Café Laurel

This article is part of my Ramadan 2019 compilation.

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

Evergreen Laurel Hotel Penang is a 5-star hotel at Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney). The property operates under Evergreen Group, a Taiwan-based conglomerate with presence in logistics, aviation and hospitality sectors.
Café Laurel is the hotel's all-day dining restaurant. Located on the ground floor, the eatery is also where in-house guests are served breakfast. Like the lobby, the restaurant is decorated in the festive spirit of Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I am reviewing Café Laurel's Ramadhan & International Buffet Dinner this evening.
The first dish is Ayam Berempah, a popular Malay dish where chicken is coated with spices and deep-fried to a scrumptious crisp. In fact, it is the chicken's flavorful skin that makes it so addictive.
Still on the subject of poultry, Sambal Ayam is another classic Malay dish. Cooked with fiery chili paste and coconut milk, the chicken is moderately spicy by Malaysian standards. Sambal Ayam is heavily seasoned because it is meant to be eaten with carbs. Today's choices are Nasi Briyani and Fried Bee Hoon.
Moving to the carving station, the Roasted Chicken is flavored à la Chinese-style. Infused with lemon juice, the glossy skin is the main appeal of this dish. Meanwhile, white meat under the chicken's skin is fairly tender and juicy.
As for Roast Lamb Chops, the distinctive smell of mutton is masked by aromatic rosemary sauce. Thanks to the balanced mixture between lean meat and fat, the mutton is delightfully tender.
Seafood delicacies this evening include Ikan Goreng Thai Sauce. Fish slices are first fried in oil, and then flavored with Thai-style chili sauce. Should diners prefer raw fish, assorted sushi and sashimi are available too.
Another recommended dish is Udang Goreng Tepung. The prawns are coated with crispy crumbs made from wheat flour. I appreciate the fact that fiery aroma manages to penetrate the prawn shells.
The live action counter presents deep-fried items such as onion rings, money bags and cucur bawang (onion fritters). Other à la minute dishes this evening are Char Koay Teow, Prawn Noodles, Grilled Fish and Satay.
Italian Mixed Salad, Roast Beef Salad, Chicken Salad and Acar Nyonya are served at the salad bar. Diners can also mix their own garden salads. Meanwhile, ulam-ulaman are usually eaten with spicy condiments like sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), sambal kicap (spicy soy sauce) and air asam (tamarind sauce).
At the pastry section, diners can enjoy a variety of Malay kuih such as kuih seri muka (glutinous rice and pandan custard), kuih bingka ubi (tapioca cake), kuih sago (sago cake), kek lapis (layered cake), karipap (curry puffs) and more. As for something refreshing, go for a serving of Ais Kacang.
Other desserts that satisfy one's sweet tooth include French pastries, jellies and puddings. Towards the end of the meal, go for fresh fruits like watermelon, papaya, bananas, honeydew, apples and pitaya (dragon fruit). As per tradition, buah kurma (palm dates) is usually consumed when breaking fast.
Café Laurel's Ramadhan & International Buffet Dinner is served from Sunday to Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant serves Ramadhan & Seafood/Japanese Buffet Dinner instead. Café Laurel is also having high tea and buffet dinner on the first 2 days of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Name: Café Laurel
Address: 53, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-222-9988
Business hours: 6:30am-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.43130 N, 100.31779 E
Directions: Evergreen Laurel Hotel Penang is located at the eastern end of Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney). Café Laurel is located next to the lobby. Evergreen Laurel Hotel has multi-storey parking, which is accessible from Gurney Drive and Kelawai Road (Jalan Kelawai).

The Cafe

This article is part of my Ramadan 2019 compilation.

