Friday, September 19, 2014

Namoo Korean Fusion

On the 3rd day in Sungei Petani, we crossed over to Penang for a day trip. The drive to the island was just 30 minutes. When we arrived at Penang, we did not head for the beach or any of the many attractions there. We went to a shopping mall. Like there are not enough shopping places in KL, PJ and the Klang valley.

We wandered aimlessly (well at least to me it was of no purpose) for a couple of hours in the Gurney Plaza. Then our stomachs started to remind us that it was time to look for some food. We went down to the street level and window shopped the many makan places there. The youngsters selected the Namoo Korean place. I wasn't too eager initially. But in the course of the meal, I was glad we were there.

The actual name of this place was Namoo Korean Dessert Cafe n Bistro. They apparently have outlets in KL too.

They had a simple yet attractive decor. They made clever use of wood for their shelves, walls and ceiling. And they had a wonderful array of old items on display.

On of the items was this good old type writer. In our school days, we actually had typing classes when we learnt how to use this machine. I used to type letters, notes and even school work. I asked my nephew and nieces in our group if they had ever used a type writer. Blank faces.

I also asked them if they knew what this black disk was. Only one answered - "CD". Close enough. But LOL. Has anyone seen a CD this big and this black. I had to explain to them what a gramophone record does.

Hungry stomachs waiting for food.

As normal, the beverages arrived first. A smiley cup of hot chocolate.

The lemonade was actually quite strong and awakening.

A kimchi soup. I have no love for this soup so I better not make comment on it.

The chicken bibimbap was very good. It had minced chicken, various vege strips and seaweeds over hot steamed rice. We stir mixed the whole thing with the sauce provided. They also provided a small bowl of kimchi. It was delicious.

This was the bibi rice burger. The patty was a grilled chicken with an egg, cucumber and lettuce in a bibi sauce. The bun was brown rice. It was served with french fries and a small bowl of salad. You couldn't eat it like a normal burger because the rice bun would break off. The flavour of the chicken and the sauce was ok, not a wow. But the rice bun was interesting. It was quite good, even by itself. Strange concoction. I guess this was innovation.

We also shared a normal kimchi chicken burger. It was much the same as the first burger, only the bun was normal. In spite of its name, I could not taste any kimchi in it. Maybe they forgot the kimchi. Just as well. Imagine how a burger would taste like with kimchi in it. I don't think I would like it.

The Korean seafood pancake was much like a pizza. The crust was thin and crunchy. It was delicious.

Finally, we each had a small bite of this banana hottuk pancake. It was a sweet pancake topped with slices of banana. I liked it. I though it was unique and innovative.

The restaurant was a true Korean fusion that cleverly assimilate Korean tastes into local and western flavours. I liked it. But it was rather pricey. A simple meal like this set me back more than 150 bucks. I have yet to decide if this chain is worth a second visit.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Zhong Ma Seafood, Sungei Petani

It was the Raya festive long weekend, and time to balik kampung. Not my kampung for there is nary a reason to balik there; but to my wife's where an extended family of in-laws made up a happy but noisy mob.

In the evening of our arrival, the whole battalion drove out in a convoy for food. The restaurant selected was a new place in Sungei Petani know as the Zhong Ma Shi Seafood Restaurant  (中馬式). It occupied a large plot of land on Jalan Legenda 6 in Sungei Petani. Outside the restaurant was an even bigger plot, used as a car park. They sure have a lot of land in this part of town.

Inside, there were several dining areas including private rooms, The tables were spaciously arranged. Except for the rooms, the place was not air conditioned. Fortunately it as a cool evening. The advantage of such an environment was that the noise was not contained and we did not feel stifled in spite of the crowd.

In the middle was a large court yard with a water fountain, colourful lightings and a large projection screen. There were several tables for alfresco dining. Our crowd was split into 2 tables - basically kids in one and the old folks in another.

Two cold beverages were served. There was the nutmeg juice, and the haw (山楂 - fruit of hawthorn) juice. I didn't like both. They were far too sweet. This was the first time I had seen haw juice. Naturally I was curious. It like a concentrated blackcurrant (Ribena). It was too strong in flavour and far too sweet.

I stuck with my favourite Chinese tea.

Rice was served in a large pot. We helped ourselves to hearts content.

First on the table was the green. It was a lightly stir fried green sprouts. Nothing to write about.

The fish curry in a clay pot was very good. The curry was rich and the flavour was very pleasant with an unique flavour. There were the usual accompanying veges - long bean, brinjal, okra, cabbage, etc. The fish was chunky and fresh. I enjoyed this pot of curry. I think they really got the recipe right.

The mantis prawn was deep fried in a batter. It was too well done. We could not savour the mantis. I would preferred a steamed mantis dish any time. Still the flavour was not too bad. The curry leaves added to the good taste.

This pork ribs was apparently ordered for the benefit of the kids. It was deep fried and doused in a thick soya sauce. It wasn't bad at all.

The other vege dish was this plate of cauliflower and broccoli stir fried with mushroom and baby corn. It was a good respite from the meaty dishes.

This was a chicken dish. It was also deep fried and then stirred in a sauce with onion and chilli. I honestly have no recollection how this chicken recipe tasted like.

The final dish was this deep fried siakap (barramundi) in a spicy soya sauce. When the plate was put on the table, my first reaction was "still got some more?". I hardly touch it. I was already filled by then and there was one too many deep fried dishes that evening.

It was a big meal. Over all, the dishes were good. I had no complaint.

And the prices were reasonable too. There were more than 20 diners - young and old, big and small. The total damage for double servings of all the dishes amounted to just over 300 bucks.