 4th Penang Food Bloggers Gathering

Posted by Jason Wong On August - 26 - 200910 COMMENTS

Last weekend, on the 15th of August us Penang Food and Lifestyle Floggers had our much anticipated 4th mass gathering at Vintage Bulgaria in Tanjung Bungah. This gathering saw a three fold growth in terms of attendees compared to the 1st one that we had last year, which was in August too. The first gathering at Hai Nan Town had only 10 floggers from 8 blogs attending. The increase in head count and blog count was all made possible with the team spirit of the “old birds” in the existing group and the hard work of the organiser of this gathering, namely Alan and Allie.

This isn’t my virgin dining experience to Vintage Bulgaria, the first and last time we dined there was on 6th of October last year. The delicacies that we had then and now have somewhat changed. But anyway the night was not really about food, it was mainly about people, exchange of ideas and sharing of knowledge and most of all have fun.

Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of South-Eastern Europe, which is famous for its rich salads before every meal, diversity and quality of the use of diary products, variety of hot and cold soups and the different types of  Bulgarian pastries.

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The last we dine there, me and Gill chose the dining area on the lower ground which looks something like the photo below.

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For this gathering, we had the luxury of having the whole second floor to ourselves. I remember that they were mentioning about preparing the second floor for functions and parties last year.

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The event started with the floggers’ arrival from 7:00pm onwards. For those who arrived early were busy mingling around and having their photos taken candidly.

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For the extremes, ass grabbing was also in the list of activities.

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It was thoughtful for the restaurant to prepare a prop table and an extra set of each main course that was on the nights’ set menu that was specially designed for our gathering. The arrangement was of great help in the photo taking session for all the floggers. At least we would not need to go to different tables to get the full set of photos of the dishes served.

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The set menu was custom catered for our gathering, which explains the special price that we enjoyed for the night. On normal days for the three course dinner plus coffee or tea that we had on that night would have cost more. That is why I guess there were many inquiries for the set menu from the public on that particular night. And thus, the restaurant decided to serve all their guess for the night from the set menu. In terms of publicity, the gathering has contributed some awareness for Vintage Bulgaria through our collective power. For this instance, the keyboard is mightier then the sword.

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The three course dinner started with a choice of two soups to choose from, ‘Mushroom Soup with Vintage Garlic Bread’ and Seafood Soup. The Mushroom soup tasted earthy with the loads of mushroom bits infused into it, and rich but not overwhelmingly rich. In short it did not taste like the common commercial canned soup that one would get from an average restaurant. The accompanying Vintage Garlic Bread was something to brag about too. The bread was crisp on the rim, and soft and creamy in the centre with the luscious amount of cheese.  It was well paired to the Mushroom Soup as it gave it that additional kick in terms of flavour.

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Then there was the Seafood Soup which felt more like seafood chowder not because it was thicken with cream or flour, but it was thick because of the vast amounts of tuna, carrot and etc ingredients that were pounded into it. Taste wise as Gill puts it, it tasted full of fresh seafood flavour with the grainy texture of the ingredients found in the soup.

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After the starters then came the main course. I had the ‘Bulgarian Pork Djolan’ and Gill had the ‘Bulgarian Platter’. The Pork Djolan was something different from the German Pork Knuckles that we have tried in Kota Damansara and the Irish Knuckles that we ate at Fennigan’s Pub in Mid Valley. Different from what we have tried in terms of knuckles be it German, Irish or simply Chinese, the Pork Djolan had a more intense flavour, sweeter and saltier with some hint herb or spice. The knuckle was crisp on the skin and moist and tender under it. Due to the heavy flavour on the surface, some may feel that the meat was slightly bland. But then if the marinate had work itself into the depth of the meaty areas, then I might not have tasted the original sweet flavour of the knuckle. In fact the knuckle was already tasty on its, thus there was not a need for any dipping sauce or gravy, especially the accompanying BBQ like sauce which would have murdered the flavours of what the knuckle could deliver.

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Me taking the hands on approach on the 101 ways of enjoying the Djolan Knuckle to the last fibers!

