Chia Bee Bah Kut Teh

Chia Bee Bah Kut Teh (知味肉骨茶) a popular eatery in Alor Setar. It is located next to Sentosa Regency Hotel. As recommended by locals, this marks my second visit to this restaurant.
The signature dish here is Fried Fish (炒鱼). The choice of fish is shark. There are two versions of this dish. The gravy version suits my palate better, whereas the dry type has stronger aroma.
Today's cooking is the gravy version. This fish enjoys heavy seasoning from fermented bean paste (豆瓣酱), shredded ginger (姜丝), fried garlic (蒜茸) and green onion (青葱). This recipe is unique and is unlike anything else that I have encountered before. I think it would be a sin not to try this dish when visiting Alor Setar.

The dish of Kam Heong Mantis Shrimps (甘香虾蛄) has irresistibly sweet-spicy coating that makes it so appetizing. The aroma of this dish is appealing too.
As for seafood, Stir-Fried Lala (炒啦啦) is served today. This dish has a moderate level of spiciness.
Meanwhile, Stir-Fried Squid (炒鱿鱼) has firm and crunchy texture. Served with dried chili, onion and scallion, this dish is slightly spicy.
As for vegetables, Fried You Mak (清炒油麦) is cooked with watery gravy to retain the leaves' juiciness. Carrots, baby corn and oyster mushrooms are also thrown into the mix.
Fried Sweet Potato Leaves (清炒番薯叶) is another vegetable dish that we ordered today. While I was growing up, this is one of my favorite vegetables because the leaves are soft and silky.
Overall, the food at Chia Bee Bah Kut Teh is reasonably good. In particular, the Fried Fish remains as the must-try dish for anyone who visits Alor Setar for the first time.
Address: 42-A, Jalan Putra, 05150 Alor Setar, Kedah
Contact: 04-733-7005
Business hours: 8:00am-4:00pm

Loh Kee Yin Yong King

Restoran Jing Feng (锦凤美食馆) is a nighttime eatery in Alor Setar. The shop is located near the Honda Service Center and Flamingo nightclub. There is only one stall here: Loh Kee Yin Yong King (罗记鸳鸯王).
There are a number of stir-fried dishes on the menu, but Char Yin Yong (炒鸳鸯, RM8.00) is what this stall is renowned for. "Ying Yong" refers to the mixture of two types of noodle, namely rice vermicelli (米粉) and flat noodle (粿条). The latter is particularly dark because it is cooked with thick soy sauce.
Char Yin Yong is served in starchy gravy. The dish is similar to Cantonese-style Wat Tan Ho (滑蛋河) but without eggs. Other ingredients used in Char Yin Yong are pork, pork liver, fish cake and bok choy (白菜). Overall the taste is acceptable, although I wish that there is more "fiery aroma" (镬气) during cooking.
The next dish is Char Oo Mee (炒黑面, RM8.00), which is similar to Hokkien Char (福建炒) in Klang Valley. Many ingredients are similar between both dishes, such as dark sauce and pork lard (猪油渣). One notable difference is that Char Oo Mee uses regular yellow noodle, which I do not find so compatible with dark sauce.
Fried Chicken Wings (炸鸡翼, RM2.00 each) are very well-marinated. I enjoy every bit of this dish.
As for Fried Mackerel (炸甘望鱼, RM2.00 each), the heads are sufficiently crispy that they can be eaten. The fish is scrumptious but slightly on the oily side.
Overall, the food at Loh Kee Yin Yong King is reasonably affordable even by Alor Setar standards. Although the taste is not particularly fantastic per se, I think it's still a decent place to have dinner.

