He who eats alone chokes alone. ~Proverb

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

La France Cafe & Restaurant

Best in town for: Omelette, Toasted Ciabatta.
Worst in town for: Price of ala-carte French Fries; Parking spaces

Opening times:
12.00 noon - 10.00pm

Closed on Tuesdays.

CAT: A friend of us recommended this place to us, and we promptly tried it out. La France used to be located at Northam Beach, but they have just recently moved to their new location on Irrawaddy Road.

I ordered the Toasted Ciabatta with Ham and Cheese, and was very happy with the dish. Filled with generous servings of ham, cheese, onions and tomatoes; nicely toasted on the outside but still soft on the inside, it's pretty much perfect. The dish comes with a side order of Sauteed Potatoes, which is really tasty from the herbs and spices that they add. Back when I was a kid, I used to love the Toasted Foccacia at Dave's Deli in 1-stop (hands up those of you who remember that!). La France's Ciabatta is really similar to that dish I loved long ago, but it's even better!

Croq Ham and Cheese (RM10.80)

A friend of ours who tagged along ordered the ala-carte French Fries, which is really not worth it at RM5.90 This is because all Omelettes also come with a (smaller) portion of Fries, but only cost RM10 - RM12.

Pommes Frites (RM5.90)

BEAR: I ordered the Salade aux Lardons (with Bacon) for RM7.90 and it was delicious! The portion wasn't very big but there was a generous amount of bacon and walnuts. Unlike the usual typical sour-ish vinegar French dressing, this had a sour-ish mustard taste.

Salad aux Lardons (RM7.90)

My main meal was the Omelette Forestiere. I must say, this is the fluffiest omelette I have ever had. I bet the eggs were beaten to an inch of their life for the omelette to come up so fluffy! It was filled with mushrooms and bacon (again!) and tasted really good. This is definitely something that I'll order again the next time CAT brings me here.

Omelette Forestiere (RM12.50)

Being greedy, I ordered the Eclair au Cafe/Chocolat and .. regretted it. It was not exactly what I had in mind. It turned out huge which usually isn't a problem for me since I believe that there's always room for dessert since dessert goes into a separate stomach.

Eclair au Cafe/Chocolat (RM5.80)
The Eclair was filled with chocolate cream in one half and coffee cream in the other. I cut into it and the melted cream gushed out. The pastry was nothing to shout about and upon reaching the half way point, the coffee cream was light, fluffy and very delicious but by then, it was already too much even for me.

This would have been perfect if I had not ordered the salad and omelette. This would have been perfect with just a cup of coffee.

Homemade Brownie (RM7.50)

We also shared the Homemade Brownie, which seemed rather expensive at RM7.50, but was very well done. Soft and moist and served with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream, it was a nice way to end a meal, and much better than the Eclair.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

IL Bacaro Venetian Restaurant : Part II

*EDIT* 29/01/12:

The Tiramisu has declined in quality tremendously since this post was first written. It's now very bland and tasteless, totally different from when we first tried it. It's a real shame because instead of being one of the best Tiramisu in Penang, it's now one of the worst.

Bear: Besides the declining quality in the food, I have received complains from friends regarding the new waitress. Worst of all, I agree with them.

CAT: After the excellent meal we had the first time, we went back the next week with my family as they all love Italian food.

This time around, we ordered the Seafood Spaghetti, which is chock full of yummy prawns, clams and calamari. The taste is a little more subtle than most other Italian restaurants, but this is because a lot of the Italian food in Penang is Americanised Italian food, which is more tomato-ey and sweeter.

Seafood Spaghetti (RM27)

We also tried the classic Pizza Margherita, which is Pizza with tomato sauce and Mozzarella cheese, and that's it. You may think that this is boring and tasteless because there is no chicken or beef or whatever, but Il Bacaro's Pizza Margherita is so good that it doesn't need any other toppings. The pizzas here are pretty large, so you might want to share.

