Sigi's Bar & Grill

Special thanks to Golden Sands Resort for extending this food review invitation.

Sigi's Bar & Grill is one of the two main restaurants in Golden Sands Resort; the other is Garden Cafe. This wooden building was formerly a private holiday retreat owned by the late Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah. In the indoor dining area, a small pond separates the hall into halves.
As a beachside restaurant, Sigi's also offers al fresco dining under the shade of coconut palm trees. With lovely views of the sea and golden sunset over the horizon, the place presents a relaxing setting for holidaymakers.
As part of Shangri-La's guest chef program, Golden Sands Resort is having Chef Fabio Polidori this week. Chef Fabio currently serves as the Executive Chef of Shangri-La Hotel Qingdao. Hailing from the small town of Fossombrone in central Italy, Chef Fabio grew up in a family which revolves around home-cooked Italian food.
Chef Fabio has 2 decades of culinary experience, having worked in many restaurants around the world including in Australia, Greece, United Arab Emirates, China, Thailand and Malaysia. Passionate about experimenting with food, Chef Fabio's forte is Mediterranean cuisines. His signature dishes cover Italian, Greek, French, Spanish and Moroccan recipes.

This evening, Chef Fabio is giving a live cooking demonstration at Sigi's. Today's subject is folded pizzas called panzerotti, a popular street food in southern Italy. Panzerotto means "little belly" in Italian because the pastry resembles a bloated belly when it is cooked. Panzerotto is similar to calzone but the former is deep-fried instead of being oven-baked.
Panzerotto is made from the same flour dough as pizzas. After flattening and shaping using a rolling pin, the dough is topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Other toppings include seafood like tuna, salmon, white snapper, shrimp and squid. Vegetable choices are spinach, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, black olives and mushrooms. The dough is folded and sealed, and then deep-fried so that it becomes crispy. Panzerotti are similar in appearance to local curry puffs.
Chef Fabio is also showcasing many of his signature dishes this evening. For instance, Gambas Bravas (RM40.00) is a Spanish appetizer based on shrimps ("gambas" means "shrimps" in Spanish). Sautéed with garlic and herbs, the prawns are served with cherry tomatoes, lemon and aioli. Meanwhile, sweet potato chips on the side are Chef Fabio's interpretation of patatas bravas, although the traditional recipe uses white potatoes instead.
The second appetizer, Beef Keftedes (RM27.00), is Greek in origin. "Keftedes" is the Anglicized spelling for the Greek word, κεφτές. The beef meatballs are served with tzatziki (τζατζίκι) sauce, a traditional Greek sauce made of yogurt. Meanwhile, cherry tomatoes and lemon juice serve to provide citrus tanginess. Overall, this dish is exquisite indeed.
Pondicherry Soup (RM32.00) is named after the city of Pondicherry, a former French colony in India. Created by a Michelin 2-star chef whom Chef Fabio has worked with before, the soup is formulated from a special blend of 12 spices. The Pondicherry Soup is also loaded with seafood like shrimps, squid and fish. Chef Fabio took some creative license by replacing coconut milk with fresh milk, and by removing the curry flavor that is typical in Indian stews.
Scallop Risotto (RM43.00) is one of my favorite dishes this evening. This traditional rice dish is particularly popular in northern Italy. The risotto is cooked in flavorful broth to a creamy consistency. Saffron lends its lovely flavor as well as the distinctive yellow color. At the top is a succulent piece of grilled Hokkaido scallop. Also included are crunchy asparagus and a light shower of cocoa powder.
Potato Gnocchi (RM39.00) are another traditional Italian dish. The soft dumplings are made from semolina and potatoes. Although ready-made gnocchi are commonplace nowadays, Chef Fabio prefers to make them the old-fashioned way, i.e. by hand. The gnocchi are served with sun-dried tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala), pesto sauce and arugula (garden rocket).
Chef Fabio picked up the recipe for Moroccan Lamb Tagine (RM110.00) while working with a Moroccan chef in Dubai. Tagine (الطاجين) also refers to the earthenware pot in which meat is traditionally stewed. The cone-shaped lid helps to retain moisture - essential considering the scarcity of water in North Africa. Tagine is customarily cooked over hot charcoal, but this is obviously not practical in Sigi's.
Served in savory gravy rich in spices, the lamb shank is cooked to perfect tenderness. At the side is a large serving of couscous (كُسْكُس‎). Made from semolina, couscous has a light and fluffy texture. The serving size of Moroccan Lamb Tagine is huge because it is meant for 2 persons.

