Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Bayan Lepas

Invited Sampling of Bravo Italiana

Posted by Jason Wong On December - 31 - 20103 COMMENTS


Back on 13th November 2010 we were tasked to assist in the organising of an event for Bravo Italiana by RoundU, which we did and the event went through quite successfully although there were initial fears that the sampling would bore negative feedbacks after reading about some minor complaints on the internet and hearing rumours from a prominent food blogger from Penang.  If possible, we would try to upload the raw recording of the question and answer session that the bloggers had with owner cum chef to further understand his stand and concept of his restaurant and also how his food is made.

Below are the raw recording of the question and answer session that the bloggers had with owner cum chef to further understand his stand and concept of his restaurant


The sampling event was different from the review session that was organised by Penang Tua Pui which was attended by many prominent Penang food bloggers back in year 2009.  The current sampling event was meant to provide direct feedback to the business owner on the quality and value of the surveyed items and thus help improve on the marketability of the items through the experiences, different backgrounds and taste preferences of the attending bloggers. The programme is operated by RoundU with a goal to promote the deserving quality F&B outlets in Penang to the consumer market.

Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, Jewish and Middle-East cuisines. But in the 18th century Italian cuisine as we know took on some significant changes with the discovery of the New World that introduced items such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize to Italian cooks, and which have become a major part of what Italians eat now a days. Recipes or what people eat are influence by the available ingredients, thus there is distinctive difference with the taste and texture of dishes of Italian cooking by region. Therefore it is hard or very subjective to point out the rights and wrongs of any dish. It all comes down to the taste profile or preference that one has grown up with.

Like any other dining culture in the world, Italy also has its variety in eating etiquettes, style or establishments. They are basically classified by the service, food and drinks they served to their customers.

  • Agriturismo – or agritourism is a functioning farm / farmhouses that provide lodging and meals.
  • Osteria – a night eatery that usually has a verbal menu that mainly caters to simple regionalised dishes.
  • Paninoteca – their sandwich or Panini shop.
  • Pizzeria – pizza shop.
  • Ristorante – a upscale restaurant with proper dining and menu.
  • Spaghetteria – a pasta and main course serving eatery.
  • Trattoria – a family or home-style eatery that provides inexpensive and casual dining experience.

Bravo Italiana is said to be based on the trattoria-style dining concept were the chef cum owner have gain most of his experience in his 8 years stint in Italy. This restaurant was established on 3rd November 2008, but before this they were involved in the “Little Kitchen” restaurant at Bandar Sunway, Penang for nine (9) years.

The sampling session was planned for a survey of 13 items or dishes but due to the amount available, there were some impromptu changes during the event. It began at around 3pm as requested by Mr. Ng, the time coincide with the restaurant’s in between service hours break time. The sampling started with a photo taking session and followed by the sampling of their starters continued with mains and desserts plus a set lunch item.


Bruschetta (RM8.80+), toasted baguettes topped with diced tomato, capsicum, herbs and cheese. It was a twist from the usual bruschetta that normally has a lighter topping that is without cheese.

Taste – Savory and cheesy at first then followed with the refreshing sweet juice of tomatoes, peppery flavour of the capsicums and finished with the aroma of the sprinkled herbs.

Texture – Crisp baguette surface with a moist centre and tender yet firm toppings.


Grilled Chicken Salad (RM17.00+), strips of grilled chicken on top of a garden of fresh greens and fruits dressed with their in-house vinaigrette. The portions is generous enough for a light meal as its own for small eaters.

Taste – There were some complaints that the dressing was a a tad to acidic for their liking. But the chicken was well seasoned and the green were sweet with some bitterness due to the purple cabbage.

Texture – The chicken strips or slices were over dehydrated as it had been waiting for the sampling to begin, that is why in Chinese food culture it is always emphasized  that food has to be taken while it is fresh from the grill. Salad greens were crunchy and fresh.


Baked Oyster Vesuvio (RM31.80+ for half dozen), medium size halved shell oyster coated and lightly fried, then topped with mushroom slices tomato and capsicum chunks, crumbs and cheese  then baked. When serve hot, it had a pungent aroma of Chinese dried oyster.

Taste – It had sweet, savory and diary taste  with a pungent  fragrance sun dried oyster. Not too over powering in the taste factor.

Texture – There were a slight crunch on the surface due to the baked crumbs on top of the melted cheese mixture and firm cooked oyster flesh.  But there was a slight more of oily feeling from the melting cheese.


