Since I’ve receive a 80 years old batu tumbuk (granite mortar) from Amma and brass coloured vintage jelly mould which creates the most beautiful agar-agar gula melaka, I have been very fascinated with kitchenware of yesteryears. They are normally of higher quality and its design intricate.
Nowadays, unless you inherit the kitchenware from your family, it’s difficult to get hold of them. Then I found through ‘Living Legacy of Penang’, one of the last purveyor of traditional kitchenware in Georgetown, Teow Hin Chan, and paid it a visit.
About Teow Hin Chan
Teow Hin Chan was established in 1968 by Mr. Lim Phoay Teow. He was a wholesaler and distributed authentic Chinese kitchenware such as festive cake moulds, bamboo basket and porcelain tea sets. Now, it is one of a few remaining chinaware business in Penang. Terrence Lim, a third generation, took over and with obvious enthusiasms to retain the family and cultural legacy.Many of the products are imported from China. The uninitiated may feel that it’s not authentic local products, however one must understand what makes Penang so charming is the amalgamation of different cultures. The port attracted Chinese, Malay, British and Thai – all which bring their own lifestyle and identity.
I think the best way to explore Penang is by foot. We parked outside Kuih Nyonya Moh Teng Pheow, fueled ourself with nyonya kuih, and walked to the old shop at Lebuh Pantai. It’s a corner lot with a huge traditional signboard carved in gold. You probably wouldn’t miss it.
What can you find
There were assortment of kitchen apparatus – many in which urbanites probably have never seen before. Upon entering the shop, there were a few ice kacang shaver in bright green and red. Bamboo steamers were stacked on a table.
On one side of the shop, there’s a ceiling to floor shelf where kitchenware like wooden cake moulds, porcelain tea sets and chopstick holders were displayed. There were also other household wares of the yesteryears such as brass iron (as oppose to electrical iron we now use) and ancient Chinese porcelain pillow. A popular one will be Two Girls Florida Water, a popular perfume of my grandmother’s generation.
The shop was manned by Terrence, who patiently explained the history and beauty of pieces I held in my hands.
Beautiful kitchenware to note
Made with pink, the colour turns into beautiful jade green when done properly.
2. Antique tiffin
Enamel tiffin carriers – instead of plastic and styrofoam – were used to carry food.
3. Tea pot and cup in a basket lined with cloth
This is a popular gift set for Nyonya wedding.
Many of these are collector’s items and their cost can be hefty. If you’re planning to purchase some, do remember to bring enough cash as they do not accept credit card. Or you could take home more affordable souveniers such as an old school cologne (RM 35), wooden massage tool (RM 10) and a bamboo spatula (RM 6).
Address: 224, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone:+60 4-261 6659
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm. Close on Sunday.