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

Berjaya Penang Hotel is a 4-star hotel at Pulau Tikus. In the festive spirit of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the hotel has erected a miniature Malay house at the lobby. The hotel's all-day dining restaurant, The Cafe, serves Ramadan buffet dinner in the evening.
Starting with ulam-ulaman, ulam raja (king's salad), kacang panjang (yardlong beans), terung (eggplant) and bendi (okra) are presented a vessel-shaped rattan basket. Condiments that go with the raw vegetables are sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), sambal kicap (spicy soy sauce), air asam (tamarind sauce) and cincalok (fermented shrimps). Also prepared are ikan masin (salted fish) and several types of kerabu (Malay salad).
The grilling station produces a steady flow of grilled chicken slices and chicken drumsticks. Although chicken is marinated properly, I think using smaller drumsticks would have been a better choice. As for diners who prefer seafood, grilled ikan kembung (mackerel) is available too.
Chicken Satay is marinated with turmeric, and then grilled on skewers until the chicken becomes slightly charred. Satay is frequently enjoyed with kuah kacang (spicy peanut sauce), nasi impit (pressed rice), shallots and cucumbers too.
Moving to Middle Eastern fare, Chicken Shawarma is cooked on a vertical spit next to a heating element. As the outer layer becomes cooked, chicken is shaved off and stuffed into pita bread. Other ingredients for Chicken Shawarma are mayonnaise, tomatoes, carrots, shallots and lettuce.
Daging Rendang Tok is a special recipe from Perak. Beef slices are slowly cooked with coconut milk and spices for several hours until most liquid has evaporated. The resulting dish is extremely savory. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Ayam Masak Merah is a classic poultry dish in traditional Malay cuisine. Chicken is gently fried till golden brown, and then braised in tomato-based sauce. Despite the devilishly red color, Ayam Masak Merah is not as spicy as it seems. In fact, the sauce has a hint of sweetness!
Next in line is Ikan Bawal Tiga Rasa, where fried pomfret is served in a sauce that seamlessly combines three flavors: sweet, sour and spicy. The dish is garnished with chili peppers, bell peppers, cucumber and shallots for aesthetic appeal.
Still on the subject of seafood, Acari Prawn Masala is cooked with a pungent Indian spice mix. The spicy dish is topped with spring onions and onions.
The dish of Fried Mixed Vegetables serves as counterweight to the other dishes so far. Fried with light oyster sauce are broccoli, cauliflowers, baby corns, carrots and button mushrooms.
Deep-fried food items are Cucur Udang and Lor Bak. Lor Bak is prepared by seasoning chicken with five-spice powder, and then wrapping with tofu skin. The snack is deep-fried such that the skin becomes crispy. Sweet chili sauce is provided, but I generally prefer to enjoy Lor Bak without condiments.
Last but not least, the desserts counter presents a modest variety of Western pastries and jellies. Crème caramel, crème brûlée and Malay kuih are also available. As per tradition in iftar meals, buah kurma (palm dates) are provided too.
The Cafe serves Ramadan buffet dinner every evening from 8 May 2019 to 2 June 2019. Most dishes are rotated daily, so diners can expect something different during each visit. The buffet price is RM60.00 net for adults, RM30.00 net for children, and RM45.00 net for senior citizens. For every 5 paying adults, the next person's meal is on the house!
Name: The Cafe
Address: Berjaya Penang Hotel, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-227-7111
Business hours: 6:30am-10:30pm
Coordinates: 5.43289 N, 100.30674 E
Directions: Berjaya Penang Hotel is adjacent to Midlands 1-Stop. The Cafe is located towards the right from the main entrance. There are ample of parking spaces at the basement. Diners at The Cafe can get their parking ticket validated for flat parking rate of RM4.00.

Coffee House

This article is part of my Ramadan 2019 compilation.

Special thanks to The Northam All Suite Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

This evening, The Northam All Suite Hotel gives a preview of its upcoming Ramadan buffet menu. The dinner event is held at the Coffee House. Due to overwhelming response, the buffet spread covers the entire lobby too.
The buffet theme this year is "Juadah Citarasa P. Ramlee Style". Indeed, the decoration pays homage to the late Malaysian artist, P. Ramlee (1929-1973). The ambience is also filled with oldies from the 1950s. Evoking nostalgia from the yesteryears, The Northam has also erected a wooden shack in the lobby.
The venue is lined with food stalls that serve local delicacies such as Lok-Lok, Asam Laksa, Kambing Golek, Pisang Goreng and Ais Kacang. Many of these stalls have names that pay tribute to P. Ramlee.
Just beyond the hotel's entrance is a live action stall where Char Koay Teow is cooked to order. This iconic Penang dish uses flat rice noodle. It is stir-fried with bean sprouts, garlic chives, eggs, chili paste and soy sauce.
Bubur Lambuk Daging is often served during Ramadan. The rice porridge is cooked with beef and spices. In addition, spring onions and fried shallots help to enhance the congee's aroma. Also worth mentioning is Sup Kambing Berempah. Infused with spices, the savory soup contains mutton, carrots and potatoes too.
Ulam-Ulaman section presents a variety of vegetables such as ulam raja (king's salad), daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves), kacang botol (winged beans), bendi (okra) and timun (cucumber). The raw vegetables are customarily eaten with condiments like sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), cincalok (fermented shrimps), tempoyak (fermented durians), sambal kicap (spicy soy sauce) and sambal hijau (green sauce).
As for Lala Masak Lada Hitam, the clams are stir-fried with black pepper sauce. As the clams do not provide much meat, the main appeal is the peppery seasoning. Meanwhile, diners who take beef can go for Daging Gulai Kawah. The beef slices go particularly well with Nasi Briyani.
Moving to poultry, Ayam Masak Ros is a dish of chicken cooked with tomato-based gravy. Despite its name, the dish does not use rose flowers. Another major highlight is Ikan Goreng, where fish fillets are cooked with sweet and spicy sauce.
The Chinese-style dish of Mixed Vegetables comprises of broccoli, cauliflowers, black mushrooms and straw mushrooms fried with oyster sauce. As for Kurma Telur, hard-boiled eggs are cooked in a thick, non-spicy gravy.
The pastry section presents a modest variety of sweet confections. Shown here are pandan sponge cake, blueberry cheesecake, apple crumble pie and cream cheese tarts. Diners who affinity for Malay kuih can also help themselves with kuih ketayap, seri muka, puteri ayu and more.
The chocolate fountain uses white chocolate instead of the usual milk chocolate or dark chocolate. Skewers of butter cake, papaya, honeydew, pineapples and grapes are provided.
Several types of jelly are available this evening: strawberry, mango, honeydew and coconut. As for something soupy, there is also Bubur Pulut Hitam (black glutinous rice porridge). Last but not least, conclude the meal with a satisfying glass of Teh Tarik.
The Northam's Ramadan buffet dinner is available from 13 May 2019 to 31 May 2019. The price is RM78.00 per person. Free parking and surau rooms are provided for the convenience of guests. It is also important to note that Coffee House is a halal-certified restaurant.
Name: Coffee House
Address: 55, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-370-1111
Business hours: 6:30am-10:30pm
Coordinates: 5.42728 N, 100.32127 E
Directions: The Northam is located on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, right after VOUK Hotel Suites. Coffee House is right next to the lobby. There is a multilevel parking garage in the hotel.

