The Cafe

Special thanks to Georgetown City Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

In the spirit of buka puasa tradition during the holy month of Ramadan, The Cafe at Georgetown City Hotel is hosting a Ramadan Al-Mubarak Buffet. During this period, the International Buffet Dinner on weekends and Oriental Buffet on Fridays are temporarily suspended until after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
This dinner buffet is crafted as a composite of traditional kampung-style Malay delicacies with more contemporary multi-ethnic dishes. The buffet runs from 22 June 2015 to 14 July 2015.
Muslims devotees customarily break fast by taking several pieces of kurma first. This is then followed by Maghrib prayers and a proper meal. While most hotel restaurants only offer one type of kurma, The Cafe provides three types: tamar from China, rotab from Iran, and kenta from Tunisia.
As for the proper meal, Sup Ayam Berempah (Spiced Chicken Soup) is a quick way to satiate hunger after fasting for an entire day. This chicken soup is quite satisfying as its saltiness appeals to a hungry palate.
Meanwhile, Bubur Lambuk (Malay Porridge) is not a bad choice either. This porridge is usually served during Ramadan in communal settings. Its rice grains have been mashed thoroughly such that the congee has nearly homogenous consistency.
The live action counter presents an attractive assortment of fresh seafood. Guests simply pick their favorite choices and hand over to the staff who will handle the grilling.
My foremost choice is the delectable catfish (ikan keli), which is quite bony but tasty nevertheless. Other fish provided are mackerel (ikan kembung) and stingray (ikan pari).
The shrimps are also quite attractive since they are quite fresh. It is quite enjoyable to munch on its sweet, juicy flesh. Squid and mussels are not bad of a choice either.
Air asam (tamarind sauce) is provided as dipping sauce for grilled seafood. The combination of sour and spicy flavors of the sauce serve to accentuate the taste these marine creatures.
Guests who enjoy Curry Mee will find the coconut-rich curry to be very satisfying. The bright red curry is littered with fried bean curd (豆腐卜).
As for noodles, yellow noodles (黄面) and rice vermicelli (米粉) are both available. Personally, I prefer to use a mixture of both types. Other ingredients on the line are fish balls, boiled egg, chopped lettuce, bean sprouts, chili paste, fried onion and chopped scallion.
Today, Indian comfort food is represented by Chicken Murtabak. These delicacies are filled with seasoned minced chicken, then grilled on an iron griddle until the dough is cooked. Dhal (lentil curry) and pickled ginger are provided as condiments.
Moving to mainstream dishes, Daging Rendang Kampung (Malay Spicy Beef) is recommended as the beef is nicely marinated.
For poultry, there is Grilled Chicken Glazed With Mushroom Sauce. While the gravy is acceptable in flavor, I feel that the chicken should be cut into smaller pieces for the gravy to maximize its appeal.
Udang Baktia (Baktia Shrimp) is essentially stir-fried shrimps in spicy sauce. Personally, this is the first time that I have heard of this dish name.
Squid is another marine denizen that made its way to the next dish: Stir-Fried Squid With Dried Chili. The sweet-savory sauce works well with succulent pieces of squid.
Underneath the bubu (traditional Malay fish trap) are a number of exotic Malay delicacies, such as kerabu (salad), ulam (raw vegetables), sambal (sauces) and jeruk (pickled vegetables).
One of the better kerabu dish is Kerabu Sotong (Squid Salad), at least in my opinion. Crunchy strips of cooked squid are flavored with various local spices to create this appetizing delicacy.
For ulam, the choices are not as plentiful as other hotel restaurants. Raw vegetables tonight are daun selasih (Asiatic pennywort leaves), daun selom (selom leaves), daun kaduk (wild betel leaves) and petai (stink beans).
Raw vegetables are typically eaten with sambal for more appealing taste. Sauces available here are budu (fermented anchovies), sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), cincalok (fermented shrimps), kicap cili padi (bird's eye chili sauce), acar rampai (pickled cucumber and carrot) and air asam (tamarind sauce).
On the other side of the rattan fish trap are a handful of salad dishes - both prepared and do-it-yourself salads.
In particular, the Pasta Salad is worth trying. Cooked linguine is mixed with cooked shrimps, a sprinkle of grated cheese, and parsley as garnish.
As for Malay kuih, the number of choices is not as plentiful as Vistana's Ramadan buffet. Nevertheless, the handful of kuih varieties is sufficient to give a general insight to traditional Malay pastries.
Lemang is made from glutinous rice, coconut milk and salt - mixed and cooked in hollowed bamboo over bonfire. Banana leaves are used as inner lining of bamboo to allow easier removal of cooked rice.
Puteri ayu is a commonly found in Ramadan bazaar because it is relatively easy to prepare. To prepare this cake, pandan-flavored batter is poured into cupcake mold and then steamed.
Meanwhile, kuih seri muka consists of two layers. The white section is made from glutinous rice, while the custard-like green layer is made from pandan juice, egg, coconut milk and sugar.
As for contemporary-style pastry, the Strawberry Mousse Cake is the most popular as it depletes quickly.
It is difficult not to overlook the attractive presentation of Strawberry Jelly. The base of this custard is laden with basil seeds, while kiwi slices are arranged in spiral pattern on top.
Last but not least, Ais Kacang is the perfect way to conclude a meal. Choose from a variety of ingredients such as attap chee (fruit of nipa palm), nutmeg, red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, raisins and peanuts. The staff helps with shaved ice, evaporated milk, gula melaka (palm sugar) and rose syrup.
It is my unwritten rule to top the shaved ice with a scoop of ice cream. There are six ice cream flavors to choose from. Why choose when you can have all six?
The Cafe's Ramadan buffet dinner is priced at RM50.00 net per adult, and RM38.00 net per child or senior citizen. There are seven rotating sets of menu, so guests should find different dishes from day to day. Every diner is entitled to a raffle which will be drawn at the end of Ramadan. The price is a free hotel stay in one of Berjaya's hotels.
Name: The Cafe
Address: Georgetown City Hotel, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-220-7373
Business hours: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Website: http://www.georgetowncityhotel.com/en/dining
Coordinates: 5.43301 N, 100.30679 E
Directions: Georgetown City Hotel is adjacent to Midlands 1-Stop. The Cafe is located towards the right from the main entrance. There are ample of parking spaces at the basement. Diners at The Cafe can get their parking ticket validated for flat parking rate of RM3.00 for 3 hours.

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