Every Penangites grew up fascinating about riding on the iconic Penang ferry to travel between the island and mainland. It is also one of the attraction for tourists that visit Penang. When the ferry services started about a century ago, it comes only in one type of colour and gradually it was repainted with beautiful colours.
I remember, when I was a kid, it was always exciting when my parents decided to ride on the ferry instead of using the Penang bridge. The slow ride across the channel gives us a nice view between both sides of Penang and we can enjoy a nice breeze of air with the smell of the seas.
Some Penangite travels on it almost in a daily basis, mostly for work purposes. The ferry has then been a culture, a unique feature of Penang.
However, as we bid farewell to 2020, the same goes to our Penang ferry. The Government decided to cease its operations on 1st January 2021 and change it to a faster, speedboat-type of ferry for passengers. The new ferry do not carry vehicles though, and only passengers.
The last week of 2020 was a busy one for the operators of the Penang ferry as many Penangites as well as Malaysians from other states rush over to witness and take their final ride of the iconic ferry.
In case you miss it or you have never experience the ferry, here’s some of the photos from social media.
Campbell Street or Lebuh Campbell is a one-way street within George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was named after Sir George William Robert Campbell, who served as the Penang Inspector General and also, the Acting Lieutenant-Governor of Penang between 1872 and 1873. The street is called Sin-kay (新街) in Hokkien and San-kai in Cantonese, which both also mean ‘the new street’ created between Pitt Street and Penang Road.
It was a red-light district in the mid 19th Century. Then, the both terms ‘Sin-kay’ and ‘San-kai’ came to a whole new meaning, which refers to the new arrival of the ‘new chickens (prostitutes)’. Meanwhile, Fa-kai is another Cantonese term used to refer to the street. It meant ‘flower street’, which is also a substitute for the prostitutes along the street. Furthermore, the Malays called the street Jalan Nona Baru and Jalan Makau. Jalan Nona Baru meant ‘the street of new maidens’ and Jalan Makau meant the coastal city of Macau in China, where most of the Cantonese prostitutes came from.
Campbell Street was part of George Town’s New Chinatown. The Cantonese immigrants populated the area around the street and mostly worked as tailors, coolies, goldsmiths and ironmongers. In the 1950s and 1960s, it became the most famous place to shop for shoes, bags, jewellery, watches, and textiles. Then, the businesses began to decline in the mid 1970s. Today, wholesalers, modern cafes as well as other businesses have taken over most of the retail outlets. Besides, several shops selling jewellery, bags, textiles, watches and traditional Chinese medicine are still operating along the street.
Campbell Street Market
Campbell Street Market is a Victorian-style market built in the 1900s. The market was formerly known as Carnarvon Street Market. It is a small wet market located at the junctions between Campbell Street and Carnarvon Street. It offers a wide range of fresh vegetables, fish and meats to supply to its surrounding community. According to some locals, the land on which the market now stands was the site of a Malay cemetery. Furthermore, the cemetery at the land was provided to the Indian Muslim community for the construction of the Masjid Kapitan Keling in 1800. However, the George Town Municipal Council bought the land in the 1890s and subsequently built the Campbell Street Market.
Boon Wah Co. Textile
Boon Wah Chow Chong Sdn. Bhd. is a textile company and has existed since 1982. This company is working in fashion, fabric, textile and building materials business activities. It is located at the corner area along Campbell Street and Rope Walk Street. In fact, this turquoise-coloured building has been an Instagram-worthy spot to check in for the locals and tourists.
Where to Stay
Campbell House Penang
Campbell House is an Award-Winning Luxury Boutique Hotel in George Town. The owners are a husband and wife team, one of them is from Italy and another one is a mix of Malay and English. The boutique hotel occupies a unique three-storey Straits Chinese corner plot. The building was built in 1903 and underwent a major renovation when the owners bought it in 2008. It offers a total of 11 themed rooms incorporating Colonial charm and Asian heritage with an authentic but modern Italian restaurant.
Kim Haus Loft
Kim Haus was a goldsmith jewellery shop turned into a cafe and residence lofts. This four-storey building offers a total of 40 guest rooms with something more basic and homey. In fact, it is not just a boutique hotel. There is a goldsmith museum, an event and performance space, and a cafe. Besides, it uses black as the theme colour with an industrial influence in the decor and stays true to its history as a jewellery and goldsmith shop. There is an array of vintage jewellery and goldsmith tools displaying at the cafe area.
An attic is similar to a loft. It is a space or room inside or partly inside the roof of a building. Attic Hotel features a total of 17 rooms, including double rooms, triple rooms, and family rooms. Besides, the hotel also provides guests with a sun terrace.
What to See
Street Art: “Retail Paradise” Sculpture
The “Marking of George Town” is an art challenge organised by the Penang State Government to mark George Town’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. The company, Sculpture At Work won the design idea by relating the history and/ or characteristic of selected streets in George Town with metal rod caricatures of local cartoonists.
