China House is one of the pioneers in the cafe scene of Penang before the others started to spring up. It is famous for its scrumptious cakes and good coffee. Other than food, it is also well-known for its unique architecture as it has a traditional compound of 3 heritage buildings, linked by an open air courtyard and converted into 14 spaces comprising of shops, cafes, restaurant, galleries, live music and bakery. It has the longest path to reach the end. This time, I’m returning for their fine-dining cuisine since my first visit in 2012.
The moment you walked into the cafe, you will be welcomed by the vast variety of cakes. The cakes looked very inviting and Westernised partially due its classic glass covers. They were so popular that most of the time they were almost sold out.
BTB restaurant is the fine dining section in China House. Unlike other fine-dining restaurants with a very classy and up-scale setting, BTB has its unique charm of contemporary and “kopitiam” interior.
BTB serves modern western style dishes influenced by an eclectic mix of Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. You may dine at a leisurely pace and complement by a great selection of fine wines. At BTB, they offer dedicated service, with the flexible needs of guests in mind. The food is mainly prepared by Chef Mathijs, who hailed from Holland via Australia and now Malaysia.
Pumpkin and Apple Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds and Parmesan Biscotti – RM18
Instead of the usual pumpkin soup that consisted of pumpkin and/or carrot, BTB’s version has been mixed with apple for a more appetising and refreshing taste. It was sprinkled with some crunchy candied pumpkin seeds to provide an additional crunch. It was a healthier version compared to the norm.
Mezze Vegetarian. Pomegranate Dip, Harissa, Red Pepper Chutney, Fresh Green Relish,
Corn & Parmesan Salsa, Eggplant Ginger Bud Sambal, Yoghurt, Dukkah, Lemon Rocket Salad,
Served with Pita and Focaccia – RM28
This unique vegetarian entrée came in a wide variety of dishes to go with the pita and focaccia. The portion was big and for the price of RM28, this is quite value for money.
Grilled Haloumi on Avocado, Cashew Nut Salad with Grapes, Cranberries, Rocket and
Pomegranate Dressing, Parmesan Biscotti – RM38
This is one of the best salads in town. The cheesy grilled haloumi, served with healthy avocado cubes, sesame coated cashew nuts , grapes and cranberries. This dish has a combination of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and crunchiness. It was an excellent and healthy dish that I will definitely come back for this.
Salt Egg Yolk Crispy Chicken Strips on a Watercress, Peanuts, Corn, Cherry Tomato, Green Mango, Coriander Salad with Spicy Peanut Dip – RM34
The batter that was used to coat the chicken strips had been mixed with salted duck egg yolk and was deep fried until crunchy and brown. The crunchiness of the batter and tenderness of chicken strips blended very well with the spicy peanut dip. This is something unique that is not always available in any other restaurants.
Deep Fried Tiny Prawns on a Mango and Avocado Salad with Pistachio and Basil Dressing – RM38
The richness of the tiny prawns combined with the refreshing mango and avocado salad was another unique dish. However, I still love the previous chicken strips dish for its well-balanced combination.
Chicken and Mushroom Pie with Baked Sweet Potato, Mash Potato, Broccoli & Tomato Relish – RM38
The pie was stuffed with chicken cubes and mushroom slices. The pie had a strong pastry scent just like it was freshly baked from the oven.
HOKKIEN SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE w. Minced Chicken served w. Cucumber Ribbons, Eggplant Ginger Bud Sambal & Caramelised Peanuts – RM34
This is a fusion of East Meets West, or rather Malaysian Meets West. Spaghetti Bolognese was cooked in our local “Hokkien Mee soup (Prawn Noodle Soup)” and served with spicy side dishes such as eggplant ginger bud sambal. This dish really combines the best dishes from both countries.
Seared Fillet of Beef (200 grams) with Parsnip Skordalia and Mushrooms, Roast Pumpkin and Duo of Sauces, Spicy Peanut Sauce and Balsamic Sauce – RM76
I love the way they served the beef in medium rare, in this case the meat was perfectly done in the right texture. The traditional Greek garlic sauce (skordalia) made with parnsip was a great complement to the beef.
Rack of Lamb with Dukkah Pumpkin, Eggplant, Chimichurri Pesto and Cauliflower Gratin on the Side – RM76
The lamb rack was displayed in very unique way. However, the meat was a bit too hard for my liking.
Asian Platter – Laos Chicken and Pumpkin Curry, Coconut Beef Rendang, Sweet Basil Mango Salad,
Eggplant Ginger Bud Sambal, Caramelised Peanut Relish, Chicken Larb in Iceberg Cup, Coconut Rice and Crackers – RM62
The Laos Chicken and the Coconut Beef Rendang was another great and fulfilling dish. The spiciness level was not too high yet the richness and fragrance of the rendang could be felt.
Overall, this place is nice and cosy. Most of the dishes here are unique and the prices for certain dishes are quite value for money. The usual drawback about this place is to get a proper parking space.
Editor’s Review (5 Stars Rank):
Operation hours: 9:00am – 12:00am; kitchen close 10:30pm (7 days a week)
Contact: 04-263 7299
Address: 183B, Victoria Street and 153 & 155 Beach Street, Georgetown, Penang
GPS: 5° 41′ 49.40″ N, 100° 33′ 91.00″ E