D' Fat Mona Lisa

Special thanks to D' Fat Mona Lisa Café for extending this food review invitation.

D' Fat Mona Lisa Café is a restaurant-cum-café at Jalan Free School, just within a short driving distance from Penang Free School. Unlike most eateries, D' Fat Mona Lisa provides ample of parking spaces within its compound.
As a family-oriented establishment, D' Fat Mona Lisa presents a casual setting for people to dine and mingle. Thanks to its close proximity to several schools, the eatery is frequented by students and parents on weekdays. The menu is crafted to suit people from all walks of life; there are even vegetarian dishes on the menu.
Breakfast is served from 8:00am to 11:00am (11:30am on Sundays). There are 10 breakfast sets to choose from. Prices start as low as RM8.90 per meal. In addition, customers enjoy free flow of coffee and tea during breakfast.
Club Sandwich Monalisa (RM19.00) is one of the bestsellers during breakfast. The sandwich is filled with grilled chicken, chicken ham, fried egg and cheese. It is cut into halves and held together by cocktail sticks. Premium Shibuya bread is used for the sandwich. This explains why the bread remains firm and doughy even when it cools down. The sandwich comes with fries and salad on the side.
Char Siew Sauce Chicken (RM20.00) is another interesting choice. Savory pieces of barbecued chicken are served with multigrain bread, which is suitable for people with diabetes. Side items are jumbo cheese sausage, baked beans, hash browns, baked mushrooms, cooked tomatoes and garden salad.
Moving on to the main menu, Pan Grill Snapper Fillet Marinara (RM35.00) is recommended if you enjoy fish. The fillet is dressed with homemade marinara sauce. Sweet-tangy taste of the tomato-based sauce appeals to my palate. This dish also includes baby potatoes, bok choy, grilled corn, cooked tomatoes and assorted vegetables.
Pasta is one of D' Fat Mona Lisa's strongest forte. For instance, Vongole (RM27.00) is a classic Neapolitan dish of aglio olio spaghetti with fresh clams. Pasta is sautéed al dente with olive oil, garlic and black olives. I enjoy the lovely aroma of fresh basil too.
My personal favorite dish today is Chicken With Salted Egg Pasta (RM25.00). The spaghetti is infused salted duck eggs, which is prepared from scratch in the kitchen. This savory dish comes with crispy chicken tenders. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Meanwhile, diners who prefer a creamier pasta dish may opt for Smoked Duck Carbonara (RM27.00). The white sauce is creamy and very rich in taste. Succulent smoked duck and fresh mushrooms make the pasta dish tastier than it already is.
As for customers who prefer a lighter meal, Smoked Duck Pomegranate Salad (RM20.00) is a reasonable choice. Smoked duck, garden salad and black olives are brought together with sweet pomegranate dressing.
Turmeric Latte (RM13.00) is an interesting take on the classic Caffè Latte. The coffee is infused with turmeric, and then sprinkled with cinnamon powder on top. The aroma of spices is soothing indeed.
D' Fat Mona Lisa uses premium ingredients for its dishes. The restaurant does not attempt to cut corners in food quality. In spite of that, food pricing here remains fairly affordable to most people. The restaurant's comfortable ambience and free parking are huge advantages too.
In addition to being a restaurant, D' Fat Mona Lisa is able to host private events from corporate seminars to birthday parties. The large premises can accommodate over 100 guests. Food can be served in a buffet setting.

Name: D' Fat Mona Lisa Café
Address: 43, Jalan Free School, 11600 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-281-0797
Business hours: 8:00am-10:30pm, closed on Mondays
Website: https://www.dfatmonalisacafe.com
Coordinates: 5.40286 N, 100.30765 E
Directions: From Penang Free School, drive along Jalan Free School towards the round-about. D' Fat Mona Lisa Café is about 100 meters before the round-about, just opposite the retirement home. There is ample parking space within the compound.

4FINGERS

Special thanks to 4FINGERS Crispy Chicken for extending this food review invitation.

4FINGERS Crispy Chicken is a popular brand of fried chicken restaurants from Singapore. There are currently 2 outlets in Penang: Gurney Paragon Mall and Queensbay Mall. The latter store is located on Level 2.
In addition to the classic Soy Garlic and Hot Sauce flavors, 4FINGERS is introducing a new secret weapon: Firecracker Chicken. Customers have a choice of either drumsticks or wings. We opted for drumsticks. The combo meal comes with Skinny Fries and soft drinks.
Each piece of Firecracker Chicken is coated with 4FINGERS' signature soy sauce and powdery spice mix. The firecracker sauce has a devilish pungency; Szechuan pepper is the main villain behind its potent spiciness. If you think you can handle the Hot Sauce Chicken, the Firecracker Chicken certainly ups the ante.
4FINGERS' Firecracker Chicken is only available for a limited time, so hurry up while it is still available. By the way, each 4FINGERS outlet has been halal-certified.
Name: 4FINGERS Crispy Chicken
Address: 2F-96, Queensbay Mall, Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-611-5473
Business hours: 10:00am-10:00pm
Website: http://www.4fingers.com
Coordinates: 5.33218 N, 100.30708 E
Directions: 4FINGERS is located on Level 2 of Queensbay Mall, a short distance from Harvey Norman. Queensbay Mall has a multilevel parking garage and several outdoor parking spaces.

