A hat-tip to my fellow Penang gourmand, Bee of Rasa Malaysia, who shared about this overlooked dining gem, Blanc at Macalister Mansion.
Located on one of George Town’s major thoroughfares, Macalister Road (named after Colonel Norman Macalister, the Governor of Penang from 1807-1810), Macalister Mansion was often missed by us as we drove past it on our way to the city center, not realizing that there is some seriously good cooking going on in there.
There’s a rather odd, gigantic stylized bust of Col. Macalister right outside the mansion, which kinda reminds us of Zardoz, the giant, flying head/ship which Sean Connery climbed into in the 1974 sci-fi film.
The main dining room, despite its clean lines, still exuded a certain warmth.
Our dinner last night started off with a trio of amuse-geule:
Seaweed cracker, scallion sour cream & tobiko
Plum tomato, basil-mint coulis, purple basil
Ama-ebi, leek nest, Okinawa leaf
The fish course followed, and this turned out to be my favorite dish for the evening. Lovely flavors, with the tartness from the pickles cutting into the trout beautifully.
Ocean trout, ikura roll, ocean trout crispy skin with pickled vegetables, lime-buttermilk with dill oil
Kohlrabi, onsen egg, forest mushrooms, bok-choy cress, truffle-sherry jus - the toothsome textures and earthy tastes from the mushrooms contrasted with the richness of the onsen egg’s molten yolk. Loved the faint hint of truffles which rounded up the dish.
Australian Wagyu ox-tongue, chive flowers, angel breath, crisp shredded ginger and Ponzu - the ox-tongue came in two parts: charcoal-grilled and braised. I preferred the braised part for its deeper, richer flavor.
New Zealand langoustine, prosciutto, beurre noisette-Hollandaise sauce, lime zest - the sweet, fresh langoustine was perfectly complemented by the salty, crisp prosciutto.
Hokkaido scallops, parmesan tuile, edamame green pea puree, crustacean foam - very fresh scallops, moist and rare inside, whilst seared golden-brown on the outside. Not too sure about the pea puree but loved the crustacean foam.
Pre-main course: Onion-Pu Erh tea, onion ash & onion espuma - amazingly tasty “tea”, savory and with a depth of flavors that we did not quite expect. This was Chef de cuisine, Benny Yeoh’s tribute to his mentor, Michelin-starred Jason Tan, who was known as Singapore’s “Onionman”, for his amazing onion-based dishes.
Threadfin, spelt risotto, ice plant, porcini mushroom, Jerusalem artichoke emulsion - my fave part of this dish was the creamy spelt risotto. Love the porcini mushrooms sauce, but would’ve preferred something creamy to go with the fish - but that’s just me.
Spanish olive pork, nagaimo, Brussels sprouts, crisp-fried pork tendon, black garlic
Lemon curd, lemon granite, almond sable, mascarpone cheese - this dessert was a winner, with a good combination of tartness (lemon) and creaminess (mascarpone). I’d come back for this.
Deconstructed “Cendol” - pandan parfait, pandan sponge, coconut meringue, azuki beans, Gula Melaka ice-cream, gula melaka caramel sauce - a very clever re-imagining of the Penang cendol. The familiar pandan scent and palm sugar flavor were there, but the textures were all new. Not too sure what to make of it. Being a traditionalist, I rather prefer the original street-side cendol.
Peanut Snickers, sesame truffle, yuzu meringue - these were fabulous, from the chocolatey “Snickers” and truffles, to the light, foamy meringue.
Youngish Executive Chef, Benny Yeoh, had worked under top Singapore chefs like Justin Quek (at Sky on 57) and Jason Tan (at 1-Michelin-star Corner House).
Really enjoyed this meal, more than any other I’d had in the city recently.
Restaurant Blanc Penang
228, Macalister Road, 10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: +6019-239 9818
Opening hours: 7pm to 11pm, Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.