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2014 marked the first year The Eatery @ Four Points by Sheraton Penang would be promoting their Chinese New Year festive dining packages since their official opening on 30 October 2013. The promotion this year would be managed by Chef Wong who had many years of culinary experiences. You may book a table for 10 for Lunch or Dinner at RM850+ or just join in the Chinese New Year Buffet Dinner at RM88+ per person. Prosperous Yee Sang Platter would be served in every meal. Price is exclusive of a 6% government tax.

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A few of us managed to try out the dishes for the Menu B for 10 persons. Of course, we started off the Chinese New Year dining with the Prosperous Yee Sang Platter with Salmon (風生水起-三文魚生), a symbol of good fortune. Takeaways are also available.

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Next in the list was the Braised Superior Soup with Crab meat and Dry Scallop (財通四海-干貝蟹肉羹). There was a generous amount of crab meat and dried scallop added in the rich flavored stock. However, I personally find the soup to be a bit starchy minus the fragrance from a bit of added deep fried scallops as garnishing.

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The Roasted Chicken with Plum Sauce (風凰報喜-梅醬燒雞) was superb with juicy and tender pieces of meat and crispy skin. I personally find the serving with plum sauce was a bit too common. The kitchen should have thought of other options such as spiced salt or other unique condiment for this dish.

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On the other hand, we were served with Steamed Sea Bass Fish in Superior Soya Sauce (年年有餘-清蒸石甲魚). Thought the fish was super fresh, I found the flavors to be lacking in something aromatic and fragrant to boost up the overall serving. I guessed some deep fried julienned young ginger plus some garlic oil would be great to pep up the dish more.

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We also had some Braised Black Mushrooms and Gluten with Garden Green (萬事如意-冬菇,豆根,時蔬). Flavor wise, it was just another common banquet style dish.

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The Stir-fried Tiger Prawn with Chef Special Sauce (笑口常開-特式炒蝦) was indeed fresh. It tasted almost similar a milder flavored Szechuan Prawns.

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As for the New Year Fried Rice with Silver Anchovies (遍地黄金-新年炒飯), I personally found the dish to be a bit over stressed as scattered gold. It was just Yong Chow Fried Rice garnished with some deep fried baby anchovies. I would prefer the presentation to be more distinctive with more rich filled ingredients added on top such as deep fried scallops, prawns and fish fillet. Items that could be deep fired until golden to symbolize the wealth abundance.

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Lastly, it was the Warm Sea Coconut and White Fungus in Honey Syrup (新年快樂-蜜汁雪耳海底椰). Somehow, there was the slight sour aftertaste in this warm dessert. There could be 2 errors in the cooking process. One would be the overused of red dates which occasional would have slight sourness. The other would be the quality of the honey used as some brands of honey would turn sour upon mixing/cooking in certain boiling temperature. I hope the kitchen would rectify this minor hiccup and alternatively maybe they could consider using just plain rock sugar or lo han guo as sweetener for this dessert.

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Overall, the dishes served are just like how you would get from a normal banquet serving during weddings except that the first course would be replaced with Prosperous Yee Sang Platter. There are still rooms for more improvements.

Here’s the summary of the Chinese New Year Promotion:

Chinese New Year Buffet
Date: 30 January-1 February 2014
Time: 6.00pm-10.00pm
Price: RM88.00+ per person
Reservations:
+604-371 8888 (General)
+604-371 8707 (The Eatery)

Chinese New Year Set Lunch/Dinner
With a minimum of 10 persons, select your choice of menu and enjoy a private Chinese New Year lunch or dinner with your loved ones!
Date: 30 January-13 February 2014
Price: RM850.00+ per table
Reservations:
+604-371 8888 (General)
+604-371 8833 (Low Ee Ling, Catering Manager)
+604-371 8834 (Phang Sue Ann, Catering Sales Executive)

Please click the photo below for a clearer view of the 2 options:

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Yee Sang Takeaways
Prosperous Yee Sang Platter with Salmon
Price: MYR58+
Servings: 10 pax
Reservations:-
+604-371 8888 (General)
+604-371 8707 (The Eatery)

The Eatery @ Four Points By Sheraton is located along the main road of Jalan Tanjung Bunga. To get there, just use the road going towards the beaches of Batu Ferringhi. As you reach a curving part of the road, keep to your right after the first traffic lights (Chinese Swimming Club on your right). At the second traffic lights, turn right into the hotel’s premises to find a car park. Walk straight into the lobby and you can find The Eatery located at the ring wing of the hotel.

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Name: THE EATERY @ FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON PENANG
Address: 505 Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-371 8888 (General), 604-371 8707 (The Eatery)
Business Hours: 6.30am-11.00pm (Daily)
GPS: 5.463681, 100.301836
Please refer to: The Eatery Menu

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 7/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 6.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

Let’s eat like the pirates at Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang with their themed buffet Pirates Seafood Night on every Saturday throughout the year 2014. There will be an array of delectable international seafood cuisine for everyone ranging from Canadian lobster, snow crab leg, lobster bisque, grilled lobster, grilled king prawns with cilantro salsa, wok fried mantis prawns with salted eggs and more to tempt your urge for fresh seafood dishes. The promotion is priced at RM80++ (adult) and RM48++ (child) with different menus rotation each week. You can also get more discounts with credit cards mentioned below.

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Let’s start at the Salad Bar, Salads & Cold Dishes Section where you would expect to get items such as Tomato, Carrot, Cucumber, Corn Kennel, Onion Ring, Lettuce, Thousand Dressing, French dressing and Italian Dressing with condiments, Pickled Garlic, Pickled Mushrooms, Pickled Cherry Tomato, Pickled Zucchini, Seafood on Ice (Fresh Oyster, Mussels, Prawn, Slipper Lobster, Canadian Lobster and snow crab leg with condiments), Individual Salad in Shooter Glass (4 types), Japanese Baby Octopus Salad, German Potato Salad, Thai Egg Salad, Grilled Chicken Salad, Shrimp and Fruits Salad, Seafood Terrine, Chicken Ham, Beef Salami, Smoked Salmon Platter, Smoked Mackerel Platter, Assorted Sushi & Sashimi (6 types each) with Condiments.

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As for the Soup Section, you would get items such as Italian Seafood Tomato Soup, Sichuan Hot and Spicy Soup with Crab Meat and Assorted Bread Roll & Butter.

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At the Hot Dishes Section, you would have the Grilled Lobster with Seafood Broth, Sauteed Mussels with Garlic and Herbs, Seafood Lasagna, Seafood Pie, Oyster Kilpatrick, Wok Fried Scallop Meat with Celery and Pine Nut, Sweet and Spicy Chili Flower Crab (Served with Man Tao), Braised Sea Cucumber with Broccoli & Mushrooms, Wok Fried Wanton Noodles with Scallop and Prawn, Wok Fried Mantis Prawn with Salted Egg, Curry Squid, Sambal Ketam Kampung Style, Portuguese Baked Seabass, Thai Style Steamed Tiger Prawns and Steamed White Rice.

