The newest Chinese restaurant in Penang opened on 9 Nov 2011, at the heavily-Peranakan decorated 1881 Chong Tian Cultural Hotel on Rope Walk, Georgetown, Penang.
The food was typical Chinese-Malaysian - spicier and with more assertive flavors than the Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew styles of cooking which dominate the Chinese culinary scene in Penang. We opted for the popular local dishes:
- Sambal prawns with asparagus spears. This dish was red-hot, with strong chilli flavors and "belachan" (fermented shrimp paste) which Penang is justifiably famous for;
- Seafood omelette - piquant, moist and chockful of fresh prawns, scallops and fish;
- Crisp-skinned almond chicken - absolutely delicious - the accompanying plum sauce was unnecessary;
- Cantonese-style steamed garoupa - this has got to be the freshest fish I'd had in a long while. Superior quality soysauce was used, and the steaming was perfectly timed;
- Braised tofu with seafood and French beans. Slightly bland and disappointing. A dash of Shaoxing wine in this dish would have done wonders;
- Claypot pork with salted fish - very well-doned: slow-cooked pork belly strips, infused with the salty fragrant fish which is another Penang specialty;
- Crisp-battered soft-shell crabs with salted ducks' yolk & curry leaves - another dish packed full of local Penang-Chinese flavors.
Dessert was the crispy pancakes filled with lotus paste, and creamy peanut soup.
It was a good meal, though the dishes tasted as if the chefs were pretty liberal with MSG. The ambience was incredible - the place was replete with Chinoiserie and Straits-Chinese antiques. Brilliantly designed 19th-century building.
Eastern Restaurant, 1881 Chong Tian Cultural Hotel
38 - 42, Rope Walk
Tel: +604 2631881