The Spice

This article is part of my Christmas 2017 compilation.

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

The Spice is a semi-fine dining Western restaurant in Royale Chulan Penang. Located next to the hotel's swimming pool on Level 2, The Spice is where the Friday Night Poolside BBQ is held in the event of rain. One of the most prominent features of this restaurant is an aquarium that is filled with colorful tropical fish.
Although it is still nearly a month away from Christmas, The Spice has already been decorated with festive ornaments to reflect the joyous spirit of the year-end festival. This evening, the restaurant gives a sneak peek of the Yuletide Western Set Dinner, a 5-course meal which includes amuse-bouche and dessert.
As soon as we are seated, fresh bread roll is served. Warm from the oven, the roll delights my appetite with its pleasant aroma. Premium butter is provided.
Amuse-bouche is a small starter in which the chef sets the tone of the meal. This French phrase literally translates as "mouth amuser". Interestingly, the French do not use this term, instead preferring to say "amuse-gueule".

This evening's amuse-bouche is Scallop Gratin With Cilantro Mayo. Although slightly smaller than its Hokkaido counterpart, the American scallop is delectable nevertheless. The accompanying dressing carries cooling aroma of coriander which accentuates the scallop's intrinsic sweetness. Microgreen is used as garnish.
Proceeding to the appetizer, Prawn & Mango Salad is another masterful brainchild of the chef. At the heart of the salad are cooked shrimps and mango cubes. Held together by lime aioli, both ingredients are presented in a pastry cup. As for plating, the salad is surrounded by individual pieces of edamame (枝豆).
If you are fond of soup, you are in for a treat next. Spiced Winter Melon & Apple uses double cream to achieve the desired consistency. What's also interesting is the interplay between cooling taste of winter melon and occasional tartness of diced apple. Garlic croutons are added for the finishing touch. After soup, orange mint sorbet is served in order to reset the palate prior to the main dish.
There are three choices for main dish; the most popular choice is the Hand-Carved Roast Turkey With All The Stuffing. Roasted to golden perfection, the turkey is flavored with a mixture of cranberry sauce and turkey au jus. Buttered vegetables and mashed pumpkin are presented on the side. During the actual Christmas meals, Yorkshire pudding is also included.
The second choice of main dish comes from the marine kingdom: Steamed Sole Fish. Dressed in butter sauce (beurre blanc), the fillet is succulent indeed. Juicy asparagus and snow peas serve as counterbalance to the fish. During the actual meals, this dish comes with a pumpkin soufflé too. Alluring salmon roe on top provides aesthetic appeal.
Potato & Rocket Gnocchi is tailored for vegetarians. Gnocchi, made from semolina, is dressed in creamy sauce made from blue cheese and salsa verde (herb sauce). Accompanying vegetables are Romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce and cherry tomatoes. The actual plating will include a piece of parmesan crisp.
This evening's dessert is Chocolate Parfait. Prepared from cocoa, cream, egg and sugar, this custard-like chocolate mousse carries reasonably rich cocoa taste. The French dessert is further sweetened with strawberry sauce that contains diced strawberry, kiwifruit and plum. Cast sugar serves as icing on the cake.
Towards the end of the meal, one is served a platter of cheese followed by a drink. Coffee is my preferred choice to conclude the evening. I generally opt for unsweetened black coffee to truly enjoy the coffee's freshness.
The Spice's Yuletide Western Set Dinner is served between 7:00pm and 10:30pm. There is a similar menu on New Year's Day. Priced at RM180.00 net per couple, the evening meal includes a party pack and 2 glasses of house wine. Wine can be substituted for draft beer should diners prefer so.
In addition to the 5-course dinner, Royale Chulan is also offering Christmas-themed buffets at Sri Tanjung Cafe. Held under a more casual settling, the buffet is ideal for families with young children. It is also a great dining idea for year-end reunion with friends. To reward early birds, the hotel is offering 10% discount for all bookings before 15 December 2017.
Name: The Spice
Address: 1 & 2, Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-259-8888
Business hours: 12:00pm-2:30pm, 7:00pm-11:00pm
Coordinates: 5.41703 N, 100.34363 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 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.

Swez Brasserie

This article is part of my Christmas 2017 compilation.

