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Tag / laksa

It’s pretty much a truce that Penang offers one of the best hawker foods anywhere, you almost plan up a whole weeks’ itinerary filled with different hawker foods and never have to visit the same place twice. The problem is, what if you only have a day?

Well, to make your life simpler, here’s 5 different places you could visit in a single day to sample some of the best from Penang. Food portions on the island is usually not too big, so 5 meals a day is just about right for anyone with a normal appetite. For extra credit, you can always fit in another couple meals in between.

Ah Hai kuih teow soup at Kim Lee kopitiam
Ah Hai kuih teow soup at Kim Lee kopitiam

Breakfast starts at Kim Lee kopitiam. Ah Hai’s kuih teow soup starts at around 7:30 am and would operate around 3pm. The kuih teow soup here offers bouncy home made fish ball, delicious fish cake, slices of duck meat, and most importantly, coagulated duck blood, as the original recipe calls for.

This place has been in existence for some 60 years, and still offers one of the best kuih teow th’ng there is on the island.

Ah Hai kuih teow soup | Kedai Makanan Kim Lee, Lorong Macalister, Penang | 7:30 am to 3 pm

yep, these prawns are massive!
char kuih teow at Dato’ Keramat – Ah Leng’s

For lunch, we continue keep our focus on kuih teow, but this time the fried version – the all important Penang char kuih teow.

While the two stalls at Lorong Selamat gets all the glitz and glamour, I find Ah Leng char kuih teow at Dato’ Keramat a more than worthy alternative. The fried kuih teow here has the customary huge prawns, lard, chives, duck egg, and for extras – mantis prawns (for RM 11 per plate). Pure ecstasy for those who loves this signature Penang dish.

Ah Leng char kuih teow | Kafe Khoon Hiang, 358 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang | 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, closed on Thursdays

famous Balik Pulau laksa near the market
famous Balik Pulau laksa near the market

From Dato’ Keramat, drive up to Ayer Itam and through Payer Terubong to where the best laksa is found at Nang Guang kopitiam, Balik Pulau.

The asam laksa here comes in two different varieties, the usual asam style, and the richer lemak style, which is closer to the traditional Nyonya recipe. Neither would disappoint even the harshest laksa critics. The soup is flavorful and packed with fish meat, even the prawn paste has an extra kick to it.

If you’re to pack some for the journey back to Klang Valley (or anywhere else), they do it rather professionally with soup, prawn paste, and main ingredients all packed separately.

Balik Pulau Laksa | Nan Guang kopitiam, 67, Jalan Balik Pulau, 11000, Balik Pulau, Penang | Hours: morning to late lunch

mixed pork porridge at New Lane
mixed pork porridge at New Lane

In the evening, make your way back from Balik Pulau to the city center and stop by New Lane for something that isn’t readily associated with Penang – mixed pork porridge.

This is another stall that has been in business for decades and is still going strong as ever. A bowl of mixed pork porridge comes with delicious crispy intestine, pork tongue, slices of char siu, some spring onion, and pepper. Pretty simple list of ingredients, but one that tickles just the right spots on the tongue.

Pork Intestine Porridge (Chee Cheong Chock) | New Lane, Georgetown, Penang | Hours: from 6 pm till midnight

Green House hokkien mee and loh mee at Jalan Burma
Green House hokkien mee and loh mee at Jalan Burma

For supper, head up just a few hundred meters to the East of New Lane  to find the original Green House prawn mee stall at Jalan Burma.

This prawn mee and loh mee stall offers many ingredients you don’t typically find – home made fish ball, meat ball, sausage, pork skin, chicken feet, instine, and more can be added as extras to the prawn mee/loh mee for extra kicks. By default, they come with pork slices, prawns, hard boiled egg, fried shallots, and chili paste.

Green House hokkien mee | Jalan Burma, Georgetown, Penang (Opposite Chew Thean Yeang Aquarium) | Hours: dinner till late

Of course, I’ve missed out many other hawker stalls that are “must tries”, but if you have only 24 hours to go, this list should not disappoint. Happy eating!

Arguably one of the biggest names in the food industry, Gordon Ramsay was in Singapore for SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES, and thanks to HungryGoWhere Malaysia (coming very soon, and I’m one of the contributors), Chris, WeiZhi, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the event in Singapore.

Yes, we got to see Gordon Ramsay up close, and got a taste of his foods too.

crazy crowds at SingTel's HAWKER HEROES
crazy crowds at SingTel’s HAWKER HEROES

The challenge started with 10 short listed hawkers, and after public voting, three finalists were chosen to represent Singapore hawker foods and goes up against Ramsay. The poll gathered some 2.5 million votes online, so yah, it was a big deal.

