Murals and Yummy Delights in Penang

Over a long weekend, B and I headed to the foodie paradise that is Penang for a food pilgrimage. 

We stayed at the beautifully restored Muntri Grove. Before arriving, I was a little worried that it would be kinda rustic given that it is in a restored shophouse. Fortunately, my worries proved to be unfounded! 

 

Brautiful wrought iron gate and tiles.

  

Little lap pool.

  

Canopy bed!

 

Instead of going into detail about every morsel we consumed during our short 3-day trip, I’m going to just list down my favourites. 

Teksen Restaurant

Teksen Restaurant was a little gem we discovered while out on our first rainy evening in Penang. It was packed when we arrived, and had a pretty long queue at the door. We were lucky to snag a table pretty quickly since it was just the 2 of us. 

The food was pretty basic, good Chinese cooking, and extremely satisfying and comforting on a cool rainy night. 

 

Tofu with seafood & sambal kangkong.

  

Plum sauce chicken.

  

Doing a roaring trade.

 

Tho Yuen Restaurant

Tho Yuen is a super old-school looking coffeeshop serving traditional dim sum. While I have certainly had better dim sum before, I liked this place for the retro vibe!

 

Check out the retro floor with the tiny square tiles!

  

And the old-school order chit.

  

Some of our half-decimated dim sum.

  

Claypot preserved egg congee still bubbling away!

 

Sin Kheng Aun Restaurant

Sin Kheng Aun is another retro-looking eatery that serves food that tastes like the sort that your grandma cooks. It was probably my favourite of all the places I ate at in Penang. It does not overwhelm with strong flavours, so it may not be to everyone’s taste, but I loved it, and will definitely recommend this as a must-visit place for those who like the taste of simple, non-MSG laden home-cooked meals.

It was so yummy we finished everything!

  

Close-up of the egg foo yong.

  

Hainanese chicken chop.

 
Passion Heart Cafe 

Passion Heart Cafe is a little cafe located in a shophouse a stone’s throw away from Muntri Grove, run by a friendly owner who does her baking on-site! 

The bakes there make use of local ingredients, such as chempedak and durian. The chempedak cheesecake was to-die-for (so much so we went back for seconds!), and even the durian cake was delicious (and I hate durians!).

Sadly, I dived into the cakes so quickly that I didn’t manage to snap a photo of any of the cakes I got from them. Time for another visit soon methinks! 

Between eating at these I mentioned above that I really liked, and the usual Penang must-eats such as Penang fried kueh tiao, chendol, egg tarts, tau sar piahs etc. etc., we had to walk around so that we can digest the food consumed and prepare for the next meal. Fortunately, Georgetown had a good range of interesting street art for us to hunt down on foot, and work up an appetite! 

Here are some of my personal favourites:

 

bee-doh bee-doh.

  

Love how the abandoned pipe in the wall was integrated into this drawing.

  

Michievous Superman snowman.

  

This may be somewhat of a cliche but I still like it.

  

Marge Simpson to stop vehicles from going where it shouldn’t!

  

Another classic.

  

I can identify with those kids there 😁

  

Ok this is not a mural but it’s pretty as a picture, no?

  

Another non-mural but this is sooooo cute!

 


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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Been in a rainbow cake-making phase lately, and thought I’d do a quick post on it.

Colourful bowls of batter – the beginnings of a beautiful rainbow.

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The baked layers, cooled and ready to be frosted.

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Sandwiching delicious chocolate whipped filling between the layers.

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Fully frosted with the base frosting, all ready for the ganache topping!

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Completed cake, topped with a Hello Kitty, no less!

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And now, for a cross-section of the cake.

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And another, just because it’s so pretty 🙂

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Happy weekend, folks!

Eating our way through Bali (Part 3)

A favourite of ours in Bali that we have visited time and again is Lia Restaurant at Jimbaran.