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At the end of the hot dishes, you would have the Carving Station where you might expect to get Roasted Whole Fish with Spicy Mayo.

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There will also be the Action Counter where the Grill Station would have at least 20 seafood and meat choices for grilling with 12 sauces as condiments. There will also be the Pasta Station (Prawn Aglio Olio, Seafood Marinara, Pasta with Clam and Garlic with a selection of pasta choices such as Spaghetti, Fettuccini, Angel Hair and Penne). You will also get the Dessert Station serving Thai Classical Tub Tim Krob.

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At the Desserts Section, you would get 8 types of Tropical Fresh Fruits, Chocolate Fountain, Marshmallow Sticks, Dried Fruit Sticks, Fruit Jelly, Cream Caramel, Panna Cotta, Chocolate Mousse in Glass, Chocolate Brownies, Sherry Triffle, Baked Cheese Cake, Butter Cake, Blueberry Crumble with Vanilla Sauce, Assorted French Pastries and Nyonya Kuih.

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You would also find a Kid’s Corner with lots of candies plus brewed coffee and tea.

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Overall, you would surely be impressed with the varieties of seafood dishes served during the Saturday Themed Buffet and it’s really value for money on the options for international seafood species.

Here’s the summary of all the promotions throughout the year.

SWEZ BRASSERIE PROMOTION 2014 (JANUARY-DECEMBER 2014)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM50++ (adult), RM25++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 4.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM58++ (adult), RM29++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Weekend Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Friday & Saturday
Friday (Free Flow Friday with Wine): RM128++ (adult), RM48++ (child)
Saturday (Pirate Seafood Night): RM80++ (adult), RM48++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm):
Sunday – Tuesday & Thursday:
RM50++ per pax

Wednesday (Wine & Dine): RM95++ per pax

For Standard Chartered Bank, CIMB Bank, Citibank and MasterCard Worldwide card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Semi Buffet Dinner (Sunday to Thursday, excluding Wednesday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday & Saturday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

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Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8.5/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

VEGETARIAN EXPERIENCES AT COYA HEALTHY CUISINE PENANG

Posted by crizlai On January - 16 - 2014

On and off, it’s great to stay away from all the rich fatty food and go for a total meatless meal to detoxify the body. Penang may be the food paradise of this region. However, most Penangites are also health conscious in general with more and more healthy cuisine outlets opening up to jump onto the healthy lifestyle trend. One of the latest around town would be the Coya Healthy Cuisine (Vegetarian House). Now, let’s understand a bit more on the differences between vegans and vegetarians. Vegans would eliminate all animal products from their diet which is inclusive of eggs and dairy products. They would also avoid any products made from animals. In general, those following a vegan lifestyle would avoid any products made from animals. On the other hand, we have the Vegetarians who would not consume any meat, fish or poultry but some tend to consume dairy products and eggs. We have the Lacto-Vegetarians whom would consume dairy products but not eggs, the Ovo-Vegetarians whom would consume eggs but not dairy products and the Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians whom would consume both eggs and dairy products. At Coya Healthy Cuisine, they would serve Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian dishes minus the usages of garlic, any bulb or leafy onions or gluten.

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The restaurant would serve ala carte dishes as well as set meals for some of the dishes. Here’s how the set meal would look like with a main dishes, a bowl of white rice/noodles, 2 side dishes of the day, one dessert and one glass of traditional drink. There’s also the option of additional RM1.00 to exchange the white rice/noodles with brown rice for any of the meal.

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One of their signature dishes would be the Hakka Style Smoked Pork Belly (客家燜腩肉 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set). You would be surprised at how real those pieces of pork belly were with the “fatty” layers. Those layers of “fat” were actually natural konjac flour (konnyaku/蒟蒻) while the “meaty” parts were actually soybean protein with added starch, grain spices, salt, etc. These pork belly pieces together with some Shitake mushrooms had been braised with soy sauce and spices to create that ideal earthly flavored pork belly stew which would be best taken with a hot bowl of steamed rice.

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For those who love the taste of ginger and sesame oil, the Salted Vampire (Ginger with Salted Fish/ 姜絲炒咸鱼 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set) would also be nice with a hot bowl of steamed rice. Those little pieces of soy protein made “salted fish” combined with lots of julienned young ginger in soy based gravy with distinctive usage of sesame oil, can be real appetizing, though it might be a bit salty if taken by itself.

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You can also try out their healthier version of Minced Meat Rice (素肉醬飯 – RM7.90 for ala-carte/RM12.90 for set). This dish has a bowl of hot steamed rice topped with protein rich “soya meat” cooked with their special sauce and garnished with a variety of fresh vegetables.

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Alternatively, you can also opt for their handmade noodles – Xiang Chun Mee (香椿面 – RM7.90 for ala-carte/RM12.90 for set). It had a rather earthly and powdery textured noodles stir with some dark soy sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil, topped with some vegetables and soya protein made “barbeque pork (char siew)”.

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I got curious when I spotted there was the Lion Heads (獅子頭 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set) in the menu. Lion Head or Lion’s Head as it’s normally known as originated from eastern China. It’s basically big “pork meatballs” cooked in many different styles. At Coya, the “meatballs” were stewed with napa cabbages (大白菜) in a flavorful soup stock made with napa cabbages, some salt and sugar to taste. Miraculously, those impromptu pepped up “meatballs” were delicious. Each deep fried “meatballs” contained frying flour, mashed bean curd, mushroom stems and soy protein. Since the usage of onions is prohibited in their cooking, the “meatballs” though delicious tend to lack a bit of sweetness. It would be great if some finely chopped water chestnuts or jicama be added in for that extra sweetness and crunch.

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One unique soup you should take note of is the Night Blooming Cereus Herbal Soup (霸王花炖湯 – RM12.90 for ala-carte/RM18.90 for set). Scientifically known as Epiphyllum or with a common name of Queen of the Night/Dragon Flower, this Dragon Fruit like cactus plant would bloom flowers only at night. According to the Chinese belief, it also symbolizes great fortune. With the right concoction of ingredients, the tasty soup would be great to strengthen the lungs against flu related symptoms. However, this soup is not advisable to be consumed by those with hypertension. This soup had some bean curds, bean curd sticks, Chinese almond and wolfberries.

