Taipei 101

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Another regular lunch brought us to the Taipei 101 restaurant opposite Queensbay Mall. This time, we have 4 mouths to feed and satisfy.

The first dish is the Popcorn Chicken Rice (盐酥鸡饭, RM7.50). Popcorn chicken is essentially small popcorn-sized chicken bits, deep fried in boiling oil. This meal is served with a soy egg (卤蛋), soup and rice.
Likewise, the Popcorn Chicken Noodle (盐酥鸡面, RM7.50) is the noodle version of the previous dish, where the rice is substituted with noodles. I have no qualms with less bea sprouts, but the amount of noodles is quite disappointing.
As for the bento set Deep Fried Pork Rib Rice (花莲炸排骨饭, RM7.90), it is not much closer to satisfactory. The pork rib cutlets are tough to chew upon. I am also convinced that the food portion has shrunk over the months.
Trying something different, the Old Cucumber Spare Rib Soup (黄瓜排骨酥汤, RM7.50) is probably the lesser among the evils. This dish consists of a bowl of old cucumber soup with little pork, a plate of braised vegetable and a bowl of rice. Although not terrible per se, it is just a normal dish yet overpriced.
As for the drinks, we had the Pearl Milk Tea (招牌珍珠奶茶, RM3.90), Nut Coffee (咖啡, RM4.90), Green Apple Pearl Milk Tea (青苹果珍珠奶茶, RM3.90) and Papaya Milk Shake (木瓜牛奶, RM4.50).
I wish Taipei 101 starts to realize that its food (in terms of taste and quantity) is going downhill. If this trend continues, we probably cease to be regulars and need to dine elsewhere.

Queens Food Market

A day-long visit to the Borders bookstore and a late night movie at Queensbay Mall prompted me to have my dinner at the Queens Food Market on level 3.

My choice of the day was the XO Minced Chicken Rice (XO酱肉碎饭, RM6.90) from the i Tasty Taiwanese stall. Usually, this dish is served with noodles instead. However because it was getting late and noodles were sold out, the employee asked if she could substitute with rice instead, which I consented. Normally, you would not see this dish on the menu.
The XO Minced Chicken Rice came in a decent portion. The XO sauce was quite savory, but I would attribute this to the clever addition of MSG. The minced meat was reasonably tender, while the bean curd cubes tasted surprisingly nice.
Besides that, the dish was also served with a small serving of green vegetable and one half boiled egg.

The price was considered reasonable given its location in a popular mall. I would probably return again, most likely for the affordability and convenience rather than taste.

Pizza Hut

To me, Pizza Hut is less of a pizza parlor and more of a fast food place. Yes, it provides table service, but the service is so poor that it is effectively self-service.

Anyway, we dropped by the outlet in Queensbay Mall. We wanted to try the Meaty Deluxe (RM29.90) set meal which is on promotion. The set meal comes with a regular-sized pizza, 2 bowls of Soup-Of-The-Day, 4 pieces of Garlic Breadstix, and 2 drinks.

For the pizza, we ordered the Chicken Supreme. For RM1.00, the pizza can be upgraded to "cheesy lava stuffed crust", which we did for the heck of it. Apart from its "starfish" shape, we were not all too impressed with the taste. Perhaps the meatballs on the "ears" were something worthwhile the price.
Next came the Soup-Of-The-Day, Garlic Breadstix, and drinks (Pepsi and 7-up Revive). All in all, the food here is "mass-produced", so you can expect how it tastes like.
To wrap things up, we chilled our palate with some ice cream. I ordered the Double Delight (RM3.80) while my partner ordered the Triple Pleasure (RM5.80). Yeah, they look pretty nice on camera, but they are made from cheap Nestle ice cream nevertheless.

The Chicken Rice Shop

The Chicken Rice Shop is a place to go for supposedly tastier chicken rice at the as-a-matter-of-factly inflated price. But it's not easy to find a cheaper chicken rice place in a shopping mall like Queensbay Mall, so we have to settle for it.
I ordered the a Noodle Set (RM13.00). This set came with a choice of noodles, some Nyonya Pai Tee, soft drink and dessert.
For the noodles, I decided on the Special Hong Hong Beef Stew Noodles. The sauce was a little diluted, but the beef stew was reasonable.
As for the two pieces of Nyonya Pai Tee, the shells are quite crunchy. But then again, the ingredients are cheap stuff, so I am not making a big fuss over it.
The dessert was the Rainbow Delight Dessert. Basically, it's just an assortment of colored jelly in syrup, served cold. I honestly think that they are better off giving a scoop Nestlé ice cream instead.
My lunchmate ordered from the à la carte menu instead: Shredded Chicken Noodles (RM7.90). The noodles and soup were fine, but the amount of chicken is simply laughable.
For drinks, I selected Mirinda Orange while my lunchmate went for Milo (RM3.90).
We wouldn't come again unless we really have to.

McDonald's

Once in a blue moon (which isn't really rare when the sky is polluted with dust particles), McDonald's rolls out its McDonald's McDoubles promotion. You got it right: The same burgers from the menu that you know and love, with twice the number of patties.

Therefore, the usual McChicken is now "upgraded" to Double McChicken (2 chicken patties), Filet-O-Fish to Double Filet-O-Fish (2 fish fillet) etc.

