Fridays

Special thanks to Fridays for extending this food review invitation.

The TGI Friday's outlet in Queensbay Mall has been refurbished earlier this month. The new facade, reading "Fridays Restaurant & Grill", is part of the restaurant chain's rebranding strategy. Unlike the TGI Friday's outlet at Gurney Paragon Mall, this Queensbay Mall restaurant does not provide al fresco dining.
Since my previous visit, the dining area has received a revitalizing makeover. Still preserving the American-style casual dining ambience, Fridays also receives a modern touch which resonates well with younger demographics.
There is also a new drinks bar with numerous selections of spirits on the gantry behind. The bartenders at Fridays can concoct hundreds of different cocktails including those that are not included in the menu. Occasionally, customers also get to enjoy spectacular flair bartending; another reason to be seated at the bar.
In conjunction with its reopening after a brief hiatus, Fridays is offering The Platter for a limited duration. There are two choices for The Platter: The Boss (RM249.90) and The Chicks Platter (RM117.50). The former revolves around red meats like beef and lamb, while the latter revolves around poultry. Each set is meant to be shared among 3 or 4 people.
For The Boss, the spotlight is cast on succulent red meats on the wooden platter. Arranged tightly in between are 4 pieces of Corn Cob and 4 pieces of potato accordion. Potato accordion is cut to thin slices just like the musical instrument of the same name. Also included are 3 types of dipping sauces: BBQ, mint and wild mushroom butter sauces.
BBQ Ribs is the most visually appeasing element on the platter. The ribs are slow-cooked until the meat becomes tender. It is so tender that the meat peels off the bones effortlessly! The ribs are basted with signature BBQ sauce to infuse appetizing flavors.
Not many people know how to enjoy lamb due to its intense, somewhat repulsing aroma. Nevertheless, I find the Lamb Chumps to be delectable too. The chump chop is marinated to perfection, then grilled over fire to pleasant juiciness.
As for Sirloin Steak, the premium grain-fed beef is specially air-flown from Australia. As the beef is chilled but not frozen, the steak retains the lovely texture in nearly pristine state. I feel that the steak goes best with BBQ sauce.
On the side is a heavy iron pot filled with generous servings of Marinara Farfalle. Farfalle is a type of bow tie-shaped pasta with decent softness when cooked. The pasta is nicely seasoned with sweet-tangy marinara sauce. I cannot recommend this pasta highly enough.
Caesar Salad consists of romaine lettuce tossed in tangy salad dressing. The salad also contains crispy croutons and grated Parmesan cheese. Overall, I feel that this salad pales in comparison with other dishes. Perhaps onions and tomatoes can help to improve the aesthetic and gastronomical appeal.
Last but not least, there are several pieces of Garlic Bread Rolls. Personally, I prefer the garlic butter to be stronger in garlic and more plentiful.
As for drinks, Tropical Berry Mojito Shaker (RM36.00) is a special mixture of Havana Club rum, sour rocks mix and soda. Fruity constituents are guava, passion fruit, strawberry and limes. The mojito is infused with cooling sensation of mint leaves. As the drink is still primarily fruity, it is suitable for entry-level drinkers.
Top Shelf Mojito (RM31.35) is a signature Cuban highball cocktail. It is prepared from carbonated drink spiked with a decent amount of Havana Club rum. The drink also contains lime juice and cane sugar as counterbalancing soothing sensation.
Despite its unassuming name, the Ultimate Long Island Iced Tea (RM33.70) is not a cocktail to be trifled with. This drink is primarily a mixture of Absolut Vodka, Beefeater Gin and Havana Club rum. Cola gives a reddish color which resembles iced tea, hence its name. The origins of this cocktail is disputed: it is either from Long Island, Tennessee or Long Island, New York.
In Malaysia, there are 16 outlets of Fridays and TGI Friday's. Each outlet undergoing rebranding exercise in tandem fashion. The parent company also manages other restaurant brands such as Italiannies. In fact, a new Italiannies outlet is opening next to this Fridays outlet in Queensbay Mall next month.

