Hard Rock Cafe

Special thanks to Hard Rock Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

Hard Rock Hotel is a resort in Batu Ferringhi. Located near the western end of this popular beach, the 4-star hotel features a water park with kid-friendly swimming pools, water slides and splash pads. The hotel has three major restaurants: Hard Rock Cafe, Starz Diner and Pizzeria.
Hard Rock Cafe is where the brand all started (in the United Kingdom, despite being an American brand). The restaurant's ambience revolves around rock and roll theme. Numerous pieces of musical memorabilia are prominently displayed throughout the 2 floors. Under the fancy chandelier is a small stage where live music is performed every evening.
From 2 October 2017 to 12 November 2017, Hard Rock Cafe is launching a corporate-wide initiative called Vegetarian Awareness Month. A menu of 5 vegetarian dishes is prepared to raise awareness on the health benefits of a meat-free diet.

The most popular choice is the Spinach, Potato & Chickpea Burger (RM35.00). As the name implies, the 6-ounce patty is made from spinach, red skin potato, chickpeas and spices. Also sandwiched between two halves of a burger bun are arugula (rocket salad) and cucumber slices that resemble cheese. Steak fries and spicy yogurt sauce are served on the side.
My personal favorite dish this evening is the Grilled Ratatouille Wrap (RM33.00). Ratatouille is a traditional French dish of vegetables like eggplant, squash, tomato, onions and arugula. Sautéed with olive oil, the vegetables retain their natural sweetness and crunchiness. The vegetables are wrapped in flour tortilla and then dressed in spicy mayonnaise.
The ratatouille also comes with a bowl of garden salad, comprising of fresh vegetables like onions, carrots, arugula and red leaf lettuce. Croutons are also thrown into the mix. Diners can also request for homemade salad dressings like balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard and Thousand Island dressing.
Camp Hispanic fields another finger food called Sweet Potato And Black Bean Tacos (RM33.00). This dish features three pieces of corn tortillas, which are reasonably firm but not quite as crispy as hard-shell tacos. Inside each taco are sweet potatoes, black turtle beans, cabbage, guacamole, feta cheese and chili sauce. There is also a bowl of salad on the side.
Using flour tortilla, the Grilled Hummus Quesadillas (RM35.00) is filled with spinach, sun-dried tomato and black olives. The vegetarian quesadilla also contains garlic and herb hummus; the latter is easily mistaken as guacamole. Spicy sauce gives a sharp twist to this snack. Again, a bowl of vegetable salad is provided.
Moving on, Quinoa And Arugula Salad (RM35.00) is one of the healthiest choices this evening. Quinoa is an edible, cereal-like crop from South America that is rich in protein and dietary fiber. The salad also contains arugula, candied pecans, sun-dried tomato, chopped coriander and shredded Brussels sprouts. Grated feta cheese and tangy citrus vinaigrette assimilate all ingredients together.
The bar at Hard Rock Cafe is stocked with numerous labels of wines and spirits. Draft beers like Carlsberg, Asahi and Hoegaarden come in handy as Oktoberfest is just around the corner. The bar has also shortlisted a handful of cocktails to go with this month's vegetarian menu.
The first drink, Mule Over My Rosemary (RM44.00), is a concoction of gin, ginger beer, Monin watermelon fruit purée and fresh lime juice. The drink is presented in a Mason jar and is garnished with fresh rosemary herb. Like many Hard Rock Cafe collectibles, the Mason jar on sale for RM35.00 with purchase of any cocktail.
The Heat Is On (RM44.00) is the next drink on the cocktail lineup. While its appearance and taste are similar to mojito, the ingredients are starkly different. Using vodka as the base, the cocktail is sweetened with Monin almond orgeat, and then infused with jalapeño peppers for the spicy aftertaste. Meanwhile, lemon and mint leaves lend their refreshing aromas.
A shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey mixed with Red Bull energy drink results in Yellowson (RM44.00). This cocktail owes its yellowish hue to the latter, whose distinctive scent incites polarizing responses among different people. Cherry and orange wedge are part of the drink's finishing touch.
Cool As A Cucumber (RM44.00) is a tequila-based drink blessed with cooling freshness of Monin cucumber syrup. In addition, a cucumber spear literally sticks out of the Mason jar. Grapefruit juice gives an alluring reddish color, while mint leaves provide the refreshing breath. Salt is applied on the rim to give this cocktail a sharper taste.
Also prepared in a salt-rimmed glass, Citrus Mary (RM48.00) comprises of Absolut Citron vodka, Cointreau triple sec and Bloody Mary mix. Wedges of lemon and orange give this drink a piquant appeal. Meanwhile, green olives and celery serve primarily aesthetic roles.
Many of these vegetarian dishes contain cheese, but vegan versions are also available upon request. Hard Rock Cafe's kitchen closes at 10:30pm but the bar remains open till closing time. Diners can also participate in an ongoing raffle with a chance to win a brand-new Triumph Bonneville Bobber. To qualify, customers just need to spend RM250.00 or more on a single receipt. This contest runs till 14 December 2017.
Name: Hard Rock Cafe
Address: Hard Rock Hotel Penang, 11000 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-886-8050
Business hours: 11:30am-2:00am (Sunday-Thursday), 11:30am-2:30am (Friday-Saturday)
Website: http://penang.hardrockhotels.net/dining-nightlife/hard-rock-cafe-penang
Coordinates: 5.46745 N, 100.24176 E
Directions: From Tanjung Bungah, travel west towards Batu Ferringhi. Hard Rock Hotel is approximately 6 kilometers from Tanjung Bungah's floating mosque, located on the right of the road. Hard Rock Cafe is located on the Ground Floor, with a separate entrance to the right of the hotel lobby. There are parking spaces in front of the hotel.

