Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Promotion Reviews

On the 1st of March we were invited to a private dinner by the Communication Dept of Golden Sands Resort in Batu Ferringghi to have a taste and experience of their Sigi’s Bar & Grill 1st Anniversary Set Meals that are only available for the whole month of March, except for Thursdays and Sundays. Thursday and Saturday nights has another value promotion namely their “Beachside Barbecue Nights” for only RM59.99++ per head that will run through March to the end of April 2011.


While doing research for this article I have found some articles regarding this casual yet stylish beach front restaurant that have been written by other bloggers, thus I would spare you the long winded introduction and oversell. I would just share our experience and thoughts of visit.

Even before their renovation work and reopening back in March 2010, we have not step foot into Sigi’s or any other hotel based restaurants in Batu Ferringghi except for Hard Rock Cafe. I guess the bad experience and oversell of certain hotel based restaurants have prevented us to spend our hard earned money on food that will at the end cannot suffice our palates and feel cheated.  If not for the invitation, we would not know that there is still hope now!

Sigi’s is situated at the beach front of Golden Sands Resort with alfresco seating on the beach area and also on their roof top. These two locations will provide you with a view of the evening sun setting with a foreground of waving coconut palms and lapping waves. Occasional breezes from the beach or from the hills would provide some form of natural cooling sensation.



On the other side of the alfresco dining area, there is an open air BBQ & Gill pit that is often used for functions, buffets and special occasions.


On the indoor dining area, there is a fussed free dining atmosphere accompanied with the sound of flowing water from the small pool located in the centre of the dining area.


The invitation to Sigi’s was mainly to sample the 1st Anniversary Set menu and some ala carte dishes that will spice up the existing menu. At the heart (kitchen) of the restaurant and the person behind the menu is John Brock their Executive Sous Chef from New Zealand. The 1st Anniversary set menu is priced at RM100++ per person, but do not fret as it is their anniversary and they are giving out a “1+1” promotion from 1st to 31st of March so that visitor are able to join in their joy and celebration.

The 1st Anniversary menu consists of 3 course plus coffee or tea to end the meal. The entrée has 4 choices, mains have 5 choices and deserts 3 choices. Out of the items listed we had a sample of their Gourmet Flat Bread, Arancini Balls, Sigi’s Signature Fish & Chips and chilled Rice Pudding.


Gourmet Flat Bread, fluffy toasted bread topped with pieces of savory and tangy sun-dried tomatoes, crumbly salty creamy chunks of feta cheese, nutty pumpkin seeds, olives, herbs and dressed with drizzles of sweet chilli sauce. The toppings provided most of the flavours with acidity, savouriness, nuttiness, creaminess, sweetness and slight heat.


Arancini Balls, rice risotto with mushroom and peas balled and deep fried until crisp on the surface then dressed with their minted aioli and served with a side of garden greens. The crust was crunchy but not hard and the insides were soft and moist. The aioli dressing although made with garlic and olive oil was not overwhelming with the taste of garlic and had a hint of mint to end.


Sigi’s Signature Fish & Chips, thick juicy butter fish fillets coated with fluffy beer batter deep fried till golden brown and served with garden greens, hand-cut chips (wedges of potatoes) flavoured with rosemary and garlic cloves, and a dollop of tartar sauce plus a wedge of lemon. The flavours and texture of the dish was well balanced, crisp fluffy salted batter coat with sweet juicy fish fillets and tender chips and creamy aromatic garlic cloves. In our case, we did not have to use the tartar sauce nor the wedge of lemon. All was well with natural tastes and aromas!


Chilled Rice Pudding, texture filled rice grains, with diary base (may be milk or cream) was served with a bitter sweet and acidic Strawberry Soup and White Chocolate. Definitely there is texture, tastes wise it is light and refreshing to end a meal. But do bear in mind that the combination has more English influence, and thus should not be compare the local Malaysian rice base dessert or puddings. It needs some getting used to.


Apart from sampling there Anniversary Set meal selections, we also had the chance to try out some new dishes on their newly updated dinner ala carte menu: Beef Cheek & Shallot Pie, Paella for 2, Lobster Pizza and Sticky Date Pudding.

