Penang! (which opened in late 2012) takes its name from the food-oriented island on the west coast of Malaysia, and is intended to be the first of a chain of outlets. Dining takes place over two floors, and on an outdoor terrace. The high-ceilinged ground floor is a cheerful place to eat, with its bright blue and canary yellow colour scheme; wooden slats and a large mural add yet more jazz to the interior. Service was equally breezy and moved in time to rock music (the restaurant’s ‘Mr Zuhri’, whose big-spectacled photo pops up everywhere, is a rock fan).
The budget-priced menu covers Malaysian street-food staples including satay, curries and salads, as well as gyoza (Japanese dumplings), sandwiches and even fish and chips with assam pedas (‘sour spicy’) mayo. The spice dial on a chicken satay was turned too low, though the peanut sauce was pleasant. Curry puffs filled with spiced cubed potato, with mango chutney on the side, were better. Far tastier was a steaming bowl of laksa, containing chicken, prawns and vermicelli in a spicy coconut broth, topped with fresh coriander and red chillies. A pink-coloured drink of coconut milk, glutinous rice and taro, served in a small can, made a very sweet but not unlikeable finish.