Early dinner at Amico Dining & Social House, a nifty eatery strategically located at the epicentre of the Nagore Square dining precinct.
The newish one-year-old dining spot is headed by fresh-faced, 33-year-old Chef de Cuisine, Edwin Tan, whose most recent stints before returning to his hometown was 1 year at CinCin Ristorante+Bar in Vancouver, Canada, and 3 years at Trapizza, Shangri-la’s Rasa Sentosa Resort in Singapore.
We started off with soups, both of which, though good, seemed a tad richer/creamier than we’d have liked.
Cream of wild mushroom soup, with slivered, toasted almonds, olive pomace oil & garlic croutons - lovely combination of a variety of fresh, wild mushrooms, though I’d have appreciated a deeper, woodsy flavor than what we got here. Loved the crisp, almond slivers.
Pumpkin soup, with toasted pumpkin seeds, olive pomace oil & garlic croutons - another “creamier-than-should-be” preparation. Could do with a more intense concentrated pumpkin taste here. Freshly-toasted pumpkin seeds & croutons gave the soup a wonderful textural contrast, though.
Whole baked Brie cheese, with toasted walnuts, almonds, thyme-infused honey, and dried cranberries. Served with raspberry coulis sauce, and crackers
My favorite dish of the evening - warm, baked Brie, festooned with freshly-toasted walnuts and slivered almonds, and fresh strawberries and blueberries.
The raspberry coulis, poured over, gave it an addictive salty-sweet combination.
Fusion guacamole - avocado with lime, green apple, Japanese cucumber & cherry tomatoes. Served with crisp tortilla corn chips - this other appetiser did not quite fare so well: I’m terribly fond of Mexican guacamole, and the chef’s tinkering with the traditional recipe by adding chopped green apples (which lent an unwelcome sourish tinge) & crisp Japanese cucumber (who needs the “crunch” here?) simply upset the balance of flavors and textures of the whole dish.
The light, crisp tortilla chips were perfect, though, the best we’d had in town.
Truffle-mushroom risotto with mixed mushrooms, yellow onion, cream, mascarpone and truffle-mushroom paste, topped with grated parmesan - absolutely scrumptious rendition - I’d com back here just for this.
Spaghetti aglio e olio with crisp-fried pork belly, with garlic , yellow onions, EVOO, cherry tomatoes & asparagus spears, chili flakes & sweet basil, topped with grated parmesan - less successful dish here, and which seemed more “Chinese” than Italian, but we’d realised by then that Amico’s cuisine leans more towards fusion than actual Italian or Continental.
I’d expected crackling-skinned roast pork rather than crisp batter-fried pork belly accompanying the pasta. Tasty, but not what one would’ve expected, all the same.
The cheese content is also dialed-down, perhaps to cater to its mainly-Chinese local clientele who’d have lesser tolerance for strong/matured cheese.
Spanish Iberico pork-ribs, with mesclun greens, sweet potato fries, pickled gherkin, grilled pineapple rings, and BBQ sauce - superb dish: the ribs were done perfectly, and the accompanying sweet potato shoestring fries were simply amazing - little wands of wispy crispness that melted in one’s mouth.
Amico pork chop, with grilled apple, roasted tomatoes, sugar snap peas, light Chinese BBQ sauce - another nod to the mainly-Chinese Penang clientele who, whilst wanting a Continental dining experience, still preferred their food to be somewhat anchored to “Asian” tastes, which resulted in a sauce with strong Chinese overtones, and with a very distinct soy sauce flavor.
Dessert was the house special silken tofu Bailey’s tiramisu– a blend of mascarpone cheese & tofu, brown sugar, Bailey’s Irish cream-dipped Savoiardi biscuits, garnished with crisp-fried bean curd skin & sprinkled with cocoa powder. It was dramatically presented at the table, with flames & all.
Overall though, the place is a fine new addition to George Town’s dining scene, with carefully-executed cooking, exemplary table service, and a pleasant ambience.
Amico Dining & Social House
30, Jalan Nagore (Nagore Road), 10050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-228 0300
Operating hours: 4pm to midnight daily