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Another simple yet nourishing soup to have would be the Mint Leaves Egg Soup (薄荷蛋花湯 – RM9.90 for ala-carte/RM15.90 for set). Mint leaves are great alternative to treat respiratory disorders such as cold, cough and flu related headaches. The soup had some soy protein meatballs slices added in to enhance the flavor more.

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For side dishes, you should not miss out their delicious Deep Fried Mushroom (炸香菇 – RM9.90). I find this dish to be rather appetizing considering that the mushroom slices were only dried shitake mushrooms. The chef did a great job in getting the best out of the mushrooms in texture and flavors. The deep fried batter coated mushroom slices were mild crispy with some sweet and sour sauce plus a little sprinkles of toasted sesame seeds. They were awesomely addictive. 🙂

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Alternatively, there was also the Devil’s Eggs (魔鬼蛋 – RM4.90 for 3 eggs/RM7.90 for 6 eggs). The spicy curry with high hints of candlenuts, galangal and vinegar usages is from the Eurasian Kristang culinary tradition, a festive dish commonly found in Singapore and Malacca. If you need a hot and spicy punch in your palate of vegetarian dishes, this is one dish you should not miss out.

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As for beverages, there are quite a few unique concoctions such as the Olive Tea (橄欖茶 – RM3.90), Mango Lassi (芒果拉西 – RM9.90), CC Lemonade (RM9.90), Carrot Julius (RM9.90), Herbal Mint Tea (薄荷夏枯草 – RM3.90), Nangka (Jackfruit) Lassi (木波羅拉西 – RM10.90) and more. I personally like both the lassi as they have the natural sweetness from the blended fruits and just the right smoothness. On the other hand, the traditional drinks have some unique options. The Olive Tea has the flavors almost similar to dried sour plum and the Herbal Mint Tea was rather refreshing on a hot day.

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Overall, the dishes served here are more creative and flavorful than most of the healthy cuisine eateries on the market. The set meals can be real value for money. However, there are still some rooms for improvements for more options on less fried and less oily dishes. On top of that, it would be great if the restaurant could provide more spicy flavored dishes from other ethnic groups such as the Malays and Indians to pull in more diners. I guessed they might need to pick up one or two of my vegetarian dish recipes in my blog with a bit of tweaks to their liking~ 😛 Moreover, the restaurant also lacked the options for some desserts. It would be great if they have some Fruity Konnyaku Jelly or some home brewed bean soup to make the meal complete.

If you are coming from Komtar into Jalan Macalister, keep a look out for the fifth junction on your right. Turn right into Lorong Selamat. Drive on for another 400m and keep a look for the shop on your left. It’s just opposite the end of the Pangsapuri Jalan Zainal Abidin (with an open space padang) on your right nearing Jalan Burma. There would be at least 2 parking spaces in front of the premises.

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Name: COYA HEALTHY CUISINE (VEGETARIAN HOUSE)
Address: 4A Lorong Selamat, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-226 2357, 012-486 4127 (Summer)
Business Hours: 11.00am-3.00pm, 5.30pm-9.30pm (Closed on Monday)
GPS: 5.419108, 100.326188

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

With Chinese New Year 2014 coming up real soon, what would be the best thing to do to usher in the Year of the Wood Horse? Of course, we would feast with family and friends at reunion dinners. Where’s the latest place in town to get great ambience and great food to celebrate this auspicious celebration? Straits Café & Lounge @ Ixora Hotel, Bandar Perai Jaya, Penang, would be an ideal choice. The Chinese New Year Promotion would be available from 30 January 2014 until 1 February 2014, 6.00pm-10.00pm. Thanks to the hard work, dedication and sacrifices of Executive Chef, Chef Aikaun Beh and his team, you would get to try out his skillful and tasty “pork free” dishes this coming Chinese New Year.

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To usher in the Year of the Wood Horse, do check out Straits Café & Lounge @ Ixora Hote’s Chinese New Year Prosperous Reunion 8-course Dinner packages. There would be 2 options for the RM698++ and RM888++ packages. Check out the menu below:

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A few of us managed to try out a few dishes from both the packages. As starter, all packages would be having the Ixora Rainbow Yee Sang Platter. Also commonly known as “Prosperity Toss”, the word Yee Sang has a play on Chinese homonyms with carries the meaning of “increase in abundance”, a symbol of “prosperity in abundance”. The salad is traditionally served on Ren Ri (人日/Human Day), the seventh day of Chinese New Year. The dish would consist of thin slices of raw fish (commonly salmon compared to the traditional way of using the limited supply of snakehead/ikan haruan), julienned vegetable pickles, various spices and condiments, tossed as high as possible by diners, another symbol of longevity.

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Another of the mouth slurping dish would be the Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Fish Maw, Black Mushrooms and Ginseng (from the RM888+ package). Each mouthful had the presence of richness with the extracts from the added ginseng for extra energy and alertness. The soup was extremely good.

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There would also be the Traditional Shark’s Fin Soup with Dried Scallops (from the RM698+ package). The usages of dried scallops and high broth stock used, with some crabmeat and fish maw, ensured a bowlful of rich indulgence. This was another great bowl of soup.

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Another impressive dish would be their Deep Fried Boneless Chicken with Kerabu Mango Sauce (from the RM698+ package). The crispiness of the finely marinated chicken pieces combined with the ginger bulb flower infused mango sauce was very appetizing.

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We also had the Wok Fried Oatmeal Butter Prawns (from the RM698+ package). It was nothing fanciful for this dish except that the freshness of the prawn species used by the kitchen scored above the rest in the same industry. The prawns were juicy and succulent with the added fragrance from the butter and oatmeal.

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When I saw the Braised Broccoli with Bailing Mushrooms, Pacific Clams and Sea Asparagus (from the RM698+ package), I had the perception that it was going to be the normal starch filled banquet dish. I was wrong. The flavors were remarkably perfect for my palate. It had hints of garlic and abalone sauce usages, a more premium taste than the common used oyster sauce.

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The Steamed Red Lion Fish with Hot and Spicy Szechuan Sauce (from the RM698+ package) was another perfect dish. The freshness of the fish with a texture of a cross between red snapper and sea bass went well with the sweet and mild sour sauce, garnished with lots of julienned spring onions, red chilies and deep fried young ginger.

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Surely there would be some long noodles to symbolize longevity in such a reunion dinner, namely the Stir Fried Empire Noodles with Seafood and Vegetables (from the RM888+ package). The flavorful and high wok heat filled noodles (皇帝面/Emperor’s Noodles) had some added prawns and batter fried fish fillet. It was delicious.

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Every Chinese dinner would normally end with a sweet dessert to archive our sweet memories for any event. Slow Boiled White Fungus with Ginkgo Nuts Red Dates, Dried Longan & Lotus Seeds (from the RM888+ package) was served.

