Spice Market Café –A must-visit buffet restaurant in Penang

Spice Boutique – located at the entrance of Spice Market Café – houses an array of over 100 varieties of dried herbs and exotic spices, together with an assortment of curry powders, which will ignite your culinary imagination in a whirlwind tour. They are available for purchase, or simply for your exploration pleasures –to expand your knowledge on the diverse range and endless applications. Herbs and spices are great for enhancing the flavour of your dishes without adding artificial flavourings or fat.

Spice Market Café is an informal buffet-style restaurant, marketed as international, but tends to be heavily Asian influenced. The restaurant is pork-free, although obtaining a Halal certificate still poses a challenge for them, especially for items like sashimi.

One thing that disappointed me was the lack of traditional Penang cuisine, but the scrumptious spread made up for it. After all, we’re in Penang, and you can get Penang food everywhere else.

The spread is determined by the season and availability of ingredients, but variety and quality are two factors that remain consistent.

I visited on 19 November 2012 (Monday):

Fresh crustaceans are displayed in massive proportions; they never seem to run out.

Get your sashimi fix at the Japanese section, where you can also grab some sushi to satisfy your Japanese food cravings.

At the hot station, you can also find Chawanmushi and even Miso Soup (depending on the soups of the day).

Roasted meats section

Carnivores should head straight to the roasted meats section. I didn’t try any but they sure look tempting!

From the ‘Malay Counter’, there is Beef Satay, fresh from the grill.

Straight from the tandoor oven, there is also Chicken Tikka –boneless chicken tenders that are marinated in yoghurt, chilli, garlic, ginger and blended spices.

This noodle station reminds me of ‘Yong Tau Foo’. There are about 6 varieties of noodles to choose from; all you have to do is pick the ingredients you want, and your choice of broth –there was chicken broth and mee rebus gravy that evening.

The fishball far exceeded my expectations –it is tender yet still sufficiently firm for that bouncy texture. Best fishball I’ve had in any buffet restaurants.

Pumpkin Gratin

The Pumpkin Gratin is highly addictive. I find the subtle sweetness of the pumpkin extremely alluring; it is cooked to a soft comforting texture, then baked to a nice crust, and finally sprinkled with grated cheese.

Roasted Herbed Potato, Pan Seared Fish

Indian Fish Curry

The Fish Curry is another must-have! Cooked to tender perfection, thick chunks of fish meat are well infused with the aromatic sauce, enhanced by the adroit combination of spices.

Dessert was definitely the highlight for me.

The array of more than 30 desserts will prey your sense of gluttony.

Asian desserts, which include the DIY-mix-and-match Ice Kacang, gathered a long queue at the dessert station.

The crepes are a must-have! Choose you favourite topping(s) amongst the wide selection and have it made a la minute.

To end a heavy meal, the zesty lemon cake is most ideal. It is light and buttery with a wonderful citrus flavour.

Carrot Cake

The mildly spiced Carrot Cake is moist and full of flavour, flecked with carrots and nuts beneath its unpretentious and straightforward facade. Must try!

Chocolate lovers will not be able to resist the Chocolate Cake, which is essentially a culmination of alternate layers of moist chocolate cake and rich chocolate frosting, covered in a satiny smooth chocolate glaze.

There’s a ‘Buy One Free One International Buffet’ happening every Monday and Tuesday (dinner) from Feb 2012 to Dec 2012, which they are planning on extending the promotion due to overwhelming response. Based on observation, at least 85% of the crowd were locals. I would discourage foreigners from patronising during the promotional days (although it’s half the price and extremely value-for-money), as the crowd can get pretty rowdy. The restaurant, however, is efficient; be it clearing of empty plates, refilling of water or replenishing the items in the buffet. Just be prepared to wait at several food stations, and expect to bump into running kids.

Spice Market Café
Garden Wing, Lobby Level
Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa
Batu Feringgi Beach, Penang, 11100, Malaysia
Tel: (60 4) 888 8888
Dinner Buffet: 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Dress code: Smart Casual

For more information, visit: http://www.shangri-la.com/penang/rasasayangresort/dining/restaurants/spice-market-cafe/