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

Eastin Hotel Penang is a popular choice among business travelers due to the hotel's proximity to Queensbay Mall and Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. Similar to many hotels across Penang, Eastin has decorated its lobby with festive Christmas decorations.
Swez Brasserie is Eastin's flagship restaurant. In the spirit of the year-end holiday season, the coffeehouse is hosting a series of yuletide-themed buffet meals. Today's preview offers a sneak peek of the festive menu this year. Like the lobby, the restaurant is also decorated with ornaments to get into the spirit of Christmas.
The centerpiece of today's buffet is the Roasted Turkey. Marinated with herbs, the turkey is best paired with cranberry sauce. Alternatively, giblet sauce and black pepper sauce are great choices too.
Served with the turkey are grilled vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, baby potatoes, onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile, Yorkshire Pudding is a traditional English puff pastry whose original purpose is to make use of roast meat drippings. I am also fascinated by pear-shaped potato croquettes on the side.
Another delicacy from the carvery section is the Beef Wellington. At its core is a piece of beef tenderloin. The fillet is coated with rich pâté spread and then wrapped in puff pastry. Pâté helps to retain the beef's moisture and to prevent the pastry from becoming too soggy. Baked in an oven, Beef Wellington is served in thin, juicy slices. This dish goes pretty well with walnut sauce.
Diners can also help themselves at the cold cuts section. Presented on the buffet counter are exquisite treats such as smoked duck, smoked beef, smoked salmon, red snapper medallion, seafood terrine and chicken roulade.
Swez Brasserie also presents a variety of seafood on ice: chilled oysters, scallops, mussels and shrimps. With the exception of oysters, all seafood items have been cooked beforehand. Condiments to go with seafood include Tabasco sauce, sweet chili sauce and lemon wedges. Lemon juice is crucial to suppress the "rawness" of oysters.
As for hot dishes, Fragrant Prawn With Nutmeg Mayo Sauce is one of my personal favorites this evening. The deep-fried shrimps are dressed in sweet mayonnaise, shrimp roe and grated nutmeg. The combination of flavors tantalizes my taste buds in an intriguing manner.
For something spicy, Salmon Fish Head Curry is a sound choice. Salmon head does not contain much flesh, but its main purpose is to infuse the curry with savory flavors. I also enjoy the juiciness of eggplant (brinjal) and okra (lady's fingers).
Poultry is represented by Honey Roasted Chicken. Bite-size chicken is cooked with honey, delighting the tongue with its soothing sweetness. A light sprinkle of sesame seeds serves as the finishing touch.
Spaghetti Aglio-Olio is blessed with an abundance of shrimps. Cooked al dente with olive oil, the pasta also contains bell peppers, black olives, cherry tomatoes, garlic and red chili flakes.
Meanwhile the salad bar provides fresh vegetables like Romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green olives and capers. Salad dressings are Thousand Island dressing, French dressing, mango dressing, kiwi dressing and vinaigrette. I particularly recommend the kiwi dressing.
Other salads are German Potato Salad (kartoffelsalat), Mediterranean Couscous Salad, Pomegranate Salad and Fruit Salad. I am uncertain of the correct way to enjoy the Pomegranate Salad. Pomegranates contain seeds that make the salad rather unpalatable.
One of the most time-consuming works at the pastry kitchen is Gingerbread House. While the production of gingerbread is pretty straightforward, the decorating aspect is somewhat manual and tedious. Despite stealing a disproportionate amount of limelight, the Gingerbread House is barely touched by diners. I think people feel bad about ruining a fine piece of art
Christmas Yule Log is another pastry that is only seen during Christmas. This traditional German dessert is made from chocolate cakes with chocolate icing. In order to imitate the bark of an actual yule log, the cake's surface is raked with a fork.
Christmas Stollen is a traditional German bread that is often associated to Christmas. The fruit bread contains chopped candied fruit, providing some degree of sweetness but is not nearly as sweet as fruit cake. The loaf is cut into slices and is meant to be eaten without any spreads.
Chocolate Truffle Cake is perfect for people who love the bitter-sweet taste of chocolate. Speaking of cocoa, there is also Chocolate Pudding with vanilla sauce. Meanwhile, diners who prefer cheese can indulge in the Classic Cheese Cake.
During this year's Christmas and New Year season, there are 5 buffet sessions at Eastin:
- Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner 7:00pm-10:30pm (RM128.00 net)
- Christmas Day Buffet Hi-Tea 12:00pm-3:00pm (RM88.00 net)
- Christmas Day Buffet Dinner 7:00pm-10:30pm (RM128.00 net)
- New Year's Eve Buffet Dinner 7:00pm-10:30pm (RM128.00 net)
- New Year's Day Buffet Hi-Tea 12:00pm-3:00pm (RM88.00 net)
Children under the age of 12 are entitled 50% discount. Senior citizens also enjoy reduced prices.

