This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

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

Located at the Mezzanine Floor, Roselle Coffee House is one of the two restaurants in Lexis Suites Penang; the other is Umi Japanese Restaurant. This evening, the hotel offers a sneak peek of its upcoming Ramadan buffet dinner. The theme this year is "Sajian Laut, Selera Kampung Nelayan" (Seafood Dishes & Taste of the Fishing Village).
As per tradition, Lexis Suites spares no expense in celebrating the holy month. In this generous spirit, the hotel features Kambing Golek Beratur Panjang as the centerpiece of the buffet. The rotisserie goat, marinated thoroughly, is roasted on a spit to retain its natural juices. The mutton goes well with briyani rice. Should diners prefer white meat instead, Chicken Shawarma is also available.
The next dish is one that imparts fiery sensation on the tongue: Gulai Udang Karang Kawah Abang Hari. It is cooked and served in a gigantic wok called "kawah". Besides the spiny lobster which is so prominently displayed, the wok also contains crayfish and shrimps. The pungent aroma of the curry is tantalizing indeed.
Mee Kari Ketam has been popularized in Klang Valley by a food stall in Shah Alam. Blue crabs are used in this dish. The Penang-style curry is prepared from chicken stock, making its appearance and taste quite similar to Penang Curry Mee. Other ingredients used in this dish are yellow noodle (mee), rice vermicelli (bihun), tofu puffs, yardlong beans, bean sprouts, mint and chili paste.
Rendang is a Minangkabau delicacy that is prized for its immense savoriness. The dish is prepared by slow cooking beef with coconut milk and spices. The cooking process can take hours. The dish is done only when most liquid has boiled away. Lexis Suites' Beef Rendang Dendang Sayang is garnished with red chili peppers and cardamom.
Ikan Tenggiri Gulai Kampung is another cooking which illustrates the extensive use of spices in Malay cuisine. Amid pungent spiciness on the tongue, the fish curry also produces mild sourness of tamarind (asam). Besides mackerel, the dish also includes juicy pieces of okra (lady's fingers).
As for poultry, Negeri Sembilan Ayam Percik Serai Wangi is a sound choice this evening. The roasted chicken is dressed in a thick sauce that contains lemongrass. Meanwhile, fried shallots on top serve to enhance the chicken's aroma.
Sweet & Sour Fish comprises of fillets that are deep-fried to a golden crisp. The choice of fish is red snapper. While the fish is mild in flavor, it goes pretty well with sweet and sour sauce.
Ketam Masak Lemak is cooked in creamy yellow gravy. The yellow color comes from turmeric (kunyit). Blue crabs are used here. Most of the crabs' meat is hidden within their claws.
Sayur Lodeh is a vegetable soup that hails from Jawa. The soup is quite creamy, thanks to the abundance of coconut milk. Also included in it are lontong (compressed rice cakes), tofu, cauliflowers and carrots.
Ketupat Palas (rice dumplings), Pulut Kuning (yellow glutinous rice) and Nasi Impit (compressed rice) are all kept warm in steamers. These rice items are best enjoyed with serunding (meat floss) and satay (skewered meat).
Lekor is a popular finger food in Terengganu. Made from ground fish and sago flour, the snack is deep-fried to result in a chewy texture. Lekor can be enjoyed as it is, or dipped into sweet chili sauce. Other fried snacks in today's buffet include keropok udang (prawn crackers) and pisang goreng (banana fritters).
Ulaman is a collection of vegetables that are traditionally eaten raw. The raw vegetables are frequently paired with powerful condiments like sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste). If raw vegetables do not appeal to your palate, try some kerabu (Malay salads) or jeruk (pickles) instead.
Traditional Malay kuih is a vital component of iftar meals. Kuih talam, kuih lapis, puteri ayu, pulut tai tai, ketayap and onde-onde are just some of the interesting choices this evening. Should diners prefer something crispier, there are several types of biskut raya (festive cookies) in airtight jars.
On the other hand, Western pastries include popular treats such as chocolate cake, carrot cake, almond orange cake, chocolate mousse log and petits fours. There is also a chocolate fondue with fresh fruits that can be used for dipping.
Finally, the desserts counter provides cut fruits like pineapples, papayas, honeydew and watermelon. Drinks include espresso coffee, English tea, ginger tea and lemonade. Should diners prefer something chilling on the tongue, check out the ice cream, ais krim batang (popsicles) and ais kacang.
Lexis Suites Penang's Ramadan buffet dinner is available from 17 May 2018 to 14 June 2018. The meal is priced at RM98.00, RM70.00 and RM50.00 for adults, senior citizens and children respectively. To incentivize early birds, the hotel is offering adult vouchers for as low as RM70.00 net.
Name: Roselle Coffee House
Address: 28, Jalan Teluk Kumbar, 11920 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-628-2888
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Coordinates: 5.28691 N, 100.23244 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. Roselle is located at the Mezzanine Floor, just above the lobby atrium.

