Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul

Chendol

In a nutshell...
The name says it all - quite simply the most famous, and best, chendol in Penang (now boasting 6 outlets nationwide).

7.5/10

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
21 Keng Kwee Street (off Penang Road), 10000, Penang, Malaysia
+60(0)42618002
Average Price: RM2

Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow, Penang

Penang is the street food capital of Malaysia, and the mighty Char Kway Teow is arguably the most famous and popular dish to grace its streets. It's certainly one of my all-time favourite things to eat. As you might imagine, Penang has more than a few Char Kway Teow stalls, many of whom, naturally, lay claim to being the best. And yet, for the past few years, there has been one undisputed king, or should I say queen, of Char Kway Teow in Penang, and by extension, the world - the stall in the Heng Huat Coffee Shop on Lorong Selamat. Run by a lady with a somewhat fearsome reputation - her response to criticism of the relatively exorbitant prices she charges was simply to snap that people were free to take their custom elsewhere (fair enough, if you ask me) - yeah, you complain about the long wait here at your peril - its popularity continues unabated. And deservedly so. Her prices are the highest, and her queues the longest, exacerbated by the fact that she cooks each plate separately rather than as part of a larger batch - a very commendable devotion to quality control, especially given the roaring trade; but it's all worth it because the final product that lands on your table is simply heavenly. Servings are on the small side, so I would recommend a minimum of two plates per person.

In a nutshell...
Quite simply the best Char Kway Teow in the world. The Sisters on Macalister Road used to rule the roost but standards have slipped; whispers have started to emanate about the claims of the stall at Federal Hotel, but Lorong Selemat Char Koay Teow remains the place to sample this much loved dish at its pinnacle.

9.5/10

Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow
Kafe Heng Huat, Lorong Selamat, Penang, Malaysia
Average Price: MYR 7.50

Mother Mash, London

Champ Mash, Aberdeen Angus Steak Pie, Traditional Gravy

The ordering process at Mother Mash is dead simple:

Step 1: Choose your mash from 6 different options - I went for Champ Mash: Traditional Irish mash with milk, butter, cheddar cheese and spring onions.

Step 2: Choose your main from 8 different sausage options, or 6 pie options - I went for Aberdeen Angus Steak Pie.

Step 3: Choose your gravy from 5 different options - I went for Traditional : Simple gravy using the juice from sausages and vegetables.

And within 5-10 minutes, you selection appears in front of you. Clearly, the emphasis here is on the mash, which I had "Mashed = velvety smooth", as opposed to "Bashed = textured".

In a nutshell...
And the verdict? Well the mash was alright, certainly better than your run-of-the-mill pub, and better than EAT down the road...if that's the competition. But let's not be under any illusions that this is some divine, super smooth, out-of-this-world mash, or anything remotely of the sort. For supposed mash specialists, I was a tad disappointed in fact. Having said that, the pie and gravy was decent, as were the prices, so it made for a reasonable, above average, repeatable, weekday lunchtime meal. Nothing more, nothing less.

5.5/10

Mother Mash (Leadenhall Street)
107-112 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3A 4AA
+44 (0)2079296158
Average Price: £10
Worth noting: Closed weekends

Mother Mash on Urbanspoon

Bocca Di Lupo, London

Radish, celeriac, pomegranate & Pecorino salad; truffle dressing

I still remember the day, not so long ago, when Bocca Di Lupo burst onto the London dining scene to almost universal acclaim, with professional food critics and bloggers alike practically falling over each other in a race to proclaim it the best thing since sliced bread, and thus marking itself down as one definitely for me to try. Well at least I thought that day was not too long ago - turns out Bocca Di Lupo first opened its doors in late 2008 and a good three and a half years have since passed! Oh well, as they say - better late than never.

The sharing concept here means that rather than being divided into starters and mains, dishes are categorised by their mode of cooking, i.e. "Raw & Cured", "Fried", "Grilled & Roast" etc, with the option of either small or large portions for most items.

Fried young cuttlefish, courgettes & lemons

We opened with the much praised Radish, celeriac, pomegranate & Pecorino salad; truffle dressing, labelled by many as arguably the best dish across the entire, extensive menu. I have to say that I was decidedly non-plussed by it. The radish and celeriac combination was reasonably light and refreshing but the Pecorino cheese counteracted this, making the dish heavier, whilst the truffle dressing added only a scent of truffle, but no real flavour. A bit of a nothing dish really. If this was the best Bocca Di Lupo had to offer, we were going to be in for a very long night.

Next, the classic Fried young cuttlefish, courgettes & lemons, a dish that is very difficult to get wrong. But whilst this rendition was not horrible, it was certainly below average - the batter overly heavy, and insufficiently crisp.

Fazzoletti (pasta handkerchiefs) with broad beans, basil & Pecorino

Fazzoletti (pasta handkerchiefs) with broad beans, basil & Pecorino proved to be the only praiseworthy dish of the evening - the quality of the beautifully soft and refined pasta, clearly freshly made, was there for all to see. It was easily the star turn of the evening, but when I say star, it was a lot less Lionel Messi at Barcelona - a star among stars, and a lot more Robin van Persie at Arsenal - a one man team; and even then not nearly as bright a star as the (soon to be former?) Gunners' prolific Dutchman.

'Fossil fish' - sea bream grilled in salt

Fossil fish' - sea bream grilled in salt was our waiter's recommendation - in fact, most of what we had save for the radish salad came waiter-recommended - and it was exactly as the menu described - a piece of salted, grilled fish - not exactly the most inspiring of plates. Couple that with the items we had from the "Mixed Grilled Meats" section - Pork chop marinated in honey & rosemary and Spicy sausage - two slabs of meat slapped, without the slightest care in the world, never mind any hint of an attempt at making the food look even remotely appealing, onto an otherwise unadorned plate - and it made for a very dry and unbalanced "main course" portion of the meal. Even if the pork chop and sausage were the best pork chop and sausage in the world, one's enjoyment of them would undoubtedly have been diminished by the presentation of the items - as it is, their taste just about did the presentation justice - the pork chop was a tough piece of underseasoned, grilled meat; the sausage barely any better. And seriously, given the lack of ANY dressing or garnish on the plates (would it kill them to include even just a small salad?!), could the waiter not have said, I dunno, maybe something like "Would you like to order a side or two as the dishes come with absolutely nothing else"?!

Pork chop marinated in honey & rosemary and Spicy sausage

We concluded proceedings by sharing a Torta Caprese 'sanguinello' - layered chocolate & blood orange almond cake which we really shouldn't have bothered with - it was far too dry and much too dense. Ugh.

Torta Caprese 'sanguinello' - layered chocolate & blood orange almond cake

In a nutshell...
It's not at all unusual for critically acclaimed restaurants to fail to live up to the hype. In fact, it happens more often than not. But Bocca Di Lupo still managed to break new ground - by how far it fell below expectations. Distinctly below-average food, poor service and absolutely appalling presentation makes me wish I had waited even longer than the three and a half years I left it to try this place - longer as in forever.

3.5/10

Bocca Di Lupo
12 Archer Street, London W1D 7BB
+44(0)2077342223
Average Price: £30-£40

 Bocca Di Lupo on Urbanspoon

Gu Yue Tien, Kuala Lumpur

Gu Yue Tien

Earlier on in this vacation, I had the pleasure of a very enjoyable fine dining, Chinese-French/Italian fusion meal at My Humble House in Singapore. Gu Yue Tien in Kuala Lumpur is a long-time favourite of mine - a restaurant serving up a similar genre of cuisine (a little less fusion, and a bit more just refined Chinese with western influences); a must-visit on every trip; one helmed by an old family acquaintance, owner-chef Frankie Woo. I was thus very interested to see how Gu Yue Tien stacked up to My Humble House.

GYT is located in Chulan Square,a short row of shop lots opposite the Pavilion shopping mall. Despite its central location, it, unfortunately, doesn't get the benefit of any passer-by footfall as all the action is on the other side of the road and hence was, as it sadly often is, completely empty on this Saturday lunchtime.

Gu Yue Tien Soft Boiled Egg with Foie Gras'Mo Mo' Duck Roll

We started, as always, with a Gu Yue Tien Soft Boiled Egg with Foie Gras, which was a tad more peppery than usual on this occasion, but still very good...and rich. That was then followed by a veritable feast; a procession of (individually plated) innovative, thoroughly enjoyable, top-quality dishes. 'Mo Mo' Duck Roll was crunchy and tasty with just a hint of wasabi - an ingredient not often combined with duck - to lift it further.

