Friday, August 29, 2008

Rak Thai, Mid Valley

I've been sceptical about dining options at Mid Valley for a long time so it was with utter delight when I read Durianberry's blog post on Rak Thai. I'm a recent clear tomyum soup convert, having only known its reddish fiery counterpart most part of my underexplored adult life. So it was with a full stomach of anticipation when time came for me to suggest where to lunch one day away from the work desk - Rak Thai it was!

I had to have the clear tomyum but I didn't much feel like rice so I asked for koay teow in tomyum gai (chicken) instead. It was just as I'd imagined - sour and spicy and everything nice! I can imagine having this everyday, as a midday pick-me-up and going back to work full of fire!

My friend ordered the deep fried chicken which came drenched in very sweet Thai chilli sauce and a side of glass noodle salad. He seemed rather pleased with it, though from the looks of it, it'd probably not be on my hit list
One meal just didn't quite cut it for me as a dining experience so when Fat Tulip came to visit a few days later, I suggested stopping there for dinner.

We started with the customary som tum to start, which arrived shortly after we ordered. It was fresh enough but we found the dressing a tad too sweet.
.We decided to share our individual meals so we'd get variety. He got the Green Curry Chicken with rice which came with a too-small portion of flavoured rice (Fat Tulip is carbo king) and slices of chicken breast swimming in a thick, nutty green curry with a disturbing amount of oil on the surface. Chilli Corner's green curry remains the undisputed champ, in my books.
Same treatment went with my seafood red curry koay teow, which, while lovely and filling enough, was too heavy for my liking. I just feel the balance in the heavier curries was a bit off.

My experience with the clear tomyum was pleasant enough but the second meal left much to be desired. I suppose selected items from the menu fare better than the rest but to validate that, I would have to go back for at least one more meal... you know what they say, third time's the charm!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Super Noodle House, Sungei Wang Plaza

On one of those very rare occasions when we found ourselves at Sungei Wang Plaza (and around lunchtime!) we stopped by Super Noodle House on the ground floor, right next to the main entrance.
I remember coming here as a kid resistant to Chinese food while the parents clapped and devoured a few meals' worth of food with glee. It's one of those places that have been around for yonks and it looks set to outlive me.

I went for the spinach noodles with roasted pork. Somehow I remembered the noodles tasting better, and the pai kuat was too cold for my liking.

Fat Tulip's regular noodles with stewed beef brisket. He gave it the thumbs up. Perhaps I should've stuck to the regular noodles.

We went for a plate of greens only to recoil in horror when the bill later showed that the small serving was RM10.

Stir fried duck tongue kung po style. Came with plenty of cashews in a rather sweet sauce. Fat Tulip polished off the tongue, I the cashews. The bill came up to nearly RM50 for two. Pricey for what was essentially an in-and-out noodle stop.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Burger et al in the Tanjung Bungah' hood

For some inexplicable reason, Tanjung Bungah has always been my favourite area in Penang. Perhaps it's the proximity to the beach stretch, or the fact that some of my good friends live there, or that it's away from the traffic squeeze on Georgetown's narrow streets. Well, I can now add cheap, yummy burgers to that list.

I'd heard from various trusted sources that this particular burger stall was a solid dining experience but I'd simply not gotten around to trying it until this past weekend. Full-ish from lunch but fully realising I needed to line the stomach for the beery session afterwards, we stopped by the stall located at Hillside, near the food court and about 100 footsteps from Torch where we were due for a chilled out drinking session.

The nonchalant uncle in action, whipping up a healthy queue of orders.

The secret? Simple, sweet ingredients - shredded cabbage and sliced onions on the grill
Our orders, eaten on plastic chairs by the roadside next to the stall, straight off the plastic and wrappers -plain chicken burger and hot dog with the works (cheese & egg).

