Hotel Jen

This article is part of my Chinese New Year 2018 compilation.

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

Hotel Jen Penang is a 4-star hotel at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), located next to 1st Avenue Mall and directly across the road from The Wembley. Formerly known as Traders Hotel Penang, the building was given a complete makeover to present a more youthful appearance. Like before, Hotel Jen is under the management of Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.
Café Jen is the hotel's all-day dining restaurant, replacing the previous The Islander. The newly renovated eatery presents a family-friendly dining atmosphere. This evening's visit to the hotel is to preview of the upcoming Chinese New Year course dinner. The actual dinner is supposed to be held at the Pinang Ballroom, but today's preview takes place at Café Jen instead.
Hotel Jen offers two menus: Auspicious Reunion (RM1,398.00 net) and Harmonious Prosperity (RM1,888.00 net). The primary difference is that the latter has one extra dish: Baked Lobster. Both menus are meant for 10 persons to a table.
Dinner commences with Salmon Prosperity Yu Sheng. Fish is considered auspicious because the Chinese word for "fish" (鱼) is phonetically identical to "abundance" (余). As per tradition, diners gather around the table to toss yee sang with chopsticks. It is believed that the higher that one tosses, the more wealth that one accumulates in the coming year.
Baked Lobster is included in the Harmonious Prosperity menu only. Flaunting proudly on the platter is a large spiny lobster, split in half lengthwise and cooked with a savory dressing based on salted egg. Blessed with succulent flesh, every morsel of the lobster is gratifying indeed. This delicacy is somewhat similar to the French dish Lobster Thermidor.
The Double-Boiled Chicken Consommè is also very satisfying. Infused with young coconut flesh, the rich chicken stock is saturated with heavenly taste. Besides chicken, the soup also includes dried scallops (干贝), fish maw (鱼鳔), shiitake mushrooms and snow fungus (雪耳). A serving of spring rolls is presented on the side.
The next dish is Empress Signature Roast Duck. Under the duck's waxy skin is its tender flesh, marinated to delectable perfection. Besides pine nut relish, the duck is also dressed in passion fruit sauce. Sweetness of this fruit goes pretty well with the juicy roast duck.
Wok-Fried Sea Prawns are cooked with XO sauce. The spicy seafood condiment penetrates the shrimps' shells to season its succulent flesh. The shrimps, plump and crunchy, are served over a bed of green bean sprouts (豆苗).
Homemade Wild Berries Sherbet is made from actual berries. This is evident from the fact that the slushy ice is intermittently dotted with bits of berry seeds. The sherbet does not solely rely on outright sweetness. Instead, it allows the natural flavors of wild berries to take the center stage.
The next course is a vegetarian dish: Steamed Bean Curd Skin With Assorted Mushrooms & Poached Broccoli. Also included in this dish is hair-like fat choy (发菜). Contrary to popular belief, this ingredient is not a seaweed, but is actually found in the Gobi Desert.
Steamed Live Tiger Garoupa is another delicacy from the marine kingdom. The fish is sourced from the same fish farm as Rasa Sayang. The grouper is kept alive until it is ready to be cooked; you can't get fish any fresher than this. Seasoned with superior soy sauce (头抽), the tiger grouper is garnished with coriander and ginger slivers.
Moving on to the penultimate dish, the Signature Longevity Noodles With Seafood is one of my favorite dishes this evening. Longevity noodle (长寿面) is essentially yi mein (伊面) when consumed on birthdays. It is thought that long noodles symbolize longevity. Main ingredients of this noodle dish are grouper fillets, shrimps and shimeji mushrooms (白玉菇).
The last course is Hotel Jen's unique creation: Eight Treasure Rice Pudding. Inspired by a popular tong sui (糖水) recipe, the pudding contains dates (红枣), lotus seed (莲子), ginkgo (白果) and wolfberry (枸杞). Sweetness is provided by red bean paste; it would be nice if there were more. The rice pudding also comes with jian dui (煎堆). These glutinous rice balls are filled with sweet lotus paste.
Hotel Jen's Chinese New Year course dinner includes mandarin oranges and free flow of Chinese tea. The Auspicious Reunion package comes with a bottle of red wine per table, while the Harmonious Prosperity includes a bottle of 15-year vintage whisky.
Unlike most hotels in Penang, Hotel Jen is offering the course dinner for one day only: Chinese New Year's Eve (15 February 2018). On the evening, the hotel is arranging family-themed entertainment like God of Prosperity appearance, lion dance, face changing performance (变脸) and live music. Raffles winners may win free hotel stays. To incentivize early birds, Hotel Jen is offering 15% discount for bookings by 1 February 2018.

Name: Hotel Jen Penang
Address: Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-262-2622
Business hours: 7:00pm-11:00pm
Coordinates: 5.41368 N, 100.33026 E
Directions: Hotel Jen is located at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), next to 1st Avenue Mall and just opposite of The Wembley. Pinang Ballroom is located at Level 3 of the hotel. The hotel provides parking in its basement levels. Customers enjoy complimentary parking for the first 2 hours.

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