Breakfast of (local) Champions

They are usually up at the crack of dawn to prepare the batter of rice flour, eggs and sugar for their ‘apom manis’, which is known to locals as apam, apom lenggang and local crepes or pancakes.

Ravi (above) and his wife Devi (below) greet all customers with warm smiles and have no problems with remembering orders or the sequence they are placed.

Bone and I had a lovely time today watching them deftly prepare our special order and place them expertly in plastic containers with their signature banana leaf for styling purposes.

The humble push cart located outside the New Cathay coffee shop in Pulau Tikus, George Town is frequented by locals and tourists from 7.30am till around 11am from Mondays till Saturdays. Takeaways have and continue to be enjoyed by local and foreign royalty, and other dignitaries.

A pack of 5 apom manis is priced at RM4 and no accompaniments are needed as they melt in your mouth. A “premium” or more “atas” version is also available with an egg on top.

Thank you Devi and Ravi for opening earlier than your usual operating hours today, just so that our special visitors to Penang could enjoy your delicious apom manis for breakfast🙏🏼

Nala comes to George Town

We have ooh-ed and aaaah-ed at her original prints, designs and products and can’t seem to get over the fact that Nala Designs is a home-grown lifestyle label we can (and must) be proud of.

At long last, designer Lisette Scheers, the brains behind the label is opening on this island and George Town welcomes her and and her beautiful goodies!

Just in time for Christmas (shopping), the great Lisette has opened the doors of ‘Nala Biloba’ this week at 93, Lebuh Armenian.

Do pop in and be wowed by her extensive range of prints, handbags, paper products and more and know that you are biting into a piece of Malaysiana where each item comes with a charming story to it.

Happy Shopping and welcome to George Town, Nala Biloba and congratulations Lisette!

(All images courtesy of Lisette Scheers)

E & O to give Grand Dame a facelift

Before Penang’s grande dame hotel – the Eastern & Oriental Hotel (E&O) – closed the doors of her Heritage Wing for a facelift earlier this year, works were already in place by her design professionals on doing all they can to honour the spirit of the Sarkies Brothers who opened the hotel in 1884.

Datin Tham Oi Wah is no stranger to the hotel nor is her work within the group, Eastern & Oriental Berhad.

Years ago when taken on a tour of E&O’s Seri Tanjung Pinang development on Penang island, I asked who the designer was behind the show units. “Oi Wah” was the response and I was amazed by her exquisite taste in the choice of soft furnishings as these were definitely different from other property show units in Penang.

Prior to the refurbishment of the Heritage Wing this year, she and her team had worked on E&O Hotel’s adjoining Victory Annexe building.

“The historical structure and location of the Heritage Wing are the most ideal inspiration for our work, and it has helped me in coming up with the perfect concept and design for its new look,” says Tham.

“We strive to evoke the elegant charm of the early period of the hotel when prominent figures like Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling passed through the doors of the Grande Dame.

“It is quite challenging as we have to maintain the historic integrity of the 19th century structure while upgrading its amenities to the 21st century,” Tham notes.

With the Heritage Wing recognised as a historical building, Tham emphasised that they had to be very careful and strictly adhere to the guidelines set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation on the dos and don’ts.

“Structural challenges might also arise throughout the refurbishment which our team of architects, contractors and designers must solve with a high degree of flexibility and capability,” she added.

On managing the public’s expectation from the revamped Heritage Wing, Tham said guests strolling along the walkway would feel themselves being transported back to the olden days.

“It’s just like revisiting an old friend where they can reminisce the past while discovering the delights of its refreshed outlook.

“I also believe that the cherry on top would be the familiar faces of the E&O staff, whose friendly service are sure to complete the legendary experience, greeting the guests with their unmistakable brand of warm hospitality,” she said.

The E&O Group hopes that when the doors of the grande dame reopen in December with fully refreshed suites and new dining concepts, it would represent a new level of hospitality that would make the Sarkies Brothers proud.

Meanwhile, the hotel’s custodian and general manager Alison Fraser promises the time-honoured tradition of its signature English Afternoon Tea at the hotel as one feature which will stay put and feature in its new Palm Court outlet, where a collection of Asian favourites will also feature in its all-day dining menu.

“Other new outlets will include ‘Java Tree’ where classic heritage flavours will feature,” says Fraser.

“The name Farqhuar’s Bar has been maintained, but the concept is modelled on more of a vintage cocktail bar.”

Can’t wait to revisit and attempt whistling under the main dome of this heritage jewel!

(images courtesy of E&O Hotel)

The Grand Dame is back!

She promised us Dec 1, 2019 as the date the E&O Hotel would open the doors to her newly-upgraded Heritage Wing, and Alison Fraser kept to her word.

The custodian and general manager of Penang’s Grand Dame of Hospitality – the Eastern & Oriental Hotel – greeted members of the media and bloggers to the hotel ahead of its annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and played the gracious hostess.

The walkabout around the newly spiffed wing was a treat and left us all happy that the 134 year-old ‘Grand Lady’ is now refreshed and ready to “welcome home” travellers and Penang residents to her beautifully and luxuriously-appointed suites and to savour fabulously-developed food and beverage offerings.

The WiFi connection has been boosted, delicious beddings spread out, Panpuri Spa amenities placed in all the rooms, and other luxuries both big and small await the guests.

Dear and familiar faces like Jimmy Lee, Jesvinder Singh, JJ and the khaki-uniformed doormen will be on hand to welcome the paying public when doors officially open for business on Dec 20.

The now-famous front desk which featured in the opening scene of the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ will no doubt be a talking point for those hanging out in the lobby or checking in.

And who among us is not looking forward to a spot of the hotel’s famous afternoon tea in newly-created spaces around the property?

I know some of my friends who have checked out the Farquhar’s Bar and are looking forward to spending many happy evenings there after Dec 20!

Kudos and special mention to Faisol ‘Davo’ Abdullah for the spanking new and sharp uniforms designed.

Congratulations again Alison for all the hard work put in and showing us yet another female GM who stays at the top of her game!!!