Main Street Cafe

This article is part of my Christmas 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to Cititel Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Cititel Penang is the sister hotel of The Wembley, which is also located nearby. Main Street Cafe is Cititel's 24-hour coffeehouse. This casual dining restaurant is right next to Zhonghua Gourmet (中华海鲜鱼翅).
To get into the yuletide spirit ahead of time, Main Street Cafe is decorated with homely Christmas ornaments. For example, the restaurant's entrance features a Christmas tree and a mock fireplace. In addition, Main Street Cafe is serving Christmas-themed buffet later this month.
The Roast Turkey stands out at the carving station. Cooked fairly well, the turkey's tender flesh works harmoniously with giblet and cranberry sauces. Also appealing are the Chestnut Stuffing and Yorkshire Pudding. Beef Wellington is made available too. The fillet steak is coated with duxelles (sautéed mushrooms) and then wrapped in puff pastry.
Steak Diane is a classic American dish that was popularized in New York during the 1940s. It consists of thin slices of beefsteak, sautéed in butter and served with creamy gravy. Steak Diane is traditionally flambéed tableside, but this is obviously not practical in a buffet setting. Grilled vegetables like squash, cucumber and tomatoes serve as counterbalance to this meaty dish. Diners who do not take beef can try other meat dishes like Lamb Navarin or Deep-Fried Fish Fillet With Almond Butter.
Poultry is represented by Chicken Chop With Oriental sauce. Chicken fillets are covered in bread crumbs, and then deep-fried to golden crisp. Other poultry dishes this evening are Chicken Fricassée and Chinese BBQ Duck.
As for seafood, Stir Fried Prawns are cooked with their shells intact. The large shrimps are served with the restaurant's signature Milanese sauce. Speaking of shellfish, another noteworthy delicacy is Oyster Casino.
Braised Red Cabbage With Apples steals the spotlight with its alluring color. The cabbage is also infused with a respectable degree of tartness from apples. The overall taste is similar to German rotkraut. If this dish is too sour for you, go for Broccoli With Chicken Ham instead.
The action stall does à la minute cooking. The most distinguished food of all is Oyster Omelette (蚝煎). Served on oyster shells, the omelette leans towards the moister end of the spectrum. On the other hand, I feel that omelette is seasoned too heavily, leading to excessive saltiness. Meanwhile, satay (skewered meat) is also available in beef and chicken versions. Spicy peanut sauce is provided.
Seafood on ice includes oysters, scallops, mussels, spanner crabs, crayfish and shrimps. A squeeze of lime is preferred especially for the oysters.
The sushi bar presents assorted sushi (寿司), mostly of maki (巻き), gunkan (軍艦) and nigiri (握り) varieties. Sashimi (刺身) fans can also indulge in fresh slices of salmon (サーモン), tuna (マグロ) and butterfish (イボダイ). Condiments that usually go well with sushi and sashimi are wasabi (山葵), soy sauce (醤油) and pickled ginger (ガリ).
The platter of gourmet cheese contains Cheddar Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Gouda Cheese and Blue Cheese. Crackers and cashew nuts are provided should diners prefer to tone down the strong taste of cheese. Besides fresh grapes, there are also preserved fruits like prunes, apricots and mango.