Morganfield's

Special thanks to Morganfield's for extending this food review invitation.

Morganfield's, home of Sticky Bones, has a large outlet at Gurney Paragon Mall. Located in front of St. Jo's, the restaurant benefits from its close proximity to the water fountain as well as from unobstructed view of the sea.
Morganfield's dining area places emphasis on wood and brick elements to present a rustic appearance. The indoor section is air-conditioned and is more suitable for family dining. Meanwhile, cooling breeze in the evening makes al fresco dining a viable option too. Customers who come for drinks can also mingle at the bar.
For the month of October 2017, Morganfield's is rolling out the annual "Porktoberfest" menu. Inspired by the popular beer festival in Munich, Morganfield's attempts to create the festive spirit of Oktoberfest here in Malaysia. Popular German delicacies, particularly those from Bavaria, are featured on the promotional menu.
Crispy Pork Knuckle (RM99.90) is one of the most iconic dishes of Bavarian cuisine. Known as "Schweinshaxe" in German, this dish centers at a large ham hock (front limb of the swine) with red skin mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and coleslaw on the side. Serving size is too large for most people to handle alone, so get a partner in order to tackle this dish properly.
Roasted in an oven, the pork attains an outer surface that straddles between crispy and crunchy sensations. Meanwhile, the inner section contains a mixture of lean meat and ligaments. Cured with salt, the pork imparts appetizing saltiness on the tongue. This delicious knuckle goes fairly well with onion gravy.

