A Gem in Armenian Street

“You like Penang?” A friend once asked.
I guess I do. I didn’t spend much of my growing up years here but I spent almost all of my school holidays in Penang when I was younger.
There’s something about Penang which is charming although the traffic can be crazy at times. But Sundays are good days for exploring Penang, at least the little nooks and crannies where the tourists won’t go. But I cannot be too sure. These days, tourists are a heck of a lot smarter and know more than the locals. I take that back. Friends of mine who are occasional visitors to Penang often confound me with the places they find and the unknown things they experience.
Things and experiences I take for granted at times.
Today it was Armenian Street. I’ve been to Teresa’s Edelweiss Cafe all but once and I’d been raving about it to Nic. The ambience and the decor can really sweep you back into an era where life moved a little more leisurely.
Teresa is a friend of a friend. We met when I was lunching at her restored Nyonya house in the inner sanctum of Georgetown, Armenian Street specifically. Previously old, dirty and left to rot, the house was lovingly restored by Teresa and her husband to its former grandeur.
It helped that both of them were passionate collectors of items of yesteryears. Old photos, old Nyonya doors, slabs of tiles, granite, clocks, well, anything which we deem old and useless, Teresa and her husband positively adore. Her husband restores, fixes and polishes items that most people throw out and gives them a new life, literally.
Because the edelweiss is her favourite flower, Teresa (who had been a tour guide for many years) named her cafe Edelweiss and you can see this Swiss national flower motif in her homely cafe – especially on the stone slabs before you enter the Nyonya house. (I want to break out into a song each time I think of Edelweiss…it reminds me of that song in “The Sound of Music”.)
The two-storey Nyonya house is now her baby and her cafe, and if she has her way, her new home too. The ground floor is used as a cafe, decorated pleasingly with her restored items. There’s a nice bar counter too besides the marble-topped tables and original kopi tiam chairs. The airwell brings in the day’s sunlight, illuminating the centre portion of the house and she has cleverly used the airwell to house her potted plants.
The upstairs section, I’m told by Teresa, is meant to be a museum later, to display her finds and treasures of bygone eras. I was quite privileged to be given a tour of the upstairs once by Teresa herself and I am quite sure that anyone who visits will be taken down memory lane. She has painstakingly arranged her treasures according to Penang culture and people, the things they used then, their customs, the way they lived.
Tourists who wander accidentally into Teresa’s cafe will be surprised and pleased – many do drop by to snap photographs of this amazing place.
Teresa’s love for all things old and her husband’s ability to fix old lamps, clocks and such and to give them a new function in the cafe is something you must see for yourself. Her passion for heritage buildings in the innercity of Georgetown is evident.
It’s not so much the food (although the vanilla Movenpick ice cream with apple cake is a must-try if you happen to drop by) but the love and care poured into the cafe is what makes Edelweiss such an enchanting place to visit for a quiet lunch.
Edelweiss Cafe is located at No.38, Armenian Street, 10200 Penang (Tel: 04 261 8935). Closed on Mondays. Open from 12 noon to 11pm with set lunches and set dinners available.

12 thoughts on “A Gem in Armenian Street”

  1. I’m a bit concerned about the overhead beams on the ground floor of such pre-war buildings…maybe the restoration architect could propose something…
    But overall since the shoplot underwent a major change into Period 8, methinks Urs & Teresa would enjoy prosperity for the next 20 years!

  2. hi giovoni: didn’t notice the overhead beams though. she’s a Penang Heritage Trust member methinks so I think she knows what she’s doing plus I can see that she’s really doing this for the long term. A lot of thought has been showered into this pet project of hers. yes, i really hope she does enjoy continuous prosperity because her cafe is such a great place to visit!

  3. hi keat
    when are you popping into Penang hmmmm? ^_^ i’ll even take you to the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion…you will love it, the architect in you!

  4. Hi guys,
    I am the husband of Teresa Edelweiss and we appreciate you as a guest and Teresa will do everything within her power to make you feel welcome and appreciated.
    Also you might want to know that the structure of the building and the major
    renovations have been supervised by heritage Arkitek LLA Sdn Bhd. Edelweiss
    has satisfied all requirement to operate
    this cafe (Bomba – MPPP and so on).

  5. Hi Urs
    Thank you for dropping by! I will definitely visit Edelwiess again with Nic. Send Teresa my regards! And I do so love that “toilet” near the kitchen. The sound and the skull does elicit the desired surprise and laughs! Must remember to bring my camera along this time.

  6. Hi all,
    My boy friend and I went to Edelweiss for birthday celebration at 4th Oct. Everything was fantastic! And Teresa even served me birthday cakes which made me touched!
    The only sad thing was my boy friend diarrhea for 24 times (for 2 days) after the next day. We weren’t sure what was wrong. Initially we intended to have birthday celebration again for another friend in Nov, now we are struggling 😛
    Anyway, I would like to say that it is indeed a very good restaurant. I will still recommend my colleagues to visit there!

  7. Hi mugmug
    Yes, I would recommend friends to go to Teresa’s restaurant. It’s brilliant isn’t it? The love and care poured into this old shop is amazing. 😉 And if you have the chance, try her Gammon Ham which is great if you’re a pork lover. Not sure if it is on the menu permanently though.

  8. Hi Urs & Teresa, do you remember my parents Kurt and Irmgard Hiller. I’ve been trying to find you. How are you both doing? Please w/b and post some pic. Congratultions on your success w/the cafe.
    Can’t wait to hear from you.


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