The chicken patty in the burger, purportedly homemade, hit the spot, flanked by lovely cabbage, onions and other garnishing. I've been put off before by roadside burger stalls before, having found them drowned completely in sauce and moisture, but this particular experience was just right!
The hotdog was a humbler serving but still packed a whole lotta punch! We licked our fingers clean in five minutes flat! The menu's simple - beef or chicken burgers or hot dogs. Prices have gone up from before but they're still a total steal.

After that, we walked over to meet MS at Torch who ordered the surprisingly rather tasty fish and chips (RM15.50). We kept stealing her chips but the entire plate looked like a winner. MS devoured it with great relish. Tanjung Bungah rocks!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Miraku, G Hotel

Being back home is such a treat despite the obvious mad rush of a much too short weekend. I just can't do any wrong with food here, given the company. I could probably get by with meal replacement shakes and they'd still taste pretty damn awesome. But this is Penang and fortunately, I do not have to resort to meal replacement shakes.

My first visit to Miraku the Japanese restaurant located on the first floor of G Hotel at Gurney Drive pretty much sealed it as one of my very favourite Jap haunts. I was suitably impressed with the fine balance the lunch sets provided, a feat many a lunch set places have difficulty in pulling off - it's always either too much or too little of something. Even if it looked like we over-ordered, we walked out feeling like we've had just the right amount of quality.

We started with individual portions of appetizer - a dish of soybeans and hijiki.

Each set came with pickles, a nondescript salad, another appetizer of sliced okra mixed in some kind of coleslaw (which gave it a natto-like consistency), miso soup, chawan mushi (very well executed), rice and dessert of red bean agar. Fat Tulip went for the Karei Nitsuke Zen (RM32), a well-marinated slice of flounder in a delicious sweetish broth. The fish was fresh and smooth, the flavours extremely delicate.

The Tempura Zen set (RM28) came with a larger than usual portion of huge tempura prawns and vegetables.

My Salmon sashimi & tori karaage (RM32) set was just right - something raw, something deep-fried. The sashimi was fresh and delightful when dunked in wasabi and soy sauce. I was a very happy girl.

Mama Chow's Zaru soba set probably didn't fare as well as the rest. It arrived later than the rest and Mama was somewhat put off by the tsuyu noodle sauce. She felt it was fishier than usual.

We walked away from the restaurant with a pleasant feeling of general well-being and certainty that we'll be back.

Apparently, parking at G Hotel is exhorbitant so we parked at the mall next door and walked over.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Din Tai Fung, The Gardens

Having heard and read so much about the revered Din Tai Fung franchise, I was looking forward to catching up with nice bunch of people there one fine afternoon. Din Tai Fung hails from Taiwan, famed for the ubiquitous siu long bao (meat dumpling) and while there has been no shortage of places serving up this delicacy in Malaysia, the high degree of variation in flavour and overall quality compels one to continuously search for the perfect dumpling.
The company, as usual, was awesome. The food? Let's get to it!

First up was of course, two steamers of the original siu long bao. They do have other interesting varieties but we decided to stick to the basics first.
We ordered two steamers of six dumplings. The dumplings were smaller than expected but the skin was perfectly textured. And for its size, each dumpling held a lavish amount of delicious soup.

The franchise was also known to serve a mean la mian so I ordered the Spicy Pork & Prawn Wantan la mian. I think I could've done better. The spice basically came from an inordinate amount the house chilli paste heaped onto plain wantans and admittedly springy and toothsome.

The others ordered Pork Chop fried rice.... mian with mustard greens and pork...

...and Chicken Chop & fried rice. There were murmurings of appreciation as we settled into our meals. Portions were unstinting and we were all happily stuffed by the time we wiped our plates clean. Still, there's always room for something sweet.

Black sesame and red bean buns which looked luscious, but I simply couldn't fit anything else in. The bill came up to around RM130 for five, including beverages. It was by no means a cheap lunch but a very satisfying one. Service too was quick and attentive, save for a little screw-up with an order that appeared twice.