20 July 2013, Saturday. For the very first time in 3 years of stay in Penang, my family and I had a chance to sample an eat-all-you-want-dinner of authentic Malaysian cuisine prepared specially by Swez Brasserie at Eastin Hotel Penang, for the observance of breaking of the fast during this season of Ramadan. The spread was absolutely different from the Japanese-themed-buffet we had at the same venue few months back (blog post HERE!).
We reached the lobby of the hotel where the said restaurant is located, a bit early for the seven o’clock PM start of the dinner; hence, Tina and I had enough time taking photos of the spread. We noted how Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang was well received and patronized by Malaysian guests and walk-in-diners, as empty tables and seats that we saw when we arrived, were all filled few minutes past 7PM. It was a great sign that the buffet dinner at Eastin’s really good!
“What do you call these oil lamps in Bahasa Melayu?” I asked Selene, one of the friendly staff of Eastin Hotel Penang, about the centerpiece of each table. “Pelita” she replied with a smile. I told her we call it in the Philippines, “sulo” or torch. Dried dates and glasses of warm water were served per table. Lanterns and a few more decors set the mood for families’ Iftar or breaking of the fast. The ambiance was simply made appropriate for the occasion.
Apart from the usual spread of appetizers, entrees and desserts, they set up a few hawker-like-stalls at the entrance of Swez Brasserie. There, diners could ask for servings of Beef Wellington which was soooooo good, Roasted Lamb on the carving stations, Chicken Shawarma, and local desserts like Ais Kachang (fruits, nuts and shaved ice) and Tutti Frutti or more commonly known as snow cone. Other than Beef Wellington, the major reason, in my family’s opinion, for diners to troop to Eastin Hotel is their specialty bone marrow soup locally called, GearBox Soup, or what we call in the Philippines as, Bulalo.
It was totally unexpected to start our Ramadan Buffet with such delicious and piping hot beefy soup! There were bigger chunks of bone marrow being served but Tina requested for a smaller piece for the fear that we may not finish it. But after sipping the tasteful soup with a straw (yes, they serve bone marrow soup here with straws, why not?) and dunking our forks to those tender, fall-off-the-bone meaty goodness, we all felt that it’s an all-worth-it-dining-experience! For the lack of better words to describe the start of our buffet dinner, it was so glorious!
I loved the Beef Salad, except its black olives (I don’t eat olives, do you?). I think the Seafood Salad topped with sesame seeds was done really well as its spicy-meter didn’t irritate my taste buds! Cucur Udang (or Shrimp Fritters) was good too, plus the Stuffed Tofu and Papadam were OK as well. I was happy to came up with such appetizer plate with various textures!
Beef Wellington at Eastin Hotel Penang’s Swez Brasserie. Served with gravy of choice -Mushroom Gravy or Black Pepper Sauce, and a few others. It’s very tender with all that beefy goodness, plus the bread crusting was divine! We highly recommend it!!!
Other than the Gearbox Soup or the Bone Marrow Soup, the three of us favored Beef Wellington! We’ve been dining to a few eat-all-you-want in Penang Island and we know that not all hotels here offer this dish; admittedly, it was our first time to find a buffet that serves it! With all its tender beef, coated by puff pastry to perfection, it’s one of the reasons why you should treat yourself to this Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel when you’re in Penang! Beef Wellington and Gearbox Soup, in our own opinion, make Eastin Hotel Penang’s Buffet remarkably special!
With all our praises to Gearbox Soup and Beef Wellington, the case is different with their version of what Penang is famous for -Penang Assam Laksa that made to top 7 out of 50 Most Delicious Foods in the World according to CNN. Eastin’s version of Penang Assam Laksa screams the need for improvement! We may not be Penangites but being accustomed to its authentic taste, Tina and I believe that Eastin’s Laksa must be enhanced. Case in point, we didn’t like the use of spaghetti instead of the usual rice noodles. It also lacked that spicy and minty and tangy tug-of-war-flavors on the Assam Laksa. Other than the laksa that’s available upon request at that live-kitchen-station, everything’s worth our thumbs-up!