The “Retail Paradise” Sculpture was installed in 2013. This sculpture at Campbell Street by cartoonist Reggie Lee portrays a guard arresting a burglar, who claims he has simply misplaced his keys. The sculpture celebrates a period in the history of Campbell Street when it was the main shopping area in George Town. “Campbell Street is Penang’s Fifth Avenue, a retail paradise where shoppers can stroll along the row of shophouses and feast their eyes on an array of goods.”
What to Eat
Hameediyah Restaurant has claimed the title in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) of being the nation’s oldest Nasi Kandar restaurant. It was established in 1907 and is still going strong until today. Meanwhile, it is also crowned as one of the best Nasi Kandars in Penang. The restaurant offers around 35 types of curry. For instance, their Chicken Kapitan, Ayam Bawang and Beef Rendang are among the famous choices. Besides Nasi Kandar, they also offer Murtabak and a wide range of vegetarian options.
Toh Soon Cafe 多春茶室
Toh Soon Cafe is a small coffee shop located at an alley along Campbell Street. It is one of the famous breakfast spots among the locals and tourists. People are willing to queue up for their signature Kaya Toast Bread with two half-boiled eggs and its Hainan-style coffee. They use a super old charcoal stove to prepare the toasts. Now, Toh Soon is opening a new branch at Bishop Street.
Island Problem is Japanese-Thai fusion eatery tucked in a shophouse along Campbell Street. It is a rather tiny dining space that could only accommodate up to 10 people. This open-kitchen concept restaurant allows diners to catch the live action of the chef preparing the meals. Their specialities include Don (rice bowl dishes), Sando (Japanese sandwiches), and Men (noodle dishes). Meanwhile, the upper floor of this black interior restaurant is a fashion boutique that sells their own branded fashion apparels.
Kim Haus is a cafe bar that serves Western cuisine. It is a casual eating and drinking spot in George Town. It is a pork free restaurant that offers a variety of dishes and desserts. In addition, there is a small bakery at the corner of the cafe that serves fresh Danish Pastries, Scottish Scones and more. Taking up the space of the entire building, Kim Haus also provides comfy stays with industrial influence of concept.
Yee Heong Restaurant 宜香茶楼饭店
Yee Heong Restaurant is a great place for dim sum in the morning and Zhu Char dishes for lunch and dinner. This restaurant is currently managed by the 5th generation of the family. Their signature dishes include Claypot Seafood, Braised Pork Hand and Stewed Mutton in Claypot.
Tho Yuen Restaurant 桃园茶楼
Tho Yuen Restaurant is located between the intersection of Campbell Street and Cintra Street. The restaurant serves dim sum in the morning and then a variety of noodles and chicken rice in the afternoon. Besides, they also offer one of the best egg tarts that come with a crisp and thin crust.
L Kitchen 李月香 粥面饭
L Kitchen serves authentic Chinese food ranging from noodle to rice and even porridge at very affordable prices. Some of their dishes are worth trying out, such as Indian Style Curry Fish Fillet, Dried Scallop & Minced Pork Porridge with Chinese Coriander Meatball, as well as Spicy & Sour Fish Head Noodles.
IL Bacaro in Campbell House
IL Bacaro is an authentic Italian restaurant housed in Campbell House. Their menu features a wide selection of Italian cuisine such as pizzas, pasta, grilled dishes and desserts. Besides, there is also a selection of fine wines at this cozy restaurant too.
Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee 鸿记广式竹昇云吞面
Some people call it “Hong Kee Bamboo Noodle” as it is a restaurant that specializes in serving handmade traditional bamboo-pressed noodles. Particularly, the chef rides on a bamboo log to press the eggs, flour and other ingredients together to yield the noodles. Their Hong Kong style Wan Thun Mee that topped with shredded char siew and Wan Thun beneath the noodles is definitely their signature. Furthermore, there is an in-house pastry stall that offers freshly baked Hong Kong style pastries. Make sure to try out their Egg Tarts, Buttered Polo Bun, and Honey BBQ Pork Pastry.
Coffee Addict Cafe
Coffee Addict was previously at Hutton Lane and now it has relocated to Campbell Street. They also expanded their menu which covers breakfast, sandwiches, pasta, snacks, coffee, and desserts. Some of their popular dishes include, Guacamole Bacon on Toast, Open Omelette Pepperoni, and Thai Basil Minced Pork Pasta. In addition, the cafe also offers comfortable seatings for diners to enjoy good food and good coffee.
Trois Canon Cafe 三炮台茶餐厅
Trois Canon Cafe provides the feeling of classical coffee shops (茶餐厅) in Hong Kong. Without any fancy presentation of the food, this cafe serves authentic and delicious Hong Kong food at affordable prices. Their menu features breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and also dinner. Although it is very challenging to find parking, the food here is able to satisfy your tummy.
Hanjan Eatery Soju Bar
It is most probably the first and only Korean Soju Bar in George Town. Hanjan is a place that serves both Korean food and alcohol. Their food menu features a selection of Korean cuisines such as Kimchi Fried Rice, Korean Rice Cakes, Stir Fried Korean Glass Noodles, as well as Meat Platter. On the other hand, the drinks menu offers a list of Korean-influenced Cocktails and Mocktails, Beers, Wines and Liquors. Some of the food is best paired with Soju and Beer. Additionally, the ambience and atmosphere of Hanjan is too great for gatherings too.
