Flamingo Café

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Flamingo Hotel By The Beach, Penang for extending this food review invitation.

Flamingo Hotel By The Beach, Penang is a 4-star beachside resort at Tanjung Bungah. The primary restaurant here is Flamingo Café. This year, the Ramadan buffet dinner is themed "Wau Ramadhan Buffet". Dinner is served every evening from 17 May 2018 to 14 June 2018.
Muslims typically break fast by taking several pieces of kurma. The sweetness of palm dates stimulates the taste buds and allows one's appetite to hit the ground running.
There are several ways to start the actual meal. Bubur Lambuk Daging is a Malay rice porridge made from beef and spices. Meanwhile, Sup Ketam & Jagung is prepared from flower crabs, button mushrooms and baby corn. Last but not least, Sup Kambing contains chunks of mutton, daikon and potato.
Flamingo Café features a grilling station next to the swimming pool. During Ramadan, Kambing Bakar and Tandoori Ayam Golek are cooked over a charcoal grill, imparting an appetizing touch of toastiness in the process. In addition, grilled fish and Mongolian grill are also available.
The fried food corner produces deep-fried durian, cempedak, banana and sweet potato in crispy batter. I am particularly fascinated with the durian and cempedak versions.
As for Pais Ikan Daun Pisang, doryfish is seasoned with spices and baked to golden perfection. Presented over banana leaves, the delicate fillets are served with red chili peppers, scallions and shallots.
If you are fond of crabs, Ketam Masak Masam Pedas should suit your palate. Fried with sour-and-spicy seasonings, the flower crabs do not offer much meat. Instead, the crabs are meant to enrich the taste of the sauce.
The signature dish this evening is Ketupat Sotong Berkuah Kacang. In this dish, the mantle (body) of each squid is filled with rice, and then cooked with satay-style sauce. The stuffed rice really helps to tone down the level of spiciness.
Kari Nangka Muda Masak Ikan Bilis is another spicy dish, although it is not nearly as peppery as the previous one. The two key ingredients are ikan bilis (anchovies) and nangka (jackfruit). The jackfruit is quite salty, so it is best eaten with rice.
Telur Sosej is cooked with sausages, onions and red chili peppers. The omelette delights my taste buds in spite of its simplicity.
Pasembur is a popular street food in Penang and is often sold in roadside stalls. The ingredients are typically prawn fritters, hard-boiled eggs, tofu, boiled potatoes, cucumber and sengkuang (jicama). Pasembur is often dressed with sweet-and-spicy peanut sauce.
Ulam-ulaman is an assortment of vegetables such as daun selom (selom leaves), jantung pisang (banana flower), kacang botol (winged beans), petai (stink beans) and more. These raw vegetables are typically eaten with powerful condiments like tempoyak (fermented durian paste), cincalok (salty shrimp paste) and sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste). In addition, salted egg and salted fish are also available.
As for kerabu (Malay salad), popular ones are Kerabu Perut (beef stomach salad) and Kerabu Taugeh Dengan Kerang (bean sprout and cockle salad). Meanwhile, pickled salads include Acar Timun (pickled cucumber) and Acar Rampai (pickled cucumber & carrot).
Keropok Lekor is a popular snack from Terengganu. These deep-fried fish crackers have a chewy texture and are usually eaten with sweet-spicy sauce. Other fried snacks include Ayam Pandan Goreng and Samosa Ubi Goreng.
The variety of Malay kuih at Flamingo Hotel is not as plentiful as some other hotels. Available types are kuih lapis, kuih talam pandan, kuih bingka ubi, onde-onde and abuk-abuk. In addition, there are also Western-style cakes and tartlets.
Sago Gula Melaka is usually eaten with gula melaka (palm sugar) and coconut milk. I am also fascinated by Pengat Pisang, but it turns out to be too sweet for me. Finally, Ais Kacang is always a good way to conclude a heavy meal.
The Ramadan buffet dinner at Flamingo Hotel costs RM75.00 net per adult and RM45.00 net per child. On weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), the price is RM85.00 and RM49.00 respectively. In addition, the hotel is also serving buffet lunch and dinner on Hari Raya Aidilfitri (15 June 2018).

