Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Face Metamorphosis

Heeding an appeal, the two lions popped down to Books Actually in the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood to grab some merchandise and cat therapy at the same time.

After the biblio and cat therapy, off to grab
old school loafs of cakes at Nicher.
Blah, the matcha azuki cake has sold out.
Cuchi is not too fond of the cakes which she found
 rather dry. But she loves the scrumptious muffins :)

As dusk falls, the kopitiam at Blk 56 of Eng Hoon Street notoriety magically transforms into Two Face Pizza and Taproom. Gone are the hawker stalls peddling yong tau foo, noodles and vegetarian bee hoon.  They are cheekily hidden behind huge chalkboards. Kopitiam by day, casual pizza bar by night. What an efficient and ingenious use of space in land scarce Singapore! Not to mention cheaper rent as well! 

 Like those pop-up store concepts
much in vogue now. 
Signature Two Face drink
of cai xing, pineapple and sour plum.
Very refreshing!
Smoked Duck, Truffle Mayo and Arugula Pizza.
Hmm, love the crust but there could have been more
duck. It was one small piece per slice of pizza.
Shred them up, I suppose? More Truffle too, please!
But with mains hovering around an affordable $12-$14,
one can't complain much.
Foie Gras with Fries.
Hmm, nicely seared foie gras but oddly not
aromatic at all. The fats of the foie gras did
nothing to perfume plain fries.
An odd coupling.

Overall, a great place to chill out with their range of bottled fruit beers, ciders, stout and pilsners. Decent food at a reasonable price (No service charge & GST). Love that they retained the casual, laidback kopitiam vibe.

Two Face Pizza & Taproom
Blk 56 Eng Hoon Street

Just Want Coffee and Other Everton Park Adventures

Another haven for coffee has sprouted up at Everton Park, currently the place to go to for indie boutique joints. Located just at the corner end of block numero uno, Just Want Coffee is a franchise of a flagship cafe originating just across the causeway in Permas Jaya, Johor Bahru.

Verdict: the coffee was excellent! The latte was not too milky, nicely frothed and robust. The Colombian single origin siphon coffee had a welcomed fruity note and was not too acidic. This is one joint that takes their coffee seriously, urm but a little too serious perhaps. Service was rather formal, stilted and a little awkward. You are politely brought to your seat and a menu is tentatively placed in front of you. Hey loosen up guys :) Attempts at bantering with servers were met with horrified, stunned looks. The lions don't bite, you know hohohoho....  Coffee lovers will be pleased though, with the ample seats and space unlike their tiny, cramped neighbour Nylon (but service much warmer there!).

With the very limited choice of finger food and sandwiches on the menu, the lions settled for the agreeable tofu cheesecake.

A joint with not much personality but great coffee if you're starved for caffeine.

The lions are great fans of the char siew pastry and mini carrot cake at Batterworks at Block 4. Do give them a try for your catering needs, wedding favours or other events. Limited sweet bites but they don't stinge on quality.

If your stomach's still growling after all the coffee and desserts, you might want to head down to this humble Korean joint at Block 2 for some home-cooked food, authentically prepared by a Korean obasan. The lions did a mini Gangdam style dance when they found it.

Admittedly, this place specialises in traditional Korean rice cakes and other sweets but the lions thought that the food fared much better. They had bought a box of rice cakes with liquid brown sugar inside (much like the local onde onde), but after taking a bite, they were too shocked for words. They would not label it as bad but it was definitely the weirdest thing they had ever swallowed in their lives! Not something that they would order again, truly an acquired taste.

Spartan premises with mismatched plastic chairs and tables.
Menu crudely displaced on the tiled walls.
The kimchi pork stew was hearty and wholesome.
Imported canned drinks from Korean.
Lions checking out the funky tasting rice cake balls
under an outdoor pavillion.
The skin of the rice balls was so thick and chewy
that you have to wash it completely down
with water. Yikes!
Working out after all that sinful food.
Playing on old school chairs along the
corridors of a conservation shophouse.

