There’s no doubt that Penang is home to lots of good food. The culinary destination is known for its local delights, though over the years more cafes serving modern fare have established themselves in the scene, too.
A relatively new name that belongs to the latter category is George Town’s Yolk.
Perhaps a typical Penangite, its founder and owner, Adran Oo Ban Leong, has always been interested in good food since young. Despite his keenness to venture into the culinary world, though, he ended up pursuing an accounting degree.
Yet, he quit his accounting career six months after his first job, feeling like it wasn’t the right fit.
He fell back onto his passion for food, which manifested as F&B entrepreneurship seven years ago when he started a restaurant in KL. He’s since sold the shares for that company.
In particular, Adran enjoys brunch food, especially when it involves eggs.
“Cooking with eggs just brings back memories of being together with the family cooking during festive seasons and dining together,” he explained. “Hence, I wish to create an environment where friends and families can bond through food.”
Thus, Yolk was born.
An advanced menu
Launched in 2023, Yolk specialises in all-day brunch, from 8AM to 5:30PM.
Egg is often featured in many of the dishes, such as the Rustic Baked Eggs and Steak and Eggs. But beyond that, Yolk also offers quite the range of dishes, many of which actually look to be rather advanced compared to typical café food.
For one, consider this sandwich—steak paired with chimichurri sauce served on toasted sourdough. Or perhaps the pork tagliatelle and breakfast carbonara. Even its drinks such as the toffee nut latte looks and sounds rather elevated.
Yolk also makes some of its own ingredients inhouse, such as its sausage. Although it’s a tedious process that actually caused some major speed bumps during the team’s R&D process, Adran believes the results are worth it as it allows the kitchen to control its taste and quality.
He added, “Our sausage is made purely by hand using the most natural ingredients, such as natural pork intestines as casings for the sausage instead of the commercial edible plastic casings.”
Yolk also cures its own salmon, which is featured in the Yuzu Eggs Benne.
According to Adran, the kitchen team comprises members from all walks of life, with some having academic and professional culinary backgrounds.
The head chef, Jack Ng, started his culinary experience when he was 17 as commis cook. 11 years into his career, he had progressed to being a head chef for an Italian restaurant in Beijing before returning home during the pandemic.
“I would consider it lucky that we discovered each other as a team of likeminded people with the same love towards food and believed in the dream of creating an environment where we are able to show our love of food towards our dishes,” Adran said.
The most challenging part, though, is maintaining quality. For one, the team had to work out how to prepare 10 perfectly poached eggs in five minutes.
But through countless R&D hours and experience, the team has managed to overcome those turnaround time and consistency issues.
Leveraging the building’s heritage
What Adran believes sets Yolk apart from other cafes is the fact that it’s one of the few spots in the area that starts serving full-on brunch from as early as 8AM.
“Our venue is also an added advantage as we have an over 6,000 sq ft space in a heritage building,” Adran added. “We brought a modern twist to the overall outlook in the building whilst preserving the George Town heritage beauty which is loved by most locals and tourists.”
Come nightfall, Yolk actually transforms into another business by the name of Over & Above, but it’s not operated by the same team. Over & Above is a bar that operates from 8PM ‘til late.
“The idea came about that we want to fully utilise the unique and spacious heritage building to its full potential from the day to night,” Adran shared.
To cater to both brands, the tabletops in the café can actually be can be flipped to showcase a whole new design. The furniture is also easily movable so that the whole space can be modular.
Ambitions beyond Penang
Being in the heart of Penang’s heritage area and near the port where major multinational cruise ships dock, Yolk welcomes quite a number of tourists into their establishment every day.
That said, the café also sees many locals come in, be it families hosting their gatherings, the fitness crowd after their morning exercise, or staff from nearby offices.
For the time being, Adran is focused on fine-tuning the food based on customers’ feedback while exploring creative culinary inventions to further establish their presence in the local community.
But Adran also has ambitions beyond serving the local community—rather, he hopes to expand Yolk to more locations across Malaysia.
He shared, “The ultimate goal for Yolk is to have a place in the heart of the local communities in multiple locations as a place to gather, known for exceptional food and coffee with a warm ambiance, and a go-to destination for those seeking to bond with friends or just to enjoy a wholesome brunch meal.”
Featured Image Credit: Yolk