Selah

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Olive Tree Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

Olive Tree Hotel is a 4-star hotel at Bayan Baru, right next to Arena Curve and SPICE Arena. There are two restaurants in the hotel: Sukkah and Selah. The latter, formerly known as Cups & Mugs, has been renovated since my last visit.
Located next to the lobby, Selah serves light meals and coffee. The café takes the name of the Hebrew word "סֶלָה‬", which means "to pause" or "to reflect" in a spiritual sense. This evening, Selah hosts a preview of the upcoming Ramadan buffet, which is themed "Citarasa Semenanjung" (Peninsular Gourmet). The menu features several popular dishes in West Malaysia.
The main highlight each evening is the Roasted Lamb, which I find reasonably tender and juicy. Black pepper and mint sauce serve as condiments. The lamb goes well with nasi briyani (Indian mixed rice) and grilled vegetables like mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, shallots, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes.
Chicken Shawarma has become increasingly popular in Malaysia in the recent years. This Middle Eastern street food is cooked in rotisserie style. The marinated chicken is rotated continuously to ensure uniform heating. As the chicken becomes cooked, it is shaved off the block and stuffed into toasted pita bread.
Being located on the ground floor, Selah offers outdoor space for hawker-style action stalls. Satay is a popular Malaysian snack due to its addictive taste. Skewered chicken and beef are marinated with a spice mix based on turmeric (kunyit), and then barbecued over burning charcoal. Satay is typically eaten with spicy peanut sauce, cucumber, shallots and nasi impit (pressed rice).
Thai Pattaya Kebab is another recommended dish too. It consists of white bread and minced chicken wrapped in omelette. The wrap is drizzled with mayonnaise and ketchup. Contrary to popular belief, pattaya-style omelette is actually a Malaysian invention.
Mee Rebus is served in thick, curry-like gravy that is mildly sweet and spicy. The yellow egg noodle is cooked by blanching in hot water. Other ingredients in this noodle dish are chicken slices, fishcakes, eggs, bean sprouts, tofu and more.
Bubur Lambuk is an essential appetizer when breaking fast in the evening. The rice porridge is seasoned with a variety of spices to produce savory flavors. As for soups, Sup Daging Madura (Javanese soup) and Pumpkin Soup are prepared today. Bread rolls are also provided.
Moving on to hot dishes, Gulai Nangka Ikan Bilis is a curry of jackfruit and anchovies. I enjoy the unique texture of jackfruit as it blends well with the curry. Meanwhile, the curry is moderate in terms of spiciness.
Sambal Udang Petai is a stir-fried dish of shrimps and stink beans with chili paste. While the prawns are cooked just about right, I feel that the stink beans are not as cooked as they ought to be. Other Malay dishes this evening are Daging Rendang Tok and Taukua Sambal Hijau.
Sweet & Sour Fish is a Chinese recipe. The dish uses batter-coated fried fish fillets dressed in sweet and sour sauce. The fish is particularly appealing to children as it contains no bones. Another notable Chinese cooking today is Mantis Prawns With Salted Egg.
Indian food is represented by Chicken Varuval. Varuval is a type of dry curry where meat is sautéed with flavorful spices from the subcontinent. As for garnishing, curry leaves are added to enhance the aroma.
Moving on, Oxtail Osso Bucco is an Italian dish that means "bone with a hole". The braised oxtail is accompanied by juicy vegetables like capsicum, zucchini and tomatoes.
Ulam-Ulaman Serantau is an assortment of vegetables like daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves), bendi (okra) and kacang botol (winged beans). The raw vegetables are often eaten with dipping sauces like sambal belacan, sambal mempelam, budu and cincalok. Other traditional Malay delicacies include jeruk (pickles), keropok lekor (fish crackers), tauhu sumbat (stuffed tofu), ketupat (rice dumplings) and serunding (meat floss).
There are also a variety of Malay salads like Kerabu Ayam (chicken salad), Kerabu Perut (Beef Stomach Salad) and Kerabu Kacang Botol (winged bean salad). On the other hand, diners who prefer to mix their own salad can take advantage of fresh produce like romaine lettuce, red cabbage, alfalfa, capsicum, onions and corn. Salad dressings are French, Italian, Thousand Island and vinaigrette.
Traditional Malay kuih is part and parcel of iftar meals. Several types are prepared this evening, namely kuih talam, kuih seri muka, kuih lapis, kuih abuk and kuih tepung bungkus. These sweet treats are presented in rattan baskets with retractable covers. As for diners who prefer Western pastries, there is also a modest selection of petits fours.
Sago Gula Melaka is a popular sweet dessert that is made from miniature sago pearls. As the pearls are tasteless on their own, they are often flavored by gula melaka (palm sugar) and coconut milk. Also included this evening is Bubur Pulut Hitam, a sweet porridge made from black glutinous rice.
Ice Kacang marks the conclusion of today's meal. The shaved ice is flavored with gula melaka, sirap ros (rose syrup) and evaporated milk. Examples of other ingredients are attap chee (nipa palm fruit), selasih (basil seeds), cincau (grass jelly), kidney beans and crushed peanuts. Meanwhile, diners who prefer to end the meal with a warm dessert can go for Leng Chee Kang.
During the holy month of Ramadan, the evening ambience is livened up by traditional Malay musical instruments at the lobby. Music is performed by representatives from Pertubuhan Permata Al-Mahabbah, a Penang-based charitable organization.
Olive Tree Hotel's Ramadan buffet dinner is served from 21 May 2018 to 13 June 2018. The price is RM89.00+ for adults and RM49.00+ for children. In addition, the hotel is also offering special room deals with attractive rates starting from RM215.00+ per night.