Address: 1002-A, Jalan Tunku Halim, 05100 Alor Setar, Kedah
Contact: 012-473-2294
Business hours: 7:30pm-12:00am, closed on Mondays

7 Village

Besides the outlet at Lorong Abu Siti, 7 Village Noodle House (七廊粿条汤) has another outlet in Bukit Tengah, just opposite of one end of Icon City.
7 Village is a classic example of how to streamline the menu for multi-outlet operation. The number of food dishes is limited to several popular ones. Other side dishes are either prepared upfront or easy to prepare (for example deep-frying).
The signature dish is 7-Village Guo Tiao Tang (七廊粿条汤, RM3.50). The flat noodles are quite springy and delightful to chew. While the soup is nice, generous amount of minced pork also contribute to its appeal. Also included are pork innards such as liver. Unfortunately, the fish balls are artificially springy; I wonder how much flour is used?
7-Village Lamian (七廊拉面, RM7.50) is available in either dry (干) or soup (汤) version. In either case, scrumptious slices of pork contribute bulk of the flavor. To a lesser extent, minced pork also helps to enhance this dish.
An egg is used the lamian dish, but I think it works better for the soup version. The bowl of soup provides better setting for cooking (at least partially) the egg, but the dry version allows the egg to remain runny.
Lamian noodles is prepared in-house, which explains why it feels fresh. However, I think the composition of dough deserves some fine-tuning.
On the special menu is Curry Noodles (咖哩拌面, RM3.00). Although the soup version is available, we opted for the dry version. The dry version turned out to be simply less soup. Besides noodles and curry, this no-frills dish contains only bean curds, onions and lettuce leaves.
As for side dishes, we ordered some Traditional Lobak (传统卤肉, RM2.00) and Traditional Kwan Jiang (传统广将, RM1.00). The former uses chopped pork instead of minced pork, therefore the texture of its filling is quite coarse. The latter is the meatless version of the former. Although reasonably appetizing, I think the portions of both dishes are too small to be properly enjoyed.
The service at 7 Village is not as efficient as it should be. There were several mistakes with the orders and food took quite a while to arrive. Although certain sections of the dining area have air-conditioning, the premises is quite warm during noon. The restaurant also requires more improvement in terms of hygiene, particularly in the restrooms.
Address: 58, Jalan Bayu Mutiara 1, Taman Bayu Mutiara, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-508-1216
Business hours: 7:30am-1:00pm (Sunday), 7:30am-10:00pm (Monday-Saturday)

The Cafe

Special thanks to Georgetown City Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

