“At Kebaya, it brings us great pleasure to incorporate seasonality and innovative cooking with the cultural calendar. Georgetown is a melting pot of heritage and culture. We bring ingenuity back to classic Peranakan dishes, be they festive dishes or household favourites. It is the challenge of updating dishes that have withstood the test of time that keeps the fire burning in our kitchen.”
Braised whole duck with oranges, caramelized plums, and soy and spice duck broth; Malay sweet soup with coconut milk, banana, sweet potatoes, tapioca, and pandan; and durian soufflé with cardamom espresso parfait and smoked sea salt.
Like tourist destinations around the world, Unesco-listed George Town is experiencing over-tourism from frugal day-trippers who spend little, yet contribute to destroying the authenticity they seek, as locals abandon their homes due to loss of privacy and livelihood. Penang-born Christopher Ong is working to save George Town through food. At Ong’s Seven Terraces, atmospheric Kebaya restaurant offers deliciously inventive Nyonya cuisine which Ong and chef Zachary Choong use to lure culinary travellers and, by celebrating the many Peranakan festivals on the cultural calendar, draw locals too. Eighty per cent of ingredients used at Kebaya are local, bought from within a onemile radius to keep local businesses going. They support artisans such as a third-generation spring roll skin-maker and a small fishing community.