Name: Swez Brasserie
Address: 1, Solok Bayan Indah, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-612-1128
Business hours: 6:00am-12:00am
Coordinates: 5.33629 N, 100.30632 E
Directions: Eastin Hotel Penang is located along Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu) and is conveniently next to Queensbay Mall. Swez Brasserie an eatery next to the hotel lobby. There are parking spaces at the basement levels of the hotel.

Hardwicke House

This article is part of my Christmas 2017 compilation.

Special thanks to VOUK Hotel Suites for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Hardwicke House is a two-floor English mansion between Gleneagles Penang and The Northam. A large open area in front serves as the parking lot for dine-in customers. Hardwicke House is one of the three eateries under VOUK Hotel Suites; the others are C'est Si Bon Restaurant and Indulgence Lounge.
Instead of the usual C'est Si Bon Restaurant, hotel guests may choose Western-style breakfast at Hardwicke House. To cater to the lunch and dinner crowd, the restaurant offers a number of affordable Western set meals. In addition, Hardwicke House also serves pastry and wine.
In the spirit of the upcoming Christmas season, Hardwicke House is hosting a yuletide-themed buffet dinner on Christmas Eve. Themed "Under The Stars", the event will be held outdoors under the festive night sky. Today's preview merely shows a subset of the dishes that the kitchen crew has planned for the actual dinner.
As per tradition, Roast Turkey is an orthodox component of any Christmas feast. Marinated with spices, the turkey is gently roasted such that its flesh remains tender and juicy. The turkey is also stuffed with a mixture of mushroom and giblets, making it a delectable treat indeed. Served on the side are grilled mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes, carrots and onions. Also included are baked potatoes in aluminium foil.
As for red meats, Garlic & Minted Flavor Lamb Chop is the main highlight this evening. The lamb leg is marinated rather splendidly, retaining much of its succulent juice. An assortment of grilled vegetables not only serves as garnish, but also as counterbalance to the lamb.
Moving back to poultry, Marinated Chicken Thigh takes advantage of Cajun-style seasoning to tantalize one's palate in an interesting manner. Served with barbecue sauce, this dish is one of my favorites this evening.
Do you fancy Smoked Salmon? At the buffet line, lovely slices of cured salmon are neatly arranged on a wooden board. The platter is garnished with pickled cucumber and lemon wedges.
Another well-received delicacy this evening is Cold Seafood On Ice: mussels, scallops, razor clams and shrimps. Oysters are notably absent due to the increased risk of consuming raw shellfish. Tabasco sauce, Jalapeño peppers and lemon wedges are provided as condiments.
Asian dishes this evening are Classic Beef Stew With Carrots & Potato, Chinese Fried Rice With Mixed Vegetables, Duck Breast With Orange & Cinnamon Glaze and Steamed Broccoli & Mixed Mushroom With Oyster Sauce. The last two dishes are particularly good.
The pastry section is a vital element of any Christmas meal. One of the most prominent examples is the Yule Log. Known as "bûche de Noël" in French, the cake consists of Swiss rolls decorated in the likes of an actual Yule log. Resemblance to tree bark is achieved by raking chocolate icing with a fork.
Gingerbread is cut into various shapes like gingerbread man and snowflakes. Flavored with ginger, cloves and cinnamon, these baked cookies are renowned for their lovely aroma. Gingerbread is somewhat chewy but is not nearly as crispy as ginger snap.
Roasted Pumpkin Cheesecake is prepared in 2 stages: roasting followed by baking. The cake is very creamy and is almost as rich as peanut butter. Go easy on the cheesecake because it can be quite surfeiting. What I like the most about the cheesecake is the occasional crisp of pumpkin seeds.
Stollen is a cake-like fruit bread that is typically prepared during Christmas season. This traditional German bread is dotted with candied fruit that provides most of its sweetness. Powdered sugar is sprinkled on top for aesthetic appeal.
Hardwicke House's Christmas Eve dinner is served from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. The price is RM88.00 net per person. A similar buffet dinner is also held on New Year's Eve. Customers are advised to make reservations in advance as there are limited tables available here.
Name: Hardwicke House
Address: 67, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-370-8388
Business hours: 7:00am-12:00am (Sunday-Thursday), 7:00am-1:00am (Friday-Saturday)
Coordinates: 5.42765 N, 100.32054 E
Directions: VOUK Hotel Suites is located on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, right before The Northam and across the road from Gurney Beach Food Gallery. Hardwicke House is a two-floor mansion next to the hotel. Parking is available in front of the restaurant. Dine-in customers enjoy complimentary parking; parking tickets can be validated at the restaurant.

