Suffolk House is an impressive place. The mansion house is quite probably Penang’s premier colonial building and now a venue for many leading state and private functions.
Suffolk House has seen some menu and personnel changes over the few years it has been open and the most recent is the appointment of Chef Wan Elmee as Head chef.
Chef Wan has come in with a complete revamp on the menu and has put his own style on this stunning and historical heritage restaurant.
He sources his ingredients locally from the wet markets as these offer the best and freshest of foods available. If something from the menu is not available he would rather substitute it for a local equivalent than import chilled or frozen food from overseas.
We talked at length with Chef Wan about his menu and served personally by the Manageress Maiane, we truly felt the gravitas of the place but in a way that made us feel like the Lords of the manor, even if it was only for one night.
The menu is pleasantly surprising in that every item is a true original. With such an extensive menu and every offering being of interest to me I asked the Chef to prepare a meal of his selection as I wanted to be surprised.
We started with an amuse bouche of smoked salmon roulade around a core of crème cheese topped with a caramelised tomato sitting atop a crispy crouton. This worked very well and did what it said on the menu, amused my taste-buds!
The plate of bread and rolls that was accompanied with wonderfully creamy butter normally goes un-noticed but in this case the breads are home-made and compliment the setting very well. The sun-dried tomato rolls were of particular note!
This was followed by our starters which were absolutely fabulous in every sense. I would probably have chosen the Ballantine Guinea Fowl & Asparagus which was a roulade or terrine of Guinea Fowl with Asparagus stalks speared through the centre served on baby salad leaves garnished with lemongrass Aioli (which had an effervescence, reminiscent of a champagne finish) and orange segments. This was a wonderful opening to a meal that was showing immense promise. The dish really had every one of the ingredients leaving a lingering reminder of each individual flavour.
The other starter, I probably would not have chosen being the Carnivore that I am as it was a vegetarian dish, of chickpea rissoles with pawpaw spaghetti tossed with Indian yellow lentil, baby romaine and arugula salad with a sweet chili vinaigrette (which was from the lunch menu) that were deep fried in a crispy shell although far from greasy. I have to say that this was my dish of choice after we had tried both.
Not taking anything away from the Guinea Fowl which until I had sampled the Chick pea rissoles was more than satisfactory. It was just that the chick pea rissoles were so tasty and unexpected!!
Our main course came at just the right interval after our gleaming and completely empty starter plates had been cleared away.
Our main selection from Chef Wan was to be honey roasted stuffed chicken with tiger prawn, potato rosti, vegetable bouquet and rosemary jus. The chicken, cooked to perfection, was a boned and rolled leg which was oozing succulent juices into the surrounding honey glaze and the tiger prawn stuffed in the middle was exquisite in that it was not over cooked nor had it lost its definition.
The other selection was the fish – the menu had listed the black sole that was usually locally available but not on this occasion, as the chef had selected an emerald fish which was divine. The fish fillet was served on a bed of pomegranate risotto, French beans, and almond and lime butter.
The fish was cooked to perfection and the risotto was creamy and yet firm, not too firm, to the bite and every bite had an explosion of pomegranate seed in your mouth; its sweet juices blending in the mouth with the creaminess and texture of the rice. Wonderful.
We were told before the meal of the wonder of the dessert trolley but when you have enjoyed perfection and are replete, best to leave the meal at that and give us even more reason to return on a further occasion.
‘What’s On Penang’ thoroughly recommends the ambience, the decor, the service and of course the delightful food. A big thank you to Yeoh Kah Hock, Chef Wan Elmee and to Maiane for a memorable dining experience, in the finest of surroundings.