Name: Selah
Address: 76, Jalan Mahsuri, 11950 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-637-7856
Business hours: 8:00am-11:00pm (Saturday-Thursday), 8:00am-4:00pm (Friday)
Website: http://olivetreehotel.com.my/dining/selah
Coordinates: 5.32704 N, 100.27952 E
Directions: Olive Tree Hotel is located at Bayan Baru, just across the street from SPICE Arena. Selah is located at the Ground Floor, just next to the lobby. The hotel's multi-storey parking charges RM3.00 for the first hour, then RM1.00 for each subsequent hour. Parking is complimentary for hotel guests.

Viet Food

Viet Food Cuisine Restaurant is a Vietnamese restaurant at Taman Kheng Tian, Jelutong. The restaurant is operated by ethnic Vietnamese, so I am expecting to see more authentic recipes here.
Stepping inside the eatery, the ambience here is rather homely. The walls of this family-friendly restaurant are covered by pinkish wallpapers and photos of popular landmarks in Vietnam.
Pho Bo (RM12.90) is a beef noodle dish that uses a type of flat rice noodle called "bánh phở". Unlike other recipes that I have tasted before, this version is quite reddish because it contains a number of spices. I love the rich taste of the soup.
Other ingredients in Pho Bo are beef slices, beef balls, bean sprouts and onions. The beef slices are quite tough, though. Lime juice and red chili peppers serve as condiments. Go easy with the chilies because they are extremely spicy.
Café Sua Nong (RM5.00) is a popular Vietnamese drink. It is prepared in a drip filter called cà phê phin. Hot water is poured over ground coffee in the filter. Brewed coffee trickles down to the glass below where it mixes with condensed milk. I appreciate the strong taste of Vietnamese coffee.
Viet Food has a small section which displays imported merchandise from Vietnam. Items on sale are coffee, rice paper (bánh tráng), bánh phở, bún (rice vermicelli), instant noodles and condiments.
Address: 9-1-15, Jalan Van Praagh, Taman Kheng Tian, 11600 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-560-9659
Business hours: 11:00am-10:00pm, closed on Thursdays
Taste
Presentation
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Pilipala

Special thanks to Pilipala By WoodmanZ for extending this food review invitation.

