Popilla

Suria KLCC has two food courts: Signatures Food Court on level 2, and Rasa Food Arena on level 4. I find the food at the former more palatable. However, the place is quite crowded throughout the day; finding a vacant table is not an easy task.

Popilla is one of the many stalls at the Signatures Food Court. This kiosk sells Americanized Mexican food such as tacos, burritos, nachos and quesadillas.
We ordered 2 pieces of Tuna Taco (RM5.50 each) and 2 pieces of Cheesy Bean Taco (RM5.90 each). These are hard-shell tacos. I personally prefer the soft-shell type, but it is not available.
The Tuna Taco is better of the two. The taco is filled with minced tuna, diced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, grated cheese and guacamole sauce. I find the tuna is delightfully tasty. I am also a big fan of guacamole, but the amount here is pitifully meager.

As for the Cheesy Bean Taco, it is not as appealing due to lack of flavor. The fillings are made of baked beans and grated cheese. I was hoping to taste pinto beans, but Popilla only uses regular haricot beans. Apart from the beans, the overall taco is quite dry and plain.

For such simple snack food, the price is ridiculously expensive. Even a meal of four tacos is insufficient for one person. I guess when you are selling something in a popular food court, you can raise the price with impunity but need not worry about lack of customers.

US Pizza

I prefer US Pizza over the more well-known ones like Pizza Hut or Domino's Pizza. At US Pizza, the pizza feels more authentic and original, instead of being "adapted" for quick service restaurant (QSR) business.

There are two US Pizza outlets in Penang: Nagore Place and Green Lane. We visited the latter for dinner today. This outlet is located at the end unit of a row of shops next to Gembira Parade. Do not be depressed if you have never heard of Gembira Parade; it is a shanty run-down commercial building with a handful of never-heard-before tenants.
The US Pizza shop is not shanty at all. The dining area is decorated with American memorabilia such as vehicle license plates. As the kitchen occupies half the entire premise, there are hardly enough seats to accommodate 30 people.
Our dinner tonight is the Jumbo Deluxe Crust Pizza (RM32.95). This is a large 13-inch pizza with original hand-tossed crust. The toppings are beef pepperoni, ground beef, chicken chunks, mushrooms, pineapples, tomatoes, onions and cheese.
The crust suits our liking as it has the perfect degree of chewiness. It is also quite crispy towards the sides. As the dough is reasonably thick, the pizza is quite sufficient for two persons.
As for the toppings, the beef pepperoni is quite a delicacy. Cut into thin slices, the light crisp and slightly saltines make the pepperoni a nice add-on to the pizza. Another plus side is that the pineapples and tomatoes are fresh.
For sides, we had a serving of Crazi Garlic Twist (RM3.50) which comes with 4 sticks. Although quite oily, the sensation comes from the garlic butter spread, not from deep-frying (the garlic bread sticks are baked). This is quite a wonderful finger food.
The price is slightly more expensive than other pizza establishment, but this is because US Pizza uses more premium ingredients to prepare its pizzas.

Purple-Houze Café

A follow-up food review invitation from Purple-Houze Café is published here.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

The iconic purple building at Lorong Selamat has changed hands several times: De Title Dinning Cabin, Osthee Hot & Spicy, All Night Cafe. The premise is currently called Purple-Houze Café, a fitting name undoubtedly.
This building was not painted purple on purpose. As a heritage building, the city ordinance does not allow the color to be changed indiscriminately. This works to an advantage because the purple facade serves as a unique landmark on Lorong Selamat.
Purple-Houze is open from 11:00am till the wee hours of 3:00am. Set lunch is available from open till 2:30pm, followed by tea break promotion (20% discount on side orders and desserts) until 5:30pm.
As the business is only one-week old, much of the restaurant (especially the interior) is still in an unprepared state. I believe the proprietor wants a more purplish theme in the dining section as well, but this has yet to be realized.
For my dinner, I ordered the Purple-Houze Special Cheezy (RM9.90). This dish is essentially a cheese omelette with a couple of sausages. A slice of tomato, cucumber and mint leaf serve as garnish.
My original impression of cheese omelette is a layer of fried egg with a cheesy interior. Instead, the omelette merely envelopes a rectangular slice of solid cheddar cheese. The cheese is not molten in any way, therefore does not have the cheesy, sticky sensation often associated to pizza toppings. Since eggs become done quickly, it is impractical to allow the cheese to melt in the process. Instead, I suggest using pre-heated cheese or cheese cream instead as the omelette filling.
The eggs are quite plain and lack any flavor whatsoever. An easy fix is to use chopped onions and pepper to spice it up. Mushrooms and bell peppers also help. For the price tag, I think these are viable options.
The sausages are quite normal; not really bad, but not special either. Since the dish is supposed to be "cheesy", I was hoping that the sausages have cheese fillings too, but they do not.
I ordered a Lemon Cheese Mille Crepe (RM9.90), one of the two types of mille crêpe available today. Although the cake is wrapped on the sides, the top layer has dried up and became hard. In order not to ruin the overall texture, I removed the first layer before consuming the mille crêpe.
Mille crêpe is best enjoyed when cold. The layers are reasonably soft and creamy. Taste is quite pleasant and not overwhelmed by the cheese cream. The portion is slightly small compared to those that I had recently. According to the proprietor, the mille crêpe is sourced from a bakery in Johor. I wonder why it isn't easier to purchase locally in Penang?
I had a glass of Mint Mocha Iced Coffee (RM8.90) as my beverage of choice. The drink is served in a tall glass with a fancy stir stick, most likely for novelty rather than practical reasons. The mocha has a flavorful chocolatey taste, but the caffeine level leaves some room to be desired. A stronger espresso shot is preferable.
The friendly proprietor was present during my visit, and she took the initiative to seek feedback after the meal. According to her, the restaurant is still not fully operational as she is trying to hit the ground running (haphazardly) before Chinese New Year. Future plans involve a proper makeover of the dining area (presumably purplish decorations) and a game room upstairs.

