A comfortable eatery serving authentic and affordable Penang hawker fare under one roof, with the added bonus of efficient service.

"Most of the so-called Penang food that I've tried in KL just did not match up to standards," said owner Tonny Leow. "Either that, or they were scattered all over town. We wanted to make all Penang favourite available in one place."

The climate was another consideration. "Having just come home from overseas, I found the heat quite unbearable," Connie Su, his wife, chipped in. "I wanted to able to enjoy my favourite food in a cool, comfortable environment."

The couple had just return to Malaysia after spending a decade in New Zealand. Both are originally from Penang. Frustrated at the lack of authentic food in Kuala Lumpur, they decided to set up their own restaurant, featuring the island's goodies as its main attraction. Penang Village commenced business in May 2000 and a second outlet opened last August.

Tonny designed the layout and furniture of the restaurant, picking up idea from books and magazines. "I'm not really an artist or designer," he laughed. "But I've always liked art and, anyway, my designs are very simple and practical." One thing he kept in mind was ways to maximize the seating capacity. He came up with benches and stools that can be stored under the table when not in use. All the furniture has been made especially in Penang, using nyatoh. Some customers find them so attractive; they have bought a few items from the couple!

A Penang trishaw fronts the shoplot, acting as a trademark if Village. "It's no longer being produced," said Connie. "This is a second-hand one which we bought from a former trishaw peddler in Penang, and it's still in working condition." Oriental lamps hang from the ceiling and the walls are dotted with Chinese paintings and porcelain pieces. The paintings come with price tags and are meant for sale, while the antique furnishings are from Tonny's personal collection.

One corner of the restaurant adopts an open-air concept which, Tonny explained, is meant to cater to the "Coffee Bean generation," it is also the only smoking area at Village.

The menu is made up of three main groups of dishes: noodles, rice and Penang Nyonya dishes. Assam laksa, char kuay teow and prawn mee are among the favourites under the first group. These are well-known hawker fare from Penang. The second offers several types of chicken and duck lunches. The third is meant more for group diners, especially business lunches and dinners, and are served with rice. The diverse choice ensures that Penang Village caters to all types of customers. Other best-sellers include village crispy tofu (an original recipe), ice kacang, gurney rojak and heh bee crab, which is soft-shelled crab deep fried with spicy dried shrimps.