Thursday, 26 July 2012

Chiak Roti Lim Kopi @ Toh Soon Cafe

A good breakfast is an awesome way to start the day. Toast bread, half boiled eggs and a cup of coffee is the classic breakfast most Malaysians use to have way back in time.

A classic Kopi O

Toh Soon Toast Bread
Coffee strained using the traditional "socks" strainer and mixed with condensed milk for customers who orders Kopi
The classic Kopi-O in Chinese Kopitiam with a strong scent of coffee. The best companion to toast bread. The coffee can be ordered to suit your taste buds and preference. All you need to know is the right term to use when ordering a cup of coffee.

Kopi O – Black coffee with sugar
Kopi O Kao – Extremely thick black coffee with sugar
Kopi O Pouk – More diluted black coffee with sugar
Kopi O Mai Liao – Regular black coffee without sugar
Kopi O Peng – Iced black coffee with sugar
Kopi – Coffee with sugar and condensed milk

Bread toasted over charcoal fire
The classic set of breakfast - Toast, Coffee and Half Boiled Eggs
Two slices of bread toasted over charcoal fire and a thick layer of kaya and butter is spread over the toasted bread. The toast bread is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. Extremely fresh bread with just the right amount of kaya and butter. Best dipped with half boiled egg. DEFINITELY MUST TRY!

Toh Soon as view from Lebuh Campbell
Though there is a short waiting time during busy days, the service is prompt and food is served about 5-10 minutes upon ordering. The servers are not too friendly and often there is no smile on the face; simply just doing there job and nothing more.

Toh Soon Cafe is located amongst the small alley in Georgetown. Situated in an alleyway between Kampung Malabar and Lebuh Campbell, Besides, toast bread with kaya and butter, half boiled egg, traditional coffee and tea, other breakfast favourites like nasi lemak is also served. Toh Soon is not easily seen from the main street. Pay attention on the tiny alleyways. Off street parking is available along nearby roads like Campbell Street etc. However, parking lots are extremely limited and illegal parking is not advisable.

Toh Soon Cafe is located in the alleyway pointed by the red arrow
An enlarged view of the map. Toh Soon is noted in red.
Food rating: 9/10
Service rating: 7/10
Ambience rating: 7/10
*typical roadside stall minus the stray cats and dogs
Overall rating: 8/10

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sushi Tei, Gurney Plaza

Another new Japanese cuisine establishment in Penang; Sushi Tei is an international restaurant chain which branch in various countries including Singapore, Indonesia, China and even Australia. After hearing good commentary on the Sushi Tei outlet in Singapore from my buddy, Eleanor; I decided to try it for myself and here’s what I think of Sushi Tei.

Readily available plates, saucers, pickled ginger, wasabi, shoyu, nitsume and chilli powder

Green Tea @ RM1.00 per person

A variety of dishes ordered:
Chuka Lidako @ RM6.80

An extremely common appetizer in Japanese restaurants, the seasoned baby octopus is quite tasty served with crunchy slices of cucumber and radish. Common and nothing much special; an ordinary appetizer.

Salmon Sashimi @ RM10.80

5 slices of salmon sashimi; chewy and extremely fresh. The sashimi slices are rather thin and does not have a strong fishy smell probably due to it’s freshness. Definitely recommended! There are also other sashimi combos which are of better value.

Inari Kani Mentai Mayo @ RM5.40

A small amount of rice stuffed in pockets of sweet bean curd skin with crab meat and smoked cod roe mayonnaise. Those the menu states crab meat, it is actually shreds of filament sticks. Quite an interesting combination which brings out the sweetness of the Inari pockets and saltiness of the cod roe mayo that fits perfectly with the plain taste of Japanese rice.

Soft Shell Crab @ RM15.80

3 pieces of deep fried soft shell crab served with a bowl of dip. The soft shell crab is bland and plain with not much taste and seasoning while the dip tasted like a mixture of shoyu and vinegar bringing a hint of sourness and a strong taste of saltiness. The soft shell crab lacks crispiness and was not as fresh as expected. The taste could be adjusted based on the amount of dip used.

