Penang

I think I better write this much delayed post and unblock this bottle neck.

Although I wrote about Melaka first, Penang was actually our first stop in Malaysia. I was really looking forward to Penang given this is the culinary site that Malaysians and Singaporeans flock to for foodie holidays. It’s a good thing we arranged it as our first stop too, because my appetite waned down the track. It also helped that the centre of Penang covered a relatively small area, and we could easily walk from the jetties on one end of Georgetown to the other. All that walking helped us digest and burn of excess calories since we were having 4-5 meals per day.

Char Kway Teow

Finally trying Char Kway Teow
Finally trying Char Kway Teow! It was like a dream come true!

Char Kway Teow! What can I say? This was at the top of my list of foods to try. I don’t know what the attraction was: at best it can be described as glorified stir fried noodles. But alas! the heart wants what want it wants and mine wanted CKT. Of course I have had a plate at Sayoung in the food court under the CBD Woolworths, which my Malaysian colleague had assured was one of the best in Sydney. But nothing can compare with the original in Penang, and my online research suggested the Penang CKT was something to anticipate.

Mouths salivating and heart beating expectantly, we walked to Lorong Selamat, the home of the Red Hat Aunty. I have read many reviews of how popular her CKTs are and that some people are forced to wait an hour at peak time. Luckily when we arrived it was mid-afternoon (I refer to my earlier comment about eating 5 times a day), so we didn’t have to wait for a table, although we did wait a while for  our order to arrive, but much of that was attributable to a small tour group which arrived before we did.

The Red Hat Aunty cooking our CKT! Maybe she wasn't particularly busy when we arrived, because she didn't wear her goggles. She looks a bit grumpy as she continuously stir-fried plate after plate of CKT. She just looked like she was glaring at everyone and everything she sees! The Mongolian reckons she must have guns of steel with the hours of non-stop wok tossing she does.
The Red Hat Aunty cooking our CKT! Maybe she wasn’t particularly busy when we arrived, because she didn’t wear her goggles. She looks a bit grumpy, like she was glaring at everyone and everything she sees! The Mongolian reckons she must have guns of steel with the hours of non-stop wok tossing she does.”

Although portion sizes in Malaysia quite small compared to Australia, it comes jam packed with goodies! In our plate we got 4 large prawns, plus lots of clams, Chinese sausages and eggs and sprouts. The Mongolian and I really enjoyed our CKT and Oyster Omelette (see below)

The next day, we went back to Lorong Selamat, but we decided to try the CKT at the Red Hat Aunty’s competitor, just down the road from her (I forget the name). To be honest, they tasted very similar. I can’t say one is better over the other as both were equally good and had the same ingredients.

Red Hat Aunty CKT is at Kafe Heng Huat (兴发茶室) 

108 Lorong Selamat

10400 Pulau Pinang

Oyster Omelette – an unexpected, pleasant discovery

Oyster Omelette
Oyster Omelette with sweet and spicy sauce

Malaysia has this concept of a coffee shop (kopitiam), where you go sit in but it only serves drinks, and you are expected to order from the hawker stands which operate outside it. If you don’t order drinks, you’re expected to pay a small fee for the use of their shop.

When we were in the coffee shop waiting for our CKT to arrive, a man comes to us and asks if we wanted something. We had some trouble communicating because he spoke neither English nor Mandarin. Ultimately he walked away (and I thought we had gotten rid of him), but very quickly he came back with a laminated poster of his oyster omelettes. The Mongolian quickly ordered it, which surprised me because we tried it the previous day and it was horrible with so much corn starch diluting the egg that most of what we ate was thick goo.

But I am glad that The Mongolian ordered the oyster omelette from the Kah Kah Fried Oyster (嘉嘉蚝煎) right opposite the Red Hat Aunty. This one had no detectable corn starch, eggs were fried such that you can taste its natural fragrance, and of course, lots of succulent oysters. The sweet and spicy sauce helped to cut through the grease in this dish and complemented it very well.

Kah Kah Fried Oyster (嘉嘉蚝煎)  also on Lorong Selamat

Penang Laksa

The old man who is continuously compiling bowls of assam laska with noodles, cucumber and that delicious stock
The Grandpa who is continuously compiling bowls of assam laska with noodles, vegetables and that delicious stock

Penang laksa is also known as assam laksa, and has a distinctive sour flavour to its seafood soup. It tastes completely different to the curry laksa with coconut milk, so I find it curious that they are known as both laksa.

This was a stall at Air Itam markets, at the foot of Penang Hill and Guan Ying statue. The seating is scarce and squashed on the footpath, next to the road and next to the gutter. I turned a blind eye to the worker discarding a bucket of left over soup directly into the gutter, even though I swear some of it splashed on my leg. Despite the questionable hygiene and environmental controls, it was never at a shortage of customers with the Grandpa continuously making bowls of laksa. The Mongolian compared him to the Red Hat Aunty and commented how he wouldn’t be able to do that – that was saying something for someone with army training plus gym sessions.

Penang laska - rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, chilli, herbs and a pungent, tangy, rich and fish stock. There were lots of fish pieces, as the grandpa would ladle in the stock, then pour the liquid back into the pot , and repeat this a few times so there's an accumulation of fish meat.
Penang laska – rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, chilli, herbs and a pungent, tangy, rich and fish stock. There were lots of fish pieces, as the grandpa would ladle in the stock, then sieve liquid back into the pot , and repeat this a few times so there’s an accumulation of fish meat. The flavour of the soup is inexplicably good that mere words fail to pay proper homage to its deliciousness. Suffice to say that I licked the bowl dry, and although the Mongolian was sick when we first arrived and couldn’t have much, after his stomach settled, he came back for another bowl.
Fried goods from a neighbouring stand to accompany the laksa.
Fried goods from a neighbouring stand to accompany the laksa.

 

Batu Ferringhi

And last but not least, some food porn from the markets at Batu Ferringhi where the Mongolian had a late night feast.

Satay sticks
It started off with satay sticks…
Bakuteh
…followed by some bakuteh…
Fried chicken
…then a plate of fried chicken to finish off.
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