Main Street Cafe

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

Located at Penang Road (Jalan Penang), Cititel Penang is positioned near many tourist spots in George Town. This 16-floor building has 451 hotel rooms of various sizes. As a four-star hotel, Cititel Penang commands a respectable level of prestige from the moment I step into the lobby.
Located on the Ground Floor and at the end of a long hallway, Main Street Cafe is the sole restaurant which is operated by the hotel itself. On the other hand, Zhonghua Gourmet (中华海鲜鱼翅) and Kirishima (霧島) are tenant restaurants that serve Chinese and Japanese cuisine respectively.
Main Street Cafe is open 24 hours daily and serves local and Western cooking. The à la carte menu is available around the clock. In addition, buffet dinner is provided every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. The theme of the buffet changes daily: Japanese & Italian Buffet on Fridays, Japanese & Western Buffet on Saturdays, Japanese & Thai Buffet on Sundays. The net price for dinner buffet is RM79.00 per adult, RM40.00 per child, RM52.00 per senior citizen.
Cooked main dishes are the backbone of any buffet (at least in Malaysia), so this is where I start. The Roasted Beef Tenderloin features thinly-sliced portions of beef with blue cheese dressing.
Another red meat dish prepared tonight is the Lamb Stew. Here, small slices of lamb are stewed with bell peppers and olives for more balanced enjoyment.
As for poultry, Chicken Teppanyaki (チキンの鉄板焼き) consists of grilled chicken chunks with bell peppers, mushroom, bean sprouts, carrot shreds and sesame seeds. Overall, I feel that the chicken is not as flavorful as I expected. I think more seasoning is required.
Another Japanese dish is Grilled Salmon Teriyaki (鮭の照り焼き). Unlike the previous dish, the salmon is grilled very nicely. The salmon flesh still retains some juicy sweetness, much to my delight.
Moving back to Italian cooking, we have a dish of Baked Polenta With Ratatouille. Polenta is made by boiling cornmeal into thick paste, then made into bite-size pieces. Stewed vegetable (ratatouille niçoise) is added on top and the entire dish is given a nice bake.
As for staple food, Yaki Meshi (焼き飯) is fried rice à la Japanese style. Short-grain rice is used because its waxy texture gives better mouthfeel. Rice is wok-fried with shrimp and beaten eggs, then garnished with scallion (spring onion) and fried garlic. This dish is sometimes called chahan (チャーハン) in other restaurants.
Meanwhile, Yaki Udon (焼うどん) is stir-fried Japanese noodle with shrimp, egg, cabbage and bell peppers. This dish is flavored with teriyaki (照り焼き) sauce and garnished with chopped scallion.
My next destination is the cold-served seafood station, where raw and cooked dishes are chilled over a tray of ice. Today's seafood are cooked shrimps, cooked mussels, cooked scallops and raw oysters. Fresh lemon is provided because lemon juice helps to suppress the raw odor of seafood.
The shrimps are particularly fresh and very succulent. I like the crunchy texture as I sink my teeth into them.
Mussels are also another interesting choice, although I usually focus on scallops and oysters due to scarcity of the latter two types of shellfish.
Meanwhile, assorted sashimi (刺身) is also available upon request. Sashimi choices provided here at Main Street Cafe are salmon (サーモン), tuna (マグロ) and butterfish (白マグロ). Sashimi is not prepared upfront, but is only cut from the fillet when requested.
Other Japanese delicacies are Seasoned Jellyfish (中華クラゲ) and Crabstick (カニカマ). These items are also served cold.
Moving to the pasta counter, there are three different types of pasta to choose from: spaghetti, penne and linguine.
As for sauces, chicken bolognese and tomato coulis (tomato purée) are prepared tonight.
Alternatively, guests can also opt for aglio e olio for spicier choice, or creamy carbonara for richer flavor. My choice of Carbonara Linguine is prepared using olive oil, egg yolks, Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), smoked chicken and black olives.
Conchiglie (shell-shaped pasta) and black spaghetti are also displayed, but I am not sure whether they are also available for cooking.
The sushi section features a decent assortment of sushi (寿司), which are mostly maki (巻き), nigiri (握り) and gunkan (軍艦) variants.
Personally I prefer to skip sushi unless there are exotic ingredients like soft-shell crab (ワタリガニ) or sea urchin (ウニ). The saving grace is a nigiri sushi with unagi (鰻, freshwater eel) topping, which is decently well-flavored.
Grilled Shishamo (焼き柳葉魚) is a prized delicacy in Japan due to its succulent roe in the belly. The Japanese name of this fish literally means "willow leaf fish", in reference to its elongated body structure which resembles a willow leaf.
There are also a decent assortment of tempura (天麩羅) to choose from. Seafood and vegetables are battered over, then deep-fried in hot oil for a brief duration for a scrumptious layer of crisp. Tempura ingredients used tonight are shrimp, crabstick (カニカマ), sweet potato, eggplant (brinjal or aubergine) and okra (lady's finger).
Another finger food (though chopsticks are preferred) is Gyoza (ギョーザ), which is the Japanese version of the Chinese jiaozi (饺子). Ginger soy sauce is provided as dip.
Oden (おでん) is a traditional winter dish where various ingredients are stewed in soy-flavored broth. At Main Street Cafe, examples of ingredients used for Oden are bean curd (厚揚げ), narutomaki (鳴門巻き) and chikuwa (竹輪). In Japan, this dish is so popular that there are vending machines selling Oden!
Kept warm in a steamer, Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) is a Japanese egg custard dish cooked in a teacup-sized bowl, which aptly explains its Japanese name. In my opinion, I prefer more ingredients in the egg custard, such as enoki mushrooms (榎茸) and ginkgo nuts (ギンナン).
