Mellowcup Cafe

Special thanks to Mellowcup Cafe for extending this food review invitation.

It has been a year since my previous visit to Mellowcup Cafe. While the café continues to serve specialty coffee, there are more brewing options now. Also with the arrival of a new kitchen crew, the food menu has been revamped substantially.
The house blend is used for most espresso drinks. As for artisan coffee, Mellowcup Cafe uses single origin beans supplied by Blooms, who has Hong Kong artist Moses Chan (陈豪) as its brand ambassador. Besides coffee, Blooms also supplies Mellowcup Cafe with English tea.
The Signature Coffee (带我走, RM14.00) consists of espresso with milk. Meanwhile, cocoa powder on top gives the appearance of tiramisu. Thanks to the presence of milk, the drink carries honey-like aroma and is very easy on the lips. The Signature Coffee is served chilled by default but the hot version is also available.
Cold drip coffee (冰滴咖啡), also known as Dutch ice coffee, uses an entirely different approach to extract coffee from beans. The setup begins with ice at the top chamber. As it melts, cold water drips into a jar of ground coffee underneath. While seeping through coffee grinds, cold water dissolves hydrophilic substances like sugars and, to a lesser degree, hydrophobic ones like oils. The solution passes through a paper filter and collects in the chamber below.
While an espresso machine takes advantage of high pressure and temperature to extract coffee, the cold drip method is painstakingly slow (around 10 hours per batch) because the setup relies on the force of gravity. Compared to espresso, cold drip coffee has substantially less caffeine and is generally a clearer brew.
Cold drip coffee requires beans from Africa because they have higher sugar content. It is necessary to use single origin beans for this extraction method to prevent the flavor from being too complex. Medium-light roast is ideal for this. Unlike espresso, cold drip coffee is typically kept refrigerated for days to allow its sugars to ferment. In fact if one keeps it long enough, the coffee may even develop wine-like aroma.
The finished product, Fresh & Tasty Coffee (沁入心啡, RM18.00), is sold in bottles of roughly 2 cups each. The foamy layer on top is produced by shaking coffee and ice in a cocktail shaker. The flavor of cold drip coffee is characterized by sweet fruitiness with a hint of berry-like tanginess. After several refreshing sips, I recommend adding a little milk to enjoy a different coffee experience.

The food menu has noticeably improved since my previous visit. For example, Herbs In Ocean (RM28.80) is balanced in terms of taste. This seafood pasta also contains generous amounts of mussels, shrimps and squid. Tomato sauce is slightly spicy but is still soothing to my palate. Finally, the dish is garnished with edible flowers for aesthetic appeal.
Another popular dish is Spaghetti Carbonara With Hot Spring Egg (RM21.80). As though the homemade sauce isn't rich enough, a runny egg makes it even creamier. Contributing to flavor and mouthfeel respectively are delectable turkey bacon and juicy shimeji mushrooms. The generous sprinkle of cheese is simply icing on the cake.
If you are an avid coffee connoisseur, Mellowcup Cafe is one of the few cafés that you must pay a visit in Penang. While the vast majority of specialty coffeehouses do not place much emphasis on food, Mellowcup Cafe is a rare instance which does - and does surprisingly well.

Name: Mellowcup Cafe
Address: 11-G-4, New Bob Centre, Jalan Gottlieb, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-937-3213
Business hours: 11:00am-10:00pm (Sunday), 10:00am-11:00pm (Tuesday-Thursday), 10:00am-12:00am (Friday-Saturday), closed on Mondays
Coordinates: 5.43202 N, 100.30185 E
Directions: From Jalan Bagan Jermal, drive towards Penang Botanic Gardens. With Penang Chinese Girls' High School on the right, turn left and drive in front of the row of shops. New Bob Centre is a commercial building further down. Mellowcup Cafe is one of the shops at the ground level, several shops away from Sa Rang Chae. Street parking is available.

