Twenty ways to buy lo­cal

When it comes to eating, drink­ing and buy­ing lo­cal, Pe­nang has a wealth of op­tions – at the very least, the vast ma­jor­ity of the is­land’s cof­fee stalls and trin­ket stores are lo­cally owned and op­er­ated. With such a splen­dourous ar­ray of op­tions avail­able,

Time Out Penang Visitors Guide - - Contents -

1 Bon Ton at Chi­naHouse

153 Le­buh Pan­tai, Ge­orge Town (+604 263 7299/www. chi­nahouse.com.my). Daily, 9am-11pm. Chi­naHouse has been a Pe­nang main­stay since it opened its doors in 2011. The city-block-long café, restau­rant, bar and gallery re­cently added an im­pres­sively cu­rated shop to its first floor. The Bon Ton shop sells knick­knacks, books, scarves and fur­ni­ture from lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ar­ti­sans, with prices rang­ing from RM20 to over RM300. The ad­ja­cent art gallery is equally im­pres­sive, shin­ing the spot­light on the cre­ative works of con­tem­po­rary, up-and­com­ing Malaysian tal­ents. The gallery changes roughly ev­ery month, and the art within is usu­ally for sale. If you’re look­ing to make a sig­nif­i­cant pur­chase, this is def­i­nitely the place to stop in and take a look around.

2 Mar­ket Lane Tuak Shop (Kedai Tuak Lorong Pasar)

At the in­ter­sec­tion of Lorong Pasar and Lorong Muda. Daily from 9am. Tuak, or palm wine, is a bev­er­age of choice among Pe­nang’s lo­cal In­dian pop­u­la­tion. Shop owner Deva has been mak­ing the po­tent al­co­hol for five years, us­ing co­conut trees from Ni­bong Tebal on the main­land as his pri­mary source of ma­te­ri­als. Made through a process of fer­men­ta­tion us­ing a co­conut palm flower in a bam­boo re­cep­ta­cle, this all-nat­u­ral prod­uct has a slightly milky con­sis­tency with a sweet af­ter­taste. For just RM2 a glass, it is def­i­nitely worth a try. If you’re look­ing to en­ter­tain a din­ner party with this in­ter­est­ing lo­cal flavour, not to worry: Deva of­fers take­away con­tain­ers as well.

3 The Daily Dose

36 Lorong Ste­wart, Ge­orge Town (+604 251 9168/www.face­book.com/ TheDai­lyDoseCafe). Mon-Thu, 9am-8pm; Fri-Sun, 9am-10pm. The Daily Dose has cho­sen a fit­ting name for it­self for two rea­sons: Firstly, their baris­tas are some of the most tal­ented on the is­land, and will get you hooked in no time to a daily fix of their po­tent brews. Sec­ondly, Chef Lois comes up with a cre­ative new spe­cial nearly ev­ery day, which she writes on the ev­er­chang­ing chalk­board menu each morn­ing. Chef Lois vis­its the Camp­bell Street Mar­ket daily to pick up the fresh­est of lo­cal in­gre­di­ents for her spe­cial of the day, which has pre­vi­ously in­cluded com­fort foods like curry chicken, se­same gin­ger chicken and steamed prawn dumplings – a crowd favourite. Other de­lec­ta­ble choices in­clude the stewed pork and the House BLT.

4 Nuk­leus cloth­ing

Avail­able at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions (www.nuk­leusshop.com). Pur­chas­ing Nuk­leus cloth­ing is a great way to go lo­cal while sup­port­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. These su­per­soft T-shirts and un­der­wear are ex­clu­sively made with high-qual­ity, eco-friendly ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing bam­boo and or­ganic cot­ton. The Pe­nang-based com­pany over­sees the cloth­ing pro­duc­tion process ev­ery step of the way to en­sure sus­tain­able prac­tices are be­ing fol­lowed. It doesn’t stop just there; a por­tion of ev­ery Nuk­leus sale goes to­wards sup­port­ing Malaysia’s World Wide Fund for Na­ture (WWF). Not only are Nuk­leus in­ti­mates com­fort­able, they are also af­ford­able: shirts start from just RM30.

5 Bran et Daguet

3A-G-2 Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tan­jung Pi­nang, Tan­jung Tokong (+604 898 1755/branetdaguet.com). Mon-Thu, 10.30am-9.30pm; Fri-Sun, 10.30am-10pm. Bran­don Tan, the Pe­nang­born founder of the de­signer cloth­ing line Bran et Daguet, has al­ways loved the idea of wear­able art. He re­mem­bers be­ing young and look­ing at his aun­ties’ beau­ti­ful dresses and mag­a­zines, ad­mir­ing the sheer artistry of the fash­ion world. At age 30 he turned his pas­sion into a re­al­ity, bring­ing high fash­ion to Pe­nang with one-of-a-

kind dresses, cheongsams, jack­ets and other for­mal­wear. In­flu­enced by both Pe­nang’s rich fash­ion his­tory and Euro­pean de­sign­ers, Tan’s line is re­mark­ably mod­ern, luxe and de­serv­ing of a visit. Prices start at RM899.

