Penang’s amazing restaurants: Over the past months I’ve put in the effort & had the privilege of dining in some amazing places because I believe when you work hard, you reward yourself with a good meal.
Again, as with my previous food posting, I’m going to just mention the places that I feel are under the expat radar but deserve at least a visit.
Here is the list of places I felt a connection with and have a story worth sharing:
Housed in the same Art Deco building that is home to the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Chambers restaurant is helmed by Chef Joseph. The restaurant is deserving of being labelled one of Penang’s amazing restaurants. It has high ceilings, is simply and elegantly decorated and overlooks the Esplanade. Chef Joseph is a Penang boy so he can definitely do Nyonya, although I believe he is particularly outstanding with Western cuisine. Joseph updates his menu regularly so I’ve not seen the carbonara on the menu for some time, but I was fortunate to have tried the dish as prepared by Joseph, and it is mindblowingly good. It’s not difficult to prepare a good carbonara but it’s very difficult to make such a simple dish shine. Chef Joseph does this exceedingly well. I recently hosted a birthday lunch where we preordered roast pork as the mains and Joseph didn’t disappoint. The crackling was crispy and the meat moist and succulent!
This quaint family-run Hainanese restaurant was started by the Pang family and has been around for as long as I can remember but, being in Penang, where we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food, it dropped off the culinary radar, that is, until an old family friend visited from Kuala Lumpur and enquired whether 747 was still around! In its hey day, it was located on the ground floor of the YMCA and would dish out Hainanese favourites like chicken pie, yam duck, crispy spring roll with Worcestershire sauce and many more!
With a quick search on the Internet, it wasn’t difficult to track down 747’s new location at Peel Avenue, and I’m happy to report that their high standards are maintained. Definitely one of Penang’s amazing restaurants.
Another one of Penang’s amazing restaurants is Shia’s Granola – located in India House, no.1 Gat Lebuh Gereja, a handsome grey building, built in the 1930s in the Indian Art Deco style. It’s run by husband and wife team, Alishia and Wynn, former gym trainers who are excited to share their philosophy of healthy food, which also gives performance fuel for your body. I like their cashew seaweed salad. They make their own granolas, which they combine with strawberries, yoghurt or almond milk for tasty healthy desserts. If you have been cheating on your diet and need to make amends but don’t want to compromise on taste, this is the place for you!
Leong Chee Kee
This is neither a restaurant nor a place I would normally mention because there are some places us Penangites want to keep secret.
The unassuming shack that is Leong Chee Kee is tucked away behind cars on the ground floor of walk up flats off Cintra Street. It’s now run by the son of the founder, and his wife and child pitch in. The premises are so unassuming that there is no branding on the packaging for their best seller, coconut tarts, and that’s what I like about this place. It’s all about the product and the proprietor is clearly not bothered about branding and marketing! The tarts are made of moist dessicated coconut in a crumbly pastry and they sell out fast (hence my reluctance to share! But it’s discoveries like this that reward those who venture off the beaten path and provides the multilayered epicurean experience that defines Penang. So an exception to the rule against sharing has to be made) so try to be there before noon!
Author: Sam Choong
Sam Choong is a lawyer practising in Penang, Malaysia. His areas of practice include estate planning, wills and UK inheritance tax for expats residing or seeking to retire in Malaysia.