Siam Road Char Koay Teow

The famous Siam Road Char Koay Teow is just a mobile stall at the roadside of Siam Road (Jalan Siam), quite near the intersection with Anson Road (Jalan Anson). Operating for over 30 years at this very same location, the man behind this stall is well into his sixties (hereafter referred to as "old man" since nobody really knows his name), yet there are no signs that he will hang his apron up soon. Actually he does not use an apron, so that was just a metaphor.
The unassuming old man just an average Joe (Sr.) whom you encounter in a typical coffeeshop. Yet throngs of locals and foreigners alike flock to his stall whenever he is in business. The stall opens around 4:00pm till 8:00pm, but don't count on avoiding the "peak hour" because there is none essentially.
Unlike many of his counterparts, the old man uses charcoal instead of gas to fire his wok. The choice of charcoal may be for better food flavor, lower cost, or just because he likes to use a hand fan to fan the fire. Personally I have not reached a definitive conclusion whether charcoal or gas yields better cooking.

Despite the long waiting list, the old man is in no hurry to prepare his char koay teow. To maintain "wok hei" (镬气), he only cooks 2-3 servings at a time. His assistant helps to keep track of orders; not an easily task considering the number of customers and the fact that he does not write anything down.
Due to popularity, the old man's masterpieces are price-wise in the same league as Lorong Selamat's Char Koay Teow and Ah Leng's Char Koay Teow. A so-called large (大) serving of char koay teow costs RM5.50.
Take-away customers have the privilege of watching the old man at work along the roadside. Whereas for dine-in customers, there is an old coffee shop, Kedai Kopi Hock Ban Hin (福万兴茶餐室), just across the street.
The shop is usually full house whenever the stall is open. Not surprisingly, 99.99% of customers in the coffee shop are waiting for the Siam Road Char Koay Teow stall. In fact, the coffee shop seems to be taking advantage of the stall's popularity. The price of drinks is inflated compared to other similar coffee shops.
After waiting around 30 minutes (which is fortunate as some people reported more than an hour of waiting time), the char koay teow dish is finally served. The plate contains three large prawns, some cockles (蚶), a good amount of Chinese sausage (腊肠), chicken eggs, pork lard (猪油渣), bean sprouts (豆芽), Chinese chives (韭菜) and garlic. Regrettably, the RM5.50 "large" plate of char koay teow is what outstation folks call "kiddie size".
The flat noodles are indeed springy and delightful to the palate. "Wok hei" is definitely present in the cooking process. Spiciness level is considered moderate, right within my comfort zone. An unfortunate observation is that some flat noodles are still clumped together in neat layers, which begs the question what the old man is doing while "taking his sweet time".
The prawns are fresh and crunchy, but still inferior to Ah Leng's in terms of size and sweetness. On the flip side, this old man scores extra points with the use of Chinese sausage, a key ingredient which adds a new level of taste to the char koay teow dish. In addition, the liberal use of pork lard definitely contributes to the gastronomic appeal of this dish.
Siam Road Char Koay Teow lives up to its reputation with the generally satisfying taste. However the overall feeling is that the dish is way oilier than necessary. I opinionate that the outcome would have been better if less oil were used.
Overall, I still feel that Ah Leng's Char Koay Teow takes lead in the narrow race. Of course, this is just my personal taste.

Due to the long waiting time, it is quite unlikely I will return to Siam Road Char Koay Teow soon. Nor I will specifically recommend to visitors unless they have a huge reservoir of patience and plenty of time to kill.