Lia Restaurant is one of the many beachfront BBQ seafood places at Jimbaran. On all our previous visits, we have never managed to catch the sunset, as we tend to forget how early and how fast the sun sets in Bali. On this trip, we made it a point to set off from Seminyak early, so that we arrive in Jimbaran in good time for the sunset. And we were rewarded with this view upon arriving at the restaurant.

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Upon securing a table, we headed to choose our seafood, at the selection area near the entrance of the restaurant.

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After selecting our seafood, we headed back to our table to enjoy the sunset, and await the arrival of our barbecued seafood.

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And here comes the food – juicy, tasty grilled seafood!

Grilled snapper.

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Grilled jumbo prawns and squid.

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The seafood was also served with vegetables (but no photos cos we were too eager to tuck in!).

Lia Restaurant
Jl Permalisan Agung
Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia

Eating Our Way Through Bali (Part 2)

One of the places on our must-visit list on this trip was Merah Putih, a modern Balinese restaurant (think Balinese food with a slightly modern twist in nice surroundings), after having read good reviews of the restaurant.

We decided to make it one of our first stops, so we can potentially re-visit it if we like it – and we did! So yeah, we actually went to Merah Putih twice – once for lunch and another time for dinner.

The restaurant is located along Jalan Petitenget, with a rather non-descript exterior.

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The interior was a pleasant surprise, with floor to ceiling (very high ceiling, i might add!) glass, which makes it feel like you’re dining al fresco, except that you’re in air-conditioned comfort!

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On to the food proper, when we visited for lunch, we ordered a couple of starters for sharing, with a main each.

Starters
Chicken Sate

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Char-grilled squid & baby octopus with potatoes and shallots

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The chicken sate was more substantial than expected, and comprised of big chunks of tender, grilled chicken thighs. The squid dish was Merah Putih’s interpretation of cumi bakar, and the char flavour was yummy and char-ey 🙂

Mains
Babi Guling

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Soto Ayam Surabaya

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The Babi Guling was, of course, B’s main. His review was that even though the portion does not look big, it was more than sufficient as it was extremely rich, and it was served with the merah putih (red and white) rice, which further helped to fill one up.

My Soto Ayam Surabaya was flavourful, and the mix of ingredients was interesting. The soup contained glass noodles, vegetables, little quail eggs and 2 types of chicken – poached and tempura. It was also served with a side of potato fritters and merah putih rice.

In addition to the food, there were also interesting Merah Pu-tea drinks, and I ordered the Lychee & Kemangi Merah Pu-tea to go with my meal.

Finally, we finished off with desserts, sharing a Pie Susu (palm sugar tart) and assorted sorbet. The refreshing guava sorbet complemented the rich and caramel-like Pie Susu. It was a most satisfying meal indeed!

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As we enjoyed our lunch at Merah Putih so much, and since the items on the dinner menu are different from the lunch menu, we made a return trip to Merah Putih on our last day, grabbing an early-ish dinner there before leaving for the airport.

We were served with a small bowl of soto ayam as an amuse bouche, which I was really pleased with, as I really enjoyed the Soto Ayam Surabaya a couple of days ago. The broth was as flavourful as I remembered it to be, and it was so comforting to be sipping chicken soup while dusk falls and the restaurant becomes bathed in the orange glow of sunset (and romantic indoor lighting).

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We decided to order 2 small plate items and 1 big plate special to share.

Soft-shelled crab

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Ayam Goreng

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Grilled Lobster Beehoon

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Of the 2 small plate dishes, I prefered the Ayam Goreng, as the chicken was well-seasoned and crispy. The soft-shell crab dish was alright, but nothing to shout about, as decent soft-shell crab dishes are available in many places.

The highlight of the dish was definitely the lobster beehoon. The grilled lobster was tender and fresh, and the slightly spicy accompanying beehoon gave the dish a nice kick!

After the 2 meals at Merah Putih, I am definitely a fan! Will definitely return on my next visit to Bali (if the restaurant is still in business)!

