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Food Hunting in Penang 2012

Monday, 24 December 2012

“Little Children on a Bicycle” Mural, Armenian Street, George Town, Penang
“Little Children on a Bicycle”, Armenian Street, George Town, Penang, by Ernest Zacharevic

Ah Leng char koay teow-penang-malaysia

Ordered the special CKT, which came with 4 huge succulent prawns and mantis prawns. Slightly wetter than the usual CKT but packed full of flavour. The cockles were a bit shriveled and measly, would be perfect if the cockles were as juicy as the prawns. Nonetheless, voted the best CKT we had this trip for overall flavour and ingredients. Tried to go again on the day we left, but was closed. He has a funny schedule where he spends the daytime at Jalan Dato Keramat and goes off to Air Itam at night. Better to call beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Ah Leng char koay teow-penang-malaysia

Ah Leng Char Kway Teow 亞龍炒粿條
Morning: 358, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang
Tel: +6012 4983962
Business Hours : 8:30am – 2:30pm
Night: 30w, Jalan Chor Sin Kheng, 11500 Air Itam Penang
Opening hours: 6pm-10pm
Closed Thursday

Ah Leng char koay teow-penang-malaysia

lorong selamat-char kway teow-penang

Also known as the “goggle lady” CKT. She wasn't wearing her usual goggles the day we went, but we recognized her red hat. The plate of CKT came with huge prawns, eggs, bean sprouts, chives, cockles and Chinese sausage (lap cheong). The best wok hei out of the 3.

Also ordered oyster omelette and ice kacang. Not bad oyster omelete with juicy oysters. Some friends actually prefer this to Seng Thor's as this was less greasy.

lorong selamat-penang

Lorong Selamat Char Kway Teow
Heng Huat Cafe
108 Lorong Selamat (off MacAlister Road)
10400 Penang
Opening hours: 11am to 5.30pm
Closed Tuesday

Sister’s Char Kway Teow, McAlister Road-penang

My family have been going to this stall since I was little. For me, this is the definition of Penang-style CKT, using less dark soya sauce than usual. The key here really is the big prawns and topped with shredded crab meat while served on top of a banana leaf.

Sister’s Char Kway Teow, McAlister Road
Lam Heng Cafe
183 MacAlister Road
11400 Penang
Opening hours: 8:30am – 12:30pm; 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Closed Mondays

Air itam assam laksa-penang

A must-try in Penang. Assam laksa is a mackerel (ikan kembung) based soup flavoured with assam (tamarind), onions, lemongrass, galangal, chilli and many other ingredients, giving a very rich fishy tart broth with lots of spice and aroma. Typically served with rice noodles, mint, pineapples and 'ha ko' (a thick sweet prawn paste). Located at Air Itam Market (Pasar Air Itam), near Kek Lok Si temple, this place is always packed with people waiting for tables.

Air itam-penang-malaysia

Since it is a roadside stall at the main wet market, do not expect good hygiene. Not to mention the smell of raw meat from the butcher next door. Nonetheless, still the best assam laksa I've ever had. Also great to wash it down with a fresh mug of sugar cane juice from the next door vendor.

Air itam-penang-malaysia

Air Itam Assam Laksa
Pasar Air Itam,
Jalan Pasar,
11500 Air Itam, Penang
Opening hours: 11am - 8pm daily

line clear nasi kandar-penang

One of Penang’s most famous exports is nasi kandar, with a huge craze in Klang Valley about half a decade ago. Anyway, Line Clear Nasi Kandar in the heart of Georgetown, Penang, is one of the most famous nasi kandar stalls and apparently the queue can be massive.

line clear nasi kandar-penang

We had nasi briyani instead of the plain white rice, and topped it off with fried chicken, mutton curry and squid curry (my usual suspects at a nasi kandar place). As is typical, the plate then gets a little bit of each curry added to the top, for extra oomph. Overall, really very good and very delicious, although the mutton was a bit tough (Kayu for example is more tender, but fattier too).

line clear nasi kandar-penang

I originally wanted roti sardine, but they were lacking the fish, and I had to settle for egg + onion. Pretty good, quite light, didn’t feel too oily, and loads of egg + onion ingredients.

Line Clear Nasi Kandar
177 Jalan Penang
10000 Penang
Tel: +604 261 4440
Opening hours: 24/7

This coffee shop is famed for their oyster omelette served with garlic chili sauce.

Seng Thor Coffee Shop - oyster omelette

Unlike the usual oyster omelette you get, this version is deep-fried rather than pan-fried, and it is broken up into many pieces, that's why you get more crispy edges. Really tasty and love the crispiness but not sure if I'll return for another plate after witnessing the whole cooking process. Some things are best left unseen.

Seng Thor Coffee Shop - oyster omelette-penang

Also, Penang's famous nutmeg juice and Hokkien mee.

Seng Thor Coffee Shop-penang

Seng Thor Coffee Shop
160, Lebuh Carnarvon, Penang
Junction of Lebuh Carnarvon and Lebuh Kimberly
Opening hours: 1pm to 5pm (days off not fixed)

Old Green House Restaurant 老青屋 - Hokkien mee/ prawn mee

Located along Burma Road, opposite the famous Him Heang Biscuits 馨香餅家, which specialises in Tao Sa Pia (豆沙餅, mung bean biscuits). Opens only at night till very late. The best prawn mee out of the 3 we had this trip (one at Seng Thor, the other was at Genting Café). The default comes with noodles, egg and prawns, while you can choose to add other extra ingredients such as pork ribs, siu yuk (roast pork), meat balls and the like. Make sure to add the siu yuk, as its actually very good and crispy, beats the vast majority of other food-sellers.