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On top of the Chinese New Year Prosperous Reunion 8-Course Dinner above, you can also check out their Prosperous Shou Gong Dinner packages, available from 1-29 January 2014, from 12.00pm-10.00pm. There are also 2 options available on the menu for 2 packages – RM698++ and RM798++. Each package can accommodate 10 pax. Do check out the menu below for a clearer view of the dishes available.

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You can also check out their Chinese Style Wok Fried Cuisine Promotion (1 January 2014-28 February 2014, 12.00pm-10.00pm). Portions would come in 2 sizes – Regular or Large with prices starting from RM10.00++/dish onwards. Won’t it be nice to have such a cozy and comfortable place to dine away from the torment of the unpredictable weather? You can click on the menu below for a clear picture of what the kitchen would be offering.

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Here are some of the dishes we had tried earlier. We started off with Fish Ball Seaweed Soup. The flavorful soup with curative properties would be great to start off a meal.

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All of us were impressed by the next dish which was the Crispy Mint Sauce Chicken, a fusion of East and West. The crispy chicken slices went well with the mint and mayonnaise combination of sauce.

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The Stir Fried Fish Fillet with Bean Paste Sauce was also one of my favorites. The fish was juicy within the crusted batter fritters and the sweet salty sauce complemented each other real well.

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We also tried out their signature Deep Fried Prawns with Five Spices. This was another impressive dish with the aromatic spice flavors on the succulent fresh prawns.

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As for dessert, we had some Chinese Herbal Pudding with Honey. The mild bitter herb pudding went well with the sweet honey. However, I personally find that the texture was not as firm and springy as I would have expected.

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Last but not least, we also tried out the Taiwan Chinese Tong Yuen. The dessert had some big sugared sesame seeds filled and small plain tong yuen (glutinous rice balls) in a mildly sweetened syrup soup. Well, I was expecting something more unique for this dessert such as the tong yuen being served with red bean soup, soya milk or even in floral osmanthus concoctions. It would be great if the kitchen can come out with some more unique flavors.

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Overall, the dishes served here in the café can be remarkably interesting and flavorful. Thanks to the chef’s team for excelling in Chinese cuisine with a twist of Western fine dining presentation. For more information, please check out www.ixorahotel.com

Getting to the Straits Café & Lounge @ Ixora Hotel won’t be hard as it’s just located next to the Megamall Shopping Complex at Bandar Perai Jaya. If you are coming from the island via the 1st Penang Bridge, just look out for the second exit on your left upon reaching the mainland. Drive all the way via Jalan Baru until you reach the 1st traffic lights. Turn left into Jalan Perai Jaya 1 and you can see Ixora Hotel at the junction of Jalan Baru/Jalan Perai Jaya 1. Drive straight for about 10m and you can see the basement car park on your left. Park your car and go up Level 1 and you can see the café & lounge there.

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Name: STRAITS CAFÉ & LOUNGE @ IXORA HOTEL
Address: Jalan Baru, Bandar Perai Jaya, 13600 Perai, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-382 8888
Business Hours: 6.00am-10.00am (breakfast), 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.00pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.378357, 100.398322

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

NOSTALGIC MOMENTS AT LOKE THYE KEE RESTAURANT & BAR PENANG

Posted by crizlai On January - 11 - 2014

For those who had attended family functions such as matchmakings, weddings and birthdays at Loke Thye Kee Restaurant in the late 1920s, you can now rekindle those memories at the newly refurbished and renovated building after more than 8 decades. There will be a maximum seating capacity of 118 pax at the restaurant with an additional seating capacity of 80 pax at the rooftop terrace. Loke Thye Kee, which in Hainanese means “House of Happiness”, resembles the architecture structures of a Chinese “Love Boat”, traditionally served Hainanese Chinese and Western Cuisine. Today, Loke Thye Kee Restaurant serves Malaysian cuisine from the different ethnic origins, namely Malay, Chinese and Indian with an occasional twist of Hainanese and Western dishes. The pork-free restaurant would be managed by their appointed Malaysian chefs, led by Chef Azlin (Head Chef), Chef Lim (Hainanese cuisine), Chef Effendy (Pastry Chef). All their dishes are pork-free and they are in the process of applying for ‘Halal’ certification.

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The restaurant would have ala carte dishes and set menus for lunch and dinner daily except on Mondays. They would offer signature Malaysian dishes from the different ethnic origins such as Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine, with a selection of Hainanese cuisine. You can check out their menu below.

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Some of those items in the ala carte/set dishes would include some Hainanese dishes such as the Hainanese Chicken Rice, Hainanese Chicken Chop, Macaroni Pie and more. The Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of the hot selling dishes in the restaurant as the preparation to get the dish served can be real tedious from the steps to prepare the fragrant fully flavored rice, getting tender meat until the concoction of the many condiments. Do check out this dish.

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On the other hand, they have the Hainanese Chicken Chop. Flavor and texture wise, it was a fine dish. However, it was not as authentic as I would have preferred. The chicken meat was over coated with batter instead of a mildly breadcrumbs coat and the gravy served was practically brown sauce, a far differences compared to the traditional sweet onion based gravy. The gravy should actually consist of rich chicken stock, a bit of tomato ketchup (optional), HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and pepper to taste and thickened with some corn flour. Of course, there would be presence of onions, tomato slices and green peas added in to pep up more sweetness and some freshly cut deep fried potato wedges served. I do hope the kitchen would get the dish to be as authentic as it should be.

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The Macaroni Pie on the other hand was also not as authentic as it should be. Something seemed to be missing on the bi-colored crust. The white and yellow (egg white and egg yolk) crust somehow tasted rather eggy without some presence of vanilla essence to pep up some flavors. Moreover, the filling itself was “too instant”. It practically has some macaroni, chicken ham, button mushrooms, some diced onions, cream sauce and herbs. It tasted more Western than the Hainanese style which uses spices such as cinnamon bark, cloves and star anise instead. Again, this dish would need more tweaking from the kitchen.

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Loke Thye Kee Restaurant would also provide diners with a taste of Malaysia within the nostalgic surroundings with their weekend buffets. I would want to share with you how a typical Saturday Malaysian Buffet would look like. We would start with the cold dishes and salad section. You would find items such as mussels, prawns, cold cuts and some ready pepped up Nyonya/Malay salads (kerabu).

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On the hot/main dishes section, you would expect to try out items such as herbal soup, steamed rice, yong chow fried rice, crispy noodles, fried chicken, barbeque chicken, braised lamb, assam prawns, braised duck with yam (or ark), seafood thermidor, steamed fish, assorted vegetables and deep fried tempura vegetables.

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At the dessert section, you would expect some cakes, puddings, local kuih-muih, bubur kacang, ice cream and coffee.

