Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Georgetown Area

Change is inevitable in this fast moving market. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts’ Traders Hotel chain is going through a rebranding exercise worldwide to cater to the new ‘Jeneration’ of independent minded business and leisure travellers. And thus, Hotel Jen was born. Hotel Jen Penang’s transformation came on November the 4th 2014.

Now as part of their continuous effort to excel beyond, Hotel Jen Penang unveils a new a la carte menu at ‘The Islander’. Almost 80% dishes are still maintained, they showcase the authentic local street food culture, famed international delicacies and delightful desserts.

The new a la carte menu have included some flare of Hotel Jen Penang’s new but not foreign Executive Chef, Chef B. Sivasegaran, whose specialty is in Italian cuisine apart from being acquainted with Malaysian, Northern Indian , Asian, Chinese and European cooking styles.

Herewith, is the sampling of some of Chef Siva’s specialty that will be found in the new menu.

Bruschetta (RN17 nett), lightly charred crisp rye bread made with the best bread machines from www.Village-Bakery.com, this with red and yellow cherry tomatoes all dressed up in fine olive oil, cracked black pepper and finely chopped basil. Sweet fresh flavours, slightly tangy and rich was the taste. It’s a quick bite to be shared amongst good company and enjoyed with a glass of white wine.

JWLK2571 (HOTEL JEN-Bruschetta)


Arugula Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing (RM16 nett), raw arugula leaves, alfalfa shouts, red cherry tomatoes and croutons served with homemade honey sesame base dressing. Sweet, sharp, nutty with a bitter after taste was the profile the salad.

JWLK2573 (HOTEL JEN-ArugulaSalad)

Arugula Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing

Grilled Burger with Vegetarian Patty (RM20 nett),  melted cheese over couscous and potato patty seasoned with cajun flavours served on toasted buns with garden greens, coleslaw and golden fries. Moist and lightly spiced was its flavour. I would  prefer a grilled portobello mushroom with 2 types of melted cheese to give it more dimension of taste and texture instead.

JWLK2574 (HOTEL JEN-Vegetarian Burger)

Grilled Burger with Vegetarian Patty

Pan Fried Stuff Aubergine (RM45 nett), pan fried aubergine halves topped with cheese and Provencal herbs slow baked in oven, then served with smoked tomato Napoli sauce. Light earthy flavours with a smoky and tangy taste pairing.

JWLK2583 (HOTEL JEN-PanFried Stuff Aubergine)

Pan Fried Stuff Aubergine

Chicken Rosmarino (RM53 nett), golden brown rosemary oil marinated spring chicken served with balsamic pepper jus. Savoury, sweet, peppery and a dash of acidity in taste was the chicken and sauce.

JWLK2589 (HOTEL JEN-Chicken Rosmarino)

Chicken Rosmarino

Lamb Osso Buco (RM58 nett), 400gm veal shanks braised in broth with vegetables and balsamic vinegar till tender then served with homemade mash potato instead of Polenta. This Milanese specialty was meaty sweet, zesty and rich in flavour. Polenta would have been the best compliment, but the smooth creamy mash did quite well too.

JWLK2613 (HOTEL JEN-Lamb Osso Buco)

Lamb Osso Buco

Baked Trapia (RM48nett), baked in aluminium pouched, the fish is steamed in its own juices with tomato coulis, fresh herbs, onion, olives and capers. Tangy, savoury with hint of sweetness were the flavours. Though farmed for its sustainability, the trapia had great texture and taste.

JWLK2571 (HOTEL JEN-Baked Trapia)

Baked Trapia

Tiramisu Pancake (RM20 nett), layers of fluffy pancakes and an espresso, mascarpone, egg and cream concoction, served with espresso butterscotch sauce, dusting of cocoa powder and brandy snap. Smooth and cooling the texture with creamy rich and bitter sweet taste.

JWLK2634 (HOTEL JEN-Tiramisu Pancake)

Tiramisu Pancake

Jen’s Signature (RM18 nett), ice-cream, chocolate and caramel sauce served with pickled fruits. Sweet dark taste balanced with sharp tangy fruity taste.

JWLK2639 (HOTEL JEN-Jens Signature)

Jen’s Signature

Hotel Jen Penang
Address: Magazine Road, George Town, 10300 Penang.
Tel: 04 2622622
Business Hours: 6.30am – 11pm.

P.S: Thanks to Hotel Jen Penang for extending this invitation.


