A step back in time at Bao Teck Teahouse, Penang
Lebuh Melayu, George Town, Penang, Malaysia
A very happy accident led to the discovery of one of my favourite Chinese restaurants in town- which I have visited THREE TIMES, three weeks in a row.
My mind wandered to the mountain of freshly-baked croissants at La Vie En Rose as I triumphantly snagged a park. The pink pillar at the end of the corridor was in sight. My target was clear...
... or so I thought until bouquets of congratulatory flowers half-covering a set of dark timber doors hindered my path.
"Hi, we've just opened. Would you like to come in for some tea..." A masked staff in a blue cap opened the door slightly, beckoning us to take a look.
I caught a glimpse of the interiors. Say no more. Dim sum it is.
- At a glance -
Dine with style in a quaint 1920s setting. Step into a Chinese garden where time stands still, as you share a delicious meal with friends and family in peace, with the utmost dining comfort.
Note: Remember to reserve before coming!
Food / Very limited vegetarian options.
A delicious array of both traditional dim sum, and dim sum with a twist. It is pricier than the norm and served in a fine-dining style.
They serve a variety of exquisite Chinese tea, retailing for around RM30+ per pot. There is also a limited selection of English teas and other Chinese beverages.
Price / $$$
Average of RM 30 - RM 50 per person.
Extremely limited parking. The restaurant is located along a very narrow and busy road where you'd have to keep your eyes peeled for a park. I recommend either visiting at odd hours, have someone drop you off or Grab a cab (pun intended) to save you the stress.
Contact details & recent news/
- Interiors & Ambience -
Cool air wafted against our faces as the doors swung open to a serene space.
Enter, and allow yourself to be transported to the era of the lavish 1920s.
We were led across the beautiful tiled floor, to our marble table just beside the fountain. Old Chinese music played faintly in the background as we sipped our complimentary cup of Chinese tea from a traditional painted cup, entranced by the trickling water of the mist-enshrouded fountain.
Overhead, ferns hung from timber beams as the late morning sun cast a gentle glow across the room. Truly, it felt like we were dining in a peaceful Chinese garden.
The owner, who also owns the famed Ming Xiang Tai pastries in Penang, designed the interiors on his own. And in the middle of this extremely busy, narrow road in the heart of heritage Georgetown, he has re-created a modern-day time capsule of the 1920s: the era when dining was experienced to the fullest without the distraction of social media or the hectic pace of life.
So put on your best dress - for pictures shan't disappoint! Stroll into this wonderland and dine in the picturesque garden of a ground floor. Or, relive the lavish dining of the 1920s on the first floor where you'd dine under chandeliers, on cushioned chairs and Persian rugs. For this is not a place for those in a hurry.
No, this is a place of relaxation to fully immerse yourself in gastronomical ecstasy.
I ended up staying there for two hours on that first visit! And trust me, I am a VERY FAST eater who usually leaves almost immediately when I'm done with my meal.
- Dim Sum & Tea -
The dim sum is just as beautiful as it is delicious.
Bao Teck Teahouse's food and drinks menu are more expensive than the norm, but for good reason. This was honestly one of the best dim sum lunches and Chinese tea I've ever had. And I usually don't even notice Chinese tea all that much!
On the menu:
- The Signature Bao / Steamed Buns -
Fluffy, steaming hot bao. Stuffed to the brim with flavourful filling, encased in a fluffy, handmade bun.
My favourite is their signature Snowy Char Siew Bun. The tender chunks of barbecue pork were generously covered in a smoky, sticky-sweet sauce, enwrapped in a fluffy bao. It coerced even me, who is NOT a big meat-eater, much less a char siew fan, to love it.
They like to add a twist to their buns, like the Beetroot Red Bean Bun, as pictured below, and the Creamy Pumpkin Bun. Both, absolutely delicious. The Creamy Pumpkin Bun tasted like an egg custard bun, but creamier and richer.
Beetroot Red Bean Bun
- Steamed Dim Sum -
They serve the usual favourites which were generally really good, such as Siu Mai and Prawn dumplings.
I recommend trying the Lo Mai Gai (Steamed Glutinous Rice), which came with a side of really delicious, smoky sambal (chilli).
From left (top): Snowy Char Siew Buns, Sesame balls with a molten egg custard filling, Yam Pastry
Bottom: Lo Mai Gai, Siu Mai
- Fried / Baked Dim Sum -
Do. Not. Leave.
Until you've had their yam pastry, which was a perfect balance of sweet and savoury, the creamy yam encased in a really flaky pastry. I managed to convince my yam-hating mum to eat this. And now, she loves this dish!
I also highly recommend the sesame balls with a molten salted duck egg yolk custard. Think your generic molten egg custard bun but encased in a sinfully crisp, sesame-encrusted layer instead.
Beware! One bite into that crisp and chewy layer WILL result in an explosion of salted egg york custard goodness. Be ready if you don't want to miss a drop of it!
In addition to the fantastic array of dim sum, there is also the option of indulging in Ming Xiang Tai's delicious pastries, such as their famed egg tarts!
The aforementioned AMAZING sesame balls with a molten salted egg custard filling.
Silky smooth egg custard encased in delicate, flaky layers of puff pastry.
This is hands-down, one of my favourite places to dine in Georgetown. On top of its beautiful and quaint design, Bao Teck Teahouse provides a wholly new dining experience in the form of a heritage shophouse.
As stated on their website, the concept behind the teahouse is to offer solace, "a place to rest the mind", to live life, to have actual face-to-face conversations and enjoy every moment of it. I think they've done that justice.
Restaurants like the Kebaya Dining Room offers a wonderful Peranakan-Chinese dining experience as well but with Nyonya cuisine instead. However, what I like about Bao Teck Teahouse is its location amidst the cluster of heritage cafes in Georgetown - which was how I happily stumbled across it in the first place. So you have the additional option of a finer dim sum lunch on top of the more ubiquitous Australian/bakery style cafes while exploring heritage Georgetown.
Amidst the fierce, fast-paced competition in the Penang heritage restaurant scene, this restaurant offers something I find lacking in the modern era: a space that allows you to fully experience dining out as an ordeal rather than another hurried meal just to satisfy daily needs in the shortest time to possible. A place where people actually interact with each other, and with the whole setting itself: from the food to the ambience, to the memories they represent- in the bygone romantic era of the 1920s.
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