Roselle

This article is part of my Ramadan 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to Lexis Suites Penang for extending this food review invitation.

As the only hotel in Teluk Kumbar, Lexis Suites Penang offers a unique type of vacationing experience. Flaunting opulent-looking marble finishing at the common areas, the hotel has recently obtained its much-coveted 5-star rating.
For the upcoming Ramadan, Lexis Suites is offering the "Mai Pi Makan Ala-Ala Kampung" iftar buffet dinner. The actual meals will be served on the beachside lawn, but for the purpose of today's preview event, dinner is served at Roselle Coffee House instead.
The hotel's Ramadan buffet dinner features traditional Malay cuisine with elements of Arabic food. Inspired by souq Ramadan (رمضان سوق‎‎) or Ramadan marketplace, the buffet covers more than 100 iftar dishes of local and Middle-Eastern origins.
Ulam-Ulaman (raw vegetables) is an integral element of Malay cuisine. Leafy types of ulam are ulam raja (king's salad), daun selom (selom leaves) and daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves). Other popular types of ulam are kacang botol (winged beans), kacang panjang (yardlong beans), timun (cucumber) and tomato.
Condiments that are often used as dipping sauce for ulam are cincalok (fermented shrimp), sambal hijau (green chili sauce) and sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste). The sauces are served in stone mortars to present a sense of authenticity.
As for ikan masin (salted fish), there are three types namely ikan bulu ayam (moustached thryssa), ikan talang (queenfish) and ikan gelama (soldier croaker). Also included is telur masin (salted egg). These salted items are traditionally considered poor man's food because they are meant to stretch the palatability of plain rice.
There are two types of kurma (pitted palm dates) for this evening's buffet. For Malay salad, there are Kerabu Sotong (Squid Salad) and Kerabu Suhun (Noodle Salad). In addition, the buffet counter presents several types of jeruk (pickles) like mangga (mango), pala (nutmeg) and kedondong (ambarella).
Bubur Lambuk Ayam (Malay Chicken Porridge) is regularly served during Ramadan in a communal setting. Cooked with meat and spices, the porridge helps to build appetite before the actual feast.
Lamb Kuzi is the main highlight of this evening's buffet. The lamb is first marinated for several hours beforehand. Next, the lamb is roasted until golden brown, and then kept warm over a gas-fired grill. Thanks to a special blend of Southern Arabic spices, the Lamb Kuzi is quite pungent even by Middle-Eastern standards.
Chicken Shawarma is probably the most recognizable Middle-Eastern food. For this Levantine street food, chicken is cooked on a vertical rotisserie, which is regularly rotated so that all sides to cook evenly. As the meat cooks, the outer layer is shaved off using a sharp knife, allowing the layer underneath to get cooked. Chicken slices are then stuffed into pita bread with optional condiments like tomato, cabbage and mayonnaise.
Lamb Zurbian Rice is Yemeni recipe using long-grain basmati rice. Compared to jasmine rice, basmati rice is relatively lighter on the mouth, allowing aromatic seasoning to take the center stage. Much like Nasi Hujan Panas, rice grains are dyed in vibrant colors for aesthetic appeal. Should guests prefer something more familiar, Nasi Tomato (Tomato Rice) is also available.
Sup Gear Box is derived by stewing cattle bones for several hours, culminating in a soup saturated with rich, savory flavors. This dish is named so because the femur resembles a gear stick. The bone marrow inside the bones is a delicacy indeed. However if you do not take beef, Sup Ayam Berempah (Spicy Chicken Soup) serves as an alternative.
There are also several live cooking stations for hawker food such as Roti Jala and Char Koay Teow Kambing (Mutton Char Koay Teow). Compared to the Chinese version, Malay-style char koay teow contains residual liquid gravy and is typically cooked with shrimps, squid and even crabs.
Inspired by a recipe from Kuala Lumpur, this special char koay teow uses mutton in lieu of seafood. The mutton has been marinated beforehand, so it is tender enough for this noodle dish. Besides mutton, the flat rice noodle is also cooked with eggs, bean sprouts, garlic chives, garlic, chili paste, soy sauce and cooking oil. I think it is nice to try something new for a change.
For Satay Ayam (Chicken Satay), the chicken is marinated with kunyit (turmeric). Besides giving the distinctive yellow color, turmeric also improves aroma and flavor. Skewered and barbecued over burning charcoal, satay is usually served with spicy peanut sauce, ketupat, cucumber and onions.
