Sri Tanjung Cafe

This article is part of my Ramadan 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to Royale Chulan Penang for extending this food review invitation.

The Royale Bintang Penang at Weld Quay (Pengkalan Weld) has been renamed as Royale Chulan Penang. This corporate rebranding covers 4 properties that were formerly under The Royale Chulan brand (5 stars) and another 4 under The Royale Bintang brand (4 stars). Despite the fact that Royale Chulan Hotels & Resorts now spans across different star ratings, the hotel chain aims to provide 5-star hospitality regardless.
For the upcoming Ramadan, Royale Chulan Penang offers the Ramadan buffet dinner at Sri Tanjung Cafe. This year's theme is "Selera Ramadan: Macam-Macam Ada..." (Taste Of Ramadan: Food Of All Sorts...). Today's preview event is meant to highlight several popular dishes that the restaurant has to offer during the month-long promotion.
Kurma (pitted palm dates) is a must for iftar (meal to break fast). Dates are arranged to collectively resemble a pineapple, while sago pearls form the base. This is one of the two artistic presentations of dates that I encountered this year.
Bubur Lambuk (Malay Porridge) is another essential Ramadan food. The rice porridge is flavored with chicken and spices so that it is tasty without additional condiments. Bubur Lambuk is typically taken to satiate hunger after fasting during daytime.
Nasi Briyani Gam (Johorean Biryani Rice) originated in Batu Pahat but is starting to gain popularity nationwide. The looser texture of basmati rice puts more emphasis on seasoning rather than rice's starchiness. Nasi Briyani Gam is garnished with julienned carrots, green peas, raisins and mint. It is interesting to see red and green bell peppers being used as a floral garnish.
Nasi Tomato (Tomato Rice) is cooked with tomato paste, which is responsible for providing tangy taste as well as reddish color. In terms of garnishing, Nasi Tomato is similar to the previous dish. I think it would be nice to also have Nasi Hujan Panas (Rainbow Rice) on the Ramadan menu.
Hailing from the Middle East, Kambing Bahmia (Mutton & Okra Stew) is stewed with okra (lady's fingers) and tomato in flavorful gravy. The Arabic word "bahmia" (باميه) refers to okra. Kambing Bahmia is served with tomato, carrot, green peas and coriander.
Speaking of okra, Kari Ikan Tenggiri Bendi (Mackerel & Okra Curry) is another dish that uses this vegetable. The fish curry is reasonably spicy by Malaysian standards and is best eaten with rice. Its creaminess comes from coconut milk. In Malay cooking, tenggiri (mackerel) is often used for fish curry because its texture is sufficiently firm and the fish is also relatively inexpensive.
Daging Salai Pulut Kuah Lemak (Smoked Beef With Glutinous Rice & Gravy) features slices of smoked beef dressed in flavorful gravy made from coconut milk and kunyit (turmeric). This dish is served with glutinous rice cakes.
Meanwhile, Spaghetti Sambal Sotong (Spaghetti With Spicy Cuttlefish Gravy) is a fusion of Italian pasta and Malay-style seasoned cuttlefish. I personally feel that the al dente texture of pasta does not connect well with the gravy's sharp spiciness. Nevertheless, people's reception to this dish is very polarized.
For shellfish, Kepah Masak Cili Padi Pedas (Mussels Cooked With Bird's Eye Chili) is served today. Asian green mussels are cooked in creamy gravy and a copious amount of bird's eye chili (cili padi). I think the mussels are too small; larger ones are preferred.
Sweet & Sour Prawns is a Chinese-style stir-fried dish of shrimps with tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. Unlike the previous shellfish dish, the size of shrimps is reasonable.
Besides hot dishes, the Ramadan buffet also features 10 action stalls at the hallway outside the restaurant. From the outside, it is evident that Sri Tanjung Cafe is actually restored from a heritage building. This building was originally built in 1892.
The most well-received action stall this evening serves Kambing Panggang Golek (Grilled Lamb). The lamb is first marinated with a special blend of spices. Then, the whole lamb is skewered on a spit and is roasted over burning charcoal. I generally prefer cooking with charcoal over cooking gas as the former imparts an appealing sense of toastiness. Raita and mint sauce are provided as condiments.
Another popular item from the barbecue is Satay. Chicken is marinated with turmeric and then barbecued on skewers. The marinade is nice overall, but it is equally important to consume Satay while it is still hot. During actual Ramadan dinners, beef version of Satay is also available.
Ayam Goreng Berempah (Spicy Fried Chicken) is coated in spicy chili paste and then deep-fried in a wok of scalding oil. The aroma, taste and crispiness of fried chicken pieces are at the zenith when they are still hot.