Merah Putih
Jl Petitenget No 100x
Kerobokan, Denpasar
Bali, Indonesia

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Xperience Restaurant & Bar @ Sofitel So Singapore Hotel

A group of us from the office decided to head to Xperience Restaurant & Bar, located at the new Sofitel So Singapore Hotel for a welcome lunch for a new colleague a couple of days ago.

The Sofitel So Singapore Hotel took over the building on Robinson Road that used to house Ogilvy, and the interior of the building was completely made over, and is now swanky!

The restaurant only serves set menus during lunch, with a choice of either a 2-course or a 3-course menu. There are 3 choices each for appetiser, main and dessert. With the 3-course set being priced at $43 and the 2-course at $38, we all opted for the more value-for-money 3-course set.

Appetiser

I had the tomato and watermelon gazpacho. It was chilled and refreshing, though to me, the taste of the tomato overpowered the watermelon. If I had not known that there was watermelon in the gazpacho, I may not even have noticed it.

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Main

For my main, I picked the seafood casolette.

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There was a variety of seafood items in the dish – prawns, calamari, salmon and mussels, and it was served with on a bed of creamy diced potatoes. I had concerns about the dish being too creamy, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite light!

Dessert

For dessert, I opted for the pina colada sunday (I am convinced the reference to sunday is a typo and it should read as sundae, though some of my colleagues beg to differ and think that it was deliberate).

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This consisted of coconut ice cream and whipped cream on a layer of pineapple reduction, topped with toasted coconut flakes and freeze-dried pineapple pieces. It was a fruity and refreshing end to the meal, as you finish with the slightly tart and tangy pineapple reduction at the bottom of the dessert.

Overall, the meal was enjoyable, though the food was pretty good, there was nothing truly spectacular about it. I will probably return if they change their set lunch menu frequently, and I am looking for somewhere nice and fairly quiet. However, with the number of new restaurants popping up every so often, it may be awhile before I head over for my next Xperience experience (pardon the corniness – just couldn’t help myself)!

P/S: HSBC credit cards give you 15 percent discount at Xperience!

Xperience
Sofitel So Singapore Hotel
35 Robinson Road
Singapore 068876

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A Dazzling Sydney Send-off

Our last full day in Sydney began bright and early with breakfast at La Renaissance Cafe with our friend J who was hanging around Sydney working a short stint at a top Sydney restaurant after completing her course at Le Cordon Bleu Sydney.

La Renaissance Cafe is located at The Rocks. It is a cosy little cafe that serves French pastries, with both sidewalk seating (where you can people watch while you enjoy a cuppa) and courtyard seating (which is more private).

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We opted for courtyard seating, so we could catch up with J, whom we have not met for a while. As we were keen to sample both sweet and savory pastries, we decided to order a few items for sharing.

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Of the 4 items we ordered – country chicken pie, ham & cheese croissant, millefeuille and chocolate eclair, the country chicken pie stood out the most. The pie was Aussie-style, with a shortcrust base and puff pastry top. Unlike most chicken pies which contain a creamy filling, this pie had a tomato-based filling, with tender pieces of chicken flavoured with herbs. The millefeuille came a close second, with its crispy layers and not-too-sweet vanilla custard filling.

After our catch-up session at La Renaissance Cafe, while J headed off to work, B and I took a stroll around The Rocks, and browsed at the Rocks weekend market. While it was interesting to browse, there was nothing unique that caught my eye, and the market just felt touristy. We soon found ourselves having more fun just wandering around the less crowded streets and the Quayside.

The Rocks area.

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At the quayside – views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from a different angle.

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In the afternoon, we met C for lunch at The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room, located along George Street, a stone’s throw away from The Rocks. C informed us that the restaurant is fairly new, having taken over the premises from a dodgy-looking bar. From what we could see of The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room, the place has definitely come up in the world – nothing dodgy about it now! The restaurant exudes a casual chic vibe, and serves up a simple and comfort-food laden menu in addition to oysters.

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Sangria, mushroom cigars and good oil’ fish & chips.