Hotate Teriyaki @ RM9.80

6 extremely small scallop on 2 skewers served with teriyaki sauce. The scallop was hard and chewy; small and had no other taste but saltiness with a hint of sweetness. Not really worth the price paid as the scallops were just as big as a 20 cent coin and overcooked to an extent that it is hard and chewy.

Mini Phoenix Roll @ RM15.80
A piece of fallen unagi and avocado; clearly poor quality control on food presentation

A great combination; unagi (eel) with tempura prawns, avocado and sushi rice. This roll brings out an interesting flavour. However, this dish lacks a balance as the taste of the tempura prawns completely overpowers the taste of the unagi. Literally, you wouldn’t even know there is unagi in this dish if you were to eat the roll blindfolded. The avocado was also too ripe and was extremely soft. As you can see in the second picture, the mini phoenix roll lacks presentation as the staff was not even bother that the unagi and avocado had fallen off the roll. This disfigured roll was still served to us. *thumbs down*

Kaisen Kaminabe @ RM26.80
Paper hot pot using flames from ignited petroleum jelly

An assortment of seafood and vegetables in a Japanese paper hot pot. There is a choice between miso or spicy soup and I went with the choice of spicy soup as I wanted to try something out of the norm. Indeed, this hot pot lives up to it’s name of spicy soup as I would rate the spiciness to be about 7 out of 10. The heat from the petroleum jelly keeps the soup hot for about 45 minutes until it burns out. The hot pot includes salmon, prawns, scallops (tiny ones), zuwai crab, mushrooms, chinese cabbage and also lots of onions. The soup is definitely a must try!

Crispy Ebi Mentai Mayo @ RM13.80

A plain dish that consist of prawns, shitake mushrooms and cod roe deep fried together in a batter. Not too oily; it is rather bland as shitake mushroom and prawn both do not have a strong flavour hence the taste of the Crispy Ebi Mentai Mayo came mostly from the cod roe mayo. A rather overpriced dish.

Umaki @ RM13.80

Simple omelette which wraps a tiny piece of unagi between it; the omelette has a strong egg fragrant and the unagi completes the rest of the flavour. Caution; it was extremely hot when served and I burnt my tongue taking a bit into it.

Hotate Mentaiyaki @ RM16.80

The most disappointing dish ever! The baked scallops were extremely oily and they were UBER SALTY as though a whole bottle of salt was poured into this dish. The scallops here were much larger and the half shelled scallop topped with either miso or cod roe with mayonnaise. I opted for cod roe and to my disappointment, the sauce was like pure sodium on top of the scallops. Although the scallops were quite fresh, the entire dish is ruined by the sauce. SALTY and OILY! Avoid this dish at all cost; simply not worth paying!

Tempura Ice Cream @ RM 10.80

A scoop of black sesame ice cream deep fried with tempura batter and served with syrup and fruits. Besides the beautiful presentation, there is nothing special about this dessert. The ice cream has not melted although it has been deep fried but this is nothing more than just a simple plain fried ice cream. Not quite worth the price and the syrup and chocolate sauce completely destroyed the authentic taste of the black sesame ice cream.

Open sushi bar with a fusion of Japanese and contemporary deco

Sushi Tei like any other newly opened restaurants would be a popular choice as many would queue to give the place a try. This dining place has a fusion of modern and traditional Japanese decor giving out a feel of serenity while dining with instrumental music playing over the speakers. However, it is rather disappointing that the music played were instrumental versions of Chinese songs instead of Japanese ones.

As for their service crew, it is quite a let down. There are 3 rows of tables and a row of seats at the sushi bar, but the crew was not attentive and often I had to raise my hand for 5 minutes before someone actually sees it. Perhaps, a buzzer or bell should be placed at every table so that the crew can take note of customers needing their attention. The lack of common sense was simply annoying. Though kaminabe (the hot pot) was ordered, none of the waiter or waitress bothered to bring a bowl and a spoon. So was I suppose to drink the soup from the paper hot pot itself? *rolls eyes*

Besides, no one actually clear the empty plates on the table. Although my table was right at the corner, this was definitely no excuse to receive a third class treatment.

