Thursday, August 19, 2010

TaiTong Seafood - Penang, Malaysia

As promised, here is another review of one of the many restaurants that we went to during our trip back to Malaysia earlier this year. We had quite a lot of seafood when we were in Langkawi but we didn't really manage to eat much seafood while we were back in Penang (too busy spending time with the extended family and eating a whole lot of awesome home cooked food!). We were not going to leave Penang until we ate some seafood, so, for dinner during our last night in Penang, we headed out to Teluk Bahang. Teluk Bahang is a quaint little fishing village located on the Northwestern tip of Penang Island. Unlike Batu Feringghi (a major tourist destination and entertainment hub, just a mere 5KM away), Teluk Bahang is a sleepy, quiet, small town. Nothing much really happens in Teluk Bahang. One would say that it somewhat reminds you of Penang, say 20 years ago. However, Teluk Bahang is well known for one thing, and that is it's fresh seafood!
One of the most popular (if not, THE most popular) seafood restaurant in Teluk Bahang is the "End of the World" restaurant. It's been around for ages and people used to travel all the way to Teluk Bahang, just to eat there. Over the years, the quality of their food has declined. In fact, it is now not even located at it's original location and is under a new management. We decided not to eat at the End of the World but at TaiTong Seafood (located really close to the original location of the End of the World). TaiTong Seafood is actually a residential house that has been converted into a restaurant. Nothing really fancy, just a typical Chinese restaurant with handwritten menus and Carlsberg beer posters hanging on the wall :P It's usually at places like this where you can find the yummiest food. No frills, just good food.
After we sat down, they asked us what we wanted to drink. Of course they had the usual Chinese tea, sodas, fresh fruit juices, local coffee, Nescafe, Milo, Carlsberg beer...the usual stuff that you can find in Malaysian coffee shops. I then saw a banner for this drink called "Authentic 3 Layer Tea". I have actually seen that banner quite a number of times before but never got around to ordering it. I believe that it is originally from East Malaysia (Kuching, Sarawak to be exact)and it's really gaining popularity all across Malaysia. So, I decided to order one, just to say that I have tried it. From the photo, you can actually see the 3 layers. The bottom layer is gula melaka (local palm sugar) followed by a layer of evaporated milk and it's topped off with tea. Surprisingly, it tasted really really good. For only RM2.80 (approx US$0.90), it's really a bang for your buck!
Since we were planning on stuffing our faces with loads of seafood, we didn't order any steamed rice to go with the dishes. However, if you noticed, Malaysians NEED to have some sort of carbs with every meal. We believe that you will not be full unless you have some sort of carbs with your meal :P So, we ordered a large plate of Hokkien Char (RM 12 = US$ 3.80) to share. Hokkien Char is actually fried noodles with soy sauce, Hokkien style. It wasn't really the best, but it wasn't bad either. Yellow and rice noodles stir fried with a few pieces of chicken slices, fishcakes, small shrimp, beansprouts, mustard greens and topped with some fried onions. Nothing really to rave about. Oh, we also ordered a small portion of fried rice (RM5 = US$1.60) but I didn't managed to take a photo of it. I can't even remember if it was good or bad, so I would have to say that it was errrr, forgettable?
We also wanted to have some vegetables to go with our seafood.. The waitress suggested Thai Style Stir Fried Mix Vege (RM10 = US$3.20). Eggplant, okra and four angled beans, stir fried with some minced chicken and tom yum paste. It was a tad bit spicy (I expected it to be really spicy but was pleasantly surprised) and it tasted great!! I guess it must be one of the house specialities, since the waitress recommended this dish. Very nice.
Now it's time to bring on the seafood! First up is a type of shellfish called Bamboo shellfish (RM18 = US$5.70). I am not really sure what's the real name of this shellfish but it's commonly known as Bamboo shellfish in Malaysia. It's given that name for the mere reason that it's shell looks like bamboo. The Bamboo shellfish at TaiTong was really hugeee and juicy. It was lightly stir fried in some Chinese wine and topped with some cilantro, green onions, carrot shreds, ginger and red chillies. A really tasty and well balanced dish. Just the right amount of ginger and cilantro to balance out the fishy smell that sometimes comes along with this type of shellfish.
Next up is the the Steamed Sea Scallops (RM27 = US$8.60). A very simple dish actually. Fresh sea scallops steamed with some seasonings and topped with some ginger, spring onions, carrots and cilantro. You can taste that the scallops were really fresh. However, we were quite disappointed with this dish because the scallops were really small! We had hoped for bigger ones. It would have tasted so much better if the scallops were a tad bit bigger. Oh well :(
Ahhhhh Kevin and my mom's favorite dish. Sweet and Sour Chili Crabs (RM87 = US$28)!! This is seriously Kevin's all time favorite Malaysian seafood dish. Whenever we are back here in the States, he would go on and on and on about how yummy the Malaysian Sweet and Sour Crabs were and how he wished he could eat them again. If there is one dish that he really misses from the days when he was living in Malaysia, this is it (well, Char Koay Teow too I guess :P). The Sweet and Sour Crabs in TaiTong was alright. Nothing really great about it but it wasn't bad either. For Penang standards (since Penang is the food capital of Malaysia), I would say that it was only mediocre.
We also ordered some cute mantau buns to eat with the crabs. 5 fried buns and 5 steamed buns (RM6 = US$1.90). Yes, I know. There are only 4 fried buns in the photo. I think my dad (or was it Ashley??) ate one of the fried buns before I had a chance to take a photo of it :P
Now, the pièce de résistance of our meal. A yummy, creamy, cheesy serving of Lobster Thermidor (RM165 = US$52.70). Chunks of fresh lobster meat and an assortment of vegetables, cooked with cream sauce and stuffed backed into the lobster shell. It is then topped with cheese and baked. It tasted great but the downside was that there were a whole lot of vegetables and just a few pieces of lobster. I would say that it wasn't really worth the RM165. However, I would still have to say that it was really really really yuuummmmyyy!
Our total bill came up to RM337.60 (approx US$108) for 5 people. It's not too bad really, putting into consideration that about half of that bill already went to the lobster. Overall, it was a great night. We had a great time eating some really fresh (and relatively cheap) seafood and more importantly, spending time with my parents and Ashley. Ooooohhhh we can't wait to go home to Malaysia again and stuff our faces silly with all that yummy seafood! Oh and of course to see our family too :P

TaiTong Seafood - Penang, Malaysia
4 Jalan Hassan Abbas,
11050 Teluk Bahang,
Penang, Malaysia
Tel: (604)885 1693
Cell: (6019)417 7969/(6016)481 4789
Hours: Mon - Fri (3:00pm - 10:30pm), Sat & Sun (noon - 10:30pm)

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