Kopi Tiam

This article is part of my Ramadan 2017 compilation.

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

Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang is located between Lebuh Farquhar and Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. Formerly known as The City Bayview Hotel Penang, this 4-star hotel has the distinction of having the only revolving restaurant in Penang (Three Sixtyo). Other eateries in the hotel are Kopi Tiam and Waka Japanese Restaurant.
Kopi Tiam is operated by the hotel itself and serves as its flagship coffeehouse. Besides catering breakfast buffet, Kopi Tiam also offers an à la carte menu that covers primarily local food. As per tradition, Kopitiam is hosting the Ramadan Buffet Iftar every evening. The buffet spread covers Malay dishes with elements of Thai cuisine. Like the previous years, a chef from Thailand is invited over to prepare authentic Thai food during this month-long event.
Roasted Lamb Leg is the main highlight this evening. The lamb is cooked to the right level of juiciness, making the flesh quite delectable. On the side are grilled vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes. Black pepper and mint sauces serve as condiments. Thai dry chili sauce (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว) is also prepared for diners who prefer to spice things up.
The batter for Roti Jala is made from flour, egg, milk and turmeric. Using a special utensil, batter is drizzled on hot griddle surface, resulting in web-like appearance. Roti Jala is usually eaten with chicken and potato curry. In case you are staying in the hotel, Kopi Tiam also serves Roti Jala for breakfast.
Mee Udang is also known as "Hokkien Mee" in Penang. The preference is to use a mixture of yellow noodle and rice vermicelli. Also important to enhance flavor is sambal (chili paste). Other ingredients include shredded chicken, shrimps, boiled eggs, bean sprouts, kangkung (water spinach) and fried onion.
Pasembur is a salad mix of fritters, tofu, boiled eggs, sengkuang (jicama) and cucumber. Pasembur is typically dressed in sweet peanut sauce.
As for hot dishes, Mamu Gulai Ikan Dengan Kacang Bendi is a good dish to start with. The vibrant red color of fish curry is very enticing. Besides being spicy, the curry also carries mild tanginess from tamarind. Besides fish, there are juicy pieces of okra (lady's fingers) to serve as counterbalance to this fiery dish.
If your palate is more attuned to strong flavors, you cannot go wrong with Sambal Ikan Bilis Dengan Ikan Masin. For this dish, salted fish is cooked with anchovies and chili paste. This dish is best eaten with some rice because it is too salty to be eaten directly.
Hailing from Terengganu is a popular street snack called Cucur Lekor. The word "lekor" means "roll" in local Terengganuan dialect. Prepared from ikan parang (wolf herring) and sago flour, the fish paste is made into rolls and then deep-fried in oil. The chewy texture makes this snack particularly popular with children. It would be nice if chili sauce is provided, though.
Merinjau is a popular snack from Indonesia, where it is known as emping. Each piece is made from a belinjo nut - roasted, smashed, dried and then fried. Merinjau is slightly bitter but I think this is its main appeal. Speaking of crackers, keropok ikan (fish crackers) and papadom (black gram crackers) are also available.
Thai is one of the most celebrated cuisines across the globe. One of the best-known Thai delicacy is Tom Yum (ต้มยำ), which is made from Thai spices like chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. The fiery soup is unforgiving to the tongues of the unprepared, so go slowly if you are unsure of your tolerance level. Tom Yum can be enjoyed with shrimp, squid and fish - all of which are provided.
Thai Chicken Briyani (ข้าวหมกไก่) is often served in southern Thailand and is quite similar to our local Biryani Rice. Rice is cooked with chicken pieces, chicken stock, ghee (clarified butter) and spices like garlic, turmeric and cardamom. Overall, this rice dish is very satisfying. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Thai Fish Cake (ทอดมันปลา) is made from slices of minced fish that is seasoned with curry paste. Chopped yardlong beans and kaffir lime leaves are also added. Thai Fish Cake is usually dipped in sweet chili sauce.
Another interesting delicacy from Siam is Thai Fried Chicken (ไก่ทอด). Chicken is coated with shredded lemongrass and is deep-fried to golden perfection. The chicken's main appeal is its crispy coating. For the best aroma and taste, consume the fried chicken while it is still sizzling hot.
Thai BBQ Beef (เนื้อปิ้ง) is marinated so well that each slice is saturated with savoriness. Beef slices can be dipped in Thai dry chili sauce.
Som Tam (ส้มตำ) is an interesting appetizer made from shredded papaya. Unripe papaya is preferred to take advantage of its crunchiness. Using mortar and pestle, Som Tam combines the tanginess of unripe papaya, sourness of lime, spiciness of red chili, sweetness of palm sugar and salty-savoriness of fish sauce. Also added to provide crunchy texture are peanuts, yardlong beans and anchovies (sometimes replaced with dried shrimps).
Miang Kham (เมี่ยงคำ) is yet another iconic Thai delicacy. The name means "one bite wrap" in Thai. Raw ingredients for Miang Kham include anchovies, roasted peanuts, galangal, shallots, lime, lemongrass and bird's eye chili. Ingredients are mixed on a wild betel leaf (ชะพลู), dressed with sweet sauce made from palm syrup, and then folded up to be eaten.
Thai Chicken Meat Salad (ลาบอีสาน) consists of chicken, onion, chili peppers, fish sauce, lime juice and ground roasted rice. This spicy and sour salad originates in northern Thailand.
While on the subject of Indochina, Vietnamese Spring Rolls (chả giò) are deep-fried to provide crispy appeal. This type of spring roll is drastically different from the familiar gỏi cuốn which most people usually associate with Vietnamese Spring Rolls.
As for sweet treats, buah kurma (pitted palm dates) are essential for Muslims to break fast. Typically, three dates are taken before Maghrib prayer. There are also several types of Malay kuih like Kuih Seri Muka (glutinous rice cake with pandan custard), Kuih Bingka Ubi (tapioca cake) and Kuih Sago (sago cake with palm sugar).
Should diners prefer Western pastry, there is an assortment of cakes in bite-size portions. Also presented are crème caramel, mango pudding as well as several types of agar-agar.
Thai Bubur Cha Cha (ขนมบัวลอย) contains substantially more coconut milk than the local Nyonya version. I suggest that you take this dessert towards the end of the meal or you will be surfeited very quickly. I also think it would be nice if Thapthim Krop (ทับทิมกรอบ) were served too.
Bayview Hotel's Ramadan Buffet Iftar is available from 29 May 2017 to 23 June 2017. Food is served from 6:30pm to 10:00pm. The buffet is priced at RM68.00 net for adults and RM40.00 net for children (ages 6 to 12). Compared to other Ramadan offers around Penang, Bayview Hotel has the distinction of having authentic Thai cuisine on the menu.
Name: Kopi Tiam
Address: Bayview Hotel, 25-A, Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-263-3161
Business hours: 6:30am-1:00am
Website: http://bhgp.bayviewhotels.com/en/wine-dine/kopi-tiam
Coordinates: 5.42199 N, 100.33592 E
Directions: Bayview Hotel is located at Leith Street (Lebuh Leith), between Lebuh Farquhar and Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. Kopi Tiam is located on the Ground Floor and next to the lobby. The hotel's multi-storey parking garage is accessible from Lebuh Farquhar. Street parking is also available in front of the hotel.

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