[Penang, Malaysia] Lunch at 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗴𝗼 at the Blue Mansion

With the lifting of the COVID lockdown in Penang, but with the state’s borders still closed to outsiders, we decided to take advantage of the lull in human traffic to lunch at Indigo at the Blue Mansion yesterday. Usually, foreign visitors, even inter-state ones from other Malaysian states, would make a beeline for this eatery - I’d had a couple of occasions in the past where I waited till too late and was told the place was fully-booked even a day or two ahead.

But, at the moment, it’s only Penangites in the whole of George Town, so making reservations is a breeze! Indigo, like other eateries in George Town, currently has to observe the government requirement on social distancing, so its tables are reduced by half, and spaced quite far apart:

The impressive UNESCO-listed Cheong Fatt Tze or Blue Mansion (built 1904), where Indigo is located, has been used as a setting in various films, from Catherine Deneuve’s “Indochine” (1992) to “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018). It’s amazing seeing the whole place, usually crawling with tourists, so quiet and deserted right now.

The bar - it was pretty quiet at lunch-time but actually got quite busy in the evening:

What we had for lunch:

  1. Indigo house salad, with mesclun, red onion, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, kafir lime vinaigrette, roasted pumpkin and cashews, We added chicken to make the salad more substantial.

  2. Pan-roasted Hokkaido scallops, with cauliflower, coconut sauce, pickled radish, onion soubise, and lemongrass oil. Quite a pretty concoction - reminded me of El Bulli’s creations from back in the 2000s, where he liked to combine ingredients of the same colour, but with different textures, on one plate. The scallops were fresh and bouncy, and the cauliflower slices were cooked perfectly, with a slight bite still in them.

Main courses:
3) Lemon masala pan-roasted seabass, with mashed potato, sugar snap peas, turmeric sauce. This was well put together. I am actually amazed at the MYR 28 (US$6.60) price tag for this dish - very reasonable for a top fine dining spot in Penang. Other similar places in town would probably charge 2 to 3 times more!

  1. Braised spiced soy lamb shank, with leeks, carrots, broccoli and mashed sweet potato. The marinade and sauce had a “slight” Oriental tinge. Indigo’s cooking has actually evolved over the past couple of years from fusion (with distinct Asian influences) to its current one which is more continental. This dish was the only one where I detected “some” Asian condiments used.

5) Mango & calamansi petit gateaux - it looked like a miniscule Borg cube. Dusted with Japanese green tea (matcha) powder, the dessert has a sour-ish tang. I’m not a big “mousse” fan, preferring sponge cakes in my dessert, but this was quite okay, in small amounts.

  1. 70% Valrhona dark chocolate & orange gateaux - much better option, with the intense flavour from the bitter dark chocolate.

Overall, quite a satisfactory meal. I think the lush atmosphere is the main attraction here, more so than the food itself, although pretty good. The kitchen is currently headed by Jack Yeap, taking over from Beh Weng Chia, who was the head chef here up till last year. Both had collaborated closely in the past, and I think their cooking styles are actually quite similar in some ways.

Indigo at the Blue Mansion
14, Leith Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604 262 0006
Opening hours: 12 noon-3pm, 6.30pm-10pm daily


Gorgeous building and food! Good idea to take advantage of the quiet time before everything is fully open again.

I hate sitting/being near people so I like the new table arrangement very much.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing! I was hesitating to visit the Blue Mansion back in 2016 when I saw my friend’s photo on her facebook page! That indigo blue is very unusual in architecture. I think one can live in here, right?

Back then, we reserved and stayed in a smaller heritage house during our stay in Penang and I was fascinated with the architecture and the structure of the Chinese house, love especially the inner courtyard. The toilets and the bathing area were separated from the rooms and we needed to cross the yard to access to our private ones. It was summer, and I was surprised that only us were staying in the whole house.

Good to know the Blue Mansion serves good meal.