Harissa (هريسة‎) is a North African blend of spices including red chili peppers. This condiment is used in the Harissa Salmon Steak (RM73.00). Grilled to perfection, the salmon fillet remains fairly juicy even when the skin has become crispy. As for presentation, the plating involves mashed beetroot, charred scallions and squid ink.
The Affumicato Pizza (RM42.00) has delectable toppings like smoked salmon (salmone affumicato), ricotta cheese, artichokes, arugula and chili flakes. I love the crispy texture of the thin crust.
This evening's desserts reflect the experiences that Chef Fabio has picked up around the world. One of them is Panna Cotta Mont Blanc (RM24.00). The panna cotta presents gentle sweetness on the tongue without overpowering the taste buds. Also included is a scoop of raspberry sorbet as well as a brush of gold paint.
Most of Chef Fabio's signature dishes go well with wines. For white wine, Beringer Main & Vine Chardonnay (RM135.00) is the recommended choice. As for red wine, diners may enjoy a bottle of Beringer Founders' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (RM160.00).
Sigi's menu also covers a wide variety of cocktails. For instance, the Tiki-style Mai Tai (RM32.00) contains a mixture of rum, orange Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup and lime juice. The cocktail's exotic tropical taste makes it an excellent thirst quencher. Other recommended cocktails include Golden Sands and Sands Cooler.
Chef Fabio's signature dishes are included on Sigi's à la carte menu throughout the month of March 2018. The dishes are served during dinner only, and are not available on Fridays and Sundays because buffet is served on these days. It is always a great pleasure to meet chefs from around the world. Therefore, I am glad that Shangri-La has an active guest chef initiative.
Name: Sigi's Bar & Grill
Address: Golden Sands Resort, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-886-1852
Business hours: 11:00am-12:00am
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.47772 N, 100.25166 E
Directions: Driving from George Town and upon arriving Batu Ferringhi, Golden Sands Resort is located on the right at the first traffic junction. Sigi's Bar & Grill is located towards the far side of the resort, after the pools and facing the beach.

Oriental Red

Motorists driving southbound on Jelutong Expressway (Lebuhraya Jelutong) should come across a prominent animatronic crab at Fortune Park. This is the facade of Oriental Red Seafood Market (东方红海味).
Oriental Red is a two-floor seafood retail store that sells nearly every edible creature in the marine kingdom. In addition to retail sales, the store also supplies seafood to many seafood restaurants in Penang.
Oriental Red sources all kinds of seafood from around the world, including Atlantic salmon from aquaculture farms in Norway. To maintain freshness, seafood is usually stocked in chilled or frozen form.
In addition to seafood, Oriental Red also carries a wide variety of dry goods ranging from canned scallops to bird's nest. Some of these products are not easily found at the retail level.
For a limited time, Oriental Red is having a Chinese New Year menu at its dining section. The meal starts with Oriental Red Yu Shang (东方红七彩鱼生). The platter features fresh slices of salmon and Japanese amberjack. Jellyfish, seaweed, baby octopus, roe and crab sticks are present too.
Unlike most yee sang that I have tasted during this Chinese New Year season, Oriental Red focuses on juicy and crunchy ingredients as opposed to just crackers. The yee sang (鱼生) is served with Japanese wafu dressing. Presented in sashimi style, this appetizer commands a high degree of prestige.

The next dish is Sashimi (刺身), an assortment of exquisite seafood including salmon (三文鱼), tuna (金昌鱼), northern prawns (北极虾), octopus (章鱼), surf clams (北寄贝), abalones (鲍鱼), Hokkaido scallops (北海道带子) and salmon roe (三文鱼卵). Wasabi (山葵) and lemon juice help to suppress the rawness of certain seafood ingredients.
Oriental Red Signature Porridge (招牌粥) features a large Boston lobster (波士顿龙虾), which is succulent indeed. In this Cantonese-style porridge, rice grains have mostly disintegrated to form a thick emulsion. The porridge is also served with sesame oil, ginger slivers and chopped scallions.
Oriental Red Signature Nabe Soup (招牌火锅) is prepared from lightly flavored vegetable stock. Served in a hot pot, the soup initially contains enoki mushrooms (金针菇), napa cabbage (大白菜), scallions (青葱) and carrots. Its taste becomes increasingly flavorful as more food is added to the pot.
Raw ingredients for steamboat are arranged on a large platter. Seafood items are ikejime grouper fish fillets (法缔刀法石斑鱼肉片), king prawns (大明虾), New Zealand green-lipped mussels, abalone slices (鲍鱼片), sea cucumber (新鲜海参) and fish maw (新鲜鱼鳔). As for non-seafood ingredients, there are Iberico pork slices (西班牙黑毛猪肉片) and shiitake mushrooms (日本香菇).
Another delicacy to go with steamboat is a gigantic Spiny Lobster (美国龙虾). Also included are Alaskan king crab legs (皇帝蟹脚), which are cooked and served chilled.
As your might have expected, a meal at Oriental Red does not come cheap. For instance, today's meal costs RM1,688.00 per table of 10 persons. Nevertheless, Oriental Red is popular among businessmen as a place to splurge and to impress clients. After the Chinese New Year season, I wonder how its regular menu looks like.
Address: 28, Jalan Perusahaan Jelutong 2, 11600 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-283-3363
Business hours: 12:00pm-12:00am

