One of the latest eateries in town is Snaap Bistro, which opened on 1st Jan 2022. Located inside the Travelodge Hotel on MacAlister Road, the eatery certainly has got its work cut out for it - MacAlister Road is famously one of Penang’s busiest food streets, lined with hawker stalls, cafes and food courts, including some of the best in town.
Its Singaporean head chef, Alex Lim, has a 25 years of experience in the F&B industry, a pretty varied one at that - from working for the Singapore Food Industry Group as chef-in-charge of catering events, to cooking for Singapore Air Force personnel at its training base in Darwin, Australia. But this Penang stint may yet prove to be his most challenging one yet.
We started off with some cocktails at the bar:
The food here were served as one-plate meals, perhaps to cater to the Travelodge clientele - mainly budget tourists who want a quick meal.
What we had:
Mee Siam - this was a revisionist take on the traditional mee Siam with chili-tamarind dressing or gravy. Instead, Chef Alex made a noodle salad version, dressed in a tomato-based dressing sans the chilis and tamarind, but with a rich, deep sour-sweet flavour. He garnished the dish with salted duck’s egg, Indonesian tempe, Indonesian-style egg omelette, Chinese tofu puffs and fresh cucumber, and topped the whole thing with cut red chilis and a scattering of chopped chives.
Absolutely delicious. It also turned out to be my favourite dish for the evening.
Ayam Belado with rice - an Indonesian spicy chicken dish. The version here was, again, given a slight twist: the chicken was batter-fried to give it an additional textural bite. Chef Alex did away with coconut milk, substituting it with evaporated milk for a healthier alternative which retains the rich creaminess of the dish.
Chili-heads will love this dish - a splash of red sambal sauce on top added a burning sensation that lifted the dish to a whole new level of self-immolating deliciousness.
Chicken Curry with rice - this was an amazing dish, sort of a fusion of flavours from three different “curry cultures”: chicken and eggplant smothered with a spicy Thai-style jungle curry, a gentle Indian dhal/yellow lentil curry, and a peanutty Malay satay sauce.
The hodge-podge of various chili-spiked sauces shouldn’t work, but it did! The sweetness from the satay sauce cuts into the spicy red curry, which was soothed by the mild dhal curry. A must-order when one comes here.
Fish Curry with rice - this was perhaps the most “traditional” of all the curried dishes we had: just a South Indian fish curry, with okra added.
We greeted the dish with an almost palpable relief - for once, we could put aside our analytical hats (in trying to isolate and identify the different components of each of Chef Alex’s curries), sit back, and just enjoy the meal as we should’ve done.
The fresh garoupa steak was submerged in an aromatic curry with explosive flavours. This is a meal for chili-heads (which I’m not).
We found out later that Chef Alex just came to Penang from a stint in Pattaya, which explained the Thai cooking elements we detected in some of his dishes earlier.
Travelodge Georgetown, 101, Macalister Road, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6012 4272796
Operating hours: 5pm to 9.30pm