R's Café & Dog Park

Special thanks to R's Café & Dog Park for extending this food review invitation.

R's Café & Dog Park just opened for business earlier this month. Located in Taman Mesra Permai, this pet-theme café is several doors away from Tiffin Cottage. A flight of stairs on the side lead to R's Café on the upper floor.
In fact, R's Café has been operating for some time until the end of last year. This new opening is under a new management. The proprietors are a couple who wish to combine their passion for cooking and their love for dogs.
R's Café was named so because the previous batch of dogs all had names that start with the letter "R". Interestingly, the new canines now have names that start with the letter "C". Nevertheless, there are currently no plans to change the name of the café.
The six resident dogs here are Coby, Chloe, Charlie, Canon, Christine and Corner. They were all adopted from animal shelters. The owners have opted to raise dogs of smaller breeds in order to present a more kid-friendly atmosphere.
The dog-petting café is perfect for people who love dogs but are unable to have pets in their own homes. In addition, R's Café also provides the opportunity for children to learn how to interact with animals.
R's Café's food menu consists mainly of Western dishes and snacks. For starters, go for a bowl of Mushroom Soup (RM6.90). Since the soup is prepared from actual mushrooms, it has a grainy consistency that is quite satisfying. Each bowl of soup comes with two slices of garlic bread.
Moving on to main dishes, Chicken Cordon Bleu (RM18.90) is an interesting choice. Butterflied breast is wrapped around chicken ham and cheese, and then fried with crispy breading. Like most main dishes, Chicken Cordon Bleu comes with garden salad and a generous serving of fries.
Next, Chicken Parmigiana (RM18.90) is essentially deep-fried chicken chop covered with tomato sauce and cheese. The dish is baked in an oven until the cheese melts. Chicken Parmigiana is served with salad and fries on the side.
The signature dish of R's Café is Chicken Chop With Roasted Sesame Sauce (RM15.90). The sauce is similar to goma dressing in Japanese cuisine. I think the rich sauce is the perfect companion to fried chicken shop. The grilled version of this dish is also available.
I highly recommend Spaghetti With Roasted Sesame Sauce (RM15.90). Once again, the unique sauce finds a creative use in this pasta dish. Roasted sesame sauce has similar creaminess to carbonara but is richer in taste. The spaghetti is also served with chicken ham and cheese.
Homemade beverages include Lo Han Guo (RM4.00) and Iced Lemon Tea (RM4.50). Both drinks are perfect for quenching thirst. In addition, R's Café is also planning to introduce espresso-based coffee in the near future.
Customers are allowed to bring their own pet dogs into R's Café. After all, it is good for dogs to make new friends. However, pet owners must keep their dogs under close supervision. In addition, it is worth noting that R's Café provides dog boarding services. The dog kennel is entirely cageless.
Name: R's Café & Dog Park
Address: 10, Lorong Mesra Permai 4, Taman Mesra Permai, 13400 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 018-958-9043
Business hours: 12:00pm-10:00pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/rscafendogpark
Coordinates: 5.43048 N, 100.39339 E
Directions: R's Café is located in Taman Mesra Permai, Butterworth. The restaurant is several doors away from Tiffin Cottage and faces Jalan Ong Yi How. Street parking is available in front of the restaurant.

Bincho By Sango

Special thanks to Bincho By Sango for extending this food review invitation.