Name: Fridays Restaurant & Grill
Address: GF-131, Queensbay Mall, 100, Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-641-3363
Business hours: 11:00am-11:00pm
Website: http://www.fridays.com.my
Coordinates: 5.33456 N, 100.30674 E
Directions: Fridays is located on the Ground Floor of Queensbay Mall, next to Italiannies near the north entrance. Queensbay Mall has a multilevel parking garage and several outdoor parking spaces.

Lum Lai Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng

Pasar Lebuh Cecil (七条路巴刹) is home to several interesting food stalls such as Cecil Street Sisters Fried Sago (姐妹七条路硕硪炒). Another popular stall is Lum Lai Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng (南来鸭肉粿条汤).
The bowl of Duck Meat Koay Teow Th'ng (鸭肉粿条汤, RM4.00) is quite tasty thanks to the well-flavored soup. I also enjoy the succulent duck meat which does not appear too dry nor tough. Other ingredients are fish balls, coagulated duck blood, pork lard (猪油渣) and chopped scallion.
Overall, the bowl of noodle soup is quite satisfying. The service is also speedy; probably because I visit during a non-peak hour. However, the proprietor of this stall seems to be lacking of service-oriented attitude. I am inclined to brush this aside since this does not bother me today.
Address: Lebuh Cecil, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-433-6680
Business hours: 7:30am-7:00pm
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Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat

Special thanks to Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat for extending this food review invitation.

This is my second visit to Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat (奇香铜碳鱼头火锅) in Raja Uda. Since its opening, this restaurant has enjoyed overwhelming response from locals. In fact, it is not surprising to see all dining tables occupied every weekend.
Since my previous visit, Qi Xiang has revised its set meal menu. Each set includes soup and approximately 15 steamboat items. There are 3 sizes: medium set (中, 3-5 persons, RM138.00), large set (大, 6-8 persons, RM188.00) and extra large (特大, 9-11 persons, RM238.00). For less than 3 people, it is more economical to go for à la carte orders.
Typically, a set meal consists of Sliced Meat (肉片), Minced Meat (肉碎), Grouper Fish (石斑鱼), Prawns (中虾), Scallops (扇贝), Sliced Abalone (鲍鱼片), Fish Balls (鱼丸), Meat Balls (肉丸), Crab Filament (蟹柳), Quail Egg (鹌鹑蛋), Golden Mushrooms (金针菇), Button Mushrooms (蘑菇), Baby Corn (玉米仔), Tang O (茼蒿) and Yau Mak (油麦).
The steamboat pot is made from copper. Copper conducts heat more easily than iron. This allows charcoal to burn efficiently for the entire dining session. Steamboat soup is the chef's own formulation. Prepared daily, the soup contains fried grouper (石斑鱼), evaporated milk (炼奶), taro (芋头), cabbage (包菜) and tofu skin (腐皮). The taste has been improved since my last visit; it is no longer too salty.
The set meal no longer includes appetizers and drinks, so these items need to be ordered separately. Suggested appetizers are Nestum Chicken (麦片鸡柳, RM7.90 for 10 pieces), Yam Samosa (芋泥角, RM5.90 for 16 pieces) and Wantan (云吞, RM3.90 for 6 pieces).
Name: Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat (奇香铜碳鱼头火锅)
Address: 4350, Jalan Raja Uda, 12300 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-313-6888
Business hours: 5:00pm-10:30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/qixiangfishheadsteamboat
Coordinates: 5.43005 N, 100.38382 E
Directions: From Jalan Permatang Pauh, turn right into Jalan Raja Uda. Drive northbound for approximately 2 kilometers. Qi Xiang Fish Head Steamboat is located on the left, just opposite Caltex gas station. There are parking spaces in front of the restaurant and at the nearby car wash center.

U Sno

Special thanks to U Sno for extending this food review invitation.