The voted representatives were

  • Ryan Koh of 328 Katong Laksa (316,611 votes)
  • Ang Kiam Meng from Jumbo Seafood Restaurant (319,922 votes)
  • Foo Kui Lian from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (318,151 votes)

So it was laksa, Singapore chili crab, and chicken rice. Ramsay then visited the hawkers and spent 3 days learning how to cook these dishes before the challenge on Sunday night, 7/7/2013.

Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa, Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice
Gordon Ramsay and the hawkers from 328 Katong laksa,
Jumbo Seafood, and Tian Tian chicken rice

The crowd was huge at Newton Food Court, we heard that there were some people who lined up for a food ticket (limited to 1000 servings) a day prior. Thank goodness for people from SingTel we got media passes. :D

The scene was pretty intense, loads and loads of people at the smallish venue. Chef Ramsay somehow managed to spent a few minutes meeting the people in the media area, but each time was perhaps a few minutes only. No such chance as taking a photo with, but we were super lucky and got something (more of that later)

the dishes, both from Ramsay and the hawkers
the dishes, both from Ramsay (top) and the hawkers (bottom)

The dishes were served in 6 plastic containers, understandable since they had to prepare 1000 portions. One side were the chili crab, laksa, and chicken rice from the hawkers, the other side were from Ramsay and his team after 3 days’ intense learning session.

I was pretty excited getting to taste something from him and see how it stack up against the best from Singapore.

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

Chris from PureGlutton, Wei Zhi of kampungboycitygal, and yours truly

My thought before the tasting was that the one ingredient that is most familiar for Gordon Ramsay is probably crabs, and hence Singapore Chili Crab would be his best bet, and in either case, the competition won’t end up in a clean sweep either way.

Here are my verdicts on the dishes after tasting them:

  • Chicken Rice – I really like how smooth Ramsay managed to make the chicken breast tastes, but the rice from Tian Tian was more moist and nicer, and as for chili sauce, Tian Tian’s version was clearly superior, Ramsay’s version tasted like it had too much vinegar. I chose Tian Tian over Ramsay but it was close.
  • Laksa – I tried Ramsay’s laksa and thought it was pretty good, and then I had a taste of 328 Katong’s and it turned out even better! Though both dishes had similarly well executed ingredients (prawns, fish paste etc), the soup from 328 was that much better. More sour and had a better kick than the more lemak version from Ramsay’s camp.
  • Chili Crab – Again, the crab itself were both excellent. As for the sauce, Jumbo’s version was very familiar – sweet & slightly spicy, and chunky with eggs. Ramsay’s version was a lot more spicy and had a more curry kinda taste to it, I actually liked it, but thought this could go either way.

these aren't the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia
these aren’t the real chefs I think, with Hanis & Shing from HungryGoWhere Malaysia

After tasting, we spent the next hour hanging out at the nearby community centre while waiting for the result. It does take quite a bit of time to feed 1000 people.

Then the results came in.

It was 2-1, Tian Tian & 328 Katong Laksa can now claim that they are better than Gordon Ramsay, while the chef managed to edge out Jumbo Seafood’s chili crab. I really can’t argue with the result and thought it was rather fair (from more than 5,000 votes).

Perhaps surprising to some, but Gordon Ramsay took it very well and applaud the food scene from the area. He also talked about how tough it was to learn the tricks of the trade in such a short time. Check out the shaky video I managed to take above.

I thought it was a pretty impressive feat.

Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids
Florence, Sally, Chris, WeiZhi, KY, Linda & kids

Oh, by the way, though I didn’t have a photo with Gordon Ramsay, Chris, Wei Zhi, and I did manage to get an autograph from Gordon Ramsay, and it’s on my KYspeaks name card too! During the time he came over to the tent I think only four people managed to get his autograph, so we were extremely lucky.

my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!
my name card, signed by Gordon Ramsay!

Most awesome trip indeed, and stay tuned to Hungry Go Where Malaysia version!

Last week we found ourselves at Cheras looking for a place to fill the stomach in the morning. Searched the web a bit and decided to head to Taman Midah for something which I can’t even remember. Didn’t manage to find the place, and ended up at this road side shack by the name of 陈记缅档 (Chan Kei Noodle Stall).

Chan Kei noodle stall at Taman Midah
Chan Kei noodle stall at Taman Midah

I basically followed the conventional wisdom that if a place is packed, it can’t be bad. So we parked the bike and waited for a minute to get a vacant table.

Business at this noodle stall was brisk, and they seemed to offer quite a variety of noodle dishes. Haze ordered asam laksa (only available on Sundays), and I asked for a bowl of curry mee.

asam laksa and KL style curry mee
asam laksa and KL style curry mee

The KL style curry mee came with plenty of fat, juicy cockles, slabs of fried pork skin, tofu, bean sprouts, and rather fragrant sambal. While I still prefer Penang style curry mee, this one did not disappoint. It was as good as any central style curry mee I tried.

Asam laksa from here got the seal of approval from Haze as well, having all the necessary ingredients working well together.

