Haven Delights at Penang Times Square

This was held last month and yes, my post is way overdue.

That being said, it didn’t diminish my memories of that day though; good food, loud laughter, friendly banter and great company. Definitely worth the trip back to Penang πŸ˜‰

So thanks Criz, for inviting me. It’s nice to be kept in the loop though I was 240km away.

My appreciation also to Mr. Ng Boon Tong the chairman and MD of the restaurant, the main chef Edwin Teo and their friendly staff who gave really impeccable service.

Those who attended:

Funny Allen
Food Critic Jason & Gill
Amiable CK Lam
Fellow Penang- lang Cariso (She and I shares almost the same thoughts on food (saltiness -meter, expensive/worthiness-meter and oiliness -meter). She can really complain too! Haaahha)
Sweet Bee
Glutton Steven Goh
Serious Mary
Smiley Allie
Lingzie
Nicholas Chan from http://nickchan.net/
Ken Chan
BBO
PTP

And of course, Mr Criz Lai himself.

Food-wise, their main forte is combination of cuisines from Japan, Korea, Shanghai and Hong Kong with a fusion twist.
Creative use of ingredients and adventurously matched items makes up dishes un-heard of and flavours un- savored before.

Ambience, Decor, Class – all check.

The curtain raiser for the night was The Hotzz Abalone and Unagi Tofu Combo.

The unagi was great, sweet with a smoky flavour; as the resultant of being grilled.
Eaten together with the creamy cold tofu, it was a combination that works well.

As for the abalone, indeed it was very out-of -the ordinary, to have plain abalone, eaten with strong chilli paste (akin to our local sambal).
I have always been of opinion that delicate flavoured items like scallop, fishes and abalone should be cooked with care, preserving its unique mild sweetness and freshness; hence should not be covered in heavy sauces.
So personally, I enjoyed the abalone more with the simple pairing of the fragrant garlic bits and oil rather than with the spicy sambal.

Chicken Ban Ban (RM10)

There are two elements to this dish; one being the egg omelette fried to crisp which is underneath the chickens cuts and another the chicken pieces itself. While the chicken was unappealing being rather oily, the combination of the 3 different sauces was good.
One gets a sting from the wasabi mayo -based one, and a nice sweetness from the Jap sweet sauce and lastly, plain old mayo which is good with any fried item.

Red Dragon Prawn with Jammy Sauce (RM20)
Innovative is the word for this creation.
Mid sized deep fried prawns drenched in citrusy- fruity sauce thicken with starch (think SunQuick and you’ll get the idea), this is a dish with a myriad of very ‘playful’ flavours, good to try at least once.
My tongue detected a hint of spice too, which turns out to be turmeric and that probably explained the yellow hue of the dish.


Motoyaki Scallop (RM14 for 5pcs).
Simply put, the thick sauce overwhelmed the delicate scallops. The sauce which was a mix of creamy Thousand Island-like concoction & cheese with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, chilli flakes and black pepper has such strong tones!
In the end, I resorted to scrapping off the sauce to enjoy my scallop. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are diners who knows how to appreciate this dish for what it is.
Korean Beef Kimchi (RM16).
This deserves a thumbs-up. There was a very well balance of heat and pungency. The meat tears apart easily and even a non- kimchi eater like myself was a converted fan for while there!

The Lamb Teriyaki
(RM18 for 2 cuts) had a sweet glaze and was slightly grill-singed at some parts.
The cuts served was lean, which might explain why the meat wasn’t as tender as expected. Taste-wise; it can best be described as very minimalistic, for it was just blasted with some marinate before it was cooked, so what you will get is pretty much the natural flavour of the lamb.


The remarkable Homemade Spicy Chicken (RM15).
My vote for the BEST dish of the night.
The fried chicken pieces tossed with chopped fermented black beans, bird eyes chilies, garlic, spring onions, curry leaves and sesame seeds were cooked in thick, sweet and fiery gravy and each ingredients complimented one another wonderfully.
We have spice, we have fragrance and we have heat. This dish really packs a punch!

Nicely done no? Not the stringy dry texture that denotes “chewy” and “overcooked“.Shanghai Honey Spare Ribs (RM18) . I took a bite and couldn’t swallow even that one bite as the full force of SALTINESS hit me in the face. Enough said.

Japanese Yaki Udon
(RM12).
Most of us found the dish to be a tad too wet and the “wok hei” (charred taste as the result of high heat frying) overpowering. The revised version served later was drier and tasted better.

Tempura Cheese Maki

The mid bit you see here in the roll is an ebi (prawn); which was rolled with a layer of grilled eel, with the next layer being the sushi rice. Most outer layer is a batter layer which was pan-fried, hence the mildly burnt taste. Topping of cheesy mayo sauce made this a delightful one mouth-morsel.
Me dissecting the piece trying to figure out what’s inside.
Next is one of the Chef’s Specials served that night was impressive in presentation but not in taste.
Creatively named Chicken Bom, it was actually fillet of chicken encasing generous filling of shredded salmon (of which many of us mistaken for tuna) with thyme (which was overwhelming), onions and pepper.

At this point, I started to wonder if the chef is trying too hard in his attempt to create new fusionized dishes. He seems to favour the idea of throwing a lot of ingredients together and most doesn’t seem to have paired off well. ..
HK Style Wan Than Mee (RM22).
1st snag was the price, which most of us opined that it was a bit on the high side. After all this Penang, not KL.

Next was the supposedly piece de resistance – 4 gargantuan dumplings filled with prawns. While it was not inedible, the use of blended squid paste to bind the fillings resulted in the dumplings to be mushy, which contradicts the freshness one expects from dumplings, after being accustomed to crunchy waterchestnuts as one of the ingredients.

Anyhow, the saving grace comes in the form of the soup broth; which was thick and suited the noodles well.
At the point of bursting at the seams from sampling so many varieties of dishes with such generous portions, we were finally served desserts. Of course, all of us somewhat managed to make room for that!

Macha Ice Cream (RM8)
The green tea ice cream was definitely authentic. Very strong green tea flavour present and it tasted more bitter than sweet. Improvement is still required for the red bean paste though, for it was rough in texture due to the presence of the skin which wasn’t blended enough. The mochi was lumpy and hard in the mid-section.

Kuru Goma Ice Cream (RM8) which had a ratio of 3:7 of grinded black sesame seeds to peanut; naturally tasted more like peanut ice cream than sesame ice cream.
Most of us enjoyed this; myself included πŸ˜‰


NOTE: The above items were the food specially arranged for us to review.

Apart from the A la Carte dishes, Haven Delights also serves buffet lunch and dinner. Cost is RM49.90++ per person with 50% off for children.
You can order as many items as you like in their buffet menu list which has over 90 dishes within the allocated two hours duration from as early as 10.30am until 11.00pm daily.
Do take note that wastage above 100gms would be charged accordingly.

You think so syiok eat free?
Got homework one you know! πŸ˜‰
For me the session was alike embarking on a windwhirl culinary rendezvous; for each dish that was served incorporated vast differences in aromas, flavours and textures.
My criticism aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the session and was impressed with the Chef’s creativity and boldness in the creation of the dishes.
Haven Delights would undoubtedly be an interesting addition to the Penang food scene with its innovative fusioned dishes, challenging the norm of where street hawker food predominates.

Location: Penang Times Square, 77-L1-34, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 604-210 8855, 604-210 8856
Business Hours: 10.30am -11.00pm