Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ingolf's Kneipe of Tanjung Bungah

"You can tell German wine from vinegar by the label."

Mark Twain

Ingolf's Kneipe
Welcome to Penang's own little slice of Germany.

I'm really not very good at this food reviewing lark, so here I am with another practice run.

After two seperate dinner visits to Ingolf's Kneipe (kneipe being a German word for a pub or bar) I think I'm ready to deliver my word on the place; and that word is a good one. Now, I can't tell you how authentically German the place really is - my little deficiency of never having visited the Vaterland totally threw a wrench in that. What I can do instead is tell you that the food there is very, er, yummy to my unschooled native Malaysian palate.

After all, Chef Ingolf's been cooking a very long time.

The first time Phoebs and I went to Ingolf's Kneipe, we each ordered a dish of our own and that proved to be a very imprudent (but delicious!) move. Let me first warn you that the helpings here aren't exactly designed for ladies - or for guys on a diet-of-reasonable-portions.

Phoebs took on a plate of crumbed chicken schnitzel, Julian's style (whoever the heck Julian is) because schnitzel happened to be our favourite funny word of the week,

Crumbed Chickenschnitzel, Julian's Style
For a size comparison, part of Phoeb's elbow can be seen there in the background.

Schnitzel basically means that a thin, boneless slab of meat was covered with breadcrumbs and fried. This one here is smothered with a mushroom sauce - as you can probably tell - and was served with a side of fried vegetables and a pair of hashed browns (or hash browns; writing it in either way is correct). As far as dishes like this one goes, it's pretty good. However, it did come with a price tag of RM 24.80.

She also had a bowl of soup as her starter,

Southern German Style Bread Soup
Southern German-style Bread Soup or brotsuppe

Just to clarify, the word "bread" in the name does not refer to the bun - that came with all their soupy stuff. It's a blended mix of rye bread with cream, onions and a dash of white wine (or possibly vinegar, according to Mark Twain) and garnished with thin slices of sausages and crispy bacon bits. It goes for RM 8.80 a pop.

And the result was one helluva soup indeed. Phoebs had a lot of love for it. It was hearty and even, and chewy meat bits are always welcomed in any soup (who doesn't like bacon anyway?). Go for it if you're there but you might not find it on the menu. In our 2nd trip, it was no longer an item on it. I think there was either a revision or that they changes their menu slightly on a daily basis.

My order was a measure of sherry on the rocks as an apéritif and this,

Gefuellte Rindsrouladen Nach Braunschweiger Art
Gefuellte rindsrouladen nach Braunschweiger art. "Looks like poop," said Phoebs.

So what manner of animal is it? Well, it's a beef roll stuffed with bacon, mustard and onions braised in a red wine sauce. The moment I read its description on the menu, I knew that I must eat it. As a good friend of mine once said, "Meat wrapped with more meat - what a concept!"

As expected, the franken-steak was freaking delicious. What I did not expect was that it was only freaking delicious for the first 3-4 bites or so. After that, I went into acute meat toxicity. Maybe it's me; maybe it's because I haven't actually eaten anything really substantial in a while (what with my new diet and exercise regime and all) but everything about this dish served to overwhelm me. The consistency of the meat log is soft and mushy, and we all know how filling those kind of food can be. Now, throw in a massive dollop of mashed potato and boiled red cabbage as sides. Imagine forcing the lot down. My bet is you'd feel like a sack of wet cement afterwards too.

Apparently, the menu said "a pair of beef rolls" but only one came on my plate. I didn't feel like enquiring about the missing roll at all. Anyhow, just so you'd know, the mash and cabbage were nice too - it's just that I was in no shape to enjoy them. If you must try the rindsrouladen, do so with a friend (or two). It's RM 25.80, by the way.

We returned to Ingolf's a couple of weeks later and this time, we shared a single dish,

Pork Sausages with German Sauerkraut
Bratwurst mit sauerkraut.

It's a couple of foot-long pork sausages on a bed of sauerkraut served with a generous scoop of mash (with a decidedly un-German sprinkling of crispy fried onions) and some mustard - and like most people who can't speak German, Phoebs and I have corrupted the pronunciation of sauerkraut into "sour crotch".

