Tree Monkey is a Thai restaurant which is part of the Penang Tropical Spice Garden, located amidst lush greenery on a hillock overlooking the sea off the northern coast of Penang island. Although I’d lived in Penang for more than 3 years now, I’d actually not heard of this restaurant till 2 days ago.
- We started off with a Thai appetiser platter, which consisted of:
- larb gai (minced chicken salad, served with lettuce wraps);
- mussel with chili-lime dressing;
- tod mun pla (Thai fish cakes);
- a variation on the popular thung thong or Thai money bags but called “monkey bags” here - the crisp, golden-fried bundles were filled with spiced mashed potatoes instead of minced meat;
- minced seafood on lemongrass skewers; and
hor mok (steamed, spicy seafood mousse in banana leaf parcel)
I found every item under-spiced and a tad bland - which was strange for a Penang eatery.
Yam ma muang - Thai green mango salad, which I also found to be pretty bland, lacking the chili heat or the interplay of flavours from the chilis, fish sauce, dried shrimp, lime juice and other condiments.
Massaman curry with chicken, potatoes, cashewnuts and fried shallots - again, the curry appeared to be quite under-spiced, though quite coconut-rich in flavour.
Khao pad sapparot - Thai pineapple fried rice with chicken meat. This was singularly the best dish we had this evening, and was also actually the best rendition of this dish I’d ever had! It’s a real pity that, other than this one dish, all the other items we had simply did not measure up.
That said, the ambience was marvellous, and we had a great view of the Penang sunset from our table.
Tree Monkey @ Tropical Spice Garden
Lone Crag Villa, Lot 595 Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11100 Penang
Tel: +604-881 3493/4
Operating hours: 10.30 am-10.30 pm