Mun Thung x Soon Huat 满堂 x 顺发
Mun Thung is the name of the eatery while Soon Huat is a long-established brand in Penang that sells alcohols and liquors. Hence, it is a place with a crossover concept for breakfast and brunch cafe with wine and cigar shop. The interior is simple and their menu is wallet-friendly. Some of the signature dishes are Roasted Pork Dry Noodle, Rendang Chicken Rice and more. Besides, they also offer snacks, toasts and buns, as well as desserts.
Haru Stationary Cafe
Haru is a minimalist Muji-inspired cafe. Apart from cafe, it is also a stationary shop especially for those who like journaling. Besides the interior design, the menu is also Japanese inspired. For instance, they are serving Poke Bowls, a series of Liege waffle, cakes and a wide variety of beverages.
Creatively framing the tallest building in Penang, KOMTAR, using the old heritage structures in George Town City. There may be only one tall tower in the heritage city, but by snapping the photos creatively, it can always be different.
This was probably shot when Penang was at the alert stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, reminding everyone to stay safe and keep social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading to others. Although it might be safer now, we still need to keep each other healthy and strong.
Jalan Kek Chuan has a row of traditional shophouses painted in colourful paints which is interesting enough for a good photoshoot. While some may disagree as it may not be the original colours of the buildings, it certainly has attracted many eyes.
Pitt Street or Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is one of the oldest roads in George Town. It was laid out after Light Street. It was named after William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister of Great Britain when Penang was founded in 1786. The street is called Koan-im-têng-chêng (观音亭前) in Hokkien which meant in front of the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Meanwhile, some locals call it Yâh-kha-kay (椰角街) which meant the street under the coconut grove. In the past, there was a large police station in front of the temple. Thus, Toā-ba-laí is another name of the street, which meant big police station. The street has been officially renamed as Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling since the 1990s.
The nickname of Pitt Street is the Street of Harmony as there are four different places of worship located within metres of one another along the street. The Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in 1801. While British administrators and Europeans resided at the northern end of Pitt Street, St. George’s Church was built in 1816. Meanwhile the Chinese built the Kong Hock Keong Temple, which is also known as the Goddess of Mercy Temple in the early 18th century. Then, the Hindus also constructed the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in 1833. The nickname also reflects the harmonious coexistence of various religions and cultures that have lived here for centuries.
As the Indian Muslim part of town, there are numerous of Indian Muslim eateries around the area. Meanwhile, there is also a row of Indian Muslim jewellery shops upon crossing Chulia Street. George Town’s money changers are a close-knit Indian Muslim community with about a third of them originating from the same village in India. Hence, there are a number of money changers along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling too.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
Kapitan Keling Mosque is the oldest and largest mosque in George Town. The Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers (East Indian Company troops) built it in 1801. The Indo-Moorish structured complex is surrounded by low walls and topped with Moghul-style copper domes. The mosque was named after the ‘Kapitan’ of the Keling (a leader of the South Indian community similar to the leader of the Chinese community), Cauder Mohuddeen Merican. It was once used as Penang’s state mosque when the construction of the Penang State Mosque at Air Itam road took place in the 1970s. The mosque was originally a small single storey brick mosque. Over the years, the mosque has been expanded many times to its present scale, the largest mosque in George Town, Penang.
St. George’s Church
St. George’s Church is a 19th century Anglican church. It is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. Convict labour from East India Company built the church in 1817. The Church was built with a combination of Neoclassical, Georgian and English Palladian architecture styles. Furthermore, the interior is pastel blue with marble floors. Besides, there is an elegant Victorian style pavilion outside the main building on the church ground as a memorial to Sir Francis Light. Hence, the St. George’s Church is one of the most impressive colonial buildings in George Town.
Goddess of Mercy Temple
The Goddess of Mercy Temple is also known as Kuan Yin Teng or Kong Hock Keong (Cantonese-Hokkien Temple). It is the oldest Chinese temple and also one of the most important temples in Penang. It was built in 1728 through the joint efforts of the early Chinese settlers, especially the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. Besides religious purposes, the temple is also used for social functions until the establishment of the Penang Chinese Town Hall. The temple was originally dedicated to Mazu, a sea goddess worshipped by the Hokkiens. Then, the temple’s main deity was changed from Mazu to Guan Yin when the temple underwent renovation in 1824. Additionally, the temple is also one of the most magnificent Chinese architecture style structures in northern Malaysia.