Lasagne Al Forno (RM24.00+), three (3) layers of lasagne pasta interlaced with their beef bolognese sauce and topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and baked.

Taste – It was meaty, savory and creamy rich with a predominantly sweet aftertaste, that a few bloggers find a bit too sweet for their liking. For sure I would prefer something with a more balance flavour.

Texture – Grainy mince meat with good ratio of lean meat to fats. And the pasta sheets were just nice in texture, not soggy nor under cooked.


Lamb Shank (RM32.00+), braised NZ lamb shank in red wine with fresh Italian herbs, garlic and mushrooms.

Taste – It was different from the normal strong peppery tasting versions, we could actually taste the red wine and lamb flavours in the gravy. And it was one of the favourite dishes of the day although few did comment that it had a hint more of the “lamb” taste in the meat. But what is lamb without the hint of “lammy” flavours?

Texture – The meat was tender and firm.


Spaghetti Capitano (RM29.80+), spaghetti with fresh shrimps, scallops, mussels, squids and diced salmon, sauteed in a delightful marinara sauce.

Taste – Salmon was slightly heavy on taste (the fatty salmon taste) and the muscles had a bit of  fishy aftertaste, but the scallops and squid rings were sweet and juicy.

Texture – Muscles, scallop, squid and salmon were firm and tender, pasta was just nice in texture.


Pesce Misto alla Milanese Dinner Set (RM43.00+), it will be a new item for the dinner set menu. The grilled salmon and jumbo prawns dressed in a classic Milanese sauce comes with soup of the day,  drinks (lavazza coffee / tea / ice lemon tea) and dessert of the day.

Taste – Prawns were well seasoned and finely grilled with much of its flavours and moisture still locked in, as for the salmon it was slightly off their standard as it (the portion we had) had been “modeling” for the shutter bugs. The Milanese sauce was flavourful with the abundance of herbs and had a balanced richness. And the accompanying mash was every bit savory with the cheese stuffing within.

Texture – The prawn flesh was firm and tender with some crunch,  salmon was flaky but slightly dehydrated. The accompanying fried mash was crisp on the surface and fluffy inside.


Chicken Parmigiana lunch set (RM25.00+), is a piece of of deboned whole chicken leg batter fried, top with their tomato sauce and cheese then baked and served with a side spaghetti pasta.  The lunch set comes with a bowl of  soup of the day, a drink (coffee / tea / ice lemon tea) and a single scoop of ice-cream.

Taste – no comments as this dish was not included during the tasting session as most of the attendees were already filled to the brim, and that was before dessert.

Texture – N/A


Pizza alla Sicilian (RM32.00+), include toppings of beef pepperoni, chicken sausages, onions, green capsicums and black olives.

Taste – The pizza was cheesy and full of the flavours of the toppings, e.g. smoky, peppery, sourish, sweet, diary and rich.

Texture – The topping ingredients were still firm and not mushy, but the dough or crust was too crisp like baked biscuits. Many of the bloggers commented that they would prefer to have a softer pizza center.


On the plan were 4 desserts, but we had a extra surprise in the form of their home-made pumpkin pie.


Tiramisu (RM12.80+), very rich in liquor and chocolate flavours with un-overwhelming sweetness. The accompanying peaches lent some acidity to balance the creamy taste of the dessert. One of the few well orchestrated tiramisu that we have encountered.


Tequila Key Lime Pie (RM8.90+), tequila infused whipped cream covered the limy cheese filling of the Oreo cookie based pie. There were some feedback that it was a tad sharp on the sourness, but it settle well with my preferences.


Italiana Mousse (RM12.80+), is a new item to be included in their desserts menu. Rich in chocolaty goodness but stiff on the texture. Feedback from the owner is that there were request for a firm texture for this desert.


Bravo Zabaglione (RM12.80+), also in the new desserts menu list. It is actually an Italian custard made of egg yolks, sugar, a sweet wine. Over at Bravo Italiana, they have layered it on top of a base soaked in apricot liquor that to many tasted like almonds. It is dessert for those who appreciate good liquor as it is pretty strong in alcohol.


Pumpkin Pie (RM12.80+), is also new as we were told. And was an ad-hoc item that was included for the sampling. It had earthy flavours and sweet aftertaste. which was not overwhelming. But the walnut topping tasted a bit rancid although it was bought fresh from the supplier.

