Sunday, February 26, 2012

Adventures in Penang Part 2: Toh Soon Cafe

Feeling very cooped up in the hotel in Penang, Cute Cute wanted to run out to explore and more importantly find good coffee places.... Finally he got a chance.....
Cooped up and waiting for the door to be opened....

And off he goes!!! Still in Penang with his friends, Cute Cute read about a quaint coffee joint at Campbell road which is quite near to his hotel. While zooming out, he bumped into Ms Sharing Love and Mr and both requested a cup of coffee to wake them up.... Request accepted....
Wasn't long till lion found the place... A hole in the wall, Toh Soon Cafe is actually located along an alley way but very prominent should you walk past. Being very old school, Toh Soon Cafe gives a very homely and neighbourly feel that you would feel just at home but in the timelines of 1970s.

Metal tables?! Those are rare nowadays...
Now what's unique here? (Apart from the place itself) The coffee here is brewed using charcoal fire which gives it a slightly nice burnt taste. Coffee itself was very smooth, just a hint of slight bitterness as your tongue gets its first contact with it. The toasted bread with fillings of kaya and butter was amazingly crispy despite its thickness. Lion also believed that the bread was toasted over the charcoal fire. One single contraption that handles 2 different tasks!
A master at work
Charcoal stove

While waiting for his coffee, Lion had the pleasure of speaking to the owner of Toh Soon Cafe. Found out that they have a facebook page and fans following... Judging by the number of customers they have, Lion is not surprised that they are really one of the most popular coffee joint in Penang if not Malaysia.

Here is our review for Toh Soon Cafe

Coffee quality: 8.5 pawprints out of 10
Food quality: 8.5 pawprints out of 10 
Ambience: 8 pawprints out of 10 (Subjective cause Lion likes the old school feel)

Specials that you should try: Coffee and toast

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address

Toh Soon Cafe 
Penang, Malaysia
Campbell Street

Adventures in Penang Part 1: Gurney Drive

Seems like it has been a busy month for the lions as they have been exploring nooks and crannies and was surprised by the many things that Singapore has to offer. On top of that, Cute Cute the lion has the pleasure of flying to Penang with friends to enjoy what treasures the little island can offer.
Gurney Drive
Being a very blessed group together, they were given the chance to actually stop by Gurney plaza which is beside Gurney Drive Hawker Centre. Cute Cute being the curious kind, started to sniff out the unique and the eye catching. First stop was to a bar where Jaz beer was served from a miniature keg to keep the freshness intact. Comes in 2 pints per keg, the beer was fresh, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Taste exactly like an enhanced version of Hoegarden.
After a round of drinks, Cute Cute zig zaged his way down to Gurney Drive Hawker Centre which is a stone's throw away. There was a problem when he reached there though.... what is good there? Seems like almost everything looks good. Being daring, lion just reached out to an Assam Laksa stall grabbed a bowl and with his other paw, reached out to get a Muta Kuching 羅漢果 drink.
Penang Assam Laksa
Mata Kuching
After settling down on a table, Lion tucked in... The Assam Laksa was so full of the sardine flavor and the sourness of the laksa is just right. Those together with the nice chewy consistency of the noodles makes the assam laksa a tongue tingling dish that should be tried while in Penang. While lion was enjoying, it began to drizzle a bit and lion saw two old Penang tigers being stranded on their unsheltered table. Being friendly, he beckoned them to share the table with him. The Penang tigers did not just bring their food along, they also brought their warmth. They shared their rojak, boiled cockles and their food experiences with lion! Only favor from the Lord can grant all these!! The rojak was nice and sweet, the prawn paste was thick enough and it covered the ingredients thoroughly.
Char Kway Tiao
After having a enjoyable time with the Tigers, the Tigers left and lion found his bunch of friends sitting at another table. Joining them, lion shared some of the food and using his new found knowledge of Penang food, he also bought something really unique.
Horny Shells
These horny spike shells were recommended by the Penang Tigers. Having boiled for about 1 minute or so, the dish was ready. Takes a certain skill to eat these creatures though... you have to use a toothpick, pierce the soft part and pull them out. Amazingly, they taste really good, you can definitely expect the taste of the sea in there.
Focus on the middle.... The centre of attraction is the Stingray
Nightfall comes just before the prawn noodles and satay
The number of hawker food is so many that it is mind boggling. Would need a few more trips to Penang until most of the items are covered. Definitely something that Cute Cute would love to do.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Oasis in Commonwealth: TSG Kitchen