Destination Dining in Penang

Adventures in Penang did not really end with just cafes and local street food that the lions enjoyed so much. There were also the "posh-ier" dining places that caught the lions' eyes.... First you might want to take a lunch stop at The Ship in Batu Ferringhi.

What???!!! The Ship??!! There's a one back home! Well simply because this has got to be the prettiest branch out of all the others. The restaurant is located in a breath-taking replica of an actual ship. 

When the lions entered, they were greeted by servers that were dressed like real crew and sailors. The whole restaurant resembled the actual interior of a ship complete with pot-hole windows and was bedecked with Christmas decor just in time for the festive merry-making season. 

The Ship's very own brand of chilli sauce.
All Aboard!

The lions devoured escargots, rib-eye steak, seafood chowder and a banana split. Overall, despite the kitsch, gimmicky decor, the meal was surprisingly good. The most memorable dish was the garlic butter escargots with the addictive sauce that was licked clean. The old-school banana split also brought back many childhood memories with the ingenious sprinkle of toasted almonds and fruit cocktail topping. Should you find yourself wandering around Batu Ferringhi and are tired of street food, The Ship's cosy ambience and straight-to-the-heart food should recharge you.

The Ship Restaurant
69-B Batu Ferringhi, Penang 11100

The next meal stop for the lions was dinner and Cute Cute recalled catching a glimpse of something unique while travelling down to Batu Ferringhi from Georgetown. Back-tracking, the lions came to this quaint-looking restaurant christened "Vintage Bulgaria".

Not exactly familiar with Eastern European cuisine or Bulgaria, they were curious as a cat and in they went to have a look.
Oooo a fireplace! Cats just love a warm hearth.
Shepherds' Salad. A Bulgarian Salad made of fresh vegetables,
mushrooms, ham, olives, grated eggs, cheddar cheese and
a traditional olive oil dressing.
What greeted the lions were rough-hewn stone walls, pretty painted vases, tartan table cloths and a very cosy interior, much like a small homely cottage. They later found out that the restaurant was built in such a way that it resembled a traditional cottage in Bulgaria with wooden stairs leading to a basement.
Splendid! Some information about Bulgaria!
More knowledge makes the lion wiser you know.
The Lions were getting thirsty so they proceeded to order a
glass of Bulgarian wine. Cab Sav and Merlot. Surprisingly, both wines were not too bad for a country not known for producing wine.
Orley Wraps: A traditional Bulgarian dish consisting of cheese
wrapped in bacon, skewered and grilled to perfection.
Homemade mushroom soup
Bulgarian sausage platter (The main dish that both lions shared):
grilled homemade Kabepche (spiced minced pork and beef),
meatballs, karnatche and pork fillet.
Bar for drinks. No bulgarian beer but you do get Tiger beer
here. The irony!
The medieval-looking washroom door
Creme Brulee
Vintage Bulgaria has the lethal combination of a homely ambience and wholesome food, coupled with warm, unintrusive service. If the lions ever do come back, it will be with friends to have a much varied Bulgarian food encounter.
Vintage Bulgaria
1E Jalan Sungei Kelian,11200 Tanjong Bunga (Hillside), Penang

Another day beckoned and the lions were still full from their Bulgarian meal the previous night. So feeling adventurous, they decided to climb Penang Hill (yes, climb) to burn off the calories and to build up an appetite for brunch. Of course, Cuchi was not expecting the climb to be long but unfortunately for her, the climb took the lions 3 tedious hours. Sweaty, panting and exhausted, they finally reached their brunch destination which was like a finishing line for Cuchi as she almost collapsed from the steep uphill ascend. Well done Cuchi! Thus her reward was tea-break at the picture-perfect David Brown.

The lions ordered a petit four platter which consisted of fruits, sandwiches, tarts and scones, accompanied by a pot of tea. Do you feel English already?
"We must plan what to attack first," say the baby lions.

David Brown is a lovely place to chill out when you're at the top of Penang Hill. Enjoy a good cup of tea while you look down at the scenic view, caressed by the cool gentle breeze. It will transport you back to the days of olde when Penang was one of the British empire's crowning jewels.

David Brown Restaurant and Tea Terrace
Strawberry Hill  Penang Hill, 11300 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia