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What’s On Penang |

December 2011

Your guide to Getting the most out of Penang Hotels, Restaurants, Nightlife and so much more...

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Inside: Weissbrau German Bistro Vorsprung durch ‘Attention to Detail’

The Shangri La Story

Malaysia’s Wealthiest Self-made Billionaire

Little Bit of Irish!

Where to find the Craic this holiday season

OutReach Development Helping the kids, building the future

Penang’s Expanding Art Scene PenangPAC opens its doors

Licensed to Grill

Feringgi Grill has its very own 007! Is Christmas Just for Kids? The Best Xmas Movies?

Regular Features

Football Crazy Boyz Toyz Penang Property

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to You All! We just wanted to wish everyone a great holiday this year. Christmas is a time of giving and a time of thinking about others. It’s a time for looking back on the year just gone, taking out the good bits to be preserved as happy memories for the future and learning from the bad bits so we don’t make the same mistakes again, hopefully. For me it’s always been a time for family. No matter how far flung the modern day family may now be, Christmas evokes memories of driving around my native London visiting Aunts and Uncles, exchanging bags of presents and consuming unimaginable amounts of sausage rolls, mince pies and the odd sherry if the grown ups weren’t looking. For the New Year, well it’s resolutions to do better, get thinner and live more healthily. In reality, it’s a time for hope and new motivations. Whatever your beliefs, wherever you may be, ‘What’s On Penang’ truly wishes you the best of Christmas holidays and the most successful and inspiring of New Years.

Xmas Nibbles The first Christmas Trees came to Britain sometime in the 1830’s. They became very popular in 1841, when Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s German husband) had a Christmas Tree set up in Windsor Castle. Ever since then, Christmas Trees have been a part of a British Christmas. The custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from England! The original custom was that a berry was picked from the sprig of Mistletoe before the person could be kissed and when all the berries had gone, there could be no more kissing! Father Christmas has evolved from the story of St. Nicholas. He was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century AD in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey). A very rich man he was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. Why is Christmas Day on the 25th December? No date is given in the Bible for Jesus’s birthday, so why do we celebrate it on the 25th December? Christmas was first celebrated on December 25th in 336 AD by Roman Emperor Constantine (the 1st Christian Emperor). A few years later Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.


Weissbrau German Bistro Vorsprung durch ‘Liebe zum Detail’ As a parody on the famous Audi advert, Weissbrau forge forward through a distinctly Germanic ‘Attention to Detail’. In a relatively short period of time, Strait’s Quay has accumulated a high level of top eateries and has become the place to go for the best selection of good food and entertainment venues on Penang. One of the first to open in November 2010, Weissbrau German Bistro & Bar is also one of its finest in terms of authentic Germanic Food, with dishes from Germany, Switzerland and France. The Co-owner and operations Director for Weissbrau’s and Spasso Milano’s Penang and Northern Malaysia’s locations is Wayne Yoon. A Korean National who has spent more of his life outside of Korea

than in it. From early childhood this charismatic and amiable professional has lived overseas, spending the last twenty plus years working in high end hotels in and around Asia, after training in some of Europe’s most respected and well known Hotels, including a spell at some of the best Hotels in Zurich, Switzerland. Here he met his now business partner Daniel and also the group’s Top Consultant chef for the Weissbrau menu, Pascal Snieder. Who could have imagined 20 years ago that two of the three young trainees would become partners and the third collaborate as their consultant chef in what could be said to be the best Germanic food available in Malaysia! Wayne and Daniel are also

partners in their Italian Restaurant, Spasso Milano. They have a branch in KL as well as one here in Strait’s Quay, Penang, but more of Spasso Milano later. Weissbrau German Bistro & Bar has a panoramic view over the marina and the vista of sea and mainland Malaysia beyond that. With a large portion of their seating outside to take advantage of the climate and the view we can see why this popular Bistro is attracting a regular clientele. You may come for the food but the ambience created in their al fresco dining area, on sofas and seating under huge umbrellas, being gently cooled by the sea breeze and lulled by the gentle clanking of the marinas berthed yachts is worth the trip alone. Just the same as when you are in Europe, sitting in St Tropez or Porto Buenus, outside the bistro’s there whilst slipping into the daydream of actually owning one of these multimillion dollar yachts, enjoying a cup of coffee or a nice lunch with wine or beer, it is one of the most enjoyable ways of spending a sunny afternoon. Currently the lunch crowds are missing at Strait’s Quay but that just gives you the opportunity of really relaxing


Thailand, Casa Pascal which has a reputation all on its own. Who better than a top chef brought up with Germanic food to design the menu and set the recipes for Weissbrau as well as being an old friend and colleague than Chef Pascal.

and taking your time, perhaps with a newspaper or magazine over coffee and then onto a leisurely lunch. This is a luxury that most tourists would die for if only they knew it existed. The Menu at Weissbrau, as mentioned earlier was created by Pascal Sneider a renowned Chef of some repute having

been in key positions in some of the world’s best Hotels and resorts. Born in Korea, Pascal was raised in Switzerland and schooled in the most prestigious Swiss hotels as well as many other top hotels around the world. He owns a very fine restaurant in

German food is not as well known in Malaysia as Italian but it has its high points and these are evident on Weissbrau’s menu. The most popular dish on the menu is the Knuckle of Pork. This dish is not for the faint hearted as its portion size has been known to beat the best of them - me included. The pork Knuckle (Weissbrau only use the slightly smaller but much more tasty and meatier forelegs) is marinated in a four


day preparation process before it is roasted in the oven to perfection. With a crisp almost brittle crackling that has been known to have you salivating before even taking a bite, you have been warned! Under this crisp outer layer lies the most succulent pork you will ever taste. Moist to the point of almost melting in your mouth, the meat has a wonderful aroma and texture that is perfectly accompanied by the mashed potato or Rosti and Sauerkraut. Now, for those that have never eaten Sauerkraut the name does give a clue, a little sour and a lot of cabbage. The amazing thing is that sauerkraut may be an acquired taste if you were to eat it on its own but when eaten with potato and succulent pork the


vinegar cuts through the rich and fatty taste to perfection. Do not just taste sauerkraut on its own and instantly dismiss it for being too sour, it is meant to be, just try it as suggested with a little pork and potato and the result will be sheer heaven. The dish of Sauerkraut (translation = Sour/Cabbage) comes from a medieval recipe in the days long before there was refrigeration when the winter green cabbage was abundant but once harvested would deteriorate rather quickly. The resourceful peasants and masters would pickle the cabbage in a concoction of herbs, spices and vinegars which preserved the cabbage for many months. It must have been a very similar story in Korea as Kim chi and sauerkraut

have similar pedigrees if not tastes!! (you see there is a German/Korean connection after all!!). The second most popular dish on the menu is the Giant Wienersnitzel and when we say Giant we mean it!! Very few people can eat this entirely on their own - in fact Wayne can only recall 2-3 people ever managing this feat of gastronomic endeavour, it is usually shared between two. This is a slice of pork Loin that is gently beaten ever thinner until you have an almost paper thin slither of the most tender meat that is then coated in breadcrumbs and then sautĂŠed over a gentle to medium heat until the meat is cooked to perfection and the breadcrumbs have turned a golden brown. Traditionally served with a squeeze of

Now for me there two things that should be served with rich meals like this and that is a good white yeast beer like Erdinger Weiss or a nice glass of white wine. This finely balanced menu has much more to offer than just these mentioned items and I hope to cover the remaining items on my next visits (For I shall surely be back again and again!!) but this should be a good introduction to those of you who were wondering what to order.

lemon in my household (again with the sharp and sour taste to accompany the pork to cut through any fatty taste, more from the fact it has been shallow fried not from the meat which is usually extremely lean) and lashings of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut or vegetables. The Third most popular dish would be the Schublig Sausage, a rather large (35 cm long) and rather thick pork sausage that quite often leads to smirks and a few blushes when presented on the table as it is really rather a fine specimen!! A German meal without pork would be rare and one where a sausage does not make an appearance would be most unusual, so it is not surprising that the top three positions are taken by these porcine contenders. The third spot is taken by..... wait for it - Caesars Salad Weissbrau style. And no,

there is not much pork in this dish of Romaine lettuce leaves dressed with beaten raw egg yolk, olive oil, lemon (which to be honest is the majority of the pre-emulsified main raw ingredients in mayonnaise, probably the reason I enjoy this dish so much) and served with scrapings of Parmesan cheese and decorated with anchovies and croutons. This can also be served with a side order of Smoked Salmon or curried Chicken for RM8 or RM 6 respectively. The fourth most popular spot on this exhaustive menu is a sausage and it is filled with pork but the skin is imported sheep casings and comes in 3 favourite home-made styles; herb, chilli and pepper. These delicious sausages are served with a choice of 2 side dishes, one potato choice and one vegetable (I went for the Rosti {a par-boiled potato that is grated and made into a patty and then fried in butter} and Sauerkraut).

If you do not eat pork then you would definitely be better off plumping for Spasso Milano as it offers a pork free menu but is definitely not Halal as the sauces do contain wine. The chefs are well trained to follow the recipes to perfection but that is not to say that a customers’ requirements are not taken into consideration as Wayne pointed out to me that every customers preference is catered to and if you do have a dietary restriction or request you should consult with your service staff to let them know and wherever possible it will be carried out to your order. Weissbrau German Bistro and Bar is predominantly a food crowd with the split roughly 70/30 food to drink. With this range and quality of food and service I am not surprised. Even though there are 2 German themed establishments at Strait’s Quay there is a marked difference in what they offer. Weissbrau offers a Bistro with a predominance on the Food but carries an excellent range of German Beers and Berlin


Bier Houz (BBH) has the crowd and feel of a German Pub/bar that also does Germanic Food. BBH also has a much younger crowd in the range of mid twenties to thirties whereas Weissbrau has a more mature and family orientated crowd in the over 40’s bracket. There is a no smoking policy inside at Weissbrau who caters more to the diner and family patron whereas BBH does allow smoking inside so may suit you better if you want to smoke at the dinner table and do not mind a more pub like atmosphere when you are dining. Each to their own. Wayne is a service and food professional that believes in quality in both areas and demands nothing less from his staff and is constantly improving each area with regular and ongoing staff training to ensure the customer is king. He does not believe in second best and his policy of striving for perfection means

a Christmas Dinner or New Years Dinner that would be!!!

that you will not be seeing any mob gathering discount coupon options for either of his restaurants any time soon as he believes in keeping the quality of ingredients and service levels that his customers have come to expect. Drop the price and something has to suffer in the long run is his philosophy. He does however believe in rewarding his most loyal and regular clients. In December, starting on the 23rd, he plans on offering a two line buffet with a marquee covered area between his two places with the band Mad Sally (who also played at his menu re-launch back in April of this year as well as the first years anniversary of Weissbrau at Straits Quay which was over the weekend of November 25/26th) playing in the middle. One buffet offering Italian fare from Spasso Milano and the other Germanic fare from Weissbrau. This is planned for December 23/24/25 and also 30/31/01 January, all subject to confirmation. What


When Wayne does manage to get some time off with his family he likes to get out and eat local foods as well as eating in Daorae restaurant which he considers to be the best Korean restaurant on Penang. He also enjoys his neighbours food to dine with the family at the Cheeky Duck and his third choice would be the Spice Market at ShangriLa’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, part of the Shangri La Hotel chain in Batu Ferringhi, especially on Monday or Tuesday when there is a 2 for one promotion which puts into the financial reach of a family of four!! Wayne does feel that there is a lacking in the Indian Restaurant sector as he is yet to find a quality restaurant that has North Indian dishes with fine ingredients and would love to find one as he adores Northern Indian cuisine having spent so much of his working life there. The same could be said of the Thai restaurant market as he has yet to find a great one of those either. Maybe we will see a third or fourth restaurant in Penang from Wayne and his partners in the coming years ahead. They seem to open a restaurant a year so far here as well as the restaurants they have in KL, so perhaps this trend will continue!

