When Elynn took me to Penang earlier last month, I knew that I had to try the food served at Kota because it is known to be a famous restaurant that serves a fusion of Nyonya and Western cuisines. Moreover, it is located at a famous tourist and historical attraction called Fort Cornwallis.
Kota Dine & Coffee
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah,
10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
+60 4-263 9855
As Elynn stays at the main island, she drove a long way to George Town and oh boy, carpark can be a terror when parking outside Fort Cornwallis. Thankfully, we managed to find a slot! Since Fort Cornwallis is a tourist attraction, we have to pay the entrance fee when entering Fort Cornwallis. It costs RM10 per person for Malaysians, whereas it costs RM20 per person for foreigners. However, if you are dining at KOTA and will spend more than RM40, you will be able to get a rebate of RM20.
The first to forth pictures show some general pictures of Fort Cornwallis. As the weather was too hot, I did not managed to take pictures of the cannon. The fifth and sixth pictures depict the highly raved semi fine dining restaurant called KOTA. As you can see, what I love about KOTA is that the restaurant is enclosed by glass so that the restaurant can use natural light to brighten the place during the day. This allows the customer not only to dine with a view but also for social media addicts to take nice pictures. The interior has a minimalist design, which makes the cafe tidy, neat and clean. As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.
Once you enter the glass door, you will be greeted by the founder of modern Penang named Captain Francis Light. He made a significant contribution to Penang since Penang was leased to him by Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah of Kedah Sultanate in 1786 and he made Penang so successful while taking charge of Penang’s settlement until he died in 1794 due to Malaria. In order to protect Penang from the Siamese and Kedah, Francis Light built the original fort made with palm trunk stockade with no permanent structures.
The history mentioned above makes KOTA Dine & Coffee so much more memorable as the icon, food, location of place and even the name itself are linked to it’s roots. Firstly, Francis Light’s statue in the cafe takes you back to history since he helped Penang grow in many ways. Secondly, the food is a fusion between Nyonya and Western cuisines. As the tagline goes, When Francis Meets Rempah. This makes so much more sense now! After Francis Light took control of Penang, this is where the English was exposed to the traditional and local food in Penang. Likewise, Francis Light and his people may have introduced his food to the Penangites as well. Thus, the people behind the success of KOTA had a brilliant idea to not only serve Nyonya food, which is a mix of Chinese food, Malay food and food from other influences, they also incorporated the Western influences into their dishes. Next, since Fort Cornwallis is preserved until now due to it’s historical significance, the owners decided to name this cafe KOTA since Fort Cornwallis is also known as Kota Cornwallis.
KOTA actually has a set meal that costs RM59 (CAD$17.13 / SGD$18.73 / USD$13.82) and includes mixed appetizer, main course, dessert and a glass of beverage. This is actually very value for money for a semi fine dining restaurant like this. However, since Elynn and I were bloated from the heavy breakfast at Taman Sentosa with her parents, we only shared the Kota Flavour Signature Beverage and Nyonya Tiramisu, which costs RM16 (CAD$4.64 / SGD$5.08 / USD$3.75) and RM 19 (CAD$5.52 / SGD$6.03 / USD$4.45)respectively. As Elynn was feeling very hot due to the humidity and scorching sun outside, she found the Kota Flavour Signature Beverage very refreshing due to sprite contributing to it’s sparkling effect and the healing properties of calamansi, ginger bud, lemon grass, mint and chilli. Although I was so full, there is always room for desserts so I practically finish almost the entire glass of Nyonya Tiramisu all by myself since it was too sweet of Elynn. I enjoyed this dessert a lot because of how KOTA substituted some ingredients of the Italian Tiramisu with local ingredients in order for Penangites to still feel at home yet giving an oomph to the flavour. The whole milk is substituted by Santan, which is the liquid that is produced from the grated meat of a mature coconut. Espresso is replaced by pandan to contribute to the Nyonya taste. There is also a shot of kopi that is served, which is the local version of the roasted coffee without milk and sugar. In this case, the customer is supposed to drink the kopi alongside with consuming the Nyonya Tiramisu and not pour it over the Nyonya Tiramisu. Lastly, the chef uses coconut flakes instead of cocoa powder for the toppings of the tiramisu.
