Much like the Dharma Realm Guan Yin Sagely Monastery in Kuala Lumpur, this Hindu Temple of the Arts serves up buffet lunches for the religious, and the thrifty. Secluded in a backyard beset with statues of various holinesses, the place indeedly offers lunch in peaceful surrounds.
Torn out of a page of a Hollywood cult, intrepid tourists and locals alike mingle under the auspicious arms of colliding plants. Wafts of spices and tempered seeds float off to torment those couped up in Penang Jail down the road, making their punishment all the more severe.
Hosting weekly concerts, classes, lessons, satsangs and all sorts of other activities makes this a hive of action.
Getting here was easy, my Grab dropped me right outside. For a few panicked seconds I thought the place was closed, noticing a big banner on the wall I walked over sheepishly thumbing imaginary prayer beads. New opening times! Eeek! Ah, not for this week. Superb.
I glanced down at the path and everything looked suspiciously quiet. The front doors were locked, there were no lights on, I was just about to fold my hand and cut my losses when I heard laughter from beyond. To the right of the building was a path that lead around to the back. Curiosity challenged my laziness and I headed out to find the restaurant in full swing. Perhaps they could put a sign out front for those of us who haven't been here before, but perhaps they expect the spirits to lead the way.
A delightfully friendly old auntie approached "One person?", "Yes", "Ok, find a seat and someone will take your order". I headed, you guessed it, to the farthest table from the other feasters. Sat with my back to the room gazing out at the garden with fresh energy and reflection. I ordered the thali and a cup of hot coffee and sat watching the butterflies landing on Ganesh's trunk. To them it's just a firmer branch than normal. Perhaps thats how we all should look at it.
Musings aside, the star of the show arrived and immediately my salivary glands began kicking into gear.
I tucked in starting with the chapati, dipping it in all the curries but putting aside the dessert before I got them mixed up. Delightful. Every curry had it's own distinct taste and flavour profile, and the spinach one packed a gigglingly nice punch.
Stuffed full of Hindu joy, and feeling all the more energetic, I paid and thanked the lovely aunties for their kindness and good food. They smiled and wished me good luck on my holidays. I took a few photographs and headed off to the street to try and find a cab willing to pick me up in this odd location.
Maybe the Gods were appeased because 10 seconds later, a cab appeared.
1, Lebuhraya Babington, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Tuesday - Sunday 12–3pm, 7:30–9:30pm
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.