31 May THIS ROAD HAS EVOLVED INTO A MELTING POT OF FOOD AND CULTURE
Penang Road, located barely within the buffer zone of George Town’s Heritage Site, is a vital road for Penangites that is separated into four different sections, each with its own unique characteristics. This road is the first to be built outside of Francis Light’s designated town area, and has since evolved into a melting pot of food and culture, becoming a tourism and shopping spot for George Town’s citizens.
The second section of the road lies between Muntri Street and Chulia Street. Here, a Cititel hotel dominates the road, while convenience stores and various restaurants dominate the streets below. Particular places of interest are the Kheng Pin coffee shop which serves up a mean Loh Bak, and the acclaimed Kashmir restaurant which serves high-end Northern Indian cuisine. This section ends at the famous Odeon cinema building, now serving as a trick café.
A particular point of interest is the section between Chulia Street and Burmah Road, where the locally famous Chowrasta Market resides. Here, shoppers or curious tourists can look for local produced such as preserved nutmeg and lempuk. Campbell Street’s entrance can also be found here, as per Penang’s famous Line Clear Nasi Kandar stall and Penang Road’s notable Famous Teochew Chendul dessert stall, which continues to attract crowds today. The Loke Thye Kee restaurant at the Burmah Road junction has since reopened and resumed functioning. In the earlier part of Penang history, this section serves as a cosmopolitan neighbourhood serving various communities, with only their names surviving today as connecting roads, such as Jalan Kampung Malabar and Jalan Sri Bahari.
The final, southernmost section runs from Burmah road to Magazine Circus, where Penang Road connects with Macalister Road, Dato’ Kramat Road, Magazine Road and Gurdwara Road. This section is one-way only for vehicles, leading from the Circus towards Burmah Road. The iconic Komtar resides here, as per its surrounding malls: 1st Avenue, and Prangin Mall.
As Penang Road continues to showcase itself as an aggressive take on the old-vs-new sensibilities of George Town’s cultural history, it still stands as an important footnote within this city’s heritage.