Is Christmas Just for Kids? As a kid Christmas was a time of anticipation and excitement. Waiting to see what Father Christmas was going to bring was the highlight of the year. On Christmas Eve we would visit relatives from all over town delivering presents to cousins and stopping for a mini party at each house. Here would be mince pies, curry pies and peanuts and crisps served with lots of fizzy drinks. Tired at the end of the evening and with warnings that if we were “not asleep by midnight Santa would not deliver the presents� we usually drifted off to our dreams of wonders yet to come. The next morning we would wake at the crack of dawn expectantly searching the end of our bed for the stocking we had hung up the night before - was it full or had Santa been paying attention this year? Despite being pretty bad most years, Santa never disappointed. We would rush through opening our stocking presents and then creep downstairs to see what he had left under the

tree. In England when I was growing up we had real snow and real Christmas trees. The smell of fresh pine needles as we crashed downstairs in the semi-dark with only the Christmas tree lights shining was a wondrous sense to start the day off with. We had rules, we were not to open any tree presents until our parents were up and ready to hand them out. So, the next port of call was to awaken our parents with cries of what amazing things Santa had left in our stockings and what a huge collection had been left under the tree!! First was breakfast on the run. Each year as we grew older the breakfast grew in importance and quality. Smoked salmon in scrambled egg or fresh smoked ham and eggs. Croissant and jam, the list goes on. After opening presents all morning, and this would go on for several hours with each present having to be selected, handed to the recipient and then opened before moving on. Every last drop of anticipation was wrung for all its worth and boy was it worth doing as the day stretched out into seemingly never ending presents. Lunch would be served after a couple of hours of playing with each present for a few minutes each. A large Roast Turkey, an H-Bone of Beef and

a whole Ham. Roast potatoes, parsnips, onions, garden peas, sweet corn, carrots baked with honey, Brussels Sprouts, pumpkin, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and lashings of thick home-made gravy. Was Christmas just for kids? - In our house it certainly was and for too many years Mothers work went unthanked and to be honest unrecognised. Thank you Mum and Dad for making our childhoods so memorable and a shout out to all you other parents that have made Christmas so special for your children - you deserve a big reward. We are lucky enough to have our parents out in Penang with us this year and Mum is still providing the Christmas Feast. But this time she has paid for all of us to go and enjoy the culinary skills of the E & O Hotel chefs. Time for her to put her feet up and enjoy Christmas!


The Shangri La Story Shangri-La Asia Ltd. is the Asian region’s leading and fastest-growing luxury hotel group. The company, part of Malaysia’s Kuok Group, operates 45 hotels throughout Asia.

Shangri-La remains a tiny part of the Kuok business empire. Nonetheless, founder Robert Kuok holds an active interest in the group, and has stated his desire to see Shangri-La reach 100 hotels in his lifetime.

In 2005, the company also began a drive into the European and North American markets, including the launch of construction on its first European hotel, in London, expected to be completed in 2009.

In 2004, the company posted revenues of $726 million.

The company has opened its first hotel in the Middle East, in Dubai, and in the Maldives. Mainland China, however, forms the heart of the company’s empire, with more than 20 hotels in operation, and at least 15 more expected to open before 2010. Shangri-La is unusual among international hotel companies in that it owns a significant proportion of its hotels; of the hotels under the group’s management not wholly owned by the company, most are owned by other companies in the Kuok Group, and especially by ShangriLa’s own major shareholder, Kerry Properties Ltd. Shangri-La hotels primarily operate under the luxury, fivestar Shangri-La brand. The company also operates a smaller number of mid-range, business-oriented Traders hotels. Listed on the Hong Kong and Singapore Stock Exchanges, 10

Kuok Family Origins in the 1970’s The Kuok family immigrated to Malaysia, then under British control, from the Fujian province in China in the first decade of the 20th century. Under patriarch Kuok Keng Kang the family entered the trading business, dealing in rice, flour, and sugar. Kuok, like many successful Chinese emigrés, sent his children overseas to study. Son Robert, born in 1927, went to the Raffles school in Singapore, where he became good friends with Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, both of whom later became Malaysian prime ministers, and Lee Kuan Yew, who became the first prime minister of Singapore after its independence. Although his education was cut short by World War II, Robert Kuok’s friendships were to play an important role in his later career. Kuok’s use of “guanxi” (which in Chinese refers to having a network of prominent allies) enabled him to build his empire rapidly both during and after the war.

Kuok also was gifted with the ability to spot opportunity, and especially to see into the long term. During the Japanese occupation of Malaysia and Singapore during the war, Kuok went to work for Mitsubishi, where he learned Japanese. This enabled him to emerge as an important supplier of basic foodstuffs.

Tan Sri Robert Kuok

Following the war, Kuok recognized that heavy competition and low margins had made the rice trade unattractive. Instead, Kuok switched his efforts to the sugar trade, and moved to England, where he learned his way around the commodities markets before returning to Malaysia. Following Malaysia’s independence in 1957, Kuok’s guanxi enabled him to build a true sugar empire, developing significant plantations. In 1959, Kuok entered sugar refining as well. Before long, Kuok had established a reputation as the “Sugar King,” controlling as much as 10 percent of the world’s sugar supply. Despite remaining a minority in Malaysia, the ethnic Chinese community had

Important Dates 1971: Robert Kuok extends interests into property and hotel development, building his first hotel in Singapore. 1981: Kuok establishes a second hotel in Kowloon, launching the Shangri-La brand, and entering direct hotel management. 1982: The company incorporates as Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts. 1984: The company opens its first ShangriLa hotel in Hangzhou, China.

long dominated the country’s economy. Growing demands for a more equitable distribution of wealth in the country led Kuok to transfer his business empire to Singapore in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Nonetheless, Kuok supported the need to establish a more equitable distribution of wealth, if only to ensure the country’s political and economic stability. At the same time, Kuok had begun to expand his business interests into other areas. In the mid1960’s, for example,

Kuok entered flour milling and trading. The Kuok Group, as Kuok’s business empire came to be known, also added interests in palm oil (PPB Oil Palms Bhd.), tanker operations (Malaysian Bulk Carries Bhd.), and even media interests, particularly the South China Morning Post. Yet among Kuok’s most significant and most successful ventures was his entry into the real estate and property development sector in the early 1970’s. Kuok’s Kerry Properties became his

real estate flagship, emerging as one of the leading property groups in Hong Kong, with significant real estate holdings and developments throughout the Asian region, including the Chinese mainland, as well as Australia and elsewhere. Among Kuok’s early real estate purchases was a hotel property in Singapore. Built in 1971, this property became the starting point for the later Shangri-La luxury hotel chain. Initially, the Kuok group turned over the management of

1989: The mid-range Traders Hotel brand is launched, with the first site in Beijing. 1995: The company establishes publicly listed Shangri-La Asia, which acquires the Kuok-owned hotel properties, and then goes public on the Singapore and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. 1996: ShangriLa Asia buys 15 hotel sites under development in China from the Kuok-owned companies. 1997: ShangriLa Asia acquires Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, creating an integrated hotel ownership and management group.


its hotel property to Westin Hotels. In 1981, however, the company added its second hotel, in Kowloon. The new hotel marked Kuok’s entry into direct hotel management, as well as ownership. Launching the ShangriLa brand, Kuok founded a new company for its hotel interests, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, in 1982. An important factor behind Shangri-La’s later success was Kuok’s willingness to turn over its direction to hotel industry professionals David Hayden and Robert Hutchinson, both of whom had worked for Westin.

Claiming the Chinese Mainland The combination of Kuok’s guanxi and the market experience of Hayden and Hutchinson enabled the company to make a significant move in the mid-1980’s. In 1984, the company opened its first hotel on the Chinese mainland, in Hangzhou, on the eastern coast, becoming a pioneer in the country’s virtually nonexistent luxury hotel market. The company’s choice of that market also revealed its ability to plan for the long term. Rather than simply target China’s major and most well-known markets, such as Beijing and Shanghai, Shangri-La saw potential in developing its position in lesser-known and smaller cities. In this way, the company’s properties became the first, 12

and often only, luxury hotel in a given area. Many of these cities nonetheless had populations of five million or more, and represented important industrial growth areas. Shangri-La launched a second hotel brand in 1989, with a first site in Beijing. Called Traders. The new hotel chain gave the company a mid-range brand, with sparser accommodation. Nonetheless, the company installed the same level of luxury services at the new Traders hotel, as a part of its creation of a bridge level between the four-star and five-star hotel grades. Traders represented part of the group’s long-term strategy as well, targeting locations with no luxury hotels. By introducing the Traders brand, the company hoped to develop a market for luxury hotel services, paving the way for the entry of its Shangri-La brand as well. Shangri-La grew only slowly

during the 1980’s, however. By the beginning of the 1990’s, the group counted just six hotels. Yet the company had developed a strong foundation for growth into the new decade. In the early 1990’s, the company doubled the number of hotels, owned by Kerry Properties and other Kuok companies, adding sites in Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Fiji. In the meantime, the Kuok Group began expanding its property interests in mainland China, launching 12 new developments, including hotels, in the early 1990’s. In the mid-1990’s, Kuok set up a second property ownership vehicle, Shangri-La Asia Ltd., which paid the Kuok group HKD $4.2 billion to acquire the existing Shangri-La properties in 1995. Shangri-La Asia was then listed on the Hong Kong and Singapore Stock Exchanges, reducing Kuok’s stake to less than 63 percent.

The following year, ShangriLa Asia paid another HKD 2.5 billion ($321 million) to buy up the 12 Kuok hotel properties under development in China. Then, in 1997, propertyowning Shangri-La Asia took over hotel management company Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, becoming an integrated hotel management and ownership group. By the end of the decade, Shangri-La’s portfolio had grown to 39 properties, including 17 hotels in operation or under development in China alone. Indeed, the company’s early focus on the mainland Chinese market helped shield it from the worst of the Asian economic crisis in the later half of the 1990’s, from which China emerged relatively unscathed. Shangri-La also had begun developing its interests beyond the Asian region. At the beginning of the century, the company added its first hotel in the Middle East, in Dubai. The company also acquired its first North American property, the Pacific Palisades in Vancouver, Canada. Next month, we conclude our Shangri La story by charting their progress through the ‘noughties’ and bringing you up to date with their current expansion plans.


A Little Bit Of Irish Goes A Long Way! Being from Irish decent I must freely admit to gravitating towards Irish pubs wherever I happen to be in the World. Just like Irish emigrants around the globe you are never far from an Irish Pub. If you have ever been to Ireland then you know that the majority of pubs are old small and shabby with clutter in every nook and cranny. The Irish Pub as a global concept tends to be more like an American Irish Bar with open plan dining and drinking tables scattered over the ubiquitous wooden floors. To be honest, as much as I love the tiny claustrophobic Public House of Ireland it does not translate that well to warmer climes where you need higher ceilings and large opening doors to get the air flowing and to make the most of the weather. A real Irish Pub transplanted to Penang would decapitate most of the revellers once the ceiling fans were installed and that just does not go down well with the locals, it’s normally the morning after the night before that you need to be decapitated. What really sets an Irish Pub apart is the atmosphere and on Saturday night this was created at Finnegan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant located at Strait’s Quay, Penang. The large open bar could have

been purpose built to host bands and as it seats close to 350 people inside and out the atmosphere is created and builds the busier it gets. On Saturday night the revellers started arriving at Finnegan’s as the band was setting up at 9 pm and by the time they were ready to start their first set the place was starting to hum and by their first break there wasn’t a free table in the place. The holy grail for any ‘night owl’ on Penang is finding the best places to eat, drink and listen to good music. Food is not a problem to find nor is just a watering hole but finding good live music to listen to as well is more of a challenge. I grew up in London where pubs were a plenty and band nights were scattered around the larger pubs with an abundance of live performances varying in quality from world class to bloody awful. So when I moved to Penang a year ago I set myself the quest, in a half-hearted manner, to find the best of Penang’s live music scene. Finnegan’s Irish Pub and restaurant was one of, if not the first, establishment open in Straits Quay when the Marina complex was opened at the end of last year, and one of the first on my new list

of Best of Penang’s live music venues. Finnegan’s continues to offer regular live music at Strait’s Quay, with the current band Acidic Bunch, a new collection of tried and tested talented musicians. Formed as a group in the last year, they showcased at Hard Rock Hotel where they have just finished a run of shows. Acidic Bunch, which numbers 7 members in its full lineup, are all from different musical backgrounds. They offer a great pub music sound with a varied set of modern and classic popular numbers. 1. IZWAN (vocals) is an exPAKU member, a local rock outfit who toured London & Ireland with several hit songs and nominated for Best Rock Song in local music awards. He possesses powerful rock vocals and has been singing locally at the Hard Rock Hotel & Golden Sands Hotel.


venues like ‘G’ Hotel, & 32 The Mansion. He played main stage for the 1st Penang Jazz Festival.

2. RAY (vocals/rap) is of mix Thai & Chinese origin. He has a smooth voice & is versatile in singing English, Thai, Malay, Chinese & Spanish songs. Ray also raps to the latest hits and often performs in Bangkok, Thailand.

7. EZEKIEL (keyboards), the latest member, is a talented musician with a background in music production & recording. He is also a freelance sessionist & produces music jingles. They may all come from different beginnings but they sure do blend together in one tight group with vocals and musical ability at the top of

3. JASMINE (vocals) has a sexy, powerful & husky voice. She is a great dancer & performer too. She’s an experienced singer who is often in demand for corporate functions. 4. AARON (guitar/vocals) loves to play funky riffs & hard rocking grooves. He has a sweet voice that will melt the hearts of those who listen. Aaron’s a seasoned performer as seen at functions like Gurney Plaza’s Annual New Year’s Eve Countdown concert and other notable corporate functions. 5. ALWYN (drums) is the youngest member of the band. He plays powerful rock beats & grooves. He’s currently a drums instructor with House of Drums. He performs regularly in Hard Rock Penang with his acoustic band. 6. CC (bass) comes from a jazz background and he has been playing in music 16

their game. The problem for all new bands is finding their sound and as the majority of gigs on offer call for cover songs that is what Acidic Bunch provide for now. When I spoke to the band at the start of the evening I asked where their name came from. Aaron told me that they gravitated together around acid jazz and the name grew out of this association. The guys also answered a few questions that had been burning in me for the last year. Namely, why were there not more live music venues? They put it down to the fact

that most places feel that they cannot afford to have a band. This is a little like saying that a business cannot afford to advertise, if you do not advertise you will never have the money or trade to keep going or expand, the same with a live band. There is no denying that a live performance, coupled with promoting the fact, will bring you more customers and once customers come and like the place you can start to build a loyal fan. They are still finding their own sound but it won’t be long before we hear some new and original music from these guys and we at ‘What’s On Penang’ will keep you updated. So get yourself down to Finnegan’s on Straits Quay for a great night out and some of the best live music around.

The Orphanage OutReach Development Children are not a pressure group; they seldom get a chance to speak out for themselves and when they do they are not often heard. Children, regardless of where they live, orphaned or at risk need to be loved - in whatever form possible. It takes people like May Bouquet-Brown to speak for them through experience and courage. On the busy side steps of a café shopfront in Malaysia, a young woman without any identification died giving birth to a baby girl with Eurasian eyes. A lady witnessing the event asked to take the little orphan home. The baby girl was cared for at Rumah Kanak-Kanak Taman Bakti, Jebatan Kebajikan, Kepala Batas (children without parents) Welfare Department until she caught the attention of a Chinese family with her big almond shaped eyes. The family adopted the child and later migrated to Australia. It would take the next 33 years for the child, May BouquetBrown to discover that she was adopted and her mother had died bringing her into the world. “Knowing that I’m adopted makes me realise how fortunate I was to have been provided with a good life,” says May. “I am aware that not many children will ever get May Bouquet-Brown the opportunity like I had.” 18

May was one of the fortunate ones to attend schooling in an “affluent” society. She pursued her dreams to study in performing arts and had the opportunity at an early age to accompany her adopted father, a general practitioner, to emergency house calls. Progressively, May became aware of the importance and honour of her father’s line of duty to save lives and aid those in need. It came as no surprise that May followed in his footsteps and volunteered to help the people of Penang. In May’s quest to know more about her origins in Malaysia, she returned to her birthplace and was immediately confronted with the poor healthcare conditions in hospitals such as patients lying in wards without airconditioning and limited equipment. It was a world so far away from the lifestyle that May lived in Australia. Then there were the countless children May saw crowding orphanages across Malaysia. May quickly discovered that while adoption is a solution for some, hundreds of thousands of children in Malaysia and around the world had been forgotten. Some of the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. In reality, only healthy children, mostly babies, are adopted.

There are very few unhealthy or older children placed in safe environments. The tragic fates of the children left homeless is enough to move anyone with compassion and May was overcome with a desperate need to make immediate and long term plans to make a difference. Without belonging to any organisation, May knew that astonishing powers had to be discovered within herself as well as incredible tenacity to help hospital health care services and as many children as possible, fight for the lives of the hopeless, to feed the hungry and tend the sick. In June 2011, May left her charmed life in Australia to fulfil a much needed customer relations position with Penang Hospital Healthcare Services. Acting as Customer Relations Ambassador, May’s role is to improve hospital facilities and resources so that patients and visitors throughout Penang and Malaysia receive a more personalised service. Dedicating most of her time towards the long term needs of orphans, May recently opened the May Bouquet VISSEN Foundation. She has also made considerable donations to the Rumah Kanak-Kanak Taman Bakti, Jebatan Kebajikan, Kepala Batas Welfare Department and opened the Orphanage

so, we should reflect on one inescapable fact: children are the future and thanks to May we are one step closer to making a better world.

This article was kindly provided by Santha-Mai Samms.

O u t R e a c h Development for abandoned children in Penang. She works closely with Penang General Hospital and the Children Protection Society (children unable to live at home with parents) Welfare Department of Penang. She has also selffunded orphanage awareness events during selected weekends. “The Orphanage O u t R e a c h Development is based on goodwill. We welcome food and supplies for the children as donations,” says May when asked more about her quest to care for the orphans of Malaysia. “It hasn’t been smooth sailing working as a solo full-time volunteer.

There are a lot of prejudices when one is a ‘solo volunteer’ and not attached to an organisation. We need more volunteers in Penang!” The Orphanage O u t R e a c h Development is what May later claims to be “a small sacrifice” made in sympathy for those numberless children who have not been as fortunate and were separated – for ever – from their fathers and mothers.

to use my experience to give something back to my country.” We wonder what the future for our children and that of all mankind may hold. As we do

To help or find out more information contact May on her Facebook page here or email us and we will send you contact details: info@

“How fate works in mysterious ways,” May said. “When I shared my story with the orphans at the Children’s Protection Society they were mesmerised that this Eurasian girl from Australia was once an orphan born on the streets of Penang. I feel so blessed that I have the opportunity


Medan Revisited left hand corner of the arrivals hall. First pay your US$ 25 for the visa (make sure you take US dollars for this purpose as any other conversion including either Rp or RM is expensive) then take your receipt to the immigration official next door for the visa itself. Wait the 15 minutes for the computer to warm up and then proceed to queue up for the immigration counter. “What’s On Penang” decided to revisit Indonesia the other day but yet again limited our trip to only 24 hours. Not much time to see the place we knew but also we had been told that there wasn’t much to see either.

mode came out but the best I could manage was a drop to IRP60,000 (MR22). It is not just the money but the principle I hate being overcharged wherever I am but it seems as if the cost of transport has risen by over 20% in Medan.

We booked our ticket on Air Asia for RM 232 return and went to to book My Dream Hotel for US$31, all of which took a mere 50 minutes from start to finish. I had requested a courtesy bus from the hotel but as my flight was delayed by over 1.5 hours (a frequent occurrence on this journey by all accounts) was not that surprised to not find it waiting for me on arrival.

The Internet Saves You Time and Money

On my previous trip I remember trying to haggle for a cheaper fare when I suddenly realised that I was arguing over a few Ringgit so decided not to make the same mistake all over again. Last year I had paid IRP50,000 for the same trip so knew the benchmark, however all I could find were taxi drivers who wanted to charge IRP70,000 so haggle

The internet not only saves you time in research but money as well. The information given was pretty accurate and indepth.

The trip itself was uneventful but the process is well worth noting as I came across things that travellers should know that I didn’t find online. On arrival in Medan the first thing that a traveller needs to know is to head straight for the visa on arrival booth in the far

Immigration Indonesian Style Immigration was thorough, all be it friendly. As before I was the last through the gate but this time sailed through without a snag and I must comment on how polite the immigration officers are here. I am sure that they take their cue from the Malaysian immigration officers who are amongst the politest in the World. You have your finger prints and photograph taken upon entry so be prepared to take time going through immigration as this process is for every entrant, wherever they are from.

This time I came prepared with money already changed at Penang airport and headed out into the taxi area and as mentioned above eventually was shepherded off to My


Dream Hotel. See my original post to get a slightly different perspective.

My Dream Hotel We arrived less than 15 minutes later at My Dream Hotel, Not ‘my dream hotel’ but that was the name of the hotel I had booked online.

they could do about it later. On passing the cafe I noticed that the changes were to the prices of the food and drink. On my last visit I had gone out to a nearby restaurant (TipTop - See previous post) but had noted how good the food looked here and how reasonable - this does appear to have changed considerably.

Street Food Of Medan

A modern, clean and inviting lobby with 3 very busy but efficient staff behind the counter. Jospfin, my receptionist from last time I was pleased to see was still here and had me booked in, nice and smartly. The Hotel is now under the management of Swiss-Belinn which took over on December 1st, 2011. Other than the name change I saw little to no difference to the 3-star hotel I had received on my first visit. I did mention that I had requested the courtesy airport shuttle and they told me that they did not offer the service for free. I explained about my earlier visit and that the last time I stayed it was free and they could read about it on ‘What’s On Penang’ if they didn’t believe me. They said they would let me know what 22

30 minutes later after a quick unpack and a clean up I went down and after a cursory glance at the menu in the hotel cafe decided to venture out into the night. The small street (alley) to the rear of the hotel caught my attention as I could see a couple of street vendors through the window. Stepping out into this narrow alley took me to a scene out of Indiana Jones, SUV’s inching passed parked carts and pedestrians as the rain started to come down as more of a mist than a downpour. The night air was full of the noise of food cooking, vendors calling out orders and Indonesian customers shouting out their requests.

The food on offer looked good and the scene was pure excitement. I enjoyed the

dice with death as the SUV’s relentlessly edged down the alley way taking not a blind bit of notice to me or any of the locals for that matter.

Cakes in Medan seem to be everywhere. Sweet cream cakes of every description and at only RM2-3 each well worth the death defying walk to get there. I met a very interesting old man at the Pao stall that worked for a local British owned Pharmaceutical company and spoke perfect English. He took pride in helping me select a couple of Pao for my dinner from his families stall. After this brief bit of excitement I went to my room, watched a movie and then slept.