1 Like

Thanks for the reminder, I think I will try to head to some museums here, like le Louvre before the country will be opened to foreign tourists again!

1 Like

Yes, and the Blue Mansion currently has special “staycation” packages for locals, in the absence of foreigners/out-of-towners:

1 Like

Although conversely, it’s the smaller places that need a big boost to continue to survive. Does MY government dish out any aid or measures to help the restaurateurs?

1 Like

Yes, we try to patronise the smaller eating places, rather than the chains. But looks like even F&B chains are in dire straits at the moment!

1 Like

I’m not sure which looks the more lovely - the building or the food.


I’d say the building. :joy:

Back to Indigo at the Blue Mansion for lunch today.

There’s probably been a change of chefs since we were last here over 6 months ago - I didn’t ask - but the food all tasted quite “different” this time: more Asian or Chinese in flavors.

We started off with some pre-lunch drinks, whilst sitting back and enjoying a brief lull before lunch hour arrived.

Our starters:
House-cured salmon, laksa condiments, mint oil & cracked black pepper

Soft-shell crab salad with Asian vinaigrette

Gnocchi Primavera, with roasted vegetables, tomato coulis, baby spinach, and Parmigiano-Reggiano

Truffle mushroom spaghetti, with Japanese kelp, truffle oil, pine nuts & arugula leaves

Chicken Supreme, with mixed vegetables, hazelnut puree, chermoula sauce, and coriander leaves

Australian Black Angus beef tenderloin, with mashed potatoes, wilted baby spinach & beef jus

Cheesecake mousse, marinated grapes, almond puree, raspberry crisps, & lemon peel

Malt & chocolate gateau, with fresh strawberries, milk chocolate ganache & hazelnut crumble

The dining area we lunched at was the setting for the mahjong scene from the movie “Crazy Rich Asians”. Very lush.


Just beautiful.

We visited the Blue Mansion in 2012 (which was gorgeous) but we didn’t eat there. At the time, lots of dignitaries, etc were purported to eat there so in our backpacker-ish clothing (actually, we each always traveled with 1 decent outfit), we thought we’d be out of place. :grin:

You should have dined there - Penang, like Singapore, is pretty casual: the waiters wouldn’t bat an eye-lid, no matter what you wear. :grinning:

1 Like

It’s a ravishing place, won numerous awards, including one from UNESCO for its conservation effort. It was also used as a movie set for Catherine Deneuve’s 1992 film, Indochine.

The Blue Mansion stood on 14 Leith Street, which is actually just adjacent to The Venus, a family manor my great-great-grandfather built on 15 Leith Street back in 1904-06.

My grandfather could not afford to upkeep it as a family home post-World War II. Prior to the war years, he’d maintained a household staff of 10! The Venus has been turned into a boutique hotel now, called The Edison.

Pity the food here at the Blue Mansion couldn’t match up to the surroundings - it’s like being invited to Buckingham Palace for dinner and finding out Gregg Wallace is cooking.


What a fantastic building, Peter.

World War 1 was very kind, financially, to my grandfather. Certainly it allowed him to build a large house (nowhere near as grand as your grandfather’s home) immediately after the war. We lived with the grandparents for my first few years but I have very little memory of the house now. I have some evidence which suggests that his wealth from that time may not have been entirely legal and certainly, if I’m right, not ethical.

Same with my great-great-grandfather - he was a director in the Penang Opium & Spirit Farm!

The old boy was the company secretary of a cotton spinning company in Manchester. It had a subsidiary company in Belgium. I have H’'s handwritten notebook of some major cash transactions in the years immediately after the end of WW1. It starts with him withdrawing, in cash, a very large sum from a bank in Belgium within a few days of the end of the fighting. My speculation (and it can only be that) is that the subsidiary which was located in occupied Belgium traded extensively with the Germans. And the large sum of money was grandadad’s share of the profits. Trading with the enemy in such a way may have been illegal and certainly unethical (as probably his tax dodging).