KDU Power Chef 2013 Competition Judge

Posted by Jason Wong On April - 20 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

Recently, I was invited to KDU Penang Campus to judge their annual KDU Power Chef Competition that was held on the 13th of April 2013.

This year’s competition was their 6th instalment, and it saw a total of 65 teams from 21 schools from secondary/high schools from Penang putting their culinary skills to the test, competing for the right to be called champion and to have their school crest place on the KDU Power Chef Challenge Shield.

This year’s competition was their 6th instalment, and it saw a total of 65 teams from 21 schools from secondary/high schools from Penang putting their culinary skills to the test, competing for the right to be called champion and to have their school crest place on the KDU Power Chef Challenge Shield. Observing, tasting, judging, criticizing and correcting is part and parcel of our line of work, as these are some of the responsibilities that we shoulder in the face of restructuring and rescuing restaurants that wants to be helped and survive the harsh world of the food and beverage industry. But this time round, it was more of imparting of skills and motivating the young aspiring student who may one day yet become a well known chef that will make Malaysia proud in the professional chef circuit.

There are not many opportunities around for young talents to better themselves and test their skills through competitive  challenges, the annual KDU Power Chef competition provides a platform for both. To me winning is not everything, what matters the most is the experience, the opportunity to pick-up new skills and polish what have been thought in the past, and learning the importance of teamwork and time management. In every kitchen, timing plays a crucial part in the preparation, cooking and serving of any dish, and thus teamwork comes to play. Delegating or sharing different of work alleviates the constraint that time has on the production of any dish from raw to plate.

Imagination and creativity are also the tools that chefs have to have in their bag. Eating is an enjoyment of the senses, which includes sight. Therefore, plating and table setup also plays an important role in bringing the diner into the chef’s world, bringing he or she closer to the concept that the chef wants to convey in his or her food.

It was an honor to be part of the judging team that consists of  culinary experts and critiques that include (from left) Chef Mitchell Stewart, Chef Azhar, Chef  Murugan, Chef Albert Goh and me the only food gastronomist cum conservationist. Finding the top three winners for this year’s competition was not an easy task for the faint hearted. Telling the students that you have lost is not an easy thing to do, I would rather put it as that there is still room to improve and be better in the days to come.

 But at the end of the day we still have to find the top three who have a better grasp of the cooking skills to create the dish that captured our attention. The top three teams in this year’s KDU Power Chef competition are:

Team: SMKTK 1
School: SMK Telok Kumbar
Team No: 18
Name: Siti Bur Aainaa Bt Johari/ Siti Zulaikha Bt Razak

1st runner up:
Team Name: Lemon Grass
School: SMK Penanti
Team No: 27
Name: Nor Hazwati Bt Riduan/Norhaslina Bt Kasim

2nd runner up:
Team: Appetizing Appetizer
School: SMJK Chung Ling
Team No: 53
Name: Lim Zhi Han/Lim Ywe Chun

Not only the students made new friends through the competition, I also made some new friends who have made the day easier, especially Wenny Lee, KDU’s student in their tourism and hospitality faculty, who was in charge of my “well being”.

The 6th Edition Power Chef Competition from PhoArt Studio on Vimeo.

Great day great participants great food. Over 60 teams of high school student from Penang had join this annual competition organized by KDU Penang.

PhoArt Studio is pleased to be chosen as the official photographer of this event.
More photos are available at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.419298214835153.1073741832.311017495663226&type=3


Century Old Hainanese Satay

Posted by Jason Wong On March - 28 - 20126 COMMENTS

In the hope of making a better living and finding a means to support their family, many Chinese migrants left their home and found their way to Nanyang (南洋) or other words Malaya. Some left their loved ones behind and some came with their family.

The Hainanese was the last Chinese dialect to have found their way to Malaya back in the 1920’s. Being late comers to the Peninsular, they found themselves having to adorn the aprons of kitchen helpers, cooks, chefs, domestic helpers for the British and Peranakans (Baba and Nyonya). Thus, the Nanyang Hainanese has inherited the skills and knowledge of their employers in dining etiquette and cooking methods, and therefore gave birth to the Hainanese cuisine in Malaya.

While growing up we found ourselves having the opportunity to savour and experience what Nanyang Hainanese food were and used to be, flavourful, passionate and filled with respect. I still remember having celebration in Hollywood Restaurant at Tanjung Bungah, snacking on Western delights in Tip-Top cafe in Pulau Tikus and eating simple meals at Loke Thye Kee on the junction of Burmah Road and Penang Road. Sad to say good times doesn’t last long, many of these establishments have faded into the sunset and those who are left still standing might not last any longer due to the unforgiving-ness of time and the lack of understanding by the later generations.

