Flamingo Café

Special thanks to Flamingo Hotel By The Beach, Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Flamingo Hotel By The Beach, Penang is located along the main road of Tanjung Bungah, near Dalat International School and somewhat opposite of Hana Cafe. Taking advantage of the cooling breeze from the sea, the main entrance is an al fresco lobby and Flamingo Theque.
The hotel's flagship restaurant is Flamingo Café. Located next to the swimming pool, the eatery presents a dining area with relaxing ambience. Every Sunday, the Sunday Mania Buffet is held here from 12:30pm to 2:30pm. This is precisely the purpose of my visit today.
Arranged just outside the ballroom are several food stalls that serve a variety of hawker-style food. For example, there is Kembung Goreng (fried mackerel) that is seasoned with spicy marinade. I think it is good to have grilled fish in addition to (or in lieu of) fried fish.
Murtabak, Roti Canai, Roti Boom and Roti Tisu are several Tamil-Muslim comfort foods that are now enjoyed by Malaysians from all walks of life. The dough is stretched and then fried with palm oil on an iron griddle. In the case of Murtabak, the stretched dough is also filled with minced chicken, egg, onion and garlic. Dal (lentil curry) and pickled onions are provided as condiments.
Penang Asam Laksa is another iconic dish that the state is renowned for. Thick rice noodle is served in spicy broth derived from mackerel. The broth is also flavored with a variety of spices like tamarind (asam), galangal, lemongrass, chili peppers. Other common ingredients of asam laksa are pineapples, cucumber, onions, ginger flower, lettuce and mint.
As for Italian pasta, guests can choose among spaghetti, fettuccine and fusilli. Marinara sauce is prepared today. Pasta is cooked to order, so it is a good idea to place your order in advance.
The indoor section has a reasonable variety of ready-cooked food. For a taste of local spices, the Curry Fish is a good starting point. The pomfret is cooked in creamy, spicy curry with an infusion of sourness of tamarind (asam). The dish also contains okra (lady's finger) and eggplant (brinjal).
Meanwhile, Western-style cooking is represented by Charbroiled Australian Lamb Chop, French Style Pommes Au Gratin (gratinéed potatoes) and Baked Fish Fillet Belle Meunière.
As for finger food, there are a variety of deep-fried snacks such as chicken lor bak (卤肉), pandan chicken rolls, samosas and crackers.
Malay cuisine features a number of raw vegetable dishes such as Acar Timun & Nanas (cucumber and pineapple salad), Kerabu Mangga (spicy mango salad) and Ulam-Ulaman (raw vegetables).
There are also several types of ready-made salad. Should guests prefer to mix their own salad, French, Italian and Thousand Island dressings are provided too.
At the desserts counter, there is a reasonable range of cakes, French pastries, jellies and puddings. In addition, local delicacies such as Nyonya kuih, tau sar piah (豆沙饼), lepat pisang (banana wrap) and cream puffs are featured. Guests who prefer soup-based desserts may try the Bubur Pulut Hitam (black glutinous rice soup) and Bubur Kacang Hijau (green bean soup).
In effort to make the restaurant friendly to families with small children, Flamingo Café allocates a dedicated kids section in the buffet.
At this juvenile section of the buffet, the menu is customized to appeal to youngsters. Examples of dishes are pizzas, nuggets, donuts, sandwiches and French fries. There is even a dish of alphabet-shaped fried potatoes that most children will be fascinated with.
The Sunday Mania Buffet is priced at RM39.90 net for adults. Children (4-11 years) and senior citizens (60 years or above) enjoy reduced price of RM29.90 per person. Considering the variety of dishes available, this is one of the most affordable buffets in a hotel-restaurant setting. Last but not least, it is important to note that Flamingo Café is a halal-certified restaurant.
Name: Flamingo Café
Address: Flamingo Hotel, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-892-7111
Business hours: 7:00am-12:00am
Website: http://penang.flamingo.com.my/dining
Coordinates: 5.46741 N, 100.28886 E
Directions: Traveling westbound on Jalan Tanjung Bungah, drive past the pedestrian bridge near Dalat International School. Make a U-turn at the next traffic light-controlled junction and immediately turn left to Flamingo Hotel. Flamingo Café is one level below the lobby. The hotel provides complimentary outdoor and indoor parking.

Lagenda Cafe

Special thanks to Lagenda Cafe for extending this food review invitation.

