24 October 2016
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion (left) is painted in traditional pastel green. Coconut ice cream from My Own Café (right) is delicious! Photo: HKEJ
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion (left) is painted in traditional pastel green. Coconut ice cream from My Own Café (right) is delicious! Photo: HKEJ

My Singapore and Malaysia trip 2016: Penang

At first, I didn’t particularly care to go to Penang, because of the broiling heat.

Yet I am glad I gave it a try this time. I have finally begun to appreciate this Malaysian state.

Setting foot inside a suite at Seven Terraces — the renowned boutique hotel — in George Town, I immediately feel so relaxed.

Dinner at the Kebaya Restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel is Nyonya-style, and service is excellent.

Since it is still early after dinner, we head to Reading Room at China House for dessert.

As the name suggests, there are plenty of books. Visitors can also make spontaneous creations using the crayons and drawing paper provided. Don’t forget the exhibition upstairs, as well.

From a collection of colorful cakes, I help myself to a slice of passion fruit cake. It has a perfect balance of refreshing sour and sweet tastes.

The next day, we go to My Own Café on Cannon Street for asam laksa.

We place an order for eight bowls, and the chef takes his time cooking them, one by one.

The long-awaited laksa is quite impressive, as it has very intense flavors.

The coconut ice cream is worth trying, too.

No one will believe you visited Penang if you didn’t have a bite of durian.

But it is early April, and the fruit is not yet in season.

We try two shops, but both are so-so. How disappointing!

On top of eating, we also keep ourselves busy shopping for local goodies.

Salted fish, dried shrimp and dried longan cannot be missed.

Diced salted fish would go well with stir-fried Chinese kale or fried rice with chicken.

Shrimp from Penang are not big, but what attracts me most is that they are not like those from Thailand, which are overly processed with food additives or preservatives.

The light natural orange color of the Penang shrimp is comforting.

The last time I ate premium, unsweetened dried longan from Thailand was almost a decade ago, so I am delighted to see it in Penang.

Without giving it a second thought, I pick up 1 kilogram of dark-colored longan. It is just 80 Malaysian ringgit (US$20)!

Most importantly, traveling is about getting to know a place.

To understand Penang better, we visit the Pinang Peranakan Mansion for a glimpse of the island’s historical Peranakan culture.

An exclusive free guided tour is available for a group of five or more visitors.

The tour helps you understand the background of the museum, each of the rooms and the story of each exhibit.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 5.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Seven Terraces is where my family stayed in Penang. Photo: HKEJ

We had dessert at the Reading Room in China House. Photo: HKEJ

Columnist of the Hong Kong Economic Journal

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