Truth be told, I’ve never been the Penang’s biggest advocate. Nor have I been a fan either. In fact, given a few years ago, I have much preferred Malacca – the other city in the country that has been formerly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But some thing inside of me has changed recently. I’m beginning to enjoy my trips to the pearl island more with each visit I make there. I’m sure it isn’t just me who noticed that the streets are now cleaner, the roads are more efficient, the colonial charm is back (don’t ask me where they have gone to, a long vacation perhaps?) thanks to the vigorous heritage conservation efforts, and somehow even the people are much friendlier these days – when they’re not driving that is. Penangnite’s pearly whites are shining brighter than ever.
Hidden within good ol’ Georgetown’s maze of pre-war shophouses, is a charming collection of well-preserved rows of Straits Chinese architecture, called Muntri Street. Walk along this part of town and its surrounding lanes and you’ll be enthralled by the relics from the island’s grand history.
And right in the middle of this row is Muntri Mews. Installed in a long and narrow 19th century stables and carriageworks of the street’s grandest terraces, the quaint accommodation is the latest venture by Penang-born hotelier, Christopher Ong. The clapboard building was meticulously restored and offers 9 suites and a street side cafe. Rooms are priced-well and spacious, especially those upstairs – difference of RM30 buys you a four-poster bed, teak flooring and pitch ceiling. Despite being a revitalised building, the luxury of modern facilities were not neglected. Our only complaint – we wished the bed was a tad softer. We felt it was too hard. Having said that , the Panda and I were extremely charmed and can’t wait to return to the mews soon. One piece of warning, they do not have their own parking – however, street parking lots are available along Muntri Street.
The cozy in-house Mews Kafe offers local favourites like Nasi Lemak Bento with Chicken Curry & Prawn Sambal, NZ Rib Eye Rendang with coconut rice, and some of his family’s favourite recipes – a mix of Eastern and Western dishes including the Nyonya Laksa Lemak, Classic Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich, Linguinese Chili Basil Prawn and a local sweet soup called Cheng Th’ng. It seems recipes aren’t the only thing borrowed from Mrs. Ong, the cafe also serves these dishes straight on plates from her cupboard too. Do not miss their specialty tea concoctions as well. In-house guests can choose to savour their tummy-warmers in the cafe or in the comfort of their suite, with a 20% discount too!
Though Penang’s well-known for their enticing mix of Hokkien, Cantonese, Indian and Malay flavours, it is also a good idea to give your taste buds a rest from their famed-street food for at least one meal.
Chill out at the laid-back Little Kopi, located at the start of the Armenian Street heritage walk of . This former coffee-roasting workshop still features an ancient roaster in the middle of its open-air courtyard. Grab one of the few side-walk tables to watch the comings & goings along this atmospheric lane just around the corner from Khoo Clan’s House. Adding to its charm is the homemade ice creams featuring charming flavours like Gula Melaka, Sour Cream & Brown Sugar and Coffee & Chocolate Chunks. To further cool down a warm Sunny day, grab some iced local coffee brewed in a tall plunger and poured over the rocks. Simply brrrr-licious.
***Muntri Mews / Mews Kafe #77 Muntri Street, 10200 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia Tel: +604 263 5125 / +604- 263 6125 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Little Kopi Cafe (in-house cafe of Straits Collection) #89 cnr. Armenian Street and Cannon Street, 10200 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia Tel: +604 263 7299 Email: email@example.com