Sunway Hotel

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya for extending this food review invitation.

Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya is a 3-star hotel near Sunway Carnival Mall. It satisfies the hospitality standards of a 4-star hotel but lacks a swimming pool. Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya is the sister property of Sunway Hotel Georgetown.
Sunway Hotel is the first hotel in Penang to showcase its Ramadan buffet this year. This year's theme is "Dari Dapur Sunway Selera Utara" (Northern Flavors from Sunway's Kitchen). For today's preview, the kitchen crew has prepared a selection of Sunway Hotel's signature dishes. The actual buffet spread has more than twice the number of dishes this evening.
The highlight of Sunway Hotel's Ramadan buffet is Kambing Golek. Cooked on a rotisserie, the roast mutton has the right doneness which makes the flesh gratifyingly juicy. Marinated with lovely spices, the mutton is delectable indeed. Black pepper sauce is provided as a condiment. Go easy with the sauce because its saltiness may overpower the mutton.
Two rice dishes are prepared today. Nasi Tomato is tomato-flavored rice with a noticeable hint of sweetness. I enjoy the soft texture of long-grain basmati rice. The spice mix tantalizes my taste buds in a delightful manner. On the other hand, I feel that Nasi Briyani is too dry and does not have the fluffy mouthfeel that I desire.
Kari Kepala Ikan is one of Sunway Hotel's signature dishes. The curry has a creamy consistency that goes well with rice. The choice of fish is red snapper, which I think is an excellent choice as it readily absorbs the rich taste of curry. Okra (lady's fingers) is also included in the curry.
Still on the topic of seafood, Udang Masak Cili Padi is served in yellow gravy that is infused with turmeric and coconut milk. Despite the presence of bird's eye chili, the gravy is not too spicy. However, I prefer the shrimps to be crunchier and larger in size.
Rendang Daging was originally a Minangkabau delicacy but has entered the mainstream Malay cookbooks. The preparation process is time-consuming. Beef is slow-cooked with coconut milk and spices for several hours until most liquid has boiled away. What remains behind are beef chunks saturated with succulent flavors. Although I am impressed by the beef's savoriness, I feel that the pungent spices tend to numb my palate.
As for poultry, Ayam Madu is served this evening. The honey-glazed chicken is cooked with star anise, cinnamon, dried chili peppers and curry leaves. If you have an affinity for sweetness, this dish will be the right fit for you.
As per tradition, a Ramadan meal typically includes Malay salads. Some of these salads are acar rampai (cucumber & pineapple salad), kerabu sotong (squid salad) and kerabu pucuk kaduk (wild betel leaf salad). Diners can also savor an assortment of jeruk buah (fruit pickles) and keropok (crackers).
Ulam-Ulam Kampung is a collection of vegetables that are typically consumed raw. Examples of such vegetables are ulam raja (king's salad), daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves) and daun selom (selom leaves). Raw vegetables are often eaten with powerful condiments such as sambal belacan (fermented shrimp sauce), air asam (tamarind sauce) and sambal kicap (spicy soy sauce). The sauces are presented in stone mortars.
Hailing from Indonesia, Soto Ayam is a rich soup made from chicken broth and turmeric. Diners may add ingredients like chili paste, shredded chicken, nasi impit (pressed rice), roasted peanuts, crispy rice noodle, fried shallots and chopped scallions. With a soothing chillness in my mouth, the soup really helps to building appetite.
I am fascinated by the variety of traditional Malay kuih this evening. Presented today are puteri ayu, seri muka, kuih lapis, kuih talam suji, kuih lapis keledek ungu, kuih cara manis and kuih cara berlauk. In addition, kuih semperit, kuih makmur, kuih loyang and kuih bahulu are also very popular during the festive month.
Besides Malay kuih, the pastry kitchen has also prepared Western cakes such as marble butter cake and carrot cake. In addition, there are several types of puddings and jellies with different flavors like gula melaka (palm sugar), pandan and strawberries.
The Ramadan buffet at Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya is held from 19 May 2018 to 11 June 2018. The buffet is priced at RM88.00 net per adult. Children and senior citizens enjoy special prices of RM48.00 and RM58.00 respectively. During the campaign, the hotel is holding lucky draws where the grand prize winner goes home with a brand-new motorcycle! Meanwhile for residents of Penang Island, a similar Ramadan buffet is held at Sunway Hotel Georgetown.
Name: Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya
Address: 11, Lebuh Tenggiri 2, Pusat Bandar Seberang Jaya, 13700 Seberang Jaya, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-370-7788
Business hours: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Website: https://seberangjaya.sunwayhotels.com
Coordinates: 5.39579 N, 100.39788 E
Directions: From Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan (North-South Expressway), take the Seberang Jaya exit and head west. Turn left just before the pedestrian bridge and drive all the way to the end. When the road splits, keep right. Sunway Hotel is further down on the right. There are parking spaces within the hotel's compound. The parking fee is RM4.00 per entry.