Italian Job Pizzaria

Italian Job Pizzaria is one of the many food outlets in The TOP Komtar Penang. Located on Level 5, this Italian eatery is adjacent to Richdad and faces the stairs that lead to Imperial Court Restaurant.
Italian Job Pizzaria serves pizza, pasta and gelato. The BBQ Chicken Pizza (RM12.00) is approximately 8 inches in diameter. It is topped with minced chicken, pineapples, onions, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce and cheese. The thin crust has a light crisp and presents a toasty aroma from the oven.
Drink choices include coffee, juices and soft drinks. The pricing at Italian Job Pizzaria is quite affordable despite the fact that The TOP is a popular tourist attraction.
Address: The TOP Komtar Penang, 1, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-262-3800
Business hours: 11:00am-8:00pm

Kopi Tiam

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

Located at the Lobby Level, Kopi Tiam serves as the main eatery of Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang. The restaurant presents a family-friendly dining atmosphere. Today's visit is to review to the hotel's Sunday Super Saver Brunch, which is served in buffet style.
Starting with appetizers, the Chinese Cold Platter features a variety of deep-fried snacks like sesame chicken (芝麻鸡), chicken lobak (五香鸡肉卷), Vietnamese spring rolls (chả giò), crab sticks and money bags (福袋). Chili sauce is provided.
Meanwhile, Nasi Ulam is a nourishing Malay rice dish which contains raw vegetables like turmeric leaves, peppermint and onions. The herbal aroma of the vegetables is appealing indeed. Also served today is Thai Papaya Salad (ส้มตำ).
The buffet features several live action stalls, one of which prepares Popiah Basah. This popular hawker food consists of shredded jicama that is wrapped in soft dough skin. Also included in the rolls are tofu, minced chicken, crab sticks, fried shallots and scallions. Sweet sauce and chili sauce serve to enhance the popiah's flavor.
Char Koay Teow (炒粿条) is one of Penang's most iconic dishes. Flat rice noodle is stir-fried with shrimps, egg, bean sprouts and garlic chives to a toasty aroma. Char Koay Teow is best enjoyed while it is piping hot from the wok.
Laksa Kahwin is a unique creation by Chef Tony. The noodle dish is a marriage between local Penang laksa and laksa lemak ("kahwin" in Malay means "marriage"). Although there is a subtle sourness from tamarind, the main taste comes from rich coconut milk. Laksa Kahwin is highly recommended but it is not available every week. Call the restaurant in advance if you wish to catch this delectable dish.
The buffet also includes a variety of hot dishes. Most of them are local recipes that Malaysian are familiar with. For instance, Chicken Curry Kapitan is an iconic Peranakan (Nyonya) recipe which uses lots of fiery spices. Meanwhile, Gulai Sotong Lemak features a yellowish gravy that is cooked from coconut milk and turmeric (kunyit). The curry also contains squid, okra (lady's fingers) and pineapple chunks.
Another notable highlight today is Steamed Fish, which is seasoned with thick ulam sauce. The chef's choice of fish is tilapia. I enjoy this dish very much because the sweet, sour and spicy flavors work together in perfect harmony.
Next, Ayam Goreng Serai is fried chicken coated with a special spice mix that consists of lemongrass, onion, ginger and turmeric. Despite the charred surface, the chicken remains quite tender.
Deep-Fried Prawns are coated with salted egg paste. I prefer the taste of salted egg to take a more prominent role. The shrimps are garnished with curry leaves, red chili peppers and garlic, resulting in a colorful presentation.
Moving on, Chicken Lobak contains minced chicken seasoned with five-spice powder (五香粉). Wrapped in tofu skin (腐皮), the rolls are deep-fried so that they become crispy. Besides Chicken Lobak, Spring Rolls are available too.
Fried Chai Tar comprises of seafood tofu (海鲜豆腐), broccoli, baby corn, button mushrooms and wood ear fungus (黑木耳). After a string of meaty dishes, it is nice to have some vegetables for a change.
Kopi Tiam's buffet includes several Western dishes such as pizzas and pasta. Pizza choices are Hawaiian Pizza, Banana Pizza and Spinach & Mushroom Pizza. I think the Banana Pizza is special indeed. As for pasta, Spaghetti Napolitana is served today.
I am also attracted by the handful of Western pastries. Prepared today are Carrot Cake, Chocolate Brownies and Mango Tarts. I am particularly fascinated by the Mango Tarts. Between the mango-flavored custard and pastry crust is a layer of chocolate sauce.
Other desserts that are prepared this evening are Chocolate Mousse and Crème Caramel. The Chocolate Mousse is sweet in a non-surfeiting way. It is perfect for people who appreciate the bitter aftertaste of cocoa.
Ice Kacang is generally regarded as Malaysia's favorite dessert. The heap of shaved ice is flavored with gula melaka (palm sugar), sirap ros (rose syrup) and evaporated milk. Other ingredients include kidney beans, attap chee (nipa palm fruit), grass jelly, agar-agar (algae jelly), nata de coco and creamed corn.
Tau Fo Fah (豆腐花) is seldom served in buffets because the preparation process is difficult to master. However, Kopi Tiam pulls off with flying colors. The soy-based pudding is flavored with palm sugar syrup which is not excessively sweet. This soft dessert is served hot.
Bayview Hotel's Sunday Super Saver Brunch is served from 12:00pm to 2:30pm every Sunday. The price is RM38.00 net per adult and RM9.90 net per child between 7 and 12 years old. Considering the quality and variety of dishes available, the buffet gives good value for money especially for families with children.

