Restoran Shuang Ling

Each neighborhood has a handful of restaurants that are inexplicably popular among locals, but is not particularly well-known to outsiders. At Setapak, Restoran Shuang Ling (双林茶餐室) is one such example.
Among the handful of stalls in this eatery, my favorite dish above all is Curry Mee (咖哩面, RM5.50). Prepared from scratch, the curry's aroma and taste feels genuine. Instead of being outright spicy, the curry has several facets of appetizing flavors.
The best type of noodles to go with Curry Mee is yellow noodles (黄面). Two prominently large pieces of fish balls (鱼丸) are included, which I find delectable indeed. Meanwhile, tofu puffs (豆腐卜) are quite enjoyable as they readily soak up curry goodness. Other minor ingredients are cockles (血蚶), bean sprouts (豆芽) and chopped scallion (葱头).
Also from the same stall is a bowl of Fish Head Noodles (鱼头米粉, RM6.00). The soup is pleasantly milky and agreeable with my palate. Thick rice vermicelli (粗米粉) usually works best with this soup.
A key ingredient in this dish is deep-fried fish. I feel that the fish pieces are way too small, which makes it difficult to enjoy the taste of fish itself. Personally, I would have preferred fresh fish as opposed to fried ones.
Address: 34, Jalan 9/23A Off Jalan Usahawan, 53200 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: N/A
Business hours: 8:00am-9:00pm


Hong Deng Long Steamboat

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Hong Deng Long Steamboat (红灯笼火锅) is located just across the street from Queensbay Mall, several doors away from Aza Aza Starvil. The restaurant is operated by Chinese nationals, so I am looking forward to seeing authentic Chinese cooking like the ones in mainland China.
As evident by the layout of the dining area, the focus of this restaurant is steamboat (火锅). According to the menu, soup choices are Spicy Soup (麻辣汤), Herbs Chicken Soup (药材鸡汤) and Nutrient Broth (滋补营养清汤). Ingredients can be ordered from the menu or picked up from the conveyor belt.
I am seeking something light for lunch. Fortunately for me, there is a lunch menu for individual diners. Each meal includes a complementary cup of Chinese barley tea (中国大麦茶).
My lunch choice is Beef Noodle (牛肉面, RM15.00), which is handmade noodle (手工面) served in a bowl of beef broth. The bowl also contains cabbage (包菜) and bok choy (小白菜).
Stewed from bones, the beef broth is quite rich in flavor. Its appetizing flavor is natural - not from artificial flavoring (MSG). Meanwhile, the noodle is sufficiently firm but can benefit from springier texture.
According to the owner, other recommended dishes here are Duck Head (秘制麻辣鸭头), Fried Chinese New Year Cake (中国炒年糕) and Spicy Frog Pot (麻辣田鸡锅). I will have to defer these suggestions for my next visit.
Address: 28A-G, Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-638-0131
Business hours: 11:00am-3:00pm


Urban Coffee

Special thanks to Urban Republic for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Urban Republic is a chain of digital lifestyle and gadgets stores. There are currently three Urban Republic outlets: Gurney Plaza, Queensbay Mall and Mid Valley Megamall.
I visited the Queensbay Mall outlet today. Located at Level 2 and adjacent to its sister store Switch, this Urban Republic outlet has an extended floor space in the middle of the hallway.
As part of its branding initiatives, each Urban Republic outlet contains a café wing called Urban Coffee. The café features wooden theme in its design, such as tabletop specially crafted from individual planks.
As usual, my favorite coffee (especially for first visits) is the ubiquitous Latte (RM10.00). The coffee beans here carry medium dark roast, as Urban Coffee discovered that coffee drinkers in Penang prefer bolder flavor. The coffee is reasonably smooth and soothing down the throat.
There are other types of coffee such as Macchiato and Cappuccino, while non-coffee choices include Green Tea Latte, Chai Latte, Chocolate Mint and fruit juices.
Urban Coffee's menu includes light snacks such as sandwiches, cakes, croissants and pies. On occasion, there are also seasonal items such as granola bars.
Last but not least, Urban Coffee also carries a handful of merchandise such as T-shirts and post cards. There is even a post box which customers can actually use!
Name: Urban Coffee
Address: 2F-105, Queensbay Mall, Persiaran Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-645-5591
Business hours: 10:30am-9:30pm
Coordinates: 5.33269 N, 100.30707 E
Directions: Urban Republic is located on the Level 2 of Queensbay Mall, right next to Switch. Urban Coffee is located inside Urban Republic. Queensbay Mall has a multilevel parking garage and several outdoor parking spaces.