Dream Mansion

Special thanks to Dream Mansion for extending this food review invitation.

Fans of anime (アニメ) and manga (漫画) will be glad to know that a themed restaurant has opened in George Town. Located at Lebuh Tye Sin, Dream Mansion (夢の世界) incorporates elements of Japanese cosplay into its décor, exhibits, menu and even the waitresses' costumes.
Dream Mansion presents a relaxing, family-friendly ambience with different seating arrangements. Besides proper tables, customers can also opt for tatami- (畳) style dining. This no-footwear dining section has several Japanese low tables (ちゃぶ台) with cushions (座布団) and legless chairs (座椅子).
To keep customers entertained during their visits, Dream Mansion provides pastime such as comic books, board games and card games. In addition, a blackboard with chalks allows children to doodle and express their artistic talents.
The food menu here primarily features Japanese cooking with substantial Western influences. An iconic example is Omurice (黄金オムライス, RM18.90), a portmanteau of the words "omelette" (オムレツ) and "rice" (ライス). Unlike those served in Western breakfasts, the omelette remains soggy inside. When served, the omelette is cut into halves so that it unfolds and covers the heap of rice. This dish comes with Japanese curry (カレー).
The next rice dish is Unagi Don (鰻丼, RM21.90). Served on a bowl of rice, the delicate piece of freshwater eel is seasoned with tare sauce (垂れ) and sesame seeds. The fillet is delectable overall. On the side are onsen tamago (温泉玉子) and strips of seaweed (海苔). Dream Mansion uses gold-colored silverware as a symbol of opulence.
Moving on, Mentaiko Spaghetti (明太子パスタ, RM19.90) is served with white sauce to present a creamy consistency on the lips. The pasta is topped with pollock roe (明太子) and seaweed. The roe gives a distinctive scent which some people might find uncomfortable with. It is advisable to consume the dish while it is warm; otherwise the sauce dries up and becomes too thick and surfeiting.
Temari Bento (手まり弁当, RM28.90) is ideal for sharing between two people. Temari sushi (手まり寿司) is a special type of sushi where vinegar-laced rice is hand-rolled into bite-size balls. There are 6 types of topping with 2 pieces each: salmon, shrimp, squid, omelette, cucumber and turnip. Wasabi (山葵) and soy sauce (醤油) serve as condiments.
Mapo Tofu (麻婆丼, RM18.90) is a specialty of Sichuan cuisine but has now become popular throughout China, Korea and Japan. The spicy stew of soft tofu is typically flavored with chili and doubanjiang. Dream Mansion offers 3 levels of spiciness: 1 (mild), 3 (moderate) and 5 (extreme). I find Level 3 to be quite spicy but still bearable.
Dream Mansion's drinks are named after popular anime characters in One Piece (ワンピース). For instance, Straw Hat (麦わら帽子を持つ少年, RM16.90) is inspired by Monkey D. Luffy (モンキー・D・ルフィ), the protagonist in the franchise. This thick chocolate milkshake contains strawberry purée and chewy tapioca pearls. Strawberry-flavored whipped cream serves as icing on the cake.
Next, Moss Head (モスヘッド, RM13.90) is a parody Roronoa Zoro (ロロノア・ゾロ), a supporting character from One Piece. This lemonade mocktail is mixed with kiwi juice and honey, presenting citrus tanginess which quenches thirst very well. As for garnishing, there is also a slice of lemon on the glass' rim.
Sparkling Blood Juice (スパークリングジュース, RM13.90) is a carbonated drink with lemon flavors. Its reddish color comes from strawberry and blueberry purée. As a form of showmanship, this fizzy drink is mixed in front of customers.
Iced Blood Chocolate (アイスチョコレート, RM15.90) is also prepared in front of customers. In this case, thick chocolate sauce is added to milk. The drink has milky consistency with noticeable cocoa aftertaste. The iced chocolate is mildly flavored overall, making it suitable for people who love chocolate but need to watch their sugar intake.
One section of the dining area is a small anime museum which showcases the proprietor's personal collection. Mansion has over 300 pieces on display. The collectibles cover popular manga and anime series like One Piece, Fairy Tail (フェアリーテイル), Lupin III (ルパン三世), Attack On Titan (進撃の巨人) and more. Some items, such as mecha models, are also for sale.
As there are not many anime-themed restaurants in Penang, Dream Mansion certainly appeals to fans of anime, or Japanese pop culture in general. Another source of attraction is the crew of waitresses in cosplay costumes. While not exactly a maid café (メイド喫茶), Dream Mansion is certainly popular among the young crowd.
Name: Dream Mansion (夢の世界)
Address: 80 & 82, Lebuh Tye Sin, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 010-969-9917
Business hours: 12:00pm-11:00pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Dreammansionpenang
Coordinates: 5.41087 N, 100.32951 E
Directions: Dream Mansion is a 2-shop restaurant along Lebuh Tye Sin, between the junctions with Jalan Gurdwara and Lebuh Mcnair. It is within a stone's throw from Super 8 Hotel. There are several parking spaces in front of the restaurant. Additional parking is available along Lebuh Tye Sin and Lebuh Mcnair.