Name: Flamingo Café
Address: Flamingo Hotel, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-892-7167
Business hours: 7:00am-12:00am
Website: http://penang.flamingo.com.my/dining
Coordinates: 5.46739 N, 100.28891 E
Directions: Traveling westbound on Jalan Tanjung Bungah, drive past the pedestrian bridge near Dalat International School. Make a U-turn at the next traffic light-controlled junction and immediately turn left to Flamingo Hotel. Flamingo Café is one level below the lobby. The hotel provides complimentary outdoor and indoor parking.

The Cafe

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

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

Berjaya Penang Hotel is located at Burmah Road (Jalan Burma). Formerly known as Georgetown City Hotel, the 4-star hotel shares the same building as Midlands 1-Stop. Taking advantage of its close proximity to Penang Adventist Hospital, Berjaya Penang Hotel is a popular choice of accommodation for the medical tourism sector.
Right next to the hotel's entrance is its main restaurant, The Cafe. For the impending Ramadan season, the hotel is serving Ramadan buffet dinner from 19 May 2018 to 13 June 2018. The menu features more than 80 dishes with emphasis on traditional Malay cuisine and local hawker fare.
Bubur Lambuk is an essential dish when breaking fast in the evening. The rice porridge is cooked with chicken and spices, making it very appetizing indeed. Alternatively, diners can also build appetite by taking a bowl of Sup Tulang Lembu (oxtail soup).
The Cafe's grilling station features succulent beef, mutton and chicken that have been marinated well. Meanwhile, seafood choices are ikan keli (catfish), ikan pari (stingray), shrimps and mussels. Black pepper sauce, lemon butter sauce and air asam (tamarind sauce) are provided as condiments.
Chicken Shawarma is an iconic Middle Eastern fare. Marinated chicken is cooked on a vertical spit, which rotates slowly so that it is heated evenly. As the chicken becomes cooked, the outer layer is shaved off the block and stuffed into pita bread. Hummus is used as the dressing, but I feel that it is too salty for me.
Daging Rendang was originally a Minangkabau recipe but it is now widely enjoyed across the mainstream Malay community. The dish consists of beef slices that are slow-cooked with coconut milk and spices. The cooking process takes several hours, therefore this dish is traditionally reserved for special occasions only. As for poultry, one may want to try the succulent Ayam Masak Merah.
Moving on, Belitung Goreng Bercili is a delicacy indeed. The sea snails are stir-fried with chili peppers to produce fiery aroma. The snail's flesh can be extracted by sucking the larger opening of each shell. Meanwhile, Sambal Udang Petai is an interesting combination of three delectable ingredients: sambal (chili paste), shrimps and petai (stink beans).
Daun Asin-Asin Masak Lemak uses creamy gravy that is prepared from coconut milk and spices like turmeric. The vegetable involved is cekur manis (sweet leaves), which is soft and silky in texture. As for Bendi Goreng Pedas, okra (lady's fingers) is stir-fried with dried shrimps and red chili peppers.
Ulam-ulaman is often served during iftar meals. Several types of raw vegetables are provided, most notably daun pegaga (Asiatic pennywort leaves) and jantung pisang (banana flower). The vegetables are usually eaten with dipping sauces like sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste) and cincalok (fermented shrimps). Also prepared today are kerabu (Malay salad), tauhu sumbat (stuffed tofu) and keropok (crackers).
This evening, the noodle station features Laksa Johor. The most peculiar aspect of Laksa Johor is the use of spaghetti instead of rice noodle. Apart from this, the spicy fish broth and other ingredients are pretty similar to Asam Laksa.
Traditional Malay kuih is also a vital aspect of Ramadan. The variety of kuih here is rather modest. Kuih sagu and seri muka are prepared to satisfy diners' sweet tooth. Meanwhile, fried items are cucur badak and samosa.
As for Western pastries, the choices this evening are strawberry cheesecake, tiramisu, cream puffs and crème brûlée. There are also several types of custards and jellies.
The fruits platter contains nangka (jackfruit), jambu air (rose apple), kiwifruit, pitaya, mango, pineapple, honeydew, watermelon, plums and grapes. In addition, three varieties of kurma (palm dates) are provided. Fruit rojak and pickled fruits are also available.
Berjaya Penang Hotel's Ramadan buffet dinner is priced at RM58.00 net per adult, making it one of the most affordable Ramadan buffets in town. Also for every 5 paying adults, the 6th person's deal is on the house!

