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Yeng Keng Cafe Bar and Restaurant,
Yeng Keng Hotel,
362, Lebuh Chulia,
10200 World Heritage City of George Town,
Pulau Pinang.

YENG Keng Cafe Bar and Restaurant takes diners back to the 1930s with its gorgeous, period-inspired decor and classic, time-honoured dishes.

Part of the charming heritage boutique hotel of the same name located in Chulia Street, George Town, Penang, it is famous for authentic Hainanese-style cuisine.

Those of a certain age would find its semi-oval plush sofas, marble-top tables and art decor, reminiscent of quaint cafes from yesteryear.

And while the surroundings provide a sensory delight, the delicious delicacies dished up by executive chef Tan Jee Yong are bound to bring back nostalgic memories.

The native of Hainan, China, who emigrated to Malaya as a child with his father after the war years, learnt his trade from a Hainanese master chef and has been a proponent of the cuisine ever since.

Favourites here include the Ark Or (braised duck with yam), a flavourful, traditional stew infused with bean paste, ginger, yam and waterfowl.

According to Tan, his Assam Prawns have more intense flavours compared to elsewhere. Besides the succulent meat, remember to suck on the shells as the thick marinade packs bags of flavour.

Other delights include Jiu Hoo Char, Curry Kapitan Chicken, Choon Pneah, Chap Chai Thng and Inchi Kabin (deep-fried chicken).

The cafe is also popular for its yummy Hainanese-styled Western offerings, like the ever-popular Yeng Keng Hainanese Chicken Chop, whose deep-fried, boneless poultry fillet goes well with savoury gravy.

Tasty offerings: Crab Mornay (foreground) and Assam Prawns.

Tasty offerings: Crab Mornay (foreground) and Assam Prawns.

Another is the Crab Mornay, which packs juicy crabmeat, mushrooms, cream and cheese into a crustacean shell, and then baked.

Tan, who believes in cooking with heart and passion, also dishes up great Beef Hor Fun. From simple constituents of wide noodles, eggs and beef, a delectable treat emerges.

The secret lies in the cooking technique, opined hotel manager Jacky Chung, who added that the beef they use was from the rib-eye, making for a more upscale version of the dish.

Other dishes of note range from Hainan Mee to Chicken Pie and Macaroni Pie, along with the Bomb Alaska, a house speciality dessert flambeed with much spectacle table side.

The café also offers Traditional Hainanese Course Dinners, priced from RM550++ onwards for a table of eight to 10 persons. Guests can choose their preferred dishes from a preset menu.

The whole place can also be booked for private parties for up to 50 pax, with set menu prices ranging from RM100++ per person.

Meanwhile, the function rooms can be used for meetings and more, on half or full-day basis with coffee breaks, for up to 40 pax. Prices start from RM600++.

Yeng Keng Hotel can also host Lau Tia Meh (traditional pre-wedding gatherings) at its spacious courtyard, with a Tng Tok (long table) layout for up to 100 guests.

This requires guests to book all 20 rooms at the hotel — built in the mid-1800s and refurbished to its former glory in 2010 — for a minimum one night’s stay.

The cafe, which also serves breakfast, is open from 7.30am to midnight daily (kitchen closes at 9.30pm). For more information and reservations, visit www.yengkengcafebar.com or call 04-2633177.

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