Sunday, Feb 28

4 Ways on How These Peranakan’s Themed Retailers in Penang Win Astonishing Reviews From Locals and Tourists

By Joel Teh

Penang, The Pearl of The Orient, isn’t only a famous tourist destination for food and sightseeing, but it’s also one of the states in Malaysia, other than Melaka, with the history of Baba-Nyonya’s habitancy in the past. Thus, we can see many retailers that sell Baba-Nyonya-related products and services on this scenic island, especially in the Georgetown area.

Today, we’re going to shed light on four basic tricks they possess in common that make them outstanding along with some examples as well. Hope it’ll inspire those who strive to grow their business in a similar field.


(Image credit: Perut Rumah Nyonya Cuisine)

What’s more important than keeping the original features in the things you sell? Food, in specific, demands this characteristic be included as a justification for the food quality and the taste that they purport to be.

Not only that people usually dislike the idea that some restaurants deliberately replace certain ingredients with substandard materials just to save cost, but delivering genuine services from the workers themselves is equally crucial as well.

One fine example of a restaurant with authentic and tasty Baba-Nyonya food in Penang will always go to Perut Rumah Nyonya Cuisine. It’s the best outlet for sumptuous Peranakan cuisines as they combine the taste of Chinese, Malay, and Thai which fulfills customers’ taste buds in general. Overall, they serve authentic Nyonya food that has attracted many foodies around the world. Some of the recommendations that are top-notch at its sensation are the Otak-otak, Loh Bak, Spicy Kang Kong, Jiu Har Char, Green Bean Soup, and more.

Another example of the dining place in Penang with authentic taste is Li Er Cafe. Specializing in multi-coloured Nyonya kuihs (cakes), this cafe also serves set meal delicacies such as Nasi Kerabu and Jawa Mee for the customers. Among all the lists of cakes available in the shop, people normally prefer their Kuih Ko Sui, Kuih Lapis, Seri Muka, and Gula Melaka Sago.

Architecture & Interior Design

(Image credit: Pinang Peranakan Mansion)

Physical appearance plays an important role. That being said, the interior outlook and the layouts are pivotal in escalating the ambiance of Baba-Nyonya’s themed location.

Looking at the architecture side, the Peranakan buildings are usually built with a combination of Chinese, Malay, and a little bit of the European settings. The Peranakan Cina in the past married local women and were influenced by the Dutch and British cultures during the colonial era, hence the mixture of styles on the building designs. On top of the outlook, a Peranakan place is also always thick when it’s matched with several indoor antiques that bring the entire atmosphere to life. 

The first place in Penang with these interior constructions is Pinang Peranakan Mansion– then an opulent 19th-century mansion, now a heritage museum in the heart of Georgetown. Apart from that, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion– Penang’s most iconic boutique heritage hotel, is also a famous spot that possesses this architectural characteristic. Both also became famous locations for TV shows and have received good ratings since their restoration.


(Image credit: Anya Kebaya)

When eyeing on various choices of goods gives the customers a satisfying experience, shops such as Anya Kebaya, the women’s clothing store, came with an array of Peranakan products to preserve their value on the market.

We can find a wide-sweep of accessories from all over Asia in this shop. For instance, Nyonya kebaya, batik, kerongsang sets, handmade handbags, and wood clogs some of the things they sell all the time.

Thus, offering various things of a rare-community is a definite way to bring a business’s popularity to a profound level as the demand is high while the competitive supply is slightly low.

Homely Feeling

(Image credit: Ivy’s Nyonya Cuisine)

There’s never a better place than somewhere that makes you feel at home. A destination that provides homely feelings isn’t only giving the visitors a sense of belonging, but it also accelerates the nostalgic vibes that evoke people’s emotions to buy something.

Food and beverages outlets are more likely to cater to this requirement as food is one of the most essential items that stir someone’s memories simply through the taste itself. Apart from the authenticity mentioned above, food with a home-cooked style is the next major feature that draws the attention of foodies.

One restaurant in Penang that came into mind with this characteristic is Ivy’s Nyonya Cuisine. This excellent review-winning dining shrine offers both homemade delicacies and a cozy environment that checked the homey expectations. Among the menus, their Jiu Hu Char, Assam Pedas Fish, Curry Kapitan Chicken, Dried Prawn Sambal, and Bee Koh Moi are some of the mouth-watering dishes that provide the homely feeling to the diners.

Meantime, Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay in Chulia Street is another great example as its homelike dining hall and the vintage in-house decoration are simply unique. With over 20 choices of Nyonya Kuihs, the light meals provided could be a little pricey, yet reasonable for their yummy taste. For instance, Kuih Bengka, Kuih Talam, Huat Kuih, Popiah Chee, Pulut Inti, and Kuih Koci are some of the few popular selections from this place.

There’s a saying by Johan Huizinga (the Dutch historian) goes, “If we are to preserve culture we must continue to create it”. With that, the above-mentioned factors are the reasons why some of the Baba-Nyonya-inspired retailers in Penang are successful in attracting locals and tourists with excellent ratings for the long run.

As we all know, the Peranakan cultures, especially Baba & Nyonya are facing a bloodline extinction. We should encourage the preservation of this community’s organic arts so that future generations will get to appreciate the beauty that we’ve been taking for granted in the past years.


(Featured image credit: Photo by Wan San Yip on Unsplash)



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