Restoran Swee Garden/Shui Yuan Seafood Restaurant is not exactly a hidden gem with past coverage from food bloggers and 450+ Google reviews. But this restaurant deserves a feature as it's easily overlooked when searching for good Penang food.
Arriving for lunch at 1 pm on a Sunday, the place was half packed - quieter than usual due to the MCO. No menus on display but the chirpy waiters were more than happy to share their signature dishes. Food arrived rather quickly, within 10-15minutes. Let's makan!
Ambra Drink (5/5)
Ambra is a local term for Ambarella/Kedondong juice that's typically served cold with sour plum for that extra kick. The one served here has the right concentration - thick enough that you can't see the straw through the drink! Refreshing on a hot afternoon and whets your appetite for the meal ahead.
Boiled Octopus (5/5)
The beauty lies in the freshness of the octopus and the subtle fragrance of the garlic oil. The accompanying sweet chilli sauce with crushed peanuts complemented the tender pieces of octopus. A simple dish done right.
Siam Pork Trotter (4.5/5)
Even though the pork trotter was deep-fried, the collagen-rich parts were surprisingly not jelak (overly rich & nauseating to eat) and lean pieces of meat were enjoyably tender. The skin was crispy but not as crispy as German Pork Knuckles or Roast Pork crackling. The aromatic spice mix marinade made the dish flavourful enough to enjoy on its own but the Thai-style sweet chilli sauce added an addictive tanginess to the dish. Who knew fried fatty pieces of pork could taste this light?
Stir Fried Lala in Tau Ceo (5/5)
This has got to be one of the best versions of this dish that I've ever tasted. The fresh Lala was deliciously plump and the flavours of the fermented soya bean paste sauce were absolutely spot on. A very generous serving and none of the Lala were just empty shells!
Fish Curry (3.5/5)
This isn't your typical Chinese-style fish curry with plenty of santan (coconut milk) and tofu puffs. The aroma was more reminiscent of Indian fish curry. We opted for Red Snapper and a whole small fish was used. The flesh was extremely fresh and tender. While it was a good accompaniment to the piping hot white rice, this isn't my favoured type of curry so I'll give it a slightly lower rating.
Stir Fried Tau Kua with Leeks (3.5/5)
The tau kua (extra firm tofu) itself had a nice crispy exterior from the deep fry. The medley of vegetables and generous slices of pork and shrimp gave the dish a naturally sweet flavour profile. Tasted comfortingly homecooked but nothing to shout about.
Stir-Fried Sweet Potato Leaves (4/5)
Last but not least, the mandatory greens of the meal which was executed well without being overly bland or oily.
Overall, it was a satisfying meal with fresh & tasty food. While some have commented that the prices are quite steep for Nibong Tebal standards, I find the food affordable compared to larger cities. Ambience wise, don't expect anything fancy and cleanliness is acceptable for a neighbourhood restaurant.
Sabbylicious Makan Rating
Food : 4/5
Price : 4/5
Service : 4/5
Must order: Ambra Drink, Boiled Octopus, Stir Fried Lala in Tau Ceo and Siam Pork Trotter. To also try their steamed seafood if you're eating in a larger group!
Opening Hours Tuesday -Sunday (12.00pm–3.30pm; 5.30pm–9.00pm). Closed on Monday.
Restoran Swee Garden 1, Jalan Punai, Jalan Atas, 14300 Nibong Tebal, Penang