Kitchen Twenty Three @ Elit Avenue, Penang

I am going to write about a steakhouse today. But since this is a paid post whereby I paid for the food and write a blog post, I can be honest, right? So, in the spirit of being honest, I should be upfront and tell you that it wasn’t my intention to come here at all. At least not my original intention anyway.

You see, I was out earlier today looking for late breakfast (so this is in fact a very very fresh blog post). I wanted to finally pay the new Sushi Mentai outlet in Elit Avenue a visit, because yesterday when I drove past the area, I saw that there was no queue in front of that (so far) crazy popular sushi restaurant. And, seriously, what can be more appropriate than having sushi for breakfast, right?

To my disappointment, when I arrived at 11.35 AM today (the restaurant opens at 11.30 AM), the restaurant was already full and there was again a healthy queue standing outside the restaurant. Seems like yesterday was a one-off.

I hate queues, so I thought “f*ck it” and went off, looking for other noms instead. The thing is, I have already tried most of the restaurants in Elit Avenue. There are only a handful new restaurants that I have yet to try out. And that was how I ended up in Kitchen Twenty Three (Steakhouse.Cafe.Asian fusion restaurant).

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The outlet here in Elit Avenue is new. In fact, much newer than Sushi Mentai. Kitchen Twenty Three opened for business less than a month ago, on 1st August 2015. The reason I entered this restaurant out of the few others that I have not tried before was because those others were either not open, or empty. This Kitchen Twenty Three though, has some customers already seated inside and eating, so I took it as a safer bet.

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Okay, time for some good comments about this restaurant based on my observations. One plus point I can immediately give is the fact that instead of one shop lot, they went for two instead. You know Penang’s shop lots (especially these new projects) are pathetically small, so by having two shop lots, they averted potential disasters called inadequate seating capacity and crampy dining experience. Good job on this!

I also liked how they do the layout for the tables, with alternate vertical and horizontal setup, with ample walking spaces in between. This helps create some sense of comfort and privacy in an otherwise open floor space. Simple as it seems, this is one area that not many new restaurateurs can get right, so again, good job!

I was slightly amused with what I see on my table. We have flower decoration, tissue, a container for cutlery (forks and knives), and seasoning (salt and pepper). All rather western stuff if you ask me. And then there’s Maggi chili sauce and tomato sauce (ketchup) which are very… Malaysian. To me, that two bottles of red sauce stood out like a sore thumb. I still have not decided if this is a good or bad thing.

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But then, they did say they are a fusion restaurant, so I guess it is fine

Now, let’s talk about the not-so-good comments. I was seated and waiting to be served when I noticed this:

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I mentioned it before in an earlier blog post of another eatery, but I’ll mention it again here. (In my opinion) A restaurant’s staff should not be seen seated at customer dining area, or even at a place obviously visible to customers. That two blokes seated there, they are NOT customers. They were wearing the restaurant’s T-shirts, and they were having their meal there.

In a professionally run restaurant, the floor staff’s sole existence is to be of service to customers, either for taking orders, serving food, and checking on customers. Seeing some staff seated at one of the tables meant for customers and doing their own stuff tells us how unprofessional the staff is. And also the owner, for it also means the owner doesn’t know what he is doing and did not train his staff properly.

Maybe it does not matter to some customers, but to some, it would be a put off. For me, I guess it is 50-50. I would take note, mentally shake my head, but ignore it.

And the menu. You know, seeing that this is a steakhouse, I thought this is a properly above average, mid-range pricing restaurant. And seeing the decor and food served to the other customers certainly supported this notion. When I was given the menu, I did not expect it to be, so… cheap. I don’t know, because in a steakhouse, I expected a book of menu, or at least laminated sheets of paper, not just… papers.

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But the cheapness is a minor detail. I think the menu is rather… dysfunctional. What you’re looking at, is page 1, out of more than 20 sheets of paper (it felt more like 200 when I was flipping through the stack). They kind of like, alternate 1 page with the items and prices, and then the next page would be pictures of some of those items, and then the next page would be words and prices again. Problem was, these papers are all printed on one side only, so you will have to flip between prices and pictures. I imagine for some people with less than stellar memory, it might go something like:  “Oh, maybe I should have French Breakfast, RM 14 is not so expensive, let’s see how it looks like… (flips)… Oh, which one did I want to see just now? Was it the American Breakfast?… Oh, French Breakfast! Yes, it looks nicer! How much was it again?… (flips back) Which one was nice again? It was American Breakfast right? Let’s order American Breakfast!

