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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.

E&O Hotel, timeless charm of the British colonial era

E&O Hotel © Adrian Cheah

The Eastern & Oriental, popularly known as the E&O, is an all-suite luxury hotel that exudes a timeless charm of the British colonial era.

Located along Jalan Farquhar with a seafront in the heart of George Town, the hotel has an interesting history established by the famed Sarkies brothers – Martin, Tigran, Aviet and Arshak. Although the family name was Ter Woskanian, the brothers adopted their father's first name Sarkies as their surname. Their firm Sarkies Brothers dominated the hospitality trade in the East for nearly half a century.

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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, aformer 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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Le Petit Four Patisserie serving little wonders of pleasure

Le Petit Four Patisserie © Adrian Cheah

When I was in France, I was bowled over by the pâtisseries, offering delicate beauties that were truly culinary works of art. Sipping a creamy cup of cappuccino while savouring a freshly baked croissant or a slice of the rich, decedent opera cake was indeed a heavenly experience.

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Moi, comforting rice-based porridge to warm the soul

congee, moi © Adrian Cheah

If the truth be known, a bowl of piping-hot plain white moi (congee in Hokkien) is unpretentious and is as bland as ever. Yet through the millennia, it has become a comfort food that has no equal. Moi has become the food of love, health and of the home for millions. At times, I marvel at how food this simple can be elevated to taste so deliciously divine.

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Never Forgetting Balik Pulau – exploring an alluring, rustic village in Penang across time

Josephine Choo
Photography, design and layout by Adrian Cheah

Never Forgetting Balik Pulau © Adrian Cheah

"Never Forgetting Balik Pulau" is part memoir, part guide. The author, after spending her entire youth in the village, accumulated a bagful of tales. Exploratory trips back gave credence to past memories but gradually, a comprehensive guide with maps to the village evolved.

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Sanctum sanctorums of the Thai and Burmese communities

Dhammikarama Burmese Temple © Adrian Cheah

In 1845, a large endowment of land in the Pulau Tikus area was made to the Theravada Buddhists, principally Thai and Burmese, whose importance is recorded in local street names to this day. Today, the extensive lands surrounding the Thai Wat Chaiyamangalaram are home to a small and thriving kampong of about thirty families (approximately 120 persons) of Thai Chinese and Hindu Indians. (The Changing Perceptions of Waqf, as Social, Cultural and Symbolic Capital in Penang, Judith Nagata)

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All-day breakfast at the gorgeous La Maison d’Antiques

La Maison d’Antiques © Adrian Cheah

La Maison d’Antiques, French for "The House of Antiques" is no ordinary antique shop. Unlike many antique shops that are packed to the brim with items for sale, La Maison d’Antiques elegantly curates the items into alluring dining halls. It is as if you have just entered a château or villa in the charming French countryside to indulge in an all-day breakfast affair. Yes, the breakfast menu stretches right up to 9:00 pm.

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The Maker – offering eye-candy temptations of sweet treats and pastries

The Maker © Adrian Cheah

The Maker, located along upper Beach Street in George Town, first opened its doors to the public in March 2020. It offers fabulous-looking desserts and pastries from shortcakes to croissants and from tarts to breads. It is a heaven for those who relish sweet treats. There is a display glass counter that flaunts lovely beauties unapologetically. Let us dive in and take a closer look at some of The Maker's popular desserts.

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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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Kuala Muda fishing village and whispering market

Where fisher folk keep alive a most quaint and unusual tradition of bidding

Kuala Muda whispering market © Adrian Cheah

The political boundary between the states of Penang and Kedah is partly defined by a majestic age-old gift of nature. This is the magnificent Sungai Muda river which meanders quietly but imposingly from the Ulu Muda rainforests deep in the interior of peninsular Malaysia towards the Straits of Malacca.

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Inventive roti canai sarang burung in Balik Pulau

Roti Canai Sarang Burung © Adrian Cheah

Being a popular dish among Penangites and Malaysians at large, roti canai or roti paratha is a flaky, moreish flatbread enjoyed any time of the day. Made with flour, water, salt, a little sugar and fat, the mixture is kneaded into a dough and allowed to rest. It is then divided and rolled into palm-size balls. The rested dough ball is stretched; held at a corner, it is then flung in the air onto the oiled work surface twice or thrice, stretching it paper thin before folding to obtain a layered texture.

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The Kapitan Keling – a mosque rich in history

Kapitan Keling Mosque © Adrian Cheah

The Kapitan Keling Mosque Kapitan Keling Mosque along Jalan Kapitan Keling (once Pitt Street) is a monumental structure crowned by copper domes. This is the largest historic mosque in George Town, founded around 1800.

The name of the mosque was taken from the Kapitan Kelings, people who were appointed leaders of the South Indian community by the British.

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