The Eatery

This article is part of my Ramadan 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to Four Points By Sheraton Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Four Points By Sheraton Penang is a 4-star hotel along the main road between Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah. Operating since 2013, this 220-room hotel was refurbished from the former Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel. Four Points is an upscale brand under Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which also manages Macalister Mansion albeit under a different brand. Since 2016, Marriott International has acquired Starwood, making it the largest hotel chain in the world.
Taking advantage of its adjacency to the beach, Four Points has an al fresco reception to capture the soothing breeze from the sea. There are two eateries in this hotel: Best Brew and The Eatery. The Eatery is the all-day dining restaurant where hotel guests are served breakfast.
For the entire month of Ramadan starting today, The Eatery serves the "Tales of the Arabian Nights" Ramadan buffet dinner. As the theme implies, the menu features Middle-Eastern cuisine as well as several Mediterranean dishes. In addition, the buffet spread also includes authentic Malay cooking and local Penang street food.
Ulam-Ulaman (raw vegetables) are an essential element of iftar meals. Vegetable choices include ulam raja (king's salad), terung pipit (pea eggplant), daun selom (selom leaves), jantung pisang (banana flower) and kacang panjang (yardlong beans). Accompanying condiments are sambal belacan, air asam, acar rampai and kicap bercili.
The restaurant has prepared a decent variety of kerabu (Malay salad) this evening. Popular ones are Kerabu Sotong Limau Bali (squid & pomelo salad), Kerabu Mangga Muda (unripe mango salad) and Kacang Botol Dada Ayam Carik (winged beans with shredded chicken breast). Ikan masin (salted fish) and telur masin (salted egg) are also present.
During Middle-Eastern meals, meze (مقبلات‎‎) are small portions of food that are typically served before the main dishes. One such meze dish is Hummus (حُمُّص‎‎), which often serves as dipping sauce for pita bread. Hummus is primarily made from mashed chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame seed) and olive oil.
Another dipping sauce, Baba Ghanoush (بابا غنوج‎‎), is made from eggplants (brinjal), tahini and olive oil. Meanwhile, Fattoush (فتوش‎‎) is a salad mixture of toasted pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, black olives and onions. Olive oil and lemon juice typically serve as dressing.
Next, Tabbouleh (تبولة‎‎) comprises of bulgur (durum wheat) and finely chopped tomatoes, onion, parsley and mint. This vegetarian appetizer is seasoned with salt, olive oil and lemon juice.
Shamandar Salad consists of beetroots, almond flakes, oranges, onions and parsley. By the way, the Arabic word "shamandar" (شمندر) means "beetroot".
Kabsa Dajaj (كبسة‎‎ دجاج) is a rice dish using long-grain basmati rice. Besides chicken, rice is also seasoned with a mixture of spices such as saffron, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. Kabsa is considered a national dish of Saudi Arabia and is also widespread in other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
Chorba (çorba) is a lamb stew of Turkish recipe. Unfortunately, I feel that the lamb stew is way too salty for me. I am not sure whether this is how this stew is supposed to taste.
For something milder on the palate, try the Chermoula Baked Sea Bass. Chermoula (شرمولة‎‎) is a North African spice marinade that is regularly used to season fish in this manner.
Moussaka (مسقعة‎‎) is a generic name for an eggplant-and-tomato dish. The actual recipe for moussaka varies from place to place. This Turkish version is served with minced meat.
Moving to Lebanon, kofta (كفته) is a traditional meatloaf dish. Lamb Kofta Pizza employs strong flavor of lamb to bring a unique taste to pizza.
Returning to Malay cuisine, Sup Ekor Berempah (spiced oxtail soup) has rich flavors as the soup is stewed with oxtail and spices for several hours. Oxtail pieces are quite fatty, so avoid eating them unless you fancy greasiness.
There are baskets of multigrain bread and bread rolls to go with soup.
Daging Batang Pinang Tok Mamak (beef tenderloin curry) is one of the signature dishes here. The gravy is very creamy due to a copious amount of coconut milk.
Puyuh Goreng Berempah (spicy fried quail) is coated with an aromatic spice mix and is deep-fried to golden perfection. Quail's meat has similar texture to chicken.
Ayam Kalio (chicken curry) is a curry dish where coconut milk plays an important role in the overall taste. Kalio is sometimes known as wet rendang because it contains more gravy than traditional rendang.
As for seafood, try the Ikan Tenggiri Goreng Masak Acar (fried mackerel with sour sauce). Slices of mackerel are dressed in red sauce made from chili and tamarind. The fish is garnished with chopped onions and scallion.
One of my favorite dishes is Terung Sambal Udang Kering (eggplant with spicy shrimp paste). This recipe takes advantage of juicy eggplants while allowing shrimp paste to do the heavy lifting.
Located outdoors are several action stalls including a charcoal-fired barbecue grill. Shish Kebab (şiş kebap) is the most attractive item here. Marinated lamb is skewered with bell peppers and onions, and then cooked over burning charcoal to impart a sense of toastiness. Shish Kebab is basted with ghee (clarified butter) while the meat is being cooked.
Also available at the barbecue grill are grilled shrimps and sausages.
There is an array of condiments to go with grilled food. Black pepper sauce is reasonably good but I feel that peppercorn should play a larger role. Raita (made from yogurt) and mint sauce are also available.
Satay is also prepared today. Chicken or beef is first marinated with spices such as turmeric. Then, the meat is skewered and barbecued over charcoal fire.
Satay is typically enjoyed with spicy peanut sauce, nasi impit (pressed rice), cucumber and onions.
Another action stall serves Char Koew Teow Penang (槟城炒粿条). This local Penang dish consists of flat rice noodle that is stir-fried with shrimps, fishcake, eggs, bean sprouts, garlic chives, garlic, chili paste, special sauce and cooking oil. I am pleased with the large and fresh shrimps. Although the overall "fiery aroma" (镬气) is good, I feel that noodle needs to be "stirred" more thoroughly so that seasoning is applied more evenly.
Ramadan dinners are never without plenty of sweet Malay kuih. Today's lineup are Cucur Badak, Kuih Talam, Kuih Koci and Onde-Onde. Meanwhile, dodol is a sticky candy made from rice flour, coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). Dodol is sometimes flavored with durian.
Apple Crumble Tart has sweet topping made from apples, oats, cinnamon flour and butter. This pastry is quite appealing but it is rather filling.
Served in small cups, Crème Caramel comprises of vanilla custard and a layer of soft caramel on top. Crème Caramel is quite similar to Crème Brûlée, except that the latter is covered with hard, transparent caramel.
Chocolate Brownies are presented in bite-size portions. The rich chocolatey taste complements well with crunchy walnuts.
Pandan Custard Cake is also prepared in small servings. Chocolate cake forms the base while the softer layer above is dyed with pandan extract.
Proceeding to Middle-Eastern treats, Baklava (بقلاوة) is made from multiple thin layers of unleavened dough filled with walnuts in between. The pastry is sweetened with honey. This Turkish recipe was originally served in the imperial palace of the Ottoman Empire.