Overall, the food is average with some dishes completely below par and some absolutely heavenly. An expensive Japanese restaurant that lacks customer service. Not a place I would recommend strongly but is still worth trying for its wide variety of sushi and dishes. The sashimi and Kaisen Kaminabe is a must try! Be ready to burn your wallet as everything is rather pricey.

Gurney Plaza is noted in blue
Sushi Tei is located inside Gurney Plaza (Lot 02-02) on the second floor of the old wing; 2 floors right above the main entrance, beside a few sports equipment store. It opens from 10am to 10pm like any regular store in the mall. Parking is easy as there are ample of space in the multi storey car park inside Gurney Plaza and a stretch of off street parking along Persiaran Gurney (Gurney Drive).

Food rating: 6.5/10
Service rating: 5/10
Ambience rating: 9/10
Overall rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Wonderland Food Store

Looking for a place to eat in Langkawi? Wonderland Food Store is somewhere not to be missed. While on holiday in Pulau Langkawi with a group of buddies, we decided to give Wonderland Food Store a try.

As Langkawi is an island, seafood is naturally much cheaper than many other places. Wonderland Food Store is located in the town of Kuah and is frequented by many.

Fried Koay Teow @ RM5.00
Ordinary tasting fried flat rice noodles with beansprouts, egg and slices of chicken. The koay teow was evenly fried but was a tad too oily and salty.

Fried Rice @ RM5.00
Yet another ordinary dish. This normal fried rice is garnished with egg and slices of chicken. The fried rice is acceptable in taste and is nothing special.

Fried Sambal Belacan Kangkung (Medium) @ RM14.00
A large plate of kangkung fried with spicy sambal belacan. Just another ordinary dish that you can find practically everywhere in Malaysia. Sambal belacan is blended chilli paste with dried shrimp paste (belacan). The dish lacked spiciness and had massive chunks of garlic (something I extremely disliked). A great green to have on the table though.

Deep Fried Squid (Small) @ RM10.00
One of the best deep fried squid I have had recently. The small pieces of squid is something similar to calamari rings but uses smaller squids and is deep fried in a salted batter. Crispy and not too oily although it was deep fried.

Chilli Flower Crab @ RM45.00
Although disappointed with the unavailability of the normal mud crab (those large red crabs with extremely hard shells), we ordered chilli flower crab instead. 3 medium sized flower crab stir fried with special blended chilli paste. The freshness of the flower crab was average but the flower crabs was well flavoured with the chilli sauce.

Nestum Prawns @ RM12.00
Superb tasting Nestum prawns! Crispy deep fried prawns stir fried with Nestum and curry leaves. Although the prawns lack a hint of salt and sugar, the prawns were still tasteful! Definitely recommended!

A great place for seafood; for the price paid it was definitely cheap! All the dishes above plus drinks and a small plate of stir fried clams in chilli (which I forgot to take a picture) for 5 pax was only RM109! Generally, the seafood was fresh and well cooked.

Wonderland Food Store is located in Pusat Perniagaan Kelana Mas (Lot 179, 180, 181, Pusat Perniagaan Kelana Mas, Jalan Trimula, Kuah, 07000 Langkawi) amongst a cluster of seafood store. Easily spotted as Wonderland Food Store has a large yellow sign. There are numerous off street parking but at dinner time they may be fully occupied.

Food Rating: 8/10
Service rating: 7/10
Ambience rating: 6/10
*typical food store or hawker like surrounding; there was a cat running around the place which was of much annoyance
Overall rating: 7/10

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant

With the mushrooming trend of KPop and Korean dramas, Korean food seems to be on popular demand as well. No doubt idolisation would lead to fans wanting to live and eat like their idols. So, here’s a review on Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant! And NO I AM NOT A KPOP FAN!

