The First thing that strikes you when you approach Vintage Bulgaria in Sungai Kelian, Tanjong
Bungah, is the huge sign with the colours of the national flag, red, white and green. The second
thing and the 2nd longest lasting memory you will take away with you is the decoration, you
feel as if you have wondered into a Hansel & Gretel story with an authentic country cottage
feel from the high country of Eastern Europe.
This effect is carried throughout the whole building from cellar to attic. They even have a faux
fireplace in the cellar room whose low ceiling creates even more atmosphere, as if that was
The whole ambience is romantic, rustic and so very, very timely as I visited there with my wife just 2 days before Christmas. The cottage was complete with Christmas Tree and simulated snow effects. The only thing that was not there, thank goodness, was the roaring fire, with the temperature in the 30’s it certainly was not needed.
For Christmas in the tropics is all about imagination and memories if you come from colder climes.
I went to Vintage Bulgaria to find out about this highly regarded restaurant from one of the owners Silviya Georgieva.
Silviya has lived in Malaysia for 7 years coming from her home country Bulgaria with her husband for work reasons but soon fell in love with it here on Penang.
Frequenting her now neighbouring Ingolf’s Kneipe German Restaurant and Bar, many times gave her the inspiration to open Penang’s first Bulgarian restaurant.
Her parents owned a restaurant back home and with their daughter and grandchildren now living in Penang, decided that they should sell up and come and live in the tropics and this led to the family owned restaurant that is Vintage Bulgaria.
So, the parents see to the food authenticity and preparation, the daughter sees to the operating of the restaurant and the son-in-law created the décor and atmosphere as Robert is a renowned theming consultant.
This family business is a team effort that works extremely well as each member of the family has an eye for detail in their respective fields.
The first question most people ask when I mention Vintage Bulgaria is where is Bulgaria? So, to stop people asking here is the answer that Silviya gave to me. Bulgaria is an Eastern European country that borders Turkey and Greece to the south, Romania to the North, Serbia and Macedonia (both former Yugoslavian countries) to the West and the Black Sea to the East.
If you want to know what the Bulgarian food is most similar to you would have to think Greek/Turkish and Mediterranean flavours.
If you are a vegetarian who cannot stand the sight of meat please do not put yourself through the torment of visiting a Bulgarian restaurant as there is plenty of meat in both variety and portion sizes.
It most definitely does not mean that Bulgarian food does not cater for vegetarians, far from it. There are several wonderful traditional meatless dishes such as Lyutenitsa – Bulgarian Relish – a blended spread of cooked tomatoes, peppers and herbs, served on freshly toasted bread. Similar to Hummus, but without the chick peas, the wonderful flavours of the peppers and tomatoes develop in your mouth as the herbs slowly identify themselves one by one.
Another traditional dish is Kyopulo – now this one is very similar to Babba ghanoush with grilled eggplant (Aubergine), roasted peppers, garlic and herbs blended into one of the loveliest and most more-ish dips you will ever taste!
Then there are the wonderful range of salads like the Shopska Salad which is as close to a Greek salad that you would be hard put to tell the difference with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, topped with Feta cheese and traditional olive oil dressing.
There are plenty more examples so balance out your meal with meat and vegetable dishes or leave out the meat completely if that floats your boat.
For Meat Lovers – MEAT WARNING – The following description may be offensive to non-meat eaters so read at your own risk!
OK, now down to the meat of the menu.
Appetizers of note for us were the Orley Wraps, bacon wrapped around a cheese centre and cooked to mouthwatering perfection or even the Volcanic Sausage which is a sliced pork sausage (homemade) served with a spicy sauce.
A traditional favourite is the Oxtail soup which is rich in flavour and creamy in texture.
Now we get to the Signature Dishes:
Bulgarian Platter – A classic 360 grams mixed grill of homemade Kebapache (grilled spiced mince pork and beef), Kyofte (meatball), Karnatche (another variety of pork and beef spiced sausage) and succulent pork fillet.
Traditional Sizzling Plate – 600 grams Tender cuts of boneless pork, chicken and smoked pork sausages served on a hot plate with grilled capsicums, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions.
Roast Pork Djolan – A 1.2 kg whole crispy oven-roasted knuckle of pork served with a homemade barbeque sauce.
Baby Pork Ribs – 700 grams of Roasted tender barbeque smoked rack of pork ribs.
Crown Roast Pork – 1.2 kg of Traditional roast pork ribs in homemade barbeque sauce.
Bulgarian Shaslik (Chicken or Pork) – 400 grams of marinated boneless chicken or pork cuts skewered with vegetables and grilled to perfection.
Mixed Sausage Platter – 360 grams of grilled home-made Karnatche, Kebapache and smoked sausages.
One for the fish lovers!
Seafood Sensation – 320 grams of fresh prawns, squid and salmon fillet cooked with garlic butter sauce.
There is so much more on the menu besides; such as the page full of chicken dishes:
Chicken: Kiev, S t r o g a n o f f , Cordon Bleu…
Fish dishes or even pages of beef dishes.
The desserts were to die for and as we were so well entertained and so full we only managed to try two.
The Sweet Pumpkin Pie and the Chocolate Crème Brule both were exquisite and worthy of a visit in their own right!
The menu is vast and interesting and no matter how big your appetite you will have to revisit many times before you have eaten your way through the menu.
Then when you have done that they will probably have changed the menu slightly as they have already changed the menu once to my knowledge in the mere 3 years they have been open.
My advice is to get yourself there now to start on this epicurean journey because if you like food you will love Vintage Bulgaria.