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Penang Food: Try This Chinese Teochew Restaurant in George Town

Penang Food, Malaysian Food, Heritage and CultureDanny MahesComment

Hello, friends! We’re back with more delicious ideas for what to eat in Penang. Although the street food here is popular, Penang is also home to many traditional and modern restaurants serving tasty meals. So, if you’re wondering what to do on a lazy afternoon, here’s a local restaurant worth checking out:

A Teochew Style Lunch on Lebuh Melayu, George Town

If you’re wandering down Lebuh Melayu in the afternoon, you might see a pair of heavy wooden doors that look ornate and festive. Decorated with red lanterns and cloth, it seems ready to spring out at you. But tiptoe inside and the vibe is just the opposite. Cool air punctuated with fresh greenery and large splashes of sunlight fill this place. You’ve entered Chao Xuan Restaurant, a place that prides itself in its Straits Chinese identity.

Lotus Root Soup - light, nutty and perfectly punctuated with the flavour of spring onions. It made for a really great appetiser.

Lotus Root Soup - light, nutty and perfectly punctuated with the flavour of spring onions. It made for a really great appetiser.

The Straits Chinese are traders, migrants and refugees who’ve made the Straits of Malacca their home. Coming from various ethno-linguistic and geographic backgrounds in China, they’ve adopted local customs and beliefs - creating a unique and fascinating sense of shared identity. It’s important to remember that there is a vast diversity of customs, traditions and food associated with this community, and Chao Xuan is one expressions of that diversity.

This place gets mixed reviews, in large part because of their philosophy of preparing and serving Teochew-style food that is as close as possible to the style and flavours they consider authentic. Penang food can be very bold and intense, and the more subtle flavours at play here is not to everyone’s taste. But we loved it!

Braised duck - the flavour of the duck was front and centre, with the sauce providing a great accent to the taste. Eaten with the stickier rice served here, it was very satisfying (and filling!)

Braised duck - the flavour of the duck was front and centre, with the sauce providing a great accent to the taste. Eaten with the stickier rice served here, it was very satisfying (and filling!)

We ordered a simple but satisfying meal for two, but there’s lots of options to explore at this place. Their menu mostly sticks to their theme of traditional (or as close to traditional) Teochew flavours, with the occasional flourish of spicy sambal or fried snack inspired by Malay or Nyonya cooking. If you’re thinking about what to do in Penang for lunch, and you’d like a break from the flavours of local street food, this is a good place for a change of flavours. We’re very interested to visit again and try more of what they offer. And of course when we do you’ll hear about it

Tofu in soy sauce - light and flavorful, it worked very well as a snack on the side

Tofu in soy sauce - light and flavorful, it worked very well as a snack on the side

When you’re ready for more Penang street food, check out these Three Types of Penang Noodles