Restoran Pen Mutiara (GPS: 5.28546, 100.28943) is a Malay restaurant in Batu Maung, Penang. It is better known as the "Fisheries Fish-Head Curry Restaurant", on account of its location within the compound of the fisheries department, and that its signature dish is the fish head curry.
The restaurant has beenn operating for as long as I can remember, though it began rather modestly. In the early days, it was simply a warung or stall within the fisheries department. Over time, it has expanded to become a cafeteria. Many office people often go there during lunch time, due to its proximity to the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone.
In the past few years, Restoran Pen Mutiara has expanded again. Today it is a grand, two-storey restaurant with two flights of grand staircases leading to the upper floor. With so many heavy furniture, the restaurant looked more like a furniture store than a restaurant.
Another section of Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
Tables at Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
Grand staircase, Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
27 April, 2014: After a lapse of many years, my wife and I returned to Restoran Pen Mutiara for lunch. Gone are the days when we ate in the open cafeteria-style restaurant. Now the restaurant is air-conditioned, and this is well reflected in the prices.
If you come in a group of at least 8 persons, you can opt for the group menu. There are three choices, named Baiduri (RM27 per person), Delima (RM32 per person) and Mutiara (RM37 per person). Here's the menu.
Menu, Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
As there were only the two of us, we had to order à la carte. We ordered the fish head curry, as well as telur dadar (omelette), kangkong belacan and squid fritters. That's four items for just two persons, and that's how the items look like:
Fish head curry, Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
The Fish Head Curry
We were surprised when they brought the huge pot to our table. Apparently, they use the same size pot regardless if we ordered for two persons or for a full table. However, the amount is much less for two persons. In particular, we were surprised that for such a big pot, they only give us two pieces of ladies fingers, and you can see both of them in that photo above. Tastewise, I thought the fish head curry was not sufficiently salty - it needs a dash of soya sauce.
Telur dadar, Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
If you asked me to name my favorite dish during this meal, it would be the humble telur dadar, or egg omelette. It came to our table steaming hot, and the aroma is simply out of this world. The egg upstaged the fish head curry as the tastiest dish of this meal.
Kangkong belacan, Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
We were less than satisfied with the kangkung belacan, mainly because we felt it was too sweet. In a way, and unfortunately, it appears to be a reflection of many Malay dishes nowadays that they are becoming sweeter and sweeter.
Squid fritters, Restoran Pen Mutiara (27 April, 2014)
The squid fritters was another let down. Though crispy when hot, it too was rather tasteless otherwise. It needs a dipping into the chilli sauce (which is also more sweet than spicy) for taste.
Our bill came to RM58.50, with a 10% service charge, it came to RM64.35 for two persons, which is roughly equal to the Delima set above. On the whole, I felt that the restaurant has "lost it" in terms of the taste that we once knew, with its expansion being accompanied by a corresponding drop in taste. But that's just one person's opinion.
Restoran Pen Mutiara is location within fisheries complex (Lembaga Kemajuan Ikan Batu Maung). If you are coming from the direction of George Town, take the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway until the Batu Maung junction, then turn left and go along Jalan Batu Maung (wrongly labelled on Google Map as Jalan Bayan Lepas) until you see the fisheries complex on your left, just before the road veered up the slope. The restaurant is on the right side of the car park.
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