Another deep-fried delicacy is Cucur Kerang Berlauk (Cockle Fritters). Using adhesive properties of flour batter, cockles, bean sprouts, onions, red chili and scallion are combined in hot oil to form fritters. The crispy fritters are quite greasy but this is the nature of this dish.
Murtabak and Roti Canai are made from flour dough that needs to be stretched beforehand. For the case of Murtabak, chicken or beef is added. Pieces of dough are then fried on a griddle until they turn slightly brown. The flatbreads are typically eaten with pickled onions and dhal (lentil curry).
Sushi Sotong Kerabu Mangga (Cuttlefish & Pickled Mango Sushi) is something unconventional indeed. Like regular sushi, Japanese short-grain rice is used. However instead of traditional ingredients like pickled daikon, this fusion-style sushi is prepared using cooked cuttlefish and unripe mango. Rice and other ingredients are rolled in seaweed (海苔) using a bamboo mat called makisu (巻き簾). In my personal opinion, I feel that this sushi is not my cup of tea.
Jetty Apam Balik (Jetty Peanut Crêpes) is a popular street snack that is often sold at hawker centers, roadside stalls or pasar malam (night markets). Using a small metal pan, a thin layer of flour batter is applied onto the hot surface. The crêpe is filled with crushed peanuts, sweet corn and brown sugar, and then folded. During the actual Ramadan dinners, banana and peanut butter versions of Jetty Apam Balik are also made available.
The platter of Ulam-Ulaman Kampung features 6 types of raw vegetables, namely daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves), ulam raja (king's salad), kacang botol (winged beans), bendi (okra) and tomato. Condiments such as budu (fish sauce), tempoyak (fermented durians) and sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste) are often used as dipping sauce.
Kerabu Pucuk Paku (Fern Salad), Kerabu Tanghoon (Glass Noodle Salad), Kerabu Taugeh (Bean Sprouts Salad), Acar Rampai (Mixed Vegetable Pickle) and Acar Timun Nenas (Cucumber & Pineapple Pickle) are popular within the Malay community. Also included is Tempeh (Fermented Soybeans) which originated in Indonesia.
Diners can mix their own Rojak Buah-Buahan (Fruit Salad) using fresh fruits like mangga (mango), nenas (pineapple), jambu batu (guava), sengkuang (jicama), jambu air (rose apple) and timun (cucumber). Fruit pieces are dressed in belacan, a type of savory shrimp paste that is irresistible if prepared well.
As for Malay kuih, there are Seri Muka, Cucur Badak, Kuih Lapis and Kuih Bingka Ubi. I think the variety of Malay kuih should be expanded.
Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding is made from interleaving layers of bread that are held in place by buttery custard. After being baked in an oven, the pudding is given a shower of icing sugar. This pudding is conventionally served with vanilla sauce. Also available this evening is the crumbly Apple Strudel.
For something lighter on the mouth, Mini Crème Caramel and Mango Pudding are good choices.
There are also individual serving portions of Fruit Jelly Shooter, Orange & Lime Mousse, Chocolate & Fruits Mousse and Pandan Panna Cotta. These desserts are served in small transparent cups that are quite attractive from the aesthetic standpoint.
Sago Gula Melaka is a popular local dessert. Sago pearls are nearly tasteless on their own, therefore gula melaka (palm sugar) is often drizzled on top. If you enjoy sago, you should also try another soupy dessert called Sago Pengat Pisang.
Last but not least, the buffet also provides free flow of drinks such as Teh Tarik (Pulled Milk Tea), Air Bandung (Rose-Flavored Milk), Air Soya (Soy Milk) and fruit juices are provided to quench our thirst.
Royale Chulan Penang's Ramadan buffet dinner is held from 29 May to 23 June 2017. Dinner is served from sunset till 10:00pm. For the first and final weeks (29 May to 4 June 2017, and 19 June to 23 June 2017), the buffet is priced at RM78.00 net for adults, and RM40.00 net for children and senior citizens. During the other 2 weeks, the price is RM88.00 net for adults, and RM44.00 net for children and senior citizens.

Name: Sri Tanjung Cafe
Address: 1 & 2, Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-259-8888
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Coordinates: 5.41696 N, 100.34400 E
Directions: From the ferry terminal at George Town, turn right and drive along Weld Quay (Pengkalan Weld). Royale Chulan Penang is located shortly on the left, at the same block as Via Pre and Made in Penang Interactive 3D Museum. There is a small lane right after the hotel, which leads to the main entrance and multi-level car park. At the front desk, restaurant patrons can get their parking tickets validated for a flat rate of RM5.00 per entry.