As for soups, Pumpkin Soup and Lobster Bisque are prepared this evening. The Pumpkin Soup too mild in my opinion, but Lobster Bisque is flavored just about right. At the side are brioche, baguette and bread rolls to go with soup or cheese.
A salad bar affords diners the opportunity to mix their own salads. Ingredients for garden salad are Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and sweet corn. Popular salad dressings are French dressing, Thousand Island dressing, Caesar salad dressing and vinaigrette. Garlic croutons and olive oil help to improve aroma. Alternatively, diners can also mix their own Penang Rojak using a variety of fruits available.
Gingerbread House is a common sight during Christmas season. Pastry chefs often take this opportunity to showcase their creative work. The house's walls and roof are constructed from gingerbread, while the appearance snow is created through icing sugar.
Another Christmas tradition is the Christmas Stollen, a German fruit bread strewn with candied fruit and nuts. The bread is sweetened with powdered sugar. I feel that the stollen is too sweet for comfort, so it is advisable to shake some sugar off before eating. Of course, one should also not be surprised to see Yule Log Cake during Christmas season.
Black Forest Cake is based on a German dessert called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Made from chocolate sponge cake, the Black Forest Cake is topped with whipped cream, cherries, strawberries and chocolate shavings.
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert which means "pick me up". Made from ladyfingers (savoiardi) soaked with coffee, the cake is layered with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, cocoa, sugar and egg yolks. Fine cocoa powder is sprinkled on top. Other cakes on today's line-up are Red Velvet Cake and Carrot Cake.
Bread & Butter Pudding is a British comfort food that is essentially buttered bread baked with egg custard. Vanilla sauce is provided. Meanwhile, Christmas Pudding is loaded with small chunks of candied fruit. Speaking of candied fruit, one should also try some Christmas Fruit Cake.
Christmas cookies are kept in airtight jars to maintain their freshness. Popular varieties are gingerbread cookies, checkerboard cookies, walnut cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies.
Macarons are made available to satisfy one's sweet tooth. Unfortunately, I feel that the macarons are way too sweet for me. Other sweet confectionery this evening are Jaffa brownies, tartlets and jellies.
The chocolate fondue is particularly popular among children. Skewered food like marshmallow, strawberries, apricots, grapes, prunes and jelly candies are provided to be dipped into the molten chocolate. Should diners prefer something cooling, they can help themselves with endless round of ice kacang, cendol and ice cream.
As for drinks, Christmas Punch and Iced Lemon Tea contain fruity coolness that helps to quench thirst. Finally, espresso machines allow diners to get their caffeine shots.
Main Street Cafe will be serving 4 buffet sessions around Christmas and 3 more around New Year. Children and senior citizens are entitled to discounted prices.
Name: Main Street Cafe
Address: 66, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-291-1128
Business hours: 24 hours
Coordinates: 5.42156 N, 100.33247 E
Directions: Cititel Penang is a 16-floor building at Penang Road (Jalan Penang). Main Street Cafe is located at the far end from the main entrance. To park, drive past the lobby and up the ramp to Level 2. Parking is charged at RM4.00 per entry.