Oh crap… it is actually just a minor nuisance of a problem, but I seem to have written it out of proportions in an epic way. What I really want to say is, the menu could’ve been done better

Okay okay, let’s talk about F&B now…

I saw some hot coffee with those leaf art served to other tables, but I don’t care about coffee art and I like my drinks cold. If they had local iced Nescafe or White Coffee I would have went for those, but they didn’t (or maybe they do but I missed them in the menu) so I ordered an Ice Blended Capuccino (RM 12) for my drink instead. It was pretty good. For me anyway. I mean, I am not one of them coffee experts who could detect bullshit coffee versus wonderful coffee. Coffee to me is just, coffee. I don’t like my coffee too sweet, but I also don’t like pure bitter coffee. It needs a bit of sugar, to be in between, and this one’s quite in between for me. And they have some marshmallows on top. Nice touch!

As for the food… no, I did not order an American Breakfast. I flipped all the pages and decided to go for a Stuffed Chicken Breast (RM 16.50). After all, it seemed more appropriate to have stuffed chicken breast than some eggs and hash browns for breakfast, isn’t it?

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Wow! It does look pretty nice, doesn’t it? According to the menu, this dish is chicken breast stuffed with garlic and butter in special sauce (or something like that), served with potato wedges and salad. Although I could do without that mayo drizzle over the salad. I know most Malaysians love mayo on their salad, but I am not like most Malaysians. I prefer olive oil over mayo. I’ll have to take note and mention it when I come again next time.

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I thought it was very good value for money, RM 16.50 for something that filled up an entire plate, and plated so nicely. That was until I began counting how many slices of chicken breast I got. I counted 4. Four slices of chicken breast, and the rest are wedges and lettuce. Hmm… just tuned down from [very good value for money] to just [good value for money]. Still good nonetheless.

And that stuffing was pretty generous. I love garlic, so this stuffing is perfect! The chicken breast was a bit overcooked and dry, but this isn’t something that puts me off. And the sauce more than made up for the dryness in my opinion.

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So… verdict(s)…

Is the food good? Yes!
Does the food look good? Yes!
Do you like the coffee? Yes!
The environment is nice? Yes!
But the menu sucks? Well, yeah, but… I ain’t no old granny with deteriorating memory, I’ll manage…
The floor staff? Like I said, I’m 50-50, so it’s fine I guess. And maybe the owner/manager will set his people straight in time to come…
So, will you come back again? I’d like to think so, yes! Maybe I’ll try their breakfasts and lamb shanks next.
Will you recommend this steakhouse to others? Very much so! This is much better than a lot of the eateries that Penang has to offer.

So.. there you have it. For location and contact details, here’s their Facebook page.

Kitchen Twenty Three (Steakhouse.Cafe.Asian fusion restaurant)

24 Comments

  1. What is the deal with cafes serving cold drinks and smoothies in such big glass jars these days, lol. They call them hipster jugs or something along those lines in Australia.

    I must admit the food looks really good 😀

    • Well, I think most of the cafes here get their inspiration from places like Australia. Of course more often than not we fail to replicate entirely and screw things up in the end. 😀

      • Haha. I am very curious as to how Australia cuisine is portrayed in Malaysia. Aside from your Aussie cafe post a while back, that’s it. Would be interesting to see more of you trying that 😀

        • I’m always on the lookout for more Aussie cafes or restaurants. So far I haven’t seen any others. But then I’m based in Penang. I’m sure there would be more in KL.

  2. I just commented in Ken’s food blog that Elit Avenue seems new to me as I have no idea where exactly it is.
    Never mind, this will be in my list to check it out during my coming trips. I like the walls that look crazy like that.
    No thanks for marshmallows! They smell like rubber glue. LOL
    Chicken breasts with stuffed garlic sounds appetizing and nice for my liking. Holy Marcus!

    • I suppose you don’t, since you hang out on the other side of the island in places like Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah. Elit is in Bayan Baru, if you know Pantai Hospital/Giant, it is just next to these two.

    • I actually wasn’t paying attention to the wall at all to be honest. It is just wallpaper, nothing of Herculean effort being done here.

  3. Uhm I don’t know why, but based on how you build the article, I thought you were totally going to bash them haha. I wasn’t expecting a happy ending xD

  4. Whoa! That menu is made up of a stack of papers. Yeah, lots of flipping and after a while, it will become like “ham choy” 😀 I do hope that they print a proper one soon. I am sure most customers would find the menu rather cumbersome.