Beef Cheek & Shallot Pie RM60, tender strips of slow cooked beef cheek meat and shallots surrounded by beautifully baked pastry skin and served with John’s special spiced tomato relish and lightly dressed garden greens. The filling was soft, beefy and savoury sweet, and the pastry was firm and crisp. Combined with the tomato relish for some acidity and spice to balance the richness, was a pairing well planned! And the salad gave the dish a shot of freshness.



Sigi’s Paella for 2 RM70, short grain rice cooked in stock flavored with the sweetness of saffron, the mild heat and sweet taste of Pimentón, the savoury smokiness of chorizo, the sourness of tomatoes and other herbs. The ingredients or toppings are also not to be looked down upon; there were loads of prawns, calamari, mussels and chicken chunks. I guess rice dishes from the West is always a must to get to used to in terms of flavours and texture for most Asians.



Lobster Pizza RM30 for 12”, wood oven baked thin pizza base topped with lobster chunks, orange flesh, pesto and Parmesan. It looks pretty common but the pesto, orange and rich salty parmesan combined perfectly to produce a light aromatic tasting topping that did not overwhelm the natural flavours of the lobster flesh. Even cold, it still tasted fine to the palate.


Sticky Date Pudding RM16, chopped pitted dates infused into the rich and sweet tender pudding served with Calvados caramel and garnish with a few halves of fresh Strawberries. The pudding was rich and flavourful but not overwhelmingly sweet. The caramel sauce was also equally appealing and not too taxing on the palate, especially when Calvados or apple brandy was used to enhance the taste of the sauce. Even Gill had a good time savouring this dessert although she is not a desert person. As for me, the warm pudding could do with a scoop of cooling vanilla ice cream, but that would have changed the whole experience of the dessert. So, just go with the flow!


Taste 4.0/5 (Should Try) Favourites were the Gourmet Flat Bread, Lobster Pizza, Beef Cheek Pie, Fish & Chips and Sticky Date Pudding..
Texture 4.0/5 (Should Try) Wise combination of dishes ordered would deliver good texture experience.
Service NA/5 It was an invited event, thus service would not be in consideration for now.
Cleanliness 4.0/5 (Very Good) Clean and neat dining area and kitchen area.
Atmosphere 4.0/5 (Very Good) Relaxing, cooling and cosy ambiance with a nice view of the seafront depending on location.
Price 3.5/5 (Acceptable) With the existing promotions it is a bargain, but  ala carte wise careful selection is wise so that it does not go beyond your budget. Location must also be a consideration when commenting on their price.
Portion 3.5/5 (Good) The restaurant is not stingy on the portioning; main concern would be ingredient quality and not quantity.
Value 3.5/5 (Good) Includes the consideration of after promotion prices, quality of ingredients, presentation, location, affordability and experience.


Address: Batu Ferringhi Beach, 11100 Penang, Malaysia.

Contact: +60 (4) 886 1852 (Direct Restaurant Line)

Business Hours: 11.00am-6.00pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm (Bar: 11.00am-11.45pm)

Other ongoing promotions at Sigi’s:

  • Extended Happy Hours daily from 5pm to 8pm. Pizzas at 50% off plus discounts on certain selected beverages.
  • Beach Seafood BBQ RM59.90++ per pax from 7pm to 10pm, and from 3rd March to 28th April 2011.

Garden Café Promotions:

  • “1 +1” Sunday International Buffet Lunch RM59.90++ per pax from 12pm to 2:30pm, and from 6th March to 17th April 2011.
  • Easter Sunday Lunch on 24th of April 2011 for RM49.90++ per pax.



Of recent we were invited by Miraku Japanese Restaurant in Penang’s G-Hotel to gather a small group of bloggers to share the opportunity to preview their new dishes and promotions, and bridge them to the mass of Japanese food lovers out there. To begin with the series of planned event is their March & April Hotate (Scallop) & Chuhai (Japanese Cocktail) promotions. The promotions begin from the 1st of March and ends on the 30th of April 2011.

