This is the final of a 5-part series on Penang – on my recent trip back home in early Dec 2009. So, what am I going to write? Is it worth your reading? I hope so. Because this final post on my journey home to Penang is a surprise. Even to myself! And, I mean it. I have been living overseas almost half of my life – 7 years in US and 16 years in Australia. So, getting back in touch with Penang is extremely exciting.
During my first week in Penang, I received an email from my cousin. He found out I was in Penang through Twitter. And, wonder if I would like to catch up. I said yes. I have never spent time alone with him before. It was always with our parents in a family reunion. So the thought of catching up with him is good. It means I can get to know him, who travels and works in many countries, and also love food.
When we first met, I felt a bit awkward. Because we have decided not to tell our parents that we were getting together. Oh, except I did tell my mum and sister. Whenever I go back to Penang, I try to keep a low profile. No relatives. Just my immediate family. Anyway, back to my cousin. He picked me from my hotel. He is very comfortable with me. He asked where I would like to go. My simple response – surprise me!
He decided to take me to Thirty-Two at The Mansion – a beautiful colonial mansion along the same waterfront as the historic Eastern and Oriental (E&O) Hotel. I have been there many years ago with my partner, when we stayed at the E&O. At that time, we were dining inside the main restaurant. But, it was lovely to sit outside this time. And, enjoy the sea breeze and sound of lapping waves against the shore. The place is chic, trendy with subdued lighting and drapes hanging down the ceiling. It has a relax atmosphere with a nice bar. My cousin suggested Pho for me and Mee Goreng for himself.
We had a couple of drinks – very cheap at Happy Hour. I think it was MYR$12, which was the equivalent of AUD$4! My Pho was okay. I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the night and got to know my cousin better. I found out this place, The Mansion is owned by a flamboyant gay man, who also owns two other popular night spots in Penang. My cousin promised to take me to those two places on a different night. So we arranged to do that on a weekend before I leave Penang.
I waited for my cousin to pick me up on a Friday night. We went to a new restaurant located in a historic colonial mansion, The Suffolk House. It took more than ten years to restore this beautiful mansion to its former glory of British colonial period. The mansion was the former residence of Francis Light, founder of Penang. It is very surreal. I was born and raised in Penang, but I never knew of this mansion. It was stunning and mesmerizing to look at the grandeur of the building as we walked into the compound.
Our breath was taken away as we walked in. It was quiet and the halls were huge with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. There are three different halls as we entered. The restaurant is at the third hall. There are two separate dining rooms and and an outdoor bar and lounge area. It is so beautiful and so unexpected to find in Penang. The food. It was creative and modern. The menu was interesting. You choose a main dish. The price range from MYR$85++ to MYR$120++, and comes with 5 type of entree tasting plates and a trio dessert tasting plate. It reminds me of a degustation style dinner. Probably cater to the well heel socialites of Penang. Not the average type of meal. My cousin was more impressed with the food than me. I thought it was clever, imaginative and daring for Penang – but, the taste was just okay for me. I like what they have created at The Suffolk House. It is definitely a great place to visit, to lounge, to reflect and let your imagination drifts to the old British days in Penang.
Main dish – lamb shank
The problem with leaving the post too long to write, especially on food, is that I can’t remember the names of each of the dishes. I forgot to scribble down some notes. All I could remember is that I had a great night and a fun time, especially with the two waiters or are they waitresses – Baby with the beautiful long black hair and Eric”a” with the mustache.
I told you – I was very surprise of what I can find in Penang! There is life other than food and culture. There is a scene – a different night life away from the usual hawker stalls, kopitiams, shopping centres and restaurants. Penang has a lot to offer and is quite a diverse place. My cousin has certainly shown me the other fun part of Penang.
And, finally our last destination is Bagan Lounge which is a restaurant, a bar and night club with live music every night – popular with expatriates and well heeled crowd, quite mix and alternative in yet another beautiful restored colonial mansion with beautiful garden.
I truly had a wonderful last few days in Penang – being shown around by my cousin. That Penang is alive and kicking. That there are places to go and have fun. That it is safe place.