Penang Chinese Town Hall
Penang Chinese Town Hall was established in 1881. It was originally intended to resolve the controversy between the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. Besides, Penang’s Chinese merchants founded Penang Chinese Town Hall in order to take over the economic and social functions of the Kuan Yin Teng Temple. In the 1980s, it was rebuilt into its current 12-storey office block. Meanwhile, it also plays an active role through involvement in Chinese cultural events until today.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
The Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple was built in 1833. It is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. Moreover, it is a typical example of Hindu architecture, built in the south Indian Dravidian style. It is located on Queen Street and the back entrance is on Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). In addition, it is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Sri Muthu Mariamman, which is considered a motherly power figure, a goddess of mercy and patron deity of the peasants of southern India.
The Star Office
The Star Office is tucked within a colonial three-storey building. It was first used as a godown and a dispensary for the distribution of opium and alcohol in 1906. The property was later owned by a millionaire from Penang, Loh Boon Siew. He then opened Malaysia’s first Honda showroom within the building. In 1971, The Star (Malaysia’s most popular English-language newspaper) was founded in George Town with the building as its headquarters. Since then, the building has been known as The Star Office. After that, The Star’s headquarters was moved to Petaling Jaya and its Penang head office to Bayan Lepas. Its reporters are still using The Star Office. The building now provides space for Areca Books, the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, a resource centre and an exhibition centre.
Where to Stay
Broadway Budget Hotel
Broadway Budget Hotel is located within the Little India area and Chinatown. It is clean, tidy and includes all the necessary facilities. It offers a contemporary, quiet and comfortable place to stay. For instance, the room types cover from Standard Room to Triple Room, which could accommodate up to 5 people in a room. In addition, some of the rooms even provide views of the city or Swettenham Pier.
Red Inn Court
Red Inn Court is a boutique eco-guesthouse located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Every stay becomes a memorable experience” characterises the hospitality one can expect from Red Inn Court. They offer two main types of rooms which are King & Queen Rooms and Two & Dormitory Rooms. However, only Queen Rooms come with an ensuite shower and toilet while other rooms come with shared showers/ toilets.
What to See
Street Art: “Bullock Cart Wheel” Sculpture
The “Bullock Cart Wheel” Sculpture was installed in 2012. This sculpture at Pitt Street is based on a cartoonist Reggie Lee for the “Marking of George Town” project. The description of the sculpture is: “In the days when your money could be “as big as a bullock cart wheel”, this was a popular rest stop for the limousines of the time.”
This “Bullock Cart Wheel” sculpture provides two different historical insights. Pitt Street was where bullock carts used to park during the early 20th century. The second insight is about the ½-cent Straits Settlement coin which is an idiom in Penang Hokkien. Bullock Cart Wheel (Gu-chia-lean) means a stingy person, whose ½-cent is the size of the bullock cart wheel.
Street Art: “Tok Tok Mee” Sculpture
The “Tok Tok Mee” Sculpture is located at the junction of Pitt Street with China Street, facing the Goddess of Mercy Temple. It is captured by a cartoonist, Tang Mun Kian in the caricature for Sculpture at Work. The description of the sculpture is: “Tok tok mee is so called because hawkers would strike a ‘tok tok’ sound to signal their presence.” The sculpture tells how the itinerant hawkers of wanton mee, which is also known as tok tok mee, announce their arrival.
Gerakbudaya Bookshop is a small independent bookstore located in a row of shophouses along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Founded by Gareth Richards, a researcher, writer and editor, the bookstore opened in 2014. Apart from the large chain bookstores which offer popular titles, Gerakbudaya focuses on literary fiction, poetry, translations and titles from smaller, independent publishers. The team is very passionate about books that matter. Hence, they have a collection of over 6,000 titles in stock ranging from books about Penang, current affairs, politics, to arts and culture, lifestyle and even Southeast Asian studies. In 2018, the second bookshop is opened at Beach Street. The new Gerakbudaya Bookshop concentrates more on non-fiction titles.
What to Eat
Nasi Kandar Beratur
As its name suggests, there is always a queue at the stall. But do you know that the official name for this Nasi Kandar Beratur is Restoran Liyaqatali? It is one of the most popular nasi kandar stalls in Penang. This restaurant offers an extensive selection of dishes ranging from beef kurma, fried chicken to squid curry. Meanwhile, there are actually two different managements at the same stall. Nasi Kandar Beratur starts at 10pm until early morning while another team operates during the day.
Nasi Kandar Imigresen
Besides Nasi Kandar Beratur, there are a few spots that are not so famous but serve equally great Nasi Kandar in the city centre. For instance, Nasi Kandar Imigresen located at Lorong Pasar, off Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Just like any other Nasi Kandar, it serves fried chicken, cabbage and various curries with mild spiciness. In addition, the price is considered relatively wallet-friendly too.
Fok Kee Food Centre
Fok Kee Food Centre is a Chinese coffee shop which was previously known as Jolly Cafe. This restaurant serves Chinese cooked meals. For instance, the dishes include fish head curry, sweet & sour pork, claypot soy sauce pork and more.
Hai Beng Lor Mee
This Hainan lor mee stall claims to have been operating since 1957. It is located in Hai Beng Coffee Shop, which is across Stewart Lane from the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Their broth is the speciality that attracts lots of patrons in the area. The broth here is less sticky compared to those we usually had. In addition, it has a tangy and nice spiced taste.
