I failed to notice the two-year-old Dandy Modern Food until now. Maybe because when this bright, cheery Middle-Eastern brasserie first opened in July 2017, I’d just moved to Penang from Kuala Lumpur, and was too busy getting re-acquainted with George Town. Dandy is located in Bayan Lepas, about 10 miles outside the city in the opposite direction from where I live.
Dandy, like most other Middle-Eastern restaurants in Penang, are Lebanese-owned but offers a gamut of Middle-Eastern dishes, from Yemeni-Hadramawti lamb Mandi to Levantine tabbouleh, plus Italian pizzas & pastas thrown in.
We started off with a Dandy Mixed Grill sharing platter consisting of shish kebab, chicken kebab, shish tawook and beef kebab, served on a large flatbread smeared with hummus and topped with chopped cucumber-tomatoes then drizzled with olive oil. It was okay - I found the meats a bit over-cooked and hard/dry-ish, but really enjoyed the hummus & flatbread.
We liked the hummus so much, we ordered an extra serving. I’d always had a weak spot for hummus and the one here was done very well indeed.
The other starter we had - the Bazella: a Lebanese-style lamb and green pea stew, served with flatbread didn’t fare as well as we’d expected. It was very attractively presented in a modernistic tagine-shaped serving vessel, but had overly-greasy aubergine fritters atop a ratatouille-like stew with some miniscule lamb bits thrown in. It’s served with a sunny-side-up fried egg on top. Taste-wise, pretty ‘meh’. Full marks for presentation, but nothing like I’d envisaged from the menu description:
- The mains fared much better. I rather liked the Dandy roast chicken which was served with some very aromatic long-grain rice which I think is cooked in chicken broth, the way the Yemenis prepare the rice accompaniment for their Mandi lamb dish.
- The lamb option is a must-order, IMO: these were fatty grilled lamb chops, cooked just right, served atop the same type of aromatic long-grain rice.
- The big surprise for us here was how much we enjoyed the Shawarma pizza - grilled meats, blue cheese (yes!!), chopped green peppers and tomatoes. I was hooked - and would come back just for this.
The restaurant is halal, so no alcohol is served. Reminds me of London’s Ranoush Juice on Edgware Road back in the early 90s - famous for its amazing range of fresh juice blends which it offered to diners as Muslims do not imbibe alcohol, so their “mocktails” were inventive combinations of various juices & sodas.
For dessert, Dandy generally serves Western-style cakes, with its Lebanese sweets sold in boxes for take-out. I got some baklava which weren’t exactly the best I’d had.
We finished off our lunch with some mint tea which was served unsweetened - again, I came with the pre-conceived notion that it’ll be ultra-sweet, the way Moroccan tea is served (now, why did I assume that?!).
Dandy’s pretty nice - I’ll definitely be back for their pizzas. But my fave Middle-Eastern spot in Penang will still be Syrian-owned/managed Halab.
Dandy Modern Food
72-1-17 Arena Curve, Jalan Mahsuri
11950 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6017-557 3141
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm daily