There are 10 items to choose from their Hotate promotion menu that ranges from the naturally sweet Nama Hotate sashimi to the savoury Hotate Ramen.

If you are planning for a full night of Hotate craze, you could  start the meal with the Nama Hotate Sashimi (6pcs) RM19.90 that had a light natural sweetness and smooth tender flesh.

Then we had the Hotate Sushi (Nigiri Sushi) (3pcs) RM14.00. The texture of the scallops were similarly soft and tender like the sahsimi scallops and the hand pressed rice rolls were not too sour nor too compact.  With a small drop of shoyu and a touch of wasabi, it brought out the sweet taste of the scallop further.

After the raw hotate, we had the Hotate Chuka Chinmi RM8.00. They are actually the membranes on the side of the adductor muscle trimmed and tossed with sesame seeds, chili, vinegar and seasoned to taste. It had a crunchy texture and an appetising taste that helps to get the palate moving and duets quite well with certain beer sand sake.

Then we tried the Hotate Kakiage RM28.00. Mixed vegetables, onion, capsicum and scallops batter coated and deep fried till golden brown. It had a crisp surface with moist and juicy fillings that are appealing people who love fried foods.

Another deep fried item on the promotion menu was the Hotate Korroke (2pcs) RM18.00. The croquettes are different from the normal potato base, they were made from diary custard packed with corn kernels and scallop breaded and deep fried until achieving a golden crust and yet maintaining a rich creamy centre.

Continuing after the deep friend version, we had the Hotate Kushi Yaki (2 sticks with 6pcs scallop) RM11.50. Pieces of whole scallop grilled and glazed with their home made sauce of soyu, sugar & leek. It is said that the end product is very similar in taste as the ones found in Japan, authentic and exquisite.

Then there was the Hotate Kara Yaki RM19.90. Big size Scallops with roe pan grilled in butter, Mirin, sake, shoyu and seasoned with pepper. The scallops had a firm and tender texture with a buttery and savoury taste.

After the grilled, we had the Sanshoku Hotate Mayo ( a set of 3 colours with individual flavour) RM30.00, Green was Wasabi, Yellow was Mayo and Red was the  Mentaiko (明太子) is the marinated fish roe of Pollock. Each individual flavours would have a different appeal to different taste preference. Some liked the spicy Wasabi or horseradish taste, some enjoyed the rich mellow taste of the mayo and for me it was the rich and salty Mentaiko that hit the note.

Another creamy dish that was on the menu was the Hotate Gratin RM23.00. It had 5 lovely charred scallops on a bed of sweet and creamy gratin made of custard, cheese, mayonnaise and macaroni, then finish with a slight torch of the surface.

Last but not least, a hot bowl of Hotate Ramen RM25.00. The soup base had predominant flavour of Miso and Wakame or seaweed. The savoury and creamy tasting soup had in it a mount of Ramen noodles, Ginkensai or Pak Choy, Moyasi or bean-sprouts, corn kernels and most importantly the whole scallops with roes intact.

After finishing the last item on the “Hotate Promotion” menu, we went on to have some cocktails drinks. The drinks were also part of their March & April promos, “Chūhai Promotion” @ RM28.00 per tokkuriChūhai is a cocktail mixture of Shōchū (Japanese Liquor) with carbonated drinks & citrus drinks, the possible concoctions may include lime, grapefruit, apple, orange, pineapple, grape, kiwi, ume (plum), yuzu, lychee, and peach. In short, Chūhai is a Japanese Alcoholic Cocktail that can either be served hot or cold and any with any flavours according to the drinkers’ preference.

Miraku in its Chūhai promotion is providing a 150ml tokkuri (house pouring) of either Mugi (Wheat Shōchū) with 23% alcohol or Imo (Potato Shōchū) with 25% alcohol with a variety of choices mixers:

  • A can soft drink of either tonic, soda, Sprite, Cola or Oolong,
  • 300ml of choice of juice of either lime, Orange or Mango Juice.

