I had my 2nd food tasting session with a group of Penang food bloggers while holidaying back home in Penang last month on the kind invitation of Criz Lai of Criz Bon Appetite and Mr Tan, the restaurant owner of Ivy’s Kitchen.
Ivy’s Kitchen serves pork-free home-cooked dishes, authentic Penang nyonya cuisines, a variety of set meals, steamboat dinner, seafood dinner and fish head curry.
Located at Chow Thye Road (Off Jalan Burma), the restaurant is run by a husband and wife team Mr Tan and Ms Ivy. It has simple deco and basic dining layout, with its name on a banner hanging outside the restaurant. I almost missed this place while looking for it as I expected to see a large signboard instead.
We started our food tasting session with 7 different combination of set meals.
All of these set meals come together with a fresh fruit juice and homemade jelly.
Combo Set A and B are served with plain rice, with side servings of crispy crackers (papadom), hard-boiled egg, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts and pickles.
Combo Set A – Chicken rendang (RM9.00)
– Rendang is a dried type of Malay curry. The chicken drumstick is cooked just right. Its texture is moist, lending it a juicy bite. The blended curry spices used to marinate it tasted rich and flavourful. A thumb-up from me!
Combo Set B – Beef rendang (RM8.50)
The beef is cooked until tender with flavourful curry spices. As I am not a regular beef-eater, I am unable to comment.
Combo Set C – Nasi lemak (RM7.50)
– This popular Malaysian rice set is served with fragrant coconut rice, hard-boiled egg, fried assam fish, deep-fried chicken wing, ikan bilis sambal (spicy anchovies curry), fish crackers and pickles. The restaurant owner said it is the best seller. A great bargain for customers looking for a value-for-money combo set!
Cincaru sambal fish (Set meal RM9.00/ Add-on RM3.80 each fish)
– For Combo Set C, for an additional RM1.50, one can replace the fried assam fish with a stuffed fried Cincaru fish (hard-tailed mackerel) instead. Side order is priced at RM3.80/fish.
This cincaru sambal fish has a spicy and soury taste with hint of finely chopped kaffir lime leaves. I find the chilli used for the sambal filling a bit heavy on the taste bud, shadowing the taste of blended curry spices.
Combo Set E – Curry prawns (RM9.00), Combo Set F – Curry lemak fish (RM9.00), Combo Set G – Curry assam fish (RM9.00).
These curry set meals come with plain rice and some side dishes such as such as crispy crackers (papadom), hard-boiled egg, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts and pickles. (Refer to the photo above for the rice set on the top left corner). Amongst all curries, I prefer curry assam fish as it is very appetizing and to my liking.
Combo Set D – Fried fish meal (RM9.00)
– For those who prefer a non-spicy meal, they can order this soup-based combo set. It comes with a choice of noodles -cintan noodles (instant noodles), bee hoon (vermicelli), tang hoon (glass noodle), or porridge, served with deep-fried dory fillets, minced chicken balls and some choy sum (green vegetables). The soup base is slightly mild but the taste is enhanced with the garnishing of fried garlic, sesame oil and spring onions. I like the minced chicken balls as they are well marinated.
After sampling the set meals, we sample some ala-carte dishes.
Grouper fish porridge (RM9.00)/ Normal fish porridge (RM6.00)
– This ala-carte dish is another selection on the menu for one who prefer to have a non-spicy meal. It is a Teow-Chew style porridge, with the rice still visible. This porridge comes with generous portion of fresh grouper fish fillet, minced chicken balls and some choy sums. It is indeed a healthy choice for me after eating so much of sinful food in Penang. 😛
Penang Nyonya cuisine 1 : Chicken lobak (RM6.00)
– This is a deep fried 5-spices chicken meat roll. It comes with a dipping sauce. Although my favorite is still the traditional pork lobak, this chicken roll is equally tasty. If more ingredients were added to the wrap, it would have created a firmer chewy roll.
Penang Nyonya cuisine 2: Joo Hoo Char (RM6.00)
– This stir-fried dish is made up of finely shredded yambeans, carrots, mushrooms, chicken and cuttlefish. It goes well with sambal belacan (chilli paste) to give you an extra kick to the whole dish. This dish is my all-time favourite!
The right way to eat this dish: take a piece of lettuce, put it on your palm, spread a bit of sambal belacan, add a scoop of stir-fried mixture on top and wrap/fold it. Enjoy!
Penang Nyonya cuisine 3: Poh pia chee/ deep-fried spring rolls (RM2.00 each roll/ RM3.80 double)
– These deep-fried spring rolls have a crispy thin outer layer which is not oily. They are filled with finely shredded chicken, carrot, black fungus, mushrooms and french beans. The accompanying sweet chilly sauce gives these rolls an enhanced flavour.
Penang Nyonya cuisine 4: Penang asam laksa (RM5.00)
– It is the most famous hawker dish in Penang. You should not miss it if you are visiting Penang for the first time. The dish comes with a sour and spicy soup base, topped with generous serving of sardine fish, shredded cucumber, lettuce, onion, cut chilli and fresh mint leaves. A spoonful of shrimp paste (hai kor) will be added to the soup to give it extra flavour. The laksa noodle in this dish has a chewy texture. I find the soup slightly salty.
Fruit juice (RM2.20 – 2.80)
– Ivy’s Kitchen has a wide selection of drinks ranging from coffee, tea, homemade drink, soft drink and fruit juice. I had tried ambra juice with plum (RM2.20). It is a great thirst quencher on a hot day. The cucumber juice with mint is also very refreshing.
Homemade dessert – red bean soup (RM1.60)
– Our food tasting session ended with 3 bowls of homemade desserts. This sweetened red bean soup with sago comes in 3 different combinations. It added white fungus, dried longan and dried lily bulbs for each combination. Although the red beans are boiled till thay are very soft, the soup lacks the thickness that I prefer.
If you can forego ambience (and air-conditioning), Ivy’s Kitchen is recommended for those looking for quality homecooked dishes at reasonable prices in Penang.
58 Jalan Chow Thye
Tel : 013 4337878 (Mr. Tan) & 016 4337130 (Ms. Ivy)
Business Hours: 9am – 9pm (except Saturday) & 6pm – 9pm (Saturday)
GPS Coordinates : N05 2529.0 E100 1914.6
Food bloggers (besides me) who had attended this food tasting session:
Bee – Buzzing with food
Criz Lai – Criz Bon Appetite
CK Lam – What2see: The Best of Penang Food
Ken Chan – Foodpoi
Lingzie – Lingzie
NKOTB – My Love. My Food
Eunice, Siew Ying & Iris – Food Promotions