Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau

Special thanks to Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau for extending this food review invitation.

As far as food is concerned, Balik Pulau is famed for two things: asam laksa and durians. While durians are usually available on seasonal basis, asam laksa is available yearlong. Today's trip brings me to Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau (浮罗古早味) at the center of the town.
The eatery is furnished with wooden tables made from colorful planks. At one side of the wall is a painting of Balik Pulau scenery back in the old days. According to the proprietors, one of their goals is to preserve the nostalgia of Balik Pulau's historical charm.
Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau offers 2 types of laksa: Asam Laksa and Lemak Laksa. The former is renowned far and wide, but the latter has yet to receive mainstream recognition. In any case, the ingredients for both types of laksa are quite similar. They largely differ in soup recipes.
For Asam Laksa (亚参叻沙, RM4.00), tamarind (罗望子) is used to prepare the broth. This gives the soup a distinctive sense of sourness which characteristically defines this dish. Meanwhile, tuna is poached and flaked, then used to enrich the flavors of the broth. Usually mackerel is used for asam laksa, but I think tuna works as well.
The rice noodles used for this dish have rather springy texture. It is thicker than most types of Chinese noodles, but its porous texture allows the broth to penetrate the noodles thoroughly.
One key ingredient which helps to accentuate the sourness of the broth is ginger flower (姜花). Other fresh vegetables are cucumber, lettuce, mint leaves (薄荷叶) and pineapples. Dried chili (辣椒干) is used instead of bird's eye chili (小辣椒). Optionally, there is also shrimp paste (虾膏) which helps bring out the flavor of Asam Laksa.
Compared to its popular cousin, Lemak Laksa (暹罗叻沙, RM4.00) is not as well-known but still worthwhile some attention. Using coconut milk to prepare the soup, this dish derives its appeal from its richer broth and heavier presence of aromatic spices.
Personally, I think Asam Laksa gives a bigger bang on the first sip. However throughout the course of the entire bowl, Lemak Laksa derives different form of appeal from its creamier broth. I suggest that you try both types and decide which one you prefer.
Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau is operated by ethnic Hakkas (客家人), which explains why Hakka dishes are also available here. In fact, Balik Pulau has the highest concentration of Hakkas in Penang. Therefore, it is only fair to see how the Hakka Noodles (客家面, RM4.50) fare at this restaurant.
The plate of Hakka Noodles includes minced pork (肉碎), soy egg (卤蛋), soy bean curd (卤豆腐干) and cloud ear fungus (木耳). As far as seasoning is concerned, Hakka condiments tend to use stronger flavors. The restaurant also prepares its own chili sauce, which is maroon in color due to the use of red onions.
Meanwhile, the noodles are prepared fresh from dough, not from readily-made ones. This explains why the noodles have such delightful springiness. It is so delectable that I finished the entire bowl in no time.
The noodles are flavored with black sesame seeds (黑芝麻), which explains why they are gray in color. Other choices for noodles are pumpkin (金瓜) and pandan (香兰). Using hand-crank steamrollers, the dough is flattened and cut into long noodle strands. If you are really hungry, double the amount of noodles for only RM1.50!
The proprietors of Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau also produce their own nutmeg juice. Current supply is limited to in-house consumption only. Eventually, the restaurant will be introducing bottled nutmeg too. This glass of Nutmeg Juice (豆蔻水, RM2.00) is made from white nutmeg, which is blended instead of being boiled for the case of red nutmeg.
For something fancier, order a tall glass of Nutmeg Smoothies (豆蔻冰沙, RM4.00). Slushy ice is blended with nutmeg and passion fruit (百香果) cordial. Other cordial choices are blueberry (蓝莓) and kiwi (奇异果). The smoothies is not truly meant to quench thirst, but this cooling dessert is certainly welcomed during a hot afternoon.
Last but not least, Nutmeg Fried Ice (豆蔻炒冰, RM5.00) is made by "frying" nutmeg and mango (香芒) syrup on a heated pan. Heat produces thin sheets of packed ice, which are then folded over and served.
Vanilla ice cream, jelly cubes, crushed peanuts and chocolate drizzle are used as additional toppings. Occasionally, peanut ice cream is also available.
Overall, the food at Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau is quite satisfying and surprisingly affordable. I think it is a viable place to visit while exploring the countryside around Balik Pulau. According to the proprietors, the eatery will introduce more Hakka dishes such as Yong Tau Foo (酿豆腐) in the near future.
Name: Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau (浮罗古早味)
Address: 110, Jalan Balik Pulau, 11000 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-474-5178
Business hours: 10:00am-6:00pm, closed on Wednesdays
Coordinates: 5.35149 N, 100.23581 E
Directions: Along the mountain road from Paya Terubong, drive till the end to the town center of Balik Pulau. Turn left at the junction. Cafe Ko Cha Bi Balik Pulau is one of the shops on the left. It faces an open car park which provides plenty of parking spaces.

