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Penang, Malaysia is truly a food lover’s paradise. Here you can find a melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan influences that have led to a huge variety of mouth-watering dishes.
Rightly known for its delicious street food, I had spent a week diving into hawker centres around the island devouring every local delicacy I could lay my hands on. As much as I hadn’t tired of this, I knew that I could not leave Penang without going for a classical afternoon tea at the renowned Eastern & Oriental (E&O) Hotel in Georgetown.
So, on the last day of my stay in Penang I headed over to the beautiful E&O for tea and scones.
The Eastern & Oriental hotel
Full of colonial beauty, E&O was built in 1885 and is still considered one of, if not the best, hotels on the island. It was built by the Sarkies Brothers, who off the back of its success went on to build the Strand Hotel in Rangoon and the world famous Raffles, Singapore. Knowing this, you can see why we were expecting greatness!
Afternoon tea is held in the very elegant 1885 restaurant, so I was glad I’d packed my prettiest tea dress – although since he normally lives in jeans and a t-shirt, my other half, Justin, wasn’t as impressed with putting on some smart trousers and a shirt!
Starched linen, silver cutlery and chandeliers set the scene and I found the service very attentive. There was a slight language barrier that we had to overcome but our wonderful waiter asked for help from a colleague and once my requests were understood they were more than happy to oblige.
Afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental hotel Penang
After a week of eating food off plastic plates with only a fan to stave off the humid air, it felt oh so civilised to sit down in the cool of 1885 and drink a delicious cup of loose leaf English breakfast tea from E&O china whilst looking out over the waters of the Malaka Strait.
There was a wide choice of teas to choose from including a few specialities I’d never heard before such as Assam Mokalbari, Tarry Lapsang and Irish Whiskey Cream, and I loved how the menu gave the recommended brewing time for each blend.
Feeling quintessentially English, I must confess to doing a teeny little clap of joy when the silver two-tier tray came out with our savoury treats, offering a mixture of finger sandwiches and pastries. There was a large variety provided including smoked beef brisket sandwiches, rolls cooked with smoked salmon in the middle, croissants and chicken vol-au-vents, and with moist bread and flaky pastry, I was more than happy.
As we were munching our way through these next out were the scones, which as requested were a mix of plain and fruit. These were tasty but left little room for the sweet plate, which wasn’t far behind.
For sweets in Asia they weren’t too bad at all – I find that cake doesn’t do well in the humidity– for example the chocolate cake was delicious, although it did look a little worse for wear! At this point I was beaten, but Justin kindly had a taste of the others, including the fruit tart and some kind of yoghurt style dessert, just to let me know that they were equally delicious.
When you walk through the doors of E&O it’s like you’re taking a step back in time and the hotel really epitomises the beauty of colonial Georgetown. The decor of not just 1885, but the entire hotel is gorgeous and the food itself was delicious. We found the staff welcoming and friendly and for under £10 we think the whole experience is a steal.
For lovers of afternoon tea like myself, a visit to the E&O is a must to add to your list!
Afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental hotel Penang costs RM56 is and available between 2-5pm daily.