Hailing from Egypt, Basbousa (بسبوسة‎‎) is another sweet pastry made primarily from semolina. Basbousa is quite popular throughout the Middle East.
Meaning "custard" in Turkish, Muhallebi is a creamy pudding made from rice flour, milk and syrup. Other desserts that are also served in small cups are Sago Gula Melaka (sago pearls in palm sugar) and Pudding Jagung (corn pudding).
Diners may enjoy an endless flow of drinks such as sirap bandung (rose-flavored evaporated milk), cincau (grass jelly), orange juice, pink guava juice and chrysanthemum tea. The drinks are kept chilled on a bed of ice.
Biji selasih (basil seeds) and grass jelly are provided to go with certain drinks. When basil seeds come in contact with water, they expand to form a translucent layer around the core. This results in an appearance similar to frog eggs.
Four Point's Ramadan buffet dinner is offered from 27 May 2017 to 24 June 2017. The price is RM54.00+ per adult and RM30.00+ per child or senior citizen. Children under the age of 6 dine for free. Also important to note is that The Eatery is a halal-certified restaurant.

Name: The Eatery
Address: 505, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Tokong, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-371-8706
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Coordinates: 5.46372 N, 100.30193 E
Directions: Four Points By Sheraton Penang 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. Parking spaces in front of the hotel are extremely limited. Valet service is provided to assist with parking.

The Cafe

This article is part of my Ramadan 2017 compilation.

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

Located within the same building as Midlands 1-Stop, Georgetown City Hotel showcases its 2017 Ramadan buffet dinner this evening. This year's theme is Selera Kampung Ramadhan. Held at The Cafe, the dinner menu focuses on affordability. Unlike last year, this year's buffet is held entirely indoors.
Ulam-Ulam (raw vegetables) is often served in traditional Malay meals. Vegetable choices include ulam raja (king's salad), daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves), jantung pisang (banana flower) and kacang botol (winged beans).
Raw vegetables are typically eaten with powerful condiments like air asam (tamarind sauce), sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste) and sambal kicap cili padi (bird's eye chili in soy sauce). Ikan masin (salted fish) is also available.
As for kerabu (Malay salads), popular choices are Kerabu Betik (young papaya salad), Kerabu Ayam & Tanghoon (chicken & glass noodle salad) and Kerabu Taugeh & Kerang (bean sprouts & cockles salad).