Our overall rating for Bravo Italiana:

Taste 3.0/5 (Above Average) Most of the dishes sampled had sparked our interest, but there a few that still could be better executed. We were expecting Italian flavours

Bruschetta, baked oyster, lamb shank, Pesce Misto alla Milanese and Desserts are must tries.

Texture 3.0/5 (Above Average)
Service NA/5 It was an invited event, thus service would not be in consideration for now.
Cleanliness 4.0/5 (Good) Clean and neat dining area and well kept toilets.
Atmosphere 3.5/5 (Average) Warm and cosy ambiance, but lack space. Good for small gathering, but not conducive for big groups above 20 pax.
Price 3.0/5 (Above Average) Certain set lunches are quite a bargain.
Portion 3.5/5 (Good) The restaurant is not stingy on the portioning of certain items but some may not equate to the price.
Value 3.0/5 (Above Average) Includes the consideration of quality and quantity plus concept delivery and consistency.

Other current session invitees with their choice selection(s):

Feedbacks from paid customers:

Bravo Italiana

Add : 01-01-11 Complex I-Avenue, Medan Kampung Relau 1, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.

Business Hours : Tuesday to Sunday ( 11.30 a.m. – 3.00p.m., 6.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.) Closed on Mondays

Tel : 04-6410499


Dinner with Food Bloggers at Caffe Strada

Posted by Jason Wong On August - 22 - 20104 COMMENTS

It has been a busy weekend for the past 2 weeks. Last Saturday we were invited by Caffe Strada to review their outlet after operating  for about 2 months or so. When we first heard of their name we thought they were related to the Strada in Pulau Tikus, luckily they aren’t. But I have found similar named establishments in Australia & America.

Caffee Strada is located at the previous spot that housed the infamous Island Red Cafe. The place has been given a face lift internally and externally. The place is cosy and great for gatherings due to the spacious seating arrangements, but some sound deafening would be in oder for their air-condition section to reduce the noise level.

The review of Caffe Strada was arranged by Alan of All About Penang Food on the request of the owners of the cafe. Before the food tasting event begun, we were given a brief by Micheal the co-owner and person-in-charge of the cafe’s concept and theme. But before that the early birds that arrived were seen roaming around taking photos of the place and also doing some catching with some other fellow bloggers.

Before the food introduction and tasting begun, we were given a heads up that the cafe is not a FINE DINING restaurant but more of a place to meet up and chat with some dishes to munch one and drinks to quench ones thirst. But to my opinion as a gastronomist and a working restaurant consultant, I beg to differ. Any place that serves up food must have an acceptable standard in their product. When I say product I mean the food, drinks, service and atmosphere, and not just the atmosphere.

The review event saw us having a “feel” of what are the cafe’s menu and the samples quite long. I would say a bit over board because most of us could not really focus on their key specialties and have a proper tasting portion. The followings are the list of items that we had and their prices with thanks to our lovely Cariso for compiling it.


Green Garden Salad (RM8.90): Lettuce, capsicum, onion, croutons, sun flower, seed, egg and smoked chicken, served with house salad dressing.

Seafood Chowder in Bread Bowl (RM15.90): Chunks of seafood are simmered with potatos, onions, celery, real heavy cream and a touch of butter. Served in bread bowl.

Asian Delights

Kung Pao Chicken (RM9.90): Stir fried with kung pao sauce, served with cashew nuts, fried egg, prawn crackers and rice.

Kam Heong Seafood Combo (RM8.90): Stir fried with kam heong sauce, served with prawn crackers, fried egg and rice.

Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice (RM8.90): Served with prawn crackers, fried egg and chicken wing.

Bao Zhiang Mien (RM11.90): Noodle in house-blended gravy, with minced chicken and 3-colored vegetables.

Tomyam Seafood (RM8.90): A choice of bee hoon or instant noodles.


Club Sandwich (RM12.90)

Spaghetti Bolognese (RM9.90)

Caffe Strada Roast Chicken (RM13.90)

Mongolian CHicken (RM15.90)

Cheezy Grilled Chicken (RM17.90)

Grilled Butter Fish (RM19.90)

Fish and Chip (RM8.90)

Grilled Lamb Shoulder (RM19.90)

Fluffy Hot Chocolate (RM6.90)
Strawberry Kiss Frappes (RM8.90)
Choco Banana Frappes (RM8.90)

Mango Frappes (RM8.90)

Italian Lime Soda Float (RM6.90)

These are the drink items without a photographic record.