Pork Meatloaf (RM34.90) is ground pork made in the shape of a loaf. The meatloaf is cut into thick slices and is grilled gently to retain delectable juices. Taste is further enhanced with creamy mushroom gravy and chopped parsley. Also included is spätzle, which means "little sparrows". This egg noodle is commonly served in southern Germany and other countries in Central Europe.
Next, Porktoberfest Sausage Platter (RM39.90) features four variants of cocktail sausages. Longanisa and Spicy Longanisa are Spanish in origin. Meanwhile, Cabanossi traces its origins to Poland while Debrecener hails from Hungary. Freshly seasoned ground pork is stuffed into chewy casings made from intestines, and then grilled to the right doneness. The sausages rest on a bed of mashed potatoes and are topped with onion gravy and chopped parsley.
Porktober-Feast (RM189.90) combines all three dishes on a large metal platter. The humongous portion is nominally meant for 3-4 people, but even 4 diners may find finishing the meal to be a daunting feat. I cannot recommend the Porktober-Feast highly enough.
Porktober-Feast also includes extra side dishes such as corn on the cob, French fries and garden salad. I think the fries go well with onion gravy, but ketchup and chili sauce also make fine condiments. At the meantime, garden salad is best paired with aioli dressing.
"Prost" is what Germans say when chinking beer glasses. In the spirit of Oktoberfest, Morganfield's is offering 1-litre draught beers at discounted prices: Carlsberg (RM69.90), Connor's (RM69.90), Asahi (RM74.90), Kronenbourg Blanc (RM74.90), Magners (RM79.90), Erdinger (RM79.90) and Hoegaarden (RM79.90). Each order includes a collector's edition beer stein with intricate decorations.
Carlsberg Draught is the most popular beer in Malaysia. Founded in Copenhagen, this Danish pilsner has many licensed breweries worldwide.
Connor's Original Stout is inspired by the original British Stout Porter. Black in color, the stout is notable for its creamy head and balanced overall taste.
Asahi Draught, or more specifically Asahi Super Dry, is one of the bestselling beers in Japan. Unlike most of its Japanese competitors, this lager moves away from heavy malt flavors. This makes Asahi Super Dry more palatable to casual drinkers.
Hailing from France, Kronenbourg Blanc carries fruity overtones with a subtle hint of citrus. This wheat beer best serves drinkers with an affinity to sweetness.
Morganfield's Porktoberfest menu is offered for the entire month of October 2017. On the evening of 21 October 2017, the Gurney Paragon outlet is hosting an Oktoberfest party. Customers can expect to see barmaids in dirndl dresses, live band performances, as well as sausage-eating and beer-drinking competitions. Similar events are also held at Malacca and Da Men on 11 October 2017 and 28 October 2017 respectively.

Name: Morganfield's
Address: L1-01, Level L1, Gurney Paragon Mall, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-609-5401
Business hours: 11:00am-1:00am
Website: http://www.morganfields.com
Coordinates: 5.43645 N, 100.31197 E
Directions: Morganfield's is located at Level 1 of Gurney Paragon Mall. The restaurant is in front of St. Jo's and next to the water fountain. Gurney Paragon has a multi-storey parking garage.

Super Fish Noodle Box

Special thanks to Super Fish Noodle Box for extending this food review invitation.

Occupying an old shop just opposite of 1st Avenue Mall, Super Fish Noodle Box (面工坊) is a new eatery that just opened several months ago. The restaurant is adjacent to Kedai Makanan Satu Ratus Empat Puluh Dua (142社尾饭店), a popular mixed rice shop.
My meal begins with an appetizer, Golden Fish Skin (黄金鱼皮, RM9.90). Pieces of fish skin are coated with flour batter and deep-fried to golden perfection. Salted egg sauce is a vital element of this crispy snack. Sweet and creamy, the dipping sauce accentuates the taste of fish skin to a whole new level.
As the shop's name implies, noodle dishes are the main focus of this restaurant. There are 9 basic sets to choose from. For instance, Taiwanese Crispy Chicken Noodle (台式香酥鸡排面, RM9.50) comes with a piece of fried chicken fillet. Coated with bread crumbs, the fillet is made saltier than usual because it is meant to be eaten with noodle.
Spicy and sour soup (酸辣汤) is the suggested soup to go with Taiwanese Crispy Chicken Noodle, but customers are free to pick any type of soup such as clear soup (清汤), tomyam (东炎) and milky XO (酒香). Unlike most noodle shops, Super Fish Noodle Box cooks every serving of noodle to order.
There are several types of noodle like Maggie mee (快熟面) and bee hoon (米粉). By default, Taiwanese Crispy Chicken Noodle comes with crab stick (蟹柳), bean curd (豆皮) and vegetable (油麦). Additional ingredients such as hot dog (香肠) and grouper fish (石斑鱼) are charged separately.
The signature dish here is the Assorted Meat Malahotpot Meal (双人肉料麻辣香锅套餐, RM29.90). Inspired by the fiery appeal of Chongqing Hot Pot, this dish is served dry instead. Like its soupy cousin, this unique delicacy tantalizes the taste buds with spicy and numbing effects. These sensations are attributed to the presence of dried chili (辣椒干) and Sichuan pepper (花椒) respectively.
There are a variety of ingredients in the pot. Crispiness is provided by bean curd and potato (马铃薯). The latter is fried beforehand and may be easily mistaken as bamboo shoots. Meanwhile, lotus root (莲藕) and peanuts also contribute their crunchy textures. Other notable ingredients are chicken slices (鸡肉片), hot dog, fish balls (白鱼丸), enoki mushrooms (金针菇), shimeji mushrooms (蚧味菇), eggplant (茄子), okra (羊角豆), coriander (香菜) and sesame seeds (芝麻).
Moving on to drinks, Nanyang Kopi (南洋咖啡, RM2.50) is brewed from actual coffee beans, not from instant coffee. The coffee's bitterness is somewhat masked by sweetness of condensed milk.
Should customers prefer milk tea, Nanyang Teh (南洋奶茶, RM2.50) is also available.
As for iced drinks, Matcha Milk (抹茶奶, RM5.00) is a recommended choice. The grassy aroma of green tea complements its milkiness pretty well.
Overall, I find the Assorted Meat Malahotpot Meal to be the most appealing dish at Super Fish Noodle Box. The Golden Fish Skin is a close second. Being situated at a prime location in George Town, I feel that the restaurant's pricing is pretty affordable.

