[Penang] Continental cuisine at Heap Seng House Oyster Bar & Restaurant, Beach Street

Heap Seng House is an atmospheric oyster bar & restaurant located on a cul-de-sac off Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai), in the heart of George Town’s core UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic quarter. There, in a labyrinth of century-old Chinese shophouses, is a bright, beautiful eatery that offers an eclectic mix of dishes, from colourful Mediterranean salads to Italian pasta and seafood & meat dishes. All of which were some of the best we’d had in George Town.

The interior of the eatery is something to be marvelled at: antique Straits Chinese furnishings and paintings, interspersed with modern art, some of which were painted by co-owner, Arthur Wilkinson’s mother, Rebecca, an accomplished artist in her own right.

The restaurant receives its fresh oyster stocks usually mid-week (Wed), and Fri in time for the weekend crowd. But we were here on Monday, so no oysters for us this evening.

  1. Instead, we opted for some very interesting starters: Fish tacos, with guacamole, salsa and shredded greens. There were two types: with ceviche (MYR29) or pan-fried fish (MYR32), and we ordered both.Very tasty indeed - light, scrumptious fish. I personally preferred the ceviche, which has a more delicate texture, and a pleasant, light, lemony flavour.

With pan-fried seabass:

With ceviche:

  1. Halloumi fries with yoghurt-Sriracha dip (MYR27) - this has become somewhat of a restaurant menu staple across Britain in the past few years. Done pretty well here, too - crisp, golden-fried small batons of Cypriot halloumi covered with panko crumbs.

  1. Locally-caught clams, galangal, lemongrass and coriander (MYR21) My fave starter here - the juice from the clams had deep flavours, undercut by the lemongrass. It’s the only dish with a (faint) hint of Asian flavours here.

  2. Mango, cherry tomato & pomegranate salad, with shredded greens (MYR28) - we also opted for the addition of pan-seared scallops (for a mere additional MYR12) which improved the dish tremendously.

Main courses
5) Seabass with sauteed chickpeas, bacon and baby spinach (MYR49) Very fresh piece of juicy, plump seabass, perfectly seared.

  1. Slow-cooked beef cheeks with sauteed asparagus & cherry tomatoes, served on pomme purée (MYR61) Melt-in-the-mouth tender beef cheeks. Asparagus spears were tender but still retained a gentle snap, whilst the pomme purée was buttery-rich. My fave dish for the evening.

  2. Spaghetti Agio e Olio with pan-seared scallops & bacon (MYR49) Here, again, the juicy, plump scallops lifted the dish from good to excellent.

Co-owner and chef, Mark Colk.

  1. Rigatoni alla Norma - with eggplant, tomato, basil sauce (MYR33) This dish is a true classic, and the version here was exquisite - deep, mellow flavours from the tomato and basil. Eggplant’s texture was perfect.

Overall, a marvellous meal, and the best I’d had in Penang for quite a while. Kudos to the 3 young Penangite owner-chefs here: Arthur Wilkinson, Mark Colk & Chris Davies (who mans the oyster bar). I always admire young people with energy, drive and passion towards their craft, and they do it so well here.

Heap Seng House
No.5, Halaman Seh Tan (Seh Tan Court) , off Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai)
10300 George Town, Penang
Tel: +604 251 9424
Opening hours: 6pm to 11.30pm, Mon, Wed to Sun. Closed on Tuesdays.
Fresh oysters delivery on Wed & Fri.


Beautiful heritage house, love it a lot. The last photo, it looks more like a temple though. (Different from the first photo) 2 different houses?

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Yep, certainly being used increasingly in the UK (although goodness knows what the price might be like after Brexit). I like the idea of the panko. In Cyprus, they griddle slices as part of a mezze, partnered with lounza (smoked pork loin).

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Yes, the last photo is the Tan Clanhouse, which is right in front of Heap Seng House, which stands on the small square belonging to the Tan Clan. This picture below shows the two buildings side by side.

Thanks! That explains everything.

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I’m in love with griddled halloumi. My first taste of it was at Kypros, that speakeasy dining icon on Chalk Farm Road in London from back in the 1980s-90s. Poutros Kypros, whom everyone called Papa Kypros, then served the best Greek-Cypriot food in London at the time. And, no menus - you eat what they serve for that evening, and we’re talking 1990 here, long before private kitchens or omakase entered our collective culinary vocabulary.

It was a husband-and-wife operation: Papa Kypros served and chatted with the guests, whilst Mama Kypros, despite the fact that it was an open kitchen and she was just across the counter from us, was always silent and kept herself busy preparing the best grilled lamb chops in the world. She also made an incredible crab salad, using giant North Sea crabs which she’d smash with just her bare knuckles - she eschewed any hard kitchen implements because she wanted to make sure there were no small shards of crabshell in the crabmeat she’d serve us.

You won’t get into Kypros unless you were brought there by someone who’d been, and whom Papa Kypros had approved of. The tiny 4-table dining room had one wall lined with mementos/souvenirs from their regular customers: from an autographed pair of boxing gloves from Frank Bruno, to a thank you letter from Boutros Boutros-Ghali (then the sitting UN Secretary-General) to even an autographed photo from Koo Stark (who’d provoked a scandal when a naked shower scene of her surfaced while she was dating Prince Andrew back then).

Ah, amazing how a piece of halloumi cheese can elicit so many old memories. :rofl:


We couldn’t resist stopping by this evening to try out the offerings from the Oyster Bar, which proved to be very popular among local Penangites. It’s Thursday, so Heap Seng House would’ve just received a fresh supply of oysters the previous day. They offered Irish Gallagher Speciales premium oysters, including those from Traigheanna Bay, and French Fine de Claire.


We were in Cyprus in 2010, staying in Paphos. We drove to the nearby village of Yeroskipou a couple of times for meze. One was to the very well recommended Seven St Georges where they tell you that they will keep feeding you different dishes until you tell them to stop. I’d taken an appetite with me and they may not have made much profit from our table that night. The other night was a “locals place” just round the corner, where the tables were on the pavement and, again, the dishes just kept coming (that was a place where, unusually for southern Cyprus, they didnt really speak any English , which was still more than our Greek) and we were the only tourists. Halloumi featured both evenings but the memory of the sheer fun of eating at the latter is the one that really sticks with me.

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Greek, or shall I say Cypriot, hospitality. :heart:

These are things life-long memories are made of.