Café Jen

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

Café Jen is the main eatery of Hotel Jen Penang. Located next to the lobby, the dining section features a minimalist design with a touch of modernity. Wooden tables and shelves are decorated with potted plants to create a casual ambience. As for the menu, Café Jen serves a combination of Asian cuisines and international flavors.
The hotel has recently launched the signature food and cocktail menu. This promotion runs concurrently at all Hotel Jen properties and is available until 30 April 2018. The menu covers 3 dishes and 4 special drinks that are specially crafted to suit the trendy clientele of Hotel Jen. Customers have a choice to dine at either Café Jen or the adjacent Lobby Lounge. In lieu of cash, Hotel Jen also accepts payment in terms of Golden Circle (GC) award points.
One of the menu's highlights is the Double Crispy Chicken Parmigiana Burger (RM28.00 or 70 GC), which is quite large for a single diner. Fried to golden perfection, the breaded chicken cutlet is topped with molten cheese for a sharp taste. Also sandwiched by a large sesame bun are romaine lettuce and tomato coulis. A rosemary sprig on the side lends its herbal fragrance.
Nextgen Char Spaghetti (RM28.00 or 70 GC) is inspired by Penang's famous char koay teow (炒粿条). But instead of flat rice noodle, this dish uses spaghetti for the extra springiness. The pasta is cooked with shrimps, squids, fishcake, egg, cabbage, bok choy (小白菜) and garlic. Chili is not included by default, but diners can always request for a spicy version. I love the "fiery aroma" (镬气) of this dish.
As for something lighter, Cheese & Berries (RM15.00 or 40 GC) is the perfect choice. Served in a jar, the cheesecake is topped with fresh blueberries and blueberry sauce. Tapping into the pastry chef's forte, the dessert presents a rich taste of cheese without overwhelming the palate with too much sweetness. Meanwhile, gooseberries and strawberries are used as part of the dessert's plating.
Tea Time In Tanglin (RM30.00 or 75 GC) is a specially crafted drink that goes well with any occasion. Named after an area in Singapore in which Hotel Jen has another property, the chilled tea is presented in a transparent plastic bag. Infused with rosemary and peppermint, the drink carries soothing tanginess of lemon and pineapple juice.
Pina Kale-Ada (RM30.00 or 75 GC) is inspired by piña colada, a sweet cocktail based on pineapple juice. However instead of a pineapple, Pina Kale-Ada is served in a hollowed young coconut. Using coconut water as the base, the greenish drink also includes the juices of green apple, cucumber, banana and kale.
One of my favorite drinks this evening is the Beer Milkshake (RM30.00 or 75 GC). The viscous emulsion is a special concoction of milk, Guinness stout and chocolate ice cream. The milkshake is topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and Oreo cookies for aesthetic appeal, but these toppings have minimal role in the overall taste. I enjoy the subtle hint of alcoholic bitterness that the drink presents on my tongue.
The most alluring drink on the cocktail menu is indisputably the China Lady (RM68.00 or 170 GC). The cocktail is presented in a curvy ceramic bottle that resembles a woman in red cheongsam (旗袍). The drink comprises of shochu (焼酎), plum wine (梅酒), lemon juice, cucumber juice, maple syrup and pasteurized egg white. As soon the bottle cap is opened, my nostrils are greeted by the pleasant scent of Japanese liquor.
Besides the signature food and cocktail menu, Café Jen also serves International Buffet Lunch daily and Themed Buffet Dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings. To reward early birds, the restaurant also offers buffet vouchers at discounted prices. Furthermore, Café Jen throws in a free voucher for every 10 voucher purchased. This offer is valid until 30 April 2018 only.
Name: Café Jen
Address: Hotel Jen, Jalan Magazine, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-262-2622
Business hours: 6:00am-11:00pm
Website: https://www.hoteljen.com/penang/georgetown/taste/restaurants/cafe-jen
Coordinates: 5.41372 N, 100.33009 E
Directions: Hotel Jen is located at Magazine Road (Jalan Magazine), next to 1st Avenue Mall and just opposite of The Wembley. Café Jen is located at Lobby Level of the hotel. The hotel provides parking in its basement levels. Customers enjoy complimentary parking for the first 2 hours.