FIP Lounge

Special thanks to Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa for extending this food review invitation.

FIP Lounge is 1 year old! Well not exactly, but it's around a year - give or take. Opened on 17 November 2014, this hangout spot at Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa stands for "fun, interactive, play".
The concept behind FIP Lounge is to provide a laid-back atmosphere where friends can enjoy food while having fun at the same time. Visitors to FIP Lounge can pass the time with board games, interactive objects, trick artworks, a pool table and an electronic darts machine.
Every Saturday and Sunday, FIP Lounge hosts the Coffee And Cakes Buffet between 3:00pm and 6:00pm.
This afternoon feast features various types of sweet and savory treats. This includes cakes, macarons, mousse, sandwiches and scones. The buffet is priced at RM47.00 for an adult and RM24.00 for a child.
The resort has a dedicated pastry team to satisfy the palate of any cake lover. Commence with the Blueberry Cheese Cake for the creamy satisfaction.
Chocolate Orange Cake is also available on the rotating menu. Notice that the chef spares no expense in cake presentation.
Apple Crumble Cake has coarser texture but fruity sensation nevertheless. Raspberries and blueberries serve as toppings.
For fluffier texture, the Chocolate Chiffon Cake is a good bet.
There are also several types of cupcakes on tiered trays. Cupcake size is deliberately made small so that guests can sample more delicacies during the meal.
Peach and strawberry fruit mousse are also available. These treats are served in petite shot glasses.
There is also a wide assortment of bite-size tarts, scones and cookies. Extending this further, there are also strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue.
Originating in France, macarons are gaining popularity in East Asia especially Japan and South Korea. Even Malaysian bakeries are jumping on the bandwagon with this sugary confectionery.
Free-flowing coffee and tea are provided as part of the buffet. Bon appétit!
In the spirit of yuletide festival, Rasa Sayang unveiled a Christmas tree made from conchiglie! The tree stands around 2 meters in height.
The conical "tree" is located just outside Spice Market Café. Don't miss the opportunity to snap a photo of one good-looking fellow... alongside you. Get the joke?
Name: FIP Lounge
Address: Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-888-8788
Business hours: 11:00am-12:00am (Sunday-Thursday), 11:00am-1:00am (Friday-Saturday)
Coordinates: 5.47949 N, 100.25487 E
Directions: From Tanjung Bungah, travel west towards Batu Ferringhi. Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa is approximately 4.2 kilometers from Tanjung Bungah's floating mosque, located on the right. FIP Lounge is at Lobby level of the Garden wing.


