Franco

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

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Alora Hotel Penang is a hotel in Bayan Point. In case this building looks familiar, it was formerly a service apartment called B-suite. Under new owners, this 19-floor building has been converted to a hotel and is being upgraded in phases. There are 304 rooms in total, each room having an astounding 500 square feet of floor space!
Quite recently, the hotel has opened several eateries at the Ground Floor: Franco, Ichiban The Izakaya and Chop Chin Hin Hardware Cafe. While some of these brands are franchises, the restaurants are operated by the hotel itself. My visit today is aimed at Franco, a casual dining restaurant which specializes in fusion cuisine.

With warm yellow lights, unique floor tiling and red-and-black color scheme, Franco presents a family-friendly dining atmosphere. Wooden tables and steel chairs are nearly arranged around the dining area. Although Franco has over a dozen outlets across the country, this is the only outlet in Penang so far.
Franco French Toast (RM17.80) is one of the most popular dishes here. The toast is made from a special type of bread called "Queen Bread", which is thoroughly dipped in beaten eggs. The bread is pan-fried and then served stacked on top one another in a warm iron pan. The toast is topped with whipped cream and icing sugar, while maple syrup is provided separately. The fluffy nature of the bread and savory butter-like savoriness make this dish very agreeable with my palate.
Orijinaru Soufflé Pancake (オリジナルスフレパンケーキ, RM13.80) is made to order and requires 20 minutes to prepare from scratch. This dish is the assimilation of traditional French pastry with elements of Japanese baking techniques. As soon as the pancake is served, sweet-smelling aroma permeates the immediate vicinity, turning over several heads in the process.
The pancake is quite thick and is served warm. Both facts explain why the center of the pancake feels moist. The pastry appears fluffy yet not too crumbly to an extent where it flakes off. Indeed, the word "soufflé" means "to puff" in French. The pancake best enjoyed in small bites and especially with some maple syrup. Overall, I think this is a commendable dish and is best shared around the table.
The word "yūmeina" means "famous" in Japanese, so the fact that Spaghetti Yūmeina (有名なスパゲッティ, RM28.80) is the bestseller in Franco should not come as a surprise. Off the bat, I am immediately impressed with the enormous serving size. Also included in this oversized dish are smoked chicken ham, shimeji mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, eggplant, baby spinach, cabbage, onion and sesame seeds.
Spaghetti is cooked al dente and complements harmoniously with the broth. All ingredients are brought together in a seamless manner through a special blend of broth based on soy sauce. The broth is water-based, which explains why the pasta does not feel greasy at all. A poached egg (温泉卵) takes the center stage, boasting its solidified albumen which envelopes a runny yolk.
Next, Berries Cheesecake Decadent Parfait (RM15.80) is a French frozen dessert made from alternating layers of soft serve vanilla ice cream and Philadelphia cream cheese. Graham crackers provide the much-needed crispiness, while fresh blueberries and strawberries punctuate the dessert with fruity sourness. Once again, this serving of parfait is significantly larger than average ones sold in other restaurants or shopping mall kiosks.
Iced Matcha Latte With Matcha Softee (RM14.80) is a matcha-lover's dream come true. Served in a stoneware cup similar to Japanese tea cups, the drink is infused with mild, satisfying bitterness of ground tea leaves. Meanwhile, soft serve matcha ice cream towers above the rim of the cup. If you are a matcha-lover and need to choose between a drink and an ice cream, why not pick both?
Overall, Franco impresses me with its large serving size, well-balanced flavoring and creative fusion gourmet. Besides the à la carte menu, the restaurant also offers 3-course lunch (from RM19.90) and 4-course dinner (RM35.90) every day. It is also interesting to note that Franco is a pork-free restaurant and does not serve alcohol.

Name: Franco
Address: Alora Hotel Penang, 19, Medan Kampung Relau, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-646-7777
Business hours: 12:00pm-11:00pm
Website: http://www.alorahotel.com
Coordinates: 5.33366 N, 100.29441 E
Directions: Alora Hotel is a 19-floor building in Bayan Point. Franco is located on the Ground Floor and next to the hotel lobby. Basement parking is accessible from the west side of the hotel. The parking fee is RM1.00 per hour.

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