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There will also be some hawker fares at the action counter such as ice kacang, hokkien mee and rojak.

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What most people are not aware of is that there’s a rooftop terrace with 360° view of George Town, most notably the 65-storey Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR), constructed in 1974. Other than the option to dine on the rooftop, there’s also a bar up there serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and cakes from 11.00am until 11.00pm daily (except Monday). The rooftop area would be quite an ideal place to chill out with family and friends, have a small gathering party or even office function since it can fit up to 80 pax. It’s also a great place to watch football on TV.

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You can check out the Rooftop Terrace menu here:

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Overall, the dishes served here can be real value for money with so much different spread of seafood, meat, poultry, desserts and hawker dishes. However, there are still some rooms for improvements for more options on Malaysian cuisine throughout the whole nation.

Here’s the summary of the promotion and opening hours.

Tuesday-Sunday: 11.00am-11.00pm (Last call 10.30pm)
Ala Carte Menu/Set Lunch/Set Dinner
Saturday Malaysian Buffet Dinner: 6.30pm-10.30pm
RM60++ (adult)/RM30++ (child)
Sunday Buffet Brunch: 11.00am-3.00pm
RM28++ (adult)/RM14++ (child)
Rooftop Terrace Bar: 11.00pm-11.00pm daily (except Mondays)

Getting to Loke Thye Kee Restaurant & Bar is rather easy as it’s located just at the junction of Jalan Penang/Jalan Burma. There are ample parking spaces beside and behind the restaurant which can be accessed through a small lane via Jalan Transfer.

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Name: LOKE THYE KEE RESTAURANT & BAR
Address: 2 Jalan Burma, 10050 George Town, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-264 1919
Business Hours: 11.00am-11.00pm (Closed on Monday)
GPS: 5.416996, 100.329916

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

Howdy mate! Care for some sumptuous delicacies from Down Under? For the month of January 2014 (1-31 January 2014), Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its Aussie Tucker Promotion 2014, under the skillful hands of the Jr. Sous Chef, Chef Kelvin Cheong with the help of Chef Mohd Fauzi. The Australian cuisine has the influence of globalization from different nationalities, thus the food served may include just anything from sandwiches, rolls, wraps, salads, hot from the oven to snack treats.

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We started with some appetizers namely the Corn & Haloumi Fritters (酥炸奶酪玉米粒). The combination of corn kernels and haloumi, a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined milk product made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk and sometimes also cow’s milk, made into fritters were perfect. These were served with some sour cream and smoked salmon.

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Next was the Roasted Kumara Salad (烘烤紅番薯沙拉). There was nothing much to shout about except it was just another potato salad of a different species. Overall, it was still a great salad with a bit of earthly flavors.

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We also had some Aussie Roasted Carrots & Cumin Soup (澳洲烤胡蘿破和小茴香湯) which reminded me of the Indian dhal dish. The soup tasted a bit too strong of cumin which I would think won’t be much suitable for those who can’t take too much of spices. However, it was quite tasty for me as I’m quite fond of Indian spices.

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We also served with some Zucchini Bites (烘烤西葫蘆). The flesh of the squash was roasted, then blended before being mixed with some mayonnaise and herbs and piped into the rolled up skin. It was not a bad presentation but I did not find the dish as palatable to my liking as there were no bites at all as the name depicted.

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As for the main course, we had Tasmanian Mussels with Garlic Butter (蒜味塔斯馬尼亞貽貝). No doubt the pan butter grilled mussels were juicy but it lacked a tad of flavors such as added chopped garlic and red chilies/paprika to pep up the flavors more.

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There was also the Aussie Prawns (澳式大蝦). It was just some large prawn being sauteed with some butter, herbs and spices. Taste wise, it was still fine but I don’t quite like the hard shelled prawn species used in the kitchen as the prawns were rather hard to peel properly.

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The next dish caught my attention. It was the Macadamia Nuts Pesto (澳式堅果香草醬面). Anything to do with macadamia nuts is my favorite as the creaminess of these nuts would always be heavenly. Instead of the usual added pine nuts, the madadamia nuts indeed pepped up more nutty flavors in the pesto sauce. Tossed with the right al dente pasta, it was a great dish to watch out for. Do find some grilled meat or smoked salmon from the buffet spread to add onto your pasta as it would make this dish more perfect as your main dish.

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We ended up the main dishes with some Grilled Chicken Breast with Barbeque Glaze (澳式燒烤雞胸肉). It was the perfect meat dish to complement the pesto pasta.

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As for desserts, we had the Australia originated Lamington Cake (澳式傳統拉明頓蛋糕). This time around, the chef did something special. Instead of dipping the moist butter cake slices into some hot chocolate sauce before being tossed in desiccated coconut, the kitchen used double shot espresso as a replacement. It was indeed a nice bitter sweet punch in the mouth. Moreover, the cake was just nice in sweetness for my liking. Thumbs up chef!

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Another great Australian dessert would be the Fruits Pavlova (鮮果帕芙洛娃甜餅), a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and a light inner softness, filled with fresh fruits and custard. It was indeed something unique.

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Lastly, we were also served with some Chocolate Mousse Cake (巧克力奶油凍蛋糕). It was indeed heavenly with creamy mousse coated with thick chocolate ganache.

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Overall, the dishes served in the Aussie Tucker Promotion 2014 were somehow a mix and match of dishes in the Western and Tex-Mex cuisine scenes. The dishes quite common as you would get from the American cuisine spread.

Here’s the summary of the promotion.

AUSSIE TUCKER PROMOTION 2014 (1-31 JANUARY 2014)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday (except 31 January 2014)
RM50++ (adult), RM25++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 4.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM58++ (adult), RM29++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Weekend Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Friday & Saturday
Friday (Free Flow Friday with Wine): RM128++ (adult), RM48++ (child)
Saturday (Pirate Seafood Night): RM80++ (adult), RM48++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm):
Sunday – Tuesday & Thursday
RM50++ per pax
Wednesday (Wine & Dine)RM95++ per pax

For MAYBANKARD, Standard Chartered Bank, CIMB Bank, Citibank and MasterCard Worldwide card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday & Saturday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the ring wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

EASTINHOTELMAP

Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7.5/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

Note: The Pre-order stock at RM38/box for CNY2014 have been sold out. There are only a few boxes left for walk in customers at RM45/box. First come first serve only.

