Chok Dee Thai

Special thanks to Chok Dee Thai for extending this food review invitation.

Chok Dee Thai Restaurant (โชคดีร้านอาหารไทย) is one of the earliest Thai restaurants in Penang. The restaurant started in back in 2000 in Island Glades, but moved to its present location at Burmah Road (Jalan Burma) in 2008. It is several doors away from Lecker Ecke and Chocolate Passion.
Chok Dee Thai is currently operated by Yuki and her brother Simon, who bought this business from its former owners several months ago. Yuki, a nurse-turned-entrepreneur, handles the business operation while Simon manages the kitchen. The kitchen staff and food menu remain virtually unchanged because the restaurant has a pool of regular clientele.
The Thai phrase "Chok Dee" (โชคดี) means "good luck" or "good fortune". This is commonly used as a greeting among Muay Thai (มวยไทย) combatants before a bout.
Unlike most Thai restaurants in Penang which focus on southern Thai recipes (e.g. Hat Yai-style), Chok Dee Thai specializes in Bangkok-style cuisine. Bangkok cooking is characterized by a delicate balance among sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors. Most spices are sourced from Thailand and prepared in-house to maintain authenticity.
Our meal started with an appetizer called Miang Khum (เมี่ยงคำ). This is a popular snack in Thailand, where various ingredients are wrapped in wild betel (ชะพลู, chaphlu) leaves and eaten raw. Examples of ingredients used are onions, lime zest, bird's eye chili (cili padi), ginger, roasted peanuts and coconut. Sweet sauce is also provided for additional flavor.
Next is Pandan Chicken (ไก่ห่อใบเตย, Gaw Haw Bai Toey), a finger snack made from marinated chicken wrapped in pandan leaves. The pandan leaves lend their fragrance while the chicken provides the bulk of savory flavor.
The Fish Cake (ทอดมันปลากราย, Tod Man Pla Krai) has a unique composition of minced fish and spices. It is deep-fried to till golden brown for the crunchy and springy appeal.
Moving to something fruitier, the Papaya Salad (ส้มตำ, Som Tam) is made from unripe green papaya. Flavor of this salad dish comes from combination of savory fish sauce, chili pepper, sour lime, palm sugar and salt. Crunchiness of this papaya salad is further enhanced by peanuts, chopped onion and long beans.
The Mango Salad & Crispy Minced Fish Meat (ตำมะม่วง, Tam Mamuang) is a similar salad dish. In this case, unripe mango is used instead. The blending of tangy and savory flavors makes this salad suitable as an appetizer.
Tom yum is an inseparable component in Thai cuisine. This meal is no exception. The Tom Yum Seafood (ต้มยำน้ำข้น, Tom Yam Nam Kon) has a fine mix of spicy and sour flavors, expanding our appetite for subsequent dishes.
The default amount of chili paste (น้ำพริกเผา, Nam Prik Pao) is quite choking if you are unprepared, so request for less spicy version if you have low tolerance to spiciness. Another unique aspect of Chok Dee Thai's tom yum is the use of evaporated milk.

Next on the table is Cha Om Omelette With Thai Sambal (ไข่เจียวชะอม). This is a popular egg dish in Thailand due to abundance of a key ingredient: cha om (ชะอม).
Cha om is the edible leaves of a shrub-like plant which only grows in Thailand and Cambodia. Unfortunately cha om is not grown in Malaysia, therefore this vital ingredient has to be imported from Thailand. The most distinctive feature of cha om is its distinctive aroma, which is very similar to stink bean (สะตอ, petai).
I truly enjoy the Crispy Fried Kang Kong (ยำผักบุ้งทอดกรอบ, Yum Pak Boong Krob Kung) for its addictive crispiness. The light and easy feeling of the fried water spinach makes it a lovable dish to everyone especially children.
Another iconic dish in Thai restaurants is Green Curry (แกงเขียวหวาน, Kaeng Khiao Wan). Using green chili pepper as base, the curry is made creamy by using evaporated milk and coconut milk. This curry dish is served with chicken, eggplant (brinjal) and lots of spices such as basil leaves. Due to its strong flavor, the curry is best eaten with steamed rice.