Other appetizers include Keropok (crackers), Papadom (Indian crackers) and Tauhu Sumbat (stuffed tofu). Kurma (pitted palm date) is also often eaten during iftar (breaking-fast) meals.
Sup Kambing (Mutton Soup) is loaded with fatty chunks of mutton. The blend of spices produces rich taste, making the soup rather appetizing. Other staple foods are Bubur Lambuk (Malay porridge) and Nasi Briyani (Biryani rice).
The Cafe has a grilling station where meats are cooked on a griddle. Meat choices today are sliced beef, lamb chops, chicken drumsticks and sausages. Overall, I am quite satisfied with the taste and general level of doneness.
As for seafood, kembung (mackerel), pari (stingray) and kupang (mussels) are available.
Grilled seafood works best with air asam. On the other hand, black pepper sauce is the recommended condiment to go with red meats. I love the fact that the black pepper sauce contains coarse bits of peppercorn.
As for precooked dishes, Daging Rendang (spicy beef) is highly recommended. Beef is marinated with a blend of spices, and then cooked for hours until most liquid has boiled away. This rendang dish is cooked perfectly - further proof that you do not need to visit 5-star hotels to enjoy good food.
Ayam Masak Ros (rose chicken) does not contain actual roses. The name refers to its reddish gravy, which comprises of tomato, dried chili peppers, kunyit (turmeric), lengkuas (galangal), halia (ginger), serai (lemongrass) and onions.
As for Stir-Fried Black Pepper Prawns, I feel that the shrimps are not as crunchy as they ought to be. I recommend using fresher shrimps to provide juicier texture.
Dhalca (vegetable curry) is a stew of eggplants, carrots and potatoes. Despite its vegetarian nature, I find this dish to be surprisingly appetizing.
Other hot dishes during today's buffet are Braised Lamb With Rosemary Sauce, Fillet Seabass With Kerabu Sauce, Squid Thai Style and Fried Mixed Vegetables.

One of this evening's highlights is Mee Ketam (crab noodle). The soup is very similar to Hokkien Mee, but uses flower crabs instead of shrimps. Yellow noodle (黄面), rice vermicelli (米粉), meatballs, hard-boiled egg, choy sum (菜心) and bean sprouts are to be blanched in hot water before being added to the soup. I feel that the soup is too salty for me, but otherwise this Mee Ketam is quite enjoyable.
Rojak Buah (fruit salad) is a mixture of jambu batu (guava), betik muda (young papaya), sengkuang (jicama), nenas (pineapple) and cucumber. The cut fruits are typically dressed in thick shrimp paste.
Ais Kacang is a popular Malaysian dessert. Diners can pick their own ingredients. Choices are attap chee (nipa palm fruit), cendol (green jelly noodle), cincau (grass jelly), red beans and peanuts. Shaved ice is flavored by coconut milk, gula melaka (palm sugar) and sirap ros (rose syrup).
Ramadan dinners are incomplete without an assortment of sweet Malay Kuih. This evening, the selection of kuih is Kuih Lapis Pelangi (rainbow-colored layer cake), Kuih Bakar Pandan (pandan-flavored cake), Seri Muka (glutinous rice cake with pandan custard) and Cucur Badak (sweet potato balls with spicy fillings).
In particular, I like the chewy texture of Abuk-Abuk. These glutinous rice cakes are filled with sweet coconut filling, while the outer surface is dusted with flour.
Sago Gula Melaka is made from sago pearls. Soft and translucent, the pearls are dyed green for aesthetic appeal. Since sago is tasteless on its own, gula melaka and coconut milk are provided as sweeteners.
In addition, the desserts counter also includes several types of cakes and fruit jelly. Also presented is Bubur Kacang Hijau Dengan Pulut (green pea soup with glutinous rice).
Moving on to drinks, sirap bandung (rose-flavored milk) and soy milk are provided in dispensers. Hot coffee and tea are also served.
Georgetown City Hotel's Selera Kampung Ramadhan is served from 30 May 2017 to 21 June 2017, between 7:00pm and 10:00pm. The buffet dinner is priced at RM55.00 net for adults and RM30.00 net for children. Senior citizens enjoy discounted price of RM42.00. This is one of the most affordable Ramadan buffet dinners in Penang this year.

Name: The Cafe
Address: Georgetown City Hotel, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-227-7111
Business hours: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Coordinates: 5.43298 N, 100.30689 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.