Wembley Cafe

This article is part of my Christmas 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to The Wembley for extending this food review invitation.

The Wembley, previously known as St. Giles Wembley, is 4-star hotel along Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine). Managed by CHM Hotels, The Wembley is the sister property of Cititel Penang, which is located approximately a kilometer away. Wembley Cafe is the former hotel's all-day dining restaurant.
Wembley Cafe is decorated with beautiful Christmas ornaments to embrace the year-end festive spirit. In addition, this 24-hour coffeehouse is having several yuletide-themed buffet sessions around Christmas and New Year. The special menu features a number of classic Western dishes as well as several handpicked Asian ones.
Of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without any Roast Turkey. Loaded chestnut stuffing, the turkey is marinated with spices and roasted to golden perfection. Also contributing to flavor are buttered vegetables like Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, squash, sweet potato and pineapple. As for condiments, giblet and cranberry sauces go well with the turkey.
Lobster Thermidor is an exquisite delicacy from the marine kingdom. Scrumptious lobster meat is first mixed with egg yolk, cheese and mustard. The mixture is stuffed back to the shells, and then baked with a golden cheese crust. Overall, I cannot ask for a more perfect dish.
As for red meats, Beef Tenderloin is lightly smoked and then roasted. Served in beef au jus, I enjoy the juicy beef very much.
The same can be said for the Rosemary Lamb Leg. Succulent slices of lamb are served in an aromatic gravy made from rosemary and garlic. The dish is also garnished with rosemary for aesthetic appeal.
Moving on to poultry, Chicken Galantine uses deboned chicken that is made in cylindrical shapes. The chicken is coated in aspic, which is easily mistaken as yellow chicken skin. This French dish is garnished with roasted sweet potatoes and diced tomatoes, and is served with chicken stock gravy.
Sautéed Salmon is another enticing dish. Filleted salmon is topped with green sauce made from pesto and avocado, presenting a cooling sensation in the mouth.
The next dish is Oysters Au Gratin. Covered in spinach and cheese, the oysters are sufficiently shielded from becoming too dry. This scrumptious treat is an alternative choice for people who do not consume raw shellfish.
At the Asian tapas section, there are fried radish cake (炸萝卜糕), stuffed crabs (酿蟹), century egg rolls (皮蛋卷) and fried money bags (炸福袋). Satay (skewered meat) is available in beef and chicken versions.
Upon request, the roast meats (烧腊) section prepares succulent cuts of roasted duck (烧鸭), roasted chicken (烧鸡) and barbecued chicken (叉烧鸡). Boiled chicken (白斩鸡) and oily rice (油饭) are also available. Condiments include duck sauce, spicy soy sauce, garlic & chili sauce and ground ginger.
Diners who fancy chilled seafood can savor various kinds of marine delicacies like snow crabs, spanner crabs, oysters, scallops, mussels, baby octopus, crayfish and shrimps. Chilled seafood is typically eaten with aioli, Tabasco sauce or lemon juice. In addition, the action counter serves à la minute sautéed seafood.
The Wembley's Christmas menu also covers a decent variety of sushi (寿司), mostly of nigiri (握り) and gunkan (軍艦) types. Meanwhile at the sashimi (刺身) platter, diners can enjoy fresh slices of salmon (サーモン), tuna (マグロ) and octopus (タコ). Seasoned jellyfish (中華クラゲ) and seasoned baby octopus (中華イイダコ) are also available.
This evening's buffet showcases an assortment of canapés and appetizers. Interesting choices are coffee gravlax, smoked salmon, smoked duck and shrimp cocktail.
Moving on to cheese, there are four types of gourmet cheese today: Swiss Cheese, Gouda Cheese, Blue Cheese and Camembert. Bread loaves, bread rolls, crackers and grapes are meant to go with cheese.
Two types of soup are prepared this evening: Lobster Bisque and Chicken Consommé. The latter is stewed from ground chicken, vegetables, tomatoes and egg white. After simmering for hours, egg white causes the soup's solids to congeal near the soup's surface, which is then skimmed off. What remains behind is a yellowish clear soup. Despite its unassuming appearance, the Chicken Consommé is very flavorful indeed.
Constructing Gingerbread House is an annual Christmas affair especially in Europe. Assembled from sheets of gingerbread, the house is decorated with asparagus, icing sugar, marshmallows, jelly candies and M&M's. I notice that the Gingerbread House is left untouched because most people are unwilling to ruin a fine piece of art.
Christmas Yule Log is another prominent cake at the pastry section. Swiss rolls are arranged to resemble an actual yule log. In addition, chocolate icing is raked with a fork to mimic the rough texture of bark.
Other Christmas pastries are Christmas Pudding, Stollen, Fruit Cake, Red Velvet Cake and Black Forest Cake.
Diners who prefer something drier can try a variety of buttery Christmas cookies in airtight jars. Other notable desserts this evening are apple streusel, tartlets, jellies and mochi (餅).
At the fruits counter, fresh pitaya (dragon fruit), pineapples, apples, oranges, papaya and watermelon help to cleanse the palate after a hearty feast. Some of these fruits are also available on skewers, making them perfect for dipping in chocolate fondue. As for drinks, Pineapple Juice and Red Berries Iced Tea are effective thirst quenchers.
Wembley Cafe offers 4 buffet sessions around Christmas and another 3 more around New Year. In addition to these buffets, the Lobby Lounge is also hosting countdown parties on the evenings of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
Name: Wembley Cafe
Address: 183, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-259-8123
Business hours: 24 hours
Coordinates: 5.41326 N, 100.33001 E
Directions: The Wembley is located at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), just opposite of Hotel Jen and 1st Avenue Mall. Wembley Cafe is located at Level 2 of the hotel. There is a multilevel parking garage at the hotel. Patrons to Wembley Cafe can get their parking tickets validated for a flat rate of RM6.00 per entry.

Spice Brasserie

This article is part of my Christmas 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to The Light Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