The most desirable cocktail by the ladies that particular night was the Mugi (Wheat Shōchū) with Sprite and Lime Juice cocktail. It was well blend, with little bit sweetness, tang, mellow alcoholic taste and fizzy after taste.

The following is the Potato Shōchū or Imo with Sprite/Tonic, Lime and Plum. It had an alcoholic taste with a bit of salty sourish taste, and it was the second most liked concoction of the night.

This is Imo with just Oolong tea. It is for the more matured drinkers who like their cocktail strong.

Our chef of the day was Nakagawa-san, a shy chap at start but looks can be deceiving. If I am not wrong, he is still single and available for now!

Business Hour :

Daily Lunch 12:00pm to 2:30pm

Daily Dinner 6:00pm to 10:30pm


Tel No. : 604-229 8702

Fax No. : 604-229 8560

Email Add : fm@miraku-restaurant.com

Links to the other attendees of the preview:

View Gourmet Garden Food Trial in a larger map


Poon Choi(盆菜) Home-Cook vs Commercial

Posted by Jason Wong On February - 7 - 20112 COMMENTS

On the second(2nd) day of this Chinese Lunar New Year my sister decided to have “Poon Choi” (盆菜) from Dragon-i for dinner to celebrate the beginning of Spring or lì chūn (立春)。The Dragon-i’s ‘Prosperity Abalone Treasure Pot’ set is priced at RM 388 and RM338 for CIMB Bank customers, and boast to have 16ingredients with an approximate weight of 8.5 pounds or 3.85kg. The ingredients listed in the broacher are Australian premium abalone (10head), Australian sea cucumber, Japanese dried scallop, Japanese dried oyster, premium mushrooms, Pantai Remis fresh sea prawn, fish maw, roast chicken, roast pork belly, Golden Money Bag, yam, black moss, Chinese Cabbage, Tianjin Cabbage, deep-friend bean curd skin and radish.  But bear in mind that they are allowed to substitute or change the ingredients as stated in their marketing literature.

As there were an over whelming demand for treasure pot set, they ran out of pots thus we had to bring our own Japanese claypot which was significantly bigger. For take-away, the stock was packed separately and all the ingredients placed in individual sections and layers.

Once we got back home after driving through the jammed Jalan Batu Ferringghi, we added the stock and reheated the treasure pot. But half way through reheating, a very light burnt smell was coming from the pot. The cabbage leaves that were place at the bottom started to burn from the heat because the leaves have more fibres and less moisture compared to radish and burns easily. Therefore, extra care should be taken when reheating it at home.

The following photos show the layers of ingredients that came in the treasure pot. If I am not mistaken, those stated in their brochures were all present except for the fish maw (花胶筒) and black moss (发菜). Presentation wise it looked like any soupy claypot dish and its taste did not excite our palates nor leave a very lasting impression. The mushrooms and roast pork belly were a size overly big, the sea cucumber had a fishy taste and the abalones were bland, and all ingredients tasted with same flavor, but the soup stock was averagely light and sweet.

Back in 2008 before the market went bonkers with Poon Choi promotions and packages, we had begun researching for the origins and recipes that we could easily adopt or adapt for local ingredients and taste preference. We started with  a recipe that had Hakka influence that required every ingredient that goes in to the pot to be individually prepared and cooked so as  to present layers of flavours and texture when you start consuming the Poon Choi. The preparing process includes a few cooking method, such as steamed, deep fried, pan grilled, poached, braised an so on.

Each layer has their unique flavours. As you eat through the layers and go down to the bottom, you will find layers of pork skin, bean curd skin and radish used to layer the bottom to minimize burning and most importantly to soak up the flavours that have trickled down.

Then in 2010, my in-laws did another version of poon choi that require less tedious work for their Chinese New Year reunion dinner. It had radish, bean curd skin, stewed chicken (feet), roast duck, salted fried prawns, stewed mushrooms, vegetables and canned abalone. It also delivered layers of flavours and texture minus some hard work.

Which version above could really draw your appetite?


