Monday, July 28, 2014

Penang 2014: Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa

On this trip to Penang, we splashed out and spent five nights at the Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa. Hooray! It's my favourite hotel in the whole wide world, and after our last stay, I published a very detailed review of the Rasa Sayang here on my blog. So this time, I'll just do a fun little picture post of our stay. Enjoy!

If you're interested in staying there (as indeed, you should be), you can find all the up-to-date information on their website.

Ground of the Rasa Sayang

We'd pre-booked a car from the hotel to pick us up at the airport - a bit extravagant at RM195 each way, but Penang traffic is crazy and I didn't want to make my uncle come out and drive us. We also figured we'd be tired after the flight and would appreciate not having to queue up for a cab. The Rasa car was awesome! It was waiting for us when we got there, with cold towels, bottled water and wi-fi!

Cold towels, bottled water and free wifi

This time we booked a room in the Rasa Wing, and they kindly upgraded us from a Rasa Wing Deluxe Room to a much larger Rasa Wing Premier Room, which is the same type of room we had last time. (You can read about the details of the Rasa Wing Premier Room on my previous Rasa Sayang post).

The balcony of our room - love the jungly views

We didn't get to our hotel room on the first night until quite late (the drive from the airport to the hotel took longer than the flight from Langkawi!), and we were too tired to go out exploring for dinner, so decided to go for the buffet at the hotel's Spice Market restaurant. (As a bonus, they were doing 40% off on Monday and Tuesday nights - score!) The buffet was awesome - so much seafood, sushi, hot dishes (Indian, Western, Chinese, Malay and more!), and heaps of desserts. There seemed to be lots of locals there that night too - what can I say? We Malaysians appreciate good value.

Seafood!

Staying in the Rasa Wing means you can choose between the huge buffet breakfast at Spice Market, or a quieter breakfast in the Feringgi Grill restaurant, which has a smaller buffet selection plus a la carte options, and we chose to eat here every morning. Mamma needs her quiet time!

View from the Feringgi Grill

View from the Feringgi Grill

I love freshly cut fruit! My dad says when he was growing up, papaya was considered a poor man's fruit, but I think of it as a real treat.

Fresh fruit - papaya and dragon fruit

They rotated the a la carte options available each morning. Here was a very perfect and pretty kaya toast with goreng pisang (banana fritters) and a half boiled egg.

Kaya toast, goreng pisang, half boiled egg

One morning, I couldn't decide between eggs Benedict or an omelette, so I asked the waiter for a recommendation. His response? "We can do a single-egg omelet for you and a single eggs Benedict so you can try both". MIND BLOWN.

Mushroom omelette, eggs benedict, breakfast sausage, baked beans

Toast

Speaking of great service - one morning, Sandra wasn't feeling well so I went for breakfast alone, and the waitstaff were all: "Is it just you today? Is she ok? She's not feeling well? You do know we have a doctor at the resort?", and when I left they made up a little packet of pastries for me to take back. How sweet!

Pastries and rolls from the buffet

Most mornings, however, we had voracious appetites and went for the sweet option: fluffy fluffy waffles...

Waffles!

... fruit-filled pancakes or French toast! (The French toast was filled with cream cheese - fabulous).

Pancakes, cream-cheese stuffed French toast

Even though I think you can get a bigger range of items at the Spice Market buffet, I loved the personalised service and quiet atmosphere at the Feringgi Grill, and we certainly had more than enough food!

Another perk of staying in the Rasa Wing is complimentary afternoon tea, served daily in the Rasa Wing Lounge. We had tea three out of the five days we were at the hotel - i.e. when we weren't out shopping or hanging out with my uncle. My favourites were the scones!

Afternoon Tea

Top tier: Choc chip and vanilla scones with strawberry jam and cream
Middle: Pecan nut tart, kiwi-mousse cake, chocolate sachertorte
Bottom: Roast lamb with roasted eggplant & cilantro tahini; smoked salmon, onion & avocado mayonnaise; brie with cherry compote

Scones, sandwiches, cakes, cappuccino

This next picture isn't of the high tea itself, but rather some complimentary nibbles we enjoyed in the Rasa Wing Lounge while waiting for the car back to the airport after checkout. Hot tip: chicken floss crispy spring rolls are a seriously good snack! (They're served at room temperature, like a cracker, and are so addictive).

