Text and images by CK Lam @ Makansutra
If Chinese tea is your “cup of tea”, then head over to Yi Bin, located at Hutton Lane in Penang. This tea house offers a wide selection of Chinese tea leaves from China.
The owner, Mr E.G Lai has been operating this establishment since 2007. The interior of this prewar double storey shop house is well furnished with Chinese furniture and genuine Straits Chinese collectable wares making the ambience a bit of the past.
The dining area beside the court yard is pleasantly decorated with a water feature and lush green plants. This area seats around 30 persons. Another larger dining area is available upstairs. Each table is equipped with a tea making set of utensils for the patrons to brew the tea themselves. Mr Lai is always on hand to brew a perfect cup of tea for his customers. There are many types of tea leaves to choose from, including the popular Pu Er and Tie Kuan Yin.
Besides tea, Yi Bin offers an array of delightful home cooked Nyonya and local Chinese dishes, all prepared by Mr Lai wife. Popular Nyonya dishes include ju hu char and the assam pedas. The ju hu char is eaten as a wrap with the Chinese lettuce and homemade sambal. The carrots and yambean shredded with a good texture are infused with aroma of dry cuttlefish.
The assam pedas served garnished with mint leaves has distinctive flavours of daun kesum (laksa leaves), lemon grass, sourish assam and pineapple. The choice of fish is either the threadfin or the more up market white pomfret. The degree of spiciness can be adjusted according to one’s preference.
The forte dish here is the mustard cabbage rice (kua chai pui). Dried shrimps, pork slices, Chinese black mushroom and coarsely chopped mustard cabbage are all cooked together to give the rice full of robust flavour. The rice taste even better eaten with chilli padi.
Two popular dishes are the chicken steamed with Chinese sausage and the tu kar chor (braised pork leg in Chinese black vinegar and ginger). The pieces of chicken are steamed with sweet fragrant Chinese wine, wolfberries and Chinese sausage. This simple dish is thoroughly enjoyable.
The tu kar chor with large pieces of pork leg and ginger are done with tenderness, however the dish has less depth of vinegar.
Desserts available include homemade mua chi and ti kuan yin tea jelly.
With so many types of teas, home-cooked dishes and free wi-fi connection, Yi Bin is one ideal place to meet up with friends.
Yi Bin the Mansion of Tea Art 106-C Jalan Hutton 10050 Georgetown, Penang Tel: 04-2273967 Business Hour: 11am till 8:00pm (Close on Sun)