Covid-19 claims 84-year-old restaurant in Penang


End of a household name: Tan closing the doors of See Kong Ooi restaurant, which first opened in 1936.

GEORGE TOWN: A restaurant which has been serving traditional Hainanese and Hokkien home-cooked dishes for 84 years has closed for good.

See Kong Ooi, a household name here especially among the old-timers, has not been able to fend off the effects of the movement control order (MCO) on its business.“It took me a lot of courage to make the decision to wind down the business, ” said architect-turned-chef Peter Tan, 47, a third-generation member of the Tan family running the show here.

Tan said the restaurant, located at Transfer Road, had been closed since the MCO started in March.

“Customers would usually dine in as the dishes are tastier when served hot, ” he said.

He explained that the restaurant did not want to provide takeaway and delivery services as the dishes would be cold and “taste like economy rice”.

“It won’t be value for money as the dishes won’t be tasty anymore.

“Many of our customers used to come for the authentic taste, in addition to the nostalgia and ambience of this old building, ” he said.

According to Tan, patrons of See Kong Ooi were fond of dishes such as assam prawns, steamed pork with shredded salted fish, kangkung sambal belacan and assam curry fish.

Recalling the good times, Tan said, “During our heyday, this restaurant had 14 members on its staff, including chefs, kitchen assistants and myself.”

The name See Kong Ooi was derived from that of a lake in China, he said.

It was started by Tan’s grandfather, Tan Kong Chye, an immigrant from Fuzhou, China, who ran a small coffeeshop with his wife, selling drinks and toasted bread to customers staying in hotels along Transfer Road.

By the 1970s, they had expanded the menu to include ready-cooked dishes, rice and porridge.

See Kong Ooi was then one of the first few restaurants here to offer home-cooked meals tailored to customers’ demands.

Foochow Coffee Shops Owners Federation vice-president Toon Koon Ku said more than 40% of his members had halted their business temporarily as they were unsure how to comply with the MCO standard operating procedure and did not want to take the risk.

“They prefer to wait for the MCO to be lifted before starting business again.

“Most of them depend on hawkers’ rental fees to survive.

“If the situation continues, many coffeeshops will not be able to afford the high costs and they would probably cease business for good, ” he said yesterday.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Battling Covid-19

   

Next In Nation

Budget 2023: Cuepacs hoping for a month's bonus
RM90mil too paltry a sum to 'buy' PAS, says Hadi
Syed Saddiq did not inform EC of expenditure list for GE14 campaign, says MACC officer
Melaka schools to beef up security to prevent kidnapping attempts
Woman shared screenshots of her conversation with Ebit Lew containing lewd pictures, court told
Baby girl found abandoned at Bukit Jalil eatery
Banker confirms AmBank paid RM2.83bil to M’sian govt over 1MDB scandal
Lorry driver arrested for allegedly abusing twin sons
Four made homeless as fire destroys house, three cars and scooter in Melaka
PM: M’sia hopes UAE supports proposal for all continents to be represented as permanent members of UN Security Council

Others Also Read