While cruising down Commonwealth Ave West one day, Cuchi spotted TSG Kitchen and mentioned this to Cute Cute. Cute Cute's childhood memories started to wander as he remembered the days when the Margaret Drive hawker centre and Oriental Emporium were still around. Well at least the old market building still remains and operational but with a furniture shop and a few eateries.
Seemingly like an oasis in a stretch of road with green fields behind, TSG Kitchen does stand out provided you open your eyes while driving past. As with all new places, the lions always wanted a try.
Wonder where this stairs lead to?
Even grannies eat here!!
There was a variety of food available at TSG Kitchen. Breakfast to western to local dishes are all available, not forgetting the Frostbites popsicles too! The lions were pondering on what to order until both pair of beady eyes spotted the Lock Stock and Two Barrels.
Lock Stock and Two Barrel
The order was sealed and the lions waited for their food to come. Surprised by the size of the item, the lions were even more surprised to see one guy ordering this and eating it all by himself! Sausages, toast, baby potatoes, bacon, scrambled eggs and ratatouille... all in a huge frying pan. It was delightful as the lions were sharing the whole pan and enjoying the atmosphere and artwork of the place. Plus it was inexpensive too. Cute Cute also noticed that they also sell wine. Prices of food and wine are reasonable plus it was easy to find a parking lot. TSG Kitchen is definitely a good place to bring a large group of friends to chill out and catch up because of the huge area.

Here is our review for TSG Kitchen

Food quality: 7.5 pawprints out of 10 (It is really value for money)
Ambience: 7.5 pawprints out of 10

Specials that you should try: Lock Stock and Two Barrels

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address

TSG Kitchen
38 Commonwealth Ave
Singapore 149738
Tel: 6474 5496

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nepalese cuisine without the passport!!

Feeling bored and listless? Always wanting to go on an exotic holiday without spending too much time and money? Well, fret not, the lions have another little adventure up their sleeves (or fur paws)
If you recall from the last blog (Dreamier Creamier), the lions actually stumbled upon Creamier while looking for Tim's Nepalese Restaurant. Nestled among Toa Payoh lorong 4 HDB flats and a fair distance from any MRT station, Tim's Nepalese Restaurant is certainly a gem in its own way. The lions did not find any difficulty locating the place as it was quite prominent.

A humble interior....Namaste
Tim's Nepalese serves authentic Nepalese and western cuisine. As the lions were more curious about the Nepalese part of Tim's, they decided to try the various Nepalese food shown.

Vegetarian Samosa.... Huge
Vegetarian Samosa, Thukpa and Chicken Tash with Pulau were ordered along with a bottle of Harbin beer at only $4! When the samosas came, the lions were surprised by the size of it....  huge! The samosas was crispy on the outside and the filing inside was hearty. Feels like a Nepalese Old Chang Kee!
Notice why beer is always served first...
Chicken Gumbo Soup

Chicken Tash with Pulau

Dessert... Chocolate pudding
It felt like most things here are big when the Thurpa was served. Quite a big bowl by itself, the Thurpa was a light soupy noodles with a very home cooked taste. You can tell by the lack of MSG in it but yet it emitted a light vegetable taste which compliment well with the pieces of chicken. The sliced pieces of sausages added a bit of salty taste to the noodles. The Chicken Tash with Pulau was a bit more average. The chicken tasted like a milder version of the Indian's Chicken Tikka and the Bismatic rice, that was served with the chicken, was very fragrant.
Ending with a cup of coffee
It was a delightful meal for the lions. The quality of food was good and the portion was big. Service staff was also very attentive. To the lions, the highlight was the isolation of Tim's Nepalese as you really feel like in an old part of Singapore (maybe a 1980s feel) enjoying Nepalese or western food as you look at heartlanders walk by.
Here is our review for Tim's Nepalese Restaurant

