Sunday, 31 August 2014

Caffe Bene, Gurney Paragon

Ever since the whole KPop frenzy hit the world, everything related to Korean became a huge popular trend; from food to cosmetic to clothing. Years back, the only thing I will immediately associate Korea with is probably kimchi and ginseng.

Caffe Bene is a Korean coffeehouse with a world wide franchise. Recently unveiling their first store in Gurney Paragon, Penang on last Friday, it’s bound to be a hit because it’s KOREAN. Plus, there’s always this habit of ‘new jamban, nice to shit’.

Decorated in classic wooden decor, Caffe Bene looks very much like a good place to hang out or relax. Offering a range of desserts and drinks, their Bingsu is probably the most famous item on the menu. Bingsu, a Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings comes in a number of variety and 2 sizes in Caffe Bene.

Here’s what we tried:

Cookies and Cream Bingsu (Single) @ RM12.80
Shaved ice layer with sweet red bean paste, cookies crumbs and topped with whipped cream and Oreo. The ice has a very insipid taste of milk or evaporated milk. The flavour was so bland that it tasted like just shaved overpriced frozen H2O. The amount of red bean paste was considerably generous but personally, the taste of the red bean paste is a mismatch with cookies and cream. Moving upwards, the whipped cream which seemed to be curdled is just another reason to give this dessert a pass.

Green Tea Bingsu (Single) @ RM12.80
Shaved ice flavoured with green tea and topped with red bean paste, nuts and whipped cream and a dash of green tea powder. As a fan of green tea, I’ve never detest a green tea dessert as much as this. The ice had a weak taste of green tea which is overpowered by the red bean paste. A blob of extremely strong green tea paste/ice cream on the top sets the balance of green tea way off. One moment it’s too empowering and one moment there was hardly any taste. 
(Not sure if I'm suppose to mix it around like rojak before eating)
The nuts topping were pretty generous but played no part in making it taste any better. Honestly, the shaved ice was so coarse that it almost equates a failed ice kacang stall. 
(ok lah at least won't melt so fast in our hot weather)

With a decent expectation from the pretty Instagram post of the bingsu in their KL branch, Caffe Bene was something I was looking forward to. Simply a let down! There is nothing more than a pretty presentation. Literally, just a packaging and marketing success with no real culinary excitement and just a less than ordinary shaved ice dessert that you could simply pass. For the price that the bingsu cost, there is definitely a better option for a good dessert or coffee house.

As I’ve only tried the bingsu, there is possibly other better option on the menu. The gelato looks decent and I would definitely love to give the green tea gelato a chance since I’ve yet to find one comparable to those in London or Europe.
Check out the rest of their menu here. In conjunction with their opening, there is a Buy 1 Free 1 promotion on their Sweet Potato and Misugaru drinks. 

In terms of service, Caffe Bene works quite efficiently but there is no proper queue for seating. Plus, most people tend to hoard the seats and there is no control over the queue for seats. There are signs stating ‘Please wait to be seated’ with no one attending to it. So, typically everyone scramble over any seats available. Not the best place to head to for individuals. It’s not quite possible to get a seat and queue to order at the same time.

Food rating: 1/10 (based on bingsu)
Service rating: 5/10
Ambience rating: 7/10
Price rating: £££££
Overall rating: 3.5/10

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