It’s been a while since I come across a youngish, energetic chef like Gobi Vellasamy. He is the co-owner and also executive chef of 5-month-old Hungry Ranch on Sungai Ujong Road.
Chef Gobi has had an impressive 15 years of cooking experience, including 2.5 years in Frankfurt, Germany. His last place in Penang before setting up his own place here was the popular Kim Haus on Campbell Street nearby.
Over at Hungry Ranch, Chef Gobi’s offerings run the gamut, from grilled meats to local Nyonya and Malaccan-Portuguese offerings.
Gobi’s partner and co-owner is the friendly, vivacious Stephanie Teh, who runs the front of the house.
What we ordered at lunch today:
- 𝗣𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗶 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 & 𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗹𝗶. This is Chef Gobi’s take on the traditional Penang roti babi, a more-ish deep-fried sandwich containing minced pork-and-onion filling. But instead of mixing chopped onions with minced pork for the filling, he chose to turn the onion component into a relish instead: gently pickling the onions with red chilis in apple cider vinegar overnight, and then use it as a garnish atop the minced pork canapes.
Whilst the traditional roti babi is a cholesterol bomb, Chef Gobi turned it into small canape-sized open sandwiches - lighter and daintier, and more suited to be served as an appetizer.
- 𝗣𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗗𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗹 𝗖𝘂𝗿𝗿𝘆 - this is the local Malaccan-Portuguese version of the Goan-Portuguese Pork Vindaloo, i.e. heavily-spiced pork casserole given a sharp sourish stab of tanginess using cider vinegar.
The rendition here used thick belly pork chunks, and was delicious. In Singapore, devil curry usually paired meats (pork, bacon, sausages) with potatoes, whereas in Malacca, the same dish used cabbage instead of potatoes, giving the dish a rather different character. Over here, Chef Gobi used zucchini, which gave the dish a different, and rather unique, textural dimension. It’s tasty, but hellishly spicy as anything dubbed “devil curry” would be.
𝗚𝗿𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗳 𝗟𝗮𝗺𝗯, 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝗵 & 𝗭𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗶, 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗵𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺 𝗦𝗮𝘂𝗰𝗲 - I was here with a group of friends from the Penang Walkabouts social walking group. A couple of them ordered this dish which they declared tasted way above their expectations. Chef Gobi experimented with cooking his meats, including steaks, using the sous vide method, before finishing them either under the grill, or on a hot frying pan.
𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲-𝗴𝗿𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗻, 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗛𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝗵 & 𝗭𝘂𝗰𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗶, 𝗕𝗲𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗮𝘂𝗰𝗲 - one of my lunch companions had this, and also declared it perfectly executed.
𝗧𝗶𝗿𝗮𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘂 - this was singularly the best-tasting tiramisu I’d ever had in George Town, and Hungry Ranch’s version is definitely my food discovery for the month thus far. Chef Gobi used Kahlua for the alcohol component. Now, I have my own go-to potluck party dish where it’s Nigella Lawson’s tiramisu which calls for Baileys Irish Cream. Now, I know Kahlua does it better than Baileys!
𝗖𝗿è𝗺𝗲 𝗕𝗿û𝗹é𝗲 - texture-wise, the crème brûlée was much too firm (over-cooked) but, taste-wise, was perfect: rich and creamy.
𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗣𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗹𝗲𝘀 - this was another Malaccan-Portuguese/Nyonya pickle of green chilies stuffed with finely-shredded raw papayas, and whole cloves of garlic.
Very tasty dishes, served amidst a pleasant, casual environment. Definitely a place I’d want to return to. Planning to try its other menu options like the breakfast options and the pasta dishes next time.
31, Sungai Ujong Road, 10100 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 14-601 8278
Opening hours: 10am to 12 midnight Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun. Closed on Wednesdays.