6 Maliia Bak­ery

114 Jalan Trans­fer, Ge­orge Town (+604 227 1106/www.mali­iabak­ery.com). Daily, 8am-11pm. When you think of mouth­wa­ter­ing Pe­nang food, a thick, fluffy slice of crusty white bread may not be the first item to come to mind. How­ever, Roti Beng­gali is a Pe­nang spe­cialty with a his­tory as rich as the bread it­self. An In­dian Mus­lim mi­grant named Sheik Mohd Is­mail set up the is­land’s first shop in 1932 with his friends. Is­malia Bak­ery, as their shop was called, grew fa­mous for their huge bread loaves, typ­i­cally served with sweet co­conut jam and mar­garine or dipped in a side of curry or brothy soup. The store re­opened as Maliia Bak­ery in 2007, but if you can’t make it there, don’t worry: Just flag down one of the store’s many mo­bile hawk­ers sell­ing the bread on the streets.

7 Jonathan Yun Jew­elry

152 Jalan Masjid Kap­i­tan Kel­ing, Ge­orge Town (+604 263 1152/www. jonathanyun­jew­elry.com). MonSat, 10am-6pm. If you are look­ing for some­thing truly spe­cial – and em­i­nently wear­able – to com­mem­o­rate your time in Pe­nang, you can’t go wrong with a pur­chase from Jonathan Yun’s gor­geous jew­ellery store. Us­ing sil­ver, gold, pre­cious stones and pearls, the na­tive Pe­nan­gite cre­ates each piece by hand, of­ten look­ing to his home­town for in­spi­ra­tion. Jonathan has worked for eight years as a jew­ellery artist and has won sev­eral awards for his cre­ative de­signs, in­clud­ing the Hong Kong Jew­ellery Award. He of­fers three stun­ning col­lec­tions: the Pe­nang-in­flu­enced Vin­tage se­ries; the ocean-in­spired Co­ral se­ries, and the na­turein­spired Eden se­ries. Prices start at RM80.

8 Kean Aun Hoe

544 Jalan Je­lu­tong, Je­lu­tong (+604 658 2716/ www.keanaun­hoe.com). Mon-Sat, 8.30am-7pm. Tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine shop Kean Aun Hoe has been in cur­rent store owner Mr Teoh’s fam­ily for four gen­er­a­tions. His grand­fa­ther es­tab­lished the shop in 1957; soon, his daugh­ter will take over the busi­ness. Kean Aun Hoe is lo­cally known for its fam­ily recipe bak kut teh herbal soup mix, as well as their qual­ity Chi­nese herbs which help boost the im­mune sys­tem, cure spe­cific ail­ments and im­prove over­all health. In­cluded in their large col­lec­tion of medicines is an im­pres­sive se­lec­tion of var­i­ous types of gin­seng.

9 The Leaf Healthy House

5 Le­buh Pe­nang, Ge­orge Town (+6012 498 8491/ www.face­book.com/TheLeafHealthyHouse). Mon-Sat, 11.30am-3pm, 5.30-9pm. The Leaf Healthy House proves that ‘de­li­cious’ and ‘healthy’ need not be mu­tu­ally exclusive terms. Health-con­scious lo­ca­vores will re­joice at the as­sort­ment of tasty fares at this all-veg café, in­clud­ing their flavour­ful nasi ulam and per­fectly rolled popiah. As pro­po­nents of sus­tain­able liv­ing, owner Candy and her hus­band use al­most ex­clu­sively or­ganic prod­ucts and pur­chase their veg­eta­bles fresh from the nearby mar­kets. By keep­ing their prices low – meals start from RM7 – they hope to con­vince vis­i­tors of the virtues of veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and a ‘green’ life­style. The Leaf’s tal­ented chefs en­sure that the only thing you’re left want­ing for is a sec­ond help­ing.

10 The Soap Cel­lar

22 Le­buh Lem­bah Per­mai 4, Tan­jung Bun­gah

(+604 899 2980/ the­soap­cel­lar.com.my). Mon & Wed-Sun, 12noon-8pm. The Soap Cel­lar has been pro­vid­ing Pe­nang with high­qual­ity, all-nat­u­ral face soaps, oils, bath salts and other spa prod­ucts since 2011. Us­ing a blend of lo­cal and UKbought in­gre­di­ents, each bar of soap is hand-made us­ing recipes the own­ers have spent plenty of time get­ting just right, which en­sures that each fin­ished prod­uct smells heav­enly, doesn’t spoil quickly, and leaves skin feel­ing soft. In ad­di­tion to mak­ing ready-to-use goods, The Soap Cel­lar also sells in­di­vid­ual in­gre­di­ents for those who’d rather make their own soaps or skin­care prod­ucts. Soaps start at RM20.