Special thanks to Jeeves for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Located 2 shops away from Wheeler's Coffee is Jeeves Café 71 Love Lane. Opened several months ago, this restaurant is named after Reginald Jeeves, a fictional valet from P. G. Wodehouse's novels.
This European-style eatery features an all-day brunch menu. In addition, there are also soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes. Coffee and desserts are also available. The chef behind the scene is an experienced veteran of 14 years.
As Christmas is approaching, the interior décor of Jeeves is assuming a yuletide look. The entire length of ground floor serves as dining space, while the kitchen is located upstairs.
Today's meal starts with a bowl of British Tomato (RM13.80), which comes in reasonably large portion. Made from fresh tomatoes, the soup presents sweet-tangy sensation but is fortunately not too intense.
Also included in the bowl of soup are bacon bits and baked croutons. Basil is added for appetizing aroma and well as to accentuate the freshness of tomatoes. The soup is certainly recommended.
It is easy to identify signature dishes when their name contains the restaurant's. One of the most popular choice in this category is Jeeves Ultimate Ben (RM36.80). This dish is conceptually similar to Eggs Benedict: poached eggs with overflowing Hollandaise sauce. But what sets Jeeves Ultimate Ben apart is what it uses in place of English muffins.
At the very base of each stack is a hearty serving of pork patty. Minced pork is sufficiently loose such that the patty maintains savory juices. Various spices season the pork thoroughly in order to make it succulent with each bite. Also included are sautéed shrimps and mushrooms, both are fine additions to the patty. Bacon strip is also added near the top of the stack. This is a scrumptious meal indeed.
Another crowd favorite is Jeeves Big Breakfast (RM23.80). Presented elegantly on the platter are scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans and bread. Garden greens are provided on the side.
In particular, I must say that the sautéed mushrooms are quite delectable; I simply cannot have enough of this. Also worthwhile mentioning is the slice of toasted 6-grain bread, which is blessed with delightful mouthfeel that I have not encountered for quite some time. I look forward to trying other dishes that use the same bread.
Scrambled eggs are prepared just perfectly. The delicate emulsion is not overdone to the extent that it solidifies completely. Although thick in consistency, the generous portion of eggs is not surfeiting at all. Meanwhile, the two pieces of streaky bacon are quite enjoyable to chew. Not too salty either.
As for desserts, Jeeves usually prepares four types of homemade confectionery. As the desserts are made from natural ingredients without artificial preservatives, only a limited amount is prepared every day to maintain freshness.
The Italian-style Tiramisu (RM14.80) should strike a chord with most coffee lovers. Mascarpone cheese mousse is infused with bold coffee flavors, followed by a dense shower of dark chocolate powder. The mousse carries reasonably soft and creamy consistency. Although the level of sweetness is kept modest, I feel that coffee does not pull sufficient weight here.
My personal preference goes to Beetroot Raspberry Cheesecake (RM14.80). With a base made from Sablé biscuit crumble, the cheesecake takes the center stage with its sharp fruity flavor. While raspberry contributes to taste, beetroot serves as natural coloring of this vibrantly-colored dessert. At the very top is a layer of raspberry coulis, white chocolate and whipped cream.
At the beverage department, Jeeves has a handful of medium roast coffee drinks. Most orders of coffee are double-shot by default. The choice of espresso beans is still in the exploratory stage, so its flavor may vary from time to time.
Salted Caramel Latte (RM10.80) is blessed with pleasant aroma of caramel, but I think the caramel lacks the ability to accentuate the overall enjoyment of coffee. As for Hazelnut Latte (RM10.80), I prefer it to have more intense toastiness of roasted hazelnuts.
Tea is also available by the pot. Lemongrass & Ginger (RM8.80) comes in a silken tea bag of Ceylonese lemongrass and ginger. A hint of raspberry provides pinkish hue to the brew.
Lemongrass dominates the aroma and taste aspects. On the other hand, ginger assumes a more subtle role. I think this tea is appreciated more for its rejuvenating aroma than the taste.
Looking for quick remedy to thirstiness? Try a bottle of The Tapping Tapir (RM9.80). This carbonated drink is infused with real lime juice and hibiscus extract.
It is nice to enjoy a cold glass of this fizzy drink during a hot Saturday afternoon.
Jeeves scores high markets for its food in many aspects: taste, presentation and creativity. The desserts are certainly worthwhile to try too. However I think the choice of espresso beans, and by extension quality of coffee, deserve more improvement.
Name: Jeeves Café 71 Love Lane
Address: 71, Lorong Love, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-251-9120
Business hours: 8:00am-4:00pm (Monday-Friday), 10:00am-6:00pm (Saturday-Sunday), closed on Wednesdays
Coordinates: 5.41866 N, 100.33648 E
Directions: From Chulia Street (Lebuh Chulia), turn into Love Lane. Jeeves is one of the shops on the right, somewhat opposite of Selfie Coffee. Street parking is available but limited during certain hours. There is also a private car park further down Love Lane on the right, just before reaching Reggae Penang.