At RM 23.80, it's totally worth it, especially since two of us were sharing it. The sausages were fried very thoroughly. That's something I noted on my first bite, mainly because I've had a bad experience a while back with another foot-long sausage that had an icky, cold centre in another restaurant. It's like they just pulled it out of the fridge and then slide it about on a pan of hot oil for a few seconds. The ones we had at Ingolf's were real treats. They were firm, flavourful and... how can one describe a sausage anyway? They taste like really good sausages, is all I can say. Now fuck off.

This was also my first encounter with sauerkraut and I found that I love the stuff to bits! Far from having anything to do with crotches, it's actually fermented finely-shredded cabbage. The process of making it is similar to the way they make kimchi (Phoebs thought that sauerkraut tasted very much like a less sour, non-spicy version of kimchi). I wonder if I can order it as a stand alone appetiser the next time I'm there.

I wanted to try their Hungarian goulash this time around, but their soup menu have changed - so Phoebs ordered some onion soup instead,

Onion Soup
Some onion soup.

Her verdict: Not as good as the brotsuppe but just as priced alike at RM 8.80. A lot of other food bloggers think that Ingolf's Kneipe's mushroom soup is extraordinarily good - so maybe you guys can take that cue.

And I washed it all down with this,

A tall, cold, perspiring half-litre glass of Paulaner draught beer.

A classmate of mine from Penang's mainland told me that the owner of Ingolf's Kneipe (which is Ingolf, natch) specially imports German beers to serve at his bar, and told me that I must try some when I'm there - so I did. It cost RM 18.80 for a 300 ml glass, and my 0.5 litre glass set me back at RM 28.80. Now, I'm no great judge or lover of beers; I prefer mixed drinks. The most charitable thing I can say about any beer is that it didn't make me gag or hurl, so that's what I'll say for Paulaner here. I'll also say that it's very smooth, not too bitter and goes down well with my dinner. Still, no beer can ever worth 30 bucks to me, so yeah, I'm biased from the get go.

Phoebs who usually doesn't drink at all had a few sips and thought it was nice. Take of that what you will.

Phoebs at Ingolf's Kneipe
Phoebs savouring some sour crotch.

It's pretty easy to get there if you don't mind driving a bit. Just take that coastal road connecting Georgetown to Batu Ferringhi and drive till you see the Penang Chinese Swimming Club on your right. It's your cue to slow down. Almost immediately after, you'll pass a Caltex petrol station on your left - the next left turn is the one you want. Here you'll see a row of shophouses on an elevated plateau right in front of you; that's where Ingolf's Kneipe is at. It's right between the Vintage Bulgaria Restaurant and Bar (huge wooden signboard with Bulgaria's colours - white, green and red - on it) and a Guardians outlet.

Its GPS coordinates are 5°27'51.74"N, 100°17'32.91"E which should be close enough for anyone. I don't own a GPS device. I just find the place on Google Earth, pin it and then read the lats and longs. Their address is;

1-F, Jalan Sg Kelian
11200 Tanjung Bungah
Penang, Malaysia
10150 Penang, Malaysia

You know, in case you want to send them fan mail or a letter bomb or whatever. To call for reservations, dial +604-8995796. Even though we managed to get a table both times we went there, the place always host a good number of customers so there's a real possibility of encountering a full house. As I understand it, they used to be open for lunch as well as for dinnertime but due to a lack of staff, they are only open in the evening these days - and I found out the hard way that they were closed on Sundays.

I'm craving for a glass of Paulaner now for some strange reason.

Guten appetit,
k0k s3n w4i


Jen said...

i find that sauerkraut always left a funny taste in my mouth. now you've left me no doubts as to why it does so. bleagh.

Glo-w~* said...

Yeay a new pls in Penang to try out^^ thx~

J2Kfm said...

This was the first German restaurant we visited back when we were uni students in USM.
Yes, it's been that long.
The place was packed to the brim on a weekday's afternoon, I vaguely recall.
Good memories, thanks.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Jen: it's an acquired taste. you evidently need to eat more of it.

Glo-w~*: you're welcome. guten appetit.

J2Kfm: first? you know more german restaurants? you must share!