Sticks & Spoon

Special thanks to Sticks & Spoon for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Sticks & Spoon The Oriental Cafe (箸匙) is a popular Cantonese-style dim sum (点心) restaurant at Elit Avenue. Although dim sum is often enjoyed as breakfast or with afternoon tea, Sticks & Spoon serves these delicacies around the clock. Considering the fact that the chef hails from Hong Kong, the dim sum choices are distinctively different from local ones.
Sticks & Spoon refers to traditional Chinese eating utensils, the versatile chopsticks and the universal spoon. While chopsticks alone are sufficient to handle most dim sum dishes, a porcelain spoon is necessary to properly enjoy xiaolongbao (小笼包).
One of the most popular type of dim sum is Yu Dan Siu Mai (鱼蛋烧卖, RM4.50). Three pieces to a steamer basket, succulent minced pork is held in dough wrapper. The dumplings are then topped with fish roe for added aesthetic appeal.
Another common type of dim sum is Har Kao (虾饺, RM4.80). Each of these three dumplings contains several whole shrimps that are loaded with juicy goodness. The shrimps are wrapped in a sheet of translucent skin made from wheat starch. Personally, I think the skin is too thick; I prefer the overall sensation to be less starchy.
Xiao Long Pau (小笼包, RM5.50) is a delicacy synonymous to Shanghainese cuisine. Each piece is filled with finely minced pork and a small amount of savory soup. The correct way to enjoy these dumplings is to place a piece on a spoon, puncture a hole at the skin, then sip the flavorful soup inside. Rest of the dumpling is usually eaten with ginger silvers and vinegar.
One of the highlights tonight is Kwun Tong Gow (灌汤饺, RM6.80). This dumpling is made from minced pork (猪肉), scallops (干贝), mushrooms (香菇), coriander (芫茜) and agar (大菜丝). Meanwhile, the soup is made from a broth with extremely rich flavor such that its savoriness lingers on the lips for some time. The suggested way to enjoy this dish is by beating the dumpling thoroughly. I highly recommend this exquisite delicacy.
Next on the line is another favorite of mine: Lao Sar Pau (流沙包, RM6.00). Each serving contains 3 pieces in a wooden steamer basket. I must say that I love the soft, fluffy texture of the bread. Some people prefer to discard the outermost skin, but I prefer to keep it intact.
Meanwhile, the buns are filled with thick yellowish paste made from salted duck eggs, butter and sugar. The creamy composition is gratifying indeed. Use caution while enjoying this lovely treat because the paste can be piping hot even when the bread appears cool.
Moving from steamed dishes to fried ones, Chi Ma Chou (芝麻糬, RM5.40) are rice flour balls with black sesame paste in the middle. The balls are coated with white sesame seeds to provide delightful crisp and balanced mouthfeel.
As for the black sesame paste, it is not as viscous as one would expect. The fluid oozes out quite profusely once the ball is punctured. According to the staff, this is intentional and desired. Once again, be careful with the filling because the interior can be quite hot.
Mango Prawn Rolls (香芒虾律卷, RM4.80) comes in a plate of three pieces. These spring rolls are made from a peculiar combination of shrimps and mangoes. This combination is rarely heard of, but I am willing to give it a try.
Within the crispy skin are scrumptious prawns that are just begging to be eaten. Surprisingly, the tanginess of mango complements shrimps quite harmoniously. This dish is indeed commendable and should not be overlooked.
Moving on to heavier dishes, XO Loh Pak Gow (XO汁萝卜糕, RM8.00) is primarily made from rice flour and shredded white radish. The paste is cut into bite-size cubes, then fried with XO sauce to give a coating of savory finish. Garnished with chopped scallion, this dish is best enjoyed while it is still hot.
Phoenix Glutinous Rice (凤凰珍珠鸡, RM8.00) is similar to lotus leaf rice (糯米鸡). But instead of wrapping with lotus leaf, this dish is wrapped in an envelope of egg omelette. Within the omelette is steamed glutinous rice with chicken. The chicken imparts savory flavors to the rice during the steaming process.
Should customers prefer something more staple, there are also a number of rice and noodles dishes that serve well for lunch and dinner. One recommended choice is Steamed Minced Pork And Salted Fish With Rice (肉碎咸鱼蒸饭, RM11.80). The minced meat is quite delectable and can be eaten directly. The fish is topped with salted fish and bok choy (白菜).