Shanghai 1910 Heritage Hotel is a boutique hotel at Campbell Street (Lebuh Campbell) of George Town. Built in 1910, the building stands prominently at this narrow street with its distinctive Shanghainese architecture.
Lagenda Cafe is occupies the ground floor of the hotel. The laid-back ambience of this eatery draws tourists and locals alike. Cushioned seats and tablecloth-covered tables provide a sense of nostalgia of the former colonial days.
The Malay word "lagenda" means "legend". The restaurant pays tribute to the late P. Ramlee (1929-1973), Malaysia's undisputed legendary actor, director, singer and composer. P. Ramlee's fame traces back to his humble hometown of George Town before the independence of Malaysia. Indeed, the road where his birthplace is situated has since been renamed as Jalan P. Ramlee - in honor of his contribution to the nation.
Besides the large mural of the Malaysian legend, P. Ramlee's creative works are also featured in the names of several menu items like Nasi Lemak Ibu Mertuaku (after "Ibu Mertuaku") and "Sago Do Re Mi" (after "Laksamana Do Re Mi").

Lagenda Cafe's food menu revolves around Malay and Indonesian cuisine. There are also fusion dishes that attempt to harmonize Western cooking with local spices. As food is prepared from scratch and made to order, the waiting time may be substantial during peak hours. But it is worth waiting if the food is good, right?
Gado-Gado (RM22.00) is a popular salad in Indonesian cuisine. "Gado-gado" literally means "mix-mix" in Indonesian. Unlike Malaysian rojak, the individual ingredients of gado-gado are kept separated on the platter when served.
The focal point of Gado-Gado is peanut sauce. Used as a dip or dressing, the sauce is responsible for bringing all ingredients together. Besides being slightly spicy, the peanut sauce also enjoys a sense of pleasant savoriness that allows it to assimilate well with a diverse range of ingredients.
Popular ingredients in Gado-Gado are cucur udang (prawn fritters), cucur sayur (vegetable fritters), keropok sayur (vegetable crackers), hard-boiled egg and nasi impit (pressed rice).
Tempeh is an Indonesian delicacy made from fermented soybeans. Other items that take advantage of lovely peanut sauce are tuakua (fried bean curd), roasted potatoes, jicama (sengkuang), cucumber, yardlong beans, bean sprouts and water spinach (kangkung).
One of the signature items on the menu is Prawn Lemak Pineapple (RM26.00). This dish comes with rice that is dyed with butterfly-pea flower (bunga telang) extract. Rice is wrapped with banana leaf in the shape of a cone for aesthetic appeal.
Nevertheless, the main star of this dish is the santan- (coconut milk) based gravy that is infused with a variety of spices such as turmeric (kunyit). The creamy gravy is also cooked with pineapples, providing some degree of sweet-tanginess. Also included with the yellow gravy are medium-size shrimps. This flavorful dish is highly recommended especially if you enjoy santan-based gravy.
Several dishes including Prawn Lemak Pineapple come with side dishes. Presented on a wooden platter shaped like congkak are kerabu telur (egg salad), jelatah (pineapple and cucumber salad), air asam (tamarind sauce), sambal oelek (spicy paste), kacang botol (winged beans), cili padi (bird's eye chili), timun (cucumber) and keropok sayur (vegetable crackers).
As for dessert, Panacota Serimuka (RM12.00) is an amalgam of Italian panna cotta and Malay Kuih Seri Muka. The pandan-flavored custard is served with strawberry sauce that is made fresh from actual strawberries. In terms of taste, I personally prefer the level of sweetness to be reduced. Meanwhile on the side are two pieces of sticky glutinous rice.
Ais Kacang Astaka (RM8.00) comprises of shaved ice that is sweetened with rose syrup and condensed milk. Also present are basil seeds (biji selasih), which when coming in contact with water, expand to form a translucent jelly around the cores. Included in this dessert are cubed apples, pineapples, watermelon and nata de coco. Crushed peanuts provide some form of crunchiness.
Teh Tarik (RM5.00) is one of Malaysia's most popular drinks. The glass of milk tea is made frothy by "pulling" the drink back and forth between two mugs. In fact, "teh tarik" literally means "pulled tea" in Malay. Pulling teh tarik is sometimes a form of showmanship. There are even teh tarik competitions to determine who can achieve the longest pull (without spilling the tea, of course).
Name: Lagenda Cafe
Address: 43, Lebuh Campbell, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-261-2293
Business hours: 8:00am-11:00pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/cafelagenda
Coordinates: 5.41724 N, 100.33499 E
Directions: Driving along the one-way Campbell Street (Lebuh Campbell), Lagenda Cafe is located on the right between the junctions with Rope Walk (1881 Chong Tian Hotel) (Jalan Pintal Tali) and Carnarvon Street (Lebuh Carnarvon). Limited street parking is available along these roads.