Name: Super Fish Noodle Box (面工坊)
Address: 69, Jalan Magazine, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-261-6918
Business hours: 11:00am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-11:00pm, closed on Wednesdays and 4th Thursday of the month
Website: http://www.superfishnoodlebox.com
Coordinates: 5.41233 N, 100.33195 E
Directions: Super Fish Noodle Box is located at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), approximately 200 meters from the junction with Jalan C.Y. Choy. The eatery is located on the left side of this one-way street. There is an outdoor parking space on the opposite side of Magazine Road. The parking fee here is RM3.00 per entry.

68 Sotong Bakar

Special thanks to 68 Sotong Bakar for extending this food review invitation.

Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney (新关仔角小贩中心) is the home of many food stalls, one of which is 68 Sotong Bakar (68美味香鱿鱼). This family business is also known as Penang Gurney Drive Sotong Bakar (槟城新关仔角炭烧鱿鱼). As the name implies, the stall specializes in grilled cuttlefish (烧鱿鱼).
The preparation process begins with dried cuttlefish from Vietnam. The mantle (body) is first removed from the head, and then roasted gently so that the cuttlefish becomes less leathery. Next using a hand-crank steamroller, the cuttlefish is flattened and stretched into long, thin sheets.
When ordered by customers, the cuttlefish is cooked over burning charcoal for a second time. Charcoal is generally preferred because it imparts a certain degree of toastiness that cooking gas cannot provide.
When fully cooked, the cuttlefish attains chewy texture that lingers as long as it remains warm. Presented on a wax paper bowl, the cuttlefish is usually eaten with homemade chili sauce with crushed peanuts. There are two serving sizes: RM5.00 and RM10.00.
68 Sotong Bakar also accommodates take-out orders especially from tourists who wish to take this delicacy home. To this end, ready-to-eat cuttlefish is vacuum-sealed such that it remains chewy. The shelf life is around one week. No refrigeration is needed.
Name: 68 Sotong Bakar (68美味香鱿鱼)
Address: Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-488-9229
Business hours: 5:00pm-10:30pm, closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.43998 N, 100.30888 E
Directions: Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney is located at the northern end of Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney). 68 Sotong Bakar is at the middle of three sections of Anjung Gurney. Street parking is available along Gurney Drive and in nearby shopping malls like Gurney Plaza.

73 Asam Laksa

Special thanks to 73 Asam Laksa for extending this food review invitation.

Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney (新关仔角小贩中心) is a large hawker center near Gurney Plaza. Taking advantage of the cool evening breeze, this eatery along Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney) is popular among locals and tourists alike.
73 Asam Laksa (73亚参叻沙) serves one of Penang's most iconic dishes: asam laksa (亚参叻沙). This family business has been operating for more than 30 years now. "73" is the stall's original lot number at the former Gurney Drive hawker center. However, the current stall has been arranged slightly out of sequence now.
The essence of asam laksa is the rich broth which contains flaked fish. Unlike most stalls in Penang, 73 Asam Laksa opts to use more tamarind (asam) so that the broth is sourer (as opposed to being sweeter) on the spectrum. The type of fish used is not fixed; it really depends on what the freshest catch is. Possible choices are tuna, sardine and bigeye kingfish (大目鱼).
As per tradition, asam laksa is served with thick rice vermicelli (粗米粉). Other ingredients used to prepare this street food are cucumber, pineapple, shallots, lettuce, ginger flower (姜花), bird's eye chili (小辣椒) and mint leaves.
Asam laksa comes in two sizes: small (RM4.50) and large (RM5.50). Since not every customer is in favor of adding belacan (fermented shrimp paste, 虾膏), this pungent condiment is provided separately on a spoon. I personally think that belacan is vital to accentuate the broth's overall taste.
The number of stalls at Anjung Gurney total to nearly a hundred. The hawker center as a whole covers virtually all street food that you can possibly find in Penang. In fact, there are often multiple stalls selling the same dish. Besides asam laksa, other delicacies here include char koay teow (炒粿条) and grilled cuttlefish (烧鱿鱼).

Name: 73 Asam Laksa (73亚参叻沙)
Address: Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-550-1915
Business hours: 4:00pm-10:30pm, closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays
Website: N/A
Coordinates: 5.43999 N, 100.30893 E
Directions: Pusat Penjaja Anjung Gurney is located at the northern end of Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney). 73 Asam Laksa is at the middle of three sections of Anjung Gurney. Street parking is available along Gurney Drive and in nearby shopping malls like Gurney Plaza.


Repotblic

Special thanks to Repotblic Hotpot Restaurant for extending this food review invitation.