    When I looked at your dish, I was wondering if you were OK with the generous serving of salad greens 😀 You sounded alright with it except that you prefer it with olive oil and not mayo. So I reckon we will see another post on what you ate when you next visit.

    • Tsk, I do eat a lot of vegetables one lah, it is not like I am all meat meat meat all the time! I think I did mention before I can’t handle raw vegetables well, EXCEPT for lettuce. So.. it was okay…

  5. If you didn’t mention that this was a steakhouse, I wouldn’t have guessed from the ambience…it looked more like a café serving some western inspired dishes.

    I’ve seen restaurants’ staff eating at the corner tables all the time which is usually the case with lower end eateries. No choice when the place is small and the kitchen is too stuffy. I’m ok with it (coz they need to eat too) as most of the time I noticed that they eat during off peak hours. In this case since you mentioned it was late morning 11.35 am, the staff should have eaten before it opened at say 11am.

    Ah, I see you wanted to eat Sushi Mentai…give it a couple of months for the queue to die down. It’s like that purely because of the prices! And when you do go in, don’t have too high expectations, otherwise you’ll be sorely disappointed…remember, this is cheap sushi. I just ate there on Saturday and I’m going to update my blog with this new dish…fried and grilled salmon bones…yummy! 😀

    • Yeah, it is actually not a big deal, like I mentioned some customers probably don’t care when the restaurant is not fully seated. I guess it is just that the place has good food, so I was hoping they could be perfect.

      Surprisingly, most of the reviews I’ve read for this particular Sushi Mentai seems to be pretty positive so far. Positive as in, “delicious sushi, lacking service”, so maybe the outlet here is dishing out decent sushi despite the “cheapness”. So you should not try to further aggravate me by tempting me with new dish. Looking at how things go, I might end up trying them in Pandan Indah before trying the Penang one…

  6. paid for writing a blog about a restaurant?? I think there are two types: (1) publicity, where the owner knows who you are, expected you to come in and they are well prepared, I guess most of the posts we read are this type?? (2) mystery shopper, where the owner does not know and does not expect you, hence they service you at their usual practices and give you the food they usually serve all other customers..

    of course, we can be honest in all cases, unless you are told not to criticize too badly but give reasonable critics.. 🙂

    • Tsk, read properly, this is the same type of [paid post] that I did all the time. [I paid for the food to be able to write this blog post], not [somebody paid me to write blog post]…

  7. Oh yes, I dunno why, Japenese restaurants/fast food outlets always crowded one.. That Sushi King, in MV, whoa, before 11am already got queue outside wei.. When I see you say you wana write about steakhouse, I “lau sai hau sui”… I love steak.. I like Victoria Station, The Ship, Windmill, I love burgers too, Southwestern food like Chilis, wah, sedappp.. Ok, so next, you’ll be having their lamb shanks right? Sedapppppp 😛

    • Just this Sushi Mentai only so crowded. I guess it is because they are so cheap (RM 1.80/RM 2.80 per plate of sushi), and Penang people are kiam siap XD .

      Too bad I had chicken breast instead of steak, as I don’t eat beef in Malaysia as a general rule. I’ll show you the lamb shanks if and when I have it. 😉

  8. I am ok with the staff eating at seats meant for customers when it is not full house and the staff is not on duty yet. I really dislike having an entrance for staff and an entrance for customers which is like saying staff is so much lowly than customers. Come on, staff are humans also.

    Good to hear that you enjoyed the food. Is the garlic strong enough that your breath will smell of garlic after that?

    • On the other hand, I will be put off if I see staff entering using the same entrance as customers. Of course the keywords here are “if I see”. If nobody is around to see, then it is obviously fine. This has got nothing to do with staff being lower than customers, but more towards ensuring customer satisfaction. In most proper restaurants, the dining floor is exclusively for customers, and the staff will have a separate area to do their stuff, hidden from the dining area. One of the reason is to avoid confusion. Imagine a customer needs help, and he noted a waiter who is eating at another table. He might hesitate to interrupt the waiter (and then feel pissed that the waiter rather eat than serve him), or he might interrupt the waiter (who might get pissed for being interrupted during his break and then show customer black face). This kind of stuff might seem trivial, and you probably don’t mind, but usually it is these trivial stuff that leads to a restaurant’s downfall.

      Hahaha the garlic… nobody fainted from talking to me this morning, so I guess it is fine..

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