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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.

Emperor Villa's "kochabi" set meals good for lunch or dinner

Emperor Villa © Adrian Cheah

Emperor Villa, a family-run business offering accommodation and dining first opened its doors to the public in September 2019. It took two years to complete the construction of its rustic villas complete with a spacious swimming pool, nestled among nine acres of greenery in the hills of Sungai Ara, Penang.

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A sensationally divine 6-course dinner at Salsas Penang

Salsas Penang © Adrian Cheah

Right off the bat, I have to tell you that I am going to be biased. David Kaw is a close friend of the family for ages and we are all huge fans of his culinary creations. Too many birthday dinners, wedding anniversaries and special occasions have been celebrated at Salsas Penang. And every time, David has taken great care of us making each event memorable.

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Penang's famous Kim Leng Loh Mee – a magical, gloopy bowl of wonder

Kim Leng Loh Mee © Adrian Cheah

The constant stream of customers to Kim Leng Loh Mee in Perak Road indicates its popularity among locals. Located at Joo Huat Restaurant, this famous lor mee stall is only a stone's throw away from the bustling Perak Road morning market.

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Hachiban Izakaya, more than just a typical Japanese pub

Hachiban Izakaya © Adrian Cheah

Located at Jalan Kelawai, Hachiban Izakaya serves more than just sake and pub grub. "Hachiban" means "No. 8" and "Izakaya" stands for a casual venue to chill out after work for drinks, similar to that of an Irish pub or a Spanish tapas bar.

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Middle Eastern offerings at Halab in Chulia Street

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Halab, tucked in a bungalow along the bustling Chulia Street in the heart of George Town offers authentic Middle-eastern cuisine. It is no surprise that the Syrian and Arab communities in George Town frequent Halab, forming their base clientele alongside Penangites and tourists visiting the island.

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Ice kacang, Penang's all-time ubiquitous but favourite dessert

ice kacang © Adrian Cheah

Ice kacang, the mother of all Malaysian desserts, is also known as ang tau s'ng (Hokkien for iced red beans) or ABC (ais batu campur in Malay). Although “kacang” means beans in Malay, this jubilant offering contains more than just ice and beans. Brimming in a bowl, the colourful concoction is made of a tower of shaved ice swirled with a mixture of red beans, leong fan (grass jelly or cincau in Malay), creamy sweet corn, chewy tapioca pearls and translucent attap chee (nipa palm fruit), smothered with at least two types of syrup and evaporated milk. You can further top it with a scoop of ice cream (especially durian, making it even more sinful).

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Bee Koh Moy, a healthy bowl of goodness

Bee Koh Moy © Adrian Cheah

In Penang, Bee Koh Moy (Hokkien for black glutinous rice porridge, Bubur Pulut Hitam in Malay) is often served topped with fresh coconut milk. The yin-yang-looking combination of mildly sweetened black rice porridge drizzled with a slightly salty creamy white coconut milk sauce is a scrumptious treat. The rich and creamy dish, perfumed with aromatic pandan (screw pine) leaves, can be served warm or chilled. This offering is usually enjoyed for breakfast, at tea time or as a dessert after a meal; it is best savoured in small portions as it is hearty and filling.

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The good ol' classic taste of Penang's Hokkien mee

Hokkien mee © Adrian Cheah

In 1989, Mr Lim Chong Beng, the only son in the family, took over the family Hokkien mee business from his parents when they were too old to carry on. A bowl was then selling for a mere 80 cents.

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Hills and Heritage of Penang – the durian experience

Flowering Frenzy

durian flowers © Adrian Cheah

Every year after the hot and dry spell in January and February, durian trees in Balik Pulau will burst into a flowering frenzy in early March. About 90 days later, some durians will start to drop, paving the way for the durian season of feasting from May till July, sometimes stretching even to August.

If there is a hot and dry season in July and August, the durian trees will flower once again for another smaller harvest at the end of the year. However this common cycles have seen some disruption over recent years.

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Jungles that hide Penang’s forgotten colonial dams

 forgotten colonial dams © Adrian Cheah

The dams of Cherok To’ Kun and Bukit Seraya continue to stand amid encroaching forests in secret testimony to the dedication of their builders and operators from a bygone era.

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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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EMILY Darling Cafe bakes delectable pastries and indulgent desserts

EMILY Darling Cafe © Adrian Cheah

A fortunate stroke of serendipity can lead one down an unfamiliar path to new beginnings. Little did Danny Yeong, a former optician and Marcus Tan, a graphic designer, realise that by joining a sourdough baking class in March 2021 by Old Man Teh in Kuala Lumpur would lead them to the opening of EMILY Darling Cafe three months later.

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