food, food service, food and drink, international food, local food, traditional food, culinary, f&b, food and beverage, food and beverage service, Malaysia food, Malaysia cafe
Address :
85, Lebuh Armenian, George Town, 10200 Penang Malaysia, Pulau Pinang

Contact :
Tel +604-261 3680

The Best of Malay Heritage Foods unrivaled in Penang

The early Muslim communities here were the Orang Tanjung ('people of the promontory') or Jawi Peranakan (locally born Malay-Muslims). Peranakan is a Malay word which means 'locally born' or 'indigenous' and refers to the offspring of Indian, Arab, Turkish and Persian migrants who married local Malay women. Jawi is a term used by Arabs to mean "Muslims of Southeast Asia", in particular Malays who used the Jawi Arabised script, since the 11th to the present century.

The Café offers delightful meals, fusion Jawi Peranakan foods gourmet sandwiches, colonial and Malay cakes, tarts and pastries, crumpets with ground and locally brewed coffee, gourmet and local teas and a variety of signature drinks, associated with the Jawi Peranakan culinary traditions of Penang and Malaysia.

Early History of the Muslim Heritage Enclave.

Before 1786, the area known as ‘Malay Town', along Acheen Street, in Popham's 1798 Map, was already populated by local Kedah Malays. The Penang Malay dialect of George Town is a derivative of the Kedah dialect with Tamil and Arabic borrowings and became the local lingua franca as more migrant Muslims married Malay women and adopted the Penang Malay dialect as their mother tongue.

Early Malay houses were built on stilts and had high steps with mangrove wood walls and attap roofs, with seasoned mangrove wood beams, similar to the early Malay houses along the Melaka River and the Straits Settlements. Some of these houses had attap and bertam walls which could not withstand strong rains and winds, although nibong flooring split into two was hardier. By the early 19th century, Arab Peranakan houses as seen in the compound of Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh ( No.65,67,69 Acheen Street), transformed the design of earlier Malay houses into half masonry and timber with tiled roofs. Unlike Malay houses, they had stone columns, were constructed from the ground and had tiled or cement flooring. They resembled Malay houses in keeping with the long drop wooden louver windows, which continue to grace Malay and Peranakan houses. JAWI HOUSE showcases an exclusive range of etchings and prints of early Malay houses of the peninsula.

The series of artist impressions in the Malay Town Series, commissioned by JAWI HOUSE, provides vivid glimpses of early Malay life in the Malay Lane-Lebuh Aceh enclave.

Within this Malay township, the early population of 'Malay Lane' comprised families of traders, rice and swidden farmers. The early local Malays who had settled here before Francis Light's occupation of Penang in 1786 were actively trading in pepper, coffee, betel nut, rice, mangrove wood, nipah thatch, coconuts, medicinal plants and herbs. Evidence from Popham's map shows vast paddy fields behind the mangroves in the marshy areas, northwest of the Malay Town. Wet rice called padi sawah, grown in marshy areas was already well developed by Kedah Malays from about the 9th century AD, the oldest known rice and swidden farmers of the Malay Peninsula.

The coastline in the late 18th century was close to the 'Malay Town' and Malays had their jetties stretched out into the sea opposite Malay Street or Lebuh Melayu. Malay Street used to lead directly to a Malay jetty through mudflats and mangroves. Since Malays had been on the island, long before migrants from Sumatra, India or China moved into this area, they did not live in allotted ethnic colonies and moved about freely, always moving out of areas they had occupied, as other non-Muslim communities moved in. Observing Penang Island's changing coastlines and natural reclamation by sand banks, Malay Street used to house families of Malay traders and fishermen. Further towards Weld Quay, the Chinese built their clan jetties around the mid-19th century which continue to survive the test of time. Gat Lebuh Melayu is the extension of Malay Street which developed following the land reclamation at the turn of the 20th century. The creation of the Malay Street Ghaut extends the existing Malay Street all the way to Weld Quay, built by the British in the early 19th century.

JAWI HOUSE artist impressions of these coastal scenes in the Malay Town Series, brings out nostalgic memories of the Malay Jetty and coastal Malay trade which is now part of a bygone era in Penang.

By the late 19th and early 20th century, as the mangroves were felled and filled, the Malays lost access to forest products and rice lands, along the coast. Sampans could no longer come up close along the canal or terusan to the Malay Town. Siltation and sedimentation clogged up the canal, as the migrant population expanded. Local Malays did not assimilate with the Acehnese who had been allotted land by the British government and who were more successful in trade and business. Being native, Penang island Malays had always assumed that all land they cleared were theirs. This Malay customary land law had been officiated by the Sultan of Kedah but British colonial law had never recognised this and overruled this institution of ownership. Without the backing of the Kedah sultan, Kedah Malays on the island had done little to acquire land titles unlike the migrant population of the island who sought close ties with the British and became the favourite subjects of their colonial masters.

By the early nineteenth century, the Sumatran Malay population had swelled in the Malay Town, occupying areas all along Acheen Street and Armenian Street, the southern periphery of the Malay Town. Sumatran Malays came from Pedir, Deli, Langat, Serdang, Batu Bara, Ashan, Bila, Pasai, Kota Pinang, Siak, Indragiri, Jambi and Palembang. Many of them were traders from the Sumatran pepper ports who took advantage of the more peaceful political environment in Penang - resistance to Dutch rule had intensified in Aceh and Eastern Sumatra.

The built heritage of the Armenian Street-Lebuh Acheh enclave describes social diversities of ethnicity, language and economic activity to produce a rare model of Malaysian built heritage, inspired by inter-faith and inter-ethnic harmonious coexistence. George Town's eclectic built designs were by no means unique, and like those in other port cities in the Nusantara, Africa and the Middle-East, created a Renaissance of a kind in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There was an evolution of architectural designs derived from Northern Malay, Chinese and Indian sources and this fusion then and now describes innovations which are part of Malaysia's diverse built heritage. Designs were adapted to the climate and ecology and the adaptive process is infinite, as new built materials are created.

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