Pizza Margherita (RM21)

BEAR: I have a feeling I put on weight and I was right! Too much yummy food but I just can't stop.

On our visit to Il Bacaro, I ordered the Linguine with Smoked Salmon in Cream Sauce. The pasta was not too bad but a little too rich. It's best shared. Then again, anything with Cream Sauce is best shared. It was not as good as the Mushroom Agnalotti in White Wine Cream Sauce and CAT didn't quite like the Linguine, preferring Mario's Spaghetti Cabonara better.

CAT liked the Seafood spaghetti better but I disagree. Too many years of eating "Americanized" tomato pasta thus I found the authentic stuff a little odd. Just my personal opinion of course. It tasted of real tomatoes and is slightly sweeter, me thinks.

CAT also ordered a Pizza Margherita and watching him eat slice after slice after slice was amazing. I think CAT ate a total of 5-6 slices himself! After a while, I shoved my pasta in his face and made a grab for his fast depleting pizza.

It was so good. Covered in nothing but cheese, heavenly. The crust was fresh made, hand made and oven baked to perfection. One of the best pizzas I've ever eaten. Much much better than Mario's.

Pizza with Tuna Flakes, Chilli, Olives and Capers (RM26)

The other pizza that we had was the Pizza with Tuna Flakes, Chilli, Olives and Capers. The other vegetarian pizzas on the menu put me off and I always liked some kind of meat with my pizza. Unfortunately this wasn't the best choice. CAT didn't like it at all and I had to stuff myself.

It didn't taste too bad but probably not something we'll order again (considering the fact that I know CAT secretly blamed me for choosing that when he wanted another pizza)

Tiramisu (RM15)
The Tiramisu is probably one of the best I have ever had. Smothered with rich, dark cocoa powder and packing a notable kick from the alcohol, this Tiramisu is amazing! It's like the perfect blend of richness (but not too rich) and sweetness (but not too sweet) and is probably the best Tiramisu you can get in Penang.

The Tiramisu and Zabaglione gets BEAR's two thumbs and two toes way up!

Yummy yummy yummy, we got food in our tummy

Monday, September 12, 2011

IL Bacaro Venetian Restaurant

Best in town for: Mushroom Agnalotti, Zabaglione, the service.
Worst in town for: Nothing really.

Opening times:
12.00 noon - 10.30pm

Open all week.

CAT: Well this was a nice surprise. It's rather difficult to find genuinely authentic Italian food in Penang, but Il Bacaro is the real deal. Up until now, if you asked me for my favorite pasta, I would have said the Linguine Carbonara in Mario's Ristorante. However, after visiting Il Bacaro, I might have to change my mind...

One thing I love about Italian restaurants is the bread that they serve as appetizers, and Il Bacaro is no exception. Freshly baked and served with olive oil, it's a great way to start a meal.


I ordered the Mushroom Agnalotti with White Wine Cream Sauce, and was blown away by the taste. It was so delicious that Bear actually went into a coma after trying some. Don't let the "vegetarian" label put you off. The mushroom filling is so well prepared that even a meat-lover like Bear couldn't tell that it was vegetarian.

Mushroom Agnalotti in White Wine Cream Sauce (RM26)

We also tried the Linguine with Sundried Tomatoes and Vongole (clams). This is actually a pretty good dish, but unfortunately, after the explosion of taste from the Agnalotti, it turned out to be a little bland.

Linguine Vongole (RM24)

For dessert, we were strongly recommended to try the Zabaglione, which is a dessert made with egg yolk, wine and strawberries. This was again, so delicious that Bear immediately went into a coma again.

We also ordered the Hazelnut Cake with Mascarpone, but it was a bit of a disappointment after the Zabaglione. It was tasty and nutty, but didn't really feel like it was worth RM19.

Warm Hazelnut Cake with Mascarpone Cream (RM19)

BEAR: Mama Bear has taken me to countless Italian restaurants since young but never had I had pasta this good. We decided to share our pasta since I couldn't decide and CAT was on greedy mode so I left the ordering to him.

