Penang Photography Cafe – Soul Cafe Kek Chuan Road
Penang Photography Cafe – Soul Cafe 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 stroll down memory lane of Kek Chuan Road, Penang.
Penang Photography Cafe on 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 Saw Swee Leong for inspiring renewed interest in badminton throughout the country.
Homemade courts spouted everywhere with kids playing over the fence of terrace houses.
Sometimes you see good nets strung 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 was forgotten.
It is just good to reminisce as we sit in the café drinking butterscotch coffee with our slice of Gula Melaka cheesecake.
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.
Soul Café – 1st Photography Café in Malaysia
My introduction to Soul Cafe was an interview I had with some excellent macro photographers.
We sat at several tables, moving here and there to sit and chat before the lunch crowd trooped in.
I drank copious cups of coffee in tall funky plastic camera lens mugs as writers do.
I could never remember the names of the food I ordered.
Soul Cafe Menu
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 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.
The menu I’ve tasted over numerous trips and clear winners are
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Smoked Salmon Salad
- Chorizo e Vongole Stufato (pork sausages)
- Croque Madame (Fried Ham Sandwich with Bechamel Sauce)
- Linguine al Vongole Pesto (Pesto and Clams)
- Pesto Pasta (Tagliatelle)
Soul Cafe Spaghetti
If you like Italian (read Pasta) and photography- this Penang Photography Cafe stands heads and shoulders above the historical row.
The Pesto Pasta (Tagliatelle) has all the ingredients I like best: fresh basil pesto, juicy halved grape tomato, cream, cheese, and the perfume of fresh thyme.
Soul Cafe Coffee
I met the lovely Hong Kong photographer Salina Leung whose exhibits are on the walls.
After dinner, we had AeroPress coffee, invented in 2005. A plunger, a filter, and some elbow grease are required.
Putting the ground coffee in the AeroPress cylinder and using a spatula to press it in.
Pour in hot water. Coffee is steeped for 10–50 seconds.
Then it’s forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube.
The result is an espresso strength concentration of coffee.
Cold Drip Coffee
A bottle of cold coffee opens and is poured into a whiskey glass served on a wooden tray.
Cold drip coffee tastes delicious and looks like a shot of whiskey.
Soul Cafe Dessert
To wash that down, we waited impatiently for the freshly baked Molten de Cocoa, which is a delicious, chocolate-oozing lava cake, well worth the wait.
The passion fruit and the dried fruit compote are a nice touch to balance the sweetness.
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!
12, Jalan Kek Chuan, 10400 George Town, Penang
Business Hours: 8.00 am to 11,00pm (Monday to Saturday)
Telephone: +60 4-226 8200
Soul Cafe Website: Soul Café – 1st Photography Café in Malaysia