Bean Sprout Cafe
Bean Sprout Cafe is located right opposite of the Goddess of Mercy Temple. This two-storey cafe has a strong rustic vibe from its exterior to interior. Though the price is slightly higher, the menu offers a wide range of western cuisines and good coffee. For instance, their best sellers include Avocado Toast 3 Ways, Avocado Pesto Spaghetti top with Avocado chips, Classic Pancake and more. Moreover, it’s an Instagram-worthy cafe to chill and hang out with friends and family.
Cafe Little Angel
This is a nice place that offers cheap local and western food. It is a small restaurant with no outside seating, no inside frills. They offer a very wide selection of Chinese dishes such as Fried Rice, Claypot Mee, Penang Laksa, Hokkien Mee, and even English Breakfast. The atmosphere is rather authentic as many Chinese locals would have their breakfast or brunch here.
Biji Biji is an ethical fashion label that respects the environment. They are committed to pushing the boundaries and curate change in the fashion industry by transforming the alternative into the norm with their handmade fashion accessories and apparels. Their materials are selected meticulously from a range of industries, including those foreign and unique to the fashion world before transforming them into beautiful, functional, and timeless designs.
Their products are intentionally made using materials recovered at their end-of-life stage from a range of industries such as faulty seat belt webbing from the car manufacturing industry, deadstock vintage kimono from the Japanese textile manufacturing industry, tarpaulin banners from the advertising industry, and needle punch carpet from the event industry.
Muni may look like a regular fashion product due to its minimalism concept, but what is unique is that they uses natural dye for their products’ colour.
Compared to using chemical dye which could be much easier and cheaper, Muni focuses on using dyes that are made from plants. And little that you can imagine is although it come from plants, it is not commercially planted to make the dye. Instead, it is made from collected dead leaves, barks, fruit skins and other parts of the nature.
We simply love its concept of minimalism, and yet full of magnanimous idea for the world.
In 2019, the founders of Xiapism rediscovered the natural dye method using tannin pigment from the mangroves to create their products. Their products are created using 100% natural dye as they believe in allowing the nature taking its course, telling the story of a forgotten colour.
INKAA strive to create beautiful products by collaborating with artisans in Malaysia, while promoting the voice of selected artisans to their clients. Every one of their products is hand-signed by its maker and their individual stories are told on their website. The partners with marginalised communities and local artisans to produce all of their products, ensuring fair wages. We love how this Malaysian brand is committed to honouring artisans while preserving Malay heritage and culture.
It is a brand that celebrates people, and appreciates the power of storytelling.
At Sayang, the makers strive to be mindful at every step of the process, from design, sourcing, production, up until the packaging the customers receive. Having mindful practices allow them to take a closer look into their existing industry and systems, and to discover new ways to be environmentally and socially conscience.
With each season, Sayang’s aim is to expand their world in a way that is most natural and authentic to who they are. The idea for Sayang was borne from a desire to create pretty, elegant pieces, but it has since become much more than that.
Sayang place a strong preference in natural fibres, including their labels and hang tags are made from post-consumer waste and are carefully printed in eco-friendly soy ink.
The road towards sustainability is a long process, but they aim to strive to discover all the possible ways in contributing positively towards the industry as a whole.
With the dangers of Covid-19 outbreak is still out there, it is best that we try to stay indoors as much as we can. On some days you can order food deliveries, and if some days you would like to cook at home and you do not want to step out from your home to do grocery shopping, you can do it online. To a certain extend, grocery shopping might still put ourselves to some risk of the virus, or maybe we may risk of not finding what we want in the store as it is out of stock. Here are eight ways we can do our grocery shopping through the clicks of our gadgets.
Bansan Penang is the old-newbie in the E-commerce space, offering groceries directly from a third-generation farm located on Penang Island.
Their service includes providing fresh vegetables through farm-to-table within the chosen delivery date to their customers. They harvest the vegetables daily to provide vegetables to every customer at its best condition. To expand their product range, Bansan Penang also source for vegetables from other reputable suppliers.
They believe in providing families with the freshest produce from their farm through the support of their farmers. Not only do they deliver the freshest produce, but they also offer quality, peace of mind and the family bond over fresh home-cooked food.
Tesco, already a regular grocery outlet for most families in Malaysia, it is available via online shopping for quite some time already. They definitely have a variety of products to shop for, and don’t remember to look for their promotions and offers.
Sunshine has been a Penang local brand name since decades ago, when it begins its store as Suiwah. It has now emerged as one of the biggest grocery stores in Penang, and moreover it offers cost-efficient products for Penangites.
Despite beginning their roots in the island of Penang, they are now delivering to mainland as well.
If you are person who is very particular about organic foods, BMS Organics is one that offers delivery to your doorstep. With multiple chains across the nation, BMS Organics offer free shipping if you order more than RM100 and above. Not only that they offer groceries, they also sell health supplements, healthy snacks and many other organic products.
Not exactly a store itself, Happy Fresh provides services to help you buy groceries from their selected partners. Among their partners include Tesco, Mercato, Giant, Mydin, Cold Storage, Aeon and more.
