D’Chef Dining

Address73, Lebuh Presgrave, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
I have to say, currently D’Chef Dining is hands down my favourite place to eat right now.  It is not an every day, cheap and cheerful kind of restaurant (though they recently opened for set lunch and the menu looks great), but more of a breath of fresh air the food is mind blowing kind of place.
Located in a shophouse where just down the street you can find those famous Penang hawker stands, D’Chef has a quirky charm.  It is also one of those rare places that has consistently excellent, quality ingredients, terrific service, and outstanding timing.  Yes, that’s right – timing.  In a place where you are lucky if any of the dishes arrive within 5 minutes of each other, Chef Davine Loh has choreographed a veritable ballet.
Ivy who is front of house staff – took great pleasure in telling us about the specials, the provenance of the beef, and the care taken with each dish.  She was passionate and enthused about what was going on in the kitchen.  For her, it was clear that her duties were a pleasure and we were her guests.
I enjoyed the lobster soup and seafood risotto with a chocolate lava cake finish.  Each dish was perfectly prepared and a delight to the eyes and the pallet.  But more than that, the plates the dishes were served on, the cutlery on the table, the wine glasses, the serviettes, even the loo – all were of a quality that one rarely sees in most restaurants here in Penang.
My second meal was the mushroom soup with truffle oil, the wagyu beef, and a cheesecake made by the Chef for a special birthday.  Round the table there were moans of pleasure as folks enjoyed lamb, fish, and pasta.
Chef Loh came out after all the tables were served and just hung out with us chatting.  They had recently been closed due to flooding in Penang – but sitting there that evening you would never know it.
So why is it quirky?  Well it seems like all the focus is on the food rather than the decor – which lacks the same panache one sees with the food.  But this is Penang – so you let that go and sink into the mouthwatering tasting provided by the divine Chef Davine.
Her menu changes seasonally!  Reservations recommended.

Jawi House Café & Gallery

Address85, Armenian Street, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Phone+604 – 261 3680

Wandering around Armenian Street into little shops of artisans and touristy stuff can really work up an appetite.  After admiring the pieces at Jonathan Yun Jewelry (and making a small purchase) I asked the lovely shopkeeper where to go for authentic local food in a genteel environment surrounded by lovely art.

Jawi House Café was at the top of her list as it was not only close by, but offered the ambience we were looking for.  Be sure to admire the lovely arch on your right-hand side as you walk from the jewellery shop to the café – it is made by one of my favourite artists Fuan Wong – whose Art & Garden and Gallery is a must visit.

Back to the food…

Jawi House serves Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine combining Chinese, Malay and Indonesian ingredients, spices and cooking techniques.  Lovely balances of spicy, fragrant and sour combine into incredibly delicious dishes.

We tried the Jawi laksa, the herbal lemuni rice, homemade ginger beer and a delicious lemon tart.  Full disclosure that I am a wimp when it comes to hot and spicy – and am slowly building up my tolerance.  Asking for “not spicy” is hit and miss throughout Penang – but Jawi House Café had it perfect.  The laksa lemak had mackerel and tuna cooked in an incredible gravy with coconut milk, noodles and greens.  Spices were well blended and fragrant.  The herbal lemuni rice was delightfully colourful with blue telang flowers and hints of lemongrass and ginger – a great vegetarian option that does not disappoint.  The homemade ginger beer was cool and refreshing.  Our final sweet was the colonial lemon tart with just the right hit of sweet and sour to finish off lunch.

The staff was incredibly friendly and gracious, and the timing of the dishes was perfect.  Though the place was buzzing, we did not feel rushed and leisurely enjoyed our meal.

The atmosphere reaches back into a charming shophouse with artwork all around.  The kitchen (and cakes) are near the back and staff happily buzz around.  If you are curious, take the steps to the upper level to the loo to get a feel of the space of these shophouses.

Menu items are in the Rm 15-30 range – and just stopping in for coffee and dessert is well worth it as well.

Tip:  It can be a busy little spot at lunch, so be sure to check in for a table.  If they are full up, go back a bit later for coffee and dessert.

Awesome Canteen

Address164A-B, Lebuh Victoria, Georgetown, 10300 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Phone+60 4-261 3707

Some days in the heat of Penang you hear the call for a great salad – but you are sometimes so hungry that you think only a burger will fill that yawning gap that is screaming to be stuffed.

Awesome Canteen delivers on both accounts – and throws in some paleo dishes so you can pump up your flagging spirit!

Probably the best burger in Penang (though we continue to keep an open mind).  It’s the caramelized onions, artisan buns and halal-sourced beef that pulls us back.  Perfectly cooked with fries on the side make this a yummy dish.

Salads are simply described (Garden Salad) but what comes with must be in the Garden of Eden!  Pomegranate seeds and a fantastic dressing are added to a list of colourful veggies in a big portion that really satisfies.

Want to go Paleo?  There are chicken and beef patties on a salad accompanied by grilled Portobello mushrooms, scrambled eggs, roasted pumpkin, and guacamole salsa.

The atmosphere reaches back into a double shophouse with a coffee bar at the front and an industrial designed main restaurant at the back.  Long narrow tables may have you enjoying the company of new people.  More casual seating in loungers with coffee tables allows you to enjoy the terrific coffee.

Staff are youthful and energetic.  Quick to smile and anxious to ensure you are enjoying your food, the service can’t be faulted.  With an open kitchen, you truly feel integrated into the entire experience.  Everyone is wonderfully attentive.

Menu items are in the Rm 20-30 range – and value and quality more than deliver.  Look for the small @ sign on Victoria to find the place.

Tip:  If you get there early and you are told there are no burgers – don’t despair!  They may just mean that the buns have yet to be delivered.  Clarify that point and if you want – just order the burger without the bun!