Where to go for German food in Penang.

ALTHOUGH Penang is long known for its close relationship with the British, the Germans have also played a significant role in the history of the island. In her book More Than Merchants, Khoo Salma Nasution tells of a Paul Keller who was appointed police magistrate in November 1805, making him possibly the earliest German to be mentioned in Penang records.

In his preface to the aforementioned book, honorary consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Penang Datuk Herbert A. Weiler, writes: “At the turn of the 20th century, with the rise of industrialisation, many inventions, innovative tools and machineries were produced in Germany. Traders … saw great opportunities to sell these products abroad … One such place was Penang.”

However, it was only in the last few decades, with the establishment of the Industrial Free Trade Zone by then chief minister, the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, that more Germans made Penang their home. As far as can be ascertained, there are now 400 to 500 Germans living up here, most of whom work for one of the 50 or so German companies in the Northern Region.

The Malaysian-German Society (MGS), founded in 1962 by Peter Huetz and friends to “promote friendship and understanding between locals and Germans in Penang”, has been a mainstay of the German-speaking population in the state.

Events and cultural activities are held regularly, including language and cooking lessons, talks, concerts and festivals. The most well-known is undoubtedly their popular Oktoberfest, the first of which was organised by former honorary German consul George Friele in 1973.

As the society celebrates its 50th Anniversary on May 7, I thought it apt to see what kind of food was available for both the German community and locals to savour.

Until recently, there wasn’t much choice, bar some canned goods and the odd pumpernickel bread, but now there are several outlets in town.

President of MGS Karl Ebinger, who in fact started (the now defunct) Wunderbar, the first German outlet on the island in the early 1990s, approves: “The German food in Penang is quite a high standard.”

Weiler, who has been here since 1976, says it’s good albeit with a bit of localisation.

Most outlets have a wide variety of German brews to go with their roasted pork knuckles, bratwursts, schnitzels and sauerkraut, but each also has unique offerings.

Ingolf’s Kneipe

The longest-surviving must be Ingolf’s Kneipe, the “neighbourhood pub” in Hillside started by Ingolf Sossna in 1998. The former executive chef offers a range of German home cooking which is getting rarer even in Germany. A deutsche spezialität is Stuffed Beef Roulade: Flattened topside stuffed with fried onions, gherkins and other ingredients, rolled, tied and baked after browning. This is served with a red wine and mustard gravy, home-made Rotkohl (red cabbage) and mashed or boiled potatoes.

1F Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah. Tel: 04-899 5796; info@ingolfskneipe.com

Weissbräu German Bistro & Bar

In Straits Quay, Weissbräu is the only place in Penang that serves bottled Schneider beer. Their German/Austrian menu includes a unique Alsatian Flammküchen, which is like a pizza but without the tomato base. The very thin dough is baked, spread with sour cream and roasted caramelised onions, then sprinkled with a variety of toppings. Their sausages, proprietor Wayne Yoon assures me, is homemade without MSG, preservatives, binding agents or fillers.

Lot 3C-G-1 Straits Quay, Jalan Sri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong. Tel: 04-890 1808

Berlin’s Bier Houz

Across the quay is Berlin’s Bier Houz which offers German and European dishes. A house specialty is the German Meat Balls. They stock over 40 different beers, including nine on tap.

“Our exclusive beers are Löwenbräu lager, an official Oktoberfest beer for Germany, and König Ludwig royal beer from Bavaria,” according to partners Danny Wong and Ethan Cheong. There is a branch in Bay Avenue near Queensbay Mall.

3E-G-38 Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong. Tel: 04-899 8887; www.fnblibrary.com

Euro Deli Biergarten Penang

The importers and makers of Swiss and German sausages and processed meats opened up in Penang in December last year. The large biergarten on the ground floor of Gurney Plaza specialises in those German favourites – you’ve guessed it – beer and pork.

A particular crowd favourite is their Bacon Quiche, full-flavoured and packed with chopped smoky bacon, although big eaters might decide to have a go at their recently-introduced Matterhorn Challenge: Down their giant 3kg burger in 45 minutes, and you don’t just get it gratis but another RM100 on top!

Unit 170-G-37/37A Ground Floor, Gurney Plaza, Persiaran Gurney. Tel: 04-227 2771; www.eurodeli.com.my

Edelweiss Café

Although not strictly German, the café’s Swiss cuisine comes close enough to warrant inclusion. Set in a deep heritage shophouse in Armenian Street, proprietor Teresa Capol learnt how to make crispy rösti, tart sauerkraut and other favourites from her Swiss father-in-law.

Their best-selling, foot-long, curried B52 sausage is extremely popular. However, if you want a steamboat with a difference, try their kirsch-laced Cheese Fondue. It’s fun but be warned: Drop the little square of bread into the molten cheese, and custom dictates that as penalty you have to kiss someone at your table!

Before you pucker up and rush there, please note the café is closing for renovations and will only reopen some time in June.

FCEEB6E1E3434C34AD7D60A025916018Hulking hamburger: Ivan Yap of Euro Deli withthe 3kg Matterhorn Challenge.

38 Armenian Street, George Town. Tel: 04-261 8935; www.edelweisscafe.com

 

That Little Wine Bar

You’ve seen him in action on AFC; now check out Chef Tommes’s cooking. Their German pork sausages are specially made for them, and come with Sauerkraut and Potato Salad.

Jalan Chow Thye, George Town. Tel: 04-226 8182

Northam Beach Café

In the evenings, Ah Aun sells German sausages with mash at his stall in Northam Beach Café.

Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, George Town.

 

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