For people who care about their food

Shenanigans, Penang

Jalan Tanjung Tokong
10470 George Town
Pulau Pinang

A long bar, lots of empty seats and tables and a high ceiling in Shenanigans on Penang Island, MalaysiaWe heard there was a new Irish pub in Penang, so this was a must-visit for us. Mr ND was craving an Irish breakfast and Shenanigans sounded like just the place to get one.

It’s situated at Jalan Tanjung Tokong about 200m north of the junction with Jalan Fettes, with plenty of parking space, if you’re driving there, or easy taxi drop-off. It’s a big place and looked very promising.

Unfortunately the reality didn’t live up to the promise. We found it spacious, clean and new, with a very flexible space which would be good for meetings, parties and events. But it was somewhat impersonal, empty and not Irish at all. Perhaps it’s the wrong theme for the space.

The owner (or manager?), who didn’t appear to be Irish (maybe Australian?), didn’t even say “hello” or attempt any of the other pleasantries that are usual in an Irish pub. You’d think that having such a new pub he might have tried to engage in some conversation, even if only to elicit feedback.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say we felt unwelcome – but we didn’t really feel welcome either. Shenanigans lacks the warm hospitality one usually gets in an Irish pub.

The menu was rather uninspiring too. And they didn’t even do breakfasts! Mr ND couldn’t believe we’d come to what’s probably the only Irish pub in the world which doesn’t do breakfasts.

The music wasn’t any better, with a somewhat tedious cacophony of Shitney, Whitney etc.

Time to leave, we thought, but we had a quick check of the facilities before we left.

Gents: Mr ND reported that the throne room wasn’t clean and smelt of piss, with unsavoury splashes on the seat. A separate room behind a closed door had two (mismatching, possibly second-hand?) urinals which smelt every bit as bad as the throne room – they clearly hadn’t been flushed recently. But at least the handwash area was clean and stocked with soap.

Ladies: there were two cubicles, both dirty. OK, so presumably customers made it so but the place obviously isn’t checked for cleanliness by staff. I declined to use it. I suppose if one was desperate you could “go” in there, but you’d have to clean it first. Yuk!

We visited at about 2pm on a Sunday. You’d think that an Irish bar would be throbbing with people at that sort of time, but there were only about eight customers in total in this huge, empty barn of a place.

We left immediately after finishing our pints of Guinness (the Guinness was fine, at least) totally confused as to why anyone had thought to call the place an Irish pub – or indeed why the owners had chosen an Irish theme for a building that really didn’t lend itself to an Irish theme at all.

Having read about Shenanigans on various other blogs, I also discovered that they’d served only Malaysian food at their opening party. It seemed like a lost opportunity to show what was on offer. But perhaps not, since there’s very little Irish about the place anyway other than its name and a couple of retro Guinness posters. Hmm, that’s not enough to make a good Irish pub.

Our rating: The Guinness was OK, and apart from the grotty toilets there was nothing wrong with it. But there wasn’t much right either and we wouldn’t go back. I suppose we could stretch to 2 out of 5.

13 Responses to “Shenanigans, Penang”

  1. Mr Not Delia

    It turns out (from reading CK Lam’s blog) that the building used to be a car showroom. That explains the high ceilings and the vast cavernous spaces, at least. But why take a building like that to make an Irish pub? It makes no sense at all to me.

    The only Irish pub I can think of offhand that’s anything like that is the Bleeding Horse in Dublin – but that’s very much an exception to the rule and has buckets of distinctive character.

  2. Emjay

    Today I was on my 5th visit to this pub since it opened. I don’t want to despair, but I’m getting close. Today, 15th Jan, 5.15pm, they were out of Kilkenny Beer. Apart from the ubiquitous Guinness, their ‘signature brew.’

    They had “No idea” when they would receive any more.

    I eventually established that there was draught Tiger (not really a USP for an Irish Pub) – so I said OK, a pint of that then, pls. No, you can only have Tiger or Heiniken in long thin flutes…. But pls put several of these flute things into a pint glass for me… Cannot do…

    We walked out, and they lost probably RM60.. Organised or what? When does the Kilkenny come back? Is that a state secret? This place is on thin ice.

  3. Not Delia

    Thanks for your comment. It’s a shame when people slag off a new business just as it’s trying to get established. But, on the other hand, they’re taking the customers’ money and should be providing what they say is on offer. Shenanigans really didn’t do it for us. I don’t expect we would ever go back.

  4. Mr Not Delia

    It always infuriates me when a pub takes the blinkered attitude that you must drink out of the shape of glass they choose to give you, even though they have a different shape which you’d prefer. In their place, I’d serve it to you in an ice bucket if that was how you wanted to drink it. (Health and safety regs permitting, of course.)

