Friday, July 2, 2010

Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine - Lodi, NJ

After a whole afternoon of eating in Chinatown, we were not really thinking about dinner until about 9PM that evening. I asked Kheng what she wanted to eat and she said more Malaysian! You see, during lunch, she couldn't make up her mind between Nasi Lemak or Hainanese Chicken Rice. I guess the chicken rice was still on her mind :P I did a quick search online and found out that the nearest Penang Restaurant is the branch located in Lodi. Since I have never been there myself, we figured it would be a good time to go check it out. Also, it opens til 11PM, so it was perfect for us.
After some GPS problems, we arrived at the restaurant at around 10. It has it's own parking lot with ample parking space, so that's a bonus. However, the exterior doesn't look like the typical Penang Restaurants that I am familiar with. Oh, you must be wondering...what GPS problems? Well, the address that we got off the Internet was 334 Main St. When I typed that in, I found out that there was a N. Main St and S. Main St. I wasn't sure which one it was, so I randomly selected S. Main St. Guess where that brought us? A cemetery! I then selected N. Main St and 5 minutes or so later, we found the place. So remember, if you were to go, it's NORTH Main St and not SOUTH! :P
When we walked into the restaurant, I knew that this branch was definitely different than the other Penang branches. The decor looked more like a chic upscale restaurant with low lighting and jazz music playing in the background. There was also a full bar and the wait staff looked more like they belong to a fancy Italian or French restaurant. Definitely not the aunties that I am used to. I also noticed that there were A LOT of wait staff, almost too many for such a small establishment. We were seated promptly (due to the fact that it was almost empty) and they gave us the menu to look through. Hmmm, a quick glance through the menu and I realized that that the prices were way higher compared all the other Penang branches that I have been to (trust me, I have been to a lot of Penangs :P). Not only that, the menu selection was way smaller compared to the other Penangs. Oh well, if the food and service is good, I guess paying a little more isn't all that bad. However, the question...was the food and service good? Well, let me tell you this. There were soooo many wait staff around but we had to wait for at least 15 minutes to order. They were just hanging around in groups, either staring into space or talking to each other. What horrible service! We even tried to get their attention, but they were in a world of their own. At last we managed to place our order and the waiting for our food began.
After waiting for what seemed like forever, our food was finally served. I ordered the Fried Rice Noodles with Salted Fish ($8.95). With the horrible service, I wasn't really expecting a lot from the food. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The fried rice noodles were not too bad actually. Not the greatest, but it wasn't all that bad. There were also generous chunks of salted fish visible. Do I think it's worth the 9 bucks? Probably not. After all, it's just rice noodles, some pieces of chicken, vegetables and salted fish. It's almost sinful to pay 9 bucks just for that.
What did Kevin order? Nooo, he didn't order the Char Koay Teow! :P He ordered his second favorite food, Wonton Mee ($7.95). Again, the noodles wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. I would say, it's rather forgettable. I found the wontons to be a tad bit tasteless too. I wouldn't order this again IF we were to ever return.
I felt that Kheng's Hainanese Chicken Rice ($6.95) was the most disappointing out of the whole lot. Not only did it take extra long to be served, it tasted horrible too. After Kevin and I got our food (and we had to wait a long time for ours), she was still waiting for hers. Come on, how long does it take to put this dish together? Just chop up some chicken and scoop some rice into a bowl? How difficult can that be? She gave me a few pieces to try and yeah, I agree with her that it's really not that great. The chicken was tasteless! Just some rubbery chicken with soy sauce poured over.
Since we didn't order any appetizer and our main meal was pretty horrible, we decided to order some desserts. Maybe they might redeem themselves through dessert. Kheng ordered the Chendol ($3.50). The verdict? Just too much shaved ice! Look at the amount of shaved ice. It was just falling everywhere and it was so hard to get to the good stuff at the bottom of the bowl. To be fair, the chendol tasted pretty good though. Just that there was way too much ice on top.
Kevin and I shared the Peanut Pancake with Ice Cream ($7.95). This is our all time favorite Penang Restaurant dessert. Crispy roti canai stuffed with 'ban chang koay' peanut stuffing. I'm glad that it wasn't a disappointment. Good as always. However, I am a bit cheesed off that the peanut pancake was served with ice cream. Usually (in all the other Penang branches), we could choose if we wanted ice cream or not. It's usually $5.95 just for the pancake. Two bucks for a scoop of ice cream seems ridiculous. Looks like it's all about making money in this Penang branch.

As you can see from the bill, our whole dinner for 3 people came up to $50.40. Way way way too expensive for some mediocare tasting Malaysian food and really bad service. Would I return? I really don't think so. The next time I am in the mood for Malaysian food, I would either to go the city or take a drive to the Penang in Edison. It might be a little bit further, but the experience will be a whole lot better.

Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine - Lodi, NJ
334 N. Main St,
Lodi, NJ 07644
Tel: (973) 779 1128

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