We had the Mushroom Agnalotti with White Wine Cream Sauce. I thought it looked a little strange when it arrived but one bite into it and I was sold! It tasted so good, I couldn't stop raving about it. I initially thought it was some beef-y stuffing but CAT told me it was mushrooms. Mushrooms never tasted this good. This dish is absolutely perfect.

After eating something that good, nothing else could compare. While the Linguine with Sundried Tomatoes and Vongole was good it was nothing compared to the Agnalotti.

Zabaglione (RM12)

As for deserts, CAT wanted the Tiramisu but the lovely waitress recommended the Zabaglione. It's a little on the sweet side but to me it was absolutely delicious. I never realized how good egg yolk can be when done right.

While the egg yolk tasted sweet, the strawberry added a little tartness but everything meshed together wonderfully.

I was never a fan of nuts so the Hazelnut Cake was left to CAT to finish.

Will be back with the clan! Wait for us...

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kopitan Kopitiam

Best in town for: Kopi O, Peanut Butter Toast
Worst in town for: Hainan Chicken Rice, seriously don't try this, its terrible.

I've been coming here for a while now, but it's only recently that I've brought Bear along to let her try out the food.

Kopitan is basically a slightly higher class Kopitiam, serving local dishes, coffee, tea and toast. They are similar to Old Town White Coffee, but at a lower price, and with a greater variety (and better taste too!)

The "Kopi O" here is very good. Blacker than night and strong enough to put hairs on your chest, it's priced at RM2.80 for the iced version, which is pretty darn cheap if you compare it to an Americano at Starbucks.

Kopitan also does decent local dishes, in this case Singapore Fried Beehoon. Priced at RM6.50, its a bit more expensive than the ones at local coffeeshops, but its easily twice the size.

BEAR: I definitely prefer Kopitan to Old Town cause the food is just as good, much cheaper and the service in Kopitan is fantastic. There is absolutely nothing to complain about the staff there; they may not be locals but they are efficient and attentive. The food arrives in a blink of an eye (Err, okay, maybe a few blinks) and there is wi-fi so there's usually people there with their laptops and other gadgets.

My favourite there is the peanut butter toast. It's nothing fancy with no 'special sauce' it's just peanut butter in between two warm toasted bread but it taste pretty darn good at only RM3.20.

The other favourite of mine is the Kaya Butter toast.Thin slice of butter stuffed between two slices of bread with kaya. RM2.80

Suger, suger, na na na na na naaa, Honey honey, na na na na na naaa, you are my candy girl and you got me wanting you, Oooh~

So far, I've only ordered the Kopi 'O' from Kopitan. I prefer my local coffee black and hot. The coffee is nothing fancy-smeancy and tastes like any black coffee except maybe a little more 'kaw'. It's a little pricy to me at RM2.20 per cup but the price is still acceptable *mumble unlikethepriceofacoffeeat..mumble* Don't listen to CAT on the 'strong enough to put hairs on your chest' or I would have the hairiest chest in Penang.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

All Right Western Food

Best in town for: Ribeye Steak, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Grilled Norwegian Salmon
Worst in town for: The crowd, if you arrive after 7.30pm

Opening times: 6.00pm - 9.00pm

CAT: Some people wonder if All Right is involved in money-laundering operations. It really is ridiculous that they charge only RM23.50 for a Rib Eye Steak. Serving one of the best steaks in town, All Right puts many other "big name" restaurants (Eden, The Ship, Victoria Station) to shame, with a Rib Eye Steak that is juicy, tender, and always cooked to perfection, while costing 1/2 or even 1/3 as much. I would recommend ordering a Medium Rare steak to really enjoy the experience, as it'll be (almost) tender enough to melt in your mouth.

Ribeye Steak (RM23.50)

The other dish that Allright is famous for is the Grilled Norwegian Salmon. This is a really simple dish - all the chef does is take a slab of salmon out of the freezer, chuck it onto the grill for a minute or two and voila! the dish is done. And yet, somehow it tastes so damn good....