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The mushroom cigars deserve a special mention here – truffley mushroom paste wrapped in filo-like pastry and crisp-fried. Yums!

After whiling most of our last day away at one cafe/restaurant or another, we finally got to one of the highlights of our trip, the weekly fireworks display at Darling Harbour!

We were fortunate that C stays just around the corner from Cockle Bay Wharf, where there’s a great view of the fireworks, and after hanging out at her place, we strolled down the boardwalk to await the fireworks.

And it starts with a burst of colour and smoke!

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Fireworks, fireworks & more fireworks.

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This dazzling fireworks display definitely ended our holiday on a high note. Talk about going out with a bang – doesn’t get much better than this!

La Renaissance Patisserie & Cafe
47 Argyle St
The Rocks NSW 2000
Australia

The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room
225 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia

Day 2 in Sydney – Sydney Fish Market & Rockpool

We designated Day 2 of our time in Sydney for wandering around, given that it is a Friday, and our friends in Sydney were all working and could only meet us that evening or the next day.

We began the day with a visit to the Sydney Fish Market in the late morning, so we could grab brunch at the market. When I think of fish markets, Tsukiji market in Tokyo comes to mind, so when we got to the Sydney Fish Market, I was somewhat disappointed that it seemed to only consist of 2 blocks of shops. I had expected something more sprawling, even if not quite on the same scale as Tsukiji.

The market being rather small-scale aside, it was seafood galore. Each of the shops selling seafood had a wide range of seafood on display.

All kinds of fresh seafood – oysters, shellfish, abalone!

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After wandering around the different shops for a bit, we decided to eat at Peter’s, as that was recommended in a blog I had read, and the life-size statue of Peter (presumably) standing outside of the shop drew me in with how cute it looked.

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Grilled mixed seafood platter, grilled lobster & fried calamari.

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The seafood was fresh, but the cooking methods leave much to be desired. Most of the seafood items were over-cooked, which was a real shame. I would have been happier if I had bought the fresh seafood, and cooked it myself. Sadly, we were staying in a hotel in Sydney instead of a serviced apartment. If our lodging had a kitchen, I would have bought a ton of seafood and experimented with them in a heartbeat!

After the fish market, we decided to simply wander around (somewhat) aimlessly back towards the Pitt Street area for shopping, rather than catch a bus. It was wonderful walking in the sunshine, in no particular hurry.

Darling Harbour/Cocklebay Wharf area.

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After our stroll, B and I split up, and I went shopping while he went to visit some business contacts in North Sydney, and most of my afternoon was whiled away in the shopping district around Pitt Street and it’s surrounding streets. While it was interesting to browse in the shops, there weren’t any particularly interesting brands I discovered. Guess Australian fashion’s not quite my cup of tea.

Before long, it was evening, and time for us to meet our friend C for drinks, followed by dinner. Dinner was at Rockpool, located in a stately old building. Sadly, it was dark by the time we got to the restaurant since it’s autumn/winter and night falls early , and I could not get any decent pictures of its exterior.

Rockpool restaurant entrance.

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The interior of the restaurant was, believe it or not, even darker than it was outside. So, please forgive the upcoming ill-lit photos.

I kid you not. Check out how dark the restaurant was!

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The dinner menu at Rockpool is a semi-degustation menu. It comes with 8 little starter items, the pre-dessert and petit fours which are pre-determined, and diners get to choose the number of mains and desserts they wish to have. The flexibility is great, as you can decide how many mains/desserts you wish to have, and choose what it is that you want.

The way the starters were served was fun and creative, making dinner a bit of a theatrical event. Thumbs up to the team for injecting fun into fine dining!

Starter no. 1 – Prawn tempura with daikon & soy. Crispy and light bite-sized morsel.

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We were instructed not to eat the leaf on the plate that the prawn tempura was served on, and seconds later, the reason was revealed.

Starter no. 2 – Charcoal grilled prawn with shiso & nam prik.