Latte, chicken-floss spring rolls, chocolate cookies

And who could resist complimentary cocktail hour? In addition to free-flowing drinks, there was a mini-buffet of canapés - love it!

Sparkling wine

Beef skewers; Tomato and cream cheese tart; mini vol-au-vents with pate mousse topped with tomato chutney; prawns with mango salsa

OJ

Strawberry daiquiri, sparkling wine

Kir royale, mocktail, pandan chicken, spring rolls

Papaya, curry puffs, brie vol-au-vent, prawn tartlet

Lest you think the entire holiday was a never ending food fest, we did spend a lot of time chilling out at the pool.

Rasa Wing Pool

Fried chicken burger and chips

I also indulged with a couple of spa treatments at the Chi Spa. I love the beautiful, serene atmosphere there, and can highly recommend the therapist Mr Liang - he did an excellent job! PS look at this amazing outdoor bath. Squeee!

Chi spa

I even visited the Health Club once, and got a workout in - yeah, I was surprised too! Hehe. It was a really well equipped hotel gym - lots of cardio equipment (bikes, treadmills, a stepper), weight machines and free weights (I mainly use free weights), and a yoga / pilates room.

The gym

Let's finish off this post with a few photos of the beautiful grounds and the beach.

Beautiful tree on the grounds

Batu Ferringhi beach

Sunset on Batu Ferringhi

I love Batu Ferringhi beach. Is it any wonder that Rasa Sayang is my happy place?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Penang 2014

Hey hey! So, after Langkawi, we spent five nights in my hometown of Penang. It was a really laid back trip - we spent most of our time relaxing at our hotel, with a day of shopping and a few meals with my uncle in between. We'd already done a lot of sightseeing on our previous trip to Penang in 2012, so we just wanted to take it easy this time. (Visit my "Penang 2012" series to read about that trip). Of course we ate a lot, so today's post will mainly be about the yummy food we ate in Penang!

We stayed for five nights at the Rasa Sayang - what an indulgence! I think I'll do a little picture post about it soon, but you can read my glowing (and very detailed) review of our previous stay there, here.

Rasa Wing Pool

One place we had to revisit was Tho Yuen (92 Campbell Street, 10200 Penang), for their awesome fried noodles and super-duper Chinese atmosphere. (Read about my previous Tho Yuen visit). One day I'll get up early and try their yum cha!

Campbell Street, Georgetown

Pork Puffs

Tau Chwee - Soy Milk

We got two plates of dry-fried hor fun (rice noodles), one with seafood and one without (for our seafood avoider Sandra). The noodles seem to be a mix of bee hoon (vermicelli noodles) and the wider hor fun. These were incredible! Even better than I remember. The wider noodles, especially, were incredibly soft and tender. I think they make them in house. And the noodles had such great wok hei - super charred and smoky. Love!

Dry fried bee-hoon/hor fun, no seafood

Dry fried bee-hoon / hor fun, with seafood

Crispy noodles were also great; I loved the way the crispy noodles soaked up the savoury, savoury sauce.

Crispy fried mee (egg noodles), no seafood

We tried a special dish too - stir-fried dragon fish with spring onions and ginger. I'd never had dragon fish before, but I think it's kinda like eel. Yum!

Stir-fried dragon fish

Another day, we did a lot of shopping in Gurney Paragon and Gurney Plaza, (Gurney Plaza is way better in my opinion!), and stopped off for lunch at The Chicken Rice Shop, in the basement of Gurney Plaza). The Chicken Rice Shop is a chain, but the food is nice and you can get a variety of different dishes. In addition to the obvious chicken (steamed, roast, soy, honey BBQ or curry), they've got things like beef stew, assam fish, wonton soup, noodle dishes and more.

Roast Chicken

We each got a "Healthy Meal" set: chicken breast (steamed for Sandra, crispy roast for me), braised tofu and a braised egg, chicken soup, rice and Ipoh bean sprouts. (Generally I prefer non-breast meat, but I chose this set because I liked all the sides that came with it!) The chicken was great, nice and juicy and very flavoursome.

2 x "Healthy Meal" set, RM16.50 each

And less healthily, we got some chicken fritters - like deep fried dumplings with minced chicken inside and a mayo-type dipping sauce.