Hard Rock Cafe Value Set Lunches

Posted by Jason Wong On July - 12 - 201014 COMMENTS

Last Thursday we were given the opportunity to scoop for a better understanding of Hard Rock Cafe, its origins and “culture”, which I would leave for my next post that would be quite tedious to compose in view of the long recording and research that needs to be carried out. Before we go bonkers with all that, let us introduce the ‘Set Lunch menus that will be launched this coming Monday. The sampling of some of the main courses available in the set lunch menus was part of our first experience at Hard Rock Cafe. The set lunch menus are priced at RM28.00++ for a three (3) course lunch, which to be frank is quite reasonable if one would look at the location, service and portion.

There are four (4) different sets of menus that will be rotated on a weekly basis. Each menu would have the chosen recipe of the week for the three (3) main meat groups which are seafood, chicken and beef. Therefore, every set of the lunch menu would provide a sample of what could be experienced in their usual ala-carte menu at an affordable price to all.

The set lunch menu for the coming weeks in sequence is as follows starting from Monday (12th July 2010):

For the exclusive sampling, we had the opportunity to taste their Hawaiian Hamburger, Grilled Fish Fillet and Chicken Chop. One would notice that we only had the main courses and not the full set as we had other items in the list of sampling apart from these set lunch items.

The Hawaiian Hamburger patty was made with Angus beef at a ratio of 80% lean meat and 20% fats, lightly seasoned to keep the natural flavours of Angus, and grilled to medium-well to prevent any possibility of contamination. The well caramelized patty sandwiched between fluffy potato buns with whole leaf lettuce and a slice of grilled pineapple had a sense of tropical taste with the strong beefy flavour of quality meat, it is a burger made for the local taste buds. The pineapple gave the burger extra sweetness and twang that would appeal to the many Malaysians who like strong tasting foods.

Another set lunch main course that we had was their ‘Grille Fish (salmon) Fillet’ served with garlic mash and fresh greens. It may look simple and available through out any decent western restaurant in Penang, but don’t be deceived by the simple outlook. The simpler it is, the harder it is to deliver! First take a look at the fillet, the lightly seasoned and grilled until crusty fillet was still tender and moist with all its original flavours intact. The topping of the compound garlic butter sauce was fragrant and full of body, due to the careful ratio control of red and white wines.  It paired surprising well with the subtle sweetness of the fish and savoury taste of the seasonings without overwhelming either.

The side of garlic mash was something that I would not miss. The potato mash flavoured with the paste of baked garlic and topped with some green herbs. The potato used is from the Idaho or Russet Burbank variety that has an elongated shape with rough, netted skin and few eyes. The texture is characterized as fluffy and soft with optimal level of moisture, and was not over dairy. It is one of the good mashes that I have had in recent times.

The last main course from the set lunch menus that we sample was the ‘Chicken Chop’. It is a choice selection for those who are wants something that is recognizable and comfortable with. It was a no fuss simple all time favourite poultry dish for the many Penangites. It had crisp golden brown batter crust encasing a sweet and tender leg of chicken and topped with brown sauce. The key to this chicken chop is the sauce; the brown sauce had a balance of flavours and the optimal or standard consistency, neither too runny nor too starchy. Just nice! The accompanying coleslaw had a distinctive sweet taste and tang to it from the addition of cranberries.  This main course is for those who prefer strong tasting food.

To sum up our review of the Hard Rock Cafe Set Lunch main course:

Taste & Texture: 4.0/5 (sauces, meats and side dishes were up and over expectation, but there is still room for improvements)
Money Value : 4.0/5 (quite a big portion and very filling, service was good and friendly, location is in the beach belt of Penang)
Service: 4.5/5 (warm, fast and prompt service from the waiting crew)
Cleanliness: 4.5/5
Atmosphere: 4.5/5 (was all’s well except when certain variant of tourists that are in season)

Address: Hard Rock Cafe Penang, (c/o Hard Rock Hotel Penang), Jalan Batu Feringghi, 11100, Penang, Malaysia
Restaurant Hours: Daily 11:00AM to 02:00AM (Kitchen last call closes at 10:00PM)
Telephone: +60-4-8811-711
Fax: +60-4-8812-155
Contact: info.penang@hardrockhotels.net

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