The next delicacy at Chok Dee Thai is Braised Tender Pork Trotter (ข้าวขาหมู, Khao Kha Mu). The swine's forelimb is braised till tender and served au jus. Underneath the layer of skin is jelly-like soft tissues, making this dish very delectable indeed.
Moving to seafood, the Lemon Fish (ปลากระพงนึ่งมะนาว, Pla Kapong Neung Manao) is fresh sea bass steamed in Thai-style soup. The soup is slightly sour due to lime, while its pungency is contributed by chopped chili pepper and garlic.
The fish is kept warm by burning flame below. If too much soup has evaporated, ask for more because tangy sensation is what makes the fish more appealing.
Our next dish is Otak Seafood (ห่อหมกทะเล, Hor Mok Talay). Unlike local otak-otak which is cooked in banana leaf, this Thai version is steamed in aluminium instead. The main ingredients are fish paste, shrimp and squid. This dish is served in a vessel made in the shape of a swan for aesthetic appeal.
Towards the end of the main courses, there is also Claypot Prawns With Glass Noodle (กุ้งอบวุ้นเส้น, Goong Ob Woon Sen). Large, succulent prawns are cooked with Thai glass noodle called Woon Sen (วุ้นเส้น). Under intense heat, the originally-plain noodle absorbs some prawn essence during cooking.
As for Thai desserts, one of the most well-known ones is Tub Tim Krob (ทับทิมกรอบ), which literally means "red rubies". "Red rubies" refer to red-dyed water chestnuts, one of the key ingredients in this chilled dessert. Jackfruit is also another key component here.
Another recommended dessert at Chok Dee Thai is Mango & Glutinous Rice (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง, Khao Niao Mamuang). This dessert consists of sticky glutinous rice topped with coconut cream and mung beans. The rice is best consumed when warm, otherwise it becomes hard and dry when left for a while. On the side is sliced mango carved in the shape of a butterfly.
According to Yuki, other popular dishes at Chok Dee Thai are Thai Fried Rice (ข้าวผัด, Khao Phat), Pineapple Fried Rice (ข้าวผัดสับปะรด, Khao Phat Sub Pa Rod) and Pad Thai Noodles (ผัดไทย). For desserts, Yuki recommends her handcrafted ice cream, which has flavors such as green tea and salted caramel. The type of ice cream flavor varies daily and is subject to availability.
Name: Chok Dee Thai Restaurant (โชคดีร้านอาหารไทย)
Address: 231-D, Jalan Burma, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-229-1492
Business hours: 11:00am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm
Website: http://chokdeethai.com
Coordinates: 5.42449 N, 100.31950 E
Directions: From Union Primary School (协和华小), drive along the one-way Burmah Road (Jalan Burma) for approximately 250 meters. Chok Dee Thai is located on the left just before the intersection with Jalan Loh Boon Siew. Parking is available in front of the restaurant itself, or along Jalan Loh Boon Siew. In the evening, it is permissible to park in front of neighboring shops once they have closed for the day.

G Cafe

Special thanks to G Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

Just after 2 weeks since my last visit to G Lounge, I am back to G Hotel to visit G Cafe. G Cafe is G Hotel's flagship restaurant, serving buffet every evening.
On each evening, G Cafe features a different theme for the buffet. For example, the theme every Tuesday is Italian Nite, while Surf & Turf is featured on Fridays. It is Monday today, so the theme this evening is Asian Nite (RM108.00).
The atmosphere of G Cafe is smart casual. There is indoor seating with good view of vegetation outside. Should guests prefer the evening breeze, outdoor tables are also available.
As Chinese New Year is approaching soon, it is an unwritten rule to toss yee sang (鱼生). "Yee sang" is homophonic with "余升", which means an increase in abundance. Therefore, yee sang is tossed as a symbol of prosperity. Tonight, G Cafe prepared Salmon Yee Sang (三文鱼鱼生) which features a platter of crunchy ingredients such as crackers, chopped nuts and seasoned seaweed.
Of course, the main star of this yee sang dish is raw salmon. Who does not love the reddish, fatty salmon flesh?
Having done with yee sang, it is time to explore the buffet line. My foremost attention is fixated on the Baked Salmon With Chili Mayo.
