Jalan Chow Thye is gaining traction, thanks in part to Yella Fork, a cheery new café whose colour scheme is unabashedly yellow. Owned by five friends, the café attributes their food and coffee style to Melbourne, where the chef honed her chops. Pork is heavily featured here in signatures like roasted pork belly, Pork It Right (spaghetti with pork belly and peppers) and the barbecued spare ribs with mashed potato. But a firm favourite on every table is the chicken pie served with chutney and a side salad. Fair trade coffee is prioritised here, but at the time of our visit, a Proud Mary blend was at hand.
Bricklin may be considerably smaller than some of George Town’s more spacious cafés, but what it lacks in space is easily made up for in heart. Owned by the good folks who run Kuala Lumpur’s Feeka, Bricklin’s raw look goes hand in hand with the history of Jalan Gurdwara (aka Brick Kiln Road). The natural brick-heavy look of the café was retained to preserve the street’s fame for brick production. If you’re sitting down to the mille crêpe cake the café has slowly become known for, pair it with the bright yet smooth house blend made up of Brazil’s Mountain Mogiana, Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe, Papua New Guinea’s Sigri and Sumatra’s Tano Batak.
Tucked between heritage shophouses along Lebuh Carnavon, this non-descript café requires a good eye if you’re looking for it at night. Once inside, the (narrow) space expands into a den of vintage-inspired knick knacks. There are robes slung over mannequins, medicine cabinets lined with jars, a spooky baby doll dressed in a yellow jumper, vintage luggage bags and kooky art, all held by peeled walls. Aesthetically, it’s a knockout. The unusual toddy mojito is a must order – deeply fermented palm wine poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, garnished with a sprig of mint. It’s an enigmatic café beverage sure to have the table talking.
The newly opened Macallum wears many hats – one as a café, the other as a roastery and finally, as a coffee academy. Unsurprisingly, it’s a sprawling space, big enough to fit an entire convention. And unlike the narrow, high-ceilinged architecture of most of Penang’s cafés, this one is spacious and boxy, which goes well with the grey, industrial look. The academy hosts workshops of different kinds where coffee enthusiasts can learn basic barista skills, brewing and latte art. The Macallum house blend is a combination of beans from Brazil, Guatemala and Ethiopia, which produces a mildly sweet espresso with a smooth and gentle body. Food-wise, go for the intriguing Macallum Coffee Spaghetti or the smoked duck breast.
Mess Hall along Lebuh King makes use of its high ceilings by suspending a replica of a North American B-25 Mitchell fight plane, an ornament that has gotten people snapping away since the café started operating in November 2014. The rest of the café offers hints of the military theme against an American white-picket look – it sounds strange, but it works. Coffee here may not be super specialised (they use a dark roast blend from Italy) but stay for food items like pineapple chicken chop and the signature MH Special Grilled Chicken. Once you’re done with your food, head upstairs to the House of Yeap Chor Ee, which houses the private antique collection of the namesake Penang businessman and philanthropist.