QQ Ramen House

Located near the west end of Vanda Business Park in Sungai Dua, QQ Ramen House (QQ拉面小厨) has been around for several years already. Business is quite good due to its good menu choices and affordable price. Many customers are undergraduates from the USM campus nearby.
Dinner Combo is available for RM13.90. There are three choices for the combo set, each paired with a different side order, plus a drink. This dinner combo is available between 6:00pm and 9:00pm.
I went for Combo 1 (RM13.90) today. The ramen is the Spicy Minced Meat Ramen (麻辣炸酱拉面). The ramen noodles are chewy and delectable, very easy in the mouth. It is very spicy, which is why I selected this in the first place. Besides the noodles, other ingredients are braised egg (卤蛋), sweetcorn, minced meat sauce, chicken floss (鸡肉松), shredded carrots and shredded radishes. The portion is also reasonably big by my standards.
The side order is the Fried Salted Chicken (盐酥鸡排). The chicken fillet is deep-fried and then sprinkled with sour plum powder and salt. A small serving of mayonnaise is included.
In fact, I find the chicken too dry due to the salt content. Normally I stay away from mayonnaise, but I have to make an exception this time. The taste is considered acceptable.
For the beverage, my choice is the Nutmeg (豆蔻汁). I prefer this drink warm as the nutmeg flavor is more pronounced.
QQ Ramen House is an eatery which offers reasonably nice food and affordable price. Therefore it is no surprise that I am a regular here.

China Pan Cake

Pisa Corner Cafe is one of the busiest food center in Relau. Coupled by the lack of parking spaces, the place is very congested even around midnight.
There is a stall called China Pan Cake (中国馅饼). The pan cake looks novel, so I decided to give the stall a try.
There are different types of fillings to choose from, such as peanut (花生), lotus (莲蓉), chives (韭菜), pickled Chinese mustard (梅菜) etc.

There is a minimum order of two pieces. I went for two pan cakes with red bean fillings (红豆馅饼) for RM1.50 each. In retrospect, I think it is permissible to order a different type of filling for each of the two.

The raw flour dough is first prepared in a flattened circular shape. Red bean filling is then inserted between two layers of dough. Next, the dough is grilled over an iron griddle similar to how roti canai is cooked. The interior may get bloated in the process due to expanding hot air between layers of dough. Once cooked, the pan cakes are cut into smaller pieces for easier consumption.
The pan cakes are slightly crispy on the outside, while the red bean paste inside is still piping hot. The paste itself is very sweet. In fact, the sweetness starts to feel revolting starting halfway through; I think one piece per person is ideal.
In addition, the pan cakes are very dry. Perhaps this is how it is meant to be prepared. In any case, you may need some water to wash the pastry down along with the lingering sweetness on the tongue.

Overall, the pan cake from this stall is a reasonably nice delicacy, but it will not be part of my regular diet.

My Hainan Chicken Rice

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Restoran My Hainan Chicken Rice (蒸炸海南鸡饭) is a chicken rice shop at the west wing of D'Piazza. It is just several shop units away from House of Kolomee.
There are several types of chicken dishes available, such as steamed or fried chicken, as well as flavored chicken dishes like turmeric (kunyit) and green curry. Some side orders are also available. This restaurant is pork-free.
As always, I usually return to basics when I visit a restaurant for the first time. Therefore, I ordered the Set A (RM5.70) which comprises of a serving of Steam Chicken, a plate of Chicken Rice, a bowl of soup, and a choice of beverage. In addition, I included a small serving of Small Pok Choi and Chicken Liver to a more fulfilling meal.
Starting with the Steam Chicken, the chicken flesh is quite tender and smooth. Taste-wise, the chicken is very flavorful with every bite. The dish is served with some cucumber slices and flavored with fried garlic, scallions (spring onions) and soy sauce. It is surprisingly nice dish despite its simplicity.
The Chicken Liver (RM2.00) is another commendable dish. The liver is soft and delightfully savory when eaten. The serving portion is quite substantial too.
As for the Small Pok Choi (小白菜, RM3.00), the vegetable is nice and juicy. Although plain in taste, the accompanying soy sauce does its job to suit my palate.
The Chicken Rice is fragrant with flavorful chicken essence. It is not too oily like those served in some places.
The soup is just clear soup with some diced radishes and scallions. It is not too salty and serves as counter-balance to the mostly-dry meal so far.
As for the drinks, I opted for a glass of cold Pat Poh (八宝) herbal tea.
Since the chicken meat and liver are so flavorful, I did not really need to use the chili sauce during my meal. Anyway, the chili sauce is not really nice because it is slightly dilute and feels cold. This is probably was just taken out of the refrigerator.
I walked in this restaurant without knowing what to expect, but it turns out that the food here is quite satisfying. The price is quite reasonable too. It is certainly worth coming back to My Hainan Chicken Rice for more, especially to try the other types of chicken dishes.