* This article was published in the New Straits Times (Life & Times) on 9th September 2011.
BY CK Lam
Vino Vino Bistro is the latest concept of wine bar to be launched in Penang. Incorporating a whisky bar as well as a coffee bar with a high tech twist, the outlet carries a wide and fine selection of wines in Penang. The cozy interior is lined with wine cabinet stacked with a variety of wines, Japanese sake and shochu.
Its drawing point is the Vino Tech dispensing system, whereby single malt whisky and premier wine are offered to customers by glass at the perfect temperature.
Vino Vino Bistro’s manager William Chong says that it is a great way in giving the customers a chance to taste the wine before buying the bottle they do not like.
The automated wine dispenser makes buying with the easy push-button system via the prepaid card. It comes in three different selections – tasting, half and full. Just press your desired selection and the wine is squirted into your glass through the nozzle.
Tasting, half glass and full glass….
Customers will be able to enjoy their favorite drink along with delights from its wide selection menu prepared by Executive Chef Kazuhiro Inose. The main highlight is the grill menu with the outstanding chicken, known as Yakitori.
We got ourselves a table beside the glass-covered grilling area in the inner far end of the place which allows us to watch the chef at work. The meat in skewer is grilled over a metal griller filled with glowing charcoal.
Chef Kazuhiro Inose, preparing the yakitory…
Vino Vino Bistro serves many choices of meat from the grill menu. Some are grilled with soy-based gravy while others are prepared with salt. All are well priced, from RM3 onwards. We had many skewers of chicken, lamb, oysters, vegetables and fish head.
The skewer of Kaki Kushi RM10 is essentially two grilled plump pieces of oyster. The oysters are juicy and delicious. Other seafood that we particularly enjoyed is Shishamo, smelt fish. I ate two of them, stuffed with plenty of roe.
Not missing out is the Lamb Yaki. The meat charred over the fire taste delicious with light spicy notes of fresh ground black pepper.
The salt flavor of the chewy Sunagimo chicken gizzard is light while the liver is done just right with enough fresh ground black pepper by the chef.
There are many parts of the chicken, from the wings to the thigh, heart and skin. The Tebasaki chicken is a popular serving of grilled chicken wing with crispy skin, moist tender meat and sweet chicken flavor.
Besides the wings, other items worth trying is the Torikawa, chicken skin and the rare Bonjiri, chicken tail. This end part of the chicken, also known as the bishop’s nose is the juiciest part of the chicken.
Tebasaki chicken RM6
The last items on the grill menu are the Eringi and the Okura. The Eringi mushroom and the Okura lady’s finger are lightly charred and I particularly love the latter which is flavorful with the smoky bonito flakes. The majority of the skewers are an absolute delight especially complemented with wine.
Vegetables by the skewer
Besides the vast range of wines, Vino Vino carries some of the finest shochu as well; some were floral with others rustic. We were recommended the Shochu Kuromaru. This shochu with a fruity, sweet aroma paired well with the Yakitori and the Sashimi. The Sashimi plate comes with assorted raw fish of tuna and salmon, along with roe.
Sashimi plate with thick pieces of tuna, salmon and roe
Vino Vino Bistro offers a sensational selection of dishes from its a la carte menu. From the set menu, we had the Sanma Shio Yaki, Yakitori Don and the Salmon Don. Each set comes with a side of salad, soup and rice. The crowd favorite is the Yakitori Don, with its runny egg yolk which simply adds more flavor and creamy texture to the dish.
Sanma Shio Yaki
Yakitori Don and Salmon Don
From the bowls of rice, we went on to another version of rice – the traditional onigiri which is made on the spot. The chef’s specialty includes Shake Onigiri wrapped in dried seaweed with salmon, and the Yaki Onigiri which is a grilled rice ball. The Yaki Onigiri carries a more unique taste, with the flavor of the sesame seeds and the charred outer layer. Both are very filling rice dish and we had one of each for sharing.
Shake Onigiri RM6
Yaki Onigiri RM6
Originally from Japan, Chef Inose has worked in many reputable restaurants in Japan, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He is very particular about the food he prepares for customers. He makes it a point to serve delicious cuisines, and it shows through his time focusing intently in grilling the food with varied texture and flavors.
Currently, a lunch set menu prepared by Chef Inose is available from Monday to Saturday and is priced from RM23 to RM45.
Vino Vino Bistro opened its doors in Bay Avenue, which is just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping and business districts of Queensbay Mall. Click here for the Map Location. They do cater for private function for small group.
The extensive wine list and the 100 types of single malt whiskies and 30 types of beer definitely place Vino Vino Bistro as the place to find your palate.
Parking is aplenty right in front, along with its alfresco seating. It is nice and relaxing sitting outdoor with a cup of coffee after the meal. Vino Vino Bistro gets my attention with its serving of Vergano coffee.
Vino Vino Bistro
Lorong Bayan Indah 2
11900 Bayan Lepas
Tel: 04 6451188
Monday to Saturday – 12noon to 1am
Sunday – 5pm to 1am
* Many thanks to Vino Vino Bistro for laying on this invitation.