Name: Kopi Tiam
Address: Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang, 25-A, Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-263-3161
Business hours: 6:30am-1:00am
Coordinates: 5.42192 N, 100.33588 E
Directions: Bayview Hotel is located at Leith Street (Lebuh Leith), between Lebuh Farquhar and Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. Kopi Tiam is located on the Ground Floor and next to the lobby. The hotel's multi-storey parking garage is accessible from Lebuh Farquhar. Street parking is also available in front of the hotel.

Ăn Viet

Special thanks to Ăn Viet for extending this food review invitation.

After its debut at The Gardens Mall and another outlet in Sunway Pyramid, Ăn Viet opens its third restaurant at Gurney Plaza late last year. Ăn Viet is founded on the principle of minimizing food wastage. The proprietors feel that Vietnamese cooking is a good platform to pursue this goal. By the way, the phrase "Ăn Viet" means "to eat Vietnamese (food)".
Ăn Viet presents a casual dining atmosphere, making it suitable for family-style dining. The food menu revolves around home-cooked Vietnamese recipes. The dishes were inspired during a fact-finding mission to Vietnam before Ăn Viet's opening. Ăn Viet's menu leans towards northern Vietnamese cooking, but several southern recipes are also featured.
Gỏi Cuốn (RM9.90) is one of the popular appetizers on the menu. These Vietnamese spring rolls are filled with cooked tiger prawns, rice vermicelli (bún), carrots, cucumber, lettuce and Thai basil (húng quế). The ingredients are wrapped in chewy rice paper (bánh tráng), which unlike Chả Giò (fried spring rolls), is not cooked.
I enjoy the soothing aroma of Thai basil. While the overall taste is mild, the spring rolls go well with sweet-and-tangy fish sauce called nước chấm. The sauce is not overpowering and only serves to accentuate the freshness of juicy vegetables.

Bánh Tráng Nướng (RM9.90) is a specialty in Ho Chi Minh City. I would describe it as a cross between a pancake and a pizza. The skin is made from the same rice paper as Gỏi Cuốn, but the snack is grilled to a light crisp. Inside the cracker are savory fillings such as minced pork, egg, mayonnaise and dried shrimps. Scallions, shallots and spices are also added for extra flavor. Try this dish if you are particularly fond of pork.
Bún Chả (RM18.90) is a pork-and-noodle delicacy from Hanoi. It consists of a bowl of diluted nước chấm with pork meatballs, sliced pork belly and pickles. A separate rattan tray contains bún, Thai basil, mint and lettuce. At Ăn Viet, rice vermicelli is sourced from Vietnam because locally-produced ones do not make the cut.
The proper way to enjoy Bún Chả is by first adding fresh vegetables to the sauce. Next, dip a mouthful of bún into the sauce, and then slurp the springy noodle into the mouth. I find the pork and meatballs to be truly gratifying. For RM4.00 more, the meal comes with an appetizer and a bowl of soup.