Old Green House Restaurant 老青屋 - Hokkien mee/ prawn mee

The broth is incredibly tasty and sweet, full of delicious prawn sweetness upon a background of pork meatiness. Interestingly, the egg is braised in a herbal soya concoction and was incredibly tasty on its own.

Old Green House Restaurant 老青屋
223 Burma Road
Opening hours: 8pm-4am
Closed Sunday

genting cafe-penang-chee cheong fun

A special 'tar pau' request by one of our friend's mum. Not 1 or 2 packets, but 20 packets to be exact. Unlike the HK style CCF stuffed with prawns or char siu served with a soya suace mixture, or the usual Malaysian CCF served with sweet black sauce and other random toppings, this plate of CCF is just plain rice noodle rolls served with a huge slab of black sauce, chili sauce and sesame seeds. I was a bit sceptical on first impression, but a taste of it totally changed my mind. The rolls were really soft and smooth and the sauce was the bomb! The black sauce was actually thick prawn paste! Not sure if it is the best as it was my first taste of Penang style CCF, but it's pretty darn good.

genting cafe-penang-chee cheong fun

Also ordered CKT and Hokkien mee. Both decent but had better.

genting cafe-penang

Genting Cafe 雲頂餐室
Lorong Delima 3,
Island Glades, Penang
Opening hours: 7am-7pm

Gurney drive-penang-malaysia

I suspect the locals view Gurney Drive’s hawker center much as some people view Newton Circus’ hawkers: tourist traps.

Gurney drive-penang-malaysia

However, we did like the mochi there as it was very soft unlike most others. Another interesting tidbit was deep fried chicken skin, which was probably incredibly unhealthy, but tasted so good. Surprisingly, it was quite light and didn’t feel greasy at all.

gurney drive-penang

Gurney Drive Hawker Center
Persiaran Gurney
10250 Penang
Opening hours: 6pm – 12 midnight

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul

Chendul/cendol-shaved ice, green pandan jelly, cocunut topped with gula melaka (black sugar syrup). While I may repeatedly claim that my hometown of Taiping serves the best cendol in Malaysia, nobody ever listens to me. And after trying this, I suspect nobody ever will. Strangely recommended by a Singaporean, this cendol stall is tucked in a little alley off (very) busy Penang Road.

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul

Slightly confusingly, there are two cendol stalls staring opposite each other In the (highly) unlikely event there’s no queue to guide you to which is the “correct” stall to sample, it’s the one on the right. Sadly, the other stall didn’t get a single customer the two days we went to eat this cendol.

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
21 Keng Kwee Street (off Penang Road),
10000, Penang
Tel:+604 2618002
Opening hours: 10am - 7.30pm


Another little tidbit to sample on our list was apong, which nobody in our party of 6 had ever eaten. Confusingly, there were also two stalls on the same road, within 50 meters of each other. We went to the first one we saw, then decided to try some from the next one too. To my shock, I was told by the cheerful uncle making the apong that I’ll need to wait at least one hour, maybe two, as he had a queue of 200 apongs to make! I tried to plead with him to just sell me 3 but he wouldn’t budge. Thankfully, an aunty who was waiting for her order of 50 apong very kindly gave me 5 from her batch, and even refused to accept money for it. There are kind people in Malaysia too!

Anyway, the apong is the soft type, with a little bit of banana, sweet corn and desiccated coconut inside. Truthfully, I wasn’t bowled over by the apongs (I personally prefer the crispy type, and I hate desiccated coconut).

Anyway, if you wish to try a famous local food, remember which stall it is (the second one further down the road) and set aside some free queuing time.

Apong Guan
Push cart along Jalan Burma (Green stall in front SRJK (C) Union)
Burma Road, Penang
Tel: +6016 4093701
Opening hours: 9am – 9pm.
Closed Sunday

rice balls-penang

A nice chill-out place serving a wide variety of glutinous rice balls and tong sui. Fillings such as lotus seed, red bean, goji berry, corn, durian, cheese, chocolate and many many more are available.

penang-rice balls

All About Sugar & Gift 團圓湯圓甜品屋
No.11 Lorong Susu,
10400 Penang
Tel : +6012 5320353
Opening hours: 11.30am – midnight
Closed Sunday


Him Heang (馨香) vs Ghee Hiang (義香)

Penang is famous for its tambun biscuit (淡汶饼)/tao sa pia (豆沙餅) or mung bean biscuits. There are loads of shops selling their own versions, but Him Heang is the more famous one while Ghee Hiang has been around for over 150 years. We decided to buy both and did a blind taste test at home. Verdict:

We all preferred Ghee Hiang. The best part is that Ghee Hiang tao sa pia are pre-pack into plastic bags of 4 biscuits each.

Him Heang (馨香)
162A Burma Road
10050 Penang, Malaysia

Ghee Hiang (義香)
216 Macalister Road,
10400 Penang
Tel: +604-226 9915 / 9917

ko ai pork floss-penang

Mini spring rolls filled with pork floss. I prefer the kuih kapit (love letters) with pork floss. The aunty would come round promoting her spring rolls while you are eating next door at the Lorong Selamat Char Kway Teow.

Ko Ai Inside Low Eng Hoo Coffee Shop
Lorong Selamat, Penang
Tel: +6016 4941406, +6012 4529686

1 oink oinks...:

Maureen said...

Your post makes me wanna go Penang now!

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