The Light Hotel is a 5-star hotel at Seberang Jaya. Sporting an impressive concourse with glittering chandeliers, this place is not called The Light Hotel for nothing. Next to the spacious lobby is Spice Brasserie, the hotel's primary restaurant and the destination of my visit today.
Spice Brasserie is decorated with Christmas ornaments in celebration of the joyous holiday season. This evening, the restaurant is hosting a preview of the upcoming festive menu. All in all, there will be 6 buffet sessions throughout Christmas and New Year.
Spice Brasserie's buffet is centered on the Roasted Turkey. Marinated for one day in advance, the turkey is gently roasted to retain the bird's natural juice. A spice mix of coriander and garlic makes the turkey succulent indeed. On the side are vegetables like Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and baby potatoes.
Also at the carvery section, the Lamb Leg is marinated with local and Middle-Eastern spices. Condiments that are compatible with lamb are giblet, black pepper, cranberry and mint sauces. Also included is almond and dried fruit stuffing.
Another noteworthy delicacy in the Christmas-themed buffet is Salmon In Puff Pastry. A large slab of salmon fillet is coated with spinach, mushroom and nuts, and then wrapped in puff pastry to be baked in an oven. This dish is quite similar to Salmon Kulebyaka.
Next to the open kitchen is a grilling station where food is cooked to order. Today's choices are chicken, fish and squid - all marinated beforehand to present their best flavors.
Moving on, the Cheesy Prawn Thermidor is a mixture of shrimps, egg, mustard and cheese. With a creamy texture, this French dish is perfect for cheese lovers. To improve the dish's aesthetic appeal, pineapple skins are arranged along its circumference.
Another dish which deserves special mention is Couscous With Clams. Originating in North Africa, couscous (كُسْكُس‎) consists of fluffy granules of semolina. The dish is topped with clams and is presented in a cucumber "bowl". Once again, it is evident that Spice Brasserie goes to great lengths when it comes to food presentation.
The next dish, Oysters Motoyaki (牡蠣の素焼き), is Japanese in origin. Served with their shells, the giant oysters are baked with mayonnaise-based sauce. Overall, Oysters Motoyaki is almost indistinguishable from Oysters Au Gratin.
The appeal of Mashed Potatoes should not be trifled with. This creamy dish is topped with smoked salmon, scallions, black olives and cherry tomatoes. The toppings present an enticing combination of colors.
Taking a detour to red meats, Roast Beef is cooked in a fiery concoction of garlic pepper sauce. Sparing no expense, the kitchen uses premium New Zealand sirloin for this dish. I cannot recommend this delicacy highly enough.
A number of Indian dishes are included in the Christmas buffet line-up. Served in brass pots, the most unusual among all is the Turkey Curry. Reflecting culinary styles of the subcontinent, the curry is prepared from a complex blend of herbs and spices. Although the curry's taste is acceptable, I feel that turkey is too salty for comfort.
Chicken Tikka Masala is very popular in the United Kingdom due to colonial ties with India. In this dish, marinated chunks of chicken are cooked in a rich curry that is based on tomato and yogurt.
Lamb Briyani (بریانی) is flavored with spices and ghee (clarified butter), making the rice fragrant and flavorful on its own. Cashew nuts, sultana raisins and coriander are also added to the mixed rice dish.
Moving on to Chinese cooking, Roast Duck With Mango Sauce stands out prominently. The main appeal of this dish is the duck's waxy skin. My only concern is that the duck appears drier than ideal.
Diners who enjoy heavy flavoring will find the Glazed Mussels In Spicy Bean Sauce quite appetizing. The plump mussels are seasoned with doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) to tantalize the tongue in salty and spicy dimensions.
As for Buttered Vegetables, the colorful ensemble comprises of Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, squash, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and black olives. I appreciate the crispiness afford by almond flakes.
Seafood on ice includes snow crabs, shrimps, scallops and mussels. Oysters are noticeably omitted due to the increased risk of consuming raw seafood. Cocktail sauce and lemon wedges are provided as condiments.
As for salads, popular ones are Caesar Salad, Chicken Salad, Waldorf Salad and Niçoise Salad. For diners who prefer to mix their own salads, the salad bar also provides a variety of raw vegetables and salad dressings.
Proceeding to the pastry section, it is difficult not to be captivated by the Gingerbread House. Constructing this piece of art is time-consuming indeed.
Yule Log Cake is another iconic Christmas treat. Made from Swiss rolls, the cake is covered with chocolate icing with spiral patterns to imitate the roughness of tree bark. Meanwhile, caramelized macadamia nuts are arranged at the base of the cake.
Christmas Fruit Cake is littered with candied fruits, almonds and caramelized slices of orange. Other minor desserts in the pastry section are Christmas Pudding, Christmas Fruit Pie, Apple Crumble, Panna Cotta, Strawberry Jelly and Crème Brûlée. Small bites include assorted Christmas cookies, muffins and macarons.
Finally for fruits, papaya, pineapple and watermelon are cut into bite-sized cubes for the convenience of diners. There is also a bowl of fruit cocktail that is concocted from several fruit juices. Last but not least, fans of Thai desserts will be pleased to know that Thapthim Krop (ทับทิมกรอบ) is also available.
Besides buffet meals at Spice Brasserie, The Light Hotel is also serving 5-course set dinners on selected days. The course meals are held at Flavour@3, the hotel's semi-fine dining restaurant on Level 3. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and charming Santarina will be coming down the chimney (figuratively speaking) to pay a visit, so kids should behave if they want to get on Santa's good side.
Name: Spice Brasserie
Address: The Light Hotel, Lebuh Tenggiri 2, Bandar Seberang Jaya, 13700 Seberang Jaya, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-382-1111
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm (Sunday-Thursday), 6:30am-1:00am (Friday-Saturday)
Coordinates: 5.39442 N, 100.39866 E
Directions: From Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan (North-South Expressway), take the Seberang Jaya exit and head west. Turn left just before the pedestrian bridge and drive all the way to the end. When the road splits, keep right. The Light Hotel is the first building on the left. Spice Brasserie is located next to the lobby. There are parking spaces within the hotel's compound. The parking fee is RM4.00 per entry.