  5. MsAnonymous

    I learnt that the owner is a British and he owned well known Lobster Pot in Pattaya. There’s a Shenanigans (authentic irish) in Bangkok but this one in Penang is not the same owner. Now, they changed their menu and no longer available Thai menu for lunch. He’s wife’s a Thai. I haven’t been there but some of my friends did. They said is so-so. As for me, I think they could do better than that if not at par with European pub. At last they should live up to the name. I wonder if it’s a franchise from Bangkok?

  6. Anon

    hi all.. i’ve been at shenanigans a few times since it opened. the drinks are like RM3 more expensive than Soho’s. The food is horrid. Service was fine.

    I haven’t been there for quite some time till Saturday. I’m never gonna set foot in there ever again. If anyone of you out there does not like violence towards women, please boycott that place!! Let me relate to you:

    The owner is british.. Ian is his name, if i’m not mistaken. Stuck up Pommie (biasa-lah). He’s here on the MM2H programme. On Saturday, I was sitting there with my two friends and it was almost closing time. Suddenly we heard a loud commotion (we were sitting at the table furthest away from the bar). And I looked over and I saw the owner repeatedly slapping the waitress and shouting at her. Then he punched her right in her face.. it was really loud!! Some of the patrons got up and tried to stop them and pulled the girl away and brought her to safety outside. He kept saying out loud that he’s gonna kill her and kept saying that he dares her to report to the cops, he swears that he’s gonna kill her.
    Now, I’m not sure what caused this, but bottomline is, he shouldn’t have hit her. I hate it when those white people come to our country and try to rule us and bully us around.

    SO PLEASE, BOYCOTT SHENANIGANS AND HELP ME SPREAD THIS WORD.

    END VIOLENCE TOWARDS WOMEN!

    btw, if anyone knows the waitress, please contact me.. i was trying to look for her to help her lodge a complaint, but i couldn’t find her already. Thanks.

  7. Andy

    I’ve never read so much rubbish in my life…

    Being on holiday in Penang I thought I’d check out Shenanigans with my father. The place was buzzing and had a great atmosphere. The owner made a point of coming over and having a drink and a laugh with us, which made us feel extremely welcome. The food wasn’t bad, it’s what I would call typical pub grub, tasty, not ‘cordon bleu’ but then it’s not pretending to be. I’m definitely going back on Sunday, where else in Penang can you get a proper Britash Sunday roast?

    As for violence, how is it possible with 20+ cctv cameras recording everything. I saw nothing of the sort, the staff seemed very happy and pleasant, also taking time to make sure we were enjoying ourselves.
    It’s funny how the most negative comments come from anonymous sources, in my mind this is just very shallow petty jealousy. You seem to be a great fiction author, maybe you should write a book!!! Get your facts straight if you’re going to slag someone off!!!

    I whole heartedly recommend Shenanigans, it is welcoming, clean, and serves the best pint of Guinness that I’ve had in Malaysia!

  8. pantera

    I’m not impressed with the food and service. The food is very expensive and so are the drinks. They have a whole bunch of Filipino waitresses to serve. I wonder if they are illgeal workers. maybe the Immigration department would be interested to know.

  9. irish

    please go to the ob irish pub in bukit jambul golf club.It has super view and nice enviroment…their beers are superb fresh.Kilkenny and guiness are hot cakes there. Got a pleasant manager he;s indian by the way…so charming and service are good.

  10. Tanya

    Was reading about the previous comments listed. The one that caught my attention was about safety with 20 odd cctvs in store. I was there just about a week ago n was SHOCK to see what had happened. ” The dear sweet owner PUNCHED his MANAGER in the face” Wow….I was shock when I saw her came running out crying from the office..saying she’s been hit by him. My advise to them is …..PLEASE TAKE YOUR BEDROOM SCENE BACK TO THE BEDROOM!!!!!!

  11. Shelly

    OMG!!! The old man really whack Belle???? But Belle told everybody that the old man is in love with her…what happen???? Maybe the advise is to be kind to people & don’t be a BITCH….

  12. Filly

    Calling All Penang People!!! PLEASE PUT AN END TO THIS NONSENSE…
    WE MUST STOP THIS WOMEN BEATING MAN. How many more staffs is he goin to punch or beat up??? Choose people of your own size to beat up U COWARD ENGLISH!!!!

    Girls please make a police report

  13. Not Delia

    I’m closing down the option to comment on this posting. It’s supposed to be a pub review, not a personal campaign against the owner. There’s too much shenanigans going on now.

Comments are closed.