Umi

Special thanks to Lexis Suites Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Although the northern beaches of Penang Island are more popular among tourists, the southern coastline carries its unique sense of charm. Located at the heart of Teluk Kumbar town is Lexis Suites Penang, a 30-floor skyscraper which stands imposingly in this pristine fishing village.
Designed by award-winning architects, the hotel makes heavy use of marble especially in the lobby. Elaborate chandeliers hang from the ceiling of the large atrium, adding prestige to the already-impressive appearance.
Each of the 222 rooms in Lexis Suites Penang is owned by individual investors. The rooms are leased back to the hotel management on time-share basis. The rooms come in either of 2 sizes: Premium Pool Suite (968 square feet) and Executive Pool Suite (875 square feet).
Each hotel room has 2 King-size beds, therefore can comfortably accommodate 4 people. Covering a third of available floor space, the spacious bathroom is equipped with separate sections for bathtub, shower, water closet and wash basin. Such luxury is almost unheard of in this rural countryside.
Many of the hotel rooms have sea-facing balconies that provide excellent view of the Straits of Malacca. Sparing no expense in comfort, each balcony is furnished with a private dipping pool as well as a steam bath.
In-room amenities include flat-screen television with in-house programming, free Wi-Fi access and complimentary mini-bar which is replenished daily. Given the large room size and unparalleled level of lavishness, Lexis Suites Penang is an affordable vacationing getaway for the family.
After an exhausting day exploring the immediate vicinity, guests can cool off by taking a dip in the hotel's swimming pool. Located on Level 8, this is where most hotel facilities are located.
The fitness center is also well-equipped with a respectable range of exercise equipment. To keep the gym exclusive for guests, the hotel does not offer gym membership to outsiders.
As for entertainment, Lexis Suites Penang has a Sky Lite Bar at the rooftop, karaoke rooms and spa treatment. Guests with small children may take advantage of an in-house daycare center.
As for dining, the hotel offers two main eateries: Roselle and Umi. Roselle is located on the Mezzanine Floor and serves continental-style cuisine. On the hotel hand, Umi Japanese Restaurant (海) provides more exotic dining experience with its expanding menu of Japanese dishes.
At the helm of the Japanese kitchen is Chef Eric, who is also responsible to craft the restaurant's menu. Located in a fishing village, seafood is naturally the main theme in the food menu.
Umi is only open for around 1 month, therefore its menu is still evolving as Chef Eric expands his kitchen capabilities. The food here is entirely pork-free.
Diners can also order from the bento (弁当) menu in order to sample different ingredients in a single seating.
For example, one bento set consists of teriyaki chicken, tempura, sashimi, chawanmushi, miso soup, rice, salad and fruits.
The teriyaki chicken (照り焼きチキン) is flavored with delightful sweetness from teriyaki sauce. The attractive glaze on the meat is certainly welcoming to my appetite.
For something crispy, there are pieces of tempura (天麩羅) made from shrimps and sweet potato. I like how the crispy batter coating interacts with the mouth. On the side is a saucer of tentsuyu (天つゆ) as dipping sauce.
The ubiquitous salmon sashimi (サーモン刺身) is an essential aspect of most bento meals. The lovely slices of raw salmon are accompanied by wasabi (山葵) and pickles (漬物).
Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し) is essentially steamed egg custard with several ingredients such as mushroom and ginkgo nuts. The egg custard is reasonably delectable thanks to its delicate texture.
Zosui (雑炊, RM17.00) is a Japanese-style rice soup that is quite similar to porridge. Rice is first steamed until cooked, then boiled with other ingredients such as chicken, egg, mushroom, carrot and scallion in a watery mixture.
Unlike regular porridge, the rice grains in Zosui are still intact. Although this dish is often associated to food for the sickly, Zosui is also enjoyed by mainstream diners who prefer less intensive flavoring.
Customers can also add a douse of chili oil (ラー油) to spice things up. Nevertheless, I still prefer to enjoy this dish as it is. According to Japanese dining etiquette, it is considered disrespectful to add condiments to a served dish because such act implies that the chef did not do a great job in the preparation of food.
From the menrui (麺類) section of the menu, Oden Udon (おでんうどん) is one of the mainstream options. Served in light clear soup, the udon noodles are accompanied by shiitake mushrooms (椎茸), stewed fish cakes (おでん) and narutomaki (鳴門まき).
As for drinks, green tea (お茶) is usually my personal choice with any Japanese meal. Served in a traditional teapot, the tea is kept warm by burning Sterno (jellied fuel) underneath.
Besides food, Umi Japanese Restaurant also has a fine range of sake (酒), house wine and beer.
Umi provides 4 private dining rooms for guests who require some privacy. The low tables provide more traditional setting for Japanese dining.
Name: Umi Japanese Restaurant (海)
Address: 28, Jalan Teluk Kumbar, 11920 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-628-2888
Business hours: 11:00am-2:00pm, 6:00pm-11:00pm, closed on Mondays
Website: http://www.lexissuitespenang.com/dining/overview/japanese-restaurant
Coordinates: 5.28709 N, 100.23254 E
Directions: From Bayan Lepas, drive along Jalan Teluk Kumbar towards the intersection with Jalan Gertak Sanggul. Lexis Suites Penang is the tall building on the left just before the intersection. As the only building more than 3 floors in Teluk Kumbar, it is impossible to overlook this hotel. Umi Japanese Restaurant is located on the Ground Floor, just next to the lobby atrium.

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