Return Journey My return flight wasn’t until 2.30 pm so I did not rush my departure. Checked out and chased up the airport transfer and the management had arranged for one of the staff to drive me as the shuttle was being used already by a large party of Chinese visitors and yes they did me a special favour as a returning guest and made it with their compliments but I must warn you that this service is not available to

future visitors to the hotel unless they tell you differently.

given my last local money for the exit visa IRP75,000.

On arrival at the departure hall I was met by what I understood to be an AirAsia employee who was very helpful and showed me the ten feet to the check-in counter and then after check-in took me twentyfive feet to the immigration exit visa counter which I did not really need as I knew my way.

I went quickly through immigration and strait upstairs to the departure lounge. I had over 1.5 hours till the departure time and knew that we were delayed last time by over an hour so settled down with a good book for what I was sure would be a long wait. This time the flight was perfectly on time and we departed without a single delay.

This guy was now I could see offering a service of guide for a fee. He was very polite and asked for me to donate whatever I felt like giving and if I didn’t want to give that was OK, a very good ploy as I am sure most people will comply but unfortunately for him I had

In Summary As before, Medan is an industrial/commercial city without a lot of character but

definitely worth a short visit to experience the little it does have to offer.

With more time and trips out to see Orang Utan and the volcanic lakes of Toba - one of the biggest fresh water lakes in the world. Formed by volcanic eruption, it has a large island, Samosir, in the middle. Danau Toba is an absolute must see, its a really magnificent place full of Batak culture on the shores of a mesmerizing lake.

The food is wonderful, accommodation is cheap and the climate is totally perfect, it seems to be 25 c 24/7. Rent a scooter and explore Samosir, you won’t want to go home.


Penang’s Art Scene Just Grew Even Bigger! On Friday, 11.11.11, we officially welcomed the newest and most accessible Theatre into Penang’s growing art scene. An auspicious date, for a another major step in the growth of the Penang Art scene. The Performing Arts Centre of Penang (PenangPac), located at E & O’s stunning project Strait’s Quay, was opened by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. The Chief Minister gave us an inspirational speech about how E & O (represented by

Deputy Managing Director, Eric Chan Kok Leong) and their partners in this venture, The Actor’s Studio (represented by husband and wife team Joe Hasham and Dato Faridah Merican), had brought a gift to the people of Penang and that it was the peoples responsibility now to ensure that the Performing Arts centre of Penang was well supported. CM Lim followed opening Faridah

Guan Eng’s speech on the heals of speeches by Dato Merican and Joe


by Unique Penang Exhibition when 28 Nov – 11 Dec where Foyer 2

DEC Short Eyes


by Rumah Anak Teater & The Actors Studio Teater Rakyat when 3 Dec @ 3pm, 8:30pm, 4 Dec @ 3pm where Stage 2

SHORT EYES is a Malay language theatre adaptation (of the play with the same title) that depicts minority groups in our society. Set in a prison environment, the play will explore various moral values in the current society. This play was originally performed on Broadway and was nominated for six Tony awards.

DEC 1st Inter-School Gender Equality


Drama Competition of Penang 第一屆檳州中學性別平等戲劇比賽 by Neighborhood Performance Group 路人甲表演社 when where

4 Dec @ 1pm Stage 1

This competition intends to promote substantive gender equality, to establish education resources in school ground through performing arts.

DEC Reflux 回流


by Soonufat Supramaniam when 6 Dec @ 8:30pm (English), 7 Dec @ 8pm (Mandarin) where Stage 2 when 7 Dec @ 9pm (English + Mandarin) where Studio 1

REFLUX is a 30-min performance created to reflect on creative development (2009-) in Australia. The hybrid, surreal, abstract and internal, and often very personal style of Butoh performance art is claimed as the dance of utter darkness by different performance critiques all across the world. This endeavor in connecting lifelong learning with a person’s ability to deal with dreams is presented in this show.


Hasham who thanked all the people that made the centre a reality with hard work and perseverance. Eric Lai, E & O deputy Managing Director also gave a speech of thanks where he said that E & O are committed to Penang and to

DEC Underneath the Lintel

NOV Unique Penang


Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng

DEC Poptastic!


by St. Christopher’s International Primary School when 7 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 1

DEC Dance Variations


by Elizabeth Ballet Academy (EBA) when 9 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 1

A performance by EBA dancers aged 6 to 25 of various dances from lyrical movement and modern to classical ballet. Female on pointe and solo male doing variations excerpt from the world famous full length classical ballet like Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote.

DEC The RLT Players Present: The Road Less Travelled


by Dalat International School when 9 Dec @ 6pm, 8pm where Stage 2

Through a series of both poignant and hilarious original dramatic sketches, the RLT Players presents an encouraging and uplifting evening about travelling through life making a difference.

DEC Butoh Festival


by Nyoba Kan 壽板舞踏 when 10 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 2

The 4th Nyoba Kan International Butoh Festival is coming to our side of the country. Here’s your chance to witness and learn more about this interesting dance performance.

by Penang Players Music and Drama Society when 11 Dec @ 3pm, 8pm where Stage 2

A book more than a 100 years overdue is returned. The feisty librarian (Shamila Ariffin) takes up the mystery and pursues it to its remarkable end! She solves her mystery but at the end of the play you get to solve another one and stand a chance of winning prizes!

DEC Little Theatre


by Drama Family 戲劇家族 when 11 Dec @ 7pm where Stage 1

DEC UiTM Symphony Orchestra Goes Penang!




by Penang People’s Cultural Association when 13 Dec @ 8:00pm where Stage 1

A potpourri of classical music, featuring works from the baroque period to the modern era.

DEC Kim Sir Talk Show 棟篤笑


by ZaoXinChang Theatre Troupe 造心廠劇坊 when 13 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 2

DEC Fast, Cheap and Dirty (Indie + Relationship Status 14 Film) (Preview) by Khairil M. Bahar when 14 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 2 Independent filmmaker Khairil M. Bahar with his masterpiece Fast, Cheap and Dirty and a special preview of his new film, Relationship Status.

15 Dec @ 8:30pm Stage 1

DEC DanceBox


by MyDance Alliance when 17 Dec @ 8:30pm, 18 Dec @ 3pm where Stage 1

Contemporary dance performances by homegrown dancers and choreographer.

DEC Shingo Tokihiro Costume Exhibition


Annual presentation of children plays from Penang-based Drama Family.

DEC Sound of Straits 海峽旋音


by Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur & The Actors Studio Teater Rakyat when 17 Dec @ 8:30pm (Launch) 17 Dec – 1 Jan (Exhibition) where Stage 2, Foyer

An exhibition by famed Japanese costume designer, Shingo Tokihiro. A designer for the past 23 years, Tokihiro is particularly fond of Shakespeare and has designed for many Noh styled productions of classics including Macbeth, Othello, King Lear and Tempest.

DEC Lee Wushu Arts


by Lee Wushu when 20 – 21 Dec @ 8.30pm where Stage 1

Lee Wushu presents a merger of wushu with dance, visual arts and theatre.



by Juliane Block when 21 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 2

KINKS is a mockumentary style feature film taking a cynical but nevertheless humorous look at two inter-racial sisters who appear far from alike. Inside and outside. One is white and one is dark.

DEC Viva Sensation



by Viva Voice when 29 – 30 Dec @ 8:30pm where Stage 1

the Arts and this was their way of giving back to the people of Penang.

been to decentralise, to not only have theatre in Kuala Lumpur.”

E & O have invested RM7.5 million into this Performing Arts Centre as well as the Actors Studio’s contribution and it shows the level of commitment in time and money as this project has taken over 3 years to come to fruition.

“If Faridah had her way, there would be a theatre on every street corner of Malaysia!!”

The 2,044 sq. m. centre boasts 2 theatres, a 304 seater auditorium and a 140 seater black box theatre as well as 3 studios. Performances will by no means be confined to the building, with E&O providing a “floating stage” that would allow shows to be held in the marina, over the sea. Faridah and Joe are “very happy” with the end result. “What we are doing,” said Joe, “is decentralising theatre. Faridah’s vision always has

A full line-up of performances are programmed through until the end of the year. Joe Hasham stated in his speech that PenangPac was hosting a 7 week festival throughout that period, where all performances will be free in celebration of the opening.

around town. It makes good economic sense and it is a great opportunity to showcase their work to more people. Our shows will definitely be travelling up to Penang often.”

After the welcoming speeches we were entertained with a sampling of the performances that will delight the local crowds in the coming weeks.

Faridah is no stranger in the local theatre scene. Often referred to as the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, she and husband Joe Hasham (currently Klpac artistic director) cofounded the country’s first-ever privately owned theatre space, The Actors Studio (TAS) Theatre, at Plaza Putra in KL in 1995. In 1998, they followed suit with The Actors Studio Academy to nurture theatre talents.

Faridah said: “There are many local and foreign productions that want to tour up north after a run in Kuala Lumpur, whether at KLpac, The Actors Studio@Lot 10 or other venues

In 2001, the couple set up TAS@Bangsar Shopping Centre in KL and the following year, TAS at Greenhall in Penang to the delight of Penang’s theatre


I believe overall appreciation for the arts is on the rise and that includes Penang. There is a demand for performances and a ready supply of talented individuals from performers to creative personnel,” she opined.


Besides serving a vital role in building social interaction and cultural vibrancy, Faridah said the centre would serve as a catalyst in harnessing more young talents from the northern region.

When flood waters destroyed TAS at Plaza Putra in 2003, Faridah and Joe worked closely with the YTL Group, Yayasan Budi Penyayang, to set up Klpac in 2005. Penangpac adds another feather to the bow of Faridah .

“In terms of unearthing new talents, I think as what we have seen in KL, young people are interested in the arts. However, they need a safe space and guidance to explore it. We believe Penangpac can provide both.

“Penang is my home state and I always felt it was important to have a base there. Then we stumbled upon the kind folks at E&O who were already well known supporters of the arts and heritage. After several rounds of talks, they were willing to provide the space and build Penangpac,” said the theatre doyenne, who received the BOH Cameronian Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the local performing arts in 2004.

“We believe strongly in the young. We hope to draw up new programmes targeted at the youths who are interested in theatre. Penangpac’s upcoming academy will be running a host of exciting classes related to the performing arts,” said Faridah.

“Performing arts isn’t something new in Penang. It was popular from the time of traditional theatre taking to the streets, such as Chinese opera, to the influx of English theatre brought about by expatriates who settled there during the colonial era. The Penang theatre scene is strong, vibrant and colourful. 28

Penangpac’s introductory free festival which runs until the end of the year, includes ‘Together

As One’ (by the Young KL Singers), ‘Dancebox’ (MyDance Alliance), a Japanese costume exhibition (Japanese designer Shingo Tokihiro) and The First InterSchool Gender Equality Drama Competition of Penang (Neighbourhood Performance Group). “It doesn’t stop there – 2012 begins with Joe’s musical Malaysian Girls, which would have just finished its premiere in KL followed by the re-staging of his criticallyacclaimed play Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. This is just a teaser for an exciting year filled with more exciting programming to come!” Judging by the enthusiastic turnouts for the first month’s events, PenangPac is set to be a roaring success. I hope that we continue to support this most welcome addition to the Penang Art Scene. PenangPac on ‘What’s On Penang’: http://www. html

The Library brewed beers, a variety of premium liquor, as well as a tantalising food menu. Traditionally, pubs were drinking establishments that only sold beer, wines, spirits and some non-alcoholic drinks. Food that occasionally appeared on the menu were snacks, such as meat scratchings, peanuts and crisps affectionately known as pub grub.

They have gone on to revolutionise it further by incorporating thematic interior designs to create a conducive ambience for a nice wind down session, live band performances, game nights, talent competitions and more, for their patrons’ entertainment pleasure.

During the early 1990’s, some enterprising British chefs decided to upgrade certain pubs in order to appeal to a more upscale clientele. They called their new style of restaurant a “gastropub”, a combination of the French word “gastronomique” and pub.

Given the Malaysian love of mingling and hanging out with friends, along with the gastropub ethic of quality food and drinks, The Library concept has become iconic.

From thereon pub food has developed, and now a food menu in a pub is nearly as important as the beer menu, with most serving up pub lunches and dinners. The Library, which opened its doors here on Penang at Straits Quay on December 7th, is a nod to the gastropub aesthetic that has swept across England, and has made it’s way to Malaysia. The Library has built upon the concept with their offer of Malaysia’s largest selection of both imported and locally 30

Their rapid expansion and much awaited opening here on Penang is proof of its faithful following. The Library’s soft opening will be on December 22nd with some great live music lined up and a free-flow of Cocktails and Carlsberg between 8 pm and 10 pm. Judging from the busy evenings and queues for seats seen since their early December opening, you won’t want to miss the soft opening, so get in early to avoid disappointment!

Penang Property A Brief History The first thing that strikes you when visiting Penang is that the Island has history. I don’t mean that once upon a time something happened here kind of history, I mean serious HISTORY!!! 250 years of colonial influence brought a degree of prosperity to these shores that would otherwise not have happened or at least not for many more years later than it did. This history leaves an indelible fingerprint throughout the whole of Penang. So much of this past is wrapped up in the DNA of Penang’s buildings that it permeates into the people that form the community of today.

Malaysia is good at self promotion on the subject of multiculturalism and they have a right to do so for there are not many nations on this earth that could boast such diversity in its gene pool.

nation. The country would not thrive if all it was doing was squabbling amongst itself. It needed to unite under one flag, the Malaysian flag.

We have the ethnic Malay (Bumiputra), the ethnic Chinese and the ethnic Indians who have been part of these shores since the first colonial boot landed over 300 years ago. Some very smart politicians decided that in the very early years of independence that this country needed the skills and knowledge of all of its residents and as the Chinese and Indian communities made up a large part of the population, albeit a minority population, it made no sense to exclude these people from the process of building a

Penang was once known by the colonial powers that used to be as the ‘Pearl of The Orient’ as it provided much wealth and a gateway to even more. Those days are gone and Penang had to evolve if it was to survive and the very fact that the place stood still architecturally has been one of its greatest achievements on the man-made tourism trails. Unesco world heritage site status was conveyed on Georgetown, Penang just a few years ago due to the abundance of properties lining the streets of Georgetown. Well-preserved, heritage buildings and shophouses, each of which has a story to tell about their own history, are everywhere to be seen.


These buildings form a part of the history of Penang and are between 220 years old on down to the youngsters at 60+ years old. Oh sure, there are much younger buildings than that, in fact just a few streets away symbols of the new capitalism and progress are apparent. Alongside the Peranakan influenced shophouses and colonial buildings are shopping malls and modern skyscrapers. This unique architectural and cultural townscape that combine traditional and contemporary, is what makes Penang so charming. In recognition of this unique trait, Georgetown was accorded a subscriber base as being a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in July 2008. This further boosted Penang as one sure fire attractive tourism destination. We will be covering the heritage of Georgetown in more detail in a regular monthly feature here at ‘What’s On Penang’, which will look at the architecture and the community as well as the emerging art scene centred around the UNESCO heritage status.

Penang has another side which has developed and grown out of necessity. When Penang closed as a Free Port and the following decline as one of the most important shipping centres in the Far East into near extinction, the city could have and would have died at this time were it not for the creation of manufacturing plants here predominantly in the electrical components sector. This revived Penang and developed an industry out of various global brand names who set up high-tech electronic plants located within the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, situated within the southern portion of the island.

Beyond Tourism

In years past, the state was experiencing a gradual decline of foreign direct investments due to cheaper labour costs in China and India in these sectors, but this seems to have now been reversed with Penang State taking top 3 position for Malaysian States attracting the most Direct Foreign Investment.

However, Penang is not only banking on its tourism industry to keep its economy afloat.

Malaysia is now among the world’s top 10 most attractive destinations for foreign direct

We will delve into the heritage accommodations on offer and review these wonderful old buildings for your delight.

investment (FDI), according to global management consultant A.T. Kearney. Generally known as “The Pearl of the Orient”, Penang is definitely an island perfectly situated on the Straits of Malacca having an estimated population of over 1.2 million people. Although smaller than Singapore, Penang is irregularly shaped like a tortoise with a hilly and forested interior that divides the Island into two. Balik Pulau (meaning Back of Island), found on the west coast, may be the sleepy part of Penang which is served by just one main road cutting through hilly terrains and


scenic reservoirs. The main buzz, however, lies on the East and North coasts. In the Batu Ferringhi and Tanjong Bungah vicinity. Luxury hill top condominiums and villas are available with breathtaking views over the Andaman Sea. These areas are considered prime property locations. Batu Ferringhi has hotels, beach resorts and international schools. Some notable hotels and resorts including ShangriLa Rasa Sayang, Shangri-La Golden Sands Resort, Grand Plaza Park Royal, Hard Rock Hotel, Holiday Inn Resort and Bayview Beach Resort. Upland International School has also relocated into this area as has Tenby International and Dalat International Schools into Tanjong Bungah. Tanjong Bungah is dotted with a number of hotels, though less upscale as those seen in Batu Ferringhi but no less worthy of a visit. The area also has become a favourite spot among expatriates due to the

many medium to high-end condominiums nearby. A new Entertainment/ Shopping Mall opened up in 2010 called Straits Quay, built and managed by E & O Group amongst their Premier development of Seri Tanjung Pinang. Early next year will see the opening of Precinct 10, a new entertainment Mall located adjacent to Island Plaza and only a stones throw away from Straits Quay. Whilst as a resident of this area myself, I am not complaining at the choice of eateries on offer, I do have to question if there is enough regular patrons to support all of these venues. I certainly hope so and we will see in the next 1218 months who will sink and who will swim.

Big Developers Making Hay While The Sun Shines Just as anywhere on this planet, land prices are

reflective of the supply of developable land. But on an island the land border is more finite and due to the scarcity of land versus the demand of a growing market prices have been and will continue to go in one direction, the same direction as the Property Developments, UP! Condominium developments are the rule when it comes to Penang as the cost of land dictates that low level housing has already priced itself out of the market. Condominium prices at first appear to be high but when compared to its Asian neighbours prices of Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and even KL Penang prices still have a ways to go. In addition you only have to take a look at the available land on Penang. “If you study the geography of Penang, only half the land may be developed. The other half will be very hilly. That is why property prices in Penang tend to move upwards,� says Juanita Chin, head of project marketing for Reapfield, a Malaysian based property agency. Local building regulations here also limit hill top developments as well as restrict beachfront developments. Most highend residential developments have emerged in Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah,


Gurney Drive and Queensbay. The growing availability of Penang as a retirement home for foreigners and also the rising affluence of Penangites are helping to fuel interest in high-end homes and developers in Malaysia have been quick to react to the consumers’ appetite for luxury properties. Various Kuala Lumpur based developers like IJM Land, S P Setia Berhad, Plenitude Heights Sdn Bhd and Eastern & Oriental (E & O) Property Development have made inroads into Penang, competing alongside local players like Hunza Properties Berhad. The scarcity of beachfront land, however, means

developers have one route to go down – if you cant find any land go and reclaim more land. Currently, there exists one major reclamation work under way near Penang Bridge for IJM Land’s mixeduse development, The Light. E & O’s development in Seri Tanjung Pinang has already been built on reclaimed land with an additional 600+ acres of reclaimed land still to come for housing and a Golf Course. A 5-star Jazz Hotel and a residential serviced block has been given the green light at Seri Tanjung Pinang and will be completed within just a couple of years.

Caveat Emptor ‘Buyer Beware’

Driving along Tanjong Bungah and Batu Ferringhi, one cannot help but notice rows and rows of high-end condominiums and landed homes offered for sale. Like in all property markets around the world you would be advised to engage a reputable and knowledgeable property agent to guide you through the labyrinth of buying off of plan. One who can be trusted to have insights into the more reputable developers and which ones to be wary of. We will be covering the Property Market in more detail in future issues of ‘What’s On Penang’ as well as offering the opinions of local real estate experts to try and present a balanced view.


Golden Sands Resort, Penang Hosts New Year’s Eve Countdown Party A festively dressed Santa Claus, otherwise known as Executive Sous Chef John Brock, and his sidekick, Santa Rina, Tan Ai Lyn, have recently been spotted on the peaceful Batu Feringgi Beach at Golden Sands Resort, Penang as a prelude to the resort’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Party on 31 December 2011.

pirates into the New Year’s Eve revelry. A six-piece band, feisty Caribbean dancers and graceful acrobats will entertain guests. The dress code is strictly no black tie; only pirates’ clothes and casual beachwear applies. Besides a sumptuous bountiful spread, there will be free-flowing sparkling wine, wine, beer, fruit punch and soft drinks.

Golden Sands Resort, Penang will be throwing a swashbuckling party with energetic games, activities and attractive prizes to be won on New Year’s Eve. Guests are invited to don their pirate gear with parrot in tow so that they can blend in and party. The party will start at 8 pm and go on until late, and guests are invited to bring their knack for adventure and a healthy appetite so that they can enjoy a bountiful feast. The ever flamboyant and bubbly Michelle, the mistress of ceremonies, will preside over the event and cajole the 36

There will also be a best dressed contest for the most stylish pirate. Penangites are invited to the join in this private beach party by calling (60 4) 886 1852 or e-mailing for reservations. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services. Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, Canada, mainland China, Fiji, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in Canada, mainland China, India, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Turkey and United Kingdom. For more information and reservations, please contact a travel professional or access the website at www.

Prices (per person) start at: MYR328++ adults MYR165++ teenagers MYR99++ children Contact: (60 4) 886 1852 or

Berlin’s Bier Houz The second Berlin Bier Houz outlet makes its home at Penang’s Straits Quay located in E & O group’s prestigious Seri Tanjung Pinang development. With a splendid view of the coast and promenade for those who opt for alfresco style dining, the setting could not be improved on. From the bar, the coastal view unfolds as far as the mainland.


Bavarian ambience, courteous service and good food, Berlin’s Bier Houz is swiftly laying claim as a favourite haunt among regulars and a delightful discovery for visitors. As your neighbourhood pub, Berlin’s Bier Houz is a winning combination of Pub and Bistro.

At this Straits Quay outlet, they stock an impressive range of German and other imported beer varieties to pair with the generous portions served.

Berlin’s Bier Houz is the ideal place for anyone who wishes to enjoy their drinks, have a hearty meal and share treasured moments with their friends, relatives and colleagues amid laid back, cosy surroundings.









oozes warmth, their outlets are adorned with wooden interiors, high tables, chairs and dim lights on the ceiling while posters of diverse beer brands fill wall spaces. Every detail within reveals an aspect of German pub culture, including the wood flooring style and furniture. While inside, patrons are welcome to feast and imbibe on their preferred brew the way the Germans do. Since opening, on all of my many visits, I have found the place buzzing with a mix of family eaters in the earlier evening, handing over to a younger louder crowd as the

night draws on.

and extremely more-ish!.

Good music and staff that have mastered the art of always being there when you need them without being all over you, only add to Berlin’s Bier Houz’s credentials.

A combination of German and European cuisine, from traditional Bratwurst, Meat Balls, Home made Meat Loaf, Bier Rindergulasch served with European rice to their Home Made Dessert Kaiserschmarrn Flambé.

