Spice Market

Special thanks to Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa for extending this food review invitation.

Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa is Penang's premier beach resort. Spanning over 500 meters of Batu Ferringhi beachfront (not including the adjacent Golden Sands Resort), Rasa Sayang provides extensive amenities that few resorts in Malaysia can match.
The 6-in-1 buffet dinner in Spice Market Café is one of Penang's most lavish buffets that run on daily basis. As the resort group has many properties worldwide, it is not uncommon for guest chefs to visit and share their culinary know-how.

This evening, I am fortunate to meet two experienced chefs from Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai - Sous Chef Damrongsak Khammongkhon and Chef de Partie Prathung Taka. With 28 years of culinary experience between them, the chefs are working with Executive Chef Leong for 2 weeks to oversee a limited-time Thai menu. These Thai dishes will remain on the buffet spread throughout the entire month of June 2016.
As the guest chefs hail from Chiang Mai, their expertise trends towards northern Thai cuisine. In general, northern Thai dishes are milder than their southern counterparts. The former uses sweet and sour flavors to round off intense spiciness that are often associated to the latter.

For appetizers, there are several Thai salads served over ice. Today's menu includes Shrimp Salad With Lemongrass & Mint Leaves (พล่ากุ้ง), Mint Chicken Salad (ลาบไก่), Grilled Beef Salad (ยำเนื้อย่าง), Enoki Mushroom & Shrimp Salad (ยำเห็ดเข็มทองกุ้งสด) and Green Mango Salad (ส้มตำมะม่วง). Potato Salad remains on the menu for guests who are not used to Thai flavors.
Tom Yam Goong (ต้มยำกุ้ง) is one of the most recognizable dishes in Thai restaurants worldwide. With creamy consistency derived from coconut milk, this moderately-spicy curry is infused with plump shrimps that bring gastronomical enjoyment to new heights.
Another popular dish in Thai cookbooks is Green Curry Chicken (แกงเขียวหวานไก่). This curry attains its unique greenish hue through liberal use of basil leaves and green chili peppers. An abundance of coconut milk is also necessary to deliver savory flavors. Infused with delectable goodness of the curry, the chicken cutlets are satisfying indeed.
Thai cuisine is also renowned for its wide range of stir-fried dishes. Among the drier ones are Stir-Fried Tofu With Cashew Nuts (เต้าหู้ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์) and Stir-Fried Chicken With Oyster Sauce (ไก่ผัดซอสน้ำมันหอย).
Stir-Fried Spicy Seafood (ปลาหมึกผัดพริกเผา) serves to tantalize the taste buds with a unique sense of delightful spiciness. Loaded with squids, shrimps and mussels, the fiery gravy is enhanced further through the use of dried chili peppers and basil leaves.
Deep-Fried Fish Cake (ทอดมันปลา) is often eaten as an appetizer. Its texture and taste are similar to that of Terengganuan keropok lekor.
Thai cuisine is also famed for sweet desserts that are heavily based on coconut milk. For instance, Banana In Coconut Syrup (กล้วยบวชชี) demonstrates the perfect marriage between two tropical fruits. Mango Sticky Rice (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง) also enjoys widespread popularity. It is made from glutinous rice, diced mango, purple yam and coconut milk.
Served in cone-shaped containers are Rice Flour Dumplings In Coconut Milk (ขนมตะโก้เผือก). Like the previous desserts, this one is derives most of its delectable appeal from rich coconut milk.
Taro Balls In Coconut Milk (บัวลอยเผือกมะพร้าวอ่อน) are quite similar to Peranakan's bubur cha-cha. Once again, coconut milk is an essential ingredient in this dessert.
Taking advantage of thirst-relieving properties of lemons and lemongrass, the Lemongrass Lemonade (น้ำมะนาวตะไคร้) could not have appeared at a more fortunate moment. The unmistakable aroma of lemongrass makes this drink very refreshing indeed.
While today's dinner specializes in Thai food, the 6-in-1 buffet concept means that other regional cuisines are not neglected either. For example on the carvery, Ayam Panggang (roasted chicken) is available for heavyweight meat-eaters.
Guests who fancy seafood can also help themselves with Baked Salmon Fillet. Coated with light crisp made from cereal crumbs, the salmon fillet is gratifying with every bite. Herb cream sauce is provided should guests prefer some flavoring.
As for seafood on ice, spanner crabs are the most attractive in my opinion. Although the crabs are quite tasty, they contain little meat. Nevertheless, I think this is fine in a buffet setting.
Other seafood on ice are steamed prawns, mussels and scallops. Condiments such as garlic mayonnaise, cocktail sauce and chili spice aioli are provided.
Seafood Stew is loaded with respectable amount of squid and shrimps. Olives and caper buds serve to improve flavor. The broth is made from tomatoes, providing the stew with pleasant tanginess and savoriness.
Another Western-style dish is Baked Penne Pasta. This cheese-baked Italian dish is topped with tomato coulis and several types of vegetables.
The next dish is Grilled Fish With Tomato Salsa. Also available this evening is Lamb Steak With Minted Jus.
From the Indian section of the buffet spread, there are delicacies such as Tandoori Lamb, Tandoori Fish and Chicken Tikka. The meats are roasted in a tandoor oven.
Representing regional specialties of the Indian subcontinent are Goan Fish Curry and Lamb Rogan Josh of Kashmir.
The Indian section also provides popular dishes like Dhal Tadka, Bendi Masala, Saffron Rice, Naan Bread and Papadom.
Moving on to the cold cuts section, guests may enjoy delicacies such as Beef Pastrami, Smoked Fish, Chicken Cold Cut and Smoked Duck. As the smoked meats are heavily seasoned, they are best enjoyed with some bread.
Other chilled items include Roasted Capsicum, Roasted Carrot and Roasted Eggplant. Guests who prefer raw vegetables can work with a salad bar filled with carrots, cherry tomatoes, red cabbage and iceberg lettuce.
One thing that I really enjoy at Spice Market is the selection of specialty cheese. Today's buffet covers Blue Cheese, Brie Cheese, Emmental Cheese and Gouda Cheese.
Emmental Cheese and Gouda Cheese are on the mild side of my preference. Blue Cheese is quite soft in nature and has bluish mold which makes its flavor rather intense. Nevertheless, my personal favorite is Brie Cheese. Originating in France, this creamy cheese contains white mold on its soft surface.
The desserts section provides a number of fresh fruits like grapes, plums, pears and apples.
Guests who prefer cut fruits will be delighted to find platters of cut jackfruit (nangka), watermelon, pineapple, honeydew and papaya.
As for fruit juices, there are Sirap Cincau, Nutmeg Juice and Orange Cordial. Sirap Cincau is prepared from rose syrup as the base. Suspended in the drink are basil seeds (biji selasih) that resemble frog eggs. The seeds absorbing water from the surrounding and expand to form a translucent layer around the core.
The kid's corner features a chocolate fountain and various skewered foodstuff like marshmallows. Although this section of the buffet is underutilized, I am informed that it is part of a corporate requirement to make the resort children-friendly.
Spice Market's buffet is served from 6:30pm to 10:30pm. The price is RM173.00 net for adult and RM87.00 net for child. On Mondays and Tuesdays, there is 40% discount off the adult price.

Name: Spice Market Café
Address: Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-888-8888
Business hours: 6:30pm-10:30pm
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.47965 N, 100.25481 E
Directions: From Tanjung Bungah, travel west towards Batu Ferringhi. Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa is approximately 4.2 kilometers from Tanjung Bungah's floating mosque, located on the right. Spice Market Café is at Lobby level of the Garden wing.

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