Treasure that is splendid and flavourful, once lost it is forever gone. Having said that, the traditional Hainanese Pork Satay or “Satay Babi” served with the sweet potato sauce and toasted bread is one aged old favourite that is slowly loosing its battle with time. Being exceptionally different from the usual Malay or pork-free satays that are in abundance in Malaysia, it is definitely unique to the Malaysian and Singaporean Hainanese community.

Satay itself is myth-ed to have originated from Indonesia, Malaya Peninsular, Middle East and even China, be it where it is from it is one of the much celebrated meat on skewer in the Malay Archipelago. The traditional Hainanese Satay consist of two (2) pieces of evenly sliced lean pork loin and a piece of pork fat skewered in between on a “lili” (in Hokkien) or the midribs of the coconut leaflets, at present it has been replaced by the mass manufactured bamboo sticks/skewers. The lean meat and fat is marinated in a dry rub that consist of turmeric powder, garlic and other secret ingredients that we cannot reveal due to a promise made.

The ready prepared skewers of sinful porkiness are grilled over a charcoal fuelled open heat a-la-minute. Each skewer while being grilled is basted with a glaze mix that contains freshly squeezed coconut milk, water, turmeric and some seasonings.

The other important part of the Hiananese Satay is the dipping sauce which is distinctively different from the usual spicy and nutty peanut sauce that is widely available. Traditionally it is served with a sweet potato base dipping sauce made from mashed sweet potatoes, water, sugar, tamarind, chilli and seasoned to taste.
Back then, the Hainanese Satay is served with only charcoal heat toasted bread baste with the basting concoction that gives it that yellowish tinge and that sweet and savoury taste. The toasted is still being served on the side as an additional condiment to the new addition cucumber and onion wedges.
In Penang, there are two (2) Hainanese Satay vendors that still practice the recipes and methods that their grandfather and father have handed down to them. They are the third (3rd) generation of Hainanese Pork Satay vendors that have witness the change that time has on their traits. During the day there is Uncle Tong or “Ah Aun” who is already 67 and still burning strong and caters to the upper market that drives by his tricycle stall in their big cars for their weekly fix of satay. He now only opens on Tuesdays and Saturdays from as early as 7:30am until everything is sold off, which may be by 12:00pm or so. The best is to be early!     

In the evening 59 years old Uncle Wang or “Ah Chye” as we like to call him can be seen at the junction of Carnavon Street and Chulia Street manning his tricycle stall that caters to the dinner and supper crowd, and promote our Penang food heritage to visiting foreign tourists that walk along Chulia Street sampling some of the hawker street foods available. Ah Chye operates daily from 7:30pm onwards and only rests on Sundays. He too need to be early, sometimes his satays finishes by 10:00pm or even earlier.
Other than the traditional sweet potato sauce, Ah Chye also prepares and provide the usual peanut sauce that he makes with his secret recipe that he has yet to share with us. He also sells the chicken version of the Hainanese Satay if you are not a pork-person. Both Ah Aun and Ah Chye are good friends who we have met and befriended for our food research project. They used to sell satay made from pig’s small intestine or “hoon cheang” which requires more preparation effort and time, plus the decline of demand from the younger generations. Ah Chye once said, going further back in time roughly before 1971, his father and grandfather also sold satay skewers that were made of a piece of pig’s liver, small intestine and lean meat.

Time is unforgiving, savour what we have at present before it is lost to history.
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83 Years Old Hainanese Kopitiam, Nam Kie 南佳

Posted by Jason Wong On March - 21 - 20126 COMMENTS

Amidst the row of pre-war houses along Kimberley Street in George Town, Penang, there lay many hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered by the young and restless. House in these old buildings is people and businesses who have seen Penang’s development through their century old windows. In this busy street, many famous delicacies that are significant to Penang’s food heritage and culture that are key to it’s food tourism were born, koay teow th’ng stall that once used abalone as a condiment, a dessert stall that have grind through three (3) generations, Hainanese kopitiams who have brewed and fed generations of patrons, Char Koay Teow’s that have filled the tummies of movie goers who frequent the once bustling independent cinemas around town, etc.