Bincho By Sango is the latest addition to the Sango Group of Restaurants. The group's flagship restaurant is Sango Japanese Restaurant (珊瑚日本料理), which is located inside Crystal Crown Hotel in Petaling Jaya. Meanwhile, this outlet at Sentral Jaya is the group's izakaya spin-off.
An izakaya (居酒屋) is the Japanese equivalent of a pub. In Japan, such drinking establishments are frequented by office workers after work. Besides alcoholic beverages, an izakaya typically serves light meals too. Bincho takes a step further by offering japas, a fusion of Spanish tapas and Japanese cuisine.
The bar near the entrance is where alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and liquor are prepared. Most drinks are served by the bottle, but certain types are also poured by the glass. As a Japanese drinking establishment, Bincho also carries several popular sake (酒, Japanese rice wine) and shochu (焼酎, Japanese liquor) brands.
Sake can be served chilled (冷酒), at room temperature (常温) or heated (熱燗). Hot sake is customarily consumed during winter. Although some flavors may be lost, the wine's aroma plays a more prominent role. Sake is poured into a ceramic flask called tokkuri (徳利), where it is heated by hot water. This 300 ml bottle of Kacho Fugetsu (花鳥風月, RM68.00) contains approximately 14% alcohol by volume.
In addition, Bincho offers several brands of draft beer like Guinness, Heineken and Tiger. Our choice this evening is Kirin Ichiban (一番搾り, RM12.00), one of the most popular beers in Japan. With a frothy head, the beer tastes remarkably fresh and smooth. It is served in a frosty glass to keep the drink chilled as long as possible.
Alcoholic beverages go particularly well with kushiyaki (串焼き). Sango Signature Platter (RM49.00) allows diners to savor multiple crowd favorites at a time. The platter consists of tsukune (つくね, chicken meatballs), chicken wings, wagyu cubes, salmon cubes and sweet potatoes. Sweet-savory tare sauce and quail egg are provided too.
Creamy Baked Oysters (RM25.00) are presented over a bed of coarse salt crystals. They are each gratinéed with mentaiko (明太子, spicy roe) and mayonnaise. Like most izakaya food items, the oysters are heavily seasoned in order to complement alcoholic beverages. Their creamy texture is satisfying indeed.
The next dish is Bonded Unagi & Foie Gras (RM35.00). This japas cleverly combines the unique flavors and textures of foie gras, unagi (うなぎ, freshwater eel) and fried egg. Flavored with tare sauce, each bite-size piece is elegantly presented on a ceramic spoon. I am particularly fond of the buttery texture of foie gras as it melts in my mouth.
Seared Blue Fin Tuna With Foie Gras (RM36.00) is another similar dish. In this case, foie gras is served over bluefin tuna, unagi and apple chutney. Tare sauce is added for extra flavor. The dish is garnished with thin slices of fried lotus, whose crispiness really enhances the overall texture. I am quite impressed with this delicacy.
For something more filling, Hot Stone Bowl Rice (RM35.00) is topped with seafood ingredients like unagi, scallops, shrimps, tobiko (とびこ, fish roe) and seaweed (ワカメ). It also comes with onsen tamago (温泉玉子, hot spring egg), minced chicken and tare sauce. Mix the ingredients thoroughly before consuming. Be extra careful with the stone bowl because it is scorching hot.
Truffled Wagyu Donburi (RM35.00) is my favorite dish this evening. This gratifying delicacy contains succulent slices of wagyu beef. Beef is cooked medium rare in order to allow diners to appreciate its premium quality. Besides onsen tamago and tare sauce, truffle oil is also added to elevate aroma to a whole new level. Last but not least, fried garlic serves as icing on the cake.
Tobanyaki (陶板焼き, RM65.00) features a serving of premium wagyu beef with fine marbling. The thin slices of beef are to be grilled on a hot ceramic plate, which is heated by burning charcoal below. This exquisite delicacy also comes with shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, bean sprouts and asparagus. Spicy garlic sauce is provided.
Thanks to dim lighting and light music in the background, Bincho presents a relaxing yet lively ambience for casual drinking. In case the main dining area is fully occupied, the izakaya establishment has extra dining tables upstairs. In addition, Bincho provides two private rooms that can accommodate up to 10 people each.
Name: Bincho By Sango
Address: 29, Jalan Sentral Jaya, Pusat Perniagaan Sentral Jaya, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-502-4920
Business hours: 12:00pm-1:00am
Website: https://www.facebook.com/binchosangojuru
Coordinates: 5.34132 N, 100.43508 E
Directions: From the North-South Expressway, take the Bukit Mertajam exit and head east. Make a U-turn at the next traffic lights. Turn left into Sentral Jaya. Bincho is near the center of the row of shops. There are parking spaces in front and the back of the restaurant.

Platform 9 3/4

Special thanks to Platform 9 3/4 Fine Dining & Cellar for extending this food review invitation.

