Sukkah

This article is part of my Christmas 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Olive Tree Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

In the spirit of Christmas, Olive Tree Hotel is serving the Festive Buffet Luncheon at Sukkah Coffee House. The meal is held every weekday from 12 December 2018 to 28 December 2018 (except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). A broader menu is prepared on Sundays.
For most people, the main attraction is the Roast Turkey. It is served with chestnut & raisin stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, onion rings and assorted vegetables. Giblet gravy and cranberry sauce serve as condiments. Personally, I feel that the turkey is on the drier side of things. It would have been tastier if the meat were juicier.
On the other hand, I truly enjoy the Turkey Square. The loaf of turkey is glazed with honey, giving it a sweet touch which gratifies my taste buds. The Turkey Square is garnished with candied pineapple slices, but I think grilled pineapple slices would have been a better choice.
Seafood Paella is a popular dish from the coastal city of Valencia, Spain. The rice is cooked with seafood broth, which explains the dish's rich taste. Also included are delectable seafood like shrimps and green-lipped mussels. I cannot recommend this dish highly enough.
The Lamb Sausages are commendable too. Served with braised red cabbage and apples, the sausages are not too salty even when eaten directly.
Proceeding to the Japanese corner, I am pleased to see cold soba (蕎麦) on the menu. The noodle is customarily eaten with a sweet sauce called soba tsuyu (蕎麦つゆ). Other delicacies at the Japanese corner are omelette (玉子焼き) and assorted sushi (寿司).
The chocolate fountain steals the spotlight at the desserts section. Instead of milk chocolate, Sukkah uses white chocolate to fit the Christmas theme. Skewered marshmallows and apricots are provided. The chocolate fountain appeals to children in particular.
Mixed Fruit Cake is a popular treat during Christmas. The cake is filled with candied fruits, dried nuts and spices, making every morsel very satisfying. According to the traditional recipe, the cake can also be drenched with rum.
The Cranberry Layer Cake has cream cheese frosting between layers, while the Raspberry Chocolate Mousse is topped with thick raspberry sauce. Both choices are certainly recommended.
I am also attracted by the presentation of Violet Mousse. It is elegantly decorated with jasmine tea jelly and chocolate squares. At the top is a block of chocolate molded in the likeness of Santa Claus.
The gingerbread house is meant for decoration. However if you crave gingerbread like a fox, you may devour the poor gingerbread man!
Compared to other Christmas buffet menus that I tasted so far, Olive Tree Hotel places more emphasis on confections. As far as yuletide meals are concerned, I think this is a move in the right direction.

Name: Sukkah Coffee House
Address: 76, Jalan Mahsuri, 11950 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-637-7856
Business hours: 6:00am-10:30am, 12:00pm-2:30pm, 6:30pm-11:00pm (Monday-Friday), 6:00am-10:30am, 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:30pm-11:00pm (Saturday-Sunday)
Website: http://olivetreehotel.com.my/dining/sukkah
Coordinates: 5.32692 N, 100.27932 E
Directions: Olive Tree Hotel is located at Bayan Baru, just across the street from SPICE Arena. Sukkah is located at Level 1, just above a flight of elevator from the lobby. The hotel's multi-storey parking charges RM3.00 for the first hour, then RM1.00 for each subsequent hour.

Potspot

Ardence Labs is a lakefront shopping and dining complex in Eco Ardence, Setia Alam. The shops here are built inside shipping containers. One of these shops is Potspot, a restaurant that serves bak kut teh (肉骨茶) for lunch and steamboat for dinner. Potspot has air conditioning, but outdoor dining is also a good idea after sunset.
The Meat Set (肉类套餐, RM39.80) is meant for 1 or 2 persons. Customers have a choice of soup: fish bone soup (鱼骨汤), pork bone soup (猪骨汤), vegetarian soup (蔬菜汤) or tom yum soup (东炎汤). We opted for pork bone soup (猪骨汤). Besides having pork bones, the soup is also cooked with wolfberries (枸杞) and white radishes.
The set meal comes with raw ingredients like pork slices (肉眼片), pork meatballs (猪肉丸), luncheon meat (午餐肉), cheese hot dogs (芝士热狗), vegetables and mushrooms. Yee mee (伊面), tofu skin (腐竹) and egg are provided too.
To truly enjoy steamboat, add some vegetables as soon as the soup starts boiling. This allows the soup to be infused with natural sweetness. Next, add meatballs and sausages as they need longer time to be cooked. Pork slices only need to be blanched very briefly.
Diners can help themselves with a variety of condiments such as sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste), hot sauce, sweet sauce, minced ginger, coriander and more. Unfortunately, the sauces do not appeal to my palate. I feel that they lack the "fresh" taste and aroma.
It is nice to grab a cool bottle of Tsingtao Beer (青岛啤酒, RM14.80) while having steamboat. The enjoyment is amplified by the scenic view of an artificial lake in front of us.
In summary, the pork bone soup is quite tasty as it is rich in pork savoriness. However, there is room for improvement in terms of condiments. Of course, the lovely view here is certainly a big plus.