Chocolate Chips Frappes (RM8.90)
Orange Jewel Milk Shake (RM7.90)
Ice Bear (RM6.90)

Espresso Drinks

Espresso (Caffe= single shot espresso RM4.90, Caffe Doppio =double shot espresso RM5.90)

Cappucino (RM6.90 hot, RM7.90 cold)
Caffe Latte (RM6.90 hot, RM7.90 cold)

Caffe Strada’s Ice Coffee Slush(which to me is just plain old affagato)

Caffe Strada BBQ Chicken Wing, served with house chicken wing sauce (2pcs RM5.90, 4pcs RM9.90)

Overall rating for Caffe Strada Krystal Point, Penang:

Taste & Texture: 2.0/5 (a lot of room to improve in areas of their coffee, drinks and food items)
Money Value : 2.0/5 (prices are not really attractive due to the quality of the products)
Service: -NA-/5 (cannot be considered as it was an arranged event)
Cleanliness: 4.0/5 (relatively new, thus a clean out look)
Atmosphere: 3.0/5 (nice place to gather but would be noisy due to the lack of sound deafening)

Address: Block 1-01-12, 13 & 14, Krystal Point Corp Park, Lebuh Bukit Kecil 6, Krystal Point II, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Tel: 04-643 6643


Max Gourmet @ Queens Bay, Penang

Posted by Jason Wong On September - 26 - 20081 COMMENT

We have tried most of the restaurants in QueensBay mall, thus we started to venture out of the mall for lunch, we went to Restoran MAX Gourmet. It was one of worst experience we ever had with Hong Kong style ‘Char Chan Theng’.

The floors were sticky and dirty. The were used tissue paper on the floor.

Price wise, the two rice dish that we ordered were really not value for money. The portion was not even average, the ingredients were little and the rice in one of them were even cold and hard, like rice left over night in the fridge. Don’t know what to write further on this so call Restoran! Definitely not my choice of F&B outlet. After coming out of the restaurant, we told each other that we should have stayed inside the mall for our meal instead.

I can’t believe that this can be served their rice cold and lumpy, like sushi rice! What kind Chinese restaurant is this?!

On average, I would give MAX:

  • 2/5 for value
  • 1.5/5 for taste
  • 2/5 for service
  • 1/5 for cleanliness
  • 2/5 for atmosphere

Holland Fries @ Queensbay Mall, Penang

Posted by gill gill On August - 9 - 20086 COMMENTS

Just realize have a Holland Fries outlet opposite the GSC Theater in Queensbay. Does any one knows where are they from? Local or franchise from oversea?

When we saw this, in our tough – at least is something new, rather then McD again? haha
From my observation, they didn’t attract much to those teenager. As many just walked by and Q for movie. We popped out a question immediately. Is this Holland Fries very new for them or really not that good?
Well, no harm to try what….so we go straight to the counter and the teenage staff introduced their several in-house sauces to put on top of the fries. Different sauce with different price.

i can’t remember the actual price…i think is around RM5 per box.

The pictures quality is bad, coz im just using my N73 to snapped, color looks out abit :P~

Holland Fries Outlet

Light box shows different combination of sauces

Holland Fries’s packing, Logo & website address

Beef Meat Sauce on top, kinda like pasta sauce. The tomato paste quite thick with the mince beef in it. Quite ok. But the herb sprinkled on the sauce is too coarsely grind. Can’t even taste the herbs, wasted.
2 ways to blend the herbs in, either use very finely chop herbs, or put the herbs in sauce and give a little stir when the sauce is hot. That would be better.

Food Taste: 6

Wasabi + Mayonnaise mixture. I would say this combination is not bad, but too much wasabi and its covered the mayo taste, and pretty hot too. Gee…finish the whole box is like torching my tongue 🙁 . They should put more mayo then wasabi, this is more acceptable.

Food Taste: 4.5 (because is too hot)

p/s: The girl shouldn’t put the fries in the half heated oil. They should know the right temperature to cook fries, don’t they? It would affected the fries and turns to a big different. Fries will absolve the oil, turns soggy and oily when consume it.

Rating 0-10
Average Of The Food Taste: 6
Environment: 5
Service: 6
Price: 5

Recommend: Meat Sauce Fries

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