Big Pot Dining

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Located next to Million Loh Mee in Farlim, Big Pot Dining (大碗宫美食工作坊) is managed by the same proprietor as Kong Bee Lee (广美利). Despite the similar name, this restaurant unrelated to the former Tua Wa Kong (大碗公) restaurant at Jalan Krian.
Big Pot Dining retains pan mee (板面) as its main theme. Ever passionate in culinary arts, the chef Nic has expanded the menu to include rice dishes, bento sets and even burgers. Many recipes are inspired during Nic's regular trips to Taiwan.
Our first bowl of pan mee is the Taiwanese Style Drypan Mee (炸酱板面, RM6.90). This dish is served with minced pork, boiled egg and anchovies. As this is a dry dish, a bowl of soup is included.
Our first impression is that the noodle portion is larger than typical restaurants. In addition, the noodles feel "heavier" , therefore an entire bowl is very filling for one person. In terms of taste, the minced pork is properly seasoned to our satisfaction.

Another bowl of pan mee is the Tomyam Dry Pan Mee (东炎板面, RM7.50). This serving consists of the same pan mee, but with minced chicken flavored with tomyam sauce as well as a portion of fried fish.
I love the tangy sensation of tomyam sauce; it has a good compatibility with pan mee. The fried fish is also delightful to eat, thanks to its light texture and perfect degree of heating.

Pan mee is available three different sizes: thick (粗), thin (细) and hand tear (手捏). There are also several types of spicy condiments to consume with pan mee. I particularly like Hot Mama Sauce (辣妈酱) and Spicy Sauce (香辣酱). All condiments are prepared fresh and made in-house.
Apart from pan mee, we also tried a serving of Teriyaki Chicken Bento (日式照烧鸡腿饭便当, RM13.90). This bento comprises of a portion of grilled chicken, rice, salad, watermelon slices and a bowl of soup.
The main highlight of this bento meal is the succulent grilled chicken flavored with teriyaki sauce. Unlike certain restaurants where teriyaki sauce is dispensed from packaged bottles, the one used in Big Pot Dining is made in-house daily to ensure freshness.
The bento meal is accompanied by miso soup. As Nic explained, miso soup served in Malaysia is usually modified to suit local taste buds. The authentic recipe from Japan uses bamboo shoot as an ingredient. Nic introduced the authentic recipe before, but unfortunately this does not run well with most customers.
We were treated with a complimentary bowl of Shi Zi Noodle (狮子面). This dish uses the house-signature pan mee with specially-seasoned minced pork and shredded carrots. The noodle carries an interesting mixture of sweet, sour and salty sensations. This is a departure from typical Taiwanese cuisine which tends to avoid mixture of different flavors.
The Shi Zi Noodle is still being experimented in the kitchen; the recipe still requires fine-tuning before this dish is available on the menu.

For side orders, we had a plate of Fried Dumpling (炸香水饺, RM4.50) which comes in three pieces. The dumplings are delectable and crispy when eaten hot. The amount of minced pork fillings inside is also reasonable.
As recommended, we also sampled a bowl of Kimchi Fried Rice (泡菜炒饭, RM8.00). Rice used here is the short-grained type usually found in Taiwanese and Japanese cuisine. Ingredients used for fried rice includes kimchi (seasoned Napa cabbage) and pork slices.
We were told that the kimchi is sourced from ethnic Koreans living here in Penang, not made by locals. Indeed, the flavor of this kimchi is different from the local counterparts. While the local version is excessively spicy, the Korean recipe is only mildly so but still flavorful nevertheless.

The serving of Dressing Salad (RM4.50) is a large plate of shredded cabbage and sliced cucumber with Thousand Island dressing. Although the dressing looks nice visually, I think it is rather excessively wasteful.
Big Pot Dining's business strategy is simple: to provide value-for-money through decent quality and serving portion. Its core business is still pan mee, but the appeal of other dishes is also encouraging.

According to Nic, the Kong Bee Lee outlet at Taman Kheng Tian will eventually be upgraded to this new concept. There is also a plan to open a new outlet in Bayan Baru soon, considering that the Kong Bee Lee outlet there has been converted to Tatsu Jin. I look forward to the new opening.

Address: 17A, Medan Angsana, Bandar Baru Air Itam, 11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-828-4684
Business hours: 9:00am-10:00pm (Sunday), 10:00am-10:00pm (Monday-Saturday)

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