Happy Fresh serves as a personal shopper for you and makes the delivery to your doorstep.
Muntri Street or Lebuh Muntri is a street that leads from Penang Road to Stewart Lane at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is also the street that crosses Leith Street. The street may have been named after the Mentri of Larut, Ngah Ibrahim, son of Long Jaafar. Hence, Muntri is the old word for Mentri. However, some mentioned that Muntri was actually referring to the high ranking colonial officials that stayed in Leith Street and Muntri Street.
Cantonese associations and guilds dominate the street. There are many associations, clanhouses and a Hainanese Temple located along Muntri Street that has more than 100 years of history. According to the locals, traditional Cantonese black and white nannies were staying here as a group. Mah-cheh (妈姐) is the name for these ladies who wore white top with black silk trousers. They are a group of very professional and reliable maids who worked in the European colonial officials’ families. Therefore, some old Chinese also called this road as Mah-cheh-kay (妈姐街).
Furthermore, the first hospital for the poor, Lam Wah Ee, was founded here in 1883. Hence, Muntri Street is also known as Lâm-hoa-i īⁿ-ke (南华医院街) in Hokkien, named after the hospital that used to be here. Another Hokkien name for this street is Sin-hái-lâm-kong-si-ke (新海南公司街), which meant new Hainanese association street.
Muntri Street has one of the best-preserved facades of Straits Eclectic style houses. It is narrow but lined by exquisitely refurbished Straits Eclectic style double storey shophouses. In this recent decade, trendy boutique and budget hotels, modern cafes and street art has took over that adds beautiful colours and vibrance to this street.
Hainan Temple 天后宫
Penang Hainan Temple is also known as Thean Hou Kong Temple. The Hainanese community established the temple in 1866. Thean Hou Kong temple is dedicated to the Taoist Deity Mazu (妈祖), who is believed to be the protector of seafarers. The temple was then moved to its current location on Muntri Street in 1895 with the fundings and donations collected from the faithful devotees.
In 1925, Penang Kheng Chew Hooi Kuan Clan Association (槟州琼州会馆) was formed with the temple as its headquarters. The name Kheng Chew is a reference to the village on Hainan Island where the temple’s founders originated. The association established Aik Hua School in 1955. The school was constructed next to the Hainan Temple. Then, the name of the association was changed to the Hainan Clan Association in 1991 in order to embrace a wider ethnic identity.
The temple is built in the Hainanese style. Moreover, the elaborate stone carvings on the front of the building which were created by craftsmen were brought over from China in 1995 to mark the centenary of the temple’s construction.
Wooi Ning Wooi Koon 会甯会馆
Wooi Ning Wooi Koon is a Cantonese district association located next to Aik Hua School. Now, the ground floor of the building has been turned into a business premise, which is a textile wholesaler.
Penang Goldsmith Association
Another name for Penang Goldsmith Association is “Penang Ta Kam Hong”. It is the biggest Chinese goldsmith association in Malaysia. Besides, founded in 1832, it is also the oldest goldsmith association in Penang. The members from the association are mostly goldsmiths of Cantonese descent who came from Guangdong Province in southern China. Meanwhile, the building also serves as the guild’s temple, Voo Cheng Koo Mew. It was built in 1903 to worship the patron deity of goldsmiths, Wu Ching.
Penang Sao Lim Athletic Association
Penang Sao Lim Athletic Association is a martial arts association in Penang. This association was established by the Buddhist monk, Monnik Sik Koh Sum. It was founded in 1956 to teach the martial arts to the locals. The term “Sao Lim” is the Hokkien pronunciation for Shaolin Kung Fu (少林功夫).
Leong See Kah Miew Old Building 梁氏家庙
Leong See Kah Miew is the clan association of the Chinese holding the surname Leong. The name translated as Leong Clan Ancestral Temple. It was founded by people surnamed Leong, who hailed from Guangdong in 1871. The old clan temple was used until 1966 when the building was too old for repair. Thus, the three-storey association premise has moved to Perak Road and officially opened in 2020.
Koo Suo Kwong Choon Tong 姑苏广存堂
Koo Suo Kwong Choon Tong is a Cantonese tea shop and restaurant association. It occupies a double-storey townhouse at Muntri Street.
Where to Stay
Modern Hotel Georgetown
Modern Hotel Georgetown is a newly renovated hotel. It is residing in a classy heritage Art Nouveau building which was a budget hotel. In fact, this Instagram-worthy hotel includes a mixture of vintage and modern look with a classy black and white interior.
The building was built in 1920 and has served as retail shops, with one of its significant business occupied by an optician. In fact, the hotel has preserved one of its signage ‘The World Optical Co’ at the storefront. If you have ever noticed, the second floor of the building has always been ‘Modern Hotel’.
One century later, the whole building is refurbished with its heritage architecture preserved, and they had their grand opening in January 2020. The hotel offers 5 types of room, ranging from Superior Single Room to Deluxe Double Room Bathtub with Balcony. With its strategic location and spacious room, it is one of the best staycations in George Town.
