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All about Penang & more

Penang today is very much an amalgam of the old and the new – a bustling port, a heritage city and an industrial base. Perhaps it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world. For sheer variety of locales, cultures and foods, Penang is hard to beat. Here are stories about Penang and more.

Discovering the versatility of the mangosteen, the "queen of fruits"

mangosteen © Adrian Cheah

Penang is widely acclaimed as a food paradise, renowned not only for its delectable street food and authentic Nyonya cuisine but also for its eclectic mix of foreign flavours. During fruit seasons, Penang is celebrated for its famous Balik Pulau durians as well as a variety of exotic tropical fruits including rambutans, mangosteens, cempedak (jackfruit) and langsat.

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The exotic hairy fruit called the rambutan

Penang rambutan © Adrian Cheah

In the vast range of local fruits available in Penang, the rambutan is a popular choice among Penangites. Rambutans are tied up in bunches of 50 or 100 each and sold at roadside stalls, at marketplaces and by some fruit vendors when in season. Prices vary according to size and quality. Rambutans sold in Penang are always fresh as they come straight from the local orchards.

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Types of durians I am crazy about

durian © Adrian Cheah

Different people crave different varieties of durians. However, I truly relish durians from older trees as they bear fruits that have buttery-smooth, thick and creamy flesh, often with a stronger "fragrance" and flavour. Even from the same tree, durians can vary from season to season as the trees are influenced by soil conditions and weather. Over different seasons, the Or Chi (Black Thorn) fruits do not necessarily taste the same.

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The journey of faith – the Haj

Haj © Zakaria Salim

Introduction

Hari Raya Haji (or Hari Raya Korban) falls on the 10th day of Zulhijah, the last month of the Muslim calendar. It is a major Islamic festival and of particular significance for pilgrims who have returned from performing the Haj or umrah (pilgrimage) in Mecca. It may not be as grand as Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (or Hari Raya Puasa) in terms of joyous celebrations, but is important nonetheless for Muslims the world over.

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Gustoso By The Beach: celebrating authentic Italian cuisine

Gustoso By The Beach © Adrian Cheah

"Gustoso", translates to "tasty" in English. True to its name, the restaurant offers delectable Italian cuisine ranging from antipasti to risotti and from pasta dishes to seafood delights. Situated at the prestigious 5-star PARKROYAL Penang Resort along the famed Batu Ferringhi beach, the restaurant welcomed its first guests in 2019. Under the leadership of Sardinian Head Chef Gianmario Bassu (fondly known as Chef Mario), Gustoso flourished. The menu he curated is still cherished today. Although Chef Mario completed his tenure (2019 – 2022) at PARKROYAL in Penang, his legacy lives on through his well-trained staff, who continue to uphold his culinary techniques and maintain the quality and flavours of his creations.

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Morpheus Restaurant Penang, making culinary dreams come true

Morpheus Restaurant Penang © Adrian Cheah

Morpheus Restaurant Penang is located at Lorong Aboo Sittee in the bustling city of George Town. It first opened its doors to the public in April 2023 by head chef and owner Andy Lai. Using top quality ingredients, each dish is crafted to showcase the coupling of culinary artistry and elegance. Here is an account of my inaugural dining experience at Morpheus.

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Durian, the sensational "King of the Fruits"

Penang durian © Adrian Cheah

“You should wash your hands using water poured over the inside chambers of a hollowed durian skin. It will remove the strong odour from your fingers", urged Mr Teh, my neighbour who accompanied me on a durian feast at one of the many durian orchards in Balik Pulau. That morning, we had a satisfying breakfast like no other, amidst the natural surroundings of the orchard, shaded by towering durian trees.

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The durian burger, a journey of discovery

durian burger © Adrian Cheah

I am game for all things durian. Durian egg tarts are delicious. Homemade durian ice cream is such a sinful treat, especially eaten with crispy kuih kapit (love letters). Passion Heart Cafe bakes one-of-a-kind Fresh Cream Durian Cake; it is a sponge cake layered with fresh cream and creamy durian paste, topped with durian kaya (coconut jam). This is one of my favourite cakes at the cafe.

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Stitching Through Hardship: A Nyonya's War-Time Chronicle

Emily © Adrian Cheah

At the Church of the Assumption, nestled amidst the charming streets of George Town, the hearts of Louis Michael Martin and Emily Elizabeth Surin became forever entwined. Their love story, like a cherished melody, found its harmonious crescendo on that memorable day of 7 August 1926. Officiating their marriage was Rev. Fr. P. Lerond. The church must have looked different from what we see today as it underwent a major renovation in 1928 when two wings were added.

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In the Best of Company: Postcards from the Hajj

Mike Gibby
Design and layout by Adrian Cheah, ACEK Creative Solutions

In the Best of Company: Postcards from the Hajj

Muslim pilgrims have been travelling for Hajj for more than fourteen centuries. How similar, how different have their experiences been? In our changing world, how has the safety and convenience of air travel changed the experience of Hajj?

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Appetising set meals worth exploring at Morpheus Restaurant Penang

Morpheus Restaurant Penang © Adrian Cheah

Penangites, ever prudent, would be first in line for a good bargain. With the rising cost of goods, restaurateurs now face the daunting task of offering value-for-money meals that do not compromise on quality or presentation. At RM48+, Morpheus presents set meals with four choices for mains – two pasta dishes, a fish entrée and a chicken option. I have sampled all four and am pleased to say that Chef Andy has created not only delectable soups and main courses but also meals that are a feast for the eyes. His commitment to quality is evident in every dish, making Morpheus an ideal destination for anyone seeking to indulge in a good meal without breaking the bank.

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Penang ban chien kuih, filled with grounded peanuts, creamed corn and more

ban chang kuih © Adrian Cheah

Ban chien kuih, a popular street snack in Penang is easily available throughout the state. In Hokkien, ban chien kuih 慢煎粿 (or ban cien koay, ban chean kueh, ban chang kuih or ban jian kway) literally means "slow-fried cake".

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