This juicy salmon fish is an eye candy to begin with! The fish is nicely grilled to perfection, then topped with lovely mayonnaise and vegetable garnish. Taste-wise, the salmon retains the sweet savory flavor in addition to creaminess of mayonnaise dressing. This is not a dish to be missed!
The adjacent counter features Roasted Duck (烤鸭) and Roasted Chicken (烤鸡). Poultry is marinated with delightful spices, then slowly roasted to give the skin a coating of golden perfection. I personally find the duck to be more appealing, thanks to its waxy and crispy skin. Besides eating directly, it is also possible to request for duck to be served in an egg-skin roll, alongside cucumber, leek, onion and tangy Hoisin sauce (海鲜酱).
There is also an indoor grilling station, where guests can pick lovely cuts of marinated meat to be cooked on the spot. Chicken is one good choice as long as it is not overcooked.
The lamb is also appealing, but I feel that it can use more marinate.
If you prefer some grilled fish, it is also an option.
As for processed meat, sausages are also available on the line.
If you prefer something local, G Cafe also provides Hokkien Prawn Noodle (福建面). Feel free to customize your ingredients and sit back while the staff prepares the dish in front of your very eyes. My personal preference is to use lots of shrimps!
Another local dish is Char Koay Teow (炒粿条) which is also cooked to order. Once again, the ingredients are highly customizable, so feel free to ask for extra shrimps if you prefer so.
While waiting for your order of Hokkien Prawn Noodle or Char Koay Teow, hit the cooked dishes section for some local delicacies. The Hong Kong Fried Noodle is yee mee (伊面) braised with shrimps, vegetables and soy sauce.
If you take beef, the Beef Rendang is a recommended choice. I like the savory flavor derived from its strong marinate.
Likewise, indulge with a dish of nicely prepared Braised Lamb With Radish. In this dish, mutton is braised with vegetables and mushrooms, then served in sweet brown gravy.
For poultry, try the Chicken In Sweet Soy Gravy.
I have not heard of Cak Ho Ko before. Essentially, it is braised fish fillet served in brown gravy.
In the seafood department, one of the featured dishes is Wok Fried Prawns With Salted Egg Sauce. These succulent shrimps are stir-fried with egg yolk, butter and several spices. The lovely aroma appeals to my palate, while the buttery texture and yolk-flavored shrimps are scrumptious within each bite.
To spice things up, the Chili Crab is a good choice, provided that you don't mind getting your hands oily. I feel that it is worth the effort once you reach the sweet flesh inside the carapace.
Also in the seafood department, there is Mussel Sambal to tantalize your fussy taste buds.
If squid appeals to you, there is Braised Calamari served in black pepper gravy.
Meat-heavy dishes are best followed up with Mixed Vegetable, which comprises of sweet peas, sweet corn, carrot, cauliflower, button mushroom and black fungus.
Apart from local-inspired cooked dishes, there are also cold-served seafood on the buffet line.
Start off with these large, succulent shrimps.
Mussels are also available. I personally prefer the yellowish ones as they taste better.
For scallops, they usually fare better with dipping sauces.
At the salad bar, there are fresh vegetables for you to make your favorite salad mix.
Alternatively, there are also a handful of prepared salads, such as Fish Salad, Coleslaw and Sausage Salad.
In particular, Beef Salad is worth trying. I like the mixture of savory beef slices with sweet carrot and onion.
There is a plate of wasabi-like horseradish. I am not sure how it is meant to be eaten. Whenever you see "wasabi" being presented such wantonly, it is usually made from horseradish roots instead of actual wasabi stems. Both plants are related, but the former is cheaper and more readily available.
Penang Rojak is the local version of salad. Select from a handful of diced fruits such as pineapple, jicama and cucumber. Deep-fried prawn fritters are also available should you fancy some. Rojak is usually tossed with crushed nuts and sweet peanut sauce before being served.
Similarly, there are a handful of Pasembur ingredients for guests to mix according their own preferences. Ingredients available for Pasembur are prawn fritters, jicama (sengkuang), bean sprout, bean curd, boiled egg and long beans. Sweet-spicy peanut sauce is used for flavoring.