Opens daily from 10:30am to 10:30pm
Landmark: Fort Cornwallis
As I am so amazed by the creativity of the Nyonya dessert made by Kota, I am looking forward to try their other dishes such as Nyonya, Kari, Laksa, Hokkien and the Nasi Lemak Cake!
As I have already lived in Seoul for a month 4 years ago, I came to Seoul with no expectations this April. I have tried many Caffe Bene outlets at Seoul and those franchised cafes even opened up at Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Hello kitty cafes, dog cafes and cat cafes were a huge hype 4 years back. Been there, done that! The funny thing is those themed cafes opened in Bangkok and Singapore after some time as well. I think the only unique theme cafe which I have visited but has not been saturated elsewhere is the wedding cafe named Princess Diary Cafe at Seoul.
So since I was busy in my previous job before the trip, I let my BFF research on all the cute cafes we can visit and one of it was the Line Friends Cafe located at Sinsa.
Line Friends Cafe
535-15, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea / 서울특별시 강남구 신사동 535-15
Everyone is always admiring the adorable characters of the LINE messaging tools and its stickers. However, what we did not know is that LINE was created due to a disaster response of a 8.9 magnitude earthquake that triggered a 30 foot high tsunami at Japan back in March 2011. This resulted in the phone networks being jammed and thus, people were not able to contact their loved ones. This terrible experience made the engineers of NHN Japan, which is a subsidiary of the South Korean internet company Naver, to launch the LINE Messenger three months later so that people can contact one another by using the data plan to call or text through this messaging tool. It is amazing to know that Facebook took three years to gain 58 million user while LINE had 50 million users within a year.
With the launch of LINE in June 2011, LINE has come so far from being just a mobile messenger for the Japanese to contact one another by using data instead of the phone networks to a globally known app that enables people to send cute stickers and play popular games such as Tsum Tsum. To my knowledge, the Taiwanese, Thais and Japanese use the LINE app as their default messaging app.
Now, there are even LINE Friends stores for people to visit, snap shots and purchase items with their favourite LINE characters on it. We should not also forget the LINE theme cafes located in the flagship stores that serve delectable desserts such as macaroons in the form of LINE characters. There are 3 Line Friends flagship stores and 6 Line Friends stores in Korea but the flagship store at Sinsa is the first flagship store and the biggest flagship store in the world. That explains why Vivian selected this store for us to check out.
There are some pointers to note for this flagship store though. Before you enter the store as shown in the very first picture, there maybe queues for one portion of the entrance and no queues for the other side. If you have no interest in taking photo with the 3.2 meters tall Brown the Bear as depicted in the second picture, you can skip lining up and just simply enter the store via the entrance with no lineups. Although I am crazy about anything cute but as I grow up, I stopped purchasing adorable items I do not need. Therefore, I forgot to take pictures of the second floor of the store.
However, do not forget to pay a visit to the basement of the store in order to try the attractive desserts that either come in the shape of the LINE characters or add the LINE characters on it. Since we just had breakfast at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse nearby, we were so full so we could only share the vanilla soft-serve ice-cream, which costs 3,800 won (CAD$4.27 / SGD$4.59 / USD$3.38). Thankfully, the taste of the ice-cream is so light and not too milky to make you puke after consuming it with a heavy meal so all was good! This was the only item we spent on in the store and we walked out empty-handed. I am looking forward to try more food items from the LINE cafes if I have time to pay the other flagship stores a visit during my trip next week.
Opens daily from 10:30am to 9:30pm
Nearest Station: Sinsa via Line 3 (Orange Line)
Thanks to the BFF, I managed to cross this flagship store off my “to-visit-list” and cannot wait to try other food items in the LINE Friends Cafes of other flagship stores in Seoul.