Name: The Cafe
Address: Berjaya Penang Hotel, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-227-7111
Business hours: 6:30am-10:30pm
Website: https://www.berjayahotel.com/penang/dining/caf%C3%A9.html
Coordinates: 5.43289 N, 100.30674 E
Directions: Berjaya Penang Hotel is adjacent to Midlands 1-Stop. The Cafe is located towards the right from the main entrance. There are ample of parking spaces at the basement. Diners at The Cafe can get their parking ticket validated for flat parking rate of RM3.00 for 3 hours.

Vistana

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Vistana Penang Bukit Jambul for extending this food review invitation.

This evening, Vistana Penang Bukit Jambul hosts a preview session of the upcoming Ramadan buffet dinner. Like previous years, the meal's theme is "101 Resipi Penuh Tradisi Tok Wan". The menu covers over a hundred dishes including crowd favorites from previous years. The dining section is situated at the Grand Ballroom, while food is served at the foyer.
It is customary for Muslims to break fast by taking several pieces of kurma (palm dates) before the actual meal. The sweet taste of the fruit helps to stimulate the palate after a long day without food.
Bubur Lambuk also essential during iftar meals. The thick rice porridge is nicely flavored with chicken and spices. Other ingredients include fried anchovies, fried shallots, chopped scallions, white pepper and soy sauce.
Kambing Panggang is the main highlight this evening. The mutton is marinated for an entire day to ensure that it is thoroughly flavorful. The goat is suspended on a spit and roasted over burning charcoal, imparting a touch of toastiness in the process. The mutton goes well with nasi briyani and mint sauce.
Nasi Kerabu hails from the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia such as Kelantan and Terengganu. Rice grains are dyed blue using the extract of bunga telang (butterfly-pea flowers). Nasi Kerabu is typically mixed with ikan masin (salted fish), telur masin (salted egg), kacang botol (winged beans) and cili padi (bird's eye chili) according to personal preference. Sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste) and air asam (tamarind sauce) are also provided for extra flavor.
A variety of kerabu (Malay salad) are prepared this evening. Notable ones are Kerabu Pucuk Paku (vegetable fern salad), Kerabu Taugeh (bean sprout salad) and Kerabu Betik (papaya salad). In addition, there are also a variety of ulam-ulaman (raw vegetables), salted fish and acar (pickled salads).
Several cooked dishes are served in large woks called "kawah". These dishes are Ayam Masak Merah, Patin Tempoyak and Asin-Asin Labu Masak Lemak.
Meanwhile, Gulai Masak Talang Masin is a curry dish which contains salted queenfish, tomatoes, chili peppers and curry leaves. Kawah is particularly common in the countryside where food is often cooked in a communal setting.
As for soups, Sup Kambing is quite popular as its saltiness helps to build appetite. Although the soup contains chunks of mutton, I prefer to avoid them as they are rather fatty. Another notable red meat dish is Daging Gulai (beef goulash).
Vistana's Ayam Panggang Percik is unlike what I have tasted so far. The grilled chicken is dressed in Kelantan-style white sauce. I suggest that you try this unique poultry dish for yourself.
The Ikan Bakar Air Asam strikes a chord with my palate. Using ikan keli (catfish), the fish is seasoned with tamarind sauce and roasted over fire. The fish's tender texture is heavenly indeed. Watch out for small bones though!
For shrimp lovers, Pucuk Paku Masak Lemak Dengan Udang is an interesting choice. Besides prawns, the creamy gravy also contains a type of vegetable fern called pucuk paku. The leaves of pucuk paku are soft and silky.
Pajeri Terung Ala Kampung is an eggplant (brinjal) curry stew that goes pretty well with rice. I love the subtle sweetness of the fruit.
Other not-so-meaty dishes include Kailan Goreng Belacan (fried Chinese kale with chili paste), Siew Pak Choy Dengan Kulit Tauhu & Sos Cendawan Enoki (bok choy with tofu skin & enoki mushroom sauce) and Tauhu Dengan Sos Telur (Japanese tofu with egg sauce).
Do not overlook Vistana Penang's Asam Laksa as it is an award-winning recipe. The broth is prepared from sardine and contains a good balance between sweet, sour and spicy flavors. Asam Laksa is typically eaten with thick rice vermicelli, pineapples, cucumber, bunga kantan (torch ginger), onions, lettuce, mint leaves and shrimp paste.
The Chinese-style Nasi Ayam (chicken rice) should not be passed over too. The roasted chicken pairs well with aromatic rice, which is cooked with chicken broth so that it becomes somewhat flavorful.
Yong Tau Foo (酿豆腐) makes its debut at Vistana this year. This Hakka dish uses a variety of ingredients stuffed with succulent fish paste. Examples of such ingredients are okra (lady's fingers), eggplant, bitter gourd, soft tofu and fried tofu. Yong Tau Foo can be enjoyed with soup or with sweet sauce.
Vistana's wide assortment of traditional Malay kuih never fails to impress me. Malay kuih can be categorized into sweet and savory types. Examples of the former are seri muka, puteri ayu and kuih sagu. On the other hand, savory ones are represented by cucur badak, kuih cara berlauk and popiah bercili.
Vistana's Ramadan buffet dinner is held from 16 May 2018 to 13 June 2018. The buffet is priced at RM70.00 net for adults, and RM30.00 net for children between ages of 4 and 12. During each evening, the atmosphere is kept lively by a band which plays traditional Malay musical instruments.