Food quality: 7.5 pawprints out of 10
Ambience: 6.5 pawprints out of 10 (The ambience is not bad because of the 80s music they play)

Specials that you should try: Thurpa, Chicken Momo (Please bring more friends to eat this), Steak

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address

Tim's Restaurant and Cafe
95 Toa Payoh Lorong 4
Singapore 310095
Tel: 6250 5246

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dreamier Creamier

This blog got to be one of the fastest blog that the lions published. Cuchi was so excited about finding a new place in the heartlands that she wanted the blog to be up ASAP.... (actually within 1 hour of the lions leaving the place) While walking around in Toa Payoh during one of the lions exploration excursion, the lions discovered Creamier in the heartlands. What made it special was that it is not located in the town centre but in one of the neighbourhood centres instead.
Oooo watching the ladies (and aunties) go by
Minimalistic and simple, Creamier attracts the younger crowd (including the girls from St Nicks) with their hand crafted ice cream and gourmet coffee. You would find the basic coffees over there together with different flavors of local homemade ice cream. They also have daily specials of food and desserts upon query. There's also bar seating which faces the outside where you can enjoy your coffee or dessert while looking at the neighbourhood aunties carrying their groceries home.

Now we know where the left over water goes to
Because Cute Cute and Cuchi were heading to another place for lunch, they could only have a cup of coffee and a scoop of ice cream lest the review for the next place is compromised. Cuchi always like local flavors thus the water melon sorbet was chosen. The usual long black for Cute Cute.
Watermelon Sorbet

Long Black
You like nice bits in your ice cream? Well if so, then you would love their water melon sorbet. It's really a lady's fav with their sweet and ''filled with bits'' feeling. As for their long black, it was really smooth with a slight bit of pleasant acidity to end off at the back of your tongue.

A friendly resident

Yes.. One picture is enough for now
Creamier is really an oasis in the heartlands. Gourmet coffee joints have always been mainly located in the central thus it is really a godsend to see one in toa payoh heartlands.

Here is our review for Creamier

Coffee quality: 7.5 pawprints out of 10
Food quality: 8.0 pawprints out of 10 (It's 8 for the ice cream, the lions have yet to try others)
Ambience: 7 pawprints out of 10

Specials that you should try: Long black, ice cream

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address

128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
Singapore 310128
Tel: 9387 6136

Food and not wool at Black Sheep Cafe

Bar bar black sheep, have you any food? Yes sir yes sir one restaurant full..... Cuchi came across Black Sheep Cafe while we were walking around little India. Surprised by the type of food being offered in the midst of shophouses and area, Cute Cute and Cuchi decided to give Black Sheep a shot.
Interior of Black Sheep

Interior of Black Sheep
The first thing that the lions noticed that the restaurant has very limited seating, a very surprising way of limiting the number of diners coming to their restaurant! Could be a good place to have a private function. After enough gawking, Cuchi ordered their dinner. Roasted brie cheese, duck confit, lamb shank and orange souffle.
Roasted Brie Cheese

Duck Confit
The Brie cheese came as a surprise to the lions as they were expecting the brie cheese to be in cubes rather than the given presentation. Regardless of the style of presenting, the main crux would be the taste. Nice, creamy and not too chewy are the words to describe the roasted brie cheese. That coupled with the grapefruit salad makes it a nice combination. The duck confit was done very well too. Very tender and full of flavor deep even within the meat signifies that the duck has been marinated in the fat for sometime.
Lamb Shank
The next main that the lions ordered was the lamb shank. Although it was tender, the lamb shank was quite average. Think the lions really preferred the duck confit. 
Surprise! A complimentary dessert!

Orange Souffle
By the time the desserts came, the lions were rather stuffed. However to really have a sweet finish, the lions pushed on. The orange souffle looked like it was going to explode anytime. Not too sweet and possessed a roasted orange taste, the souffle was also a class of its own.

Here is our review for Black Sheep Cafe

Food quality: 7.5 pawprints out of 10
Ambience: 7.5 pawprints out of 10

Specials that you should try: Duck Confit, Orange Souffle

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address and website

Black Sheep Cafe
35 Mayo Street
Singapore 208316
Tel: 9272 1842