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The grilling was finished at the table, and the prawn served on the leaf mentioned earlier. The prawn was succulent and juicy, and though like the first dish, it is (obviously) a prawn dish, the texture and flavour of the 2 dishes couldn’t be more different.

Starter no. 3 – Chicken wing with egg batter & Komi butter.

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The chicken wing was crispy, and the sauce added a fragrant creamy touch. Perfect indulgent combination when you are only eating a small tasting portion, but I imagine I would be quite buttered-out if I had to eat an entire portion of it.

Starter no. 4 – Mini bahn mi.

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This was probably my favorite dish of the meal. The little bahn mi burger was sooooo cute, and light and fluffy. The chefs were also really accommodating. The original bahn mi comes with pork belly, but they replaced the pork belly with fish for me when informed of my dietary preferences. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the pork belly version of the bahn mi in the background.

Starter no. 5 – Mini chirashi zushi.

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Once again, top marks for presentation, serving the mini deconstructed chirashi zushi on a shell. The sashimi was fresh, and the kimchi that accompanied it was surprisingly good. Although I usually avoid kimchi like the plague, I finished every bit of this dish. This dish gave the bahn mi a run for its money as my favorite dish of the meal.

Starter no. 6 – Spanner crab with scallop mousse on a piece of steamed bun.

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This was somewhat of a miss. The entire dish was just a tad too soggy and mushy, and I couldn’t distinguish between the crab, the scallop mousse and the bun.

Starter no. 7 – Yellow-eyed mullet with clams and parsley butter.

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The fish was cooked just right, but what stood out more was the sake-flavoured clam!

Starter no. 8 – Honey and spelt bread served with Rockpool butter and ricotta.

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The combination of the bread subtly flavoured with honey and the butter was perfect. The Ricotta was a bit of a disappointment, and we gave up on it after trying just a little bit.

Mains – B’s pigeon zheng shui dan.

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We were very amused by how Chinese this dish was. It was essentially braised pigeon, served with steamed egg custard made with pigeon broth. I had a little taste of the pigeon and am pleased to report that it was tender and flavourful.

Mains – Laurel smoked eight treasure quail in Szechuan broth that C and I both opted for.

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So we thought we were amused by B’s pigeon dish, but that amusement paled in comparison with how we felt when we saw this dish. This dish reminded us so much of lotus leaf wrapped rice that you typically find in Chinese dim sum restaurants that we couldn’t stop laughing throughout our main. Problem was, with all that laughing, I don’t remember very much about this dish other than that it was quite delicious.

B also had a second main, the lamb, but it was simply impossible to get even a half-decent photo of it, so no photo of that dish (sorry, folks). B did mention that he would recommend the lamb to others visiting the restaurant.

When it came to time to take orders for desserts, B threw in the towel, leaving C and I to soldier on, and order a dessert each. But before we had dessert proper, we all had a pre-dessert to cleanse the palate.

Pre-dessert – Refreshing yogurt sorbet.

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My dessert – Strawberries & cream ricotta parfait.

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The green sorbet was the surprise factor in this dessert. It turned out to be parsley flavoured sorbet, and though I consumed quite a few spoonful trying to figure out what it is, once I did, the thought of eating a parsley-based dessert was too strange for me to finish the rest of the sorbet.

The meal at Rockpool was extremely fun, and I enjoyed it a lot more then I expected to. I had thought that I would be disappointed given how wonderful the meal the previous night was, but I wasn’t! The meals were completely different, with Rockpool being more modern fusion and Tetsuya being more modern Japanese. Granted, the Tetsuya meal was definitely better, but with it being twice the price of the meal at Rockpool, it’d better be better.

I would recommend Rockpool to anyone looking for a fine-dining experience that does not break the bank. If dinner’s not your kind of thing, Rockpool also does a very reasonably priced lunch.

Sydney Fish Market
Pyrmont Bridge Rd
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Australia

Rockpool
11 Bridge Street
Sydney, Australia