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 tourist visiting the island.


Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Halab is actually the Arabic name for Aleppo which was the largest Syrian city before the Syrian Civil War. However, today Aleppo would probably be the second-largest city in Syria after its capital Damascus. Aleppo is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and may have been inhabited since the 6th millennium BC.

Aleppine cuisine has a very wide selection of dishes because of its diverse communities thanks to the contribution of food traditions of Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Circassians, Arab Christians and Turcomans.

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

We started off our Middle Eastern culinary journey at Halab with a refreshing mixed appetiser of Muhammarah (spicy red pepper dip), Tabbouleh (a Levantine vegetarian salad), Baba Ghanoush (mashed eggplant with parsley, green and red pepper), Arabic salad and Warak Enab (rice and minced beef wrapped with grape leaves).

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Next was Arayes, a typical Lebanese meat-stuffed pita. Minced lamb mixed with parsley and herbs was packed in pitas and baked to perfection. These dishes were served with a creamy garlic sauce on the side. We tried both Arayes lamb – a serving with cheese and the other without. Both were equally satisfying.

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

The grilled dishes were simply delicious too. The charcoal-grilled chicken marinated with lemon and black pepper sauce was juicy and tender.

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Succulent lamb chops served with French fries and garlic sauce were just so good. We also tucked in a plate of mixed grill of lamb kebabs, lamb cubes, Shish Tawook and chicken.

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Even after all that, we even had room for a half kg platter of lamb kebabs.

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

Flavourful Mandi rice with lamb was served with tomato-chili sauce on the side. The lamb was tender and aromatic long grain rice was spiced with herbs and spices.

Halab, Penang © Adrian Cheah

A wonderful meal becomes memorable when shared with good friends and loved ones. Celebrating my 51st birthday at Halab that evening was indeed a special moment – good food, great friends and even an apple yoghurt cheesecake.

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Halab
381, Chulia Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
T: +604-251 9550
Opens: 11am-4am daily (yes, till 4am in the morning to cater to Middle-Easterners’ fondness for socialising and shisha-smoking throughout the night).

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Written and photographed by Adrian Cheah
© All rights reserved
January 2019