In recent years, numerous cafes have been sprawling across Penang’s well-known heritage city centre – Georgetown, so much so that you will be spoilt for choices if you love exploring cafes (like me). Due to lack of time (only 3D2N trip & 1st day was spent outside Georgetown) + the unfriendly weather (average temperature then was 34 to 35 degrees celsius), we only managed to check out 4 cafes in the charming Georgetown during the short stay. Read on for our review of these cafes below! 😉
Address: 149, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, 10200 Georgetown, Penang
Phone: +604-261-1303 / +601-256-61172
Open: 1000 – 1800 hrs
Located at the junction of Lebuh Armenian & Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Downtown Art Heritage Cafe was actually an accidental find for us as it wasn’t on our original cafe hunting list. But because of its strategic location in the area where most of the street art can be found, we decided to check out the cafe to escape from the scorching afternoon sun & take a breather.
Having had a filling yummy lunch of char koay teow & loh bak at Kafe Ping Hooi barely 2 hours before, we only each ordered a cold drink plus a cake of the day to share. I had the thirst-quenching House Special drink which was rose syrup served with vanilla ice cream and basil seeds (MYR6+/ S$2+) while my friend ordered a Mango Lassi (MYR14+/ S$4.70+). The cake of the day – Cempedak Cake (“Jackfruit” in Malay, MYR12+/ S$4+) was distinctly flavourful & the vanilla ice cream complemented the taste. The cake was soft & moist too. If you aren’t a Jackfruit lover, then you may prefer to avoid this as it may be too strong for you. But both of us like it & thought it was quite addictive the more we ate it. The lady staff who served us was very friendly & also provided us with directions of certain places we wanted to explore. Quite a nice fusion cafe to relax in!
Address: 12, Chulia Lane, 10200 Georgetown, Penang.
Open: 0900 – 1800 hrs daily
Pit Stop was on my original cafe list to hunt down, as the decor evokes old-world charm to me from the online reviews. It wasn’t easy hunting this quaint little cafe though, for it is hidden in one of the small lanes off the main street Lebuh Chulia. Nonetheless I’m glad we managed to find it in the late afternoon before it was closed in the evening.
There wasn’t much variety listed on the menu for food, mainly the usual cafe suspects like breakfast sets & pasta, but we didn’t feel like eating them then, so we only ordered a chilled drink each to cool ourselves down from all the walking under the hot sun. I had the Lemon & Lime drink while my friend tried the Strawberry & Lime drink (MYR10+ each/ S$3.40+ each). Mine was super sour that I sort of regretted being so brave to order this. 😛 But it sort of perk me up after a tiring day out in the sun. The Strawberry & Lime drink was refreshing with a nice blend of sweet & sour taste. No comments about the food since we didn’t try them, but they did look appetising when I peeked at other tables’ orders. What I like about this cafe was its cosy ambience with lots of charming old wooden artistic furnishings.
Open: 0800 – 0000 hrs daily
The Mugshot Cafe is located just 1 lane to the right of our 2nd night hotel – Chulia Mansion & opposite the busy Chulia Street Night Market. The cafe isn’t very big, but its contemporary design with many spotlights did make it stand out amongst the numerous old coffee shops and hawker stalls along the street. It wasn’t crowded at the cafe that night, but while waiting for our bagel muffin, there were always 1 or 2 customers coming in to grab a cuppa or quick bite.
Having heard that its Bagel Muffins are good, we decided to takeaway a Cream Cheese & Smoked Salmon Bagel Muffin (MYR 12/ S$4) to share back in the hotel together with other hawker food at the night market. While the bagel muffin became a bit hard by the time we ate it back at the hotel cafe (about 30 min after we left The Mugshot), the cream cheese & smoked salmon combination was a good & tasty one. Next time, we shall eat it fresh from the oven at the cafe!
d) Ice Estate
Open: 1030 to 2330 hrs daily
Ice Estate was another accidental find on our last day in Penang while trying to hunt down other cafes (but failed) along the same street. This 3-month old ice cream cafe (launched only on 18 Dec 2015) is housed inside a heritage hotel in the quieter part of Lebuh Victoria, where you will pass by many mechanical workshops in the area. Riding on the recent ice cream trend in Penang, Ice Estate specialises in liquid nitrogen ice cream & other sweet treats.
Probably as an attempt to attract more customers to the cafe, at the time of visit, we were presented with a food menu (albeit limited variety) after settling down on level 2 of the cafe (NB: the steps up to level 2 are kinda steep). Since it was lunch time, we decided to order a Spaghetti Carbonara (MYR 22/ S$7.40) to share + sparkling juices to go along (MYR 11/ S$3.70). I felt the spaghetti was a tad too smooth, wonder if it’s because of the oil they used? Nonetheless it was quite tasty. My Hibiscus Lime sparkling juice came with a tinge of rose flavour & was perfect for such weather. We had a great time taking lovely photos on the 2nd floor as we were the only customers until we started eating our spaghetti. After the meal, we returned to the 1st floor & succumbed to temptation & ordered our maiden liquid nitrogen ice cream – Passionfruit Estate (MYR14/ S$4.70). It was quite fun seeing the dry ice “smoke” happening right in front of our eyes as the staff served our ice cream. Besides the generous topping of cornflakes that we like, we also love the refreshingly smooth passion fruit ice cream that combined sweet & sour taste well.
Although we didn’t manage to hunt down most of the recommended cafes on my original to-go list, I am still glad that we managed to squeeze in 4 noteworthy cafes in the cultural town despite the short time we had! Almost every cafe in Georgetown is tastefully decorated, blending well into the heritage theme of the popular city centre, so even if you don’t fancy cafe food, you should check this strong cafe culture out. I shall end this post with a map of how to get to these 4 cafes from Chulia Mansion, hope it helps in your Penang cafe-hopping trip. 🙂