Wonderland Village Restaurant

Special thanks to Wonderland Village Restaurant for extending this food review invitation.

Wonderland Village Restaurant (食家庄餐厅) is a Chinese restaurant at Fortune Park. It is one of the shops at the row which faces the newly refurbished Fisherman's Wharf. There are plenty of parking spaces in front of the restaurant, which is a huge convenience for customers.
The dining section presents a suitable setting for both family dining and business meals. Fancy tablecloths and upholstered chairs provide an upscale ambience - perfect if one intends to impress guests. In addition, the restaurant has more dining tables on the upper floor.
Wonderland Village Restaurant serves Chinese banquet-style dishes. The menu covers pork, lamb, poultry, seafood, tofu and vegetables dishes. Beef is not served here. Today's meal covers some of the restaurant's signature dishes on its à la carte menu.
Deep Fried Pork Rib With Coffee (咖啡排骨, RM12.00 per piece) has been introduced just recently. Each piece consists of two rib bones and the flesh in between. Coated with sweet-savory glaze, the ribs are blessed with sweet fragrance of coffee. This dish is absolutely gratifying.
Sautéed Baby Lamb Chop (香草羊仔骨, RM30.00) is another red meat dish that deserves special mention. Marinated with herbs, the lamb carries unique aroma of mutton - one that some people may feel uneasy with. However, I feel that the pleasant marinade reduces this effect to a certain extent. Served with shimeji mushrooms (白玉菇) and red onions, this dish is tantalizing to the palate.
As for fish, Steamed Red Lion In Nyonya Sauce (黄汁蒸红狮, RM70.00) is a sound choice especially for people who are fond of turmeric (黄姜). This dish bear a respectable degree of spiciness, so go easy with it. Also known as red snapper, the fish has a delectable texture which benefits from the appetizing Peranakan-style gravy.
Pan Fried Prawn In Vietnamese Style (越式焗明虾, RM30.00) is another interesting seafood delicacy. Influenced by Vietnamese flavors, the juicy shrimps are stir-fried with sweet-tangy hoisin sauce. This makes the shrimps literally finger lickin' good.
I also recommend the Cheese Baked Crab (芝士蟹壳, RM12.00 per piece). Flower crab (花蟹) is used here. The crab's meat is mixed with cheese and seasoning, stuffed back to its carapace, and then baked with a crumbly crust. It takes some time to prepare this dish, so advanced ordering is advised.
The Cantonese-style Roasted Chicken (手撕鸡, RM42.00) is sometimes also known as "rotisserie chicken" (吊烧鸡). This is because the chicken is presented on a vertical spit. Excess fat from the roasted chicken is allowed to drip to the pan of salad below, enhancing the latter's taste and aroma.
The chicken is cooked reasonably well. The flesh is tender and peels off the bones very easily. Spicy and non-spicy dipping sauces are provided. This poultry dish also comes with a serving of crackers. Owing to the lengthy food preparation process, it is recommended to order this dish one day in advance.

The menu at Wonderland Village Restaurant is designed around creativity and uniqueness. Many of its dishes are seldom found elsewhere. Taste wise, the restaurant's cooking is quite balanced and appeals to the mainstream palate. There is also a strong emphasis on food presentation.
Wonderland Village Restaurant also serves set lunch on weekdays. Customers are allowed to choose from a list of dishes on a special menu. Meals are priced at RM90.00 and RM180.00 for 5 and 10 persons respectively. Rice, soup, Chinese tea and dessert are included.

Name: Wonderland Village Restaurant (食家庄餐厅)
Address: 43, Jalan Perusahaan Jelutong 3, 11600 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-281-8133
Business hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm, closed on Wednesdays
Coordinates: 5.39488 N, 100.32460 E
Directions: Wonderland Village Restaurant is located at Fortune Park. It is one of the shops at the row which faces Fisherman's Wharf. There are lots of parking spaces in front of the restaurant.