The Spice

Special thanks to The Royale Bintang Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Having opened its doors since 21 March 2014, The Royale Bintang Penang celebrates its 3-year anniversary this month. This 4-star hotel at Weld Quay is strategically located in the heart of George Town's heritage district. Today's visit to The Royale Bintang is for the Friday Night Poolside BBQ, which I first covered last year.
The buffet is presented in an outdoor setting on Level 2. Dining tables and food counters surround the swimming pool, which is closed during the duration of this buffet (7:00pm-10:00pm). In case it rains, the food counters and dining tables will be relocated to The Spice or Boustead Hall.

The biggest advantage of serving outdoors is the ability to grill food over burning charcoal. This evening, the main highlight at the grilling station is the lamb. Roasted over steady heat from the grill, the marinated lamb absorbs a scrumptious sense of toastiness. The makes the lamb very flavorful indeed.
Other types of meats include beef, chicken, slipper lobsters, stingray and sausages. For the best enjoyment of barbecued meats, I suggest that you request for hot ones that are still sizzling on the grill.
Several condiments are specially prepared to go with the meats. For lamb and beef, I recommend that you try BBQ and mushroom sauces. If you love herbal aroma, mint sauce is quite nice too.
For something closer to the local palate, there are also chicken and beef satay. Skewered meats are marinated with several types of spices such as turmeric (kunyit), and then being cooked over radiating charcoal flame. I feel that the satay (especially beef satay) is too tough because it consists of too much lean meat. Perhaps a mixture of fatty meat will fare better.
If you are a fan of British-style seafood, you will be delighted to know that Fish & Chips are available too. Fish fillets are coated with batter and then deep-fried so that they become crispy.
Proceeding to the next counter, clams and lala are served over a bed of ice. The shellfish is meant to be cooked with Seafood Tom Yum. In addition, there are also processed foodstuff like meatballs, fish balls and crab sticks.
A pot of tom yum soup is kept boiling on the side for blanching and serving purposes. Because raw shellfish is used, please ensure that it is properly cooked before eating.
The poolside buffet also includes a number of cooked dishes to suit the local palate.
For staple food, there are Tom Yam Fried Noodle and Salted Fish Fried Rice.
Jacket Potatoes are wrapped in aluminium foil and then baked with their skins intact. Each potato is topped with sour cream, bacon and chives for additional flavor.
Baked Pumpkin Wedges is a source of natural sweetness. This dish is served with black olives and cherry tomatoes.
Should customers crave for Malay food, there is a reasonably wide variety of Malay delicacies such as Sup Tulang Rawan Kambing (mutton soup), Sotong Kangkung (squid with water spinach), Seafood Glass Noodle Salad, Fried Beancurd Salad and Keropok Ikan (fish crackers).
Moving on to desserts, Raisin Bread & Buttered Pudding is best enjoyed with vanilla sauce. I also find the Apple Strudel quite nice.
The desserts section offers a wide assortment of French pastries as well as Nyonya kuih. Pudding, mousse and jelly also serve to satisfy one's sugar craving.
For something more tropical, there is a ceramic pot of Pengat Pisang Sago. This sweet dessert made from ripe bananas and sago pearls in milky syrup. However, I feel that the sweetness level of this dessert should be toned down.
Other dishes included in the Friday Night Poolside BBQ are pasta, char koay teow (炒粿条), Nyonya curry mee, burgers, teppanyaki (鉄板焼き), cold cuts, salads and fruits. The buffet is priced at RM88.00 net per adult. Children (6-12 years) and senior citizens (60 years and above) enjoy 50% discount.

In conjunction with its 3rd year anniversary, The Royale Bintang is offering 50% discount on published room rates and à la carte meals in its restaurants. This discount is only applicable for the month of March 2017.

Ongoing deals at Sri Tanjung Cafe are Tanjung Set Lunch (12:00pm-2:30pm, Monday to Saturday), Saturday Night Hawker's Fare (7:00pm-10:00pm every Saturday) and Sunday High Tea (12:30pm-4:00pm every Sunday). Meanwhile at the adjacent Tea Room, Delightful English Afternoon Tea (2:00pm to 5:00pm daily) for two is priced at RM60.00 net and includes a pot of premium tea from TWG. All restaurants in The Royale Bintang are halal-certified.

