[Penang, Malaysia] Ethnic-Malay cuisine at Quallys Cafe, Teels Heritage Building, Burmah Road

Two-month-old Quallys Cafe offers home-cooked “masakan kampung” (traditional Malay village cooking) by the cool rock DJ-turned-chef, Yusniza Ayu Yusoff aka Kak Ayu. Kak Ayu has 35 years of cooking experience, and has managed a number of eateries in town before settling on Quallys. When she is not cooking, Kak Ayu also pursues her other hobby: rock music, working as a club DJ at several night-spots in Northern Malaysia and across the border to Thailand.

But it’s her cooking prowess which has garnered her quite a following. Kak Ayu revels in using the freshest ingredients which she finds in the market in the morning to prepare her daily offerings. Our lunch today consisted of:

  1. Roti jala with gulai ayam - roti jala are lacy crepes, eggy and rich from the addition of coconut milk to its batter, and tinged bright yellow with turmeric. The accompaniment to roti jala is gulai ayam, Malay-style chicken-and-aromatic curry.
    Kak Ayu makes the prettiest roti jala I’d ever seen, and very tasty ones, too. Her chicken curry was perfect - a blend of slowly-sauteed spices with small purple shallots - she eschewed large onions, which she felt do not have the sweetness nor intensity in flavor compared to shallots. Kak Ayu also uses fresh coconut milk to thicken the gravy of her curries.

  1. Asam pedas with salmon fish-head - this is the Northern Malaysian spicy-sour fish stew. The version here uses a whole large salmon-head - a delicacy, as locals here love the gelatinous bits from a fish-head. The dish gets its heat from a combination of fresh chilis and dried chilis, blended with shallots, lemongrass and galangal, to form the base. Tamarind juice are used to give it tartness. Okra, tomatoes and fresh torch-ginger are added towards the end.

  1. Kacang botol goreng dengan petai - a very tasty stir-fry of wing beans and stink-beans, flavoured with chilis, onion, dried shrimps and “belacan” (fermented shrimp paste).

This certainly was the tastiest Malay cooking I’d had in a long while - a testimony to Kak Ayu, who’s very meticulous in her cooking.

Quallys by Kak Ayu
144I, Jalan Burmah (Burmah Road), 10500 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6017 529 6674
Opening hours: 11am to 8pm Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.


All looks delicious. I’m a big fan of roti jala. The two times I’ve been to Langkawi I struggled to find good food. There was one place that did chicken rendang and roti jala for breakfast. It was half the price of their western breakfast. I had that or their chicken curry and roti canai every day I was there.

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Is this the one?

Oh no, that placemark is wrong - it’ll be too far down the road. I suspect that could have been the “planned” location which was subsequently abandoned, as Kak Ayu did mention to me yesterday about wanting to start her business in Sep 2020, but the owner of the new premises she wanted to take up had a change of heart and only offered her a short-term lease till end-Dec 2020.

So, in a quick last minute change of plans, she took up the offer of a friend who owns this current location, actually where Teels Heritage Cafe is. That’s why she only started Quallys Cafe in Nov 2020 eventually.

It is a rather fortuitous change as I think this current location is more accessible. If you are using Google Maps, Waze or even the Grabcar app, use Teels Heritage Cafe:

A placemark along that stretch is Union Primary School located across the road from Teels Heritage Cafe. Mention that school name to any local and they’d know.

BTW, Teels Heritage Cafe is owned by the Ghee Hiang (traditional Chinese bakery) company. Ghee Hiang has been producing traditional Chinese biscuits in Penang since 1856, making it 165 years old this year.

Quallys and Teels now share the same premises - we ordered our food from Quallys and our coffee/tea from Teels yesterday.

Thanks Peter! Sometimes it takes Google awhile to update!

This is a few streets behind my building so I will pop in over the next few days!

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