Sunday, August 7, 2011 By: cyn~♥

Invited Review: Agua @ Straits Quay, Penang

What comes to mind when you think Mediterranean food? Ask most Penangites, and (more often than not) you'll probably get blank looks all around.

I've walked past Agua every time I've been to Straits Quay, and have been meaning to pay the restaurant a visit for the longest time. So when Jac received an invitation to review Agua's food offerings, I was all excited.. I'd finally step foot into the restaurant!

 Simple & trendy - the lit-up Agua sign at the entrance of the restaurant.

The front of the restaurant.. Attractive, is it not?

The cozy interior of the restaurant..

Random shots around the restaurant.. there's a big family-sized table for those huge happy noisy family get-togethers!

Al fresco dining is available, for those who want to enjoy the sea breeze..

After spending several minutes just walking around the restaurant and taking pictures, we finally sat down to enjoy a glass of Sangria. A Sangria is a mixed fruit cocktail - Agua's version is mixed using fruit juice, a dry red wine, a touch of hard liquor (e.g. brandy or gin), and topped off with small cubes of orange and green apple. I've tried Sangrias years back (the real thing, in Spain, after graduation) and Agua's Sangria is just as good. It's not too strong - you do get a good buzz from the liquor in the drink, but it's not overpowering. I'm not much of a drinker, so this was just nice for me. You have a choice of getting either a glass each if it's a romantic dinner for two, or an entire jug if you're dining in a group.

Sangria (RM16 per glass, or RM45 per jug)

We were then served several items off the Tapas menu. The first dish on the table was the Mixed Mushrooms Paprika - a variety of mushrooms (Shitake, oyster, and button) tossed in a creamy paprika & tarragon sauce, topped off with a sprinkling of parsley and served on toasted & buttered Ciabatta bread. This was absolutely delish, the sauce was super tasty - between the four of us, we licked the plate clean.

Mixed Mushrooms Paprika (RM19.90)

The next item to arrive was one of Agua's signature dishes - the Agua platter. The platter is served in a portion for two to share, and carries a selection of cold cuts - Serrano ham, Lomo Iberico ham, Chorizo - served with slices of Manchego cheese, olives, hummus, and a tomato-and-onion side. I really liked the cold cuts (which,  by the way, I am told are all imported in from Spain) - each slice was paper thin and so delicate, but oh my gosh - the flavor was amazing. Each ham had its own distinct flavor, and they were all  just so tasty in their own way. My personal favorite was the Serrano ham. It is a tad salty though, so if you're not keen on salty stuff you can eat with a bit of the bread served on the side. Now, the bread served with the platter is not just ordinary bread.. it's called Pan Con Tomate and is basically toasted Ciabatta bread, rubbed with fresh garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil. Pan Con Tomate can be ordered on its own from the Tapas menu. Also, do note that the olives are not seedless, so watch out for seeds when you're munching down on the olives.

Agua Platter for two (RM46.90); Close-up of the Pan Con Tomate; Close-up of the Lomo Iberico ham (Serrano ham in the background)

We are then presented with yet another of Agua's signature dishes - the Bar Tapas, which consists of a selection of Agua marinated green and black olives, zanahorias ilanades, and chicken liver terrine; served with toasted French baguette. What's zanahorias ilanades, you ask? Well, it's just an exotic-sounding name for carrots, marinated in spices and herbs. I found this quite sour, and the taste reminded me of Indian spices. The olives, both green and black, were also on the sour side. As for the chicken liver terrine - I am not a fan of innards, so I didn't much fancy this dish. I managed to talk myself into trying a little though. It has a smooth paste-like texture and is served with a piece of of butter; eaten by spreading the butter and terrine on a slice of baguette. Overall, this dish was kind of a miss with me.. definitely not something I'd order again. Jac thought the terrine was rather good though.

Bar Tapas (RM12.00); Close-up of the chicken liver terrine; Close-up of the zanahorias ilanades

Next up - yes, we're still on Tapas! We were served the Tapas-portion of the chicken liver terrine; brandy flavored chicken liver terrine served with homemade fig chutney and French baguette. The terrine was served in a ramekin with a layer of butter on top. I sat this dish out, and let the guys enjoy the entire portion to themselves. We're told that this chicken liver terrine is exactly the same as the one served in the Bar Tapas, but Jac was of the opinion that this one tasted better. Different batch maybe?