The Southern Boutique Hotel
The Southern Boutique Hotel is housed in a double-storey heritage building that was built in 1924. This contemporary boutique hotel uses white colour as their main design concept. For instance, the clean lines and classic elements give a strong vibe on the grand elegance of the British colonial era. The hotel provides 3 types of room, such as Superior Double Room, Deluxe Double Room, and Family Room.
Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel
Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel is a modern hostel that is housed in a colonial-style building in the historical district. Additionally, the hostel is a 8 Times Winner of Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence Award Book Direct for the lowest rates guaranteed. This hostel offers 7 types of room, ranging from private rooms, mixed dormitory rooms to only female dormitory rooms. Though the rooms are not spacious, the hostel provides great facilities and good breakfast.
Muntri Grove was originally a row of 10 modest houses built as living quarters for the Mah-cheh. These double-storey houses were built in the 19th century. Then, in 2013, restoration works started. The interior of the hotel uses minimal palettes to create contemporary lines which provide a light and airy ambiance to the rooms. However, there is only one type of room here, which are Deluxe King Rooms that cater to couples who want a littler romantic experience.
Muntri Mews is a collection of Edwardian era buildings that was transformed into a contemporary and affordable luxury accommodation located in the heart of George Town. This hotel combines both antique and modern furnishings while preserving the Straits Eclectic aesthetic. They offer three main types of room, which are Mews Standard Room, Terrace Suite, and Loft Suite.
Muntri House Heritage Homestay
Muntri House sets in a traditional Chinese clan house. This homestay provides basic, comfortable air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi. Furthermore, they offer 6 types of room, ranging from private rooms to dormitory rooms.
What to See
Street Art: “One Leg Kicks All” Sculpture
The “One Leg Kicks All” steel-rod sculpture at Muntri Street is based on a caricature by Tang Mun Kian. This sculpture portrays the characteristics of a Mah-cheh (妈姐), or some called them as “Amah” (阿嬷). As their jobs and responsibilities cover the whole work from cooking, cleaning to caring for children, they called themselves “Yat-keok-tet” which means “one leg kicks all” in Cantonese.
Street Art: “Win Win Situation” Sculpture
The “Win Win Situation” sculpture is based on the artwork by Julian “Lefty” Kam. Muntri Street was the commercial trading link between the Orang Kaya Mantri or Ruler of Larut, and the Chinese traders of Penang who controlled the mining and melting of tin ore. This sculpture portrays a Chinese trader called Tauke greeting the ruler of Larut, Orang Kaya, before making deal of tin trading.
Mural: “Little Girl in Blue” aka “Kungfu Girl”
The “Little Girl in Blue” is another name for “Kungfu Girl”. It is an amazing street mural by Ernest Zacharevic. The model for the mural was apparently an eight-year-old girl at an art school. The face expression as well as the light on her clothes and hair making it very lively. Besides, the size of the mural is very impressive and the windows are a part of the art piece too.
Mural: “Big Mouth” by Gabriel Pitcher
The “Big Mouth” mural by Gabriel Pitcher is painted above an archway at the Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel. This mural is very creative as Gabriel makes excellent use of an awkward space above and to the sides of an archway.
What to Eat
Tai Buan Porridge 大满清香粥
Tai Buan Porridge serves one of the classic Teochew porridge. Teochew porridge is served as a banquet of vegetables, egg, fish and meats with plain rice porridge. For instance, some of the must-order dishes include braised pork, pork belly, braised duck, fried egg with preserved turnips, and more. As it is quite popular, the place is crowded during the peak hours.
Gala House Restaurant and Bar
Gala House is a retro-themed restaurant and bar that started its business in 2013. The menu features two different sets for lunch and dinner respectively. It offers Asian Western fusion cuisines. For instance, some of their special dishes include Clams in Wine & Fresh Herb Broth, Kimchi Salmon Spaghetti, Cheddar Ranch, Orang Kaya Coffee and more.
Sri Wangi Selera Ibunda
Sri Wangi Selera Ibunda is a restaurant that offers Malay food. The owner is a pair of husband and wife which the husband is from Bangladesh and the wife is from Indonesia. They serve authentic Malay food such as Nasi Goreng Biasa, Ayam Merah, Ayam Penyet, and more.
Originated from the UK, Emily’s Steakhouse has two branches in Malaysia, one in Penang and the other one in Kuala Lumpur. Previously located at Victoria Street, the restaurant expanded and moved to Muntri Street in September 2020. With the perfect tenderness and taste, this place serves one of the best steaks in town.
Mews Cafe is most probably one of the finest cafes in Muntri Street. It serves authentic Malay food in cozy restaurant settings. They prepare their food with fresh local ingredients as well as homemade sauces and spices. However, the price is slightly expensive. Some of their must-try dishes are Nasi Lemak, Beef Rendang, Ikan Sambal, Chai Creme Brulee and more.
