Saturday, August 21, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Since the closure of the Mutiara Beach Resort in Teluk Bahang a few years ago, there hasn’t really been much to entice me to drive all the way there in the evenings, unless someone fancied some seafood. However, on Friday evening, there was cause to venture out: it was the launch of one of Penang’s latest outlets, “Tree Monkey”, so called because of the cute little grey Dusky Leaf Monkeys with their white circles round their eyes – apparently called lutong –which roam freely jumping from tree to tree.
This “back to nature” restaurant is set on a solid wooden platform amidst the green and lush plant-filled Tropical Spice Gardens, from which there is a gorgeous view of the Andaman Sea, so close that the waves seem almost at your feet. It looks like it will become a must-visit place for both locals and visitors alike.
It’s all delightfully cosy and rustic; the hardwood tables and chairs which dot the place come from Thailand, and the bar is positioned under a gazebo which has an impressive thatched roof made of alang alang grass from Bali. The place was constructed using as natural and traditional methods as possible – no trees were cut down, and there are very few nails and wires visible.
The menu consists of mainly Thai food, Pad Thais, Green Curries and in particular north-eastern Issan dishes with barbequed meats and spicy salads: unless you’re a masochist, don’t try their mind-blowing Nam Prik Mak Wang eaten with raw ulam (vegetables) – it’s a green mango kerabu with minute pieces of green dynamite (chilli padi) in it; sour and delicious but phew,
packs a real punch!
Tree Monkey opens with breakfast from 9am, after which there are set lunches and simple a la carte dishes like Fish ‘n Chips and pastas available throughout the day. Eventually, the pork-free menu will feature food which will make use of herbs which are actually grown in the gardens.
Whether you stop by for a snack and drink during the day, perhaps after a relaxing amble round the gardens, or go there just to enjoy the good food and ambiance, it’s a wonderful place to chill. Me, I’d go for the gorgeous sunset whilst tucking into their special Thai Tapas appetisers like Pandan Chicken and Spring Rolls which will go beautifully with any one of the large range of drinks, preferably alcoholic, although non-alcoholic, is available. It certainly brings back memories of warm summer nights in Phuket … However, there are a couple of things to be prepared for: the possibility of mosquitoes although quite honestly, I didn’t get a single bite all evening, and on a still, balmy night, you might want to have a fan to hand!
They also cater for private functions on site and can seat up to a maximum of 70 pax.
Tropical Spice Garden
Tel: 04 881 3494
Opening Hours: 9am to 10pm.