We had a farewell dinner last Sunday for a visiting cousin before she returns to Hong Kong the following day. We chose 7-year-old 𝗟𝗮 𝗩𝗶𝗲 at Le Dream Boutique Hotel on Rope Walk, as it had been quite a while since we were last there.
The swish eatery is run by veteran Penang restaurateur, Kelvin Lim, who was known for Cassis on Belissa Row, one of Penang’s first independent fine-dining spots. Now-defunct Cassis was the training ground for many of Penang’s best-known chefs, e.g. Beh Weng Chia who once fronted Chin Chin and Indigo.
Kelvin Lim now pours all his effort into La Vie, and every other table seemed occupied by regulars, on first name basis with him.
Our dinner last Sunday consisted of:
Crabmeat croquettes - quite surprised that the said “croquettes” turned out to be crisp, hollow Indian panipuri pastry shells filled with crabmeat and condiments like Béarnaise sauce and parsley.
Irish oysters - these plump Irish rock oysters were some of the best we’d tasted in town.
Crispy unagi - rather unattractive-looking, but turned out to be very tasty: breaded batons of Japanese eel, deep-fried to a golden-crisp on the outside, but fairly moist within. The flavours were marvellous.
Char-grilled squid, with mango-lychee relish - one of the standouts for this dinner. Perfectly-cooked squid which was toothsome, and nicely complemented by a tangy-fruity relish pepped up with finely-chopped torch ginger.
Mushroom-truffle soup with foie gras - not sure what we made of this. The creamy mushroom soup was good as-is, but the addition of pan-fried foie gras seemed to throw the whole dish off-balance.
I love mushroom soups, and I positively adore pan-fried foie gras - but putting the two together just simply did not work.
Kataifi prawn - this was another standout. It’s a ubiquitous Greek-inspired dish served in quite a few places around town, but never done as well as the one we had here. Very fresh prawns, cooked a la minute.
Grilled Japanese wagyu A4 sirloin, served with sautéed mushrooms and potato chips. The restaurant’s signature dish, and they absolutely nailed it here.
There were some very interesting-sounding desserts on their menu, e.g. pear strudel with hazelnut cream, panna cotta with assorted berries, and Belgian dark chocolate cake with banana, peanut butter & rum (now that sounded divine), but we skipped those as another cousin had brought along a selection of cakes from popular local bakery, Mon Delice Patisserie, for us to try - also stuck a candle on one of the cakes: an early celebration for our HK cousin whose birthday is next Friday, 4 June.
Pleasantly surprised by the cooking standards here - quite unexpected, as we’d normally drove past this part of town without realizing there’s a pretty good restaurant right here. I need to come back and try the desserts.
La Vie at Le Dream Boutique Hotel
139, Jalan Pintal Tali (Rope Walk), 10100 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Opening hours: 6.30pm-10.30pm (last orders), Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.