Restaurant Review: Kota
Penang is well-known as a UNESCO heritage site, you can find plenty of beautiful heritage buildings around the island.
You can also find reminders of Malaysia’s colonial history in town, such as Fort Cornwallis, which was built in the late 18th century by the British East India Company.
The largest standing fort in Malaysia is now a tourist attract and apart from rusty cannons and old jail cells it also houses one of Penang’s most creative and progressive casual restaurants – Kota – When Francis Meets Rempah.
Kota has been serving culinary breaths of fresh air to visitors since October 2015.
A brand new minimalist building was built in the historic site to house Kota and the ambience is actually very pleasant and relaxing when you are inside. The interior of the restaurant is very bright and airy, and it’s like you are eating in a garden (but without the heat and mosquitoes).
Visitors to the Fort will have to pay a RM10/USD2.45 entrance fee, but Kota will take that off the bill at the end of your meal (just show them your entrance ticket/receipt).
We are big fans of Kota because it is the only Nyonya fusion restaurant in town, and the way they “fuse” their food really makes you sit up and take notice.
Like the “Hokkien” (RM25/USD6.15) pictured above. Kota’s take on Penang’s famous prawn “Hokkien Mee”, yellow noodles are replaced with angel-hair pasta and prawn broth is replaced with a delicious shrimp bisque.
Add prawns, chilli paste and quail eggs sprinkled with caviar and you have a truly unique dish that tickles both the imagination and the tastebuds.
The Nyonya (RM25/USD6.15) is a “remix” of a traditional rendang dish that is served with butterfly pea flower, coconut rice, achar and otak-otak.
The rendang itself is not too spicy but just right, and the bed of otak-otak perfectly complements the coconut rice on top of it.
One of the most famous Nyonya dishes is chicken curry, and Kota serves their Kari (RM25/USD6.15) wrapped in a fluffy puff pastry and accompanied with bread for soaking up that delicious coconut-milk curry sauce.
We asked for more bread because the curry sauce was too good and we couldn’t get enough of it.
In terms of concept, the Satay (RM25/USD6.15) was our favorite dish, as it totally flips the traditional idea of satay. No meat on a stick here, but a succulent chicken roulade wrapped around “pulut” (rice cakes) and topped with a brown sugar/peanut sauce.
Satay re-imagined as a maki-roll. Truly innovative presentation and the taste did not disappoint either.
The Parfait (RM19/USD6.15) is a funky remix of the traditional French dessert and Kota’s version consists of peanut, black sesame, pandan, coconut and jackfruit.
The mochi was a nice addition and the presentation was also cute, but overall the taste was a bit bland and underwhelming for us.
We would recommend you skip this and go straight for the next item on the dessert menu:
Crème Brûlée (RM19/USD6.15) is a French dessert that is very popular dessert in Malaysia, and Kota does theirs well.
It is served in three little cups which containing a trio of flavors with pandan, gula melaka and black glutinous rice.
We like the combination of flavors as they are a welcome respite from regular crème brûlées and they are not too sweet and the burnt caramel is not too chewy.
One gripe we do have with the restaurant though is – their consistency.
We have eaten there multiple times and every time the food tasted different.
Sometimes it was good and sometimes it was bad and we never know if we are going to get the same quality of food that we got the first time we went there.
Hopefully Kota can sort out their consistency issues as they have the potential to be one of the top fusion restaurants in Penang!
Kota – When Francis Meets Rempah
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah
10200 George Town
Tel: +604-251 9420
Opening Hours: 10am-10pm
7 Days A Week
Crème Brûlée (RM19/USD6.15)