Name: The Spice
Address: 1 & 2, Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-259-8888
Business hours: 7:00pm-11:00pm
Website: http://www.royalebintang-penang.com/dining
Coordinates: 5.41701 N, 100.34368 E
Directions: From the ferry terminal at George Town, turn right and drive along Weld Quay (Pengkalan Weld). The Royale Bintang Penang is located shortly on the left, at the same block as Made in Penang Interactive 3D Museum. There is a small lane right after the hotel, which leads to the main entrance and multi-level car park. At the front desk, restaurant patrons can get their parking tickets validated for a flat rate of RM5.00 per entry.

Black Kettle

Special thanks to Black Kettle for extending this food review invitation.

Black Kettle is located at the busy crossroads of Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) and Chulia Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Chulia). Since my previous visit, the restaurant's facade has been repainted yellow to commemorate the rebirth of Black Kettle.
Recently on board to reinvent Black Kettle is celebrity chef James Won. Chef James is the curator of Enfin By James Won, a fine dining French restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. With extensive culinary experience in several Michelin Star restaurants, Chef James has undertaken an extensive makeover of the menu.
The new Black Kettle specializes in French-European cuisine with occasional infusion of local flavors. Favoring quality over quantity, the new menu takes a simplified approach where food is entirely prepared from scratch. At the helm of the new kitchen is Chef Fabrizio Littera, a veteran in European culinary arts.
Soup Du Jour (RM14.00) is French for "Soup Of The Day". There are two types: Carrot Ginger Soup and Cauliflower Soup. The former is available today.
Meanwhile, the French Onion Soup (RM18.00) is made from chicken stock and onions. As per tradition, the top surface is gratinéed with croutons and cheese.
Black Kettle menu incorporates a number of vegetarian dishes such as salads. One such dish is the Garden Salad (RM12.00) - made from rocket salad, garden herbs, parsley and cherry tomatoes. Balsamic reduction and olive oil serve as dressing.
Alternatively, one can also try Grilled Vegetables (RM22.00). Besides having rocket salad, this dish comprises of grilled bell peppers, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes. A dash of balsamic reduction helps to helps to draw appetite.
The next dish is Caesar Salad (RM22.00), which is cleverly presented over individual sheets of romaine lettuce. The topping is a mixture of salted fish, egg, garlic and chopped parsley. Parmesan cream cheese, beef bacon and crouton crumbs are presented on the side.
There are several interesting entrées on Black Kettle's menu. An entrée is a dish which is customarily served before the main dish. It is important to note that in the United States, the word "entrée" refers to the main course itself.
Bread & Dip (RM12.00) is an entrée (non-American terminology) which features mushroom pâté and hummus. Both are made from scratch and are to be used as bread spread. Several slices of baguette, fresh from the bakery, are provided for this purpose.
Grilled Mackerel (RM12.00) is topped with chopped parsley, lavender and honey dressing. The appearance and taste are similar to carpaccio. Wild rocket and cherry tomatoes are served on the side.
If you have an affinity for shellfish, The Clam Pot should serve you well. The clams are cooked in rich broth that infused with white wine. While the clams are indeed fresh, I am more fascinated by the gratifying broth. This entrée is available in two sizes: 300 grams (RM18.00) and 600 grams (RM32.00).
Yet another vegetarian dish is Pasta Ala Pomodoro (RM19.00). This pasta takes full advantage of freshly made tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes. To improve flavor, the spaghetti is sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Optionally, the pasta can be enhanced with extra ingredients such as smoked salmon (RM8.00) and sautéed mushroom (RM5.00).
You cannot go wrong with Cream Of Mushroom Pasta (RM19.00). Three types of mushrooms are used here: shiitake, button and oyster mushrooms. The mushrooms are extremely fresh indeed. Blending seamlessly with creamy dressing, the pasta is one of my favorite dishes here.
Heh Bee Pasta (RM19.00) is a fusion dish that Chef James created to incorporate elements of Penang cuisine. Dried shrimps (虾米) impart appetizing aroma as soon as the dish hits the dining table. Another unconventional ingredient, cili padi (bird's eye chili), also helps to spice things up.
Baked Pasta (RM19.00) consists of interleaving layers of macaroni and sauce, giving it an unmistakable resemblance to lasagna. The dish is served with creamy marinara sauce and is best consumed while it is still warm.
I believe that most locals will be delighted to try the Baked Rice (RM19.00). Covering the rice are chicken breast and creamy mixture of béchamel sauce, mushroom, parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese. The rice's soft texture bears some resemblance to risotto.
Although, the Baked Rice carries mild pungency from peppercorn, you can up the ante by going for the spicy version.
The use of dory dish of carries negative connotation, but my prejudice is dispelled with this serving of Fish & Chips (RM19.00). According to Chef James, the secret lies with the breading. Taking advantage of fresh in-house bread, the chef uses bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese to produce the breading. I cannot recommend this dish highly enough.
Poisson En Papillote (RM25.00) means "fish in parchment". This is in reference to the way tilapia is cooked. The fillet is sealed in a paper pouch and baked. This method of cooking allows the fish be cooked by its own moisture, accentuating the tilapia's natural flavors. In addition, I am also very impressed with the lovely texture of baked potatoes.
Switching gear to poultry, the BK Chicken Chop (RM19.00) consists of a piece of deep-fried chicken thigh served with fresh tomato sauce, mushrooms, green peas, carrots and corn. The dish also includes a fried egg and baked potatoes.
Inspired by Provençal cuisine in southeastern France, Provencal Chicken (RM25.00) is served with ratatouille. Ratatouille refers to a traditional French recipe of stewed vegetables such as bell peppers and black olives. The dish also makes liberal use of shiitake and button mushrooms. Delectable wedges of baked potatoes are served on the side.
Meat-lovers may want to get their hands on the Lamb Shank (RM28.00). The lamb is braised gently such that the flesh turns soft. Flavored with tomato sauce, the lamb shank is pleasantly juicy and aromatic. Baked potato, carrot, celery, shallots and button mushrooms accompany the red meat.
The bakery section features a dozen types of bread that have been leavened by levain. Levain is the French term for flour that has been colonized by yeasts and bacteria. The levain culture used at Black Kettle is specially supplied by Chef James' renowned restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.

