While Char Kuey Teow
and Nasi Kandar have always been on the forefront of Penang’s food hunt, one should not overlook desserts, especially when the weather is scorching hot.
Skip common tried-and-tested desserts and go off the beaten track, discovering hidden gems and restaurants where you least expect a perfect sugar fix.
Tucked inside Kedai Gaharu Keat Seang along Steward Lane, The Alley is probably Georgetown’s best-kept secret. Yet this cosy eatery is well-patronised since it’s the forefather of churros in Penang. The golden batons are fried to crispy perfection on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and can be dressed to kill with assorted dipping sauces (caramel, chocolate and salted egg yolk), cheesecake and a scoop of ice cream. Oh yes, they also score with cronuts (a hybrid of croissants and doughnuts)! Best coupled with a cup of cuppa or their signature affogato (a medley of Haagen-Daz ice cream and the café’s roasted coffee).
As per the name, crepes are the name of the game here. Located along Gurney Drive, this humble-looking restaurant which does bring to mind a cottage, is host to a variety of sweet and savoury crepes. However, the reigning champ of the extensive menu got to be their Mango Cup. The crepe is aesthetically shaped as a cup and is generously filled with fresh mango slices, scoops of mango ice cream, whipped cream and finished with chopped nuts. The fun interplay of taste and texture will melt your heart in no time. Definitely an Instagram-worthy material too.
Merry Me @ Ice Estate
Housed within Reunion Heritage House, Merry Me @ Ice Estate is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cafe, but yet, it has been earning a dear place in the hearts of ice cream lovers. The ambience ticks all boxes for a hipster hangout but it only plays second fiddle to the liquid nitrogen ice cream. Mango, Matcha and chocolate are some of the many flavour profiles offered and the creamy concoction can be topped with a bouquet of toppings or perched above their homemade waffles. Don’t forget to try their colourful macaroons too!
Kek Seng Coffee Shop
A serving of ice kacang is rich and flavourful enough to be a star all on its own, but at Kek Seng Cafe, it’s been bumped up a notch thanks to the addition of homemade durian ice cream and colourful jellies on top of the rudimentary ingredients. 'Ooh' and 'aah' over this delectable dessert in a no-frills atmosphere that evokes nostalgic vibes of the island before development kicked in.
The Mugshot Cafe
Georgetown is ubiquitous with desserts but for those who speak less calories and healthy food, make your way to Mugshot Cafe. The thick of this cafe might be their wood-fired oven made bagels yet their selection of yogurts does not pale in comparison. The yogurts, served in mugs, are made on a daily basis and choices include Kiwi & Honey, Mango & Walnuts, Walnuts & Raisins and Jackfruit & Gula Melaka. Done relaxing and recharging, seek out wall murals and heritage buildings that are only a stone’s throw away.
Passion Heart Cafe
Unrivalled selection of freshly baked cakes and pastries in a pastel-hued backdrop is what you can find at Passion Heart Cafe. The real deal got to be the locally flavoured cakes such as cempedak and durian cakes, made from scratch without any artificial ingredients. Unlike well-known cake houses or cafes, the price is easy on your wallet without sacrificing quality and size of the cake. What’s more to ask than a cup of java, which they deliver with flying colours too.
Nestled in the bustling Little India, this restaurant celebrates South Indian cuisine through both the food and the decoration. However, no visit to this beautifully-adorned restaurant is deemed complete till you’ve tried their signature Sizzling Brownie. Aptly name, a slice of chocolate brownie is topped with vanilla ice cream and finished with chocolate sauce and cashew nuts served on a sizzling plate. The unison of hot and cold in a single mouthful is an experience like no other. Certainly a winner by aesthetic scale too.
70's Ice Ball
In recent years, Armenian Street has evolved into a tourist-trodden spot and a cafe battlefield. And here lies a little stall that has been earning merits with a dessert from the 70s – ice balls! Looking like an ice kacang on-the-go, the shaved ice is meticulously shaped as a ball and prodded with a stick, and then is generously shrouded with visually-appealing syrups such as Mango, Ribena, Lychee, Orange and Sarsi (can mix two flavours!) or imparted with sour plums. Besides being a dish that is born to be a star in Instagram, it barely makes a dent in your wallet.
Huey & Wah
While most cafes commonly churn out desserts that are somewhat a cut from the same cloth, Huey & Wah has taken a different step and no one is complaining about it. Metaphorically, this place is a marshmallow lover’s dream come true. Orange-ginger, peanut butter, rose, lemon, chocolate, salted caramel and Stout are some of the flavours offered. What’s more? They also provide a list that highlights the best combination of marshmallows and beverages to ensure your palate is not shackled with odd aftertastes. Don’t just stop with these delicious morsels, store some space for a range of cakes and pastries too.