Pan-Fried Scallop Roll Wrapped with Bacon and Mint SauceWok Charred Rack of Lamb

Pan-Fried Scallop Roll Wrapped with Bacon and Mint Sauce was also lovely - plump scallops wrapped in a crispy bacon exterior, with a touch of "freshness" imparted by the mint sauce. Wok Charred Rack of Lamb had a pleasant sweetness and a lovely charred taste to it - very nice indeed.

Pan Fried Cod Fillet with Wasabi & Japanese Soya Sauce

Deep Fried Spare Rib with Mushroom Sauce & Pumpkin Mousseline was the only dud of the day - the meat too dry, the sauce too bland. Pan Fried Cod Fillet with Wasabi & Japanese Soya Sauce was excellent, highlighted by a superb sauce. The wasabi, albeit in a more conventional combination this time, again worked well - the taste coming through clearly, but not too strongly. Wok Friend Pineapple Prawn Cake was gorgeous; the fried savoury prawn cake playing very well against the slightly sweet, creamy sauce, and the pieces of jackfruit.

Wok Friend Pineapple Prawn Cake

To finish, Rich Man Fried Rice. Everyone can make fried rice, but not many cook it really well. I firmly believe that the humble fried rice is a very good test of a chef's ability, and it was one Mr Woo again passed with flying colours.

Chilled Avocado Cream

For dessert after what was a rather long, filling and fulfilling meal, was a delightfully refreshing Chilled Avocado Cream - exactly what was required in the circumstances.

In a nutshell...
Gu Yue Tien has still got it. While the standout dish from my combined meals at My Humble House and GYT was undoubtedly the former's Marble Goby, the overall quality of the meal was probably slightly better here. It's a pity GYT appears to be struggling for business because this level of cooking deserves so much better. Prices are definitely on the high side, especially when compared to regular Chinese restaurants in town. But this is no regular Chinese restaurant, and very much worth the premium.

7.5/10

Gu Yue Tien
Lot 5A, Chulan Square, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+60(0)321422744
Average Price: RM150

Reunion, Kuala Lumpur

Reunion, in the Bangsar Village II Shopping Centre, is a neighbourhood restaurant serving consistently high quality Chinese food in understated but elegant surroundings. It's not one of my must-visit restaurants when I return to KL - but that is entirely a consequence of my lack of days in town, rather than any sort of indictment on the calibre of the restaurant - I'm always happy to eat here anytime I happen to stay an extra day or two.

Blanched Sliced Pork in Spicy SauceSalt & Pepper Whitebait

This time around, we visited at lunch, in between a morning and afternoon of running around trying to get a week's worth of errands done within a day - no better way to work up an appetite! We started with Blanched Sliced Pork in Spicy Sauce which was tender, nicely spiced and very appetising, followed by Salt & Pepper Whitebait which suffered from batter that was too thick, and not entirely suitable for the whitebait. The same batter was also applied to the Salted Egg Yolk Prawns, and in this instance it worked perfectly in what was a lovely dish - fresh, succulent prawns encased in batter and deep fried, then topped with wonderful salted egg yolk.

Crispy Skin Roast PorkSalted Egg Yolk Prawns

Crispy Skin Roast Pork was probably the biggest disappointment of the day - the skin not all that crispy, the meat not all that tasty. But things picked up again with the delicious Drunken Chicken in Chinese Wine with Jellyfish which came complete with a delightful chilli kick.

Drunken Chicken in Chinese Wine with Jellyfish

I ordered just one item from the dim sum menu (and I say I, rather than we, because this dish was all mine!) - Deep Fried Yam Puff - I absolutely love "Wu Gok", and having failed to experience a proper, classic version so far on my Asian trip, I couldn't resist. Thankfully, Reunion's rendition did not disappoint - beautiful, sweet char siu encased in a light yam pastry - exactly what a "Wu Gok" should be.

Fried Hokkien Noodles

To finish, Fried Hokkien Noodles was also very good, although the chef was rather too liberal with the pieces of deep fried pork fat - they should be used sparingly; a little bit of treasure in the sea of noodles - if there was this much treasure in the high seas, even I might have made it as a pirate.

In a nutshell...
Reunion may be a neighbourhood restaurant, but the quality of its food suggests a much higher station. There is much to like about this place, from the food, to the reasonable prices, to the quietly classy decor.

7/10

Reunion
Level 3 Bangsar Village II, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
+60(0)322873770
Average Price: RM50

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