US Cowboy Cafe

US Cowboy Cafe is a Western theme restaurant at Promenade 28. Located above Oriental Red Seafood Market, the restaurant is accessible by a flight of spiral stairs on the side.
US Cowboy Cafe provides both indoor and outdoor dining areas. In line with the restaurant's theme, the place is decorated with cowboy and Native American ornaments.
My dinner choice is Soft Shell Crab Burger (RM23.90). Presented in a charcoal bun, the soft-shell crab is served with ham, cheese, lettuce, ketchup and mustard. Fries are provided on the side. In my opinion, the crab's texture does not work so well in a burger.
As for drinks, Nature Blue Latte (RM11.90) is milk tea with a layer of butterfly-pea flower extract on top. Apart from lending aesthetic appeal, butterfly-pea flower plays no role in this drink. I personally feel that the Nature Blue Latte lacks the taste and aroma of tea.
Address: 17, Persiaran Karpal Singh, 11600 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 011-5330-4888
Business hours: 11:00am-10:00pm, closed on Mondays
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Hainan Orkid Tropica

Kafe Hainan Orkid Tropica (驰名咖哩鱼头) is a restaurant in Taman Setia Jaya, near the Alor Setar (Utara) exit of North-South Expressway. The shop occupies the ground floor of a block of flats. Thanks to excellent ventilation, this open-air eatery is quite comfortable even during the heat of the day.
The signature dish of Hainan Orkid Tropica is Kari Kepala Ikan (咖哩鱼头). The restaurant uses wild caught fishes such as grouper. Actually, the restaurant uses the front half of the fish, not just the head. Although walk-ins are allowed, pre-ordering is highly recommended.
Kari Kepala Ikan (咖哩鱼头) is served in a large pan. Our fish head has a gross weight of 3.8 kilograms (3.5 kilograms after removing the gills). Despite the reddish color, the curry is not too spicy. In fact, it is rich in dairy milk and coconut milk. The fish head is cooked with eggplants (brinjals) and okra (lady's fingers). Chopped shallots and scallions serve as garnishes.
One of our side dishes is Sotong Goreng Tepung (咸蛋炸苏东). The squid rings are coated with light batter, making them extremely easy on the mouth. I feel that salted eggs are not spread evenly; it would be nicer if they were thoroughly mixed with batter.
Another recommended side dish is Tauhu Tumis (红烧豆腐). In this dish, egg tofu is braised with scallions, eggs and savory gravy. I think the amount of scallions used is excessive. I prefer tofu to take a more prominent role.
Moving on, I enjoy the crunchy mouthfeel of Taugeh (豆芽) as it does a great job in cleansing the palate after a heavy meal. The bean sprouts are cooked with scallions and salted fish.
Our meal for 10 people totals to RM290.80 including rice and drinks. Overall, the food is gratifying to my palate. In particular, I find the Kari Kepala Ikan scrumptious to the last morsel. If you ever come to this part of Alor Setar, you should really visit this fine eatery.

Address: Blok D-8A, Taman Setia Jaya, Jalan Langgar, 05460 Alor Setar, Kedah
Contact: 016-411-1162
Business hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 4:30pm-10:00pm, closed on Mondays
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Teochew Steamed Tua Ban

Pekan Cina was formerly the heart of Alor Setar's hawker scene. While most food stalls at Hai Tao Ki (海头街) have moved to a new location, several nighttime stalls remained along Jalan Dato Doktor Cheah Toon Lok. This one-way street is known locally as "Bak Beh" (猪肉街) due to a butchery here.
One of the stalls along Bak Beh sells Teochew Steamed Tua Ban (潮州蒸大板). It is operated by an elderly couple. Tua ban is a flat noodle that resembles koay teow. In addition, the stall also serves koay teow soup (粿条汤), tom yum (东炎) and minced pork porridge (肉碎粥).
Customers may add more ingredients, which are charged separately. Choices include sliced pork, cuttlefish, fish balls, mushrooms, tofu, yong tau foo (酿豆腐) and more. Food is prepared to order.
Tua ban is usually stir-fried, so it is interesting to see how Steamed Tua Ban (现蒸大板, RM7.00) fares. Although steaming does not infuse much "wok hei" (镬气) like stir-frying, the noodle has a soft texture that makes it quite delectable. I also appreciate the tangy taste of tomatoes. The dish contains bird's eye chili (小辣椒), so be careful if you are not used to eating spicy food.
There is a stall nearby that sells Lor Bak (卤肉). Our choices this evening are pork rolls (肉卷, RM1.50), prawn fritters (虾煎, RM1.50) and fried taro (芋头煎, RM2.00). The last one is particularly delicious. Starchy sauce and chili sauce are provided as condiments. The waiting time for Lor Bak is particularly long because the hawker cooks the food items meticulously.
Another stall sells drinks and desserts such as Si Koh T'ng (四果汤). Si Koh T'ng is a traditional Hokkien dessert that can be served hot or cold. The sweet soup contains lotus seeds (莲子), longan (龙眼), snow fungus (银耳), barley (薏米) and basil seeds (兰香子). I find this dessert refreshing indeed.
Address: Jalan Dato Doktor Cheah Toon Lok, 05000 Alor Setar, Kedah
Contact: N/A
Business hours: 4:30pm-12:30am
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