Udini Square is a shopping mall next Tesco Penang. At the south entrance, Pilipala By WoodmanZ opens its doors for the first time today. This igloo-themed café pioneers a new concept which appeals to youngsters. By the way, "pilipala" is a Welsh word that means "butterfly".
Pilipala's coffee is brewed from a blend of Columbian and Brazilian beans. The best way to enjoy the house blend is through its Espresso (RM7.00). The coffee has rather high acidity despite using medium roast beans.
For a gentler beverage, try the Rose Latte (RM14.00) instead. The caffè latte has a hint of rose syrup for the soothing fragrance. The drink is served in a fancy teacup and is decorated with actual rose petals.
Iced drinks are particularly appealing on a sunny day. Pilipala's Asian Latte (RM16.00) and Blue Latte (RM16.00) each contains two shots of espresso. The latter comprises of three distinct layers: espresso, milk and butterfly-pea flower extract. These drinks are perfect for satisfying one's sweet tooth.
Matcha Boru (RM18.00) is similar to iced matcha latte but is prepared in a novel manner. The transparent glass starts with frozen matcha balls. Warm milk is poured into the glass, allowing frozen matcha to melt gradually and mix with the milk. Syrup is optional but is likely needed to counter the bitterness of pure matcha.
Next, the Pink Bunny (RM18.00) is prepared from homemade strawberry sauce, milk, ice cubes and strawberry ice cream. Served in a special glass with a smiley face on it, the drink is decorated with fresh strawberries to resemble bunny ears. Instead of ice cubes, I believe it is better to use a single large one for better enjoyment.
Pilipala also serves Hawaiian rice bowls called Poke. Three versions are available here: Shoyu Salmon (RM18.00), Sriracha Salmon (RM18.00) and Honey Herbs Chicken (RM15.00). Pilipala prepares the sauces from scratch in the kitchen. My personal favorite is Honey Herbs Chicken, but the other two are delectable too especially if you are fond of raw fish.
If you are in the mood for something lighter, Pilipala offers two types of toast: Pili Toast (RM17.00) and Pala Toast (RM17.00). For Pili Toast, the thick slice of bread is covered with signature matcha spread, and then topped with matcha ice cream and corn flakes. Meanwhile, Pala Toast contains mascarpone cream, sprinkles of cocoa powder, fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream.
The Strawberry Croissant (RM15.00) is filled with fresh strawberries and homemade custard. The croissant has flaky texture and produces buttery sensation in the mouth. A light shower of icing sugar forms the finishing touch. At Pilipala, most condiments are prepared in-house.
A visit to Pilipala would be incomplete without relaxing in one of its iconic "igloos". Located outdoors, this al fresco setting is more viable once the sun has set. The evening lighting is mesmerizing indeed. Dining in one of these igloos requires minimum spending of RM30.00 per person.
Name: Pilipala By WoodmanZ
Address: B1-07, Udini Square, Lebuh Tengku Kudin 3, 11700 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-443-0303
Business hours: 11:00am-10:30pm (Monday-Friday), 11:00am-11:00pm (Saturday-Sunday)
Website: https://www.woodmanz.com
Coordinates: 5.37771 N, 100.31410 E
Directions: Pilipala is located at Level B1 of Udini Square, right at the mall's south entrance. Udini Square provides parking spaces at its basement levels.