Special thanks to llaollao for extending this food review invitation.

llaollao is a popular franchise brand of frozen yogurt from Spain. With over 200 outlets worldwide, llaollao opened its first outlet in Penang at Gurney Plaza. The name is pronounced "yao yao", as the Spanish phoneme "ll" is usually pronounced like "y" in English, though the actual pronunciation varies slightly in Latin America.
This dessert kiosk features a yogurt machine which churns out fresh yogurt at 5oC. Made from skimmed milk, the yogurt is rich and creamy to the lips. llaollao's yogurt is also free from gluten, which is good news for people with gluten-related disorders.
Whether you are looking for a small treat or a hearty feast, llaollao has several serving sizes for any occasion: Sanum (RM17.90), Large (RM18.90), Medium (RM14.90), Small (RM10.90) and Petitllao (RM4.90). Additional toppings are priced at RM1.50 each.
The signature Sanum features an imposing tower of frozen yogurt, supported by several fruits (any 3 types) and crunches (any 2 types) underneath. The surface of the sundae is topped with a choice of sauce of customer's liking. Not to forget llaollao's iconic green spoon too!
Fruit toppings include black grapes, green grapes, blueberries, dragon fruit, jackfruit, watermelon, kiwi, mango and banana. The types of fruit toppings may change periodically to match evolving customer patterns.
There are nearly a dozen types of crunches to choose from, some based on popular brands in Europe. Popular ones are crushed Oreo, white chocolate peanuts, Lotus Caramelized Biscuit (Belgian cookies), dehydrated cranberry and Crunch Balls.
Other highlights are muesli with chocolate, Filipinos (white chocolate biscuit), candied almonds, caramelized sunflower seeds and almond brittle.
Sweet sauce toppings are also not lacking in variety. Recommended ones are Raffallao (white chocolate with coconut grating), Nocilla (Spanish chocolate and hazelnut spread similar to Nutella), Chococrock (chocolate sauce) and Lotus Caramelized Biscuit.
In addition, llaollao has several types of smoothies and ice crush fruit drinks on the menu. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of customers still opt for llaollao's signature frozen yogurt.
Name: llaollao
Address: 170-B1-K16, Plaza Gurney, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-341-1483
Business hours: 11:00am-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.43732 N, 100.30942 E
Directions: llaollao is located at the Basement level of Gurney Plaza, next to Boost Juice Bars. Gurney Plaza has basement and multi-level parking garages.

Food Architect

Special thanks to Food Architect for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

