Towkay Serves Teochew

I have been doing a lot of stuff lately and yes, I know, I’ve been so tardy in updating Mayakirana. I probably blame it on stuff that’s called Life.
First there’s the new house of course. I call it a house but it’s an apartment that’s on terra firma. Of course like all new toys and possessions, Nic and I have been up in eyeballs figuring out stuff for the new home. I didn’t know there were so many decisions to be made! Lights – the types and sizes are mind-boggling. Then kitchen layouts. Next, even bathroom doors have to be decided coz we really don’t like the existing bathroom doors. And to think our contractor says the remodeling/renovation is minimal. Bah, I hope so!
But this post is about food. So onwards with our topic of the day.
no expenses were spared in decorating this teochew restaurant
Last year we brought our intern and staff to try out this restaurant hidden within a shop. The uniqueness of this restaurant is that there’s no menu. You just eat whatever the towkay (big boss) cooks that day. Actually the towkay is a well-known local Datuk-cum-businessman. Prices are reasonable considering you get rice, 3 dishes and 1 soup for about RM10 per person. His specialty is Teochew cuisine because duh, he is Teochew.
more penang restaurants should be bright and clean like this
When Tze first brought us there, we were stumped because the restaurant is only accessible IF you know where the entrance is. As it was located within a row of shops selling joss paper and Chinese praying items along Kimberly Street, we were a bit puzzled. Tze, the ever clever foodie, confidently sashays into the garishly pink shop and walks up the small staircase which opens into the tiny restaurant with all tables occupied!
The funny thing is, it’s like some HK mafia movie where everyone looks up at you the moment you push through the glass doors. It’s like a secret society place – but it is secretive because only those in the know will end up walking into a joss paper shop to eat! (Don’t tell your mama this. She’ll go ‘choy’ if you say you’re eating at a joss paper shop!)
But many moons have passed and we have not been there since our 2 outings there.
Last week, we decided to drop into this newly opened restaurant Old House Cafe on Kimberly Street. We’ve seen this new place a few times already but never had the time to pop in, each time lured by our favourite kueh chap hawker stall a few meters before this restaurant. (By the way, the kueh chap is deliciously good but not for the faint-hearted. It has duck meat and pig offal swimming in dark, herbal soup that’s good to the last spoonful.)
And what do you know?
The same Teochew towkay who runs the other secretive hideout restaurant in the joss paper shop is the owner of this spanking new restaurant. So what it means is, he actually now runs his secretive hideout ‘no menu’ lunches on the 1st floor of this restaurant. Lunch at this joint starts at 1pm so you can walk up to the 1st floor and plonk your butt down for some hearty Teochew fare.
old house cafe penang malaysia
When we were there on Saturday night, the place was truly buzzing. It doesn’t have an extensive menu (perhaps it’s new) and the prices aren’t low. (My plate of braised meats with white rice was RM7.50.) But hey, considering it’s a clean, well-decorated Chinese-style restaurant that you’d be proud to bring any guest to, it’s not too pricey. And if you order snacks like yam kuih or bak chang, it’s still quite affordable.
interior of old house cafe kimberly street penang
Plus if you are a Chinese tea aficionado, the Chinese rosewood tables are made just for this leisurely pastime. I would come for the towkay’s no-menu lunch though. That is the most exciting part of finding out that the towkay still cooks and is still offering Teochew cuisine! Coming for prawn noodles or kueh teow thn’g is probably not high on my list. But then again, maybe it’s supposed to attract tourists. Who knows? As long as the Datuk still wields his wok, I’ll be hot-trotting here!
kopitiam style menu for simple to elaborate meals
You can’t miss the restaurant if you’re walking or driving down this street. Pop in and give it a try!
Update 3 Sept 2009: The towkay’s no-menu lunch (minimum 2 persons) still rocks. At a very affordable RM13.80 per person that comes with rice (extra rice is not charged the time we were there), free refills of homemade chrysanthemum tea, 1 soup and 3 dishes. When you enter Old House Cafe, just take the stairs (either on the left or right). Order the Teochew Prawn Balls (6 pieces for RM10) as an add-on dish. Yummy!
(By the way, although I’ve been asked countless times if I want to be a food blogger/reviewer and get to eat for free, I’ve turned down many invites. Penang has enough food blogs and food bloggers as it stands. Mayakirana the blog has never been totally about food. I write about everything under the sun and the way I see it, if I eat somewhere and dislike it, I have every right to diss the food. If a restaurant asked me to review the food, I’ll be obligated to write something lovely even if the food sucked. Hence, please don’t ask me again if I would like to review your cafe or restaurant.)
Old House Cafe
145-153, Kimberly Street, 10100 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 04 2622 113

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