Garden Cafe

Special thanks to Golden Sands Resort for extending this food review invitation.

Golden Sands Resort is a 4-star resort within the same compound as Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa. Between the two properties, the former leans, to a greater degree, towards casual and family-friendly vacationing. For example, Golden Sands Resort has a modest-size water park next to the beach. Guests with children should find hotel amenities useful as their kids will be fully occupied throughout their stay.
There are two major restaurants at Golden Sands Resort: Garden Cafe and Sigi's Bar & Grill. The former's al fresco concept takes advantage of the cooling breeze from the sea. Buffet is served every evening at Garden Cafe, except on Sundays where it is moved to the beachside Sigi's. One of the latest menus is the Around The World Buffet Dinner that is held at Garden Cafe every Thursday from 6:00pm to 10:00pm.
As the name implies, the buffet covers a particularly diverse range of cuisines from various nations. For example, the soup choices are Minestrone Genovese and Szechuan Hot & Sour Soup. Freshly baked bread and rolls are provided to go with soups.
Marine delicacies are smoked salmon, large shrimps and mussels. Seafood is presented on ice to maintain freshness.
At the carvery, the main attraction is Roast Beef with flavorful spice rub and Yorkshire sauce. Meanwhile, Roasted Chicken is seasoned with rosemary grown in the resort's in-house spice and herb garden. Both meats are topped with grilled bell peppers and onion. Condiments include black pepper reduction and mushroom sauce.
Indian-Muslim cuisine plays an important role in shaping Malaysia's national identity. For example, Roti Canai is wildly popular among Malaysians from all walks of life. The same can be said for the Chicken Murtabak. As per tradition, these pan-fried street foods are accompanied by dhal (lentil gravy) and tamarind-infused fish curry.
As the largest ethnic community in Penang, the Chinese also contribute a fair share in today's buffet. Compared to many cultures, Chinese cooking tends to be milder in taste and focuses on well-rounded flavors. An example is Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables which is cooked with oyster sauce.
For a taste of local Penang cuisine, Char Koay Teow (炒粿条) is one of the state's specialties. This popular dish uses flat rice noodle and is stir-fried with garlic, shrimps, fishcake, bean sprouts, garlic chives, soy sauce and chili paste. Overall, the noodle is oilier than what I like to see.
Diners who prefer soup-based noodle can also indulge in another popular street food: Penang Curry Mee. Typically, a mixture of egg noodle and rice vermicelli (米粉) is used. Other ingredients provided are shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, yardlong beans, pea pods, fried shallot and chopped scallion.
Western cuisine is represented by Lasagna Al Forno and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Cordon bleu is made from rolled breast meat and cheese. The roulade is coated with bread crumbs and pan-fried to produce golden, crispy coating. This dish goes well with Rémoulade sauce.
Another section of the buffet is dedicated to pasta. Pasta choices are spaghetti, capelli d'angelo (angel hair), macaroni, fusilli and tagliatelle. There are different cooking styles: bolognese, napolitana, marinara, carbonara and pesto. In addition, thin-crust pizzas also make their appearances.
Moving on to the Middle East, Egyptian Grilled Shawarma is prepared using pita flatbread that is stuffed with chicken and other vegetable fillings. Chicken is roasted on a vertical rotating rotisserie with a heating element on the side. Thanks to its unique texture, the pita is tasty on its own.
One of my favorite sections of any buffet is the cheese platter, assuming there is one to begin with. Granted, the selection of cheese at Garden Cafe may not be as bountiful as Spice Market Café. But this does not deter me from sampling several pieces of fine cheese here.
Adjacent to the cheese platter is the salad bar where several types of ready-made salads are presented. Notable ones are Mussel & Smoked Salmon, Boiled Chat Potato, Lebanese Tabbouleh and Sicilian Pasta Salad.
Another prominent aspect of this evening's buffet is the pastry section. This section is presented with an attractive array of cakes, pies, tartlets, French pastries, pudding, mousse and strudel.
Echoing my remarks on Spice Market, the pastries at Garden Cafe are impressive in their own right. Besides having elaborate icing, the items are prepared from premium ingredients. Despite being served in a buffet setting, the quality of pastries here is well above the typical bakery shop.
One of my personal favorites at the pastry section is the Tiramisu. The soft custard of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, eggs, cocoa and mascarpone cheese are showered with fine cocoa powder.
As for something more cottage-style, Banana Bread & Butter Pudding is a good bet. The pudding is garnished with dried cranberries and almond chips, while vanilla sauce is provided on the side.
Last but not least, the desserts section features a colorful variety of fresh tropical fruits, namely pineapple, honeydew, papaya, red watermelon, yellow watermelon and jackfruit (nangka).
As part of Shangri La's family-friendly initiative, the buffet includes a Kids Corner where children-friendly meals are served. These include chicken nuggets, sausages, French fries, heart-shaped sandwiches, and spaghetti in tomato sauce.
Given that many children love chocolate, there is also chocolate fondue at the Kids Corner. Marshmallows on skewers are provided. Chocolate milk and orange juice are also available.
The Around The World Buffet Dinner is priced at RM98.00 net. There is no children price because kids under the age of 12 dine for free (limited to one child per paying adult). In addition, senior citizens enjoy 40% discount off the standard adult price.

Name: Garden Cafe
Address: Golden Sands Resort, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-886-1911
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/penang/goldensandsresort/dining/restaurants/garden-cafe
Coordinates: 5.47657 N, 100.25110 E
Directions: Driving from George Town and upon arriving Batu Ferringhi, Golden Sands Resort is located on the right at the first traffic junction. The main entrance to the hotel is located slightly after the junction. Garden Cafe is located on the west wing just beside the lobby.

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