Lavish

Lavish is an artisanal bakery under the same management as Love A Loaf. Located at Victoria Street (Lebuh Victoria), this bakery-cum-café shares the premises with a flower boutique, Petals & Leafz.
The interior and exterior sections of Lavish are decorated with lots of greenery. Above the communal table is a glass ceiling that lets natural light in. There is also a hanging garden against the wall.
I ordered a cup of Cappuccino (RM11.00). Unfortunately, the coffee is not quite as pleasing as some other cafés' in town. Perhaps the choice of beans is not my cup of tea.
Besides serving coffee and pastries, Lavish has a reasonable food menu too. Because I had a proper meal just now, I did not try any food here today.

Address: 214, Lebuh Victoria, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-261-0107
Business hours: 9:00am-11:30pm (Sunday), 10:00am-11:30pm (Monday-Thursday), 10:00am-12:00am (Friday), 9:00am-12:00am (Saturday)
Taste
Presentation
Ambience
Hospitality
Value

Kopi & Toast

Special thanks to Kopi & Toast for extending this food review invitation.

Kopi & Toast (咖啡吐司) is a small eatery along Chulia Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Chulia), just across the road from The Press and The Legend Nyonya House. The shop's entrance has an overhead signboard with its Chinese name carved in golden characters.
Kopi & Toast was recently renovated to provide air conditioning. The dining area has several wooden tables and stools, giving an appearance of a homely coffee shop. Meanwhile, the interior brick walls are covered with sketches of London and Paris. There is even a retro-style gramophone on display.
Nasi Lemak With Curry Chicken (RM9.99) was recently added to the menu. The rice is dyed by the extract of butterfly-pea flowers (蝶豆花). Other traditional ingredients for nasi lemak are sambal (chili paste), anchovies (江鱼仔), roasted peanuts, sliced cucumber, fried egg and crackers. In my opinion, keeping the sambal and anchovies separate will result in a crispier mouthfeel.
The bowl of chicken curry contains chicken thigh and potatoes. The curry is remarkably appetizing despite the fact that it is slightly dilute today. Nevertheless, the lovely blend of spices really tantalizes the taste buds.
The bestselling dish at Kopi & Toast is Cheese Noodle (RM9.99), which is cooked and presented on a skillet. The instant noodle is served with mozzarella cheese, sausages, potatoes and fried egg. The cheese solidifies as it cools down, so it is advisable to consume this dish while the cheese remains molten.
As for beverages, the Galaxy (RM7.90) is probably the most unique choice. The drink is a mixture of apple cider vinegar, grape juice and green tea. The sharp taste of vinegar really helps to quench thirst. Butterfly-pea flower juice is also added, giving this iced drink an alluring purple color. Customers who are not used to apple cider can try the lemonade-based Fantasy instead.
Besides all-day breakfast, Kopi & Toast also serves a special burger called Cheezy Cheese. Unfortunately, I am not able to try it today. Based on what I have tasted so far, the food here is commendable. The pricing is also surprisingly affordable despite the fact that there are many tourist attractions nearby.
Name: Kopi & Toast (咖啡吐司)
Address: 63, Gat Lebuh Chulia, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 012-568-1856
Business hours: 7:30am-4:00pm, closed on Tuesdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/kopitoast
Coordinates: 5.41405 N, 100.34075 E
Directions: Kopi & Toast is located at Chulia Street Ghaut (Gat Lebuh Chulia) and near the junction with Weld Quay (Pengkalan Weld). It is opposite of The Press and The Legend Nyonya House. Street parking is available along Chulia Street Ghaut and Victoria Street (Lebuh Victoria).