Homestyle chicken fritters - RM9.90

One night, Uncle Cheok took us out for dinner at the hawker centre in Pulau Tikus, which is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Penang. (See my post on Pulau Tikus from 2012, which focused on the yummy breakfast foods you can get there).

Pulau Tikus

This hawker centre has lok lok, koay teow th'ng, satays, char kway teow, or chien (oyster omelettes) and more!

We had to order some satays! Pulau Tikus is a Chinese area, so you can get pork here. We tried pork, chicken, beef and even intestine.

Satays - Pork, Chicken, Beef, Intestine

Fuzzy photo but still worth sharing: or chien, or oyster omelettes. This isn't something I'd ever had before (my parents never eat it), but it was cool to try something new!

Oyster Omelette

Char kway teow, of course! My Hokkien is pretty bad, so when I ordered two plates, one without seafood and lap cheong for Sandra, ("mai hu, mai hair, mai lap cheong"), they didn't understand me and brought out two plates with the lot. Whoops! Luckily after that Uncle Cheok helped out and ordered a seafood-free one for her... but I ended up having to eat the two full plates to myself so they wouldn't go to waste. I REGRET NOTHING!

Char Kway Teow

We shared a little dessert of mua chee - little chopped up pieces of glutinous rice flour dough coated in ground peanuts and sugar. My favourite! (It's like mochi, but better).

Muar Chee

Just quietly, even though this meal was good, we still prefer Goodall Cafe hawker centre on Gottlieb road.

We ate a couple of times at the Long Beach Hawker Centre on Batu Ferringhi - it's super touristy, and I can't imagine any actual Penangites coming here. However, it was walking distance from the hotel, near all the markets, and the food is still pretty tasty. I share the opinion of the Our Travel Lifestyle blog - it's "hawker food lite". (As I said in my last post on Penang's hawker food, there's no need to be too precious about it - even though it's not super authentic or up there with the island's top hawker stalls, you still get a good feed at a bargain price).

Milo Ais (Iced milo), Teh o Limau Ais (Iced lime tea)

Char Koay Teow

Sar Hor Fun - Fried flat rice noodles in egg gravy

Roti tisu with curry

Lychee Ais (Iced lychee drink), Teh o Limau Ais (iced lime tea)

Satay!

Sweet banana roti (only ok, Goodall Cafe one is better)

Now, if you want really good food (i.e. approved by locals) on Batu Ferringhi, I would highly recommend Beach Corner. Uncle Cheok took us here and it's very popular with locals for its fab fab fab Hainanese food. It's a bit tricky to find - it's near Tarbush restaurant, with a parking area in front of it. It's also co-located with a Lebanese barbecue restaurant - Sandra and I actually sat in the Lebanese restaurant first by mistake and were really confused when we looked at the menu... until my uncle rocked up and was all like "you're sitting in the wrong restaurant!". Oops.

Beach Corner
72D, Jalan Batu Ferringhi
Batu Ferringhi
Penang
Ph: +604 881 1867

Beach corner is famous for their choon pneah, aka Penang spring rolls. These crispy rolls are amazing - fat and full of carrots, bangkwang (jicama / yam bean), cabbage, prawns, meat, 5-spice, mushrooms and spring onions. Argh! So good! N.B. you have to call in advance and reserve your spring rolls, otherwise they will sell out!

Choon pneah

You get three chilli sauces with the spring rolls - my fave is the chilli with amor tau yuu (Worcestershire sauce).

Choon Pneah

We also got an assam fish gulai (tamarind fish curry), and we requested black pomfret - my favourite fish. I loved it! The gravy was sour and delicious, the fish was super tender and it was full of okra and tomatoes. Yum!

Assam fish gulai - Tamarind black pomfret curry

Belachan fried chicken is also good because, belachan fried chicken.

Belachan fried chicken

We got a side of stir fried "brussels sprouts", and surprisingly, these were the most popular dish of the night. These were like mini cabbage leaves stir-fried in garlic - still crisp and slightly charred from the wok. Lovely!

Garlic-stir fried Brussels sprouts

And don't forget Golden River restaurant for tasty tasty Chinese food on Batu Ferringhi.

And I just wanted to finish this post with a sneaky picture of KFC - judge me if you will - but I can't not have KFC when I'm in Malaysia, the hot and spicy is spicier and the chicken is so juicy!

KFC Hot and Spicy

Thanks Penang, you were grand!