The former premises of Café Muscolo is the home of a new restaurant and my dinner place this evening. Known as Food Architect Restaurant, this eatery is open for just a month now.
The proprietor behind this new restaurant used to operate Andy Warlord, a burger joint in Pulau Tikus. The proprietor, Andy (whose name is perhaps not so surprising), took a hiatus for a couple of years in order to seek culinary inspiration.
Since Food Architect is relatively new, its food menu is still undergoing continuous refinement. Therefore, one can expect more changes to its food menu in the coming weeks.
Beef is notably absent from the menu in order to appeal to a significant portion of the restaurant's clientele. Nevertheless, pork remains solidly on the menu as this is one of Andy's specialty.
The menu consists of Western-style dishes with elements of Oriental cuisine. Diners who prefer something heavier can opt for the All-Day Set Menu (RM25.00). The set consists of soup, any main dish (include FA Specialties), drink and dessert.
My dinner commences with a bowl of freshly made Mushroom Soup. In stark contrast to conventional creamy mushroom soup that most restaurants serve, Andy's version is mushy in terms of consistency. In my opinion, the soup is sufficiently salty to serve as an appetizer, but it remains to be seen whether this level of saltiness strikes a chord with general dining folks.
FA Porky Puff With Bacon (RM17.90) pays homage to Andy Warlord's signature dish. Made from 150 grams of genuine pork shoulder, the patty strikes a fine balance between lean and fatty meat. As soon as the knife cuts through the juicy patty, lovely porky aroma pervades the immediate vicinity.
In the pursuit of uniqueness, the "burger buns" consist of fluffy pastry puffs with delightful crisp on the crust. Also sandwiched between the puffs are pork bacon, cheese and Andy's very own demi-glace brown sauce. To those who miss Andy's signature pork burgers, the warlord is back again to satiate your cravings!
The next dish is Smoked Duck Ebiko Pasta (RM18.90). As the name implies, spaghetti is flavored by two major ingredients: smoked duck and shrimp roe (えびこ). The smoked duck is quite addictive on its own, while the roe provides a unique sense of saltiness. Also included are shimeji mushrooms (占地) that provide crunchy mouthfeel.
As for improvement, I prefer the spaghetti to be less cooked, so that the strands do not break off so easily. Despite the use of various ingredients, the pasta can use more flavoring, either in the salty or spicy directions.

The set meal includes a beverage choice: carbonated drink, iced lemon tea or iced peach tea. Alternatively, one can supplement RM5.00 to upgrade to any type of coffee, or RM6.00 for any type of smoothies. My cup of Cafe Latte (RM7.90) is prepared from Teemo Blend's Arabica beans. Sourced from Ethiopia, Brazil and Indonesia, the coffee is reasonably enjoyable.
As for dessert, ice cream is served as part of the set meal. The vanilla is topped with chocolate syrup and crushed peanuts. The ice cream is quite compact, but not as dense as gelato.
Nearby office workers can also take advantage of the Set Lunch (RM15.00) which offers similar dining experience, but with a shorter list of main dishes to choose from.
Name: Food Architect
Address: 4, Kampong Malabar, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-261-2163
Business hours: 12:00pm-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.41883 N, 100.33364 E
Directions: From Penang Road (Jalan Penang), turn right to Kampong Malabar. Food Architect is approximately 200 meters ahead on the left. Street parking is available on Kampong Malabar, Cintra Street (Lebuh Cintra) and Chulia Street (Lebuh Chulia).

Victorian Garden

Special thanks to Victorian Garden for extending this food review invitation.