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Gill had the Bulgarian Platter, which we find somewhat dry and salty to our liking.  As we are not foreign to this dish, we have come to a conclusion that the first platter that we had way back last year was more flavourful and tastier. Portion wise the latest version had more to offer with the amounts of potato and vegetable side dishes.

Latest version of Bulgarian Platter

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Last year’s version of the Bulgarian Platter

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Next on the main course choices, was the ‘Chicken Stroganov’, which have its origins starting in the 19th century from Russia. Stroganov is a dish with strips of meat sautéed and served in a sauce that contains sour cream. TheNomadGourmand had this main, which she graciously shared with us. The chicken strips were tender; sauce was smoothly rich and earthy with hints of capsicum flavour in it. To us the best was to have the chicken strips and using the mash to mop up the sauce and enjoy!

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Then there was the Plovdiv Ribs, which I and Gill have tried on our first visit to Vintage Bulgaria. And again, this dish has gone through some changes. Changes that I and Gill did not really wanted except for the increased portion size.  The version served for at the event had a sweeter taste, like BBQ Ribs.

Plovdiv Ribs that were served during the event

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Plovdiv Ribs that we enjoyed last yearfv-081006-vintage-bulgaria-29

The last choice of entrees was the ‘ Baked Cod fish with creamy Mushroom Sauce’ which was left cold and dry to hang. There were no takers for this dish and the tasting was from the plate that was brought out for the photo shoots. We did not indulge in this dish, thus nothing can be commented.

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After the savory main course and the most sort for by the sweet tooth’s, was the desserts. In the list we had a choice of ‘Chocolate Crème Brûlée’ and ‘Chocolate Soup’. As usual we had both choices as there two us. The Chocolate Crème Brûlée was smooth and rich in chocolate flavour. One down side of this dessert was that the top layer of burnt sugar was too thick and coarse. It contributed a big contrast in the texture and sweetness. A finer grain of sugar would have better match to my liking.

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The ‘Chocolate Soup’ was served chilled, which is part of the Bulgarian dining culture, tasted like “high-end” chocolate drink with vanilla ice-cream and choc powder sprinkles. I kind of like it because I like to drink “Milo kau” or thick Milo. It is something good to drink to comfort the soul with. The dessert soup was rich and full that I was filled to the brim after downing the whole mug of it.

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As the desserts were served, we new that it was almost time to bid farewell but that did not stop us to have more fun before the curtain closes for this gathering. Other than the desserts on the set menu list, we also had the privileged to be sponsored with cakes from Dennie Yeap of Winter Butterfly Homemade Cakes and gelatos from Gelatisimo. As I was busy fooling around and chit chatting, I did not have a fair taste of the cakes and am unable to comment on them.

Oreo Cheese Cake

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Chocolate Brownies

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Cream Cheese Mousse Cake

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And with the cakes an ad-hoc decision was made to celebrate the birthdays of the attending floggers’ birth date that falls with in July, August and September.

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As we rich the end of the event we had some group photos taken the Penang Food Flogger way, crazy and wild to the end!

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Virgin visit to Xuan Xin Restaurant, Gurney Plaza

Posted by gill gill On July - 13 - 200910 COMMENTS

We have heard a lot of the Xuan Xin Restaurant which newly established its self in the prime location at Gurney Plaza’s New Wing, some said their food & service is good and some said lousy. So who is the winner?

I ‘m now going to tell my true experience that we’ve encounter. The answer is Not Too Bad. Would it be due to the lesser dinner crowd as compared to the lunch’s crowd?

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The Menu

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We’ve choosen the Sliced “French Style” Smoked Duck @ RM12 to start our palate.

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4 pcs of smoke duck breasts with it 4 steamed mantou (chinese steam bun), cucumber and fried beancured skin. I just wonder why they put the red sauce on top of the smoke duck? And the sauce is tasteless, its serve no purpose may be just color for presentation. By the way, the duck meat is pinkish in color.

