The Cafe

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

During Ramadan, Penang is in no shortage of places to buka puasa (break fast). Circumstances this evening bring me to Georgetown City Hotel, a 3-star hotel next to Midlands 1-Stop in Pulau Tikus.
The flagship eatery of this hotel is The Cafe, which is conveniently located next to the lobby. This is my second Ramadan buffet review at this hotel. The theme this year is "Selera Muhibbah Ramadhan", which loosely translates as "Harmonious Ramadan Feast".
Since my previous visit, The Cafe has undergone major refurbishing to give the dining hall a rejuvenating facelift. Smooth marble flooring provides more contemporary appearance to all who step into the restaurant.
For this year's Ramadan, The Cafe is providing an outdoor grilling station that is accessible through several flights of stairs. Using a griddle, a staff member prepares various kinds of meat and seafood according to customers' needs.
Meats like beef, mutton, chicken and sausages are available for grilling. I find the mutton to be most appealing. As for sauces, mushroom sauce and air asam (sour-spicy sauce) are provided.
If grilled seafood is your preference, today's menu for the grilling station consists of clams, shrimps, stingray and mackerel.
Back indoors, Nasi Biryani is prepared with raisins for the occasional sweetness. I prefer the rice to be cooked more thoroughly as there are grains that are still quite chewy.
Ayam Masak Merah is one of the popular Malay recipes for chicken. The name derives from the fact that chicken is cooked in vibrant red gravy. Very rich and savory in flavor, I feel that the gravy is more appealing than chicken itself!
The next dish to greet my palate is Kambing Masala. The mutton is infused with various types of Indian spices, making the meat very flavorful indeed. Although the gravy is quite delectable, I prefer it to be less oily.
Grilled Lamb Chop is another meaty dish this evening. Succulent pieces of lamb ribs are served with an assortment of vegetables as well black pepper sauce.
Today's Mixed Vegetables features yau mak in light garlic sauce. The use of chicken lor bak is unexpected but is truly welcoming.
To keep the spirits high and appetite running, Bubur Lambuk never fails to make an appearance in any Ramadan buffets. The rice porridge is blessed with a myriad of flavorful spices to tantalize the taste buds.
Also filling a similar role, Sup Ayam Berempah draws appetite through chicken savoriness. Also simmered in the flavorful soup are a handful of vegetables such as carrot, potato and celery.

The self-served Bihun Soup station readies a handful of ingredients such as rice noodles, fish balls, green vegetables and bean sprouts. A mesh is provided to blanch the ingredients in a pot of hot water. A separate pot provides chicken stock in which the noodle dish is served.
Pisang Goreng is truly one of Malaysians' favorite snacks. These deep-fried banana fritters are coated with delightful crisp that resonate with the rhythm of each bite. Also prepared from the same fryer are Keropok Udang (prawn crackers) and Papadom (Indian crackers).
Ulam is part and parcel of traditional Malay meals. It consists of a variety of raw vegetables including ulam raja (king's salad), daun selom (selom leaves), kacang botol (winged bean) and terung (eggplant).
As raw vegetables are lacking in flavor, Ulam is customarily eaten with heavily-seasoned condiments such as cincalok (fermented shrimp) and sambal belacan (chili with dried shrimp). Also included are ikan masin (salted fish) and telur masin (salted egg).
A traditional Malay meal also resolves around kerabu (Malay salad). This evening's dinner has nearly a dozen types of kerabu dishes, including some that are made from sour plum, chicken liver and rice vermicelli.
Jeruk (pickles) are served on wooden vessels similar to congkak. Types of jeruk in today's buffet are Jeruk Anggur (pickled grapes), Jeruk Salak (pickled snake fruit), Jeruk Kedondong (pickled ambarella), Jeruk Pala (pickled nutmeg), Jeruk Betik (pickled papaya) and Jeruk Mangga (pickled mango).
Ramadan is also a time to sample various kinds of Malay kuih. While The Cafe's offering is far from complete, it consists of popular ones like Kuih Dadar, Kuih Bingka Ubi, Kuih Sago and Karipap (curry puffs). There are also several types of Western-style pastries and jellies.
Kuih Lapis (layered cake) is particularly nice. Being prepared layer by layer, this cake is rather expensive due to the tedious production process.
The Cafe also provides three types of kurma (palm dates) from different regions: China, Middle East and Egypt. This is quite unlike Ixora Hotel's buffet which uses the same type of dates to pair with seeds or nuts.
A buka puasa meal can be concluded with a satisfying bowl of Ais Kacang. This shaved ice dessert usually contains red beans, jelly noodle, attap chee (nipa palm fruit), sweet corn, grass jelly, peanuts and raisins. Gula melaka (palm sugar), sirap rose (rose syrup) and evaporated milk are used for flavoring.
The Cafe's Ramadan dinner is priced at RM68.00 for adults and RM50.00 per child or senior citizen. These are net prices. The buffet is served every evening between 7:00pm and 10:00pm. There are 7 menus on daily rotation, therefore guests are likely to see a different set of dishes during each visit.

Name: The Cafe
Address: Georgetown City Hotel, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-220-7373
Business hours: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.43301 N, 100.30679 E
Directions: Georgetown City 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 RM3.00 for 3 hours.

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