Courting Francis with Spices at KOTA Dine & Coffee

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018

Food and history go hand in hand at this hidden gem.


In 1786, Sir Francis Light rejoiced when he built the original fort that is now, Fort Cornwallis. This 2018 was historical for us at UPPRE as we rejoiced at the lush culinary delights that were awaiting us at KOTA Dine & Coffee—When Francis Meets Rempah. Here’s how we pursued Sir Francis Light in the perfect ambiance, and in the company of modern Nyonya fare.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018

KOTA Dine & Coffee —When Francis Meets Rempah faired top in our go-to places in Penang purely for the location of it. Not many restaurants you come across have the privilege to be situated within the perimeters of what deemed to be so rich in history. That too, in a compound as affluent as Fort Cornwallis, we were sure KOTA Dine & Coffee is a must-visit.

Legacy in the Location

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018

As we approached Fort Cornwallis, we then realized the restaurant was situated INSIDE of the fort, hence, we paid the entry fee ( which was  RM 10 for MyKad holders) and we were given wrist-tags to enter Fort Cornwallis. As we make our way into the fort, the kind security guard let us know that we can redeem our ticket fee at the restaurant, should we eat there. It is either KOTA is a tourist magnet in the area or the guard was a mind reader— but we would settle for the former.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Simple exterior, bursting with potential for events and parties

KOTA Dine & Coffee was just about a 3-minutes walk from the entrance and you would not miss the white single-story building with window walls. The creatives that we are got very excited at the many potentials of this space. Just by the aesthetics alone, KOTA Dine & Coffee is a perfect venue for outdoor and indoor parties of varying themes. From bridal showers to baby showers, the facade of KOTA is ideal and we just couldn’t wait to see what it has in store for us.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Sculpture of Sir Francis Right at the entrance

As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by a prominent metal sculpture of Sir Francis Light at the entrance. An apt feature to the historical site that it was, we were then seated by the friendly staff for our meal. The whole restaurant was an open-concept space and it was brightly lit, courtesy of the windows that span surrounding the restaurant.

Fervour of Taste

Little that we know that KOTA was about to take us on a whimsical trance with their hand-picked dishes until we were served with their famed drinks — Signature, Sunrise,  Sunset and Pandan Milk.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Signature: Lemongrass, Lime, Mint, Chili, Sprite
KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Sunrise and Sunset; juices with fragrant herbs and macerated tropical fruits.

Each drink packed a punch with daring ingredients such as chilis and mint,  and imaginative concoctions with tropical fruits like mangoes and watermelon. Pandan Milk was a divine fusion of fresh screwpine leaves with milk, basil seeds, and grass jelly. With the prelude of these drinks, KOTA surely peaked our intrigue for what has yet to come for the rest of our course.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Jumbo Platter: Pai Tee Cup, Mini papadoms, Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Lolipop, Samosa , Kerabu, and sorts.

Jumbo Platter is an accurate representation of what we love about Malaysia— cultural harmony we see from our surroundings, from music and our food. On this platter, it is a gastronomical celebration where our taste buds go “Merdeka” with the spiciness from the tandoori chicken and samosa, tangy delish from the kerabu mangga and also crisp crunch from the Pai Tees’. This platter is a perfect appetizer for a group of four max and it was absolutely scrumptious from start to finish.

Next, we had our mains that consisted of five amazing dishes that was cleverly described in just word.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Hokkien: Italian fusion of Penang Prawn Mee with Shallot, Chili, Caviar, Bisque and Sambal Prawn
KOTA reveals their experimental side through Hokkien; a fine-tuned version of Penang’s famous prawn noodles. Italian capellini represents the noodles, the hearty broth is a bisque reduction of shallots, chili, and prawn. The eggs are quail eggs and the “yolk” is actually caviar. Nothing screams decadence than this. Definitely one for the adventurous.
KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Satay: A deconstructed form of traditional chicken satay with turmeric, galangal and peanut sauce.
A personal favorite from the course and one that did not cease to amaze our palate was the Satay. KOTA did a splendid job creating this deconstructed form of traditional chicken satay by incorporating modern techniques to create a succulent chicken roulade stuffed with sticky rice, roasted peanut sauce, and local herbs. Satays are usually eaten as starters but trust us when we say this is the main dish on its own. Whoever said having an appetizer as a main meal is wrong, can now take a seat because this dish is every satay-lovers dream!
KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Prawn Bean Curd Fritters with Prawn, beancurd, cucumber, garden greens 

Next, KOTA presented a lighter note with Prawn Brean Curd Fritters. Remember the cucur udang from this? This is KOTA’s fancy take on prawn fritters and fried tofu. With the addition of fresh garden greens and cucumber, this dish was gone is second because it hit the spot with flavor profiles, textures, and presentation.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Laksa – Kota Version of deconstructed laksa; Filled with daun kesom, pineapple, mint, Mackerel flakes, galangal and rice paper parcels

KOTA aced in embracing traditional Malaysian cuisine with distinctive western culinary techniques and ingredients. We were blown away when we have KOTA’s Laksa as it was served in an elaborated presentation. A steaming bowl of  Laksa broth was served individually sans noodles and the catch was the noodles. One a separate plate, there were perfectly parceled rice noodles with condiments in both soft and deep-fried rice paper. How one eats Laksa is up to one’s desire— you can submerge the parcels and eat it at a go, or you can also use to the broth as a dip to dip your parcels in.The only takeaway from this is that we thoroughly enjoyed this till the last drop. How we eat it, is entirely another post for another day.

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
The scrumptious menu of the day at Kota Dine & Coffee

That concluded the end of our gastronomical excavation— except we were not done yet.

Of Endurance and Brûlées’

KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Crème Brûlée: A trio of Crème Brûlée combining  Nyonya flavors of screw pine, palm sugar, and black glutinous rice 
KOTA Dine & Coffee certainly was not playing when they started to dish out their dessert course. It was started with the alluring ballad of Crème Brûlée that came in three flavors which had us enthralled from start to finish. Decadence was an understatement when it came to these darling trios as they offered the most velvety cream base with the different flavor profiles like gula hitam and pandan. One of the brûlées’ had a lovely surprise inside as it was stuffed with black glutinous rice which rocked our world.  It was pretty much a unanimous decision for us to have this version if it were to be the last meal to have before we die.
As one wise person said, there’s always a second stomach for dessert. And so, it comes in the form of cakes! KOTA Dine & Coffee concluded our pursuit of happiness with their infamous Teh Tarik and Nasi Lemak cake.
KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Nasi Lemak cake: Pandan icing, with coconut cream rice and sambal base with candied anchovies and peanut.
KOTA Dine and Coffee Penang 2018
Teh Tarik cake: Creamy layers infused with Teh Tarik, with a drizzle of condensed milk

KOTA Dine & Coffee —When Francis Meets Rempah was truly a magical ride, especially for its delectable savory and sweet temptations. Not only does KOTA situated in an idyllic area that is a cultural landmark in Malaysia, the experience did not disappoint at all. If there is one thing we discovered from our experience at KOTA, it would be that KOTA is a physical ode to Fort Cornwallis as the history is revitalized through their interpretation of food.

For more information on KOTA Dine & Coffee, please check the information below:

KOTA Dine & Coffee, When Francis Meets Rempah
Fort Cornwallis
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah
10200 Georgetown

Tel: 04 – 2519420

Business Hours: Daily 10 am – 10 pm

If you are looking for more food-related stories, check here and here for more culinary adventure! Also, do you like lifestyle stories? We got you covered here!

Shamrina Rose

Shamrina Rose

Wit sharper than my eyeliner.
Shamrina Rose

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