After a long week at work, my next visit is Georgetown City Hotel at Pulau Tikus. This hotel was formerly known as Berjaya Penang Hotel.
My previous visit to The Cafe was during the International Buffet Dinner on weekends. On Friday evenings like tonight, the restaurant serves Oriental Buffet With Teochew Porridge Specialities. This buffet is open from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.
The main specialty in this buffet is Teochew Porridge. Teochew porridge is notable for having a large number of condiments to go with it. Examples are dried shrimps, salted duck eggs, peanuts, anchovies and douchi just to name a few.
There are two types of porridges to choose from. For Sweet Potato Porridge, it has a mild sweetness without being overpowering. This is the preferred choice if you want to enjoy the condiments directly.
But if you prefer porridge to be more savory, the Oyster Porridge is the one for you. Within the porridge are dried oysters with strong flavor.
Another important feature of tonight's buffet is the grilling station. Manning the station is Chef Sim, Executive Chef of the restaurant.
Unlike the International Buffet Dinner, there is only one type of "meat" at the grilling station: Tilapia. But even one item is more than sufficient. Nicely-marinated fillets are presented on a bed of ice.
Since it is important to serve fresh food, tilapia is only grilled when ordered. It is worth the wait (several minutes) because the fish is nicely flavored and blessed with toasty aroma.
As for condiments, Air Asam and Sambal Kicap are provided to go with the grilled tilapia.
As for pre-cooked dishes, the poultry dish is Ayam Madu, which means "honey chicken" in Malay. The chicken is stewed with rich, creamy curry for a satisfying dining experience. I also like the mild sweetness present in the chicken flesh.
Mutton-lovers will be delighted to try the Tamarind Lamb Chops. Succulent steaks of lamb are grilled to perfection and flavored with lovely tamarind gravy.
Moving to the marine kingdom, the next dish is Fish Curry With Lady's Fingers. The level of spiciness is quite respectable.
Telur Dadar is a Malay-style omelette. It is made from beaten eggs are baked with red chili pepper, onion and scallion (spring onion).
Chinese-style cooking is represented by this dish of Tofu With Tau See Fish. Here, dried bean curd is cooked with fish flavored with fermented black soy bean (豆豉). Other ingredients are bell pepper, carrot and onion.
If you like something with strong flavor, have some Mui Cai (梅菜) or pickled Chinese mustard. This dish is topped with fried garlic for improved aroma.
As for Seasonal Vegetables, the ingredients are shiitake mushroom, broccoli and carrot.
At the back section of the restaurant is a station for Char Hor Fun. A pot of egg gravy is kept boiling for customers to use for reheating the noodle.
The noodle is prepared upfront and is technically cooked already. To enjoy this dish, simply reheat some noodle into the egg gravy for several seconds.
Ingredients to go with Char Hor Fun are fresh shrimp, fish ball and button mushroom. I tend to go gaga over fresh shrimp.
Next to the Char Hor Fun counter is another local delicacy, Penang Rojak. Customers can choose from a handful of fresh fruits to be mixed with sweet shrimp sauce.
Like my previous visit, the salad bar does not fail to awe.
Seafood lovers may want to start with Prawns & Apple Salad.
There is also Diced Sausage Salad which is flavored with Thousand Island dressing.
The Hash Brown Salad is another salad of choice today.
For cold cuts, Chicken Ham is available for customers' enjoyment.
Considering the pricing of this buffet, the dessert section is also not something to be trifled with. There is a good variety of pastries and sweets to satisfy everyone.
Cocoa-philes should find the Chocolate Cake irresistible at first sight. Cubes of chocolate sponge cake are coated with thick chocolate syrup and sprinkled with crunchy almonds.
Next is Butter Cheesecake, which is presented in convenient bite-size pieces. A shower of powdered sugar covers the top.
The Pandan Cheesecake is also prepared in small portions for sampling. By now, it is evident that the pastry chef goes through great lengths in cake decoration.
We subsequently move on to Pineapple Tarts, where crunchy almond is set on top of the pineapple confiture.
You may also want to sample a piece of Raspberry Cake. Once again, the cake has been cut into convenient bite-size portions.
For something sweet and fruity, help yourself to some cooling Mango Custard.
Alternatively, there is also Strawberry Jelly with evaporated milk on top.
Surrender to your desire to dig in a cup of Cream Custard. Or perhaps some marshmallows too, just because you have been longing for some.
As for a cooling dessert, the Ice Kacang should do the trick. Ingredients available are attap chee (fruit of nipa palm), basil seed, red bean, sweet corn, nutmeg, peanuts and raisins. Just choose your favorite ingredients and let the staff assist you with the shaved ice.
Several ice cream flavors are also available. I am adding a scoop of yam-flavored ice cream on top of my Ice Kacang. Feel free to up the ante with double- or triple-scoops!
Last but not least, conclude the meal with some iced Fruit Punch. This sweet-tangy dessert is an excellent thirst-quencher to conclude a very satisfying meal.
The Cafe's Oriental Buffet With Teochew Porridge Specialities is priced at RM31.00 for an adult, RM25.00 for a child. These are net prices. Relative to pricing, the quality and variety of dishes has good value for money. In addition, credit card holders of CIMB and Standard Chartered Bank enjoy 20% and 15% discount on top of the already-attractive prices.

Name: The Cafe
Address: Georgetown City Hotel, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-220-7373
Business hours: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.43301 N, 100.30679 E
Directions: Georgetown City Hotel is adjacent to Midlands 1-Stop. The Cafe is located towards the right from the main entrance. There are ample of parking spaces at the basement. Diners at The Cafe can get their parking ticket validated for flat parking rate of RM3.00 for 3 hours.