Champagne Loaf (RM16.00) is also known as French sourdough. The bread does not contain actual champagne; the name refers to the French phrase "pain de campagne", which means "country bread". Made from a mixture of wheat, rye and bread flours, the bread is extremely fresh and satisfying to my palate.
Flax Seed Cranberry Loaf (RM25.00) is dotted with flex seeds that provide grainy texture. Combined with fruitiness of cranberries, the bread can be eaten plain, or with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Éclair (RM4.20) is an oblong pastry that is filled with sweet custard (crème pâtissière) and is typically covered with frosting. The word "éclair" means "lightning" in French, presumably because this finger food is meant to be eaten quickly. There is also Passionfruit Éclair (RM4.20) which has icing sugar glazing. However, my personal preference goes to the original version.
As part of Black Kettle's rebranding campaign, the selection of coffee has also been revamped. Black Kettle Coffee is now supplied by Degayo. Operating its own coffee plantations in Indonesia, Degayo manages the entire processing pipeline from harvesting to packing. Exclusive to Black Kettle, the House Blend is a combination of Sumatran and Javanese beans.
Meanwhile, Degayo Natural Single Origin uses light-to-medium roast and has a distinctive berry-esque fruitiness. Drip brewing is recommended to truly appreciate the bean's characteristic flavor. Two types of coffee filter are available: paper and metal. The former absorbs essential oils to some degree, resulting in a clearer brew but not quite as aromatic as the latter.
Besides espresso-based drinks like Latte (RM10.00), Black Kettle also serves tea, juices, milkshakes and more. Alcoholic drinks will be introduced at a later date.
According to Black Kettle, the food menu will be expanded in phases over the next couple of months. Despite its emphasis on premium ingredients and fresh food preparation, Black Kettle maintains affordable pricing in order to appeal to a larger clientele. The proprietors also dropped hints that Black Kettle will be opening a new restaurant and boulangerie in adjacent shops later this year. The goal is to establish this section of Beach Street as an F&B and entertainment hub.

Name: Black Kettle
Address: 105, Lebuh Pantai, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-251-9270
Business hours: 10:00am-11:30pm (Sunday), 11:30am-11:30pm (Tuesday-Thursday), 11:30am-12:30am (Friday), 10:00am-12:30am (Saturday, public holiday), closed on Mondays
Website: http://www.blackkettle.com.my
Coordinates: 5.41539 N, 100.33977 E
Directions: Black Kettle is located at the intersection of Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) and Chulia Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Chulia). Street parking is available along both streets.