Name: Vistana Penang Bukit Jambul
Address: 213, Jalan Bukit Gambir, 11950 Bukit Jambul, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-646-8000
Business hours: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Website: http://www.vistanahotels.com/penang
Coordinates: 5.33634 N, 100.29170 E
Directions: Driving southbound on Jalan Bukit Gambir, turn left just before Vistana and drive up to the lobby entrance. Basement parking is available from the back of the hotel. The parking fee is RM3.00 per entry for banquet guests.

The Straits Cafe & Lounge

This article is part of my Ramadan 2018 compilation.

Special thanks to Ixora Hotel for extending this food review invitation.

Ixora Hotel is one of the few hotels within close proximity to the Perai Industrial Estate. Located next to Megamal Pinang, the 4-star hotel enjoys a constant influx of guests owing to its strategic location. The Straits Cafe & Lounge is the main restaurant here.
I am fortunate to join Ixora Hotel's preview of its upcoming Ramadan buffet offer. The dinner theme this year is "Citarasa Desa Ala Pak Nass". "Pak Nass" refers to Ixora Hotel's Malay chef, who is the architect behind many signature dishes this evening. The menu features countryside-style cooking with emphasis on fresh ingredients.
Ixora Hotel's Kambing Panggang Golek remains the highlight every year and will be available daily throughout Ramadan. Unfortunately for today's preview, delivery of mutton was late so there was insufficient time to do proper marination. This explains why grilled lamb leg is served instead.
Bubur Lambuk Ayam is an essential dish during iftar meals. The porridge is cooked until the rice grains have mostly disintegrated into the soup, forming a thick paste with flavorful flavors of chicken and spices. In fact, this is one of the finest Bubur Lambuk recipes that I have tasted this year.
Nasi Minyak Pelangi uses long-grain basmati rice, which has a loose texture and does not feel so surfeiting. The rice is flavored with a variety of spices and garnished with almonds and fried shallots for extra crispiness. By the way, the word "pelangi" means "rainbow". This refers to the fact that some rice grains are dyed in a manner similar to Nasi Hujan Panas.
Udang Goreng Nestum Daun Kari is a popular dish for many people. The deep-fried shrimps are coated with crispy multigrain cereal. Not only is the coating sweet, it is also rather appetizing. Meanwhile, curry leaves and dried chilies help to enhance aroma.
Next, Kupang Masam Manis uses large mussels from New Zealand. The mussels are dressed in tangy sauce, and then garnished with cucumber, capsicum and shallots for the aesthetic appeal.
Masak Lemak Petola, Suhun & Telur is a unique dish indeed. It uses a special type of cucumber called luffa. Its soft texture is reminiscent of eggplant. Besides glass noodle and eggs, the dish also comprises of creamy gravy made from coconut milk.
As for mixed vegetables, Sayur Campur Cendawan Sos Tiram consists of button mushrooms, straw mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Oyster sauce is what binds all ingredients together.
