January 9, 2012

Paradise Restaurant @ Madras Lane

Mun and Uee intro-ed this new place for our New Year's day gathering and boy did we all face a tough time figuring out where this place was! Google didn't work be it using their Chinese name 市外桃园 or English name Paradise Restaurant.

It's hard to miss this bright purple-adorned establishment and stepping into the restaurant indeed brought a sense of serenity as the name itself indicates that this is the ideal escapade away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The main entrance

The restaurant is made up of lower and upper floor comprising of the same theme:-

Table setting and the huge menu

The menu offers a variety of Taiwanese and Fusion Japanese dishes. We sampled some main dishes and side orders for adult and children alike.

Chicken in sesame oil and ginger with

This was my dish and it was served hot. I love how the vermicelli is separated from the chicken stew so we are free to blend the amount we desire. The Chicken pieces were well infused with the sesame oil and ginger; with the vermicelli texture was just rightly soft. Hubby and I agreed this was not bad.

Hubby ordered this uniquely named Taiwanese dish called 蚂蚁上树, which is a spicy stir-fried glass noodle dish with minced pork. After sampling it, he complimented how tasty it was hence Denise and Uee followed suit so this easily became the most popular dish of the night :) The glass noodles were soft yet springy, and was well stir-fried with spices and minced pork. It was not overly spicy which can suit most palates.

Mun had Stewed Minced Pork Rice (鲁肉饭) which we were specifically informed that this was going to be in a tiny portion (we kinda figured this one out looking at its price compared to the other dishes)

This was not bad though I reckon we could not really tell since it was in such a 'generous' portion.

A showdown of the side dishes/snacks indicated that they were not too bad afterall.

Fragrant Deep Fried Chicken

Though a normal side dish, it was tasty with crispy yet not overly thick batter.

Taiwan Crispy Chicken Nuggets

Being one of Taiwan's most popular snack, Paradise's version did not disappoint. The salty and crunchy skin of the chicken nuggets were then topped with chilli powder.

Fried mini shrimps

The shrimps were super crunchy and this was undoubtedly a very addictive snack indeed.

One thing to note is, the food was generally on the salty side, maybe owing to the fact that these were Taiwanese dishes so it might not suit people who prefer more neutral flavors.

Food aside, all of us felt that there were definitely rooms for improvement given how new this restaurant was. For a starter, Uee who was the first to order waited way too long for her food to arrive, only to be informed after few follow-ups that they have run out of this dish. This was very poor indeed, given the fact that her daughter was waiting for the food. The staff did not show a sense of apologetic and was not able to handle the situation well. A few of us had green tea which was refillable but we had to keep requesting for refills which we expected to be automatic.

Having said that, not everything was bad. The supervisor brought 2 egg tarts to Uee as an apologetic gesture for not informing her on the unavailability of her ordered dish. And the fact that the staff had insisted to refund our paid bill for a dish which they forgot to remove off the bill indicated that they tried their best to deliver to customer needs. We were also thanked and bid goodbye as we were leaving too.

This is a place worth giving a second chance.

市外桃园 Paradise Restaurant
33, Madras Lane 10400 Penang
Contact : +604-2266777

January 7, 2012

Agua Mediterranean Cuisine @ Straits Quay for NYE

Hubby and I spent the last dinner for 2011 right here at Straits Quay, sampling the special X'mas/New Year Eve dinner menu of what Agua had to offer over. It was my second visit to Agua but the first for hubby. I will blog about my first visit separately as it was worthwhile mentioning.

I made a reservation ahead and was pleasantly welcomed with a fairly private table just for the 2 of us tucked in an inner corner of their establishment.

Having glanced through their menu prior, I have pretty much decided what I wanted to order for the main course but since Agua offered
À la carte, hubby opted to order off the À la carte menu instead; and we'd share the starter and the dessert from my dinner set.

What was offered in their special dinner menu:-

In the end, I settled for Spanish Chestnut, Chili and Bacon Soup

As per the description, this is a Spanish country soup made with chestnuts, chili, potatoes and garlic served hot with bacon bits and garlic bread. I have loved the first soup I tried and I liked this one equally well. I love for a fact that their soups are always piping hot and believe me, not every place emphasizes on this small detail. The taste of the soup was rich and it did not come across too spicy as well. Very appetizing to start any meal with.

Next up I chose a dish which I felt represents Mediterranean cuisine better - Medallions of Pork Roussillon, which comprised of prime medallions of pork in a wine, apple and brandy sauce.

I've always had impressions that it is very tough to master pork dishes, particularly in ensuring that the porky smell will not be present, it is well-marinated and above all, prepared in an appropriate method that will bring out the best in the pork and not leaving it too dry. Having sampled this version, I must say the meat was not only tender and did not smell porky, the sauce was unique and somehow went well with the pork. I suppose if anyone was not told that this was pork, they might have a hard time guessing what meat it was. The main courses all come with Agua's own Gratin Dauphinoise potatoes, which is the French method of baking potatoes in milk, cream and cheese. They were beautiful, and so were t
he side of French Beans with bacon and garlic, which, put together, completed the whole meaty affair perfectly.

Hubby who ordered off the
À la carte menu chose to sample their Sticky Spanish Ribs (RM 36.90)

As the name of the dish suggests, this is a sticky version of pork ribs compared to the usual affair we are used to. Having said that, sticky did not mean the ribs were dry though, as it did not taste dry, but rather a neutral taste - not too sweet neither salty. Hubby commented that this was like having 'char siew' ala Western style - which I find was quite apt :) The portions of the salad was so generous that it took both of us to finish most of them; and the Rosemary potatoes were nicely baked and flavorful too.

Last but not least, I chose the dessert of Spanish Bread and Butter Pudding, simply because it is my favorite dessert of all times! And also the fact that I wanted to see if the Spanish version offered anything different.

My eyes literally lit when this arrived at our table and tasting the first spoonful proved this dessert to be an equally good one compared to its non-Spanish counterparts. The only difference I could tell were the hints of alcohol and non-existence of raisins. Nevertheless, I still felt totally satisfied with this Spanish version of my favorite dessert no less.

While my dessert was being served, the owner of Agua actually served us complimentary Orange Liquors and we were definitely surprised with the festive gesture while we usher into the new year 2012.

One thing I would really want to mention was the customer-orientated service and attentiveness of the staff. When I made my reservation and requested for a soft copy of their dinner menu, the staff not only took down my email, he also called back a few times (missed his call twice) just to inform that he had sent it and if I had received it. During our dinner, we also received attentive and friendly service as well, not to mention the owner and staff thanked us and bid us goodbye, despite having most of the tables filled up.

Definitely a place I'll be coming back for more!