As Chinese New Year 2014 is just around the corner in late January 2014, many families are beginning to jot down their annual customary list of what gifts to present to their relatives and friends. Why not consider Pineapple Cakes? Pineapples carry a deep meaning in the Penang Hokkien dialect – “Ong Lai”, meaning “Prosperity Comes”, a great omen to start a new year. This year, Gartien (小田佳園), a local pineapple cakes manufacturer, located within a heritage house along Lorong Macalister, Penang, took bold steps in coming out with totally new packaging designs. The box is now bigger and dawns in elegant bright red color with gold stampings, while the little pineapple cake packages have Chinese ink printing of Peony (Mudan/牡丹) flowers, the theme set for Chinese New Year 2014. Each box with 10 pieces of freshly made pineapple cakes would be priced at RM45/box effective 30 December 2013 onwards. However, if you make your pre-order before the start of 2014, you would still be given a promotional price of RM38/box. Even before the production of the new packages, more than 500 boxes have been pre-booked. Thus, only a limited quantity of pineapple cakes are left for grabs (Only 250 boxes weekly for 4 weeks effective 30 December 2014). There is also a BONUS for all! For every 10 boxes ordered/bought, you can either opt for another box of pineapple cakes FREE if you collect them yourself or get your postage WAIVED if you are residing within Peninsular Malaysia. Last day for collection is on 26 January 2014. Hurry now to place your order to avoid any disappointment!

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You might ask, “Why Gartien Pineapple Cakes?” The reason is simple. As Malaysians, we ought to support our own local products. The pineapple filling itself is 100% home grown in Nibong Tebal, Penang, carefully handpicked and processed under strict quality control right in the heart of George Town, Penang. Secondly, the pineapples are brunoised instead of blended into puree. You would get pure bites on the texture. Combined with the hand crafted fresh pastry with the right fluffiness plus milky buttery flavors, it’s a snack that would leave many consumers yearning for more. What more it’s a great tea time snack to go with a cup of unsweetened tea.

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Overall, I find the pineapple cake to be awesome, not only through its freshness and real pineapple texture but also due to its versatility to be served during any occasion. After all, pineapples are low in fat and cholesterol and contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, Vitamin B1, B6 & C and dietary fiber, which are rich in nutrients for the body.

Finding the bakery won’t be hard as it is situated right in the heart of George Town, Penang. If you are coming from KOMTAR along Jalan Penang into Jalan Burma, just keep to your left. Immediately when you see Hong Leong Bank, turn left into Lorong Macalister. Drive on for about another 200m and you would see the shop on your left right before Lorong Bertam.

GARTIENMAP

Name: GARTIEN @ 小田佳園
Address: 68, Lorong Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-229 0068
Website: www.gartien.com
Email: info@gartien.com
FaceBook: www.fb.gartien.com/
Business Hours: 10.00am-5.00pm (weekdays), 9.00am-6.00pm (weekends)
GPS: 5.416195, 100.328433

RATING:
Ambience: 7/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 4/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 8/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 7.5/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 9/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

For the month of December 2013 (1-31 December 2013), the Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its International Flavors Promotion to tantalize your taste buds. This promotion would be under the skillful hands of Chef Ong Chin Hock (Jr. Sous Chef) and Chef Franco Ho (Pastry Chef).

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We started off the meal with a classic soup called Italian Cream of Tomato (意式番茄湯). It was creamy with full sweetness from ripened tomatoes with a mild tad of herbs and spices. Obviously, the thickness was from some usage of heavy cream. However, I personally felt it was a bit towards a sweeter taste that did not suit my taste bud all so well.

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However, the appetizer of Roulade de Saumon au Fromage Crème (French Salmon Roulade with Cream Cheese Platter/法式鮭魚肉卷) was something to comment about. The freshness of the salmon combined with some herb infused cream cheese was something quite addictive. It seemed this was one of the dishes that won an award in a recent culinary competition. Thumbs up!

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You would also be expecting something from Thailand, namely the Yam Talay (Thai Seafood Salad/泰式海鮮沙拉). When it comes to Thai cuisine, the balance of herbs and spices usages with a light touch of sweet and sourness would hardly go wrong. Moreover, combined with a few selections of fresh seafood, the dish was another winner for any buffet spread.

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Amongst the many canapé sections, you would expect to get some variations of tapas. There were a few variants introduced such as the French Style Marinated Sardine (法式滷沙丁魚). The main attraction of this appetizer was that the sardine slices were served raw but cured with some lemon citrus juice and infused with some red pepper corn and herbs. It was an interesting combination indeed and appetizing too.

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Another interesting tapas was the Eggplant Caviar (茄子魚子醬) served on cream crackers. Though the preparation was simple, the mayonnaise added eggplant combination with some added lumpfish caviar was something light and delicious.

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The last of the tapas introduced was the Cheese with Dry Apricot & Turkey served with Apple Jam Sauce. It was not a bad combination at all.

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As for the main dishes, you would be expecting some Korean dishes such as the Korean Bulgogi (韓國烤肉). At first glance, you might think that the grilled beef slices might be tough. However, being marinated well with ginger juice as tenderizer and added garlic, chili flakes and sesame seeds, each bite was amazingly tender to the bite.

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There was also the Indian Curry Fish Head with Vegetables (印度咖哩魚頭). For Malaysians, this was one of the more common dishes in our daily spread of dishes. There was nothing much to brag about.

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One of the more prominent dishes that always caught my attention was the Hong Kong Style Roasted Duck with BBQ Sweet Sauce (港式烤鴨). The kitchen did quite a great job in roasting the duck with the right stuffing. The pieces were tender and juicy and went well with the condiment of BBQ sweet sauce.

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What caught my attention most was the Frango comleit de coco Brasileira (Brazilian Chicken with Coconut Milk/巴西椰奶雞). The creamy coconut milk concoction with a mild touch of herb, lemon juice and some finely diced tomatoes went well with the pan-fried boneless chicken. This dish would be great with some bread or tortillas.

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Chinese Classical Loh Han Chai with Yam Ring (玉環羅漢菜) was also served. I personally felt that the yam ring would go better with some stir fry vegetables and chicken. The fermented bean curd usage in the dish somehow overpowered the fragrance from the nicely fried yam ring.

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We were also served with some French Prawn Persillade (法式香菜蝦). This was just some king sized prawns sauteed in some chopped garlic plus parsley and served with curry infused couscous.

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Last but not least, we ended our meals with two delicious desserts. One of them was the Italian Classic “Pick Me Up” Tiramisu (法式提拉米蘇) while the other was the American Dark Chocolate Mud Cake (黑朱古力泥蛋糕).

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Overall, the theme for this December month can be quite interesting as it has the cuisine from all over the world. Do check out the different display of tapas to tempt your taste buds.