Diners can also indulge in several types of keropok (crackers) such as fish crackers, prawn crackers and papadum. The crackers are sealed in airtight jars to ensure that they remain crispy.
Ixora Hotel's Ramadan buffet also features several live cooking stations including one which serves Penang Char Koay Teow. The flat rice noodles are cooked with large shrimps, fishcake, egg, bean sprouts, garlic chives, chili paste and garlic. Overall, I am quite impressed with the cooking.
Asam Laksa is another iconic dish of Penang. The key to this dish is the rich broth, which is made from fish, tamarind, chili peppers and other spices. The sour-and-spicy broth is frequently served with thick rice vermicelli, pineapples, cucumbers, shallots, lettuce, bunga kantan (torch ginger), bird's eye chili and shrimp paste.
Rojak Buah-Buahan (fruit salad) is a mixture of cubed fruits like jambu air (rose apple), sengkuang (jicama), unripe mango, green apples and cucumber. Meanwhile, the thick dressing is made from savory shrimp paste (belacan). A light sprinkle of crushed peanuts provides an extra crunch. Another salad dish, Penang Pasembur, is also available.
Ixora Hotel offers a surprisingly wide variety of traditional Malay kuih. Presented in nice rattan baskets are popular ones such as kuih talam, kuih lapis, puteri ayu and cucur badak. In addition, guests can also help themselves with several types of biskut raya (festive cookies).
Strawberry Jelly, Agar-Agar Pandan Bersantan (pandan jelly with coconut milk), Agar-Agar Sirap Laici (lychee syrup jelly), Puding Jagung (corn pudding) and Puding Mangga (mango pudding) are also prepared today. However, I personally prefer them to be less sweet.
Teh Tarik is probably the most recognizable Malaysian drink. To prepare this drink, hot milk tea is "pulled" between metal containers to make it frothy. Nescafe Tarik is also prepared in a similar manner. Last but not least, there are several dispensers that contain iced drinks like soy milk and sirap bandung (rose-flavored milk).
Ixora Hotel's Ramadan buffet dinner is served from 21 May 2018 to 14 June 2018. Dinner is priced at RM86.00 for adults and RM56.00 for children between ages of 4 and 12. For each party of 10 full-paying adults, the 11th person dines for free. In addition, the hotel is also having a separate buffet session in the Baba & Nyonya Ballroom.
Name: The Straits Cafe & Lounge
Address: Ixora Hotel, 3096, Jalan Baru, Bandar Perai Jaya, 13600 Perai, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-382-8888
Business hours: 6:30am-11:00pm
Website: https://www.ixorahotel.com/the-straits-cafe
Coordinates: 5.37805 N, 100.39825 E
Directions: From Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan (North-South Expressway), take the Prai exit and head west. After Megamal Pinang on the left, turn left and follow the road to Ixora Hotel's basement parking. The Straits Cafe & Lounge is located next to the lobby.