Chicken Terrine (RM18.90); Close-up of the terrine; Close-up of the fig chutney

Jac enjoying the terrine & chutney, spread on a slice of French baguette..

That rounds up our Tapas tasting session. I know.. it's amazing what pigs we are!

So we are now ready to move on to the main course; the star of the night (read: the most expensive) and the dish that I've been looking forward to the most - the Paella. This is the final Agua signature dish, and is an authentic rice dish from Valencia served with chicken, pork, and seafood. The paella is served and eaten directly out of the pan it is cooked in - a round shallow pan, known as the paellera. When this dish was set down on our table, we were captivated by the vibrant color of the dish - it looked really good, and was a decent-sized portion that could definitely be shared by more than two people. Agua's paella is made using Arborio rice, and is simply chockful of various ingredients too - prawns, mussels, squid, chicken, pork, French beans, butter beans, and wedges of lime. The vibrant orange color of the rice is due to the use of saffron, which is (if you didn't already know) the world's most expensive spice. We happily dug into the paella, and for me, this was my favorite dish of the night. The rice was soft and fluffy, and was really tasty. Both the chicken and pork were cooked til tender. However, the seafood didn't wow us - I didn't try the squid and the mussels, but Jac said the squid was way too soft and it lacked the chewy texture that squids usually have. The mussels were on the tough side. I tried and found the prawns okay though. I'd say the paella is definitely worth a try. Be warned though, only order this dish when you have time to laze away and are in good company - there is a preparation time of 25 minutes.

Paella - minimum 2 portions (RM42.90 per portion)

After we polished off the paella (not even a grain of rice was left).. it's time for desserts!

First up is the Pear Belle Helene. Think of a pear poached in a mixture of liquors, served with vanilla ice cream, rich chocolate sauce, and topped off with half a strawberry.. are you salivating yet? The pear was delightfully soft, but after just one bite, I found the taste of liquor a bit too strong (like I mentioned earlier, I'm not much of a liquor person). The guys loved it though.

Pear Belle Helene (RM14.90)

The next dessert, and our finale for the night, is the Orange & Saffron Confit. This was served with mango and vanilla ice cream. I found this really interesting - saffron used in a dessert dish. The oranges were pure sticky sweet goodness - perfect for those with a sweet tooth. We loved the mango ice cream as well. This dessert was a blend of sour and sweet, and was the perfect end to our dinner.

Orange & Saffron Confit (RM15.90)

So if you've one of those who's never tried Mediterranean cuisine, do drop by at Agua the next time you're strolling around Straits Quay - you won't be disappointed. If you're overwhelmed by the jargon in the menu, just ask the Agua staff - they're all friendly folks who won't hesitate to make recommendations and patiently explain to you the meanings of the terms and what exactly is in each dish.

Agua also has a rather extensive wine menu, with wines from Argentina, South Africa, France, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand - perfect for those special occasions. Otherwise, you can bring your own wine, just pay a corkage of RM25.00 per bottle.

Unit 3A-G-18 & 19

Straits Quay
Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang
Tanjung Tokong, Penang.


Opening hours:
Sun-Thurs : 11.00am~11.00pm
Fri-Sat, and eve of public holidays : 11.00am~12.00am

Contact : 04-8908668

Disclaimer: This is a personal food blog. The opinions expressed here are my own, based on my personal taste buds; others may have different opinions. Also, as we all know, qualities & standards of individual restaurants/food may change over time, so do note the time stamp on this review.

*This review was sponsored by Agua.
Disclaimer: This is a personal food blog. The opinions expressed here are my own, based on my personal taste buds; others may have different opinions. Also, as we all know, qualities & standards of individual restaurants/food may change over time, so do note the time stamp on this review.


Chiu Yin said...

The foods there look drooling...Looking forward your next visit to Aqua, if have the chance...

Jacgy said...

sure will show when i went again :)

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