Address: Lot 21, Eco Ardence, Persiaran Setia Alam, 40170 Shah Alam, Selangor
Contact: 010-958-9319
Business hours: 11:30am-2:00pm, 6:00pm-11:00pm (Tuesday-Friday), 9:00am-2:00pm, 6:00pm-11:00pm (Saturday-Sunday), closed on Mondays
Taste
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Ambience
Hospitality
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Morganfield's

This article is part of my Christmas 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Morganfield's for extending this food review invitation.

Morganfield's, Home of Sticky Bones, is famous for its chargrilled pork ribs. The very first outlet in existence is at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Like other outlets, the restaurant's wooden theme presents a rustic appearance reminiscent of the American Old West.
Most dining tables are placed inside the restaurant itself. In addition, there are more dining tables "outdoors", which is not really open-air because the place still receives air conditioning from the shopping mall. The tables here can be moved along a rail. This allows the staff to combine or separate individual tables to suit the number of diners in each party.
The Pork Sausage Platter (RM39.90) features four signature sausages: Herby Hog, Spicy Devil, Smokey Bandit and Cheesy Cheese. These sausages are stuffed by Morganfield's; frozen ones are available for purchase too. The platter also comes with coleslaw and garlic aioli.
Another bestselling appetizer at Morganfield's is the Onion Blossom (RM22.90). Using a special kitchen utensil, a colossal onion is cut in the likeness of a blossoming flower. The onion is coated with light batter and spices, and then deep-fried to golden perfection. The onion's crispiness is simply mouthwatering! Note that the Onion Blossom is a seasonal dish so it may not be available all year long.
Meanwhile, Smokin' Duck Salad (RM32.90) comprises of fresh greens with smoked duck breasts, hard-boiled eggs and century eggs. The ingredients are brought together with soy vinaigrette. The salad is then garnished with sesame seeds, red chili peppers and scallions for aesthetic appeal.
In the spirit of Christmas, Morganfield's is serving the Christmas Feast (RM219.90) for sharing among 4 or 5 persons. The platter comprises of half slab of Sticky Bones Spare Ribs, Jack Daniels Glazed Baby Back, Roasted Pork Meatloaf, Christmas Roulade, Mexican Grilled Corn (elote) and two pork sausages (Herby Hog and Spicy Devil). Also included are giblet sauce, cranberry jam, red skin mashed potato, flat chips, and assorted vegetables & chestnuts.
For the Sticky Bones, available sauces are Hickory BBQ, Garlicky BBQ, Smoked Peppercorn, Rib Rub and Asian Charred. We opted for Asian Charred, which turns out to be an excellent choice! Similar to Chinese-style "char siu", the seasoning is sweet and savory. Thanks to the lovely marinade, the pork is scrumptious up to the bones.
Jingle Juice (RM14.90) is the special drink during this festive season. Served in a Hurricane glass, the drink is concocted from orange juice, watermelon juice, lime juice, passion fruit syrup and lemon lime soda. The fizzy drink is topped with a scoop of calamansi sorbet and mint.
Other popular beverages from the regular menu are Coffee On The Rocks (RM13.90), Virgin Apple Mojito (RM16.90), Connor's Original Stout (RM16.90), Kronenbourg Blanc (RM18.90) and Berry Easy (RM16.90). In the case of Coffee On The Rocks, the ice cubes are actually frozen blocks of espresso!
In case the Christmas Feast is too large for your party, go for the Mini Christmas Feast (RM109.90) or Christmas Roulade (RM36.90) instead. Morganfield's festive menu is available until 1 January 2019, so hurry up if you do not wish to sit this one out!
Name: Morganfield's
Address: C4.03.00, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: 03-2141-3192
Business hours: 11:00am-1:00am
Website: http://www.morganfields.com
Coordinates: 3.14960 N, 101.71231 E
Directions: Morganfield's is located at Level 4 of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, between Omaya and Tealive. The mall provides multi-storey parking.