Harry Potter fans will be pleased to know that there is a new restaurant called Platform 9 3/4 Fine Dining & Cellar at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine). It is named after the magical platform at King's Cross railway station, at which Harry Potter boards the train to Hogwarts. Indeed, the fine dining establishment is designed to resemble Hogwarts' Great Hall. Flying books above the floor present an almost mystical setting.
Wine cellars are usually built underground to reduce temperature swings. However at Platform 9 3/4, the wine cellar is defiantly placed at the lightwell. A living tree in the cellar is supposed to provide enough shade for wine bottles. But since the tree has not grown enough foliage, the ceiling must be covered during the day.
Besides à la carte dishes, Platform 9 3/4 offers 6-course dégustation menu. This season, the dishes revolve around earthy elements. The course meal is priced between RM220.00 and RM280.00 and includes a glass of wine. The actual dishes will be revised from time to time as the season progresses.
Our meal begins with Tomato Texture, a unique mixture of tomato gazpacho and watermelon granita. Also included are dehydrated tomatoes, basil seeds and mint. A lemon sphere is meant to be punctured to provide sourness. This sweet-and-sour starter truly keeps the appetite up.
Next, Mushroom Texture delights the palate with earthy flavors of portobello mushrooms. Topped with Béarnaise sauce and truffle foam, this gratifying delicacy is also garnished with dehydrated shimeji mushroom, onion confit and truffle aioli. The aroma is further enhanced with truffle oil.
Beef Cheek is served au jus and with roasted sesame seeds, sour cream and beef cheek bacon. Meanwhile, ravioli are filled with braised striploin. Two types of ravioli skin are used: spinach and sweet corn. Thanks to excellent cooking, the beef cheeks are exquisite indeed.
Cream Of Cauliflower Soup contains a fair amount of crispy croutons. In addition, the presence of truffle oil elevates the soup to an entirely new level. But perhaps most important of all, the soup is presented with a piece of foie gras, which literally melts in the mouth like butter. Last but not least, dehydrated cauliflower is added for a light texture of crispiness.
Duck Confit is one of the main course options. This French delicacy is cured with salt and poached in its own fat for several hours. To compensate for dryness, port wine reduction is added to lend a degree of sweetness. Served on the side are onion chutney, mashed potato, sautéed vegetables and dehydrated zucchini.
Cod Fish is arguably the most well received choice for the main course. Grilled to perfection, the fillet is truly succulent in its entirety. The fish is also served with mango sphere, mashed potato, sautéed vegetables, quail egg and black caviar.
An alternative choice for the main course is Burned Salmon. The salmon fillet is seasoned with balsamic vinegar, honey and soy sauce. The dish comes with mashed potato, sautéed vegetables, charred onion and herb aioli too. Shrimp roe is added for aesthetic appeal.
Moving on to the dessert, Apple Crème Brûlée comprises of sweet custard with caramelized sugar on top. Being rich in eggs, the crème brûlée is creamy indeed. Meanwhile, buttermilk apple chutney on the side is the chef's special creation.
For customers who are on a limited budget, the restaurant also offers a 4-course chef tasting menu with fewer starters and choices for the main course. The restaurant's menu is entirely pork-free.
Platform 9 3/4 is a popular venue for birthday celebrations and marriage proposals. Diners who prefer more privacy may request to be seated in a small dining room upstairs. The restaurant closes at 11:00pm, but if the night is young, you may head for the bar at the front for a round of drinks.
Name: Platform 9 3/4 Fine Dining & Cellar
Address: 61, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-251-9223
Business hours: 6:00pm-11:00pm
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.41199 N, 100.33199 E
Directions: Platform 9 3/4 is located at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), approximately 200 meters from the junction with Jalan C.Y. Choy. The restaurant is located on the left side of this one-way street. There is an outdoor parking space on the opposite side of Magazine Road. The parking fee here is RM3.00 per entry.

Master Of Spirits 61

Special thanks to Master Of Spirits 61 for extending this food review invitation.

Master Of Spirits 61 (酒匠61) is a hidden bar at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine). There are absolutely no signboards on its facade. This drinking establishment was restored from a dilapidated shop while retaining its original architecture. It specializes in molecular cocktails, which is the main focus of today's review.
Cocktail sampling kicks off with Poison Potion (RM68.00), which is presented in a skull-shaped glass. The drink is concocted from Apple Fox cider, pomegranate juice and whisky. Upon closer inspection, one notices edible glitter suspended in the drink. Poison Potion has a sweet-sour fruitiness, making it the ideal choice for casual drinkers.
Next, Whisky Shower (RM38.00) is obviously a parody of Whisky Sour. Like the popular mixed drink, Whisky Shower is prepared from whisky, lemon juice, egg white and honey. The floating honey foam is an impressive handiwork of molecular gastronomy.
Moving on, Old Fashioned (RM38.00) is a mixture of whisky, bitters and sugar. A piece of honeycomb is allowed to dissolve in the full body cocktail. Unfortunately honeycomb is not available today, so the bartender had to improvise with honey-glazed apple.
Alcoholic beverages go well with finger foods. To this end, the bar offers a tapas menu which covers familiar snacks like Truffle Fries (RM15.00), Chicken Popcorn (RM15.00), Deep-Fried Calamari (RM15.00), Smoked Duck Breast and Fish And Chips. Some of these dishes come with dipping sauces like tartar sauce, horseradish sauce and sour cream. The tartar sauce is surprisingly good.
Besides cocktails, Master Of Spirits 61 also pours draft beer and liquor like whisky, rum and gin. Further from the bar is the lounge area and a private room. Smoking is permitted, but unlike Magazine 63 next door, the air here is surprisingly fresh. A two-piece band performs every Friday and Saturday evening starting 11:00pm. While you are here, do check out Platform 9 3/4 at the back section of this drinking establishment.
Name: Master Of Spirits 61
Address: 61, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-526-8187
Business hours: 6:00pm-3:00am
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.41221 N, 100.33206 E
Directions: Master Of Spirits 61 is located at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), approximately 200 meters from the junction with Jalan C.Y. Choy. The bar is located on the left side of this one-way street. There is an outdoor parking space on the opposite side of Magazine Road. The parking fee here is RM3.00 per entry.