At the LG Floor of Sunway Carnival Mall is U Sno Shaved Ice. It is located in front of Guardian and just a stone's throw away from Mulgogi.
U Sno specializes in Snow Ice, a dessert which enjoys widespread popularity in the Taiwanese night market scene. The cornerstone of its preparation is an electric ice shaver, which is also specially sourced from Taiwan.
There 12 different flavors of Snow Ice, each is available in regular and small sizes. Top choices are Mango, Durian and Black Sesame. The dessert is produced from an ice block of frozen purée of desired flavor. This is in stark contrast to Ais Kacang, which is produced from plain ice and then flavored with syrup afterwards.
Another difference is that U Sno's ice crystals are significantly finer than that of Ais Kacang. This results in smooth and creamy consistency, as opposed to slushiness which often defines Ais Kacang. However, U Sno's ice crystals are still not as fine as those from an actual snow flake machine.
I tried the Mango Snow Ice (RM9.90), one of the bestselling flavors at U Sno. Mango-flavored shaved ice is topped with actual mango cubes and nata de coco. There are also two types of corn flakes at the bottom. The dessert is served in a disposable plastic cup which allows easy handling with one hand.
U Sno uses ice blocks made from genuine fruits, not from artificial flavoring. There are also no artificial preservatives and coloring in the production process. The amount of sugar is also minimized as the intention is to focus in natural fruity sweetness.
Durian Snow Ice (RM10.90) is another popular choice, reflecting Malaysians' love for the king of fruits. This flavor is available year-long as U Sno has stocked up sufficient supply of frozen durians between harvest seasons. Costing considerations do not allow special cultivars like Musang King, but the shaved ice still possesses reasonable aroma and flavor.
Like the mango version, the Durian Snow Ice is also served in a customized plastic cup. As if durian-flavored shaved ice isn't appealing enough, the dessert is topped with durian sauce and chocolate wafer rolls. There are also corn flakes at the base of shaved ice.
The Durian Snow Ice also allows the milk content to shine more prominently. Even after the ice has molten, the liquid form feels nearly as good as actual milk! Another important note is that although U Sno itself is not halal-certified, the supplier of ice blocks is.
U Sno has a loyalty card program that benefits regular customers. For every 5 stamps collected, the cardholder can redeem a small cup for free. Alternatively, the cardholder can accumulate 10 stamps to get a regular-sized bowl instead.
U Sno also introduces food items from time to time. During my visit, Tea Eggs (茶叶蛋, RM1.30 each) are available on the menu. The herbal soup has moderately strong flavor, making the eggs rather satisfying indeed.
Name: U Sno Shaved Ice
Address: LG-K8A, Sunway Carnival Mall, 13700 Seberang Jaya, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 013-510-9516
Business hours: 10:30am-9:30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/U-SNO-1662911867307308
Coordinates: 5.39923 N, 100.39804 E
Directions: U Sno is located at the LG Floor of Sunway Carnival Mall. There are parking spaces in the multilevel parking garage as well as along nearby roads.

Tanka Steamboat

There is a growing number of restaurants at Golden Triangle in Relau. Located at the "back" row is Tanka Steamboat (陈家泰式火锅).
The specialty at Tanka Steamboat is Thai steamboat. The "steamboat" is capable of grilling and boiling food at the same time. Pork lard is used to grease the heating surface.
There are two types of soup at Tanka Steamboat: Original (原味) and Tomyam (东炎). Since this is my first visit to this restaurant, my choice is naturally the former. This turns out to be a good idea.
The set meal for 2 persons (RM40.70) comprises of prawns (白虾), abalone slices (鲍鱼片), pork shabu-shabu (唰唰猪肉片), curry chicken slices (咖喱鸡肉片), quail eggs (鹌鹑蛋), coin bakgua (金钱肉干), curry fish balls (咖喱鱼丸), handmade vegetable balls (手工菜丸), crab flavor nuggets (北海翅), seasoned fish rolls (鸡香卷), chicken ham (鸡肉香肠片), enoki mushrooms (金针菇), lettuce (玻璃生菜) and Cintan noodle (金旦面).
I think the most defining aspect of steamboat (besides soup) is the dipping sauce. In particular, the green chili sauce carries sharp spiciness. I recommend that you try this sauce if you love to spice things up.
As for drinks, the set meal comes with a flask of nutmeg (豆蔻).
Tanka Steamboat also offers all-you-can-eat steamboat with prices from RM39.90 per adult and RM19.00 per child. Customers are free to order anything on the menu except bakgua.