There are also several Malay-style pickled dishes, such as Acar Rampai shown here.
Ikan Bilis Istimewa is made from fried anchovies seasoned with sesame seeds and tangy sauce.
There is only one type of Dim Sum (点心) available today: siew mai (烧卖). This delicacy is made from minced chicken with an outer coating of lye water dough. In addition, there are two types of Pau (包): barbecued chicken and lotus paste. No pork is used because G Cafe is a halal-certified restaurant.
In the bakery section, there are several types of artisan bread. However, the selection of cheese is somewhat limited compared to Spice Market Café. This makes the bread less appealing.
Two types of soup are available today. The Braised Sea Kingdom Chowder is rich and creamy, making it quite filling even in a single portion. In addition, the chowder is loaded with seafood such as whitefish, shrimp, crab, scallop and mussel.
For something closer to the spirit of Chinese New Year, guests may opt for Fish Maw Soup. This soup features succulent fish maw and scallops, nicely stewed with herbals ingredients such as red dates (红枣) and goji berries (枸杞).
Besides croutons, there are also prawn crackers and rice crackers to go with soups.
G Cafe has a respectable assortment of lovely pastries, enough to satisfy your sweet tooth many times over.
One of the better ones is the Green Tea Cake, a sponge cake flavored with matcha (抹茶) or powdered green tea. On top of the cake is sweet azuki bean (小豆) whose flavor complements with matcha very harmoniously.
To satisfy your cocoa cravings, the Maracaibo Chocolate Banana Mousse is an excellent choice.
Guests may also try the Mango Mousse, which is made in the shape of a Swiss roll.
If you prefer something more local, try the Layer Cake and Kek Gula Hangus.
For fruitier gratification, try some mouth-watering Prune Tarts.
You cannot go wrong with Peanut Butter Cakes. Be sure to try some as they are really nice.
Besides the cakes, there is also an assortment of local kuih. Don't you think that they look very appealing?
It wouldn't be Chinese New Year without a helping of yummy Chinese Pan Cakes, would it?
If you love something slightly sour, try the Strawberry Jelly which is garnished with longan and peach.
Looking for a fancy-looking dessert? Try one of the many types of colorful parfait at the buffet line.
Children, in particular, will be thrilled by the chocolate fountain. The mere sight of the fountain is certain to keep their mouth watering and their hands busy!
There are various types of food items to be dipped into the fountain, such as strawberries, apricots, prunes, longan and watermelon.
Other choices are marshmallows, grapes, papaya and honeydew.
Traditionally-inclined guests may prefer the Bread & Butter Pudding instead. I love the hearty texture of this hot dessert! It is garnished with almond slices not just for aesthetic purpose, but also to provide some degree of crisp.
There is only one type of Cantonese tong soi (糖水) tonight: Foo Chok (腐竹). The sweet soup is primarily made from bean curd skin (腐皮). Barley (薏米) and ginkgo (白果) play secondary roles in terms of flavor.
As for ice cream, G Cafe uses the gourmet brand Gelatomio. There are several types of ice cream flavors, such as Double Chocolate, Vanilla Cream and Cookie Cream. In addition, Ice Kacang is also available upon request.
In terms of prestige and pricing, it is natural to compare G Cafe with Spice Market Café in Rasa Sayang. The former places more emphasis on desserts compared to mainstream dishes. However, the Baked Salmon With Chili Mayo is certainly the highlight tonight.
For this coming Chinese New Year, why not bring your family to G Hotel to celebrate this auspicious festival? G Cafe has a series of themed buffet for several days, starting from reunion dinner on Chinese New Year Eve (18 February). Special brunches (12:00pm-3:00pm) and dinners (6:30pm-10:30pm) are also available on 19 and 20 February.
Name: G Cafe
Address: 168A, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-238-0000
Business hours: 6:30pm-10:30pm
Website: http://ghotel.com.my/dining-gcafe.html
Coordinates: 5.43743 N, 100.31053 E
Directions: G Hotel is located on Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney), right next to Gurney Plaza. G Cafe is located on the Ground Floor of G Hotel, towards the back-left when entering from the main entrance. Basement parking is available. Customers of G Hotel's F&B outlets can have their parking tickets validated.