[Penang, Malaysia] Chap Goh Meh dinner at Lot 33

To the Chinese the world over, the Chinese New Year festivities come to an end on the 15th Day of the First Lunar Month - and this year, that fell on 15th February.

For the Straits-born Chinese (Baba-Nyonya) community of Singapore, Malacca and Penang, that day is traditionally called Chap Goh Meh, and special dinner get-togethers and dance parties would be held to herald the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The Straits-born Chinese, who’re mainly Fujianese/Hokkien Chinese who’ve settled in South-east Asia for centuries, are unique for their culture of adapting Indonesian/Malay traditions, cultural practices, dress, and the culinary arts, and fusing them with their own Chinese traditions, resulting in the unique Baba-Nyonya culture, known for its vibrant performance & visual arts, its love for strong, bright colours, and excellent cuisine.

Because of the pandemic, the traditional Dondang Sayang bus parade, a Penang Baba-Nyonya tradition of brightly-decorated buses ferrying singers and musicians making their way around the city, had to be cancelled for the second year running. But the Penang Straits-born Chinese Association still organized a smaller-scale dinner get-together at Lot 33 last Tuesday (Feb 15).

Nyonya women in traditional sarong-kebaya wear, adopted from the Indonesians/Malays, usually donned for celebratory occasions such as this. Baba men will normally wear Indonesian batik shirts.

Our Chap Goh Meh dinner spread:

  1. Four Seasons appetiser platter: Penang-Nyonya otak-otak, lor bak, jiu hu char, and prawns fritters with coleslaw

  1. Spicy curried chicken “rendang” with Chinese steamed mantou buns

  1. Hu peo” (fish maw), chicken, mushroom & vegetable soup

  2. Steamed fish with spicy Nyonya dressing

  3. Yangzhou fried rice

  4. Mixed vegetables

  5. Dessert: Bubur cha cha (sweet potato, taro & black-eyed peas in sweetened coconut milk).

For such a large event - up to 500 guests, the cooking was of a very high standard.

Lot 33, Prangin Mall
33, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, 10100 George Town, Penang
tel: +604-250 5505
Operating hours: 11am to 8pm (or late), daily


Food and performers look great.

Curious about the flag on the performers backdrop. I know it’s not the Malaysian one and Google tells me it’s not Penang’s.

A bit too crowded for us to go, with so much Omicron about, but traditional celebrations, including a dragon dance, were back this year in Manchester’s Chinatown

It’s the flag of the Straits Chinese British Association.
After Malaya gained independence from Britain in 1957, the Straits Chinese British Association in Singapore and Penang changed their respective names. Today, SCBA Singapore is known as the Peranakan Association of Singapore, whereas SCBA Penang is the State Chinese (Penang) Association.
I gathered the red-white-and-blue colours on the flag were derived from the Union Jack.

During the Straits Settlements era, this was the flag used - the three crowns representing Malacca, Penang and Singapore.

The Penang state flag prior to Malayan independence:

Many thanks, mate.

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