Penang’s Photography Café – Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road

Penang’s Photography Café – Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road

Penang’s Photography Café – Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road

Penang’s Photography Café – Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road is a popular cafe in George Town where photography enthusiasts, coffee aficionados, and pasta lovers gather. The café is in a restored shophouse off Macalister Road (Jalan Macalister) in George Town.
Touted as the first Photography Café Malaysia, this cafe is packed at all hours of the day.
I wanted to call this story; of badminton and pasta when it’s more of photography and pasta. But then again, maybe I should qualify myself by taking a little jaunt down memory lane of Kek Chuan Road, Penang.

MEMORY LANE

In the mid-1970s, the National Badminton player Saw Swee Leong lived here on Kek Chuan Road. Cool even to little primary school girls, Swee Leong’s dazzling prowess on the court was memorable as we all cheered for the Malaysian Thomas Cup team.
Fish was knee-high to a grasshopper back then, caught up as a spectator but of course. Small girl ma!
I would credit Swee Leong for inspiring renewed interest in badminton throughout the country as homemade courts spouted everywhere with kids playing over the fence of terrace houses and even stringing up proper nets across quiet back lanes in housing estates.
Now the heritage row across from Swee Leong’s old house is converted to quirky cafes and hangouts. That 70s era forgotten but it’s good to reminisce as we sit in the café drinking butterscotch coffee with our slice of Gula Melaka cheesecake.

This is after a filling lunch of Italian Pasta cooked in various styles. We have come to love the taste which is delicious and consistent over the years.

Bottle of cold coffee open and poured into a whiskey glass served on a wooden tray
Bottle of cold coffee opens and poured into a whiskey glass served on a wooden tray. Cold drip coffee tastes delish and looks like a shot of whiskey. Photo: Doris Lim

SOUL CAFE | FIRST PHOTOGRAPHY CAFE MALAYSIA

My introduction to Soul Café was an interview I had with some awesome macro photographers. We sat at several tables moving here and there to sit and chat before the lunch crowd trooped in.

Drank copious cups of coffee in tall funky plastic camera lens mugs as writers do.

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
I could never remember the names of the food I order. This one has all the ingredients I like best. Fresh basil pesto, juicy halved grape tomato, cream, cheese and the perfume of fresh thyme.

My second trip was a solo lunch on the run. The rest I would say is magic. I wolfed that down and drank a mean latte that lunchtime and noticed that it was fully packed on a Monday.

I did another coffee run before I returned for the invited review.

The taste is in the pudding, they say and yes, Soul Café must have hit the right formula of Italian (read pasta) and photography to stand heads and shoulders above the historical row.

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Photography Exhibition
Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Children faces

I met the lovely HK photographer Salina Leung whose exhibits are on the walls.

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Creamy Pumpkin Soup

 

Smoke salmon triwl into florets with greens, lettuce, cherry tomato, black pitted olives, onions in a white bowl with a white background
Pretty smoked salmon salad.
Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Croque Madame. This classic French ham sandwich is drizzled with bechamel sauce and topped with a poached egg. Photo: Doris Lim
Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Chorizo e Vongole Stufato, would I ever say no to pork sausages?
Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Linguine al Vongole Pesto, Pesto and Lala.

After dinner, we had AeroPress coffee which was invented in 2005. Basically, a plunger, a filter and some elbow grease required.

COFFEE & DESSERTS

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Aeropress coffee

Putting the ground coffee in the  AeroPress cylinder and using a spatula to press it in.

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Aeropress Coffee

Pour In the hot water. Coffee is steeped for 10–50 seconds.

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Putting in the plunger
Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Voila! Nice without sugar or milk.

Then its forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube. The result is an espresso strength concentration of coffee.

Penang's Photography Café - Soul Café, Kek Chuan Road
Molten de Cocoa is a chocolate lava cake

To wash that down, we waited impatiently for the freshly baked Molten de Cocoa, which is basically a scrumptious, chocolate-oozing lava cake, well worth the wait.

The passion fruit and the dried fruit compote is a nice touch to balance the sweetness.

SAW SWEE LEONG

I wonder if Saw Swee Leong ever visits.

Maybe I might meet him for a cuppa and a chat about badminton or be fighting fish or photography. Perhaps he might notice me now that I’ve grown taller!

P.S. I still have his signature in my autograph book. Yes, there is such a thing. Google it!

Soul Cafe | 12, Jalan Kek Chuan, Penang | Business Hours: 8.00am to 11,00pm (Monday to Saturday) | Telephone: +60 4-226 8200

 

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