Restaurant Review: Markus
On bustling Cantonment Road in Pulau Tikus, Penang, there is a plain white building that you might miss if you drive past too quickly.
But don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you, inside is a tasteful and elegant restaurant with a cozy ambience and kick-ass Italian food.
This restaurant is Markus, a modern Italian dining establishment that strives to bring quality Italian cuisine to Penangites who are sick of places that serve pasta drowned in sauce and chefs who put chilli flakes on everything.
Chef Markus uses intricate methods and quality ingredients to impress his diners and judging by the weekend crowds, his formula is working.
We held our second Eat Up event here back in December ’15, so you know the food has our stamp of approval.
Our favorite item on the menu by far is the Cold Angel Hair Pasta w/ sashimi-grade Hokkaido scallop & lumpfish caviar (RM38/USD9.50).
This starter looks deceptively simple but in it is a subtle combination of flavors that work together to bring a smile to your mouth.
It’s all cold, which makes it very refreshing and perfect for Malaysian weather, and the pasta has a very light sauce which helps to accentuate the wonderful taste of the scallop and caviar.
We could eat this all day, every day.
If you’re going to have a hearty Italian meal then you definitely need to start with a platter of cold cuts.
Markus’ Cold Cuts Con Melone (RM38/USD9.50) is a combination of Prosciutto Parma, Coppa Nostrana, Salame Unghrese and Salame Napoli, all imported from Italy.
As per tradition, it is accompanied by rock melon and we enjoyed the different tastes and textures of each ham and salami mixed with the sweetness of the fruit.
If you want a crash course on what really good ham tastes like, order this dish.
The Salti in Bocca Alla Romana (RM48/USD12) is a generous portion of pounded pork tenderloin w/ sage & parma ham in a wild mushroom/Merlot Sauce.
This is one of Chef Markus’ signature dishes and we would have to say that this is probably one of the best pork tenderloins that you can get in Penang.
The mushroom/Merlot sauce perfectly complements the tender slices of pork and will make you crave the next piece before you finish chewing the one that is currently in your mouth.
A special mention must go to the potato purée on the side, which we feel is so good that it should be its own dish!
Markus’ Filetto Manzo “Angus” Agli Asparagi (150g RM78/USD19.40, 200g RM96/USD24) is first grade Australian Black Angus Beef Tenderloin served with asparagus, spring vegetables and potato purée.
We normally prefer our steaks plain and with a minimal of fuss but Chef Markus’ sauce is not overpowering to the extent that you can’t taste the beef anymore.
The asparagus is a good accompaniment to the steak and for the price they are charging we feel that this dish is exceptional value for money.
The Linguine Al Granchio (entrée RM18/USD4.50, main RM30/USD7.50) is a combination of two of our favorite things – crab meat and vodka.
The linguine is tossed in fresh crab meat, sweet basil, vodka, vine-ripened tomatoes and a light pink sauce.
On hearing that the dish contains vodka you might think that it might be bitter (or make you drunk) but what it actually does is push the flavor of the crab to the forefront and let you savor it to its fullest.
As with all of Markus’ other dishes, the sauces or accompaniments are there to highlight the main attraction, not to detract from them or distract you. We like this “controlled subtlety” very much and wish more chefs would practice this kind of restraint when cooking.
We also like the fact that Markus offers their pasta in entrée and main sizes because this frees up precious stomach space for you to try other things on the menu.
Like this Cioccolato:
The Cioccolato (RM26/USD6.50) is Markus’ version of the chocolate lava cake and theirs is made from Valrhona Guanaja chocolate and served with vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
This is a great way to end any meal and when the bitter dark chocolate + vanilla ice cream hits your tongue all thoughts of dieting and keeping fit will evaporate into thin air.
For those who prefer desserts that are of the fruitier variety then the Mousse Al Frutto Delle Passione (RM26/USD6.50) is perfect for you.
A passionfruit mousse w/ wildberry jus, almond shortbread, strawberry gel, citrus foam and coconut soil, this zesty tart will perk you up at any time of the day.
And we’ve saved the best for last.
One of the highlights of Markus’ menu is actually their Tiramisu (RM25/USD6.20).
Made the proper way with Amaretto liquer, ladyfinger biscuits, Valrhona dark chocolate and mascarpone cream but plated in a modern manner, this traditional Italian dessert is the happy ending that you will want to finish any meal with.
It is without a doubt, one of our favorite tiramisus in Penang.
Restaurant Markus is modern Italian restaurant that serves food prepared in a way that is meticulous, understated and elegant.
You can feel this from the decor of the restaurant to every dish that is brought to your table by the friendly serving staff.
Did we mention that the staff are incredibly friendly?
Remember to order the cold angel hair pasta and tiramisu!
(Markus also has a very good selection of wine so do ask for their wine list or check out their wine chiller upstairs)
37F, Jalan Cantonment, Pulau Tikus
10250 Penang, Malaysia
Private dining room available
Closed on Tuesdays
Cold Angel Hair Pasta (RM38/USD9.50)
Salti in Bocca Alla Romana (RM48/USD12)
Linguine Al Granchio (entrée RM18/USD4.50, main RM30/USD7.50)