Previously known as Behind 50, Hungry Chef is a newly open cafe that serves Western cuisine. The cafe has a strong rustic and vintage vibe as it’s decorated with a lot of grandma’s house antique. Hungry Chef serves Chicken Chop, Spaghetti, Burgers and more! In addition, it opens from Tuesday to Sunday, 4pm to 12am.
Seven Skulls is a cocktail bar located at Muntri Street. It is a lovely and classy place where you can enjoy chilled beer and occasional live band. It is not too noisy and thus, the vibes and energy here is suitable for networking and gathering.
Just a few doors next to Seven Skulls, Mish Mash is also a cocktail bar located at Muntri Street. It provides a welcoming mood, and casual, old-school European-style vibe. Mish Mash is renowned for cocktails. On the other hand, they also serve dinner, single malt whisky as well as craft beers.
Cafe De Ohana is a dog-friendly cafe that can accommodate small to medium breed canines. Ohana is a Hawaiian term meaning “family”, hence, the cafe hopes to create a warm, homey and cozy atmosphere.
Moreover, pets are not just a source of entertainment or an addition to the household, but they are actually our family. You can’t deny the reality that there is a special bond between dogs and pet owners. Thus, it is easy to see why dogs have been dubbed “man’s best friend”.
“As dog lovers and also having 8 dogs as pets, we uphold the spirit of loving dogs and also want to promote healthy eating among fidos.”
Co-founders of Cafe De Ohana, Junyang and Jia Wen
Emphasizing on the importance of providing healthy dog food, they adhere to the use of natural ingredients and handmade dog food. Furthermore, the co-founders are equipped with relevant knowledge through prior experience and training overseas.
The entire interior focuses on clean, simple lines, minimalism and functionality. The wall painted in light, muted colours and light-theme wood as their furniture on the second floor provide a pleasant and relaxed environment. Customers are requested to take off their shoes to enter the upper floor in order to ensure hygiene.
Besides, the ground floor is designed in a modern and simple style. Part of the dining area is decorated with picnic style and some antique which make the corner Instagrammable. In short, the cafe is separated into 2 spaces: ground floor is opened to diners while the upper floor is meant for fidos and dog lovers to mingle.
Cafe De Ohana’s menu covers rice bowl, spaghetti and freshly baked tartlet. Some of the best-sellers are Tri-colour Chicken Rice Bowl (stir fried chicken cubes with soy sauce, stir fried cabbage, julienned omelette), Tonkatsu Rice with Chicken, Spicy Salmon Rice Bowl, Spicy Asian Style Spaghetti, Carbonara Spaghetti and more. Meanwhile, Oreo Milo and Strawberry Creamy Fruity are their signature beverages.
In addition, there is also a healthy menu specifically crafted for dogs. Cafe De Ohana also plans to curate more healthy food for dogs with the use of Chinese medicine as ingredients in the future.
Watch the video to get to know more!
Address: 302A, Jalan Tun Dr. Awang, South Home, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Business hours: Wednesday – Monday 11.00am – 9.00pm (Closed on Tuesday)
“Jom, yum cha weyy!” Is this the way you invite your friends and family to hang out? With the concept of creating a place where diners can have a good bonding time with their friends and family, Yum Cha Tea Parlour was established in December 2019.
“得闲饮茶” is pronounced as “Dak Han Yum Cha” in Cantonese, which means “let’s meet up during your free time”. Having prior experience in the field of western-style food & beverages, the co-founders ambition to try something different.
“We incorporate the vibe of Eastern and Oriental, from interior design to our carefully crafted menu. We hope to create a modern and cozy space where people can gather and enjoy Chinese cuisines.”
Co-founder of Yum Cha Tea Parlour, Vince
Tucked in the core zone of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, the interior design of Yum Cha Tea Parlour was inspired by Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng. Referring to the designs and details from Britain, Taiwan and Shanghai in the 50s and 60s, the restaurant remained the classic floor tiles.
Using retro dark green as the main colour palette, it focuses on modern yet vintage design styles. Besides, the tables are specially customised with drawers, which were inspired by mahjong tables.
Yum Cha Tea Parlour focuses on modernised Chinese cuisines. Inspired by Shanghainese styles of cooking, their signatures include Shanghainese Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) and Pan Fried Pork Buns (Sheng Jian Bao). Moreover, the menu covers comfort food such as rice and noodle dishes.
For instance, some of their must-try include Shanghai Noodle Soup (rich pork broth, braised pork belly slices, thin noodles, topped with scallions), Golden Crab Noodle (crab meat, crab roe, crispy pork lard, thin noodles, topped with scallions), Minchi Rice, and Mapo Tofu Rice.
Emphasizing on bringing out the better experience of savouring contemporary Chinese cuisines, Yun Cha insists on hand-making Xiao Long Bao and Sheng Jian Bao. Furthermore, the signature beverages are H.K Style Milk Tea, Yuan Yang, and H.K Style Lemon Tea. Besides, they actually start serving cocktails at night too.
Watch the video below to know the full story!
Address: 84, Church Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
Monday – Friday 11.00am – 9.00pm (Closed on Thursday)