This is no ordinary vegetarian restaurant as one expects to find in Penang. It is unique and special. It is non traditional. It is owned and managed by two young couple – Sam and Summer who also are the head chefs, with a flair for everything old, rustic and alternative to the main stream Penang vegetarian shops. They have created a niche market here in Penang, and well known among the younger generation of mostly Chinese educated locals who are passionate about the environment we live in and the origin of where the food comes from. They have also been featured a few times in the local and national Chinese newspapers and TV for their believes and passion in preservation of our environment, and sharing their message through their food.
Sushi Kitchen is a vegetarian restaurant created by Sam and Summer in March 2009. From reading their blog, they worked very hard to create their dream restaurant. It appeared that they did most of the renovation and fittings of the restaurant. They were also responsible for the creativity and development of the restaurant menu and dishes. They are responsible for making the food too. Sam does the cold dishes and Summer the warm/hot dishes.
When my sister told me that she was going to take me out for lunch, I had no idea where she was going to take me. I had little expectation. She told me that she was going to take me to this place at Sungai Ara, about 15 minutes drive from where I live. It started to drizzle when she picked me up. Then rained heavily. We reached the building where the Sushi Kitchen is located. I remembered the building. It was the same building that my sister took me there 2 years ago to buy a Chinese red prosperity cloth from a Chinese shop that sells everything to do with Chinese prayer and ancient Chinese believes.
Who would have thought that there is a restaurant above one of the shoplot in this old long terrace brick building. It looks so run down with a huge car park at the front. It is not an easy find if you are not a local, or live around the area. But, there is a map in Sushi Kitchen blogpost.
Do not be fooled by the outside appearance of the building. Once I was inside, I was totally transformed into an eclectic, relax and truely amazing place. It is a rare treat and find in Penang. I suppose this is not the sort of place I expect to see in a remote suburb outside of the city of George Town.
First, we had to press the door bell to access the restaurant. Once we entered the front door, there is a long fleet of steps leading to the top floor. Along both sides of the walls and stairs were heavily written graffiti of words, both in Chinese and English, by their customers including newspaper clippings. Shoes and other footwears are to be taken off and left at the bottom of the stairs.
As I reached the top of the stairs, there was a long raised wooden platform with low wooden tables for a traditional Japanese style seating. At the far end, there is a corner reserved with a few normal high wooden tables and chairs for people who prefer not to sit on the floor to eat.
The restaurant is filled with eclectic things everywhere, including some really old antiquities of a mixture of Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese, and collectibles from the golden years.
It was interesting so far. My sister booked a floor table for us. Now, the food. I was given a menu. Some dishes have a photo featured in the menu. I glanced through the menu. As I have said earlier, I didn’t know what to expect when my sister told me that she was going to take me here. I didn’t know it is a vegetarian restaurant. As I read the menu, I soon realised that this is no ordinary restaurant, but a vegan restaurant. The photos of some of the dishes looked interesting.
All the dishes are based on organically produced vegetables and ingredients. Most of them are sourced locally. Some from Japan, China and Taiwan (and even New Zealand!). The food was totally natural with no preservatives and MSG. There is no white sugar, white salt, artificial colouring, meat, egg, milk, garlic and onion used. All cooking is based on natural seasoning, brown sugar and Himalayan salt. There is no microwave! Everything is made by hands.
We ordered a bowl of noodle soup – my sister chose a clear vermicelli noodle soup and I chose a spicy Ee Fu Mee noodle soup – a Sushi set and a mashed fried roll. The name of each dishes are interesting to conjour an image of love and happiness. Such as, my sister noodle soup was called “Loving Vermicelli Soup” (MYR$5.80 = AUD$1.80). My noodle soup, “Happy Spicy Noodle” (MYR$6.80 = AUD$2.10). And, the other two dishes, “Happiness Bachelor” (MYR$11.10 = AUD$3.80) for the sushi set, and “Low Beauty Roll” (MYR$6.80 = AUD$2.10) for the fried mashed roll.
I was very surprised. The food was actually very good. It felt healthy and light. The presentation on each dish was colourful and pleasing. The taste on each dish is unique and flavoursome for a vegan dish. I have never imagine a vegan food can be that interesting and special. This place is so humble and pure. I love everything about this place and the food.
I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Sam and Summer before I left. They are a lovely young couple, warm, friendly and charming. I wish I had more time to sit down and chat with them, on how they started their business, and their future ambition. Maybe next time.
Last but not least about Sushi Kitchen is their shared toilet. It is a must if you have never used or seen a traditional Chinese squat toilet before. They have added a special touch to the toilet with interesting eclectic stuffs, and Japanese wooden footwear for you to wear to use the toilet.