China House, Penang


Bar and coffee counter

China House in Penang stretches between Beach and Victoria Street – a clever play of heritage chic, with seasoned concrete floors, plastered walls and exposed beams. It is a popular spot in town, serving all-day breakfasts, assorted cakes and pastries, coffee and alcoholic beverages. Basically everything under one roof.


The restaurant occupies a long pre-world war house

The place is crowded at night, especially when there’s a band. We wanted to sit by the bar for a session but it was such a full house that even standing was difficult. The café was less boisterous so we sat there instead.


Cakes on display



Service needs improvement. While the staff were efficient, I feel they could have been friendlier. China House offers a large variety of cakes; baked in-house and the tiramisu (RM15) comes highly recommended. That said, I found this average as there was too much cream versus cake.


Black & White (RM15)

The Black & White (RM15) looked good on display but it was a big disappointment. The chocolate layers were dry and hard while the icing was way too sweet for comfort. I wouldn’t recommend you order this.


Iced americano


Rum & raisin milkshake

rif’s iced Americano was decent but not good enough to warrant a visit. My rum & raisin milkshake was not bad – bittersweet from the alcohol and adequately thick. All in, our experience at China House was hardly memorable. While not everything we tried were disappointing, I expected better for such a popular establishment.

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Ambiance: 6.5/10
Price: 6/10
Food: 5/10 (pork free)
Verdict: Mediocre cakes and service. But it is a nice hangout place if you like the heritage feel.

China House
183-B, Lebuh Victoria,
George Town, Penang.
Tel: 04-263 7299

Nasi Kandar Raffe, Penang

I used to be impartial towards nasi kandar, a meal of steamed rice with curries and side dishes that originated from Penang. That was more than 10 years ago when my dad did the mixing of curries. I love my old man, but he isn’t the best curry mixer I know, much to his dismay. He likes mild curries while I like my curries thick and robust.

Then rif came along and he opened my eyes to a whole new world of curry – sweet, spicy and sour, and brimming with spices. He would mix the curries for me whenever we ate nasi kandar and my dad wasn’t a fan his mixing skills because the rice was too spicy for him. :lol:


Kari campur banjir

But there was one person who made it even better – Ee. He once mixed a plate of nasi kandar for me and it was wicked stuff. Thick curries in generous portions on steamed white rice, with squid, meat and half a salted egg for that burst of flavour. And I learnt how to mix my nasi kandar the way I like it to be.

The keyword = Kuah banjir pekat.


Price list

That means only mix thick curries in your rice and none of that diluted stuff most people with butter tongue go for. Problem is, not many nasi kandar places allow you to customise your curry selection. I didn’t like how the folks at Line Clear manage their curry distribution. Despite my insistence on just thick curries, the man added his touch of catastrophe – dhal. Seriously, no one eats dhal in nasi kandar. And he ruined my masterpiece.


Midnight craving


Friendly chap

I had better luck at Nasi Kandar Raffe in Pulau Tikus, a popular spot among Penangites besides Nasi Kandar Beratur. The chap who helped me with the rice was pleasant and accommodating, and scooped only the curries I wanted into my rice. The result? An even better plate of rice than Ee made because he mixed it at a Nasi Kandar shop in KL while I got the real deal in Penang. :D


Prawn curry


Nasi Kandar with ayam madu, sotong and plenty of cabbage. And a hidden salted egg beneath.

A plate of rice with three tender pieces of squid, a piece of ayam madu (honey chicken), half a salted egg and a generous scoop of cabbage cost RM15. This was large enough for two pax  and definitely a better experience (and more reasonable) compared to Line Clear. I reckon the latter has become more of a tourist spot these days.

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Ambiance: 4/10
Price: 6/10
Food: 6.5/10 (halal)
Verdict: Good nasi kandar, if you know how to mix your curries.


Nasi Kandar Mohd Raffe

Mohd Raffe Nasi Kandar
295-A, Jalan Burma,
Pulau Tikus, Penang.

Salero Negori, Amcorp Mall

Since my work travels to Jakarta, I’ve been on a lookout for good Nasi Padang in Klang Valley. I like the idea of having many small plates of food lined up in front of you as this gives me a visual feast, before I tuck into the food.


Gulai Tunjang

Unfortunately, nasi padang isn’t sold this way in KL – we tried the food at Salero Negori in Amcorp Mall, where you choose the dishes you want at the counter and they will then send them to your table. It works for those who prefer to choose their dishes up front but I find this missing the nasi padang appeal.




Paru masak sambal






Lunch spread

We tucked into the ayam kampung goreng, daging dendeng, gulai tunjang, tempe goreng, sambal terung and ikan keli. Of the lot, my favourites were the gulai tunjang (beef tendon curry) and sambal terung (brinjal). The tendon was cooked till tender, while the curry was adequately thick and flavourful.


Tender and melts in the mouth


Ikan Keli Goreng


Sambal Terung

I liked that they were generous with the sambal in the brinjal – this added oomph to the dish. Also noteworthy was the fried ikan keli (catfish), served with a dollop of sambal. Be careful of the bones when eating this, but it is worth the effort.


Ayam Kampung Goreng


Daging Dendeng

The ayam kampong goreng comes with kerisik (fried shredded coconut) which added flavour to the meat. Decent, but hardly memorable. The daging dendeng – a form of beef jerky, Minang style – was a tad chewy for my liking. I expected it to be crispier. Tempe goreng comes with plenty of peanuts and ikan bilis for crunch. This was one of the better versions I’ve tried; not overly oily yet spicy enough to send tingles to the tongue.


Tempe with peanuts and ikan bilis


Food counter

Our bill came up to about RM30 for the above inclusive of two drinks. Pretty reasonable considering the amount we took. At least I know where to go for reasonable nasi padang when the craving hits.

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Ambiance: 6/10
Price: 6/10
Food: 6.5/10 (halal)
Verdict: Moderate selection of dishes but the food is pretty good.


Salero Negori

Salero Negori
Level 2
Amcorp Mall
18, Jalan Persiaran Barat
Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7956 6968

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