Grilled Norwegian Salmon (RM17)

BEAR: Please note that CAT was just kidding about the money-laundering part but All Right really do serve the BEST steak in town. The only other place I can think of that might have better steak is The Ferringhi Grill in Rasa Sayang Hotel but that place is so expensive that we've never even been there (approx RM100 - 150 for a steak). We ish poorz!

Chicken Cordon Bleu (RM11.50)

Despite knowing the menu by heart, it always takes me a long time to decide. I have a few favorites at All Right : Chicken Cordon Bleu, Ribeye Steak, Spicy Mutton Soup, Oxtail soup and Braised Lamb Shank.

I had the Chicken Cordon Blue and it was delicious (as usual). The chicken is covered with a thin batter with ham and cheese in between. It's not a big portion but will nicely feed one. Out of all the restaurants I've tried, this place is my #1 place for Chicken Cordon Blue.

The new menu, there are less items and prices went up. The Chicken Cordon Blue used to be RM9.00!

My only complaint is the waiting time. If you arrive later (from 7.30 onwards) I suggest you go somewhere else unless you can wait for an hour for your food. Do remember that this is a no frills type of restaurant, don't bother dressing up.

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Isaribi Tei Japanese Restaurant

Best in town for: Teriyaki Chicken, Saba Shioyaki (Salted Grilled Mackerel)
Worst in town for: Eccentric grumpy owner, crazy parking attendants (if you park in Goodall 2)

Opening times:
12.00noon - 3.00pm
6.00pm - 10.00pm

Closed on public holidays.

CAT: Our next review is (surprise surprise!) another Japanese restaurant, but this one is special...

Not to be taken seriously

This is the only Japanese restaurant in town where the proprietor will scold you "stupido!" if you do something that he deems stupid (which is pretty much everything). Best thing to do is to order your food, eat, pay and get out without making a fuss, otherwise you'll probably be labelled "stupido" by the owner for eternity. In fact, I'm pretty sure he has a wall plastered with photos to remind him of the most "stupido" customers who should never be let in.

If you've ever seen the episode of Seinfeld with the Soup Nazi, you'll understand.

However, several dishes here are among the best you can find in Penang. The Teriyaki Chicken is excellent. Grilled instead of deep fried, it is healthy and has a wonderful smoky flavour. It is priced at rm16 for the set, which is pretty reasonable considering the size of the portion.

Salmon Nigiri; CAT ate the other before I could snap the picture

On another note, Isaribi Tei serves the best Miso Soup. Not too salty and packed with chewy seaweed, I find it perfect.

BEAR: I won't be too surprised if I saw my picture on his 'Wall of Stupids'. Ah well, even then I still love the food in Isaribi Tei. My favourite is the Saba Shioyaki (Salted Grilled Mackerel) set (RM16). The set consists of miso soup, rice, mackerel, a small potato salad, 3 slices of thinly cut watermelon and all you can drink green tea.

After Isaribi Tei, I've stopped ordering Saba Shioyaki from any other restaurant; I couldn't find anyone who does it as good. You're given a generous piece of mackerel and it tastes absolutely perfect every time.

My only complaint is that the rice is a little inconsistent. Sometimes it's perfect, sometimes it's a little dry.

If you can't find parking in the front of the shop, there's another parking area at the back. Just turn into the food court (Goodall 2) and there's parking spaces allocated for Isaribi Tei's customers. However, sometimes the attendants there go a little crazy and claim RM2 from you even though you parked in the allocated spots, so be firm and get ready to shout at them.

Isaribi Tei is at 62, Jalan Chow Thye, 10050 Penang.

Ps.: We were unsure if we were allowed to take pictures of the food because during my previous company director's birthday, the grumpy owner told off our director, " NO CAMERA ALLOWED" so these are sneaky shots of the food.

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