The Resort Café

Special thanks to Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa for extending this food review invitation.

Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa is a 5-star property in Sunway City. The majestic building has a touch of Middle Eastern charm in its décor. As part of Sunway Group, Sunway Resort operates under the same management as Sunway Hotel Georgetown and Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya.
The Resort Café is the main restaurant inside the hotel. Its dining area is spacious indeed. Egyptian motif on the walls presents a mystical ambience. We are visiting the eatery this evening to savor the ongoing Christmas-theme buffet. Inspired by nutcracker dolls, the resort's Christmas theme this year is "Let's Get Crackin'".
One of the popular Christmas dishes is Honey Glazed Turkey. As per tradition, the turkey is served with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce. On the side are chestnut stuffing and an assortment of grilled vegetables.
Next, Roasted Briyani Turkey combines the traditional roast turkey with tandoori-style seasoning. This unusual marriage makes the turkey arguably more appealing. The turkey comes with a variety of grilled vegetables.
Served alongside the turkey is an attractive platter of briyani rice. Cooked with spices and ghee, the rice is garnished with hard-boiled eggs and almond flakes. Long-grain basmati rice is used. Basmati rice has a looser texture compared to jasmine rice.
Meanwhile, the Oven Baked Whole Fish is seasoned reasonably well. I also enjoy the fish's firm texture. The fish is dressed with a small amount of sweet-and-savory sauce.
The Chinese counter serves steamboat with over 30 ingredients and dipping sauces. The main highlight here is obviously the large barramundi. Chilled over ice, the fish is extremely fresh and succulent. Although several types of soup are available, I personally prefer clear soup as it is the best choice to enjoy the fish's natural flavor.
Seafood on ice covers marine delicacies like oysters, scallops, squids and shrimps. Lemon juice and Tabasco sauce serve as condiments. As for diners who love Japanese food, salmon sashimi is available too.
Taking a detour to Middle Eastern fare, Chicken Shawarma is perhaps the most familiar dish of all. Shawarma has been prepared ahead of time instead of being shaved from a vertical spit as some restaurants do. Nevertheless, I find the pita bread and its chicken filling quite appetizing.
Quinoa is cereal-like crop from South America. Being a rich source of protein, quinoa is favored by vegetarians and people with gluten-related disorders. The Pomegranate Quinoa Salad is garnished with parsley, bean sprouts and pomegranate seeds.
Moving on to the confectionery section, there are mouthwatering Christmas pastries such as Yule Log, Stollen, Fruitcake and Christmas Pudding. Other notable choices are Mixed Berries Cheesecake, Chocolate Hazelnut Cake and Brownies.
Last but not least, the fruits section presents a variety of cut fruits like apples, oranges, pineapples, papaya, watermelon, star fruit and cantaloupe.
Sunway Resort's festive buffet runs from 3 December 2018 to 1 January 2019. Both lunch and dinner sessions are available. The number of dishes here is staggering! However if I were to nitpick, I feel that the variety of Christmas pastries is somewhat underwhelming.
Name: The Resort Café
Address: Persiaran Lagoon, Bandar Sunway, 47500 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Contact: 03-7495-2009
Business hours: 6:00am-11:00pm
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 3.07087 N, 101.60880 E
Directions: Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa is located next to Sunway Pyramid. The hotel is accessible from the one-way road on the east of the shopping mall. Sunway Resort provides multilevel parking.

Mari Mari Cultural Village

This article is part of my 2018 Kota Kinabalu trip series.

