Penang Food & Drink
Kebaya - Stewart Lane, Georgetown
Located in The Seven Terraces owned by Christopher Ong, the heritage-preserving, and award-winning hotelier, has worked with the hotel’s management to create a menu of classic Indo and Straits Chinese Nyonya dishes. The décor is unique Malay Peranakan in a long, high ceiling room graced with a classical pianist playing a baby grand. The multiple courses are designed for a table of four to pick one shared appetiser and main each. Lamb shank ‘Sous vide’, prawn curry, duck confit, etc. All excellent.
Heap Seng House - No. 5 Halaman Seh Tan, Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown
Hidden on a quiet street across from a temple in old Georgetown (and well hidden sign) is a charming little spot run by expat Mark and his partners. These boys fly in fresh oysters twice a week from Ireland, France, England and Holland. Their expanding mains menu covers everything from fresh scallops to grilled lamb chops. Ah, but the oysters. Brilliant and not something you get in the tropics often and never at these reasonable prices.
China House - 153 Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown
Another conversion of three back to back shophouses with 14 separate areas for dining, browsing and live music. Known for its stunning desert table created by the 10 bakers on staff. They display over 30 different cakes fresh every day. The “ fine “ dining area on the left just before the deserts is a lot more spacious than getting elbowed on the narrow walkway that runs all the way from Pantai to Beach Street. There are art spaces upstairs, live jazz at the back on Beach. Worth a visit.
Tek Sen - 18 Lebuh Carnarvon, Georgetown
Penang is blessed with a number of great, cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurants. This is certainly one of the best. On bustling Carnarvan Street in Georgetown for 45 years, Tek Sen has a constant lineup of people arranging a table, pre-ordering on the street and then just hanging out telling each other what they are having. The food is simple, wonderful and cheap. There are other places where you don’t line up (see My Homestyle) but this is worth the extra time it takes. Parking in Georgetown can be challenging but there is a rare parking lot just 20 metres past the restaurant, down a short street.
Tree Monkey - Tropical Spice Garden, Jalan Tanjung Bungah
The Tree Monkey Restaurant is perched on the hill of Tropical Spice Garden in Teluk Bahang. Surrounded by serene greens overlooking the Andaman Sea, this tranquil and romantic restaurant is reminiscent of kampung-style dining. You sit at the spacious open-air dining area on the wooden deck often entertained by Dusky Leaf monkeys in the trees around you. The food is authentic Thai and refreshing tropical fruit mocktails for those not wanting an ice cold Thai Singha beer. Up the hill behind the restaurant is a unique retail store selling spices like local nutmeg, stevia and masala mixes. Worth a look.
Ferringhi Gardens - Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi
Known for dining under the stars in its lush green gardens, there are tropical plants here of every type with elaborate water features running through more than half of the al fresco eating area. At nightfall, glowing oil lamps create a romantic feel. From the humble entrance, however, you’d never be able to tell just how large and sprawling it really is. The menu is extensive; ranging from Western, pseudo Mediterranean to Asian. A note of caution. We have never loved the food but we do love the look. It is reason enough to go back. Stick to the giant, grilled prawns and it’s good.
My Homestyle - Permai 32, no.2 Lebuh Lembah Permai 4
If the hustle of Georgetown to get to Tek Sen is a bit too daunting, here is your option. 'My Homestyle' in Permai is the go to place for people who live a little to the north (when I say a little, I mean less than a ten minute drive from Georgetown proper). It is spotlessly clean, portions are beyond generous and our usual group of about 10 people share nearly as many dishes as people for about $13-15 Sing dollars per couple. And, that is a LOT of food. Bring your own wine, they serve the ubiquitous Tiger beer in small chilled glasses.
Where to Drink
Out of Nowhere - 75 Jalan Kuala Kangsar, Georgetown
As its name suggests, this bar is hard to find. Tip - enter through an orange fridge from the cafe. By day, it’s a cafe that serves coffee. By night, the mixologists serves some fantastic concoctions. On some nights, they have live band.
Manchu 滿族 - 38 & 40 Jalan Pintal Tali, Georgetown
A Manchurian themed speakeasy resembling the Jin dynasty when Manchurians were nobles who ruled the kingdom. Different from other bars who have live bands, Manchu has Chinese operas.
Golden Showers by Chin Chin - 86 Lebuh Bishop, Georgetown
Golden Showers is the sister to Chin Chin Gastropub, a trendy fusion fare/izakaya-style bar and restaurant near Gurney Drive. You enter Golden Showers through a “golden” bathroom (of course) to an all pink with gold accented interior. Different from other bars, Golden Showers offers fine dining, specialising in small plates, made in an open kitchen concept so you see the chefs in action.