They offer the widest varieties of German and other imported beers. The Bartenders have been well instructed with the appropriate methods of beer preparation thus ensuring that they constantly serve wellchilled pints at the perfect temperature. Offering a choice of Lowenbrau, Erdinger, Franziskaner and Konig Ludwig off the tap, both the Weiz Bier and the darker slightly sweeter Dunkel bier are refreshing, full of flavour

Not forgetting the ubiquitous Signature Crispy Pork Knuckle prepared with authentic Bavarian character and many more scrumptious not-to-tobe-missed offerings.

flavour, served on a bed of Sauerkraut. The tang of the Saurkraut a perfect foil to the fatty sausage. I always add a side order of their German Fries served with an authentic curry sauce that I always thought could only be found from a German Frites stall.

Their signature dish is Smoked Duck Breast wrapped with Crepe and Asparagus. A lovely combination of flavours! The German Sausage platter in particular stands out for me. It’s a lovely combination of 4 different German sausages that are bursting with a delightful smokey

It’s easy to see why Berlin’s Bier Houz has become one of the most popular spots on Straits Quay, come on down and take a look for yourself!


Malabar Restaurant Serves Thai & Nyonya Dishes “Growing up around great food, especially at home, we thought of sharing some of the best home-cooked Thai, Nyonya and local dishes that we know with everyone. “ Located in the middle of the beautiful heritage Georgetown, a city that has seen many owners renewing their properties’ heritage magnificence in recent years, Malabar is right in the middle of Penang’s prime tourist zone. We serve chicken, fish, prawns, pork, vegetables, soups and set meals prepared in authentic Thai and Nyonya styles. Our chefs are of Thainationality and are native Nyonya cooks.

Restaurant phone: 04-263 8266


Football Crazy The eventual rise of Manchester City to the top of the pile has been the story of English Premier League this year. Last season they took their first major title in over 40 years (the F.A. Cup) and now they sit 2 points clear of reigning champions and close rivals Manchester United. Their loss to Chelsea last week was their first domestic defeat of the season and also pulled Chelsea back into the championship race. So Mancini has managed to do the almost impossible and meld together a truly surreal collection of talent into an entertaining and successful combination. Can they keep it up? Manchester United on the other hand, now look like Manchester’s poor relations in comparison. Failing to replace both Ronaldo and now Scholes with a true world-class talent could still prove Ferguson’s undoing this season. They are close, but you feel they are lacking the superstar touches and match-winning skills they will need to overhaul City in the long run. However, as United fans will always remind you, they have been there and done it so many times that the winning mentality is ingrained so deeply in their psyche by Ferguson that if it’s a close

finish then count them out at your peril. Of the others, Tottenham Hotspurs, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are all in the picture, though the final two would need a strange chain of events to end up as champions come May 2012. Manchester City have the Carlos Tevez affair to conclude, with Italy looking a probable destination for the moaning Argentinian or maybe even Paris St Germain? At least he won’t be able to complain about the food there, or will he? Chelsea have been rumoured to be offloading Torres this January with a loss of £30 million on his time in North London the end result of owner Abramovich’s whim. Ouch that’s gotta hurt even at his rarefied end of the wealth stakes. On the continent, in Spain after an odd start to the season normal service has resumed with Barcelona and Real Madrid occupying the top 2 spots in the Primera Liga. Valencia hold 3rd spot and all of a sudden Spanish football looks predictable again. With both Ronaldo and Messi displaying their considerable talents there, Spanish football fans have plenty to shout about. Oh yes and they are reigning World and European champions too, so ok for them to shout really.

German football continues to look very strong. The national team just go from strength to strength, their youth and energy combined with supreme technical skills make them look a very strong bet for Euro 2012. Domestically, they have had a few changes at the top of the tree over recent years, but currently Bayern have found their way back to the very top again. Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke are close on their heels just 3 points further back. Italian football is in turmoil. This week saw the arrest of former Atalanta skipper Christiano Doni and 16 others in yet another match-fixing scandal. The arrests come five years after another major match-fixing scandal resulted in Juventus getting relegated to Serie B for a season, plus point penalties for Lazio, AC Milan, Fiorentina and Reggina in Serie A. Will they ever learn?


Feringgi Grill Entering the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa (A Shangri La Hotel) you get a sense of the world as seen by James Hilton in his famous book ‘The Lost Horizon’, a sense of calm and tranquillity. The Rasa Sayang on Batu Feringgi beach is one of the oldest in the Shangri La chain but as you roam around the spacious open lobby you only get a feeling of opulence and serenity for the Hotel has been kept up to its 5-Star rating in every way. My reason for visiting the Rasa Sayang Resort was primarily to try the renowned Feringgi Grill which has been under


the spell of the young Chef De Cuisine, David Pooley and his much talked about menu for the past 9 months. First, however, let me set the stage for those of you have not had the good fortune to have experienced Shangri La on our very doorstep.

luxuriously decorated Bar and restaurant to the surrounding landscaped flora and fauna as you experience the comfort of the moderately set air conditioning whilst viewing the surrounding tropics.

The Feringgi Grill is situated on the mezzanine floor of the Garden Wing and has superb views over the immaculate tropical gardens all the way to the famed palmed fringed Feringgi Beach and sea beyond.

The walls are decorated with a dated brick which I was reliably informed came from the owner and founder of Shangri La, Robert Kwouk’s, family Island villa. This is not only very attractive and comforting but has a tinge of the resorts green credentials by recycling the demolished building.

The restaurant has a glass wall which opens up the

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Australian Chef

De Cuisine David Pooley and spent a very enjoyable 40 minutes or so getting to know a little about the man behind the menu.

and Travel Guide (AGFG) rated Quay four “chef hats” and Claude’s - a thirty year veteran of fine dining offering modern French cuisine - three “chef hats”. David Pooley honed his abundant skills here under the tutelage of talented celebrity chefs and some of Australia’s finest like Peter Gilmore of Quay and Malaysian born Chef Chui Lee Luk from Claude’s.

David Pooley

David hails from recent stints in both food capitals of Australia, Sydney and Melbourne. He has a very respectable resume for a relatively young guy and is most definitely a man on a mission, a mission to ensure that divine food is served in style. He has over 10 years of culinary experience and was most notably sous chef at both award winning restaurants Quay and Claude’s in Sydney. Quay specialised in modern Australian cuisine and is the highest ranked Australian restaurant in the world and was voted No. 27 in the Pelligrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It has also won top honours in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards and the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide as “Restaurant of the Year” for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010. The Australian Good Food

David started his culinary career at the tender age of 15 as an apprentice in the Pacific International Hotel in Sydney followed by several dining outlets throughout the state of New South Wales. David said, “The art of cooking has always been a passion and true love of mine from an early age. Growing up in my grandparents’ cafe, I knew becoming a chef was where I wanted to be. For me, it is all about the guests and giving them the best - a unique, attractive and most memorable dining experience possible!”

source as much local produce as was available within the above quality-control constraints. After discussing my culinary likes and dislikes David suggested I try the Tasting Menu which is “just as the label says on the tin”, a menu selection selected by David to highlight the entire range of the menu available. This is available for RM 175++ and is an extravagance that is worth treating your palate to, for this is no ordinary menu and nor are the ingredients any old thing thrown together. This is art for the mouth to enjoy and the eyes to savour whilst the nose gently absorbs the show as it unfolds. Like all good stories there is a beginning, a middle and an end but also like most good stories a lot happens in between these points. To get the show on the road we were served with an Amouse Bouche - quiet literally a bit of fun for the mouth to enjoy - a preamble. In this case it

I asked David where he sourced his ingredients from and he said that most had to be imported to get the very best of quality. However he went on to point out that this did not detract from their freshness as it was only a 5-6 hour flight to Perth which is where most of the imported meats and fish came from. He would like to source more local produce but as a 5-star establishment their guidelines and quality control are the strictest possible, but did


was a quails egg very lightly pouched to just seal the white, enough to allow the shell to be taken off very carefully and then dipped in Panko breadcrumbs and quickly deep-fried. This is popped into the mouth and as you bite into it the quails egg explodes treating your mouth to a sumptuously silky yolk with a firm eggwhite coated in crunchy breadcrumbs. A combination difficult to understand unless you try it! This was followed by Brik Pastry Cigar, Tomatoes, Goat curd, vinegars, olive, Dutch Basil. This is all it says in the menu and gives away very little to what you are about to enjoy.

You have two thin pastry cigars stuffed with a creamy mild but tangy goats cheese, served on a what I thought at first was Truffles but was I think where the olives come in served with lightly baked tomatoes with two intensely reduced sauces that are both sweet and sour in the purest of senses. I am already starting to get a sense of what David is about. Visual presentation is delightful and the tastes are of the very finest but it is the textural combinations that are starting to delight my palate 46

and surprise it at the same time.

Next came the Angus Carpaccio. Angus beef which is truly of the finest quality to be found anywhere which is uncooked, sliced so thinly that you can see through it and served on a bed of rocket pulp, peri peri and wood grilled capsicum with scattered pieces of Pecorino cheese (an intensely flavoured cheese similar to Parmesan but has a more subtle taste) and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. This was served with a home made bread stick coated in poppy seeds and extremely crunchy (again with the textures delighting and challenging the palate to extract as much enjoyment out of every mouthful as is possible). This is where David deviated from the standard menu and we were served with the Seared Tuna which was absolutely superb, melt-inyour-mouth perfection. Served on a bed of salad leaves, olives, boiled quails eggs (that tasted like tiny miniature melon balls) and fresh herb leaves. OK, now back on track with the tasting menu we were served the Five Spice Quail which was a selection of mushrooms

and fungi, cuttle fish, Breast and thigh of Quail, Soy Mirin, Garlic Chives and coriander. Not my favourite dish of the evening but still an enjoyable experience. I found the quail and fungi to be a little on the oily side but the mushrooms and cuttle fish were exquisite. As always these dishes are down to personal taste. With perfect timing, next came a small refresher for the palate, a green tea sorbet . This was surprisingly sweet and I only had about half of it before my palate was refreshed enough. Now with our mouths refreshed if not our waistlines (which were most definitely starting to feel a little tighter than when we came in!) the main star of the evening was presented. With a choice between fish or meat, in this case a fillet of Salmon or Loin of Lamb, I plumped for the Lamb whilst my dining partner chose the Salmon. Both were excellent and would have delighted me had I chosen either. Yet again David’s words came back to me from before the meal about the quality of the ingredients. The Lamb was mouthwateringly divine, melt -in-your-mouth perfection. Having been asked how I like my Lamb cooked at the beginning of the meal and choosing medium rare, I was delighted that it was indeed cooked to perfection. Set on a bed of hummus-like blended egg plant (aubergine) served with a compote of miso, pearl barley and shallots the Lamb ranked as one of the most memorable meals I have had for many a year.

I did get to sample my dining companion’s salmon which was again cooked just the way I like it. The outside of the fish was sealed and the heart of the flesh was barely cooked to another combination of flavours and textures designed to delight. The salmon was slow roasted with a crust of spices, pink onion, mustard cress, roe, mascarpone and radish.

a culinary journey through the menu of Feringgi Grill as well as an insight into the culinary mind of David Pooley. Coffee or tea was served with petit fours - four hand made chocolates filled with dark and intense parfait or a lighter more creamy filling. Feringgi Grill offers a great match of excellent cuisine in an exceptional location. Wine connoisseurs can indulge in the restaurant’s extensive selection of vintages from both the Old and New World, and cigar aficionados are spoilt for choice with Feringgi Grill’s world-class selection of cigars.

Two private rooms are available to accommodate gatherings for 10 and 20 people respectively. After all this it was just left for me to thank our chef, talk a little of the menu and then waddle home slowly, content as a kitten in front of a fireplace!

Ferenggi Grill Batu Feringgi Beach 11100 Penang Malaysia T: (60 4) 888 8888

Next, just to torture our fitto-burst waistlines, David deviated again from the tasting menu on a little side excursion with a delightful, elegant and very visually appealing glass of mixed summer fruits (predominantly strawberries & water melon) topped with vanilla ice cream, violet petals and gold leaf. As enjoyable as it was refreshing and colourful. Back on track once more we were served the dessert as mentioned on the menu which was Chocolate Pannacotta, banana marshmallow, rosemary popcorn and Earl Grey. The white chocolate logs filled with Earl Grey tea ice cream was such an unusual combination and was a wonderful way to end


That Little Wine Bar Turns Two Awesome food with a range of affordable wine is exactly what Chef Tommes and Louise sought to create when they established “That Little Wine Bar” just over two years ago. The well travelled couple have spent much of their lives living abroad, but when they fell in love with Penang, they firmly put down their roots with their boutique venture.

Tommes and Louise celebrate their restaurants’ second anniversary in grand style – with none other than a party for their regulars, featuring Tommes’ favourite kitchen creations and some of Louise’s most enjoyable cellar selections. A night of festive ambience, packed to full-house with over 60 customers who have subsequently become great friends, held just last week, marked two years of great dining with That Little Wine Bar. A food concept borne out of the need for a great little place to drink, without beer, and a desire to share an endless passion for stunning cuisine, That Little Wine Bar has fast gained traction in the Penang culinary world, and a little farther afield too, for its innovative dishes and amazing hospitality.

Cooking comes second nature to Tommes, who trained under three different Michelin Star Chefs, and has previously run a fine dining kitchen in Shanghai for a Michelin Star Chef after spending years working for Jean Georges Vongerichten on the Bund in Shanghai (3 Stars). Mid 48




“It’s all about great food” quips Tommes, adding “I really want to enjoy a glass of wine with good food, and that’s the concept here”. Whether you are seeking a romantic dinner for two, a chic place to relax with friends, or just a glass or two after a long day, That Little Wine Bar offers you the range of options. Chef and his team recently walked away with a range of awards from the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards Regional

Series, second year in a row, proving that the underdog can really make their mark on the taste landscape. From simple and tasty tapas, mouth-watering platters, to a full dinner menu; an everchanging selection of the freshest food is available. Not content with a fixed menu, Chef regularly creates new dishes for his diners to enjoy, which is reflected on the weekly specials board. Recent specials have included roast pork and a beef sirloin marinated in red wine and slow braised to tender perfection. In addition, “That Little Wine Bar” recently introduced Platter Pairings. Yum! And, if That Little Wine bar isn’t enough to satisfy your cravings, Tommes and Louise recently opened Irrawaddy Fine Foods, a truly New York style delicatessen, just around the corner. Now I can enjoy Chef’s creativity for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – and still crave for more! “That Little Wine Bar” is located at 54 Chow Thye Road in Georgetown, and is open Monday to Saturday from 5 pm until midnight (closed on Sunday). It is advisable to call 04-2268182 for reservations to avoid disappointment.

Christmas - Did you know? Christmas is coming, the Goose is getting fat, better put a penny in the old man’s hat! Remember that one? It seems a lifetime ago, and it was! Christmas as a child was full of wonder and incredible memories that have lasted a lifetime, 50 years to be exact. A White Christmas for me was pretty common my first decade, then we seemed to only get a white one every now and then. Then into my third decade when I lived in Northern Germany and a White Christmas was back on the cards again (forgive the pun). The closest I get to a Christmas now are the sandy beaches we in the tropics. But

White white enjoy who’s


Advent Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas. There are several ways that Advent is counted down but the most common is by a


calendar or candle(s).

The Holly and the Ivy Holly, Ivy and other greenery such as Mistletoe were originally used in preChristian times to help celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival and ward off evil spirits and celebrate new growth. The prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. The berries are the drops of blood that were shed by Jesus because of the thorns.

Christmas Crackers Christmas crackers are a traditional Christmas favourite in the U.K. They were first made in 1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. One night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the flames. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half.

Christmas Cards The


of sending Christmas cards started in the U.K. in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a civil servant (Government worker) who was very interested in the new ‘Public Post Office’ and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people. The card had three panels. The outer two showed people caring for the poor and the centre panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner! Some people didn’t like the card because it showed a child being given a glass of wine!

Boxing Day Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is only celebrated in a few countries. It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day. (And I always thought it was sport-related and to do with boxing in a ring!)

The Best Christmas Movies Of All Time Christmas is a time of year for some great moviewatching, and this is a brief list of some of my best Christmas Movies of all time! National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) Chevy Chase stars in this vehicle about the continuing story of the Griswold family. This time around they are celebrating a Christmas with all of their zany relatives at the Griswold home. When I first saw this movie, I found it to be one of the funniest movies I had ever seen, and even today, I will find myself laughing out loud to many of the scenes no matter how many times I have seen them before. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) Created in 1966, this was an animated feature based on the book by Dr. Suess. It covered the exploits of “The Grinch”, who had lost is spirit for Christmas over the years. His only goal in life now, is to rid the world of Christmas joy. In order to do this, he will attempt to remove all of the gifts and spirit from the small town of Whoville. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) Charles Schulz brought his comic strip to life, by writing a made-for-television version of his Peanuts. A Charlie Brown Christmas was about his main character Charlie


Brown, and what he and his friends go through one Christmas. A Christmas Carol (1938) Another one of the Christmas stories that has been redone a thousand times, I like the original version the best. A Christmas Story (1983) In a break from the traditional holiday movies, A Christmas Story is a movie told almost entirely from the mind of a young boy during the 1940’s. His voice is the narrator of the movie, as we see him go through the days leading up to Christmas, and ultimately Christmas day itself. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) It’s A Wonderful Life is a story about a man going through some hard times, and makes the wish that he had never been born. Feeling that the world would be better off without him, he wants to remove the pain of everyone around him, by removing himself. For a short time, and angel grants him his wish, and the chance to see what life would be like if he really had never been born. The movie is really about hope, and the thought that everyone has something to offer, no matter how small we may feel we are in the scheme of things. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Is there really a Santa Clause? You bet there is, and this

is the film that proves it! A Miracle on 34th Street surrounds a man who claims to be none other than Kris Kringle himself. Of course nobody believes him, and it is up to a lawyer and a little girl who must set aside their logical thinking just long enough to have faith that this man could really be THE Santa Clause. The Santa Clause (1994) When something happens to Santa Clause, Tim Allen’s character must step in and take over the role in order to make sure that Christmas can continue. The Santa Clause does a great job of bringing a lot of humour to the topic of Christmas and everything it entails. The job of delivering presents to all of the children of the world over one night is not as easy as it seems, and for one man, that task has become his sole responsibility. Home Alone (1990) When it hit theatres in 1990, nobody thought that Home Alone would turn out to be one of the most successful movies of all time. Home Alone is about a huge family that is going on a Christmas vacation with a truck load of kids. Unfortunately, on the morning of the trip, everyone wakes up late and ends up rushing around to try and make it to the airport on time. One of the kids (Kevin) is left behind, and when he awakes, he finds that he has a mansion size house all to himself.

The Magic World Of Carpets The ‘Art’ Of Oriental Rug Investments I have to be honest and tell you that before I started the research for this article I knew absolutely nothing about Oriental Rugs or what an investment they truly are. To me a carpet was a floor covering - merely background to the furniture and the architecture. Through careful explanation and deep rooted knowledge Mr Waqar Saeed Bhatti, Managing Director of Nasim Carpets educated me on the history and the craft of fine rugs. He should know better than anyone the pleasures and financial sense of owning a hand knotted rug as his family has been in the rug business in Malaysia for many years and have had shops in Kuala Lumpur for over 25 years. Nasim carpets are indeed now a worldwide operation with branches in Vancouver, Canada as well as Lahore in Pakistan. In Malaysia after 25 years in KL with 3 branches as well as their Headquarters they have now branched out to Penang where their latest store can be found at Straits Quay. In fact within 2 months of opening their store at Straits 54

Quay they have expanded into the next property along to double their size. They have added Nasim Furnishing, a new brand of house furnishing on Penang. Perhaps this is a good example of the good Feng Sui that a classic Oriental rug can bring to your business!!

641 AD). This art underwent many changes in various eras of the Iranian history to an extent that it passed an upward trend before the Islamic era until the Mongol invasion of Persia. After the invasion, the art began to grow again during the Timurid and Ilkhanid dynasties.

Oriental Rugs have more in common with Artworks such as paintings and sculptures than what I used to consider as simple floor coverings.

With the passage of time, the materials used in carpets, including wool, silk and cotton will decay. Therefore archaeologists are rarely able to make any particularly useful discoveries during archaeological excavations. What has remained from early times as evidence of carpetweaving is nothing more than a few pieces of wornout carpets. Such fragments do not help very much in recognizing the carpetweaving characteristics of pre-Seljuk period (13th and 14th centuries AD) in Persia.

The origins of Oriental Rugs are not well documented but certainly predate most other forms of collectible art. The art of carpet weaving existed in Iran in ancient times, according to evidence such as the 2500 year old Pazyryk carpet, dating back to 500 B.C., during the Achaemenid period.

The boom time came in the 17th century for the Persian rug makers as the European traders who were plying the Silk Road exchanged goods and brought rugs back to eager recipients as well as trading in Chinese rugs. Oldest rug in the world

The first documented evidence on the existence of Persian carpets came from Chinese texts dating back to the Sassanid period (224 –

Muslim culture does not allow depiction of living animals (another piece of new information for me) which sets their own style of patterns whereas Chinese rugs do have animal themes. These designs

also take into consideration and are deemed to be good Feng Sui.

All good rugs are hand knotted and Iranian rugs at Nasim Carpets are hand knotted and vegetable dyed in the traditional style. Just like a good wine or piece of art values do increase with age as well as quality of the workmanship. At Nasim Carpets quality is not only assumed but backed by lifetime guarantees (and this could indeed stretch into a couple of generations!) and certificates of authenticity. Rug making is a very labour intensive craft and fewer

craftsmen are available today with the opening up of Iran to a more modern society and the youngsters are not so keen on learning a craft that can take as long as 10 years or more to master. A carpet that is 5ft x 11ft can take as many as 18 months to create and it is this labour intensive craft which has many facets such as designing the pattern, sewing, dying and then the selling process starts. Mostly it is the mountainous regions of Iran that has produced many centuries of fine rugs and these once inaccessible areas could be cut off for months during the winters. Come the spring and the traders would battle their way through to the rug makers villages high up in the mountains bringing with them the goods to trade for the rugs. These traders would often sell their wares to wholesalers who would then sell them on to travelling salesmen who would take them east or west to far away markets. Therefore with this dying trade

going the way of the dodo the prices can only go one way... and that is up. A good (well tied rug) made from quality materials (Wool or silk) can fetch several million Ringgit once they have reached a century in age so just like owning a good cellar of fine wine fine carpets and rugs should be viewed as long term investments that will bring you visual pleasure throughout the time of your tenure. Most rugs were originally designed as wall coverings and decoration and not as floor coverings - imagine walking on a Rembrandt or Van Gogh masterpiece! And many of the finer pieces are today still best displayed this way. However, a well placed rug can add a significant amount of gravatus to a room - even one that is shining already from fine art or decoration. Lim Brothers have restored their office space with the finest of teak wood floors but


had the good sense to invest in a fine antique rug from Nasim Carpets to place under the tables and chairs to prevent the teak being damaged and to add color where there was none. O E the fine jewellers even added Nasim Carpets Oriental Rugs to their Showroom at Straits Quay when they wanted to add a touch of warmth and Luxury. Campbell House, a restored colonial era boutique hotel, are also on the list of contented Nasim Carpet customers in Penang and have many Hand Knotted Rugs displayed in their rooms, corridors and throughout the Hotel. So if you are venturing out to Straits Quay any day soon pop into Nasim Carpets and immerse yourself in the woven art of rug making. Who knows you could make an investment of a lifetime and brighten up your home at the same time. Nasim Carpets, Straits Quay, Penang.


