Friday, June 12, 2020


Pineapple Prawn Curry. Salted Cod Fillet. Blackened Top Hats. Beef Wellington. Apom Bongkwa. East meets West with culinary aplomb at the new Java Tree restaurant, Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel Penang, making it a notable outpost to dine in.
Named after a historical java tree planted in the hotel’s garden promenade even before the E&O Hotel was established in 1885, Java Tree sets a stately stage for the showcasing of Nyonya specialities and classic European dishes.
The iconic tree – immortalised on an expansive feature wall – draws the eye when you step into Java Tree. Accentuated with dark wood trims and sparkling chandeliers, the resto’s understated ambience is further enlivened by wall sconces, the occasional gilded columns, starched white linen-sheathed tables and earth toned upholstered chairs.
Otak Otak also available a la carte at Java Tree
An appetising trio of Blackened Top Hats (pastry shells stuffed with shredded jicama, carrot, cuttlefish and egg with salmon roe), Lobak (stuffed roll of chicken, shrimp, yam, shredded egg and salmon roe) and Otak Otak (steamed spiced local mackerel mousse with coconut cream, turmeric and kaffir lime leaves) from my Nyonya Signature Set (RM135) makes an great impression from the get-go. 
The Otak Otak deserves special mention as I find the mousse's spice quotient distinct on the palate, with subtle bursts of heat to set the tastebuds tingling. Spoonfuls of the soulful Itik Tim (pickled mustard vegetable with duck soup) summon up childhood memories of meals partaken at my grandparents’ house, a fond reminder that old is indeed gold.
More titillating temptations: Oxtail Gulai (braised oxtail, mustard seeds, vinegar and spices), Pineapple Prawn Curry (deep-sea tiger prawns with pineapple curry) and Terung Tempra (eggplant with lime, soya sauce and chilli) call for plain white rice – the best canvas to capture the dishes’ plethora of bright, piquant flavours. IMHO, the collective servings are generous enough for two light eaters.
A pretty floral shaped Sago Gula Melaka (sago pearls served with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup) brings the sumptuous meal to its sweet conclusion.
On the European Classics front, no appetiser evokes more nostalgia than Prawn Cocktail (RM30). Presented in a cocktail glass with tender romaine lettuce lining the base, Java Tree’s version has three cooked prawns in cocktail sauce (concocted from mayo, ketchup and lemon juice) perched over the rim. Mango dices and mustard sauce give the ensemble a touch of zippy sweetness.
Sweet caramelised onions makes the French Onion Soup (RM30) a siren’s song for the soul. Two gratinated gruyère toasts add depth and richness to the savoury broth, leaving us smacking our lips with satisfaction.
Poached in milk and wholegrain mustard, the signature Salted Cod Fillet (RM125) with baby spinach, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce is an on-point palate-pleaser. Although the dish sounds indulgent, any scepticism proves unfounded once you sample the fish’s lush yet delicate creaminess.
Meat lovers should sink their teeth into the scrumptious Entrecôte 10 oz Steak Café de Paris (RM80) with Baby Vegetables – my partner’s request for medium rare doneness is acquitted with aplomb. We also give thumbs up to the Butter Grilled Asparagus (RM30) with poached egg and truffled mushroom.
Other scrumptious options include Beef Wellington (RM85), Lamb Rump (RM75) and Chicken Fricasse (RM75) among others.
Remember to save stomach space for Java Tree’s seductive sweets from the dessert cart. Succumb to decadent creations of mildly tangy Lemon Tart or a sumptuous Paris-Brest – a circular shape choux pastry with praline-hazelnut crème, or the classic Crème Brûlée. Also recommended is the Apple Streusel Tart (RM28), a yummy crumble-topped treat with custardy apple worth the extra calories.
Currently, Java Tree is open for dine-in from 6.30pm to 10pm. For reservations, please call 016-419 8923 or click:

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