Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exploring Penang Food

Day-two of our Penang trip was all about food. 

We went out to have breakfast with my aunt, uncle and my little cousin. The theme was dim sum at Relau. Honestly speaking, I am not an expert in evaluating the quality of dim sum, so I cannot give much comment on the dim sum here. Since it was a weekday, there were not many people here and the dim sum choices were quite limited. After resting for a while in my aunt's house, we left her place at around noon to explore the town for nothing else but food.


The girlfriend, standing by the tallest building on the island, while reading the map to get to our first destination.


First stop was Lorong Selamat. I guess the locals should know what to expect from this place.

Exactly - the infamous Lorong Selamat char koey teow by a lady, Soon Suan Choo, 63, whose trademark is the goggle and the red beret she puts on when she fries the koey teow. I come to know about this char koey teow stall about six years ago, when a friend of mine took a few of us from the PPKTJ batch to tour around Penang during our semester break. Back then, this stall was operating at another coffee shop a few stone's s throw down the street, which was famous for its ice kacang. That shop now has a few stalls selling char koey teow as well.

This lady has now moved to the new restaurant - Kafe Heng Huat that she owns herself about three years ago. She is famous, or should I rephrase, infamous among the local Penang folks because of her notoriously rude and unfriendly attitude towards her customers. Since my first visit there, I have vowed not to patron her shop ever again. However, Michelle wanted to see and get a taste for herself about the stories I have been telling her about this stall. So, I unwillingly, took her there.


The new coffee shop that sells the infamous Lorong Selamat char koey teow.


That is the rude lady which made most Penangnites dread from dining at the shop.

Even after so many years, the service in my opinion, still sucks. You can read one example of her arrogance here. If you think that is rude, it used to be even worse before she moved to the current shop. Back then, she was just renting a stall at a coffee shop and customers had to line up for their own plate of char koey teow under the hot scorching sun, just because she was short-handed and refused to serve to the customers' tables.

Not only that; there are occasions where unlucky customers were made to wait for three house just because of her style of cooking each plate individually and there were just too many orders. Worse still, are her comments like "cannot wait, then don't eat-lah!" or "too expensive, don't eat-lah!" to customers. Damn lansi and kurang ajar, right?


Another issue is the waiting time. We were made to wait for more than half-an-hour for our plate of char koey teow.

Even myself was not spared this time. I walked to her and ordered a plate of char koey teow. I spoke in a nice and proper tone. Then, without any apparent reason, she suddenly barked at me in a rude manner, as if I did something wrong.

"What?! What table number?? Didn't tell, how I know?!"


Can you believe a small plate of regular char koey teow like this cost RM 7? Dah-lah chao tar, the taste was nothing extraordinary at all.

Babi hutan. You cannot ask me properly one-arh? Don't think just because you have three big prawns in your koey teow, you think it is the best char koey teow. Taiping's char koey teow got lobster and tastes ten times better, alright? I really cannot understand how those Singaporeans who sat beside our tables kept saying how good it tasted and made that "ummpphhh" kinda facial expression every time they took a bite on the char koey teow, as if they had hit orgasm.

My verdict is, if you guys are in Penang and looking for a plate of char koey teow, please NEVER EVER visit this place. In terms of service, price, and waiting time, all of them failed! Don't say I have never warned you.


This is what I think about Lorong Selamat char koey teow. Period.

Now, let me introduce you to some good food we had, although it was also along Lorong Selamat. 

There is another restaurant called Midtown Cafe, located just opposite that infamous char koey teow shop. We ordered a plate of oo chien and a packet of hu bao, the northern region version of otak-otak, which was nicely wrapped in banana leaves to give it that extra fragrance.


Midtown Cafe, another coffee shop along Lorong Selamat.


I had oo chien three times - Taiping, Penang and Malacca, and I gotta say this was the best! It has that sticky texture and the oyster taste was top notch.


This was not bad, though I would prefer them to use less flour and add more fish into it.


We came across something familiar on our way to the next destination - Ong Temple haha!


Thye Guan Tong Ong Kongsi is a clan temple along Penang Road in Georgetown.


Ornate roof-decoration using chien nien cut-and-paste porcelain work.

The place that I never fail to drop by every time I am in Penang is the Penang Road cendol. As some of you might already know, there are two stalls operating along Lebuh Keng Kwee, just beside the Chowrasta Market. One is always crowded with customers, while the workers from another stall spend most of the time chasing the flies away lol! Both serves equally delicious cendol but all this while, I have only tasted one of them.

My aunt gave us a smart suggestion that we get one bowl each from the two stalls at the same time, and compare which one tastes nicer. We did that and the verdict? Both taste good and each of them has their own specialty.


You can see which one is the more popular stall.


This is the popular one - Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol.


Overall, this one uses more coconut milk than another stall, which gives the cendol the rich flavour.


The less famous one - Penang Road Famous Cendol (pun unintended).


The cendol from this stall uses more gula melaka, hence giving it a sweeter taste. The kidney beans used here are more soft but the cendol itself doesn't differ much with the other stall.


Personally, I still prefer the Teochew version.


In the ferry, on the way back to the mainland.


Again, the two jakuns camwhored on the ferry haha!


Bye bye Penang!


Still wanna camwhore, even though it was just a temporary bus terminal in Butterworth.


Reached home and Mom cooked nasi beriyani on that day!


The best nasi beriyani that I has tasted from Mom so far. Okay, maybe people do not put mint on top of nasi beriyani haha!


It was our [insert a number]th anniversary on that day. Forgot already how many months lol!


We just wanted to have a simple celebration, hence we got three pieces of cake from a newly opened cafe - La Promise in town.


Just had one candle for the sake of having it there lol!


Green tea maccha flavour, durian flavour and blueberry cake.

We asked my Dad to try the green tea cake and made him guess what flavour was it. To our surprise, he said it's durian flaviour, because the spoon has already been used to eat the durian flavour one earlier haha!


Robinn T said...

The char kuey teow sucked like shit man~ went there once, service suck like shit, toilet suck like shit, the food is like average only... the whole place is over-rated to me..

Guess what? Asia Cafe char kuey teow beat her FLAT la~

calvin said...

@ tempus:
well, i was already expecting that when i went there with michelle that day. the main reason why this fried koey teow stall still survives until today is because of the business she gets from outstation tourists.

as long as ignorant tourists still prefer to go for "branded" stuff, instead of quality, and worth-for-money product, this over-rated stall will continue to live on.

but well, i hope people will think twice before going to her stall in the future ;)

DT said...

Hahaha... ur thumbs down pic of the char keoy teow very funny... like a kid sulking after being forced to eat broccoli... :P

calvin said...

@ dt:
i think that is the first time ever that i posed with a meal with thumbs down. but really, for the very bad service among others, i don't see why this stall deserves even a single positive comment from me.

by the way, i love broccoli =P