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant1
Barbecue pit and a pot of burning charcoal
Korean BBQ mainly revolves around using thin slices of meat either beef or pork as well as seafood. In Daorae, diners are spoilt for choices. There is a wide variety of beef and pork available, from the extremely fattening pork belly (sam-kyub-sal) to lean pork meat marinated in a variety of sauce and spices.

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant
A variety of side dishes including seasoned spinach, kimchi, beansprouts, pumpkin etc.
Upon ordering, complimentary seaweed soup and a variety of refillable side dishes will be served. There is nothing much special about the side dishes except the fact that there is an unlimited refill. Personally, I find the beansprouts different from other Korean restaurants that I have tried in the UK; there is a lack of sesame oil in the beansprouts served in Daorae.

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant2
Pork Ju-muk-luk @ RM35.00
As I simply detest the layers of fat on the pork belly, my friends and I ordered the Pork Ju-muk-luk which are cutlets of soft pork marinated in Daorae’s special sauce. Barbecued by the waiter, the pork cutlets were cooked to perfection and the best part is that it was not burnt. The meat was lean, soft and well marinated.

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant3

Yang-nyum O-jing-er Goo-e @ RM28.00
Fresh squid marinated in spicy Korean chilli sauce and barbecued using charcoal fire. The squid was well marinated and every piece had a strong taste of the spicy hot sauce. However, it was quite burnt. Initially, the squid came in extremely large slices but the owner was detailed enough to come to our table and personally cut them into smaller pieces and telling the waiter to make sure it was thoroughly cooked. Definitely a thumbs up for such service.

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant5
Above: Salad leaves, Bottom: Marinated spring onion
The barbecue dishes came with fresh salad leaves, chilli paste and marinated spring onion which are excellent accompaniment to the barbecued pork and squid.

Dderk-bokgi @ RM30.00
Korean rice cake stir fried in spicy chilli sauce together with onions, carrot, cabbage; garnished with a hard boiled egg. The rice cake is well cooked but may seem rather bland as the inside of the rice cake was not mixed with the spicy chilli sauce. This dish is extremely spicy and sends a fire sensation down the throat; numbing the tongue as well. Definitely not suitable for those who can’t take the heat.

Dweji Bulgogi @ RM25.00
Served in a hot pot, Dweji Bulgogi consist of fine slices of pork, an assortment of mushrooms, carrot and glass noodles and comes with a bowl of rice. The pork slices in the bulgogi was well marinated and had a strong taste of the sauce. While some slices had a thin layer of fat, others are soft lean pork slices. Overall, the bulgogi taste delicious with the sauce well seasoned in the pork, mushrooms and glass noodles and it goes extremely well with white rice.

Kimchi-Jeon @ RM25.00
A pan fried pancake of kimchi with batter. While the amount of kimchi is extremely generous, it was literally impossible to lift a slice of the pancake without breaking it into pieces. Kimchi jeon was rather ordinary tasting with a strong hint of kimchi.The batter was bland despite the large amount of kimchi used. Definitely not something worth the price.

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant7

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant6
Interior of Daorae BBQ Restaurant
Overall, Daorae serves pretty decent Korean food and the barbecue is exceptionally delicious although they fall short in some dishes. Managed by a Korean, it is quite interesting to watch the boss/manager and his staff which is made up of Nepalese or Bangladeshi communicate in Korean. The restaurant has a relaxing ambience and is well decorated. With all the barbecue, no doubt you will smell like a piece of barbecue pork after dining here.

Daorae is located in Bayan Point on the same row as Hong Leong Bank (15-2-G, 2-1 & 2-2 Bayan Point, Medan Kg. Relau, 11900 Penang) and is easily accessible by road. Off road parking available but spaces are rather limited. Daorae also has another branch in Tanjung Tokong.

Daorae is noted in blue

Food rating: 8.5/10
Service rating: 9/10
Ambience rating: 9/10
Overall rating: 8.5/10