My university friend recommended this charming cafe for our Iftar meet up. Established by the Karim family of Punjabi-Jawi Peranakan, I was excited to savour a smorgasbord of flavours that the owner claims will "take you back centuries of magical culinary history".
The restaurant is housed in a refurbished old building within Penang's UNESCO World Heritage Site on Armenian Street. The street is famous for its rich cultural offerings and the traditional interior decoration of the restaurant blended in perfectly with the aesthetics of the area. Beautiful antique pieces and lush plants added to the welcoming and homely ambience. Not forgetting the attentive and friendly team of waiters who had great knowledge of the menu.
Complimentary iftar Snacks During Ramadhan, they serve complimentary snacks to all diners comprising of dates, assorted local crisps, and barley broth. The broth was reminiscent of a flavourful oxtail soup with hints of citrus fragrance. Extra comforting on a stormy night.
Jawi Hummous (4.5/5)
For appetisers, we ordered Jawi Hummous served with toasted Benggali bread and sliced cucumbers. The hummus was delightfully creamy, aromatic, and pairs well with the bread! If you're wondering about the uniqueness of Benggali bread, a well-made one can stay firm after dipping in dips/soups/sauces/drinks despite being so fluffy! This one was definitely some good Benggali bread so thank goodness it was refillable!
Jawi Laksa Lemak (5/5)
Generous amounts of flaked local tuna and mackerel, coconut milk and a secret blend of spices resulted in a showstopper of a broth. The rice noodles, fresh raw greens & pineapple provided just enough lightness without watering down the broth. Not overly spicy or lemak (oily), this really hits all the right spots! Highly recommended!
Nasi Lemuni (5/5)
The rice is prepared with lemuni leaves (Vitex Trifolia), garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, and telang flowers(Asian Pigeonwings) which gives it a slightly blue hue. Despite the array of spices, the herbal flavours remained subtle and the rice pairs really well with all the other side dishes we ordered. A distinctive dish that is not to be missed!
Jawi Bamieh (3.5/5)
This Jawi Peranakan spiced tomato-based stew is cooked with boneless lamb and served with okra. The stew itself packs so much flavour and was devoid of any unpleasant gamey lamb flavour. Unfortunately, the meat was slightly tough and dry. Still good nonetheless, but not as great as the other dishes we tried.
Chicken Curry (4/5)
While it is a regular bowl of Chicken Curry without any particularly unique flavours, it was perfectly executed and both the drumstick and breast were succulent. The sauce goes great with the Nasi Lemuni without bringing too much heat.
Three Local Vegetarian Dishes (4/5)
Wanting to sample as many dishes as we could, we ordered this trio of vegetables. The Stir-fried Spinach & Mushrooms, Stir-fried Okra, and Labu Masak Lemak (pumpkin cooked in coconut milk) were all tasty and paired well with the Nasi Lemuni. Nothing to shout about but we enjoyed the variety.
When served authentic food in such a heritage-rich environment, I can safely say that the feast did "take me back centuries of magical culinary history". Service was highly attentive and despite the slightly higher prices, it was good value for the quality of food and overall dining experience.
Sabbylicious Makan Rating
Must order : Jawi Laksa Lemak, and Nasi Lemuni with mains of your liking.
Operating Hours Wednesday - Monday (11.00 am–9.30 pm). Closed on Tuesday.
Jawi House Cafe Gallery
85, Lebuh Armenian, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang