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All about Penang & more

Penang today is very much an amalgam of the old and the new – a bustling port, a heritage city and an industrial base. Perhaps it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world. For sheer variety of locales, cultures and foods, Penang is hard to beat. Here are stories about Penang and more.

Stitching Through Hardship: A Nyonya's War-Time Chronicle

Emily © Adrian Cheah

At the Church of the Assumption, nestled amidst the charming streets of George Town, the hearts of Louis Michael Martin and Emily Elizabeth Surin became forever entwined. Their love story, like a cherished melody, found its harmonious crescendo on that memorable day of 7 August 1926. Officiating their marriage was Rev. Fr. P. Lerond. The church must have looked different from what we see today as it underwent a major renovation in 1928 when two wings were added.

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Auntie Gaik Lean Old School Eatery – Chinese Peranakan cuisine cooked with love

Auntie Gaik Lean © Adrian Cheah

Having been born into a Chinese Peranakan family, I often find myself leaning towards other cuisines – be it Chinese, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Continental, Mexican, Indian or Malay – when dining out, unless I am hosting guests from abroad who crave for Nyonya cuisine. If time permits, I will roll up my sleeves and whip up a Nyonya feast, ensuring that my guests leave Penang with a lasting impression of the vibrant and distinct flavours that Nyonya dishes are imbued with.

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Learn how to make authentic Nyonya Jiu Hu Char

Jiu Hu Char © Adrian Cheah

“Jiu hu” is Hokkien for “cuttlefish” and “char” means “fry”. Thus, Jiu Hu Char means “fried cuttlefish”. Although the shredded cuttlefish is the star ingredient (providing a potent umami flavour), there is more in that dish than just cuttlefish. The ingredients for this popular Nyonya offering consist of jiu hu si (dried shredded cuttlefish), yambean, carrots, cabbage, pork belly, mushrooms, onions and garlic.

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Richard Rivalee brings you delicious pork-free Nyonya cuisine

Richard Rivalee Nyonya Cuisine © Adrian Cheah

I truly believe that if one desires to live a purpose driven life, one has to wear one's heart on one's sleeve and allow passion to fuel the journey. One such brave man I know is Richard Rivalee, always smiling and bubbling with gaiety.

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Scrumptiously healthy breakfast offerings at EMILY Darling Cafe

EMILY Darling Cafe © Adrian Cheah

EMILY Darling Cafe starts operations at 8:00 am. It was only a natural progression that the cafe added some breakfast options to its list of tempting pastries and cakes. I was there that Saturday morning, 21 May 2022, the first morning that three breakfast offerings were made available. Staying at E&O Hotel that weekend, I had a pleasant stroll along Penang Road to the cafe.

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Mouth-watering 3-course set meals at Lumiére Restaurant

Lumiére Restaurant © Adrian Cheah

Lumiére Restaurant is a cozy, passion-led, innovative dining establishment in the heart of George Town (on the same street as the famous Teochew cendol stall off Penang Road). Led by a husband and wife team, Chef Jackson Yee and general manager Eunice, the restaurant focuses on quality ingredients, fresh flavours and eye-arresting presentations.

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Lotuss Nyonya Kitchen – where maximalist style meets maximum flavours

Lotuss Nyonya Kitchen © Adrian Cheah

A rendezvous with friends should always set the stage for a fun-filled outing. However, as true-blue Penangites, our palates demand nothing less than something seriously ho-chiak (delicious in Hokkien), the kind that commands attention above all else. This must be closely followed by the thrifty wisdom of value for money. Moreover, if an attractive ambience is coupled with warm friendly service, the escapade would indeed be a memorable one. Lotuss Nyonya Kitchen, located in the heart of George Town, seems to have it all.

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The culinary legacy of the Nyonyas

Nyonya cooking © Adrian Cheah

Historical records suggest that when Chinese migrants arrived in then Malaya, they brought with them several culinary styles, among them Hakka, Hainan, Foochow, Canton and others. One style of cooking which metamorphosed out of these 'prototypes' is known today as Nyonya or Chinese Peranakan cuisine, a combination of Chinese and Malay flavours.

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Savour the titillating essence of Nyonya cooking at Nyonya Breeze Desire

Nyonya Breeze © Adrian Cheah

Penang is synonymous with Nyonya cuisine and many locals would have Chinese Peranakan parentage. This means they would have tasted exquisite Nyonya cooking prepared by their grandmothers, mothers and aunties, and for some, even uncles. With this in mind, it would be quite impossible to please their palate simply because they would always compare similar dishes served elsewhere to those prepared at home. Any Nyonya restaurants that intends to out-gun grandma's recipes would be engaged in a challenging endeavour.

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CRC Restaurant – a culinary icon among Penangites

CRC Restaurant © Adrian Cheah

In the 1900s, a group of Chinese sports enthusiasts established the Penang Chinese Recreation Club, a heritage clubhouse. Located at its premises in Victoria Green are two dining outlets – CRC Restaurant and CRC Victoria Cafe. Situated across the road from CRC is the "new" CRC Chinese Restaurant, sharing the same building as the North Malaya Cheah Si Chong Soo. Today, both the "old" and "new" CRC Restaurants are popular choices among Penangites for family meals, birthday celebrations as well as wedding and corporate dinners.

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The delicious 4-course set lunch at Le Venue

Le Venue © Adrian Cheah

My friends and I had a wonderful birthday celebration for Dorothy Wang at Le Venue. The hearty four courses in the set lunch were all elegantly plated, rendering a visual feast whetting the appetite. As always, Chef Petr Fehér's creations using quality ingredients were truly scrumptious. Let us take a closer look at each course.

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Morpheus Restaurant Penang, making culinary dreams come true

Morpheus Restaurant Penang © Adrian Cheah

Morpheus Restaurant Penang is located at Lorong Abu Siti in the bustling city of George Town. It first opened its doors to the public in April 2023 by head chef and owner Andy Lai. Using top quality ingredients, each dish is crafted to showcase the coupling of culinary artistry and elegance. Here is an account of my inaugural dining experience at Morpheus.

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