Time Out says
This Chinese restaurant’s Szechuan dishes are favoured by many and if not for its out of the way location from George Town, it will be full house daily. To add to that, its interior’s elegant simplicity exudes a relaxed ambience. Therefore, we think it's well worth the drive from town to Equatorial Hotel in Bukit Jambul for their dim sum.
The real winner here is their dim sum lunch. Unlike most of the other places offering this tapas-style dishes in Penang, their 50 dim sum choices are halal. Before you dismiss it, allow us to let you in on a secret of dim sum eating: instead of pork, prawns and minced chicken and fish fillet are used instead, and in good restaurants such as this one, the meat’s usually leaner and the prawns are fresher.
So, imagine a prawn-filled chee cheong fun or rice noodle roll with its smooth, delicate and thin skin drenched in light soya sauce. It’s almost silk-like when slithering down your throat and the only speed bump is the accompanying dollop of stir-fried dried prawn sambal that gives each bite an unforgettable punch along with a long finish. Here, a satisfying two-roll portion is RM8++ and if shellfish isn’t an agreeable choice, you can opt for their barbecue chicken filling.
Chee cheong fun and kam si yen (foreground)
Now, a dim sum lunch is usually more fun with a group of four or more – typical of most Chinese meals – but if you’re on your own or in a group of two, limit your choices to another three other dim sum choices besides the chee cheong fun.
What’s our recommendation, you ask? Well, for starters, you shouldn’t forego a dim sum staple such as the siew mai or meat filled steamed dumplings. We find their XO siew mai or minced chicken steamed dumplings at RM9.50++ for a set of three, utterly pleasurable. The meat filling’s lean and juicy. For a little more texture, we opt for the kam si yen or fish balls wrapped in shredded wantan skin and deep-fried at RM9++ for a set of three.
Finally, as a carb-happy choice, their lor mai fan or steamed sticky rice with sweet barbecued chicken (instead of char siew or sweet barbecued pork), is simply perfect. It’s moist, substantial and finely balances savoury-sweet flavours along with a resilient texture. If you’re not a big carbohydrate fan, a portion of this is good to share with two people. Oh, there’s also their rice porridge with century egg – need we say more?
Lor mai fan and siew mai (foreground)
Another thing not to miss in any good Chinese restaurant is their selection of Chinese tea. You may think the tea cost quite a bit in these places but with that one price for a tea bag, you’re allowed to share with two or three with unlimited refills or at least until the leaves run out of flavour.
The tea rule applies here too and they’ve got a selection that can cost more than what it takes to run a country but their RM19++ shui shian tea is perfect to wash down the four dim sum choices we recommend here. The tea is refined with no hard edges and practically no bitterness even at first steep of the tea bag.
On weekends, it’s advisable to book ahead. While the dim sum lunch begins at 12pm daily with ala carte menu is only for dinner, on Sunday it begins as early as 9am before the full ala carte menu kicks off at 12pm. Normally, groups extend their Chinese tapas breakfast to a full-blown lunch then. Yes, it can be a long and indulgent affair! Su Aziz
Hotel Equatorial Penang, 1, Jalan Bukit Jambul, Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Tel: +604 632 7188
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 12noon-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10pm; Sun & public holidays, 9am-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10pm
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