Buffet Review Minangkabau Cuisine Olive Tree Hotel Penang

Buffet Review Minangkabau Cuisine Olive Tree Hotel Penang

Buffet Review Minangkabau Cuisine Olive Tree Hotel Penang

Olive Tree Hotel pays homage to the Minangkabau community from Negeri Sembilan in this year’s themed Ramadan buffet.


The Minangkabau people originate from West Sumatra, Indonesia. Their food is known as Padang cuisine, in English or even simply called Padang food is the most popular food in Maritime South East Asia.

The term “Padang food” is often used to designate the whole culinary traditions of Minangkabau people a culinary hotspot in West Sumatra.

Minang cuisine puts much emphasis in three elements; gulai (curry), lado (chili pepper) and bareh (rice). The taste is rich with succulent of fresh coconut milk and predominately chili spicy.


The heavy uses of spices mixture are the residual influences of Indian and Middle Eastern cultures.

As the most Minangkabau people are Muslims, strict halal dietary law is observed rigorously.

Protein sources are mainly from beef, water buffalo, goat, lamb meat, and poultry and fish. Minangkabau people’s fondness for cattle meat include offal, ribs, tongue, tail, liver, tripe, brain, bone marrow, spleen, intestine, cartilage, tendon, and skin. These are considered to be Minangkabau delicacies.


Grilled seafood is popular with Fish, Shrimp, and Cuttlefish or fried with spicy chili sauce or in curry gravy called Gulai.

Most of Minangkabau food is eaten with hot steamed rice. Sometimes “Ketupat” parcelled compressed rice is served. Vegetables served are boiled cassava leaf. Sometimes it’s simmered in thin curry as a side dish. Young Jackfruit or Cabbages are cooked in delicious Gulai with generous amount of coconut milk and that infamous chili padi.

Sup Awan Cendawan sets the tone for the buffet. Fresh ingredients and a bright taste.
Lovely grilled meats

(clockwise) Udang Goreng Kunyit, Kambing Masak Kerutuk (hidden) Rendang Daging Minang, Ayam Masak Ros, Pucuk Paku Masak Lemak Cili Api, Sambal Ikan Bilis Petai, Ulam Ulam and Sambal Belacan and Gulai Ikan.

Hand-to-mouth eating is common in Malay and Indian restaurants. Eating with one’s hands is not as easy as it looks.

First things first, remember to wash your hands thoroughly.

Does eating your hands make the food taste better?

My answer is a resounding YES! I get to mix the food and curries to a consistency you like. The personal connection with my food makes eating, intuitive. It feed my mind, not just my stomach every time I eat with my hands.

I learnt to eat with my hands as a child. This is the proper way to enjoy authentic Malay or Indian food. I remember sitting on the floor and sharing a meal on a huge metal platter with other people. Community eating like this is inclusive and binding. We would chat as we eat. Sometimes we tear from the same piece of chicken with our fingers.

Curry Fish ~ Gulai Ikan.

This is an adaptation of Indian curry. The Indonesian type of curry has a broth of a thick consistency with yellowish colour made with the addition of turmeric. Gulai ikan derived from the word gulai as coconut curry and ikan as fish in Bahasa Indonesia.

Gulai broth ingredients are made up of a dozen rich spices. The aromatics are a bouquet of coriander, black pepper, galangal, fennel seed, lemongrass, cinnamon and caraway seeds.

This is ground into a paste with fresh turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallot, and chilli pepper. The fragrant paste is “tumis” and cooked with thick coconut milk.

In South Sumatra Gulai Tempoyak or Fish Curry with Fermented Durian Paste is very popular. Other types gulai is Gulai Kambing (Lamb or Goat Curry) and Beef Gulai, Kalio (Dry Beef Gulai) or Malbi Ayam (Sweet Chicken Curry/Gulai).

The beautiful colour of the Indonesian curry fish.
Sambal Ikan Bilis Petai with young “smelly” beans is delicious.

This rich festive spicy meat dish with thick gravy is a wonderful accompaniment to Nasi Minyak or other specialty rice dishes.
Kerutuk is a mixture of ground spices made from Coriander Powder, Dry Fennel Seed, Cinnamon, Clove, and Star Anise.

The spices and fresh kerisik paste enhances deepen the flavour of this robust dish. This dish is cooked slowly up to six hours. The tender lamb breaks apart beautifully. This dish is best enjoyed with rice or even steamed man tao.


Rendang Minang is lighter and brighter in taste. This Rendang (Dry Curry) is often made from beef. ome chefs use beef liver, chicken, goat, water buffalo, duck, clam, or vegetables like green jackfruit or cassava in the rendang recipe.

The complexity of the recipe calls for patience to cook it. It takes hours to get the perfect rendang in taste and appearance. Authentic rendang is enriched by turmeric leaves and asam kandis. Sometimes tamarind is used to substitute for Javanese asam kandis.

Originally, this recipe uses fresh coconut milk. The extract grated coconut flesh is mixed with coconut water and squeezed to get a special taste of coconut milk.

Kerisik which is made from freshly grated coconut.

The grated coconut is toasted in a pan or wok. I’ve tried making kerisik. It is a long tedious process of grinding the dried toasted coconut.

Leaf spices are turmeric leaf, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrasses. The other spices are Javanese asam kandis, star anises, bird eyes chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal and ginger. Dried spices include toasted coriander seed, cumin and white peppercorn.


Young fern shoots, curly, crunchy and sweet make up this unusual vegetable dish cooked in thick coconut milk and chilli padi.

Pucuk Paku Masak Lemak Cili Api
Colourful rich Kuehs

I remember an event at hotel where I first met Chef Fauzi. I wanted something simple to start off my meal and he suggested I try the nasi lemak.

Chef’s santan coated pandan infused rice is rich and fragrant. I’ve always associate rich coconut milk with his cooking.

Chef Fauzi’s preference of using fresh santan takes his food to the next level.

The two desserts I tried are divine. I drained the milky creamy santan tempered with a touch of salt, completely.

Badak Berendam and Bubur Pulut Hitam with fresh santan. The The Tarik is so creamy and delicious! I had two drinks!

Olive Tree Hotel
76, Jalan Mahsuri, Bandar Sunway Tunas,
11950 Bayan Lepas, Penang

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