Address: 29-1-58, Jalan Paya Terubong, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-618-0145
Business hours: 5:00pm-11:00pm (Tuesday-Thursday), 11:00am-11:00pm (Friday-Sunday), closed on Mondays
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JT Restaurant

Special thanks to JT Restaurant for extending this food review invitation.

It is a little-known fact that The Heritage Club is open to the public. With the exception of gaming room, visitors can access all sections of the building including the fitness center, the spa and the sole eatery, JT Restaurant Oriental & Western Cuisine.
JT Restaurant is lavishly furnished to provide an upscale setting for dining. As the restaurant is halal-certified, it also attracts governmental and corporate clientele.
Besides the à la carte menu, JT Restaurant also offers buffet meals on specific days. Outside the regular schedule, buffet can also be arranged for private dining events. In addition, JT Restaurant also offers catering service.
In conjunction with the Muslim month of Ramadan, JT Restaurant offers buffet dinner each evening. This makes JT Restaurant one of rare non-hotel restaurants that offers buka puasa buffet on daily basis. To allow the cooking of certain types of food, makeshift canopies are erected outdoors to accommodate several cooking stations.
The main attraction of this Ramadan buffet dinner is the durian station. Each evening, the restaurant prepares a dozen of durians to be served under a handful of cooking styles. Guests can still eat raw durians, but why do so when there are more interesting ways to enjoy the king of fruits?
One novel way is to barbecue durians over burning charcoal. Although not really piping hot, the lukewarm state allows durian flesh to unleash its aroma more prominently. In addition, there are also deep-fried durians that are similar in appearance to pisang goreng (banana fritters).
Satay is another Malay dish which enjoys widespread acceptance across ethnic boundaries. This year, the satay station features one type of skewered meat: chicken. Marinated with turmeric and steadily roasted over burning charcoal, the chicken satay is scrumptious indeed.
Moving to dishes from the Indian subcontinent, yellow basmati rice provides light mouthfeel as the rice grains are rather loose from one another. Also included are cut pieces of tandoori chicken that have been roasted to perfection.
Due to communal lifestyle in the kampung (Malay villages), food is often cooked in large woks called "kawah". Tonight's dinner features Daging Gulai Kawah Berkentang. Beef and potato cuts are simmered in milky curry so that savory flavors combine properly. When cooked, the dish is so rich that it can be eaten with plain Bengali bread.
The buffet also includes a number of cooked dishes such as Kari Ayam Berempah. Pieces of chicken are cooked in a rich stew of spices such as cumin, turmeric and cardamom.
As for Kari Ikan, slices of mackerel are cooked in an even thicker curry gravy. Meanwhile, Kupang Masak Lemak is a dish of mussels cooked in coconut milk gravy.
Ramadan dinners is incomplete without ulam (raw vegetables). Although the number of choices is modest, the types include ulam raja (king's salad), pucuk ubi kayu (cassava shoots), tomato kecil (cherry tomato), kacang panjang (yardlong beans) and bendi (okra). Intensely-flavored condiments like Cincalok, Budu, Sambal Cili Padi and Sambal Kicap Berlada are provided.
As for desserts, there are a number of sponge cakes, jellies and fruits. There is also a salad bar for the more health-conscious diners.
JT Restaurant's buffet dinner carries a decent price tag of RM78.00+ per adult, RM58.00+ per child and RM68.00+ per senior citizen. The buffet runs from 12 June 2016 to 3 July 2016.
Name: JT Restaurant Oriental & Western Cuisine
Address: 2, Jalan Scotland, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-227-3373, 019-662-1673
Business hours: 12:00pm-10:00pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/JT-Restaurant-1556582174609729
Coordinates: 5.41921 N, 100.30419 E
Directions: Driving along Scotland Road (Jalan Scotland) towards the Penang Botanic Gardens, follow the left curve to Jalan Utama. The Heritage Club is the building immediately on the left. JT Restaurant is located at the west wing of the building. There are no entry and parking fees for restaurant customers.