The Eatery

This article is part of my Ramadan 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to Four Points By Sheraton Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Four Points By Sheraton Penang is a 4-star hotel along the main road between Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah. Operating since 2013, this 220-room hotel was refurbished from the former Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel. Four Points is an upscale brand under Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which also manages Macalister Mansion albeit under a different brand. Since 2016, Marriott International has acquired Starwood, making it the largest hotel chain in the world.
Taking advantage of its adjacency to the beach, Four Points has an al fresco reception to capture the soothing breeze from the sea. There are two eateries in this hotel: Best Brew and The Eatery. The Eatery is the all-day dining restaurant where hotel guests are served breakfast.
For the entire month of Ramadan starting today, The Eatery serves the "Tales of the Arabian Nights" Ramadan buffet dinner. As the theme implies, the menu features Middle-Eastern cuisine as well as several Mediterranean dishes. In addition, the buffet spread also includes authentic Malay cooking and local Penang street food.
Ulam-Ulaman (raw vegetables) are an essential element of iftar meals. Vegetable choices include ulam raja (king's salad), terung pipit (pea eggplant), daun selom (selom leaves), jantung pisang (banana flower) and kacang panjang (yardlong beans). Accompanying condiments are sambal belacan, air asam, acar rampai and kicap bercili.
The restaurant has prepared a decent variety of kerabu (Malay salad) this evening. Popular ones are Kerabu Sotong Limau Bali (squid & pomelo salad), Kerabu Mangga Muda (unripe mango salad) and Kacang Botol Dada Ayam Carik (winged beans with shredded chicken breast). Ikan masin (salted fish) and telur masin (salted egg) are also present.
During Middle-Eastern meals, meze (مقبلات‎‎) are small portions of food that are typically served before the main dishes. One such meze dish is Hummus (حُمُّص‎‎), which often serves as dipping sauce for pita bread. Hummus is primarily made from mashed chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame seed) and olive oil.
Another dipping sauce, Baba Ghanoush (بابا غنوج‎‎), is made from eggplants (brinjal), tahini and olive oil. Meanwhile, Fattoush (فتوش‎‎) is a salad mixture of toasted pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, black olives and onions. Olive oil and lemon juice typically serve as dressing.
Next, Tabbouleh (تبولة‎‎) comprises of bulgur (durum wheat) and finely chopped tomatoes, onion, parsley and mint. This vegetarian appetizer is seasoned with salt, olive oil and lemon juice.
Shamandar Salad consists of beetroot, almond flakes, orange, onions and parsley. By the way, the Arabic word "shamandar" (شمندر) means "beetroot".
Kabsa Dajaj (كبسة‎‎ دجاج) is a rice dish using long-grain basmati rice. Besides chicken, rice is also seasoned with a mixture of spices such as saffron, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. Kabsa is considered a national dish of Saudi Arabia and is also widespread in other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
Chorba (çorba) is a lamb stew of Turkish recipe. Unfortunately, I feel that the lamb stew is way too salty for me. I am not sure whether this is how this stew is supposed to taste.
For something milder on the palate, try the Chermoula Baked Sea Bass. Chermoula (شرمولة‎‎) is a North African spice marinade that is regularly used to season fish in this manner.
Moussaka (مسقعة‎‎) is a generic name for an eggplant-and-tomato dish. The actual recipe for moussaka varies from place to place. This Turkish version is served with minced meat.
Moving to Lebanon, kofta (كفته) is a traditional meatloaf dish. Lamb Kofta Pizza employs strong flavor of lamb to bring a unique taste to pizza.
Returning to Malay cuisine, Sup Ekor Berempah (spiced oxtail soup) has rich flavors as the soup is stewed with oxtail and spices for several hours. Oxtail pieces are quite fatty, so avoid eating them unless you fancy greasiness.
There are baskets of multigrain bread and bread rolls to go with soup.
Daging Batang Pinang Tok Mamak (beef tenderloin curry) is one of the signature dishes here. The gravy is very creamy due to a copious amount of coconut milk.
Puyuh Goreng Berempah (spicy fried quail) is coated with an aromatic spice mix and is deep-fried to golden perfection. Quail's meat has similar texture to chicken.
Ayam Kalio (chicken curry) is a curry dish where coconut milk plays an important role in the overall taste. Kalio is sometimes known as wet rendang because it contains more gravy than traditional rendang.
As for seafood, try the Ikan Tenggiri Goreng Masak Acar (fried mackerel with sour sauce). Slices of mackerel are dressed in red sauce made from chili and tamarind. The fish is garnished with chopped onions and scallion.
One of my favorite dishes is Terung Sambal Udang Kering (eggplant with spicy shrimp paste). This recipe takes advantage of juicy eggplants while allowing shrimp paste to do the heavy lifting.
Located outdoors are several action stalls including a charcoal-fired barbecue grill. Shish Kebab (şiş kebap) is the most attractive item here. Marinated lamb is skewered with bell peppers and onions, and then cooked over burning charcoal to impart a sense of toastiness. Shish Kebab is basted with ghee (clarified butter) while the meat is being cooked.
Also available at the barbecue grill are grilled shrimps and sausages.
There is an array of condiments to go with grilled food. Black pepper sauce is reasonably good but I feel that peppercorn should play a larger role. Raita (made from yogurt) and mint sauce are also available.
Satay is also prepared today. Chicken or beef is first marinated with spices such as turmeric. Then, the meat is skewered and barbecued over charcoal fire.
Satay is typically enjoyed with spicy peanut sauce, nasi impit (pressed rice), cucumber and onions.
Another action stall serves Char Koew Teow Penang (槟城炒粿条). This local Penang dish consists of flat rice noodle that is stir-fried with shrimps, fishcake, eggs, bean sprouts, garlic chives, garlic, chili paste, special sauce and cooking oil. I am pleased with the large and fresh shrimps. Although the overall "fiery aroma" (镬气) is good, I feel that noodle needs to be "stirred" more thoroughly so that seasoning is applied more evenly.
Ramadan dinners are never without plenty of sweet Malay kuih. Today's lineup are Cucur Badak, Kuih Talam, Kuih Koci and Onde-Onde. Meanwhile, dodol is a sticky candy made from rice flour, coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). Dodol is sometimes flavored with durian.
Apple Crumble Tart has sweet topping made from apples, oats, cinnamon flour and butter. This pastry is quite appealing but it is rather filling.
Served in small cups, Crème Caramel comprises of vanilla custard and a layer of soft caramel on top. Crème Caramel is quite similar to Crème Brûlée, except that the latter is covered with hard, transparent caramel.
Chocolate Brownies are presented in bite-size portions. The rich chocolatey taste complements well with crunchy walnuts.
Pandan Custard Cake is also prepared in small servings. Chocolate cake forms the base while the softer layer above is dyed with pandan extract.
Proceeding to Middle-Eastern treats, Baklava (بقلاوة) is made from multiple thin layers of unleavened dough filled with walnuts in between. The pastry is sweetened with honey. This Turkish recipe was originally served in the imperial palace of the Ottoman Empire.