Meanwhile, the Chicken & Mushroom Pot Pie is also prepared in a cup and kept warm before consumption. Pie fillings, primarily stewed chicken and mushroom, are covered in pastry crust before being baked. I feel that the pie is quite hollow and the use of a ceramic cup is a waste of delicious pastry. I think a two-crust pie works better here.
There are two types of soup tonight. The Japanese version is, not surprisingly, Miso Soup (味噌汁). What's surprising is the fact that it is cooked with salmon head and other unused sections of the fish. Although this is a pleasant surprise, I hold the opinion that the inclusion of eye balls is out of place in this soup. As for taste, the soup is too salty for my comfort.
Meanwhile, the Italian-style Minestrone Soup is made from various vegetables such as beans and onions. Macaroni pasta is also used in this dish. Overall, the soup is also too salty for me too, albeit slightly better than the previous one. I believe this is because some amount of water has boiled away by the time I take a scoop from the pot.
There are a small selection of freshly baked bread to go with the soup. However, I skipped these in favor of other more appealing dishes.
At the salad bar, there is a reasonable platter of raw vegetables for guests to make their own salad. Salad dressing provided are Thousand Island, Caesar, mustard vinaigrette and chili lime vinaigrette.
For ready-made salads, the Pasta Salad is a popular choice. Penne pasta is cooked al dente and the mixed with bell peppers, black olives and onions in creamy dressing.
For something greener, the Japanese Spinach Salad is also available. Sesame dressing (ごまドレッシング) is used for this salad.
The next salad dish is Chicken Kerabu, where boiled chicken is tossed with various raw vegetables such as bell peppers, onions and celery.
As for the Cucumber Salad, it is mixed with cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, cloves and onions.
In case pickle is your cup of tea, there are 15 different kinds to choose from.
Moving on to desserts, the Swiss Roll Cake is a sponge cake with fluffy texture similar to Swiss rolls, but made in the traditional shape of a birthday cake. This cake is quite fruity in flavor, and is topped with lemon jelly, cherries, grapes, kiwi fruits and orange slices.
Meanwhile, the Green Tea Cheese Cake is lightly flavored with matcha (抹茶) or green tea extract. This marble cheese cake is then topped with honey nut bars and several types of fruit for aesthetic appeal.
Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored cake with ladyfingers on the side. I personally prefer tiramisu cakes with stronger coffee flavor.
The lovely-scented Cinnamon Cake has rougher texture akin to cookie crust. It is topped with cherries, orange slices and several pieces of pitaya (dragon fruit).
The next dessert is Coconut Pie, which is rich in grated coconut flesh and very filling even for a single slice. At this point of time, you want to take fractional sizes in order to have stomach space for other desserts.
For something quick and easy, Chocolate Brownies are cut into bite-size cubes. This is the ideal dessert to satisfy your chocolate craving.
A tray of Bread Butter Pudding is also available. This warm dessert is made from white bread which is baked with milk, eggs, honey, butter, raisins and cinnamon. Vanilla sauce is also provided with this dish.
Next, the Green Tea Mousse is served in a shot glass and has creamy consistency. Matcha extract is used for flavoring.
As for Panna Cotta, I personally do not fancy custards that have been left exposed for some time. The surface becomes dry and unpalatable in my opinion. Once again, I prefer it to be taken fresh from the chiller.
Dorayaki (銅鑼焼き) is a Japanese pancake with azuki red bean paste as filling. This snack was popularized by the manga character Doraemon (ドラえもん), whose favorite snack is dorayaki. For the dorayaki here, I feel that it is slightly dry due to exposure to ambient air for some time. I think it is better to keep it in an enclosed tray or to make it fresh when requested.
Daifukumochi (大福餅) is another Japanese sweet delicacy to be featured tonight. Each piece is made from glutinous rice with sweet bean paste filling of different flavor, such as azuki bean or green tea. Daifukumochi is often associated with auspicious occasions in Japanese culture.
To conclude the meal, Ice Kacang and ice cream are provided for guests to enjoy. Different types of ingredients, toppings and syrups are provided so that each diner can customize his or her own creation.
As for drinks, there is a sophisticated espresso machine to prepare one's daily dosage of caffeine. Just press a button and wait for one minute for a hot cup of cappuccino to be ready.
Other choices of beverage are Japanese iced green tea and nutmeg juice with sour plum.
Apart from dinner, Main Street Cafe also serves Weekend Buffet Lunch between 12:00pm and 3:00pm on weekends. The net price is RM52.00 per adult, RM27.00 per child, RM35.00 per senior citizen. For night-time patrons, Porridge Buffet Supper is available between 10:30pm and 2:00am on Friday and Saturday evenings. The supper features Teochew porridges, dim sum and tongshui (糖水, Cantonese sweet desserts) and is priced at RM22.00 net per person.
For the month of June 2015, each paying adult of the buffet dinner is rewarded with a voucher for the Porridge Buffet Supper. The voucher is valid for two month from date of issue. Hurry up and take advantage of this "1+1" promotion before the offer is over!
Name: Main Street Cafe
Address: 66, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-291-1128
Business hours: 24 hours
Website: http://www.cititelpenang.com/dining-en.html
Coordinates: 5.42158 N, 100.33244 E
Directions: Cititel Penang is an imposing 16-floor building at Penang Road (Jalan Penang). To park, drive pass the lobby and climb up the ramp to Level 2. Parking is charged at RM4.00 per entry.

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