River Penang is a restaurant situated along The Promenade lakeside of Robina Town Centre. Primarily serving an amalgamation of traditional Malaysian and Singaporean food, it offers many Straits Chinese (Peranakan) dishes. Now, if you get any Singaporean or Malaysian to look at the prices of the dishes at River Penang, they’ll probably balk. Sure, this place charges an absolute fortune compared to the food courts of Southeast Asia, where you can get most of these dishes for under a quarter of the price. But remember, this is a novelty restaurant. Southeast Asian food isn’t so conveniently available on the Gold Coast. If you are willing to put the price discrepancy aside, you will thoroughly enjoy much of what they have to offer.
Entrée: Curry Chicken in Nyonya Style with Bread ($13.20)
To start off your meal, I would recommend this gorgeous entrée. Thin squares of crisp, flaky, buttery pan-fried roti (flatbread) paired with a serving of melt-in-your-mouth potato pieces and chunks of chicken swimming in a mild curry. These golden brown flatbreads have a gorgeous crunchy texture that is extremely addictive and goes very well with the saucy curry.
Entrée: Vegetarian Curry Puffs ($6.20)
Now, these curry puffs are definitely one of my favourite entrées on the list. While small, each puff is indescribably flaky and filled with striking savoury flavours. Although not too spicy, they still pack a flavourful punch! And just look at how cute they are!
Nasi Goreng ($14.80)
Literally meaning “fried rice”, this Malaysian-style nasi goreng is an enjoyable dish. With bits of egg, pieces of chicken, some ikan bilis (deep fried anchovies) and perfectly stir fried rice, this dish is a myriad of mouth-watering savoury flavours. Comfort food at its best.
Nasi Lemak ($16.80)
The nasi lemak gives you a bit more variety on your plate, with the various individual side portions of chunky chicken curry resting on a broad lettuce leaf, pickled vegetables and a small serving of deep fried anchovies in a super spicy chilli sauce flanking your fragrant coconut rice. The flavours are all very strong, so if you’re looking for something a little milder on the tongue, stick with something like the nasi goreng.
Batam Chilli Chicken with Rice ($16.80)
Not too spicy, smothered in a tantalisingly sweet sauce and stir fried with onions, red peppers and dried shrimp, the Batam chilli chicken is cooked to tender perfection. Probably my favourite dish; I usually order this when I visit River Penang.
Penang Char Kway Teow ($14.80)
When I first tried their char kway teow, I was quite disappointed. In one word, I would say “bland”. The greasiness of it probably didn’t help. I had expected something with more flavour. The portions at River Penang are gigantic, but that really doesn’t help if the dish is just a pile of tasteless grease. The prawns and the squid pieces also lacked flavour.
Hai-nan Steamed Chicken with Chicken Rice ($14.80)
Their chicken rice dish is decent. And this is coming from a girl who grew up in Singapore, a country famous for it, so my standards are quite high. Although $14.80 for a plate of it is ridiculously expensive (try SGD$3.00/AUD$2.30 for a plate in Singapore), River Penang consistently gets the basic flavours right. The chicken pieces are large and steamed to juicy perfection, the rice is delicately flavoured with chicken stock, the accompanying chilli and ginger condiments are a real treat.
As for their drinks, they offer a variety of cold milky beverages including Taiwan Style Pearl Milk Tea ($4.80), Taro Flavoured Pearl Milk Tea ($4.80), Strawberry Flavoured Pearl Milk Tea ($4.80) and Iced Chocolate Coffee with Pearls ($5.20). They don’t specialise in bubble teas, so don’t expect too much out of these drinks. Their tapioca pearls aren’t always the best (I’m picky!) and they serve their drinks with way too much ice, so they just get incredibly diluted anyway. However, I give them plenty of brownie points for having the following dessert drinks: Red Bean Chendol Sago Dessert ($4.80), Chendol Sago Dessert with Herbal Jelly ($4.80), Red Bean Chendol Frappe with Gula Melaka ($4.80). These are an absolute treat to drink and they bring back memories of my hometown. Also, for the fans, they have Ice Kachang ($6.80)!
Overall, majority of the dishes at River Penang are quite appetizing. Their menu is extensive, the service is efficient (if not a little rushed sometimes), and the location is pleasant. Prices are fairly steep but portions are huge and you can easily share a dish between two people, so it balances out. They also offer a nice range of sweet drinks that will make most people happy.
RIVER PENANG RESTAURANT
Shop 1007, The Promenade
Robina Town Centre, Robina
Gold Coast, Queensland, 4226
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm (Mon-Sun)