23 Jun Nostalgic Beauty of the Famous Loke Thye Kee
At the bustling corner where Burmah Road and Penang Road meet stands a heritage building. Built nearly a century ago in 1919, the Loke Thye Kee, arguably the oldest restaurant in Penang, has endeared many generations of people from near and far.
Perhaps one of Loke Thye Kee’s most prominent features lies in its architecture. The unique building structure is said to resemble a steam boat or ferry, with a canopied, open-air space on the top floor and two lower “decks”, where the more imaginative patrons could relax and daydream that they were cruising leisurely down a tranquil river as they enjoyed their food.
Ah… the food! Right from the start, Loke Thye Kee was famed for serving authentic Hainanese cuisine. But as its name suggests – Loke Thye Kee is Chinese for the cheerful-sounding moniker “House of Happiness” – much more than that, it was known to be a popular venue for many a happy occasion during the yonder years, including matchmaking sessions, family gatherings, birthday dinners and wedding parties.
Just a few years ago, after a long silence, Loke Thye Kee was given a new lease of life when boutique developer 1919 Global took it upon its shoulders to lovingly restore the building. This labour of love was completed in 2012, along with five adjacent shophouses; and in staying true to the building’s roots, its original function as a restaurant was maintained.
Thus the second chapter of Loke Thye Kee Restaurant is currently being written, while the five additional shophouses were transformed into a charming luxury boutique hotel – Loke Thye Kee Residences.
The restaurant presently features a cafe on the ground floor, which is open all day, while the first floor is reserved for larger groups and private functions. The third floor has been overhauled to become a cosy bar for private functions. In tandem with George Town being proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the revived Loke Thye Kee restaurant provides a touch of heritage, while allowing Penangites and tourists to enjoy authentic Hainanese and Nyonya cuisine.
The Loke Thye Kee Residences, on the other hand, has been garnering regional acclaim since it opened its doors. Masterfully combining the region’s rich history with luxurious contemporary comfort, the high-end boutique hotel which marked the Ministry of Design, Singapore’s first such project on Penang Island recently won the Best Hotel in 2017 (Malaysia category)at the BCI Asia Interior Design Awards 2017. Additionally, it was a finalist for Best Suite at the Asia Hotel Design Awards 2016 and The Luxe List 2015 of DestinAsian.