Are you eager to learn more about the indigenous tribes of Sabah? Mari Mari Cultural Village is a great place to start. The attraction in Ulu Kionsom is approximately 9 kilometers from Inanam.
There are usually two session every day. The guided tour begins at 10:00am or 2:00pm, and takes around 3 hours per session. A guide is assigned to each visiting party. The tour is conducted in English, but due to a large number of tourists from China, some guides are proficient in Mandarin too.
From the main entrance, visitors walk across a rope bridge over a small stream. On the opposite side is a multicultural village that represents the five largest ethnic groups in Sabah: Dusun, Bajau, Murut, Rungus and Lundayeh in descending order. Each house was constructed by descendants of the respective tribe.
Kadazandusun is the merger of two former subgroups: Kadazan and Dusun. Dusun people are traditionally agrarian and reside in the west coast of Sabah. Many are rice farmers in the upland valleys of Crocker Range. Animism used to be the dominant religion, but at present most Dusun people are of the Christian faith.
As with many ethnic groups in Borneo, Dusun houses are constructed on stilts as a defense against wild animals and intruders. The ladder at the entrance is actually narrower than the one shown here. It can be easily removed to impede the advance of raiders.
Dusun culture is heavily influenced by rice farming. Kaamatan, the harvest festival, is the most important celebration of the year. Tangkob (granary) is used to stockpile rice after a bountiful harvest. It is usually raised above the ground to deter wild animals.
Excess rice from the harvest is often made into alcoholic beverages like lihing and montoku. Lihing is fermented from glutinous rice and is widely sold in Sabah. Meanwhile, montoku is a hard liquor (up to 40% alcohol content) produced by distilling fermented rice. Rice wines are usually served by using bamboo drinking cups.
Bajau is the second largest ethnic group in the state. There are two major subgroups in Sabah. The Bajau Laut, sometimes called "Sea Gypsies", are famed for their seafaring skills. They traditionally live on houseboats and are among the best freedivers in the world. On the other hand, the land-based Bajau Suluk are known for their equestrian (horse riding) culture.
Due to their maritime lifestyle, many Bajau people are traders. Some of them became wealthy in line of work and can afford luxuries such as textiles. As a result, Bajau houses are usually fancier and appear more "cultured" than other ethnic groups.
Most Bajau people embrace Islam, which explains why their wedding traditions are similar to Malays'. The bride and groom are seated on a "wedding throne" and are treated like royalty. The bride wears a "sarempak", an elaborate headdress that resembles a ship. Meanwhile, traditional musical instruments like gongs and kulintangan are played during the wedding ceremony.
Murut, the warrior tribe, gained a fierce reputation as headhunters. Indeed, collecting heads of their enemies used to serve an important role in many religious beliefs. This practice eventually stopped as many Murut people converted to Christianity.
The Murut people are proficient in forging weapons like blowpipes. Made of cengal wood, blowpipes are drilled using iron rods. While hunting or warring, the darts are tipped with paralyzing poison extracted from a certain tree sap. Some blowpipes also have spear heads so that they can also be used for hand-to-hand combat.
Murut people (as well as many Sabahan tribes) have elaborate funeral rites. The body of the deceased is kept inside a large pot (tempayan) and is left near the village. Sometimes, the pot is placed on trees. Kitanan is a religious ceremony that is performed 100 days after the passing of a prominent figure.
As for the Rungus, most people live in northern Sabah near Kudat. Similar to Dusun, Rungus culture revolves around rice cultivation. Their longhouses are built closer to ground. Rungus people hold gongs in high regard as they are symbols of wealth.
Rungus people are known for their impressive beadwork. Pinakol is worn over the neck and chest; the beadwork usually tells a story of a warrior who killed a river monster. Rungus women also wear brass rings around their necks, hands and feet.
The Lundayeh formerly practiced headhunting, although they were not as aggressive as the Murut. Most people inhabit in the southwestern region of Sabah near the boundary with Sarawak and Kalimantan. Lundayeh people traditionally engage in rice cultivation and animal husbandry. Because they reside next to rivers, some people make a living by hunting and fishing.
The Lundayeh people worship crocodiles as a symbol of strength. In the past, Lundayeh's headhunting rituals revolves around "ulung buayeh". Made from earth, ulung buayeh is a ceremonial mound that resembles a crocodile.
Our tour concludes with a 30-minute cultural dance in the performance hall. Afterwards, visitors are served lunch (or high tea). Home-cooked Sabahan dishes are presented in a buffet setting. This includes local produce and pungent condiments like sambal ikan bilis (spicy anchovy sauce).
Cooked dishes include Sada Ginuring Nonsok Onsom (fried fish with tamarind), Ginuring Sada Bosungan (deep-fried bigeye scad), Sinalau Manuk Mari Mari (grilled chicken with herbs) and Sawi Masak Bawang Putih (mustard leaves with garlic). Most dishes can be eaten with Takano Tinanok (steamed rice). Bong Tingeriki (fried banana) serves as the dessert.
As an interactive museum, Mari Mari Cultural Village affords visitors lots of hands-on participation. Visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rituals of each tribe. In addition, our guide is well versed in the subject matter and is very eager to impart his knowledge throughout the tour.

The adult admission fee is RM155.00 for Malaysians. This price includes a meal and transportation from Kota Kinabalu. Alternatively if you have your own transportation, it is advisable to pre-register at the Sabah Tourism Board in Kota Kinabalu city center. You get to enjoy a special rate of RM95.00 only!

Address: Jalan Kionsom, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Contact: 013-881-4921
Business hours: 10:00am-5:00pm