Friday, November 20, 2015

Narrow Marrow & Jawi House @ George Town, Penang

If you need a feel-good breakfast in George Town, check out Narrow Marrow, helmed by the affable duo of Alvin Neoh and Jamie Oon, an architect and interior designer respectively who’ve painstakingly restored a shop-lot that had been abandoned for a decade. 

 Narrow Marrow is a quirky space that defies easy categorisation – the décor leaps from terrariums and teapots to tables and chairs salvaged from streets and flea markets. The food includes not only thick traditional toasts slathered with cheddar cheese and avocado paste, but also a comforting lamb stew that Oon’s mother lovingly cooks at home. The speciality beverage is a 'Mojito' laced with toddy, & other sparkling beverages with nutmeg or ginger.

 The vibe is encouragingly cheerful – Narrow Marrow has hosted everything from musical gigs to a ‘tropical cosmic space future’ costume party. “This is our playground,” Neoh says. “We like to get people feeling curious and connected to this place and each other. What we sell here is social lubricant.”

Narrow Marrow
252, Carnarvon Street, George Town, Penang. Tel: 0165536647

An equally distinctive destination can be visited for lunch or dinner: In a 19th-century building on a street once known for brass and copper merchants, Jawi House dishes out cherished recipes handed down through the generations, blending local Malay culinary traditions with South Asian and Middle Eastern influences. 

Founded by an anthropologist couple whose sons serve as the restaurant’s manager and head chef, this is one of the few places that promise nasi lemuni, a herbal rice dish with a lightly bitter tang, cooked with coconut milk and lemuni leaves, believed to hold diverse medicinal properties.  

There's also masala prawn biryani with vegetable curry & chutney, as well as 'bamieh,' a stew of boneless lamb with Peranakan herbs, okra & Benggali bread. Come for the food, which showcases masterfully mellow subtleties, then stay and admire the evocative local artwork and heirlooms on display. 

Jawi House Cafe Gallery
85 Lebuh Armenian, George Town, Penang, Mon, Wed-Sun: 11am-930pm. Tel: 042613680

This spotlight on George Town is part of a feature on Penang's recommended restaurants, cafes & bars - read the full feature in the November 2015 issue of Going Places, Malaysia Airlines' in-flight magazine, or on Going Places' website (link here).

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  1. I guess that's beef stew. I would prefer it a little darker. I'd give the thumbs up to the latter place - the curry looks gorgeous and I like their decor.

    1. Suituapui: both places do pretty thoughtful interpretations of beloved dishes :) i like the decor too - a lot of meticulousness :)

  2. I have never seen a place quite like this before, Sean! Very unique (at least it is to me). :)

    1. Linda: i'm completely in agreement about the aspect of uniqueness! :)

  3. Both places are great, glad that you found them Sean! You should ring me up for a tea!

    1. Ken: ooo, this was a very quick visit back in september ... we were basically moving from restaurant to restaurant for 48 hours :)