Food aplenty in George Town, what price you want!

 |Mar 22, 2017
Popular Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee Restaurant in Lebuh Campbell enjoys brisk business with locals and tourists along the hipster cafe belt in George Town, Penang … photo Doris Lim.

In George Town, a weekend chill out meal would cost more than a week’s breakfast money for students and office workers.

New operators of “creative” hipsters’ cafe seem to capitalise on youngsters keen on a lifestyle cafe-hopping spree to try out new cafes.

There is a cafe listing on social media and lifestyle blogs for trying out and chilling.

Frugal senior Penangites seldom frequent these new establishments and prefer to spend their hard earned money for decent meals at establishments reputed for “properly cooked” good meals which are value for money.

The Gen Y is constantly on the lookout for the most Instagram Mable and prettiest cafes to share selfies of the latest and the newest.

Getting that first photo out with a selfie is a must.

Of course, such outings come with personal reviews and bragging rights to the story.

Malaysia Outlook decided to check out the tea time cafes in and around George Town.

The latest cafe, Aqua Lab opened on Lebuh Campbell is touted for its soft serve creative flavours of ice creams.

Customer service executive Bella Chan, 30, posted on her Facebook account of her recent experience at the new cafe.

Chan went for tea time treats with two friends to try out after seeing many shares on FB pages.

She was disappointed at the no-frills cafe which looked uncompleted and rushed to open.

The cafe was packed with youngsters taking selfies with their food and drinks.

The counter looked half completed and the glass showcase was held together precariously with masking tape.

Aqua Lab cafe in Lebuh Campbell, George Town … photo Doris Lim.

“OK, I get that cafe food are generally a little bit more pricey, but to pay RM24.90 for two slices of charcoal bread and two scoops of nothing-so-special gelato… Ppfffttttt! RM10.90 for strawberry and milk juice which tastes like those strawberry milk that comes from the carton boxes in supermarkets? I’m not impressed at all. The only consolation of the situation is my photography skills making the food look good,” quipped Chan, who coughed out a whopping RM46.70 for a mediocre meal which she could prepare at home!

Instagramable cafes score high with funky, quirky decor and most serve solid food, cakes and a decent cuppa coffee.

The popular ones have their own bakery and make everything from scratch and hence the prices are on the higher side.

Cafe owners Sunny Chang and Marcus Tan, both 56, opened the Moody Cow cafe as a retirement business in 2014.

Both men are not trained pastry chefs but are creative bakers.

With an attitude and aptitude best summed up in their cafe’s tagline – ‘Diets are for losers, eat the cake!’

The cafe built its reputation from its smooth original and rich cheesecakes with every imaginable type of flavour that includes cendol and nasi lemak!

Most patrons are regulars or locals who bring their friends to try when they visit.

Personal assistant Susan Tan, 60, from Kuala Lumpur wanted to try out the cheesecakes she saw on social media.

Her pit stop was Moody Cow Dessert Cafe in Jalan Transfer Road.

“I’m a lover of cheesecakes and love to cafe hop with my daughter, Stephanie.

The vintage interior of the cafe is interesting and we took several photos for fun.

“I got my wish for the salted egg yolk cheesecake and it was bursting with egg yolks and richness of the cake. Its value for money as the slice is big. The price is higher but it’s justified considering the number of ingredients put in.

“I’m happy as there are so many choices of cheesecakes.  I will probably make another trip or two just to try the other creative flavours out,” said Tan, who is a home baker with a sweet tooth.

A hefty slice of their decadent cheesecake called Beijing Moon cost up to RM40 per slice; the girls cranked up a bill of RM60 with two coffees.

Customers enjoying local dishes in a restaurant in George Town, Penang.

At the beautifully restored and sophisticated 100-year old Macalister Mansion (MM), the branding and commissioned installation art pieces makes a meal there several notches up the luxury scale.

The mansion is visually appealing in a garden environment with coiffured hedges and greens.

MM’s director Karen H’ng says that the restaurant took pride to ensure that the quality of food and ambience was befitting of dining in a manor.

Having a proper English high tea set, at the swanky almost blindingly white colonial MM will set a couple back by RM88 for 2pax.

The set is made up of savouries, sweets and scones with a choice of coffee or TWG tea.

“We have a balance of sweet and savoury tea time treats which is made from scratch daily by our pastry chef. We believe in giving good quality meals to our customers,” said H’ng.

At the Ixora Hotel Perai in Seberang Prai, the price of a high tea set for two is an affordable and value for money at RM48.

The high set has sweet and savoury pastries and scones with a selection of quality teas or coffee.

For 80-year old Lew Nyuek Lian, a tea time treat meal at a Cantonese style wonton noodles shop with her grandchildren was an exercise is austerity.

The Lew family had three bowls of wan ton noodles, a bowl of dumpling soup, and three coffees for RM28.

Surprisingly the Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee restaurant is located directly opposite the newly opened Aqua Lab in Lebuh Campbell.

Doris Lim is a Malaysia Outlook contributor with a keen eye for details developed form her background in architecture and design. Her affable personality and passion to celebrate life is captured in her stories of the community. Doris’ love for all things beautiful and quirky is tempered by her love for writing, photography, food, art and travel.