Meanwhile for noodles, Fried Seafood Noodles (炒海鲜生面, RM12.90) is a popular choice based on yi mein (伊面) noodles. Made from wheat flour and eggs, the noodles are deep-fried in hot oil until crispy. Then, starchy gravy is poured over the noodles.
Other ingredients included are shrimps, squid, fish cakes and crab sticks. A raw egg is also added on top. Due to heat from the noodles and gravy, the egg is nearly cooked before long. The serving portion is quite large for one person, so it is best shared by two plus some side orders if necessary.
During dinner service, there are also a number of stir-fried (煮炒) dishes for more family-oriented dining. Serving size is deliberately made smaller since these dishes are meant to complement additional orders of dim sum. One such stir-frying dish is Golden Sanctuary Ribs (金沙骨, RM5.50), made from pork ribs with crispy coating of various spices.
Black Fungus Pork Belly (木耳焖花腩肉, RM12.00) is a thick stew of fatty pork belly and wood-ear fungus. This dish is best eaten with rice because the flavor can be overpowering.
Moving on to poultry, Salted Egg Chicken (咸蛋代盐酥鸡, RM12.00) is essentially stir-fried chicken cutlets. But instead of using salt, the recipe calls for thick sauce made from salted eggs. The crispy coating blends reasonably well with tender chicken chunks. Meanwhile, curry leaf is used to enhance aroma.
Steam 3 Taste Egg (三王蛋, RM8.00) derives its name from its three egg constituents: steamed egg (蒸蛋), salted egg (咸蛋) and century egg (皮蛋). Personally, I find this omelette quite enjoyable. Although it is meant to be eaten with rice, this dish is not too salty on its own.
Cantonese cuisine is characterized by its wide range of soup choices. Nearly every Cantonese meal includes at least one watery dish. Tonight's choice is Chinese Spinach Soup With Salted Egg (金银蛋上汤苋菜, RM8.00). The leafy vegetable, also known as "bayam" locally, is a rich source of Vitamin A (retinol), an essential nutrient which improves eyesight. Other ingredients in the soup include salted egg yolk, century egg, wolfberries (枸杞) and anchovies (银鱼仔).
As for desserts, Kwai Fa Jelly (桂花糕, RM4.50) is primarily made from osmanthus flower, which is notable for its aromatic scent. Honeycomb sugar (石峰糖) provides a different sensation of sweetness that is more subtle but lasts longer on the palate. This dessert also includes wolfberries suspended within the jelly.
Another appealing treat is Dragon Fruit Jelly (龙珠果果冻, RM4.50). This jelly is made from real pitaya (dragon fruit) and papaya, certainly not from fruit extract. The use of red pitaya gives the jelly vibrant color, so no artificial coloring is required. Also worth mentioning is the unique mouthfeel of pitaya seeds which are suspended within the jelly.
As for drinks, dim sum is customarily enjoyed with tea. Chrysanthemum With Wolfberries (菊花枸杞茶, RM4.50) is a light herbal tea that serves to "reset" the taste buds between different dim sum dishes.
HK Milk Tea (香港奶茶, RM3.20) is wildly popular in Hong Kong, especially the hot version. In fact, most Hongkongers prefer milk tea over coffee. I believe this is a legacy from the British colonial era. Alternatively, Milo Coffee Tea (三味冰, RM3.50) is a mixture of milk tea, coffee and chocolate.
Apart from à la carte orders, Sticks & Spoon also provides set meals on weekdays to cater the busy schedule of office workers. This menu provides a handful of rice and noodle dishes to choose from. The meal includes iced lemon tea and a dessert of the day, usually a type of jelly. The menu is revised every few months to furnish more choices to regular customers.
Name: Sticks & Spoon The Oriental Cafe (箸匙)
Address: 1-1-3A, Elit Avenue, Jalan Mayang Pasir 3, 11950 Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-611-5657
Business hours: 11:00am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm (Tuesday-Friday), 9:00am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm (Saturday-Sunday), closed on Mondays
Coordinates: 5.32247 N, 100.28302 E
Directions: Sticks & Spoon is located at the eastern side of Elit Avenue in Bayan Baru. Roadside and garage parking are available.

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