*Prelude : This experience totally changed my personal perception of GeorgeTown, Penang. In my more than two years of working in this side of Malaysia, I’ve only known her with volumes of Heritage corners that beautifully complemented her present image. Diversities of food, religions and culture made up my initial idea of this island. I was totally wrong in not thinking that she also has quaint chill out places that are equally enigmatic as her temples, mosques, shrines, beaches and hawker stalls and will leave anyone wanting for more. Read on and enjoy!
20 October 2012, Saturday. Just before dusk, I entered The Canteen and Bar at ChinaHouse along Victoria Street in George Town, Penang and this quiet scene greeted me.
Cluelessly, I asked the bartender for a menu. I scanned the modestly laminated list of beverages and bites for a second and was told that the show that Saturday evening starts around 9PM. If you must know, I didn’t go there to drink nor to watch an act. Not yet. I had my personal intention with a secured green light from my beloved Tina and Gabby. It’s a must for me to get their nods, of course. I went there to TRY my CHANCE TO WIN A CONTEST.
I inquired if it’s the same place where I can have cakes and coffee, the bartender politely advised me to follow the walkway through the doors to get to the ChinaHouse at Beach Street. Yes, ChinaHouse stretches from Victoria Street to Beach Street!
I didn’t expect to be blown away with its rustic yet contemporary charm that’s uniquely, ChinaHouse.
Then I found myself in the courtyard where I saw an unusual rectangular pond, a whimsical animal sculpture, garden steel chairs paired with glass round tables, all covered by lush leaves and leaning branches (I took a few photos but I chose to include in this post my captures in the courtyard later that weekend that you’ll see as you scroll down the page).
Meanwhile, the ceiling’s high. Didn’t I tell you this is one of those pretty Heritage shophouses in Penang?
Good to know ChinaHouse has a good number of staff to cover for the remarkable volume of diners. Lots of people flocking is a positive indicator that I’m in the right place. Despite almost all tables were reserved, I considered myself lucky to find one vacant.
Image of the bar reflected on one of the huge mirrors…
This must be Heaven, if not Nirvana…
Those are Honey, Raisin & Sunflower Muffin at 6 ringgit a piece. I want!
or in full colors!
While my family and I still love Starbucks Coffee dearly, I asked myself silently, where was I in more than two years of work in Penang? Why didn’t I discover ChinaHouse early on? Regret is futile, I reckon. There’s more time to celebrate ChinaHouse!
Standing in front of that sweet spread, I called a waiter and asked about their most-frequently-ordered dishes -from salad, entree to desserts. With wide array of choices, I needed to hear some recommendations. He walked me towards my table and provided me a menu. On my way to my seat, I saw these tables…
Simply covered with mahjong paper, tables have craypass and crayons to stimulate creative juices to flow. It reminded me of American-themed restaurants back home, Burgoo & TGI Fridays (the latter has a branch in Penang, the former doesn’t have).
Back to my table…
Shamelessly marked the spot…
Because I’m there to find GREAT FOOD AS SUBJECT, I decided to order a full course meal which I didn’t eat at all, except the main dish I had; everything I brought home to Tina and Gabby as takeaway.
To start off, I had Grilled Prawns, Mango & Avocado Salad with Pistachio & Basil Dressing. Textures and flavors made a cut from the other salads I’ve tasted. It reminded me of one of my favorites back home, Tessie Tomas Salad.
It’s delicious I left the plate so clean. If you’re from the Philippines, you’ll agree with me in stating that it looks like French Baker’s Chicken Ala-King less the creamy sauce.
I washed down everything with Iced Cappuccino and a bottle of water. Literally on a bottle, mind you! I like the idea of serving every table with water on capped bottle.
Once again, I trusted the waiter’s words after he said Tiramisu is their bestseller-dessert. Believe it or not, I just took few photos of it, waived to another waitress and requested her to wrap the huge slice of Tiramisu as my takeaway. At home, Gabby and Tina liked it! Although, I think it’s best eaten freshly served because it has ice-creamy filling that melts easily. The tug-of-war of coffee and chocolate in this nutty slice was just divine.
After my lone but happy dinner, I was a bit disappointed when I learned that I cannot explore the art gallery upstairs because according to the staff, it’s currently under renovation. Well, that’s a good reason to go back, isn’t it? Thus, I settled capturing my fancy on the ground floor; here are some of them :
Fusion of the old world and modern isn’t only obvious on ChinaHouse menu but also in its eclectic combination of furnitures, murals and art pieces that absolutely delight the senses. Some paintings are simply displayed on the floor which I really like!
A coffee shop, a restaurant, a bar, a mini-theater, a bakeshop, an art gallery , a souvenir shop and a library. What more can you ask for?
And a wine cellar too!
I don’t know about you but I find this room gorgeous. With all the wine collection and those imperfect blending of seats appeal perfect to me! Would you not wish to spend a a non-stress and worry-free evening here?
There are a quite a number of fascinating rooms in ChinaHouse that’s so apt for private and intimate special occasions. I’ll surely visit again to explore more of its areas.
I decided to go back to The Canteen & Bar and passed through their courtyard again. It began to drizzle that made those lovely corners that night even more dramatic. I wish I stayed longer.
I could have opted to submit the next photo to the ChinaHouse Shoot & Win photo contest that offers two winning photographers 200 ringgit voucher to ChinaHouse AND a FREE accomodation in Bon Ton Resort, Langkawi which I long to experience with my family; however, after checking out the other entries from ChinaHouse facebook page, someone had photographed and entered this spot as his subject already. I cannot blame him; this courtyard is indeed eye-catching! Nonetheless, I had to have my own capture of that courtyard in my own perspective. What do you think?
When I went back to The Canteen & Bar again, a musician was entertaining the diners.
I fell in love with ChinaHouse!!! I shall be back to bring Tina and Gabby here soon! It’s an incredibly stylish and laid-back place where ambience and atmosphere, must-try-menu, quick and efficient service are all under one Heritage roof.
Admittedly at first, I only wanted to join this…
Then the entire experience left me in awe, I hope to go back soon! It’s irresistible to revisit ChinaHouse after you’ve been there. Once is definitely not enough; it lures and entices you to crave for more!
The contest I joined, as of this posting is still on going but with what I’ve experienced in ChinaHouse,
I felt I already won!
About my photo entry –I chose a photo of a SALAD as my entry to the contest as I thought it represents a great INTRODUCTION to a SUBLIME INDULGENCE inside ChinaHouse. I thought of promoting ChinaHouse through that entry as a uniquely charming food and chill out place tucked within GeorgeTown, Penang.
*Should you want to VOTE for my entry in ChinaHouse Shoot & Win contest, you may click LIKE my photo on this link –>
Maraming salamat po!
CHINAHOUSE | 153 & 155 Beach Street & 183B Victoria Street, George Town, Penang. http://chinahouse.com.my/