Hailing from Egypt, Basbousa (بسبوسة‎‎) is another sweet pastry made primarily from semolina. Basbousa is quite popular throughout the Middle East.
Meaning "custard" in Turkish, Muhallebi is a creamy pudding made from rice flour, milk and syrup. Other desserts that are also served in small cups are Sago Gula Melaka (sago pearls in palm sugar) and Pudding Jagung (corn pudding).
Diners may enjoy an endless flow of drinks such as sirap bandung (rose-flavored evaporated milk), cincau (grass jelly), orange juice, pink guava juice and chrysanthemum tea. The drinks are kept chilled on a bed of ice.
Biji selasih (basil seeds) and grass jelly are provided to go with certain drinks. When basil seeds come in contact with water, they expand to form a translucent layer around the core. This results in an appearance similar to frog eggs.
Four Point's Ramadan buffet dinner is offered from 27 May 2017 to 24 June 2017. The price is RM54.00+ per adult and RM30.00+ per child or senior citizen. Children under the age of 6 dine for free. Also important to note is that The Eatery is a halal-certified restaurant.

Name: The Eatery
Address: 505, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-371-8706
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Website: http://www.fourpointspenang.com/eatery
Coordinates: 5.46372 N, 100.30193 E
Directions: Four Points By Sheraton Penang is located along the main road between Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah. Driving from Tanjung Tokong, turn right at the traffic lights when you reach the hotel. Parking spaces in front of the hotel are extremely limited. Valet service is provided to assist with parking.

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