Steeped in Malaysia’s multicultural community, bread is among the major bedrock to our identity and history. One that represents our ancestor’s culture that steams mantou, another kneaded and baked over hot iron griddle that forms roti and the English’s introduction of brown outer-crust white loaves to Malaya.
Be it if you pair with the spicy curry, sweet kaya or fragrant butter, bread is a universal love for Malaysians. Conceivably, the popularity of bread sees many independent operated bakeries serve the local demands for decades and some has held certain irreplaceable trademark products. All tried and tested, here are the places I found that may fix your cravings for good buns.
Continental Bakery – Est since 1980s
The retro set-up of the bakery is a spell of age and esteem to the locals in Penang. As the star of Nagore Street, Continental Bakery is known for baking fresh and hearty buns for the longest time. The bakery’s best well-known recipe belongs to Multi Grain Walnuts and Dates bread, a comforting healthy bread for the health-conscious consumers.
Find a wide variety of Western baked goods like wholewheat English muffin, cream puffs and cakes. The bakery also has a small eating area for dine-in to pair their buns with mushroom soup and spaghetti bolognese.
Personal pick: French Butter Croissant. The croissant is unbelievably soft with a well-baked savoury crust. Larger than the size of my palm, each bite of the handmade croissant brings a dough buttery finesse to the tastebuds.
33, Jalan Nagore, 10050, Georgetown, Penang
Salahuddin Bakery – Since 1937
The beige front and pastel green interior is a familiar sight to many in this town. Salahuddin Bakery was a start-up dream for this family. For four generations, it remains as a charm to Malaysians with their original soft bread baked in coal-fired oven till this day.
From the wee hours of morning, fifty over kinds of baked goods are slowly put on display like the olden times. One may be spoiled for choice with all kinds of pastries, breads and muffins but their best-seller remain to be the large triangular Indian curry puffs with potato fillings.
Personal pick: Bengali bread with the bakery’s kaya spread. Bengali bread is a local term for common white bread with brown crusts. The bread from this bakery is a gem because it is difficult to find an authentic Bengali bread with coal-fired fragrant.
26, Jalan Dhoby, Johor Bahru, Johor
Hiap Joo Bakery & Biscuit Factory – Since 1919
This four generational bakery takes pride in their long commitment of providing the finest buns to the locals. Using only one large brick-made woodfire oven, Hiap Joo Bakery is filled with the aroma of freshly baked buns daily.
Besides plain buns, their round bread comes in nine variety of fillings from coconut, red bean, peanut, curry potato, sardine and etc. Also, the good thing about this age-old bakery is that no preservatives are used in baking so all their cakes and breads are best consumed within 3 days to maintain its freshness.
Personal pick: Banana Cake. Underneath the slightly charred top is an irresistibly spongy and moist banana cake with a light smoky flavour. This crowd-magnet is sold in two sizes; big with ten sliced pieces or small with five slices.
13, Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Johor Bahru, Johor
Text and photos by Jessy Wong