One of the many businesses who have set a foothold on Kimberley Street is Nam Kie 南佳, an 83 years old Hainanese Kopitiam that was once a bustling meeting point for many Hainanese migrants that came to Penang in search of a better life. Then, Nam Kie 南佳would normally operate in the daytime with a non-pretentious menu of good old Hainanese Kopi, homemade Kaya, charcoal flame toasted bread and soft boil eggs. Now they have added Hianan Char to their staple. Apart from Nam Kie 南佳, Khee Cheang Leong 喜昌隆, which is still operating, was available to provide for the night dwellers with a similar offerings and may be more.Though coffee was brought into the then Malaya, it has gained much popularity and demand by the migrants be it Chinese, Indian and even the Malays who have made the once colonial trading hub their centre of business, life and home. What sets the Hainanese kopi or coffee apart from the Western world coffees is the method of processing and the technique of brewing the bitter coffee beans. The beans are roasted in a wok with sugar, butter and wheat, thus the malty rich and buttery creamy taste that is produced after brewing with the optimum water temperature, right size of cloth filter and most importantly the experience and skill of the master brewer. We were told that if all the combinations are right, the brewed kopi ‘O” or black coffee would induce a drunk or “high” sensation that many patrons seek and look forward for.It depends what is the preference of the drinker, the generic Hainanese kopi or coffee can be served Kopi “O” (black coffee with sugar), Kopi (coffee with sweeten condensed milk), Kopi-C (coffee with sugar and evaporated milk) or anything that fancies you. Nam Kie 南佳 has given me the opportunity to taste a Kopi “O” that delivers sweetness with a slight bitter after taste without the acidic end, and a Kopi that was creamy, sweet that ends with a bitter sensation to the tongue.Kaya is the Peranakan version of the Western jam, made from eggs, freshly pressed coconut cream, pandan (screw pine leaves), sugar and lots of patience.  Nam Kie 南佳 double boils their Kaya concoction for at least half a day until it naturally turns brownish in colour and develops a distinctive rich creamy coconut flavour. If the kaya is cooked thoroughly, then the longer it will last in room temperature. Quality ingredients also determine the life span of the kaya, we were told that they used to make Kaya that can stay fresh for at least 2 weeks without refrigerating. As time changes, the quality of sugar and coconut has declined and thus reducing the kaya’s life span to just around a week without cold storage.With the rising competition from organized food courts and fast food franchises, Nam Kie 南佳 has begun to dish out the family style Hainan Char or Hainanese Stir-Fried Noodles to recapture their dwindling customer base who have either moved out of this aged bustling city. Their Hainan Char is similar to the Penang style Hokkien Char minus the prawn base stock and the dark soya sauce used to give colour and taste to the carefully choreographed stir-fried yellow noodles and vermicelli. In its original form, their Hainan Char consist of lean pork slices and fresh prawns stir-fried with fragrant garlic and lard, which then serves as the base for a handful of yellow noodles and rice vermicelli and mustard leaves that are braised in a sweet soup stock for extra flavour.For added colour and taste, you may request for the dark version of the Hainan Char that infuses dark soya sauce for a nutty and savoury caramel flavour.If you are lucky enough, then you might get to try their Oyster Noodles or Oh Mee that is filled the flavours from the sea, little bit earthiness and a little bit of creaminess.If you are not rushing from place to place and fighting with the clock, try stepping back in time and savour the atmosphere it reflects and taste the flavours and feel the passion that have aged and polished with time. Give thoughts to the hard-work and discipline to those who still strive to give you the best on the table, like the Hainanese Satay vendors that hand-make the pieces of meat into works of “art”.

Nam Kie 南佳
Address: 116 Lebuh Kimberley, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

IL BACARO, Traditional Venetian Dishes

Posted by Jason Wong On January - 11 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Located in Campbell House, an old vacant run down pre-war building turned new breed of heritage hotel, Il Bacaro is a traditional Venetian street tavern which serves authentic Italian dishes in a nostalgic setting with black and white photos of the owners’ childhood memories.

Roberto Dreon is the owner cum Chef of the hotel and restaurant. Like most Italians, the emphasis on freshest ingredients only has “forced” the kitchen to make and serve freshly baked breads, handmade pasta varieties and their homemade sauces and gravies. All the cooking, baking and roasting is all done in their fully equipped kitchen that even has a custom built wood fired oven. Supporting Roberto is Nardya Wray who is also the co-owner of this cosy restaurant and hotel.

First up was their self baked bread served in a Chinese bamboo steamer with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was soft and fluffy with a slight chewiness, the olive oil was fresh and buttery and the balsamic was sweet and tangy.