11 Ghee Hiang Pas­try Shop

216 Jalan Ma­cal­is­ter, Ge­orge Town (+604 226 9915/ www.ghee-hiang.com). Daily, 9am-9pm. As you open the doors of Ghee Hiang, you’ll want to take a mo­ment to delight in the sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of this le­gendary Pe­nang in­sti­tu­tion. Each morn­ing, pas­try chefs make dozens of flaky, savoury bis­cuits on the premises – you can even watch them through the kitchen win­dow as they swiftly roll and stuff the dough to per­fec­tion. If the drool­wor­thy smells from the oven aren’t enough to en­tice you into buy­ing a box or three, per­haps this store’s long his­tory will: these fa­mous pas­tries were first cooked up in 1856 by a mi­grant pas­try chef from Fu­jian. Its per­fectly cooked mung bean bis­cuits have been a main­stay at hol­i­day par­ties and events ever since.

12 Stu­dio Howard

154 Jalan Masjid Kap­i­tan Kel­ing, Ge­orge Town (+604 261 1970/ stu­dio­howard.com). Daily, 10am-6pm. Pe­nang pho­tog­ra­pher Howard Tan vividly re­mem­bers spend­ing time as a child with his fa­ther in Ge­orge Town. As they would walk to­gether down the city’s lanes, he

would no­tice the beau­ti­ful shop houses, the tr­ishaws parked by the street, and the lo­cal peo­ple sim­ply go­ing about their day. These child­hood mem­o­ries came quickly back to life as soon as he picked up a cam­era. His keen ta­lent for cap­tur­ing those unique Pe­nang scenes is ev­i­dent in each of his prints, as is his pas­sion and love for the city it­self. His epony­mous shop sells his work as well as a small se­lec­tion of crafts from other lo­cal ar­ti­sans.

13 Ar­me­nian Street Beaded Shoes

4 Le­buh Ar­me­nian, Ge­orge Town (+6016 454 3075). Daily, 9am-6pm. Mr Tan, the fa­mous Ar­me­nian Street maker of beaded shoes, has been in the busi­ness for over 40 years, hav­ing been taught as a child how to bead footwear in the in­tri­cate Pe­nang Ny­onya style. Although the trade is not as pop­u­lar as it once was, he still has a steady stream of cus­tomers look­ing for a spe­cial way to re­mem­ber their time in Pe­nang. Noth­ing is more unique to Pe­nang than ask­ing Mr Tan to design a pair of shoes from scratch specif­i­cally to your siz­ing and re­quests, but be pre­pared to wait a while for the re­sults – such a del­i­cate process can take two to three months, and will cost you over RM300.

14 Rozana’s Batik

81 Le­buh Acheh, Ge­orge Town (+6014 247 5347/ Face­book: Rozanas-Batik). Mon-Sat, 11.30am-6.30pm. Rozana has been paint­ing batik since grad­u­at­ing from art school in 1988, and nearly ev­ery­thing in her shop is her own creation – a note­wor­thy feat, con­sid­er­ing just how many beau­ti­ful shirts, sarongs, head scarves and bags she has on dis­play. She hand-draws and dyes batik paint­ings of var­i­ous sizes on both silk and cot­ton, a process that can take months to com­plete. If you’ve ever found your­self won­der­ing what it might be like to make a Pe­nang hand­i­craft of your own to take home, then Rozana’s is your place: Vis­i­tors can stop by any time for a per­son­alised batik class, and can ei­ther choose to paint on her pre­drawn fab­rics, or learn how to paint their own. For just RM50-RM150 for a ses­sion, Rozana’s classes make for a fun and unique Pe­nang ex­cur­sion.

15 NR Sweets

75 Le­buh Pe­nang, Ge­orge Town (+6012 462 0987/ www.nr­sweet­spenang.com). Daily, 7.30am-10pm. Af­ter a hot and hu­mid day walk­ing along Ge­orge Town’s streets, noth­ing tastes quite as re­ju­ve­nat­ing as a meltin-your-mouth treat from the city’s most beloved sweets stores. NR Sweets has been serv­ing up de­li­cious tra­di­tional In­dian desserts since 2003, in­clud­ing their savoury car­rot halwa, their car­damom-scented Mysore pak and – for those feel­ing par­tic­u­larly health-con­scious – their dense and chewy mun­tri cake, made with cashews, almonds and figs. While their recipes may be au­then­tic to In­dia, all desserts are made lo­cally and are en­tirely veg­e­tar­ian.