The Ombak

This article is part of my Ramadan 2019 compilation.

Special thanks to Mercure Penang Beach for extending this food review invitation.

This evening, Mercure Penang Beach gives a sneak peek into its upcoming Ramadan buffet dinner menu. Dinner is served at The Ombak, the hotel's all-day dining restaurant.
Starting with rice, Nasi Mandi is a traditional dish from Yemen but is widely served throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Cooked with meat and spices, the rice is quite savory and aromatic. Long-grain basmati rice is used because its light texture absorbs flavors easily. Roasted Lamb Leg is served over the rice platter.
There are several chafing dishes that deserve special mention. For instance, Ayam Kalio is a dish of chicken cooked with coconut milk and spices. This poultry dish is similar to rendang but contains substantially more liquid.
Puyuh Goreng Tiga Rasa is another delectable poultry dish. But in lieu of chicken, the recipe features quail instead. The seasoning has a lovely combination of sweet, sour and spicy flavors.
One of my favorite dishes this evening is Ikan Keli Goreng Berlado. Catfish is fried with a chili-based paste which elevates its flavor to new heights. I truly enjoy the delicate texture of catfish. However, the fish is riddled with small bones, so be cautious especially when feeding children.
Gulai Ikan Bawal is another interesting dish. Black pomfret is cooked in a curry that is rich in coconut milk. The pomfret complements the curry's spiciness pretty well. The same can be said for okra (lady's fingers) and tomatoes.
Sambal Sotong is a dish that successfully integrates squid with thick chili paste. In addition, I appreciate the springy texture of squid. This dish is heavily flavored, so it should be eaten with rice.
Condiments to go with ulam-ulaman (raw vegetables) include kicap cili (spicy soy sauce), air asam (tamarind sauce), cincalok (fermented shrimps) and budu (fermented anchovies). In addition, ikan masin (salted fish) and telur masin (salted eggs) are provided too.
Moving on, The Ombak presents an interesting variety of kerabu (Malay salads) such as Kerabu Sotong (squid salad), Kerabu Ayam (chicken salad), Kerabu Daging (beef salad), Kerabu Taugeh (bean sprout salad), Kerabu Mangga Muda (unripe mango salad), Kerabu Udang (prawn salad), Kerabu Siput Buluh (razor clam salad) and Kerabu Betik (papaya salad).
Tandoori Pizza should not be overlooked either. The thin-crust pizza contains succulent slices of tandoori chicken. Other pizza toppings include capsicum, coriander, onions and cheese. The fresh aroma of tomato sauce is truly mouth-watering. I cannot recommend the pizza highly enough.
As for pastries, Apple Crumble Tart is easily one of my favorites this evening. The filling consists of apples, cinnamon and sugar. Other pastries at the dessert counter are Opera Cake, Banana Cake, Peach Cheese Tart, Chocolate Brownies and Corn Pudding.
If you prefer something soft, Crème Caramel should be your cup of tea. The custard is elegantly decorated with fresh strawberries and caramelized sugar. As for Malay-style desserts, there are Sago Gula Melaka, Kuih Seri Muka, Kuih Bingka Ubi, Cucur Keria and Dodol.
The Fruit Jelly does a great job in cleansing the palate after a satisfying meal. Durian-flavored Aiskrim Potong (popsicle) serves this role too. As for something warm, diners can help themselves with Pengat Pisang (banana soup) and Pengat Labu (pumpkin soup).
The Ombak's buffet dinner is available every evening from 10 May 2019 to 1 June 2019. The buffet price is RM75.00 net for adults and RM35.00 net for children. For a limited time, the hotel is selling early bird vouchers for RM60.00 net. If the weather permits, opt for al fresco dining in order to enjoy the idyllic sunset and cooling breeze from the sea.

Name: The Ombak
Address: Mercure Penang Beach, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Tokong, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-371-8888
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.46384 N, 100.30187 E
Directions: Mercure Penang Beach 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. The Ombak is located next to the lobby. There are parking spaces in front of the hotel.