Ever since the invention of the weekend to break up the working week, Saturday (as well as Friday) has been the preferred day to let loose and embark on a long night of drinking. The morning after, however, is usually a cause for throbbing concern. Enter the Brunch, one of the great Victorian inventions, first coined by Guy Beringer as an answer to the hangover: a neat portmanteau of breakfast and lunch, allowing one to wake up late enough to miss breakfast and not starve until lunch. Luckily, Penang Island has a generous selection of brunch venues, offering light to heavy meals that work as the perfect ‘cure’ to best suit you.
In suburban Tanjung Bungah, Gusto Café opens it shutters to a hectic brunch crowd. The all-day menu offers English Breakfast, bagels, pulled-pork, burgers, salads, smoothies and breakfast drinks. Their burgers come in a range of sizes – all measured by their coronary effects – and are made with homemade patties and a variety of fillings. That, together with a great selection of coffees and beers, and a relaxed, family atmosphere, makes for the perfect brunch option.
Opening hours: Monday – Tuesday, 7:30am-5:00pm; Thursday – Saturday, 07:30am-8:00pm; Sunday, 07:30am-3:00pm; CLOSED WEDNESDAY
Address: 4, Jalan Sungai Kelian, 11200 Tanjong Bungah, Pulau Pinang
Just opposite Gusto Café, Hillside Café Bar and Restaurant, caters to a similar crowd. Sporting a slightly more refined décor, their comfortable seating, including sofas, allows for hours of brunch-time. Their extensive menu means customers have the option of ordering breakfast, lunch or dinner dishes that include a Full English Breakfast, Roast Pork Sunday Lunch, pasta, clay-oven baked pizza or even a cheese platter, to name a few. They also have a good selection of wines for anyone in need of hair of the dog.
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 09:00am-3:00pm / 6:00pm-11:00pm
Address: 7, Jalan Sungai Kelian, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
On the main road in Tanjung Bungah, just next to Infinity Condominium, is the Sunflower Homemade Cakes outlet, regarded as one of the oldest bakeries on Penang Island. Set back from the road and occupying a private little corner plot, the outdoor seating area is a tranquil area to enjoy a sweet or savoury brunch. As well as a shop full cake slices, tarts and pastries, there is also an outdoor mobile kitchen that serves up excellent coffee and Nasi Lamak for under RM10. It is one of the best value brunches anywhere in Penang.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 09:30am-11:00am. Bakery open until 8:30pm Monday to Friday and until 7:30pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Address: 546 C, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang
On the other side of Tanjung Bungah, off Jalan Erskine in Lembah Permai, the vastly popular Let’s Meat offers authentic American fare: Southern biscuits and American omelettes, burritos and platters, even good ole’ American barbeque meats. Decked out in simple, wooden, mid-Western décor and facing onto the Lembah Permai green, Let’s Meat is a calm environment filled with welcoming staff.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 07:30am-9:00pm. CLOSED SATURDAY AND MONDAY.
Address: 18, Lebuh Lembah Permai 4, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang
Moving into George Town from Tanjung Bungah, Straits Quay is filled with eateries able to fulfil every brunch need. Even though the complex offers Japanese, Baba Nyonya, Fish and Chips and Tapas, Healey Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaurant stands out with its wide variety of dishes, extensive drinks menu (some of the best Bloody Marys in Penang, a favoured accompaniment to a hangover-curing brunch) and opulent location overlooking the Straits Quay Marina. Lunch specials (served every day from 12:00pm-3:00pm) offer a Full Irish Breakfast, panninis, burgers and pasta, and the normal menu is famed for its Pork Knuckle.
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11:00am-1:00am; Friday and Saturday, 11:00am-2:00am
Address: 3A-G9 & 10, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470 Tanjung Tokong, Pulau Pinang
Upon entering George Town, its gentrifying streets present a never-ending supply of boutique cafés to satiate a brunch craving. The Daily Dose Café, on Stewart Lane, has developed in its prime location for tourists and Penangites alike, boasting handcrafted coffee and home cooked food alike. Secawan ‘n’ Such, on Jalan Hutton, advertisers itself as the perfect place for ‘brunch lovers’, serving an international menu including eggs benedict and Shakshuka – a popular Middle Eastern mixture of eggs poached in tomato sauce with chili peppers, onions and spices. The Mugshot Café, on Chulia Street, is now famed for its bagels and location as a central meeting spot in George Town. The newly improved Haven Harbour, in New World Park, has re-opened in a light and airy panoramic glass fronted premises.
If, however, Western fare is not to your liking, then George Town offers something unique: ample choices for an authentic Dim Sum Brunch. Two of the most popular local joints in George Town are just a stone’s throw away from each other: Tho Yuen Restaurant on Lebuh Campbell, and Tai Tong Restaurant around the corner on Lebuh Cintra. Both places offer a huge selection of different dumplings (dim sum) and steaming hot and fluffy pao – stuffed with delicious marinated meat and other flavours. These places will not serve alcohol but fresh Chinese tea, a better combination anyway.