Book Café

Special thanks to Book Café for extending this food review invitation.

Taking advantage of its proximity to Heng Ee High School, Book Café (咖啡书坊) at Jalan Hamilton is a popular eatery among students and their parents. This two-floor building is a combination of a vegetarian restaurant and a tuition center.
Book Café started as a vegetarian stall in Farlim (which is still operating) and moved to this location about a year ago. The menu consists of Chinese-style dishes, burgers and pasta. Some dishes may contain eggs or milk, so the food here is best described as being ovo-lacto vegetarian (蛋奶素). The kitchen can also prepare vegan versions upon request.
Book Café has a decent collection of books for customers' reading pleasure. Arranged on the shelves are books of various genres: fiction, non-fiction, motivational, cookbooks, encyclopedias and more. Some of these books are the proprietor's own collection, while others were donated by generous individuals over the years.
The upper floor of the restaurant serves as a tuition center. Book Café does not conduct tuition classes, but instead rents the space to independent tuition teachers. There are two classrooms; each is equipped with a whiteboard, study tables and air-conditioning. There is also a common study area where students can do their homework.
Mushroom Soup (蘑菇汤, RM4.90) is one of the popular items on Book Café's menu. Prepared from fresh mushrooms, the grainy soup is satisfying to my palate. The soup goes well with Toon Bread (招牌面包, RM4.90), a crispy bread with similar taste as garlic bread. As Book Café adheres to Buddhist vegetarianism, no garlic is used. Instead, the bread is seasoned with Chinese toon (香椿), margarine and a blend of herbs.
Ninety-Six Burger (96招牌汉堡, RM7.90) was popularized by the original roadside stall. This vegetarian burger is served with fries on the side. As to the name "96", the proprietor assigned this number arbitrarily. Assigning a number to this signature burger is more appealing to vegetarians than calling it "imitation meat burger".
The "patty" is made primarily of mushroom stems, with eggs as an emulsifier and spices as seasoning. The lightly-grilled patty is sandwiched between two halves of a bun. If you have an affinity to mushrooms, I cannot recommend this dish highly enough.
As for Chinese-style cooking, Black Pepper Mushroom Rice (黑椒鲍鱼菇饭, RM7.90) is one of the more popular choices. The "meat" is made from oyster mushrooms whose juicy flesh does a great job in complementing the savory gravy. Also included is a heap of premium rice with black sesame seeds, as well as a bowl of seaweed soup with cooling pungency.
Fried Mee Wu Dong (干炒乌冬面, RM6.90) is another interesting highlight today. For this noodle dish, Japanese udon (うどん) is stir-fried with enoki mushrooms (えのき茸), carrots, bok choy (白菜) and eggs. The integration of ingredients, particularly while hot, makes this dish too addictive to resist.
Tortilla Rolls (招牌煎饼, RM5.90) work well as an appetizer or snack. The roll of flour tortilla is pan-fried and then cut into several slices.
The Tortilla Rolls are filled with fried egg, enoki mushrooms, red cabbage, lettuce and carrot. The overall taste is quite balanced. In particular, I like the marriage between egg and mushrooms.
Drinks are not Book Café's main focus, so the drinks menu comprises of familiar choices like coffee and sparkling juices. If you prefer something more nourishing, Homemade Nutmeg (自煮豆蔻, RM3.50) is a sound choice.
Book Café is able to host small private events like seminars for up to 20 people. The eatery also accepts catering requests but requires several days of advance notice. For minimum order of 7 food items, the restaurant provides delivery to nearby areas at no extra charge.
Besides serving cooked food, Book Café also supplies frozen ingredients that it also uses in its dine-in menu. This includes vegetarian mutton (素羊肉), hericium mushroom (猴头菇) and chili fish ball (辣椒丸). These items are particularly helpful for people who are cooking steamboat at home.

Name: Book Café (咖啡书坊)
Address: 54, Jalan Hamilton, 11600 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 014-968-5208
Business hours: 10:30am-10:00pm, closed on Sundays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/bookcafehouse
Coordinates: 5.40055 N, 100.30853 E
Directions: From the roundabout near Heng Ee High School, drive southwards on Jalan Hamilton. Book Café is located on the right, directly opposite of Penang Textile factory. There are several parking spaces in front of the restaurant.

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