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  • Writer's pictureSheryl

Norm Cafe Penang | Lunch with Muji vibes, pasta, waffles & coffee cocktails!

Lebuh Carnavon, Penang, Malaysia

Norm Cafe (the original one at Lebuh Carnarvon) - A brunch cafe by day, bar by night. The cafe instagrammer and foodie's heaven.

Norm Cafe minimalist Muji aesthetic interiors, Penang, RollingBear Travels blog.

Chinese New Year- always a flurry of ang paos and a constant struggle trying to figure out how to properly address the many relatives, some of whom I don't even know how I'm related to! An afternoon away from the madness for a quiet girl sesh was very much needed for my introverted soul.


At a glance

- Based on my opinions -

Ambience : 8/10

A cosy place perfect for dates or brunch sessions! For walk-ins, the small space cannot really accommodate more than 4 people in this particular branch. Very instagrammable interiors.

Drinks : 10/10

Norm cafe by day, Noct Bar by night. They offer a range of coffee and tea lattes, but are best known for their alcoholic coffee cocktails. Personal favourites so far, are Dark Paradise (non-alcoholic) and Late Latte (alcoholic).

Food : 8/10

Limited menu options such as pasta and waffles, but the pasta options and their signature dessert - heart-shaped waffles, are all very tasty.

Parking : 3/10

Not the easiest place to park : very limited spots in the alley it is tucked into.

Contact details & recent news :


- Interiors & Ambience -

Norm Penang interiors: traditional rattan furniture, patterned Chinese tiles, RollingBear Travels.

The building stands slightly incongruous to its surroundings : tucked into a little alley of heritage shophouses and a clan building, with an almost imperceptible signage. Sweaty palms, and harried footsteps (of a typical Kia Su Asian), and the dreaded truth : will we get a seat?

And YASS. A corner one no less, by the window. A good vantage point to relax and *ahem* people watch.

The cafe though, is tiny (do not go with more than 4 people), and packed.

It is a very 'instagrammable' cafe - with its clean, minimalist white aesthetic. There is A LOT of daylight, so Instagrammers need not worry about insufficient lighting. It is essentially, a cafe version of Muji. The addition of the centre tree and natural materiality palette creates a very inviting atmosphere.


- Food & Drinks -

Norm Cafe has a pretty limited menu, but everything they have is done well.

The cafe focuses on drinks: ranging from coffee, to a variety of teas, matcha latte, non-alcoholic cocktails, coffee cocktails, and alcoholic cocktails. But beware! The alcohol is really strong in the cocktails.

We cheered with a Dark Paradise (the signature mocha, chilled, topped with a luxuriant frothy layer, cinnamon, and a dried orange slice). I came for this, and it did not disappoint. The cool caffeine was a delight in the heat.

As a Bailey's Hot Chocolate lover, hohoho, the Late Latte sang the same tune. I don't remember exactly what was in it, but coffee and vanilla bourbon was involved. Perfecto!

For Round 2 : the local ampla-sembuay inspired cocktail : Matcha Bitters. A combination of matcha and limoncello. A bit on the sour side and my least favourite of the three.

Matcha Bitters presentation, atop marble table, flat lay photography by RollingBear Travels.
Matcha Bitters, Norm Cafe, Penang
Dark Paradise in two cocktail glasses, RollingBear Travels blog.
Dark Paradise, Norm Cafe, Penang

On the Menu: It was limited to some pasta options and their signature waffles.

Pictured below is the Pesto Pasta, even though I had the Aglio Olio because this annoying Instagrammer had to snatch a photo of everyone's food before lunch could continue. Simple but tasty comfort food- perfectly seasoned, and a hearty portion for some languorous twirling over gossip. Very useful for far-too-fast eaters like me :/

Norm cafe menu : pesto pasta, shaved parmesan, nuts, RollingBear Travels.
Pesto Pasta!

For dessert : an apple crumble waffle. OH MY GOD. That texture thooooooo: super crispy edges balanced with fluffy interiors. Dang, that waffle is crave-able. BUT it was a tad too sweet. The next time I order this, I would ask to omit the sugar and have the syrup by the side because the only downside about this was that the waffles came drenchettd in maple syrup. And yes, the accompanying earl grey ice cream was really light in texture but girls being girls / maybe it's just us health junkies (and waist-watchers), asked for it at the side.

Norm Cafe Dessert : Heart-shaped waffles, stewed apples slices, powdered sugar, RollingBear Travels
Apple Crumble Waffles. Sweet-tooth satisfied!
Dried apple slices on Earl Grey Soft Serve, RollingBear Travels.
Earl Grey Ice Cream

This after we declared being 'overstuffed to have dessert'.

Overall, it just felt like such a wholesome afternoon. I finally got to try my long-awaited coffee cocktail, and the whole vibe was so chill and cosy- really constituted to a perfect spot to catch-up with old friends and hang out with my mum. I left really wanting to write about the afternoon. Mainly because I think that 2020 started off with so many incidents from the recent coronavirus cases and so on, and it just makes me reflect on how lucky I am that everyone I care for is okay, and to really cherish it. Plus, it's not often that I get to go home on Chinese New Year and for once, being home, getting to relax in a cafe amongst the narrow streets of my hometown- I don't know. I just suddenly feel so grateful for these simple pleasures in life. And jotting it down makes it feel as if I could hang on to these beautiful moments just a little longer before they disappear, far too quickly as per usual.

On a side note, Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Thank you for reading!


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