Gurney Bay

Special thanks to Gurney Bay for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

With a prominent appearance of a medieval castle with moat and drawbridge at the entrance, Gurney Bay Island Seafood (葛尼湾海鲜大排档) is the latest seafood restaurant in Penang's culinary scene. Built from the ground-up, this ambitious undertaking positions itself as the ultimate seafood haven in Penang. Although the restaurant has yet to be opened officially, I had the pleasure of visiting it during its soft opening.
In line with its emphasis on fresh seafood, Gurney Bay provides customers with scenic views of the Penang Strait. Every morning, fishing boats return from the sea with fresh stocks of fish and other maritime harvest.
The restaurant is stocked up with plenty of live seafood in its tens of seafood tanks, where customers have the pleasure of handpicking their respective choices.
The dining section of the restaurant is divided into two levels. As the largest seafood restaurant in town, Gurney Bay can accommodate up to 120 tables when fully opened. Tables are arranged in grid pattern and numbered accordingly to facilitate the flow of food. Meanwhile, air-conditioned VIP rooms are also available at no extra charge when customers spend at least RM300.00 on food.
For a restaurant of such scale, it is essential that the kitchen is able to handle the huge volume of orders. At one side of the massive kitchen are ten woks to prepare stir-fried dishes. At helm of Gurney Bay's kitchen is Chef Chang (张师傅), a veteran chef with decades of experience with prestigious restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.
Taking us on a culinary adventure, Chef Chang specially crafted the tonight's dishes to showcase his expertise. The appetizer is Shrimp Rolls With Century Egg & Mayonnaise (沙律皮蛋虾卷, RM24.00), which is presented in an artistic manner. On each spoon is a shrimp roll and a crispy leaf of amaranth (苋菜). Meanwhile, the center of the platter is garnished with fried ginger, seaweed and roasted peanuts.
Enveloped by egg omelette, the shrimp rolls are the main highlight of this appetizer. In addition to succulent shrimp, each roll also contains century egg (皮蛋), cucumber, ginger and mayonnaise. Meat floss (肉松) is placed on top for good measure. Every morsel of the shrimp rolls is delectable indeed.
The next delicacy is Steamed Red Snapper In Garlic Sauce (金银蒜蒸红狮, RM68.00), which is an excellent example of how garlic sauce can be put to good use. Although garlic plays the key role in the flavor department, the sauce is formulated in a manner which does not overpower the fish itself. Meanwhile, the red snapper has solid texture which takes full advantage of the lovely gravy.
Freshness of seafood is once again evident in this dish of Tiger Prawns With Maple Sauce & Mangoes (枫叶香芒明虾, RM30.00). Succulent shrimps are stir-fried with pleasant sweetness of maple barbecue sauce, which also gives them appealing glossy coating.
Tucked within the shell of each shrimp is juicy flesh of unparalleled freshness. Between crunchy bites is natural sweetness that is gratifying by any measure. Meanwhile, the tanginess of diced mangoes helps to prepare the palate before it makes contact with the shrimps.
As for poultry, Serdang-Style Bearded Chicken In Oyster Sauce (沙登蚝皇胡须鸡, RM48.00) is a Hainanese specialty from the Selangorean town of Serdang. Instead of regularly farmed chicken, "bearded chicken" (胡须鸡) is a special breed which originated from Huizhou (惠州), China. Known for its feathery neck and yellowish flesh, bearded chicken offers better flavor and substance than what regular chicken can provide.
To prepare this dish, the chicken is submerged in simmering meat stock for several hours. By subjecting chicken to prolonged heating, the flesh becomes tender and juicy. Meanwhile, the skin is kept intact as its soft texture is also appealing, both in visual and palate sense. Served with Chinese kale (芥兰), the half-bird chicken is flavored by thick oyster sauce. Garlic sauce is provided too.
Next to be served is Braised Mushrooms & Bean Curd (双菇烩豆根, RM18.00). Two types of mushrooms - shiitake mushrooms (香菇) and button mushrooms (蘑菇) - provide delectable meat-like savoriness in the presence of sweet gravy. Also enjoyable are pieces of delightfully flavored tofu skin (豆根). Meanwhile, bok choy (小白菜) is served on the side as counterbalance to savory vegetarian dish.
Moving on, Stir-Fried Vegetables With Crispy Lotus Roots (脆藕小炒皇, RM18.00) also took me by surprise. This dish consists of an assortment of vegetables such as asparagus, carrots, wood ear fungus (黑木耳), button mushrooms and almonds. Although there is hardly any gravy, most vegetables are able to contribute necessary juiciness to make this dish satisfying in the mouth.
Despite using unassuming ingredients, the chef demonstrates how simple vegetables can be put together to produce a wide variety of flavors. Another commendable aspect of this dish is the crispy slices of lotus root that provide pleasing mouthfeel.
Conch & Pork Rib Soup (螺头排骨汤, RM12.80) is served in individual servings but is also available in larger portions. Stewed for over 2 hours, the soup derives rich flavors from conch (螺, a type of sea snail with pointy spire) and pork ribs. The soup also contains a myriad of prized ingredients such as scallops (干贝), octopus, ham (火腿) and shiitake mushrooms just to name a few. As the soup is on the saltier side, it is best served before the meal.
For a restaurant of this scale, it is pretty much assumed that the beverage department has nearly every type of refreshment imaginable from juice to beer. Made from lime juice and pickled plum, Asam Boi (桔子酸梅) is an excellent choice to quench thirst after a satisfying meal.
According to the restaurant manager, Gurney Bay strives to target a wide range of affordability. Through economies of scale, the restaurant is able to offer affordable seafood at prices that resonate with the masses. Meanwhile for those who wish to splurge, Gurney Bay is in no shortage of exotic delicacies that marine kingdom has to offer.
Seafood meals are available from 11:00am to 12:00am daily. In the morning, the restaurant serves Cantonese style dim sum (粤式点心), which I look forward to during my next visit.

Name: Gurney Bay Island Seafood (葛尼湾海鲜大排档)
Address: 82, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-228-8168
Business hours: 6:00am-12:00am
Website: https://www.facebook.com/gurneybay
Coordinates: 5.42844 N, 100.32173 E
Directions: Gurney Bay Island Seafood is located on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, directly opposite of The Northam. There are plenty of parking spaces in front of the restaurant.

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