Swez Brasserie

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

Eastin Hotel Penang is rolling out a new buffet theme this year. Held every Sunday at Swez Brasserie, the "Journey Throughout Malaysia" buffet lunch offers a variety of local dishes that Malaysian know and love. The menu's diverse cooking styles reflect the multiethnic makeup of the Malaysian society.
Ulam-ulaman is a popular Malay salad especially in the countryside. It consists of raw vegetables such as yardlong beans, okra (lady's fingers), cabbage, cucumber and tomato. The vegetables are often taken with powerful condiments like budu (fermented anchovies), cincalok (fermented shrimps), sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste) and sambal kicap (spicy soy sauce).
Also prepared today are a handful of Malay salads, namely acar jelatah (cucumber & pineapple salad), kerabu ikan (fish salad), kerabu jantung pisang (banana flower) and kerabu ikan bilis (anchovy salad).
Still on the topic of salads, Penang Rojak comprises of cubed fruits including mango, guava, pineapple, rose apple (jambu air) and cucumber. The fruits are dressed with thick rojak sauce with the help of a mixing bowl. Additives like crispy fritters and crushed peanuts help to improve the overall mouthfeel.
Chicken Lobak is made from minced chicken and five-spice powder (五香粉). Wrapped in tofu skin, the rolls are deep-fried such that the skin becomes very crispy. Presented on skewers, the lobak (卤肉) is also served with century eggs (皮蛋) and sweet chili sauce.
Nasi Hujan Panas uses basmati long-grain rice, which has lighter texture than jasmine rice and is not so surfeiting. This dish is visually appealing as it uses rice grains of various colors, giving an illusion of colorful raindrops. The rice is cooked with ghee and is garnished with coriander and fried shallots.
Despite being a Minangkabau recipe, Daging Rendang Minang enjoys widespread popularity by the mainstream palate. This savory dish is prepared by slow cooking beef with coconut milk and spices. After most liquid has evaporated, the resulting dish attains an extremely rich taste. In fact, this is one of my favorite dishes during today's lunch.
As for Sambal Udang Petai, medium-sized shrimps are cooked with sambal (chili paste) and petai (stink beans). While the overall taste is acceptable, I prefer the petai to play a more prominent role.
Moving on, Curry Squid is cooked with bamboo shoots to present a mixture of rubbery and crunchy textures. The accompanying gravy contains a substantial amount of coconut milk.
Lala Masak Cili is cooked with dried chili peppers for the fiery aroma. Unfortunately, the clams have very little flesh. Therefore, I think it is better to use mussels instead.
At the action counter, the main highlight today is Ikan Bakar Padang. The choice of fish is stingray (ikan pari). Marinated with spices, the fish is cooked on a griddle and is served with air asam (tamarind sauce). Other dishes at the action counter are cucur bawang (onion fritters), fried wanton noodle, popiah basah and cendol.
The salad bar presents fresh ingredients such as lettuce, cabbage, capsicum, cherry tomatoes and more. Salad dressings include French, Thousand Island, pesto, honey mustard and vinaigrette.
Two types of soups are prepared today. Crab Rasam (நண்டு ரசம்) is a south Indian concoction that uses brown crabs, tamarind juice and other spices. Meanwhile, Fish Maw Soup (鱼鳔汤) is relatively milder and is often served in Chinese banquet dinners. Both soups are very appetizing. Like my previous visit, I am wholly impressed with Eastin's soup recipes.
Moving on to desserts, the chocolate cake is topped with strawberries, blueberries and cherries. The cake is presented on a serving tray, which is dusted with fine icing sugar to enhance the cake's aesthetic appeal.
Next, the fruits cake contains a variety of fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, red grapes and peaches. The elaborate icing on top makes the cake very attractive indeed.
As for traditional Malay kuih, the pastry chef has prepared puteri ayu, kuih kosui and kuih sagu today. It would be nice to also see several Nyonya kuih being thrown into the mix.
The Chinese pancake (煎饼) is filled with sweet bean paste (豆沙). In my opinion, there should be more filling in proportion to the amount of flaky pastry.
Last but not least, Payasam (பாயாசம்) is an Indian rice pudding that is made from rice, milk, sugar and spices. Crushed pistachios are sprinkled on top of the thick emulsion. I feel that the Payasam is too sweet for me, so it is not really my cup of tea.
The "Journey Throughout Malaysia" lunch buffet is held every Sunday from 12:00pm to 2:30pm. There are 4 rotating menus, so most dishes are different from week to week. The buffet is priced at RM58.00 net per adult. Senior citizens and children enjoy discounted prices of RM38.00 and RM29.00 respectively.

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.