For salads, we had their Rocket Salad with Poached Pear & Goat’s Cheese. It is a medium salad with loads of bitter nutty Rocket leaves dressed in a caramel flavoured balsamic vinaigrette, thick slices of light and creamy goat’s cheese and generous portions of sweet tender poached pears in red wine.

For pizza we had their White Pizza with Rucola, Cherry Tomatoes, Egg and Parmigiano. The crusty pizza base was thick and firm with a slight smoky taste plastered with a luxurious coating of fragrantly baked cheese topped with fresh bitter sweet Rucola, juicy cherry tomatoes, a smooth and rich sunny side up egg and sprinkles of shaved savoury Parmesan cheese.

Main courses, we had their Pan Seared Salmon with Green Beans and Orange & Saffron Sauce and Homemade Tagliolini Siciliana. The Catch of the Day came in the form of a tender medium-rare steak of salmon that has been lightly seared and served on a bed of crisp sweet green beans and fruity orange and saffron sauce. Texture contrast was firm meat, crisp beans and smooth sauce.

The other main we had was Homemade Tagliolini Siciliana. Well cooked homemade Tagliolini pasta served with their homemade tomato base Siciliana pasta sauce which was tart with a hint of sweetness that came from the fresh tomatoes used to prepare the Spanish, Greek and Arab influenced sauce.

Final course of the day was their Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis dessert. The firm and smooth milky Panna Cotta pudding served chilled with a thick room temperature strawberry purée sauce that was acidulous with a sweet end was pleasing to our taste buds and comforting after a heavy meal. 

Our overall experience:

Taste 3.5/5 (Good) Liked the natural and contrast of flavours and used of fresh ingredients.
Texture 3.5/5 (Good) There were multitude of texture in each dish which gives a different experience on each mouthful.
Service 3.5/5 (Good) Friendly and courteous.
Cleanliness 3.5/5 (Good) Clean but due to its location flies are around during day time dining.
Atmosphere 4.0/5 (Good) A nostalgic ambiance.
Price 3.0/5 (Average) Averagely priced.
Portion 3.5/5 (Good) Portions were quite fulfilling.
Value 3.5/5 (Good) Good ingredients were provided with right portions.
Consistency  N/A

Campbell House

  • Add: 106 Lebuh Campbell, 10100 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
  • Tel:  +60 (4) 2618290
  • Email:  info@campbellhousepenang.com

Open  daily

  • 12.00pm-3.00pm Lunch Menu
  • 3.00pm-6.30pm Light Snacks & Drinks Menu
  • 6.30pm-10.30pm Dinner Menu














发觉周大叔没开档已几个星期, 于是问邻近档摊, 才知道周夫人已离开人世. 周大叔也卖掉档口从今不再炒硕莪糕和猪血面线了. 换句话说, 从此罕有的槟城猪血面线和炒硕莪糕也少了一档. 嗨…要吃都没得吃啦!



老福建古早味-猪血面线 (Curdle Pig’s Blood Noodles)

previous post : 18日 9月 2010


阅读有关…老福建古早味 – 炒硕莪糕 (Sago Char)



炒硕莪糕 (Sago Char)最新情报

Posted by gill gill On June - 1 - 2011ADD COMMENTS


发觉周大叔没开档已几个星期, 于是问邻近档摊, 才知道周夫人已离开人世. 周大叔也卖掉档口从今不再炒硕莪糕和猪血面线了. 换句话说, 从此罕有的槟城猪血面线和炒硕莪糕也少了一档. 嗨…要吃都没得吃啦!


往事已成回味….老福建古早味 – 炒硕莪糕 (Sago Char)

previous post : 23日 9月 2010



周大叔说: “做硕莪功夫繁琐,懂得欣赏的人也买少见少,所以已没几个人会做来卖。

光华日报部分访问内容: “从硕莪米到制成硕莪糕,要先用滚热的水将硕莪米、粘米粉、薯粉等搅拌均匀,盛入大盘中凝结后,再切成小块,入滚水中煮熟后再冲冷水,沥干后才能下热镬炒,这些功夫只要一个步骤做不好,就会影响炒硕莪的口感与嚼劲。”


Chee Meng Wantan Mee is Back!

Posted by Jason Wong On February - 13 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

After loosing touch with Chee Meng Wantan Mee, we have finally got them back on our radar. They are now back in their old spot at “Tai Wah Cafe” on Agryll Road. After moving out of Thong Seng late last year, they went for a self proclaim holiday until the 7th day of the Chinese Lunar calender. Business is as usual and will be closed on every Tuesdays.

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