Ketupat are rice dumplings that are wrapped in palm leaves. Meanwhile, Lemang uses glutinous rice and is cooked in hollowed bamboo stems. Ketupat and lemang can be eaten with serunding, a type of seasoned meat floss which is similar in taste and texture to Chinese rousong (肉松).
Otak-Otak means "brains" in Malay, in reference to its soft texture that resembles white matter of brains. This popular snack is actually made from fish paste mixed with tapioca starch, curry powder, turmeric powder and chili peppers. Otak-Otak is usually wrapped in nipa leaf, and then grilled over burning charcoal.
Meanwhile, Pasembor is a local Penang street food that is often sold by Indian-Muslim hawkers. This assorted salad uses fried dough fritters, hard-boiled eggs, sausages, tofu and cucumber in sweet peanut sauce. Meanwhile for something fruitier, try some Rojak. Assorted fruits like mango, plum, starfruit, jambu air (rose apple) and cucumber are tossed in thick shrimp paste.
At the salad section, familiar types are Egg Salad, Potato Salad and Roast Beef Salad. As the buffet also carries Middle-Eastern elements, there are also exotic ones like Hummus Salad and Tabouli Salad. Hummus (حُمُّص‎‎) is a type of dip made from mashed chickpeas. Meanwhile, Tabouli Salad is a mixture of finely-chopped tomato, parsley, mint, onion and durum wheat.
Ekor Lembu Asam Pedas (Spicy Oxtail With Tamarind) is a popular oxtail dish in Malay restaurants. Cooked in thick curry and coconut milk, oxtail chunks are infused with savory flavors that help to mask the "rawness" of beef.
Ayam Percik (Roasted Spiced Chicken) is another dish which relies on balanced mixing of spices. The recipe is originally from the east coast region of Peninsula Malaysia. As usual, coconut milk plays a significant role in producing creamy mouthfeel.
If you have an affinity to chicken offal, Hati Ayam Masak Lada (Black Pepper Chicken Liver) is probably your cup of tea. I personally like the savory taste of chicken liver.
Telur Ikan Masak Lemak Pedas (Spicy Roe With Coconut Milk) is prepared in yellow gravy that contains turmeric. The chunks of "meat" in yellow gravy are neither meat nor fish, but are actually fish roe. Personally, I feel that the roe is too firm to truly take advantage of the gravy.
Taking a detour to something sweet, Pengat Pisang (Banana & Coconut Milk Soup) is a warm dessert with soothing creaminess thanks to the presence of coconut milk. The starchy liquid contains banana slices and sago pearls. Also available this evening is Bubur Gandum (Sweet Wheat Porridge).
The desserts table also presents several types of Malay kuih such as Kuih Lapis, Kuih Kosui and Sago Gula Melaka. I am looking forward to seeing a larger variety of kuih during the actual Ramadan dinners.
Should guests prefer Western-style desserts, there are macarons, puddings and fruit jellies to delight their sweet tooth. In fact, there is even a cake that is decorated with elaborate icing in the appearance of a large ketupat!
Fruits that are served today are apple, papaya, pineapple, honeydew and watermelon. Compared to other aspects of the Ramadan buffet, the fruit section seems underemphasized. I am eager to see a wider variety of fruits (especially tropical ones) like pitaya (dragon fruit) and nangka (jackfruit). In terms of drinks, popular thirst quenchers during Ramadan are Teh Tarik, Sirap Bandung and Kurma Juice.
Lexis Suites' Ramadan buffet dinner is available every evening from 27 May to 24 June 2017. The buffet price is RM68.00 net for adults, RM40.00 net for children and senior citizens. The first 1,000 adult vouchers are now available for purchase at discounted price of RM58.00 each. There are also weekly lucky draws with attractive prizes like hotel rooms and Ramadan meal vouchers.

Name: Roselle Coffee House
Address: 28, Jalan Teluk Kumbar, 11920 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-628-2888
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Website: http://www.lexissuitespenang.com/en/dining/overview/roselle-coffee-house
Coordinates: 5.28691 N, 100.23244 E
Directions: From Bayan Lepas, drive along Jalan Teluk Kumbar towards the intersection with Jalan Gertak Sanggul. Lexis Suites Penang is the tall building on the left just before the intersection. As the only building more than 3 floors in Teluk Kumbar, it is impossible to overlook this hotel. Roselle is located at the Mezzanine Floor, just above the lobby atrium.

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