I am never a fan of McDonald's, but curiosity got the better of me when this seasonal promotion came along.

The monster that I tackled today was the aptly-named Mega Mac. For the à la carte option (without fries and drink), it was priced at RM10.60 compared to the usual RM8.30.
The Mega Mac is made of 3 layers of sesame bun, 4 grilled beef patties, a slice of cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickles and onions. It stands about 8 centimeters tall, but most of the height is just compressible bun.
The Mega Mac is a monster for the Average Joe, but for someone who has battled far worse burger-eating competitions, this is just a piece of cake. Or burger in this case.

The taste was just normal. Same ingredients, same outcome. It seems that McDonald's outlets in Malaysia are very thrifty with their special sauce. As a result, the beef patties were quite dry.

Mega Mac was served in a large cardboard box which says "Size Does Matter". Interpretation of this phrase is rather subjective, so I leave it to you to ponder.
The photo on the top side of the box shows how Mega Mac should ideally look like . The reality couldn't be further from the truth. The lettuce was just messed up. But that was kind of expected, actually.
How's that from a calorie standpoint? You know what, if you have to count calories, the only thing that you can safely consume is the no-sugar no-creamer black coffee.

Cintra Food Corner

In Penang, there is no good reason to wait till the Dragon Boat Festival to savor the fragrant and satisfying meal of Chinese dumplings (肉粽). A wise Penangite will just head over to the neighborhood shop at Lebuh Cintra, duly named Cintra Food Corner (日本街肉粽茶餐室).
The good thing about Cintra Food Corner is that they serve delicious (and possibly addictive) dumplings without asking customers to wait for long. The shop is not jam-packed considering its reputation, probably because many people order take-aways. The only obstacle to getting here is the difficulty in finding a legal parking space.

Travel advice: The Penang Municipal Hall issues fines to illegally parked vehicles, regardless whether it is midnight or whether the offender is a half-Penangite.

Back to food... Arguably the most iconic dumpling that they have to offer is the Special Golden Dumpling (双黄加料大肉粽, RM6.00). But since I was dining alone, eating this will spell the end of my eating career for today. Therefore, I opted for the smaller but still satisfying Hokkien Dumpling (福建肉粽, RM3.50).
This sounds unhealthy but is true: The secret to a delicious dumpling is the fatty, oily pork inside! Just pry open the pyramid-shaped dumpling and see how this magic works! The oil from the fats seeps through the glutinous rice to enhance the flavor of the entire dumpling. Once you pick up the fork, there is no good reason to put it down until the last grain of rice is gone!
I also ordered a serving of Famous Yam Cake (驰名芋糕, RM2.20). It is not called "famous" for nothing. The texture of the taro cake is soft and starchy, giving a "light" feeling in the mouth. It is slightly on the expensive side, but when you put the word "famous" in front of something you are trying to sell, the price is pretty justifiable.
Not to forget a simple but elegant dish, Delicious Red Bean Soup (美味甜品红豆沙, RM1.50). Do not be fooled by such a commonplace dessert. Cintra Food Corner does not kid around with the word "delicious". The natural sweetness from the red beans makes the soup a perfect conclusion to a very gratifying yet affordable meal!

Soul Kitchen Trattoria

Soul Kitchen Trattoria is a cozy dining place in the heart of George Town's old shop-houses district. Owned and operated by a German-Malaysian couple (who are very friendly by the way), it also provides homestay accommodation for backpackers.
A trattoria is an Italian-style cafe that is usually easy-going and has no printed menu. True to its meaning, the daily dish choices in Soul Kitchen Trattoria are simply scribbled on the blackboard. Nice handwriting though.
When Michele (who serves the tables while her husband manages the kitchen) recommended the Cannelloni (RM15.00), I was delighted to go with it. The Cannelloni is a type of elongated pasta baked in a bowl. The dish is covered in cheese fillings and tomato sauce. It is similar in appearance to lasagna.
From the moment I took the first bite, I immediately knew that I made the right choice! The layers of pasta and cheese fillings was so rich in flavor that I did not leave a single crumb in the end.
When I was done with the Cannelloni, I asked for a piece of Cheese Cake (RM8.00). The cake tastes reasonably good, but I wish that the trattoria can do a little more justice to the size of each slice.
For drinks, I had the Fruity Yoghurt (RM7.00). The actual mixture of fruit varies by day. Though I did not ask, I believe it contained pineapples, mangoes and oranges.
Soul Kitchen Trattoria is really a special place to check out when you are in downtown George Town!

Queens Food Market

Before catching a late night movie at Queensbay Mall, we headed to the food court to fill our stomach before the 2-hour ordeal later.

From the Little Wok stall, we tried the Spicy Fried Rice (RM7.90). It was served in a small metal skillet, despite the fact that the rice was not fried in it. I think the skillet was just for show, but this failed to impress. The only consolation was the relatively generous portion of rice.
The other dish from another stall was the Grilled Sambal Fish (RM13.50). When the stall does not specify the type of fish used in grills, it is almost certainly ray. No complains about it because it was reasonably well-cooked. The chili paste was also quite spicy, giving it a fiery thrill for the tongue. This dish was also served with water spinach and rice.