16 Sam’s Batik

183 & 185 Jalan Pe­nang, Ge­orge Town (+604 262 1095/ sams­batik­house.com). Mon-Sat, 11am-8pm. Es­tab­lished in 1982, Sam’s Batik has be­come a Ge­orge Town in­sti­tu­tion, and not just be­cause of the sheer amount of space it oc­cu­pies on one of its busiest streets. The vast em­po­rium is in fact com­prised of two sep­a­rate stores, each owned by the same fam­ily. In­side, you can find not just batik – although there is in­deed plenty of that, as the name would sug­gest – but also pash­mi­nas, in­tri­cately wo­ven bed­spreads, or­nate tops, hand-beaded purses and more. As a one-stop-shop for all things cloth­ing re­lated, they also of­fer a skilled on-site tai­lor­ing ser­vice that can quickly take any item in the store and ad­just them to fit your pro­por­tions. They will also tai­lor any­thing else you bring in for a tiny fee.

17 Hock Seng Ro­jak

Gat Le­buh Ce­cil, Ge­orge Town, op­po­site the post of­fice. Tue-Sun, 1-6pm. Hock Seng Ro­jak is the self-de­scribed king of the con­cen­trated, sweet and spicy sauce on Pe­nang is­land – and it’s not hard to see why most peo­ple agree with its royal sta­tus. Here, the home­made sauce is so thick it sticks to your spoon. In fact, some reg­u­lar cus­tomers don’t stir it into their mixed fruit ro­jak, but dip the fruits di­rectly into the sauce in­stead. The heady smell of bela­can, or shrimp paste, may dis­cour­age first­time tasters, but don’t fear: The ge­nius cooks be­hind this ad­dic­tive lo­cal sauce make sure that the flavours are per­fectly bal­anced, so that no in­gre­di­ent stands out too far from the rest.

18 Ghee Hup Nut­meg Fac­tory

202-A Jalan Teluk Ba­hang, Balik Pu­lau (+604 866 8426). Call ahead for open­ing hours. Dur­ing the hey­day of the Bri­tish East In­dia Com­pany’s time in Pe­nang, nut­meg – along with be­tel nut – flour­ished as one of the is­land’s ma­jor ex­ports. Nowa­days, the nut­meg trade is much smaller, but Ghee Hup owner Chang Kun Mim keeps the tra­di­tion alive and well with his nut­meg fac­tory, the big­gest in Pe­nang. Opened in 1953, the fac­tory now has such a sur­plus of nut­meg that they make teas, syrups, juices, balms, jams and more from the spice, all of which are fun to test and try. Lo­cated a bit out­side of town, this is a great way to en­joy the more ru­ral side of Pe­nang.

19 Lee Soo Kee Rat­tan

Le­buh Chu­lia, Ge­orge Town, be­tween the Star­dust Guest House and the Chu­lia Her­itage Ho­tel. Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm. Ge­orge Town’s liv­ing her­itage adds a very spe­cial el­e­ment to the city’s charm, and watch­ing the el­derly Lee Soo Kee as he metic­u­lously weaves pieces of rat­tan into a beau­ti­ful fur­ni­ture item is a per­fect ex­am­ple of this. Hav­ing worked for over 50 years in his trade, Lee Soo Kee is a mas­ter in his craft, and you’re not likely to miss his ex­per­tise when peek­ing into his shop­house ‘show­room’. It takes him two weeks to craft a chair, and for just RM40 for a small stool, you can’t help but want to pur­chase some­thing, if only to com­mem­o­rate his im­pres­sive, decades-long ca­reer as a lo­cal ar­ti­san.

20 Ger­ak­bu­daya Book­shop

78 Jalan Masjid Kap­i­tan Kel­ing, Ge­orge Town (+604 261 0282/ ger­ak­bu­dayapenang.com). Daily, 11am-8pm. With a cosy at­mos­phere and an un­beat­able se­lec­tion of fic­tion and nonfiction ti­tles, Ger­ak­bu­daya Book­shop is a rare and wel­come gem in Ge­orge Town: a place where you can lose your­self for a few min­utes – or hours – in the pages of a book. Owner Gareth’s thought­ful ap­proach to run­ning his shop has helped this lit­tle book­store be­come a ma­jor pres­ence in town af­ter just a year of its open­ing. Mak­ing sure to stock pop­u­lar lo­cal ti­tles, Gareth also dis­plays a num­ber of books that he thinks may catch the eye of cu­ri­ous book­worms look­ing for a lit­er­ary adventure. His goal is to make book-read­ing cul­ture trendy again, and all the signs sug­gest that Pe­nang is in­ter­ested in mak­ing a shift in that di­rec­tion.

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