Despite its relative seclusion, Jalan Chow Thye appears to draw a disproportionate number of eateries. One of the restaurants here is Repotblic Hotpot Restaurant (益锅熟火锅店), located roughly halfway between Janxden Greenlife and Isaribi Tei. As the name suggests, Repotblic caters to the steamboat-seeking crowd.
The front section of the restaurant carries a brick theme, presenting a sense of coziness. As steamboat is the main attraction here, an induction cooker is subtly built into each dining table.
Should customers prefer a more casual dining setting, the tatami room (和室) provides low tables with extra legroom underneath. Next to the wall covered with artificial turf is a long table with bar stools. There is also a small room for customers who require some degree of privacy.
Our meal begins with an appetizer: Curry Fishballs (咖喱鱼丸, RM8.90). The curry is quite spicy thanks to fiery pungency of chili powder. I also appreciate the springy texture of fish balls. This appetizer is served in a pot whose lid resembles a cat.
Another recommended appetizer is Fried Chicken (香脆炸鸡, RM8.90). Coated with bread crumbs, the light crisp is unlike anything that I have tasted before. Chicken thigh is used so that the flesh is juicier. I also find the crispy skin to be particularly scrumptious.
While waiting for steamboat to be served, Fried Taiwan Sausages (炸台湾香肠, RM5.90) is a good way to keep the appetite up. Taiwan sausage differs from regular sausage in the fact that it is sweet. Taiwan sausage is also surprisingly popular among children.
Moving on to steamboat, Repotblic prepares its stock from old hens (老母鸡) as opposed to pork bones. Soup choices are Corn Chicken Soup (玉米香鸡汤, RM13.90), Herbal Chicken Soup (药材鸡汤, RM14.90), Tomato Vege Soup (番茄咸菜汤, RM14.90), Kimchi Soup (滋味泡菜汤, RM16.90), Tomyam Soup (冬荫鲜味汤, RM16.90) and Milk Cheese Soup (牛奶芝士汤, RM17.90). The restaurant can also prepare the vegetarian versions upon special requests.
I find Tomyam Soup to be too spicy for me. Nevertheless, the level of spiciness can be adjusted beforehand. On the other hand, Milk Cheese Soup suits my palate better. This soup is quite filling, so try not to consume too much soup at the beginning. Mixing both soups together is not a bad idea too. In fact, customers can enjoy dual flavors (鸳鸯汤底) for only RM5.90 more. Another crucial aspect of steamboat is condiments. Shown here are homemade chili sauce, fried garlic and soy sauce.
As for steamboat ingredients, there are combination sets like Single Hotpot (RM17.90 for 1 person) and Value Hotpot Set (RM52.90 for 3-4 persons). The soup needs to be ordered separately. Today's meal comes from the à la carte menu: sliced pork (猪肉片, RM8.90), homemade meatballs (益锅熟肉丸, RM7.90), pork meatballs (肉丸, RM3.90), white prawns (大白虾, RM13.90), octopus (章鱼, RM9.90), shiitake mushrooms (花菇, RM4.90), abalone mushrooms (鲍鱼菇, RM4.90), enoki mushrooms (金针菇, RM3.90), lady's fingers (羊角豆, RM4.90), broccoli (西兰花, RM4.90), small cabbage (小白菜, RM4.90), mini corn (小玉米, RM3.90), stuffed cheese balls (爆芝丸, RM8.90), fried beancurd (炸腐皮, RM4.90) and quail eggs (鸟蛋, RM3.90).
Besides steamboat, Repotblic also offers Blue Fragrant Nasi Lemak Rice (蓝香海鲜椰浆饭, RM14.90) for diners who prefer lighter meals. In this menu, rice is flavored with coconut milk and is dyed blue using extract of butterfly-pea flowers. Each plate of rice comes with any two of the following: Fried Chicken, Curry Chicken (咖喱鸡), Curry Prawns (红辣虾), Fried Fish (炸鱼) and Rempah Pork (咖喱肉). Anchovies and sambal (chili paste) are served in separate saucers.
Rempah Pork & Curry Prawn Rice (咖喱肉与红辣虾饭, RM14.90) swaps blue-colored rice for white rice. This dish also comes with jiew hu char (鱿鱼炒), which is made from shredded cuttlefish, jicama and mushrooms. Of particular appeal is Rempah Pork, a Nyonya (Peranakan) recipe which resembles babi pongteh (豆酱焖猪).
Switching gears to drinks, Apple + Pear (苹果 + 雪梨, RM8.90) is a healthy choice as it is blended from actual fruits. As an added bonus, all drinks here are sweetened with stevia instead of sugar.
The glass of Chrysanthemum Tea (枸杞菊花, RM5.90) contains sweet wolfberries (枸杞). Meanwhile, Blue Barley (蓝海薏米, RM5.90) carries an alluring blue layer from butterfly-pea flower.
Meanwhile, Flower Green Tea (花瓣香茶, RM7.90) starts from a bundle of dried tea leaves wrapped around a bulb of dried flowers. When steeped in hot water, the bundle unfurls and causes the flowers to "blossom".

Overall, the food at Repotblic is quite authentic as the preparation process is rather involved. Equally important is the fact that food taste appeals to the mainstream palate. The restaurant also places great emphasis on food presentation. Besides the regular steamboat menu, Repotblic also serves traditional Nyonya dishes as the proprietors wish to share their home recipes (私房菜).

Name: Repotblic Hotpot Restaurant (益锅熟火锅店)
Address: 56, Jalan Chow Thye, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 011-1222-0029
Business hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:00pm-11:00pm (Sunday-Friday), 6:00pm-11:00pm (Saturday)
Website: https://www.facebook.com/repotblic56
Coordinates: 5.42488 N, 100.32067 E
Directions: From Burmah Road (Jalan Burma), turn right to Service Road (Jalan Servis), then right again at Irrawaddy Road (Jalan Irrawadi). At the next crossroad, turn right again to Chow Thye Road (Jalan Chow Thye). Repotblic is one of the shops on the right almost at the end of the road. Street parking is available. There is also a private car park at the back of the restaurant. Admission is free after 6:00pm.