I remember Sietsema raving about the lunch special, but I also remember a recent Chowhound voicing her/his disappointment so I decided to check it out today, despite the 15-min. brisk walk from my office.
I arrived around 1:45 & the place was still pretty hopping even that late for lunch, but the restaurant was still only 1/2-full. So I proceeded to wait 15 minutes just for somebody to take my order.
The waiter finally sauntered over, saying "You need something to eat?" I was like - "Uhhh, yeah!" I ordered the $8.95 lunch special of beef rendang, with chicken satay appetizer. It came with rice, a cup of soup & a small salad of mango, onion & carrot. I also ordered a pot of green tea ($3.50, but made with tea leaves & I liked it), and I would have liked to order one of the desserts Sietsema raved about, but they ran up to $7.50!!!
I thought the reasoning behind a lunch special was that it was already mostly prepared & so you wouldn't have to wait very long, but I still had to wait almost 20 minutes for it. The soup was nothing to write home about - if it was meant to be vegetable, it was almost entirely chunks of celery, a veg I don't like anyway. The rendang portion with the rice was very generous, I really liked the satay & peanut sauce, liked the mango salad too. Then I proceeded to wait 20 min. between finishing my meal & the bill. In fact, the busboys were much more available & attentive than my waiter, who didn't seem to give a damn.
Am I thinking wrong, but isn't it common sense that solo diners take less time to order & eat because they're not taking their time chatting with table mates? I thought it was pretty obvious I was waiting a while. This solo diner's time in the restaurant ran about 1 hr & 20 min. Even the 2 women in the next table were waiting a long time for their check.
The decor of the place was very nice (tho the costumes the waiters had to wear were not flattering), the food was fine, but I was disappointed by the service.
So no 2nd trip to Penang for me - I'd rather make my 3rd trip to Malaysia Kopitiam a few doors down (with desserts cheaper than $7.50!)