Monday, November 21, 2016

Sarkies Penang

Sarkies has been raved as the 'best buffet in Penang'. Sitting at the new Victory Annexe of the very established Eastern & Oriental Penang, the international buffet spread serves an extensive variety of local delicacies such as Penang's renowned fried kway teow that's fried a la minute, to a selection of fresh seafood including freshly shucked oysters.

The ambience of Sarkies doesn't boast anything pretentious despite being located at a 5-star establishment. One can expect comfortable chairs and even a seafront view with their al-fresco dining area - perfect for a gathering a group of friends to enjoy a great food, yet being able to enjoy the casual dining environment.

To start, there's a good selection of salads at the salad bar that offers a good variety. However, if you don't like your greens (like me), you can dive right into the seafood section that serves fresh seafood on ice including poached prawns, mussels and oysters.

From the international selection, there's a choice of sushi and sashimi from the Japanese section, as well as a live grilling station that has a chef flipping up grilled lamb shoulder, salmon and tandoori sausages. They also have cooked food dishes to fill you while you wait for the other stuff to be served, just in case the wait time gets too long, which thankfully wasn't the case.

Of course, Penang isn't complete without a taste of their local food. Besides the local fare such as char kway tiow and laksa, the roasted duck that has a counter on its own also deserves two thumbs up. Think crispy skin and flavourful tender meat accompanied by an in-house made signature sauce - if you are picky like me, you can even request for the specific part of the duck you fancy and they are sure to entertain the request.

If you like your cakes and dessert, there's aplenty at Sarkies that will leave you spoilt for choice. For something more local and to combat the weather, there's a station that serves shaved ice topped with syrups, coconut milk and other toppings like jelly and sweet corn, also known as Ice Kacang.

The buffet at Sarkies shouts nothing less than wow. It's understandable why people rave about it as one of the best buffets in Penang, given the quality and quantity of food items they offer. They run quite full through dinner so reservations are highly recommended. Be prepared to go on empty if you want to try at least half of everything!

Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang
10 Lebuh Farquhar
10200 Penang
+60 4 222 2000

This was an invited media tasting.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Kota Penang

I've tried tons of Peranakan food, but contemporary ones? Not so. Situated at Penang's historic and iconic landmark, Fort Cornwallis, is Kota - when Francis meets rempah. Think Peranakan food plated nicely and served in fine dining portions - definitely a first for me.

For starters, the Jumbo Platter is good for sharing. If you look through the menu and are spoilt for choice, this pretty much solves the problem. The ensemble of Malaysian snacks include Pai Tee Cup, a traditional Peranakan snack with a crispy shell encasing stewed turnips.

The choices of mains at Kota will also leave you with a dilemma. Portions are not exactly huge, so you may want to consider opting for two mains if you are a big eater like me, or if you are not out on a first date. The Nyonya is a beautifully crafted rice assemble with layers of blue coconut rice, topped with rendang, otak otak and achar. One of our favourite picks from the mains we tried that we felt still preserved the Peranakan essence while plated in a modern way.

The Kari (or curry) had a good kick of spiciness which we all enjoyed, topped with a puff pastry that resembles eating a pot pie. If you like your traditional marinated satay skewers, the Satay (also one of our favourites) is a must-try, with tender chicken roulade stuffed with rice, sliced up and drizzled with a roasted peanut sauce. You know satay, but a much fancier version.

Disappointing enough, there were hit and misses with the desserts. The Cream Brûlée that came served in three variations were a hit - comes in Gula Melaka, Black Glutinous Rice and Pandan. However, the Nasi Lemak Cake (yes, savoury for dessert) left us sitting on the fence, with sambal anchovies and a sweet yet savoury complicated flavour i just couldn't put together.

The restaurant isn't huge, and i can hear they get a little packed during dinner. Entrance fees are required but apparently will be off-set on your bill. Not the cheapest in terms of pricing, but honestly i haven't found another place that serves modern Peranakan food and i think it's worth the try at least once.

Kota - when Francis meets rempah
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah
George Town, Malaysia
+60 4-371 4929

This was an invited media tasting.