While Tina and I are biased with Turkish Shawarma which this buffet currently doesn’t offer, Gabby enjoyed Swez Brasserie’s Chicken Shawarma! He personally requested no-vegetable-Chicken Shawarma from the station (I know, kids must eat veggies!).
I sampled Grilled Spicy Lobster, Spanish Omelet, Stir Fried Bamboo Clams with Black Bean Sauce (My very first time to eat bamboo clams, would you believe? It’s OK, I liked it), Nasi Minyak (fragrant and flavorful rice topped with garlic and nuts), Gulai Udang (or Shrimp Curry) and Baked Fish with Spices. I liked everything on my plate! However, blame our foreign taste buds with the available refillable beverages. The three of us opted to wash down everything with iced water (I had to request glasses of iced water since Malaysians usually prefer warm water); I just got Corn Juice (the yellow drink), Iced Lemon Tea (which was OK), and Badung (milk flavoured with rose cordial syrup, which to be honest, tasted like antibiotic to me) to taste all of them and include in my photos.
Tina had this lovely dessert plate.
I was pleased and content with authentic delicacies from the spread as I went local with Malaysian Kuihs (or cakes).
Malaysian Kuihs. The taste in general, didn’t deviate from the rice cakes available at common hawkers, which was good! What I liked best was its bite-sized servings! Diners would’ve more room to taste other sweets from the spread!
Gabby personally got himself a plate of goodies dipped onto the chocolate fondue and some slices of cakes (not in photo) and a bowl of Tutti Frutti or snow cone.
Like our Filipino Halo-Halo, Malaysia’s Ais Kachang is served with all the sweet ingredients first, plus nuts at the bottom then topped with shaved ice. The server at Swez Brasserie was pleased to gave in to my request to do it, the other way around for taking-photos’ sake.
A scoop of ice cream definitely makes the entire world happy, doesn’t it? Even happier with each scoop of Peppermint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Chocolate flavors! “An ice cream station at any buffet is always fun,” says the innerchild in me!
Although not included in the buffet, Tina asked for Cappuccino that she lovingly shared with me. Our meal is always incomplete without a dose of caffeine!
We could only wish we have larger gastric pits to accomodate more from the buffet spread. Nonetheless, it’s a sign that the variety and volume of dishes were really remarkable!
Another edge of Eastin is the two-person-live-band that performs during dinner (and even after dinner at the Lounge). Proud to note that the current singer of the band is a Filipina named Jane who beautifully sang English and Malay love songs. It was our second time to meet Jane singing at Eastin! Glad she remembered us and we appreciated her as she personally came to our table to say, Hi.
Now at this point, you should be ready with a tall glass of water (iced or warm, it’s up to you!), control not to salivate too much and scroll down gradually to feast your eyes at what Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang’s Swez Brasserie offers. These photos might not even do it justice.
There’s also Mushroom Cream Soup that Gabby liked so much, and Soto Sup Ayam (and possibly other dishes that we missed, which were not included in the photos. Moving on…
And if Ais Kachang and Tutti Frutti aren’t enough, here’s a rundown of other delights, including dates, Malaysian kuihs and tropical fruits in season, that could really satisfy one’s sweet tooth.
Except for their version of Penang Assam Laksa that could be further improve and the local drinks that we’re not that biased with, we enjoyed everything that we sampled from this Ramadan Buffet at Eastin Hotel Penang. We highly recommend it to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are observing Iftar after a day of fasting during this season, but also to everyone in Penang or those who will visit the island soon! It’s also a pleasant gastronomic introduction to Malay cuisine particularly for foreigners like us. We give this Ramadan Buffet at Eastin our thumbs up!
Ramadan Buffet at Swez Brasserie | RM 85++ (adult) and RM 43 ++ (child) | starts 7PM
EASTIN HOTEL PENANG | 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queensbay 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia
*While we’re grateful that Eastin Hotel Penang hosted our Ramadan Dinner Buffet, all words and opinions on this blog post aren’t influenced and remain 100% my own.