Agua Restaurant - A Mediterranean journey of the palate in Penang that dissimilar in theme to Puerto Banus even if the two places are miles apart in origins as well as geographically.

If, like me, you are a frequent visitor to Straits Quay then it will come as no surprise to you that some of the Islands best kept culinary secrets are to be found here. It is then, with much joy that I have finally gotten around to sampling some of the best Mediterranean fare I have ever had, anywhere, here at Agua. Karen Tan, the co-owner of Agua (Pascal Martin Daguet is the other co-owner who is based in Russia) very kindly spent the time explaining Agua’s menu and concept so that I could better understand where they were coming from and their emphasis on fresh quality ingredients put together in authentic recipes for the delight of Penangites and visitors alike. Before coming to Asia over a decade ago, a favorite holiday haunt of mine was Spain, in particular Puerto Buenus. Straits Quay is not


Puerto Banus was once a quaint fishing village that has now found fame as a hangout for the rich and famous and the once quaint fishing harbour is home to some of Europe’s floating palaces and surrounded not by tiny fishermen’s’ homes but top of the line restaurants specialising in seafood and regional dishes. Straits Quay on the other hand has been purpose built as a haven for luxury yachts and has, as just mentioned, some of Penang’s best restaurants. Agua located on the ground floor has a light and breezy décor with ample seating both inside and al fresco with marina views and fresh air galore. The restaurants’ logo proudly states “Agua - a Mediterranean journey” - and boy, what a joyful journey you will be on. The quality of the food is second to none and the execution of the menu and service is nothing short of inspirational. Agua have extended their Tapas menu to over 30 items as this part of their menu has proven popular. For me Tapas represents one of the best ways of eating totally scrumptious food grazing. That is to say small portions of many dishes, this way you can sample many varied

foods at one sitting without needing elasticated trouser tops. Tapas means topping or cover as the original tapas were slices of dried bread that were served with a glass of wine or sherry to keep the flies away. This eventually led to innkeepers topping fresher bread with local delicacies such as anchovies, tomatoes, olive oil and other regional cheap produce. Traditionally these tapas were served inclusive of the price of the drink but with the cost of everything increasing this habit had to stop or else the price of drinks would have become astronomical. Tapas has come along way from those rudimentary beginnings and have now expanded to full blown dishes that are served usually as smaller portions or as is the case in most Spanish bars shared amongst a group of drinkers/diners. The tapas concept should go very well in Asia as the shared family style of eating is very much the way of life here and Tapas should be ordered as a shared group activity so that everyone can sample a wide variety of flavours. In addition there is a constantly changing weekly specials menu which contains my favorite fish of all time - Monkfish. This has been especially imported by air freight to thrill the palates of Penangites and visitors. If you have not yet had the pleasure of Monkfish it is a firm, white-fleshed fish with a meaty texture, and of course absolutely delicious despite it being one of the ugliest fishes ever to have swam the seas!!. Luckily for us the Monkfish’s beauty has nothing to do with its taste as in Europe and North America, the texture of the tail meat of the monkfish was sometimes compared to lobster tail and has been alluded to as the “poor man’s lobster,” in days long-gone, as today it commands prices equivalent to, and in some cases exceeding, lobster and other marine delicacies. Agua do a Paella cookout - a cooking demonstration of how


Thirteen countries border the Mediterranean (“Mare Nostrum”, or “Our Sea” for the Romans), not counting the ones on the Eastern Adriatic or the islands states of Cyprus and Malta.

to cook the perfect Paella followed by eating the dish you have seen being cooked in front of your very eyes.

and see the cookout for the best tutorial you will ever get on Paella cooking. Agua 3AG18-19 Straits Quays E&O Marina Penang T +604-8908668

Seafood Paella is a rice and seafood dish in which Agua only use the very best and freshest of ingredients. The specially imported rice (a medium grain or pearl rice) is used with olive oil, Saffron (one of the worlds most expensive ingredients!!), fish and shellfish slowly cooked by gently adding fresh fish stock a spoonful at a time until it is absorbed - to much detail to put here - it is best you go

In the course of its long and fascinating history, great empires sprang out of her shores and their people spread their culture over most of the world. Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Ottomans, Egyptians, Moors, to name a few, all played their part in the birth and flowering of some of the most refined civilizations in the world. The Mediterranean cuisine perhaps best illustrates this unique region. This is the land of vineyards, olive groves, figs, of scented herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil; of sun blessed vegetable and fragrant fruit, goat and ewe’s milk cheeses, of grains and nuts and pulses, all combining to create time-honoured and universally known dishes: Tajines and pastilla in Morocco, paella and tapas in Spain, bouillabaisse in France, dazzling mezze in Lebanon, sparkling salads in Greece, the recipes of which have been lovingly nurtured by family cooks and passed on down generation after generation. No special event happens around the Mediterranean without the celebration of food (and wine). In the humblest of farms as in the wealthiest houses, families mark the passage of time with meals often cooked together and shared and enjoyed around the family table with friends and neighbours. At Agua we invite you to join us in a journey around the Mediterranean and discover some of its best-loved dishes in the same spirit of authenticity and conviviality.


Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In the same way is it true that to capture the true essence of a culture is dive into the ‘belly’ of its cooking – unravelling the secrets wrapped in each dish. And this couldn’t be more true than in the diversity of Malaysian cuisine.

in Nyonya as well as Indian cooking.

The Cooking School began as a platform for ‘real’ Malaysian cooks to share their zeal and knowledge of cooking with the many tourists welcomed each year – all so fascinated with the rich diversity of herbs and spices. It was a chance to bring an everyday, working kitchen to friends from all over the world to share the delectable intricacies of Malaysian food crafting.

Lily Tan is a passionate homemaker dedicated to preparing the most balanced, healthy meals based on ancient Chinese traditions and will also be featuring in our line up.

And of course, with a 4 ½ acre garden filled with tropical spices, herbs and ornamentals, the cooking school could really not be in a better location. Trapped between hills and the sea, sweaty and stuffy days of cooking against white walls are over! The school features a band of hand picked, ‘resident’ chefs, all with very colourful and varying personalities and cultures. Pearly Kee, the TSG Nyonya queen, was a student from Dato’ Lim Bian Yam’s cooking school in the 80’s and has gone on to perfect the art 62

Azizah Bt. Osman the amicable Malay Chef, whose accolades include preparing lunch tiffins for the first Governor of Penang. Catch her produce the finest spider web ‘roti jala’ in town.

Guests will enjoy a walking guided tour of the spice terraces followed by a coffee introduction before classes commence. Each student will work at their own customized work stations complete with all the utensils and ingredients laid out to make the entire cooking experience stress free and enjoyable. Guests will create their own dish and will eat their meals together at The Pavilion, our outdoor, sheltered gazebo overlooking the Batu Ferringhi coastline. Each of the chefs will also create a special drink to accompany the meals. Apart from a full stomach, guests can also expect to take home their very own Cooking School aprons. The afternoon classes have been open to the cooking

community of Penang whether local or expatriate. This is an opportunity for cooks from all cultures to share their food tales and cooking secrets. Some of the menu highlights will be Indian Tiffin Lunches where students will be able to take home their very own tiffins. The Cooking School advocates ‘going green’ in line with Penang State Government’s vision for a Cleaner, Greener Penang. Guests will be invited to eat from their stainless steel tiffins at The Pavilion in a true local picnic fashion. Wet market tours will be scheduled in the early morning hosted by the Chefs themselves. Apart from the morning, resident cook classes, there is also the Choc Artisan featuring Callin Tan, Soo Hock from Ecco Café, one of the first handmade pasta cafes in George Town , Soul Kitchen Tratorria, and Tigun from Si Tigun Bicycle Stop Café & Victor from Lighthouse. Coffee sharing with coffee roasting techniques and all the basic stuff we-need –tobut-never-knew about coffee like caffeine levels of different blends and much more. The schedules will run for 3 months before being revised and there are also empty sessions available for private

classes or for corporate bookings who would consider booking a class for a team building exercise. Which team can roll the finest Nyonya popiah or spin the perfect roti jala? Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School is unique in the warmth it exudes both from the hosts of the day and also the country –style décor of the kitchen. Shelves are brimming with jars of spices and colour, woks and brassware adorn the walls and yet all the modern comforts of blenders and rice cookers await the hungry student, eager to buckle down to learn how to cook and savour their efforts. And you would be hard pressed to find such a unique kitchen in such a beautiful, lush, jungle garden surrounded by a full herb and spice garden awaiting to be harvested fresh. From black pepper to kantan, to cekur to ulam raja, the herb garden will inspire many a green finger in the students too! Step into TSG Cooking School and allow the country-style kitchen feel to bring you back to the good ole’ days of grandmas kitchen, teeming away with activity and glorious smells! Online Booking Available. For more information, contact Azimah reservations@ t r o p i c a l s p i e g a rd e n . c o m or Danny at 04-8811797 (English/Mandarin Speaking) for a cooking experience like no other!


Reservation: +60 4 898 1890

Boyz Toyz - Best of 2011 If you’re looking to buy only the best this holiday season, we hope our list of the best products of 2011 helps.

Best Laptop Considering the technology crammed inside, the Lenovo ThinkPad T420s is an amazing feat of engineering. Inside its 14-inch frame are choice components, like a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520M processor, a speedy hard drive, and a stunning 1,600by-900 resolution display. It all combines with Lenovo’s excellent user experience and still weighs less than four pounds. $1,518

achieving outstanding frame rates on pretty much any game you can throw at it, with as big a monitor as you can swing. This isn’t to say there aren’t downsides: Because the card measures about 13 inches long, it won’t fit in all cases; it sucks up a lot of power, so don’t even think about it if your PC doesn’t have at least a 750-watt power supply; under load it sounds like a helicopter taking off; and, with a price upward of $700, it will be far from affordable for most people. But if you don’t mind paying a premium for best-ofthe-best graphics, you simply can’t do better. $699.99

Best Printer

Best Graphics Card Are you looking for the fastest discrete video processing you can get? Cards based on the AMD Radeon HD 6990 design scheme provide it. It essentially unites two Radeon HD 6970s within a single unit, 66

The Canon Pixma MG8220 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-inOne is the company’s latest high-end home photo lab MFP. It can print high-quality photos from so many different sources that you can reasonably use it just for photos without ever connecting to a computer. It can scan 35mm slides and strips of film, print directly from film as well as from many other sources, and can print onto

printable optical disks. The MG8220 has two 150-sheet paper trays, letting you keep both plain and photo paper loaded at the same time. $299.99

Best Camera Nikon’s D5100 was our favorite D-SLR of the year. The 16-megapixel camera’s articulating LCD is packed with 921,000 dots for extremely crisp image review and live view. It shoots clean images through ISO 6400 and can capture photos at three frames per second. Most impressively, the camera can autofocus while recording 1080p HD video. At $899 the camera isn’t the cheapest, but its image quality, optical finder, and Nikkor optics make it an excellent value. $899.99

'What's On Penang' - December 2011 Issue  

Welcome to 'What's On Penang'. Within these pages our goal is to provide you with your one-stop information link to all the latest offerings...