White Rose Cafe @ York Hotel: 30th anniversary Penang Hawkers' Fare

When my early retirement plans from the baby shower revealed itself as foodie trip to York Hotel's Penang Hawker Fare, my aunts' eyes lit up like Christmas lights, evoking memories of her previous yearly ritual visits to the buffet line. Praising it to the high heavens with accompanying introductions of what dishes to look out for. Bemused, I went ahead with heightened expectations, hoping to get an taste of the illustrious laksa she was painting fairytale picture about.

For the 30th year in a row, York Hotel rolls out their Penang Hawker's Fare with relentless effort. For fans of the wildly popular buffet, this annual event is something to look out for. Besides the usual showcase of perennial favourite Penang street food, sizzling hot new dishes are gracing the line while exclusive cooking workshops are available to those more familiar in the kitchen.

First, I tried the latest new stall to be featured, Pasembur - a Chinese-Indian style salad brimming with shredded cucumbers and fritters cloaked in a tantalising sauce comprising of sweet potatoes, crushed peanuts and chillies. I ate slowly, to stretch the time.

Making our rounds of the 12 stalls, it became evident that trying everything was mandatory.

Penang Rojak had so much flavor from the excellent hae-ko (prawn paste) implemented; the fresh chunks of jambu adding a refreshing crunchy texture to the dish.

Other must tries include the Assam Laksa - the penang version proffering a distinctively more tangy and light-bodied version from the usual local assortment. Rice noodles hanging out in tangy tamarind fish based broth with lashings of prawn paste having the last word. We had sampled and loved the Char Kway Teow too, the wok hei evident in the noodle dish's smoky wake. My usual impartiality's to the local dish debunked when faced with a rendition that uses less sweet dark soy sauce.

The Kway Teow Soup takes everyone by surprise. A bowl of nostalgia conveyed by whiffs from the clear broth - accompanying the kway teow are a variety of ingredients such as fish balls (of suitable QQness) and shredded chicken. One of the more exciting discoveries while doing my rounds is the Lor Bak - a five spiced meat roll popular as a fried snack in Penang. Somewhat similar to our Ngoi Hiong , sans the crispy inclusion of water chestnut and carrots and what not. This solid roll appeared somewhat drier than I preferred with a subtle hint of spice.

For desserts, do whack the Chendol, the aromatic pandan coconut broth absolutely smashing to indulge in with the sweltering heat in mind. What the kitchen does best of all is their Ban Chang Kueh. Emerging like a crispy gold cracker from the sizzling hot customised round pans, the traditional pancake is brushed on to ensure optimal thinness, a final squirt of planta margarine releasing aromatic steam that conjured fond memories of cup corn enjoyed on road trips to Malaysia. The balance of ground peanuts and sugar for the filling are vital, though. And the Penang Hawker fare nails it, a conclusion drawn from the snaking queues rounding the bend for the simple dessert.

Note that York Hotel will be dishing out this Penang feast from the 12th March to the 27th March at White Rose Cafe with the 2nd instalment for the year only held in September. So hurry come get your fill before it ends! Weekdays are prized at $29++ for adults and $20++ for children below 12 whilst Weekends is an affordable $33++ per adult and $23++ per child; irregardless of lunch or dinner. What a steal for an enormously decent spread with strong Penang provenance. Definitely highly recommended should you be thinking of eating out this coming Good Friday!

White Rose Cafe
York Hotel
21 Mount Elizabeth
t: 6830 1156

Buffet Times:
Lunch: 12pm - 2 30pm
Dinner: 6 30pm - 10pm

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