Nestled within the serene neighborhood of Jalan Irrawadi, Victorian Garden Tea Room & Cafe is a dainty English tea house with an attractive facade. Formerly operating as Victoria Rossa, this eatery has included Western-style dishes into its menu, making this place a viable choice for proper meals.
Setting foot into the restaurant, one is greeted by the front counter decorated with petite ornaments. An elaborate chandelier hangs from the ceiling, giving visitors a true feeling of English-style hospitality.
The dining room is decorated with fancy tables and chairs in neat fashion. Warm motif of the wallpaper provides customers with cozy ambience as warranted in such fine establishment.
Even the silverware is nothing short of charm. It is evident that Victorian Garden goes through great lengths to provide a sense of exclusiveness for its clientele.
While most people are accustomed to mushroom soup with creamy consistency, I find such creaminess quite surfeiting as an appetizer. Therefore, I appreciate the salty approach undertaken with this bowl of Mushroom Soup (RM11.50). Actual mushrooms provide much-needed mouthfeel to this otherwise-homogeneous soup.
Moving on to main dishes, Cold Pasta (RM15.80) is served chilled to give a different sense of enjoyment towards pasta. Prepared al dente, the spaghetti is flavored with pineapple chunks, mango cubes, sesame seeds and black pepper. The presence of lemon juice and ginger flower allows the pasta to take on sour appeal reminiscent of Thai-style som tam (ส้มตำ).
As expected in Western restaurants of such prestige, due attention is paid to the plating of this dish. Served on the side is a salad of lettuce, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and Thousand Island dressing. No meat is used to prepare Cold Pasta, therefore I recommend this dish to vegans in particular.
Next on the line is Salmon Wellington (RM32.00). While Beef Wellington is an established recipe in English cookbooks, its salmon counterpart is novel indeed.
To prepare Salmon Wellington, salmon steak is first coated with puff pastry. Then, the steak is baked so that the pastry turns crispy while the reddish flesh retains its juiciness.
Roe and caviar are not mere icing on the cake. Together, their distinctive saltiness helps to accentuate the natural savoriness of salmon.
On the side are an assortment of grilled vegetables. Meanwhile, a dash of tomato coulis is meant to complement the salmon.
Overall, the Salmon Wellington is quite delectable especially when enjoyed with tomato coulis. The salmon itself is slightly dry; it can certainly benefit from more sauce.
For its supply of cakes, Victorian Garden works in partnership with Jenni The Cake & Bake Shop. Having operated for two decades from its modest store in Pulau Tikus, this bakery is highly acclaimed for its cheesecakes and chocolate brownies.
To a chocolate lover, the Chocolate Belgian Cheese Cake (RM8.50) is a dream come true. The dense layer of cheese is nicely matched with mild chocolate bitterness, giving immeasurable gratification bite after bite.
As if this is not enough, the side of the cake is coated with dark chocolate frosting, making this a heavy dosage of cocoa for chocolate fans.
Served alongside the slice of cake are slices of peach and cherry on whipped cream. The plating of this dessert is splendid indeed.
English tea is supplied by Victoria Rossa, a producer of highly-quality teas in England. Today's choice is Summer Evening (RM11.80), a pot of black tea with an infusion of floral aroma. Served in a tea set made of bone china, the tea does not linger on the palate for too long. As a result, the Summer Evening is an ideal drink to reset any lingering taste on the palate in between courses.
Like all good English tea houses, Victorian Garden's afternoon tea is an integral aspect of the dining experience. To this end, the Irresistible Afternoon High Tea is served daily between 3:00pm and 6:00pm. The set consists of 14 pastry items presented in a 3-tier stand, and a warming pot of English tea of customer's choice.
In lieu of the à la carte menu, noontime customers can also take advantage of the Temptation Set Lunch that is served daily from 12:00pm to 2:30pm. The meal includes a drink and is priced from RM17.80.
A little-known fact is that Victorian Garden has a spacious upper floor that is accessible from a flight of stairs near the entrance. Furnished with cozy armchairs and an electric fireplace, the additional space is tiled with wooden parquet to lend a sense of warmth.
Naturally, the upper floor is an ideal venue for events such as birthday parties. There is sufficient space to accommodate more than 30 people. Meals and birthday cakes can be arranged with Victorian Garden.
Overall, the dining experience at Victorian Garden is favorable in terms of food quality, presentation, ambience and service. In terms of creativity, the restaurant offers several unique dishes that are seldom found elsewhere. In spite of all of this, the pricing at Victorian Garden is surprisingly affordable for an eatery of such prestige.
Name: Victorian Garden Tea Room & Cafe
Address: 33, Jalan Irrawadi, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-226-9128
Business hours: 11:00am-6:00pm (Sunday-Thursday), 11:00am-10:00pm (Friday-Saturday), closed on Mondays
Coordinates: 5.42572 N, 100.32194 E
Directions: From Burmah Road (Jalan Burma), turn right to Service Road (Jalan Servis), then right again at Irrawaddy Road (Jalan Irrawadi). Victorian Garden is located on the left after the next crossroad, somewhat opposite of Madison Kafe & Dine. There are parking spaces in front of the restaurant.