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Explore Penang's Baba & Nyonya Culture

Baba & Nyonya Culture in Penang

Baba & Nyonya or more commonly known as Peranakan Chinese, are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled in Southeast Asia up until late 19th century.  Adopting both Malay and European cultures, they practising a localised way of life. The Baba & Nyonya in Penang are different from those in Malacca, Kelantan and Trengganu. Plan a one day itinerary with our recommendations of food, shopping and visits to heritage buildings to learn more!

1. Nyonya Breeze

Address: Straits Quay, Unit 3A-1-7, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang
Phone Number: +6 04 899 9058 
Opening Hours:  Daily, 11:30am to 2:30pm and 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

Located just 15 minutes’ drive away from PARKROYAL Penang Resort, this restaurant is located at Straits Quay Marina Mall.  Serving only authentic Nyonya cuisine, their signature dishes are Sambal Goreng (prawns with a local chilli-based gravy), Masak Lemak (chicken with turmeric) with Sweet Potato Leaves and Curry Kapitan (dry chicken curry).  During the weekend, the restaurant is usually very busy so it is best to make prior reservations. This is a non-halal restaurant.

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2. Perut Rumah

Address: No. 8, Jalan Bawasah, George Town, 10050 Penang
Phone Number:  +6 04 227 9917 
Opening Hours: Daily, 11:00am to 3:00pm and 6:00pm to 10:00pm.

Located right in the heart of George Town, Perut Rumah is housed in a heritage bungalow.  Upon entering the restaurant, you will be amazed with the decorative items of colourful porcelain pots and enamels tiffins that was widely used in the household of a typical Nyonya home.  If you can’t decide what dishes to order, try out popular dishes like Nasi Ulam (steamed rice with herbs), Gulai Tumis (tamarind fish curry) and Inchi Kabin (deep fried chicken).  Also a non-halal restaurant.

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3. Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Address: : 29, Lebuh Gereja (Church Street), 10200 George Town, Penang
Phone Number:  +6 04 264 2929 
Opening Hours:  Daily, 9:30am to 5:00pm.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion is also known as the Baba & Nyonya Museum. Built in the 19th century, this traditional Peranakan home survived throughout many decades of decay, and was restored to its former grand condition.  A typical home to a rich Baba in those days, now the house displays over 1000 pieces of antiques and collectibles of that era.  The architectural of the building’s architecture is an influence of local Malays and European.  Some part of the materials in the house were imported from Europe.  Admission fee is RM21.20 nett per adult and half price for children from six to 12 years old, while children below six can visit on a complimentary basis. Complimentary tours for a group of 5 persons and above are available but prior arrangement must be made.

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4. Yeap Chor Ee

Address: 4, Lebuh Penang, George Town, 10000 Penang
Phone Number:  +6 04 261 0190 
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm.

If you craving for more insights into the lives of Penang’s early Chinese immigrants, simply take a 5 minutes’ walk from the Pinang Peranakan Mansion to House of Yeap Chor Ee.  This majestic mansion was owned by Yeap Chor Ee, a young Chinese immigrant who came to Penang in 1885 and worked as a barber when he first arrived, eventually becoming a banker and philanthropist. This three-storey building is divided into 6 sections - Chinese Immigrant Gallery, Yeap Chor Ee Gallery, Life At Home Gallery, Straits Born, Homestead Gallery and Visitor Centre. It showcases Yeap’s life, the lives of immigrants who arrived from China and exhibits the original furniture and artefacts.  The opening hours is 10:00am to 6:00pm from Monday to Friday with an admission fee of MYR13 per adult inclusive of audio guide.  No charges for children.

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5. Kim Kebaya Fashion

Address: Unit 04-77, Gurney Plaza, 170 Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang
Phone Number:  +6 04 226 6110 
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm.

Besides the flavourful Nyonya cuisine, Nyonya fashion is another Peranakan treasure that showcases aesthetic influences from other ethnic groups in Malaysia.  Intricately embroidered  sarong kebayas, beaded shoes and batik cloth can be found in Kim Kebaya Fashion.  The owner, Koid Boon Ean is the third generation proprietor of this Nyonya Kebaya business.  You will find designs by the Koid, with the embroidery sewn using an old fashioned treadle sewing machine. If you are looking for an authentic Peranakan outfit, visit Kim Kebaya Fashion and you will surely find something, either ready-made or tailor-made.

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6. Nyonya Beaded Shoe

Address: 4, Lebuh Armenian. 10200 George Town, Penang
Phone Number:  +6 016 454 3075 
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00am to 10:00pm

Shoeaholics would be pleased to know that the Baba & Nyonya community also produces traditional Nyonya beaded shoes. Known by locals as “Kasut Manek” in Malay, the making of this shoes is time-consuming with various colourful beads sewn onto the leather shoe. Ready-made beaded shoes are available, but you can opt to have a tailor-made shoe with your choice of available patterns of birds, flowers and motifs.  The making of the beaded shoes will take approximately three months and once it is ready, the Nyonya Beaded Shoe will courier your shoes to you.

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