Here’s the summary of the International Flavors Promotion.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVORS PROMOTION (1-31 DECEMBER 2013)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday (except 25 December 2013)
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays (include 25 December 2013)
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Sunday – Thursday (except 24 & 25 December 2013)
RM48++ per pax

For MAYBANKARD, Standard Chartered Bank, OCBC Bank, CIMB Bank and CITIBANK card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Herbs & Spices Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday to Sunday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the right wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

EASTINHOTELMAP

Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

CHRISTMAS 2013 PROMOTIONS AT STARBUCKS® MALAYSIA

Posted by crizlai On November - 10 - 2013

I’m sure I need not have to mention much about Starbucks® in Malaysia as most of you would have known the brand throughout their 15 years of operations in Malaysia. It’s operated by Berjaya Starbucks® Coffee Company Sdn. Bhd., a joint-venture between Starbucks® Coffee International and Berjaya Group Berhad. With over 150 outlets and ‘drive-thru’s throughout Malaysia since their first store opening in Kuala Lumpur on 17 December 1998, Starbucks® promised to bring in more great deals during this Christmas 2013 (Promotion period: 6 November 2013 – 6 January 2014) based on the theme “Create Wonder and Share Joy with Favorite Seasonal Traditions”. We had a fun-filled briefing on the seasonal promotion at Starbucks® Drive-Thru, Tanjung Tokong, Penang recently.

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“Starbucks® Drive-Thru Tanjung Tokong is the most profitable drive-thru outlets amongst all six throughout Malaysia. It’s also the outlet with the most completed merchandises in Penang,” stated Sdyney Quays, Managing Director of Berjaya Starbucks® Coffee Company.

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Amongst the once-a-year favorites would be their freshly brewed Starbucks® Seasonal Favorite Coffees (RM40 for 250g coffee beans pack or RM33 for 12 sachets of ready brew packs), the perfect salute for each season. These are the Starbucks® Christmas Blend (Whole Beans or VIA Ready Brew Christmas Blend), a dark roasted coffee with a blend of lively Latin American coffees and smooth Asia Pacific coffees, including rare, aged Indonesian beans; full bodied, medium acidity with soothing sweet, spicy plus herbal aromas and Starbucks® Christmas Blend Espresso Roast, a darker espresso roast with sweeter and dense flavors to the mellow smoothness of the Asia Pacific beans.

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There are also 3 new flavors of delicious cakes introduced this year. All cakes would be priced at RM10.90/slice. The most notably one would be their Trio Forest, a rich moist chocolate cake, stuffed with juicy caramelized dark cherries, topped with a layer of chocolate ganache and beautifully presented with a generous amount of shaved chocolate flakes. The Mango Tango which had mango slices stuffed between layers of light sponge cake would be ideal to go with the Starbucks® Christmas Blend. The Midori on the other hand was also unique by itself. The trio layered sponge cake had a topping of cream cheese with slathered pistachio dressing.

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Christmas is a time to create wonder and share joy with family and friends over stories, memories and delicious Starbucks® food and beverages. Again this year, Starbucks® is bringing back their Christmas beverages with a bit of twist from last year’s. You can now enjoy their enhanced versions of Toffee Nut Latte, Toffee Nut Frappuccino® blended beverage, Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino® blended beverage and Cranberry White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino® blended beverage.

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Toffee Nut Latte Frappuccino® is a flavorful holiday beverage. It has the rich, buttery flavor of sweet toffee combined with toasted nuts, blended with their smooth espresso and velvety steamed milk. Topped with whipped cream and toffee-flavored sprinkles, it’s no surprise that this warm, heavenly beverage is sure to put you in the mood for Christmas.

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The Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino® is another great beverage for peppermint lovers. It has a combination of espresso, steamed milk, bittersweet chocolate and peppermint flavor in this seasonal favorite. Topped with classic whipped cream and a light sprinkles of Christmas cane candies, the Peppermint Mocha is brimming with Christmas cheer that is sure to please.

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Back by popular demand, the Cranberry White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino® is the perfect sweet treat to sip during this season. Starbucks® signature espresso is combined with freshly steamed milk and luscious white chocolate, then topped with whipped cream, a tart cranberry drizzle and crystallized cranberry sugar.

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Another gifting option or even as collectible items would definitely be the Starbucks® Card. This year, Starbucks® had added another new card design named “Merry Christmas”. You would have the options to choose from the 3 distinctive designs, namely “Merry Christmas”, “Snowman” and “Christmas Tree”. Do grab either one of the limited edition designs or maybe all if you are into collecting them. Each card required a minimum activation fee of RM30.

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Also available this year would be their limited edition Starbucks® Planner 2014 which has a special compartment to store your iPad. Priced at RM159 each, this planner could also be redeemed FOC via certain termed purchases by mode of your Starbucks® Card. The requirement of purchases would be any 3 purchases of the Christmas beverages plus 15 purchases of “Grande sized” beverages. Terms & conditions apply.

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Planning to set the Christmas moods with more giving and sharing? There are more than 60 items at each Starbucks® outlet, ranging from Starbucks® Seasonal Favorite coffees, Starbucks® Card, Starbucks® Planner 2014, Starbucks® soft toys, Starbucks® mugs, Starbucks® tumblers, Starbucks® Christmas ornaments and more for you to choose.

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The most notable one would be the Swarovski crystal studded Starbucks® Christmas ornament priced at RM185.

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Thanks to Starbucks® for the invitation as well as the lovely bring home gifts~ 🙂

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Name: STARBUCKS® DRIVE-THRU @ TANJUNG TOKONG, PENANG
Address: 4-G, Jalan Pantai Molek, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-890 6008
Business Hours: 6.30am-1.00am (Sun-Thurs), 24 hours (Fri & Sat)
Website: http://www.starbucks.com.my/
GPS: 5.446571, 100.305556

 

Herbs and spices (either freshly grown or dried ones) have been around for centuries and they are the main ingredients to pep up the flavors and aromas in our daily cuisine. For the month of November 2013 (1-30 November 2013), the Swez Brasserie @ Eastin Hotel, Penang, would be having its Herbs & Spices Promotion to send your taste bud tingling back to the days of the Maharajah. This promotion would be under the skillful hands of Chef Khalil bin Khazali, Chef de Partie (Malay Kitchen) and Chef Buvanessuaran a/l Muniandy, Commis 1 (Pastry Kitchen), supervised by Chef Mohamad Bakri, head of Malay Kitchen.

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We started off the meal with a soup called Chicken Mulligatawny Soup (印度香料雞湯). Mulligatawny is a traditional curry soup of Indian origin but it has many variations depending of which region it came from. The soup basically has the ingredients of your common Potato & Carrot Soup (ABC Soup as some locals may call it) but slightly spiced up with some curry powder, plus added green apple slices for some extra crunch and sweetness. This soup would normally be thickened up with some rice grains but there would also be the option to apply in some heavy cream. The mild spiciness of this soup would suit Westerners more. However, being a spicy lover, I personally find the soup to be a bit too mild and watery to my liking. On top of that, being towards a more Indian theme, it lacked the common garnishing of herbs such as cilantro and/or red chilies to bring out more depth in the dish, taste and flavor wise.

