Chapel Hill denizens will have noticed a new fixture on Franklin Street: Penang, a Asian-fusion yuppie bistro thing, to complement Lantern, another Asian-fusion yuppie bistro thing.
Let me say first that I'm strictly opposed to Asian fusion, and Penang represents true fusion -- Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Indian in more or less equal parts. Serving Indian and Chinese at the same table, say, makes as much sense to me as wrapping a hotdog in a crepe or melting brie on your cornbread. Thus with some difficulty we cobbled together a pure-bred Chinese meal. I have to say it wasn't too bad: nicely flavored, properly wok-seared, and so forth.
Problems with Penang are four-fold: 1) It's expensive, 2) It's annoying in its self-conscious efforts to be hip, 3) The menu is so mixed that maintaining purity of cuisine is very difficult, 4) It gets very loud.
I don't like the place, but I imagine others would. It's a better, slicker version of Pao Lim, I suppose.
I'd be interested to hear other reactions.