Pho Viet

Special thanks to Pho Viet for extending this food review invitation.

Pho Viet is a small Vietnamese eatery along Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai). Its food menu is a combination of traditional dishes from various regions around the country. The restaurant is operated by ethnic Vietnamese, so you can expect the food here to be as authentic as it gets.
The restaurant's entrance is decorated with Vietnamese lanterns and nón lá (farmer's hats). Stepping inside, the dining section presents a homely feeling reminiscent of Vietnamese hospitality. Because Pho Viet is celebrating International Women's Day this weekend, the dining tables are covered with red tablecloths.
Today's meal begins with a starter dish called Gỏi Bưởi (RM18.00). The plate of pomelo and shrimp salad is served with sweet sauce. The dressing also has moderate spiciness, which does a good job in building appetite.
Combo Set B (RM29.00) allows customers to savor gỏi cuốn. These Vietnamese spring rolls contain a variety of fillings like chicken, beef, pork or shrimps, as well as bún (rice vermicelli) and vegetables. The skin is made of soft rice paper called bánh tráng. As for condiments, the platter comes with nước chấm (spicy fish sauce) and tương đậu phộng (peanut sauce).
Diners can also opt for Combo Set A (RM39.00), which comprises of gỏi cuốn, chả rế (deep-fried spring rolls) and chạo tôm (grilled prawn cakes on lemongrass sticks). These signature finger foods are best enjoyed with nước chấm and tương đậu phộng.
Phở Bò (RM14.00) is perhaps one of the most iconic Vietnamese dishes to most people outside Vietnam. The broth is boiled with beef bones for over 8 hours, culminating in immensely rich flavors. Phở Bò is customarily eaten with bánh phở (rice noodle), beef slices, coriander and onions. Served on the side are húng quế (Thai basil), bean sprouts, red chili peppers and lime.
If you are fond of fried tofu, Đậu Hũ Chiên Xả (RM10.00) should appeal to your palate. Tofu is prepared in bite-size pieces in order to maximize its crispiness. Lemongrass and chili peppers season the tofu in an appetizing manner. I cannot recommend this dish highly enough.
Cà Phê Sữa Đá (RM7.50) is probably the most popular drink here. I love the bitter aftertaste of Vietnamese coffee on my tongue. As for something refreshing, Sả Gừng Đá (RM7.00) has a soothing aroma as it is cooked from fresh lemongrass and ginger. Meanwhile, Chè Ba Màu (RM7.00) is the Vietnamese equivalent of Penang's local cendol.
Pho Viet has recently introduced a kids menu in effort to present a family-friendly setting. For example, this kids' meal consists of French fries, meatballs and watermelon cubes. Adorable plates and cutlery are used.
Each kids' meal comes with a glass of nước ép cam (orange juice). The drink has the right level of sweetness. A slice of orange on the glass' rim is for decorative purpose.
Pho Viet places strong emphasis on cooking food from scratch, which explains why it does not use MSG when preparing any of its dishes. To keep food taste as authentic as possible, the restaurant sources most ingredients from Vietnam. In spite of that, the food pricing here remains fairly affordable for most people.
Name: Pho Viet
Address: 496, Lebuh Pantai, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-559-1905
Business hours: 11:00am-10:00pm, closed on Thursdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/phovietvietnamesecuisine
Coordinates: 5.41226 N, 100.33460 E
Directions: Pho Viet is located on Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai), next to Magpie Heritage and near the intersection with Lebuh Prangin. Street parking is available along Beach Street.