Bánh Mì (RM14.90) is another recommended dish on Ăn Viet's menu. The sandwich contains grilled pork chops (sườn nướng), tomato slices, sliced lettuce, sliced cucumber, shredded carrots and homemade pickles. The pork's tantalizing toastiness is what makes the sandwich so appealing. To enhance flavor, a dash of Sriracha sauce is added to the pork chops.
Vietnamese bread is pretty similar to French baguette but the former is considerably airier. Bread is widely eaten in Vietnam as the country was historically under French colonial rule. Go for this dish if you seek a filling meal. In lieu of pork, diners can opt for grilled lemongrass chicken or vegetarian patty instead.

Xôi Chiên Phồng (RM14.90) starts off from a small lump of glutinous rice. The lump is deep-fried in a wok for more than 10 minutes. Throughout the duration, the rice is continuously shaped with a spatula until it eventually puffs up to several times its original size. Although Xôi Chiên Phồng is as large as a child's head, it is actually hollow inside. It has a chewy texture as opposed to being crispy.
Xôi Chiên Phồng comes with a serving of grilled lemongrass chicken and green mango salad. Also included are roasted peanuts, coriander and carrots. The salad resembles Tam Mamuang (ตำมะม่วง) in Thai cuisine but the former is not nearly as spicy. As Xôi Chiên Phồng takes lots of time to prepare, there is a limited quantity every day. Advance ordering is highly recommended.
Moving on to drinks, Cà Phê Sữa Nóng (RM7.90) is Vietnam's most popular beverage. Unlike most coffee-growing countries, Vietnam primarily produces Robusta beans. The conventional way to brew Vietnamese coffee is by using a metal drip filter called cà phê phin. Ăn Viet provides condensed milk in a separate cup so that customers can control the coffee's level of sweetness.
As for ice blended drinks, Sinh Tố Dừa (RM10.90) is made from coconut water, coconut flesh and coconut ice cream. The smoothie has a refreshing taste and serves as an excellent thirst quencher. In the effort to reduce waste, Ăn Viet only provides plastic straws upon request.
Viet-ffogato (RM9.90) differs from regular affogato in two ways. Firstly, Viet-ffogato uses Vietnamese drip-brewed coffee instead of espresso. Secondly, the ice cream is made from frozen condensed milk as opposed to the usual vanilla ice cream. Coconut cream is provided separately.
Trà Atisô Nóng (RM6.90 per cup, RM9.90 per pot) is Vietnamese artichoke tea. Dried artichoke is steeped in hot water for several minutes to impart its essence. The herbal tea is very mild in taste but is soothing as the drink trickles down the throat. Drinking artichoke tea is believed to be good for health as the artichoke is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants.
Xả Gừng Nóng (RM7.90 per glass, RM10.90 per jug) is another herbal drink at Ăn Viet. The tea is prepared from actual lemongrass and ginger, not from instant powder. The drink also includes a lemongrass stalk that serves as a stirrer.
The overall food taste at Ăn Viet is satisfying to the palate. The restaurant does not cut corners when it comes to food preparation. Nearly every ingredient is prepared from scratch and food is only cooked to order. Ăn Viet does not use much garnishing for food presentation, but instead focuses on incorporating premium ingredients especially fresh vegetables.
Ăn Viet encourages its customers to avoid food wastage. Customers are allowed to choose the amount of rice or noodle when placing their orders. Even in the event that the portion is insufficient, the restaurant is happy to top-up to the larger serving size at no extra cost. To further incentivize diners to finish their meals, Ăn Viet donates RM0.10 to the Food Aid Foundation for every customer who leaves no leftovers.

Name: Ăn Viet
Address: 170-B1-32A, Plaza Gurney, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-293-3481
Business hours: 11:00am-10:00pm (Monday-Friday), 10:00am-10:00pm (Saturday-Sunday and public holidays)
Coordinates: 5.43783 N, 100.30985 E
Directions: Ăn Viet is located at the Basement level of Gurney Plaza, sandwiched between Seoul Garden Hot Pot and The Little Nyonya Cuisine. Gurney Plaza has basement and multi-level parking garages.