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Here is how I stacked the mantou first with smoke duck slice, followed by the cucumber, crispy beanchurd skin and of course top with the other half of the mantou. We did not get any instruction on how to eat this appertizer, is this the correct way? Shouldn’t they guide us to how best savour their dishes?

The mantou was moist and fluffy and dense, also good on its own. (oppss..sounds like gardenia slogan huh?) The smoke duck had a light smoked flavour and hint of saltiness. It is best eaten with only with the steam buns, not ideal to pack everything together. The fried beancurd skin was crisp and crunchy, but i find it was a little too thick for the combination.

The first bite you should experience the warm and soft buns covered with the crunch and salty beancured skin, refreshing cucumber and the smokey duck flavour, it should be wonderful. But our experince at Xuan Xin, the beancured skin is way thicker and saltier then the smoke duck, some how or rather the smokey duck flavour was loss  (main subject). Dragon-i smoked duck is still my first choice.

Suggestion: It would be prefect if reduce the bean cured skin layer, and the enhance the duck meat flavor and moister.

Sliced “French Style” Smoked Duck: 3.8/5


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Stir Fried Hor Fun with Sliced Beef @ RM12

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My all time favourite “Stir Fried Hor Fun with Sliced Beef”. When I saw it in the menu, I had to order it.

The Hor Fun is slightly different from the local ones, its thinner and its cut similarly like koay teow shape, Bean sprout head and tails were picked (its a standard in Hong Kong Restaurant), slice onion, julienne slice scallion and thinly slice beef meat.

Wok hei comes from the first sense, second would be the sweetness from the dark soy sauce  and caramelized onion. Hor Fun good in texture and smooth. Beef was bit of a let down as it was not Beefy in taste and the amount was countable, just aroun 8 slices. The Scallion was fiberish and doesn’t help much as it was pretty irritating and stuck in between the teeth.

Suggestion: Beef hor fun should have the beefy flavour. Priced @ RM12 should have more slices.haha… Should take note on the scallion.

Stir Fried Hor Fun with Sliced Beef: 3.8/5(for the wok hei and soya sauce taste)

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New launch Food Items which separate from the menu.

We ordered Braised Crispy Noodle with Curry & Roasted Pork Belly @ RM12

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Errrg…look at the presentation. It doesn’t look appertising ya?

Thick curry gravy poured on a bed of perfectly deep fried crisp thin noodles, served with long bean and roast pork belly chunks. Ok, did you see the different from the Menu and the presentation here? hah.

The only items that i like from this dish is the crispy noodle. I think they wish to do the similar of Japanese curry, but it doesn’t taste right to me. Its starchy and less spice from the curry. And the Roast pork belly was rough and dry. I personally doesn’t like the dish.

Something to praise, is the noodle has been cut like pizza slices which easgave ease in consuming it.

Suggestion:

The name of “Braised Crispy Noodle with Curry & Roasted Pork Belly” doens’t sound rights to me, as the noodle was not braised in curry but poured on. It would be right to name it  “Braised Curry Roasted Pork Belly with Crispy Noodle”, sounds better right?

I don’t know how to put a suggestion on this curry, may less starchy and more local flavour infuse in the curry.

Braised Crispy Noodle with Curry & Roasted Pork Belly: 3/5

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Poached Chinese Spinach with 2 Kinds of Egg in Superior Stock @ RM12.80

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This soup was delicious and the most enjoyable for us that night! We both enjoyed it till the last drop. The Spinach poached to just the right consistency where one could still feel the crunchiness. There were more then 2 kinds of eggs in this dish, it has chicken egg whites, century eggs and salted eggs and 3 of them has its unique taste, all flavor combine with the good soup stock….it was very delicious. This is far more better then many restaurants.

Poached Chinese Spinach with 2 Kinds of Egg in Superior Stock: 4.2/5

On average, I would rate :

Taste & Texture: 3.95/5
Money Value : 3.8/5 (its Reasonable, with the consideration of the price, location, serving)
Service: 3.7/5 (at least they asked your feedback for the newly launch menu. Fast and efficient when press the service button. btw, they served the appetizer at last, why?)
Cleanliness: 4/5
Atmosphere: 4/5

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