[Penang] Coffee & pastries at Mugshot Cafe-Rainforest Bakery, Chulia Street

Coffee break this morning: cappuccino and pastries at Mugshot Café - Rainforest Bakery, the popular twinned cafes co-owned by 41-year-old high school buddies, Jesse Tan and Tristan Navarednam (they studied at St Xavier’s Institution in Penang, and were also room-mates when both were in the UK for their college studies).

Founded in early 2013, Mugshot Cafe supplies the beverages - some of the best brews in George Town, whilst Rainforest Bakery provided the pastries and cakes, including the best bagels around - I even had to pack their bagels to bring back for friends & relatives in Singapore who couldn’t get enough of them. Co-owner, Tristan, is the barista.

  1. Pain aux raisins / escargot (snail-shaped raisin croissant).

  2. Croissants aux amandes (almond croissant).

  3. Chelsea bun

One of George Town’s more pleasant spots to enjoy a good, strong cuppa and some well-made pastries. Usually insanely packed, these cafes have been pretty quiet even as Penang starts loosening its dining restrictions post-COVID Lockdown. Most Penangites are still pretty reluctant to eat out, whilst foreigners and even out-of-state visitors are conspicuously absent due to Penang’s closed borders at the moment.

Rainforest Cafe’s seating area - customers can order the cakes and pastries here, but need to order their beverages at Mugshot Cafe next door (the two cafes are connected by an internal doorway). You pay separately at the two counters, but can sit inside either cafes. The service staff from either cafe will bring your order across to you.

Mugshot Cafe’s seating area

The Mugshot Cafe
302, Chulia Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
Tel: +6012-405 6276

Rainforest Bakery
300, Chulia Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
Tel: +604-261 4641

Opening hours: 8am to midnight, daily


Mugshot Cafe has built itself quite a reputation in George Town for its bagels - but now, their most talked-about breakfast offering in town is their baked bacon-and-egg on toasted bagel. Had breakfast there this morning, and the place was pretty busy by 8.30am.

One tip: the best seating area is the back portion of Rainforest Cafe, the bakery adjoining Mugshot Cafe. But you order the bacon-and-egg bagel together with your coffee from Mugshot Cafe (Rainforest Cafe has its own selection of bagel sandwiches, but they are different).

The bacon-and egg bagel sandwich was really good - served fresh and hot. You’ll actually hanker for a second one by the time you finished your first.

One of Mugshot Cafe’s hot caffeine beverages would go perfectly with your bagel breakfast. I had their cappuccino - perhaps the strongest-tasting on the island.

Another good breakfast option would be their scrambled eggs, topped with smoked salmon, and served atop toasted panini.

Best breakfast place on busy Chulia Street.


@klyeoh Are the bagels legit or fluffy bread lookalikes?

(I’ve been curious about bagels in Mumbai on my extended trips of late, but have not ventured to try one yet (because: NYC). But I think I might give in one of these days, just for a frame of reference!)

Oh, they are the real stuff. I used to have to buy loads from here to bring back to my family in Singapore - they think these were much better than the locally-baked Singapore ones, or frozen stuff we import from the US (e.g. Lender’s, Pepperidge Farm, Thomas’ Bagels).

No no no Peter! Those mass-market brands are the wonderbread of bagels… I meant NYC bagels. (Mind you, I’ll eat those, but in place of toast, not in place of a bagel).

Still, it actually isn’t hard to make bagels (having tried it myself during the pandemic) so I wonder if the many non-bagel bagels are being intentional in what their customer base wants (or have just never eaten a real bagel).

Anyway, your breakfasts at this place look delicious!

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