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Next we had a dish known as Achari Paneer (鮮辣芝士沙拉). Paneer is a kind of non-melting Indian style cottage cheese, processed by separating the curd from the whey by adding some food acid into hot boiling milk. The drained curd would then be soaked in chilled water for a period of time to get the almost bean curd hard like texture. This “either you like it or not” type of non-melting paneer is extremely versatile for any form of cooking, even as a pakora. The kitchen did it in a spicy way by stir frying those cubed paneer with a long list of herbs and spices. The aromatic accompaniment was nicely prepared with the right balance of flavors. However, I noticed that the paneer was not properly drained as there were still some traces of moisture oozing out from cooked cheese. The kitchen might pull through by preparing the dish this way but it would be a bit risky if they planned to deep fry those cubed cheese.

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Since I’m quite fond on Indian finger food such as the vadai, masala vadai, samosa and more, I find the next item to be simple and yet fulfilling. We had Deep Fried Pakoras (香酥炸蔬菜). Each pakora had some finely cut onions, chilies and spices mixed in gram flour prior to being mold into bite size for deep frying. These lovely crispy snacks went well with their Madras Curry Mayo dipping sauce.

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The Chicken Tikka Masala (馬薩拉香濃雞) was lovely. The meat was well marinated and tender with a high presence of garam masala usages. If you can get hold of a slice of lime, a little squeeze would pep up the flavors even more. Thumbs up!

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The Goan Fish Curry (印度傳統咖哩魚) was served next. The Goa style curry fish was normal. You practically get this style of cooking anywhere in Malaysia, whether they are from a Malay, Indian, Indian Muslim or even a Chinese economy rice stall.

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On the other hand, the Sindhi Kadhi (咖哩蔬菜鍋) was also another common dish served. This nutritious dish with a predominant use of various vegetables, complement each other beautifully in terms of color, taste and texture.

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We were also served with the Masala Aloo (香濃馬鈴薯咖哩). I was wondering if the kitchen named this dish wrongly as there were no “murgh” aka chicken in the dish. Thus, I had renamed it as Masala Aloo rather than Murgh Aloo Masala. The dish practically tasted almost like the Indian style Dhal Curry. However, instead of using lentils, these were replaced with chickpeas. This dish would go well with rice or any of the Indian bread, especially roti pratha and chapati.

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Lastly, there was also the Lamb Briyani (羊肉燜飯). I kind of like the tender and well marinated lamb pieces here. However, the rice somehow lacked the fragrance and texture I was expecting. Though Basmati rice grains were used, the amount of water used was not enough to ascertain the ideal al dente of the rice. The rice was rather dry and lacked of flavors to my liking.

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There would always be some sweet desserts for last to complete the contentment. Well, it’s almost always true but not as sweet as the Indian desserts. Though the kitchen had cut down on the sugar usage, I still find the Gulab Jamun (玫瑰黃金球) to be over excessive in sweetness. The deep fried dough basically consisted of flour, milk powder and baking soda and soaked in a pool of rose infused syrup. Somehow, the syrup lacked some significant flavors such as those from rose and notably cardamoms.

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There was also the Payasam (香料西米露) which was made up of super sweetened milk with a high usage of cardamoms with a light garnishing of fried cashew nuts. I could not ascertain the starch used as it could be either semiya, a type of vermicelli or even poha, a flattened rice, as the dessert was to0 sweet for my consumption.

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Last but not least, we had my favorite of the day – Mango Lassi (芒果拉西). This barely 100 calories yoghurt and milk based refreshing beverage was well chilled with added chunks of fresh Indian mangoes. It was great to slurp down the lassi after a heavy meal of herbs and spices infused cuisine.

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Overall, I find that the theme for this month was rather confusing as all the dishes served here were of Indian cuisine. It was not wrong altogether as the Indians do use the most herbs and spices in their daily cooking. However, I personally feel that diners would want more options of other origins such as Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Nyonya and so on. I was really expecting some Nasi Ulam which is a dish that’s rather unique in this region as most countries won’t be able to acquire most of the herbs and spices from Malaysia. Even some local Nyonya dishes such as the Perut Ikan and Otak Otak would have impressed most of the foreign diners. On top of that, what about some simple herbs and spices usage Western cuisine? I do hope the kitchen would have a wider range of options for this promotion by coming out with more authentic flavored dishes rather than sticking to solely Indian cuisine. Moreover, there are the Northern and Southern Indian cuisine too with different flavors.

Here’s the summary of the Herbs & Spices Promotion.

HERBS & SPICES PROMOTION (1-30 NOVEMBER 2013)
Lunch (12.00 noon – 2.30pm): Monday – Friday
RM48++ (adult), RM24++ (child)
Hi-Tea (12.00 noon – 3.00pm): Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays
Normal weekend: RM55++ (adult), RM28++ (child)
Festive Occasion: RM68++ (adult), RM34++ (child)
Semi Buffet Dinner (6.30pm – 10.00pm): Sunday – Thursday
RM48++ per pax

For MAYBANKARD, Standard Chartered Bank, OCBC Bank, CIMB Bank and CITIBANK card members, you can enjoy 15% discount for the Herbs & Spices Semi Buffet Dinner (Monday to Thursday) and Weekend Buffet Dinner (Friday to Sunday) from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

The Swez Brasserie is located at the right wing of Eastin Hotel, Penang (next to Queensbay Mall). If you are coming from Georgetown towards Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone via Bayan Lepas Expressway, do watch out for the Pulau Jerejak signboard (leading to Pulau Jerejak jetty). Ignore the turning and drive on to the next left junction. Turn left into Jalan Aziz Ibrahim and drive on until you a roundabout. Turn 3 o’ clock and drive on until you see a big Eastin Hotel signboard at the first right junction. Turn right and drive on. Park your car at the basement car park. Take a lift to the first floor lobby and you would see the restaurant there.

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Name: SWEZ BRASSERIE @ EASTIN HOTEL
Address: 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queens Bay, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-612 1128, 604-612 1138
Business Hours: 12.00pm-2.30pm (Lunch), 6.30pm-10.00pm (Dinner)
GPS: 5.33643, 100.306345

RATING:
Ambience: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 classy)
Food Choices: 8/10 (1-4 limited, 5-7 average, 8-10 many choices)
Taste: 7/10 (1-4 tasteless, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)
Pricing: 8/10 (1-4 cheap, 5-7 average, 8-10 expensive)
Service: 8/10 (1-4 bad, 5-7 average, 8-10 excellent)

 

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