Swez Brasserie

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

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

Eastin Hotel Penang is a 4-star hotel next to Queensbay Mall. This evening, the hotel offers a sneak peek of its upcoming Ramadan promotion. An iftar buffet will be served at Swez Brasserie every evening from 18 May 2018 to 14 June 2018. Titled "Ramadhan Warna-Warni Ala Kampung", the menu features a number of traditional Malay dishes that are more prevalent at the countryside.
Bubur Lambuk is an essential appetizer when breaking fast in the evening. Rice is cooked until the grains have mostly disintegrated into the thick porridge. Spices are used as seasoning, while chopped scallions and fried shallots help to enhance the congee's aromatic appeal.
Another notable highlight of the Ramadan menu is Kambing Golek. Marinated with various spices, the goat is gently roasted in rotisserie style to golden perfection. Served alongside the juicy mutton are briyani rice, grilled vegetables and potato wedges. I think rosemary sauce goes best with the mutton.
Sup Gear Box is an excellent way to build one's appetite. The rich soup contains chunks of the goat's femur. Besides collagen-rich flesh around the bones, this delicacy is also prized for the savory bone marrow. The soup is named "gear box" because the femur resembles a gear stick.
Next, Kari Kepala Ikan Salmon is cooked in a large wok called "kawah". To retain its crispiness, fried salmon head is dressed with thick curry just prior to serving. The fish head curry also contains okra (lady's fingers), tomatoes, onions and chili peppers. Although the fish does not offer much meat, it takes advantage of the flavorful curry.
Ketam Masak Cili Ala Temasik, more commonly known as Chili Crab, is a delicacy from Singapore. In this dish, blue crabs are stir-fried with an eggy sauce of moderate spiciness. In fact, I feel that the seasoning is sweeter than it is spicy. Blue crabs do not offer much meat, so this dish is more of a palate teaser.
As for Kambing Panggang, grilled mutton is served with capsicum sauce. The creamy dressing presents a mild degree of sweetness. To balance the meaty flavors, mutton slices are paired with juicy vegetables like broccoli and tomatoes.
Another interesting red meat dish is Daging Kuzi. For this dish, scrumptious chunks of beef are stir-fried with okra, tomatoes, onions and raisins. The overall taste is simply gratifying, making this dish one of my favorites so far.
Moving on, Pajeri Mangga contains chunks of mango dressed in thick gravy. Since unripe mango is used, it presents a lovely level of crunchiness. Nevertheless, the mango's tanginess is largely dominated by the spicy gravy itself.
The buffet also includes several Western dishes like Chicken Pomodoro. For this dish, chicken cutlets are baked with cheese and are served with tomato-based gravy. The overall appearance is similar to Chicken Parmigiana. By the way, "pomodoro" is the Italian word for "tomato".
Examples of Ulam-Ulaman are pucuk gajus (cashew leaves), daun selom (selom leaves) and kacang botol (winged beans). These raw vegetables are typically eaten with condiments like sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), budu (fermented fish sauce) and cincalok (salty shrimp paste).
Meanwhile, Malay salads include Kerabu Betik (papaya salad), Kerabu Mangga (mango salad), Kerabu Udang (shrimp salad with rice vermicelli), Kerabu Sotong (squid salad),  Kerabu Ikan Bilis (anchovy salad) and Kerabu Kaki Ayam (chicken feet salad). Also provided are rice snacks like Lemang and Ketupat, which are often eaten with serunding (meat floss).

Kek Pandan Kukus is a steamed cake with pandan flavoring. The cake's texture is soft and fluffy. Meanwhile, Kek Batik is a non-baked cake that combines Marie biscuits with chocolate sauce. Other sweet treats include Sago Gula Melaka (sago pearls with palm sugar and coconut milk) and Kek Ladu Oren Coklat (rice flour cake dripped in orange and chocolate sauces).
The variety of Malay kuih is somewhat modest. Crowd favorites this evening are kuih loyang (honeycomb cookies), kuih cakar ayam (sweet potato crackers), biskut badam (almond cookies), bahulu (Malay madeleines), ketayap and dodol (durian candy).
Should diners prefer something fruity, Kek Nangka Manis is a good choice too. The cake is covered with jackfruit cubes, which I originally mistook as mango. The jackfruit cake contains lots of sweet cream but it does not really appeal to my palate.
The confectionery section has several types of French pastries, each having a different icing. Another interesting dessert that delights my taste buds is Bubur Durian Istimewa (durian porridge). The taste is so heavenly that I cannot recommend the porridge highly enough.
Eastin Hotel's Ramadhan Warna-Warni Ala Kampung is priced at RM120.00 net for adults. Children aged between 6 and 11 years enjoy 50% discount, while senior citizens pay RM69.00 net only. For a limited time, Eastin Hotel is offering early bird vouchers for RM100.00.

Name: Swez Brasserie
Address: 1, Solok Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-612-1111
Business hours: 6:00am-12:00am
Website: http://www.eastin.com/penang/dining
Coordinates: 5.33629 N, 100.30632 E
Directions: Eastin Hotel Penang is located along Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu) and is conveniently next to Queensbay Mall. Swez Brasserie an eatery next to the hotel lobby. There are parking spaces at the basement levels of the hotel.