This place is another old school stalls that kept dishing out good food over the years, I think we gotta go back there to try other dishes next time.

map to Taman Midah noodle stall

Address:
陈记缅档
Jalan Midah Besar,
Taman Midah, Cheras,
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.10188, 101.732857

Chan Kei Noodle Stall

When it comes to Penang food, laksa is always one of the first dishes to be mentioned (especially by girls, I don’t know why), and when it comes to laksa for many Penangites, the best laksa on the island is this little stall located all the way at the other side of the island at Balik Pulau’s Nan Guang kopitiam.

some say this is the holy grail of all asam laksa
some say this is the holy grail of all asam laksa

This place too has been around for a while, my first visit there was when I was a little boy probably close to 25-30 years ago. Going to Balik Pulau from my grandma’s place at weld quay was a pretty long journey then, before the relatively recent improved road system, but it did not deter my aunts & grandma then.

When you want your laksa, you find a way.

two "normal" asam laksa, and one "lemak" version
two “normal” asam laksa, and one “lemak” version

On our last visit back to Penang for Tim & Audrey’s wedding, we took the opportunity to take an hour’s drive (traffic…) to Balik Pulau for some laksa goodness.

While it wasn’t RM 0.80 a bowl anymore (they are RM 3.00 per bowl now), the laksa still tasted as good as it was. Other than the “standard” asam laksa with plenty of vegetable, cucumber, mint, and fish meat laden asam soup, they also serve a different variant – the “lemak” laksa.

The laksa lemak tastes closer to Nyonya laksa, with added santan (coconut milk) in the fish-based gravy to give it a richer taste that is slightly less sourish than asam version. It was a little different, and I really liked it.

Cheesie, Haze, Li Ling, Michael, and I, we drove almost an hour for this
Cheesie, Haze, Li Ling, Michael, and I, we drove almost an hour for this

When you go to Penang, always try to make sure laksa is your last meal, and bring a cooler too. That way you can buy some to go for later consumption in KL (or wherever you’re from), and they make excellent gifts too (my braces dentist was overjoyed). Soup, vege+noodle, and the prawn paste is always separated for tapao too, very convenient.

map to asam laksa at Balik Pulau

Address:
Nan Guang kopitiam
67, Jalan Balik Pulau,
11000, Balik Pulau, Penang
GPS: 5.351844, 100.235845
Tel: 012-428 6235

Laksa at Nan Guang kopitiam

Char kuih kak (fried radish cake) might not be in many people’s radar when it comes to Penang hawker food. It is somewhat a less glamorous dish compared to the likes of char kuih teow, laksa, curry mee, and hokkien mee (prawn mee).

The reason is probably due to the relative rarity of this dish, there aren’t many places that offers them in Penang, and generally only available at pasar malam in Klang Valley as a bit of a novelty dish. It’s a shame really, cos I absolutely love char kuih kak, and none of them at pasar malam around Klang Valley manage to impress me thus far.

batu lanchang food court, just right next to the wet market
batu lanchang food court, just right next to the wet market

So last weekend while traveling back to attend Tim & Audrey‘s wedding, Haze and I stopped by Batu Lanchang wet market’s food court for some char kuih kak love.

I have a bit of history with this char kuih kak stall, it used to operate at the (now defunct) Fettes Park market in the morning nearby where I grew up, and at current location in the afternoon. I had it pretty much on a weekly basis as a kid. It’s good to see that the same stall is still doing well after all these years.

char kuih kak is what I came for
char kuih kak is what I came for

By default, char kuih kak is a pretty bare dish with radish cake, bean sprout, egg, and preserved vegetable. However, over here you have the option of adding seafood and spice it up a bit, which we did.

The result is a plate of char kuih kak worth RM 4 but laden with a couple good size prawns, cockles, squid, and crab stick. It was the same old taste that I remember, savory, strong, and absolutely delicious. A bit like char kuih teow but with more texture, try it!

You can opt for either chicken or duck egg, ours was RM 4 per plate with chicken egg (ran out of duck egg that day).

curry mee and laksa were our second dishes
curry mee and laksa were our second dishes

Of course, one does not simply consume only one dish per meal in Penang. I ordered a follow up dish in the form of curry mee from the stall located behind the #42 kuih kak. This was only RM 2.80 and came with prawns (small size lah), coagulated blood, cockles, tofupok, cuttle fish, and even mint leaves. It was fairly decent and absolutely worth what I paid for, would not hesitate to have it again.

yep, it was hot and we were sweating, but it was worth it
it was hot and we were sweating, but it was worth it (blue case – invisalign)

Haze ordered a bowl of asam laksa (RM 3) instead, and yep, it’s laden with fish meat, vegetable, and managed to satisfy her Penang laksa craving, even just for a while.

We had a couple glasses of fresh sugar cane juice to go with these as well at RM 1.20 a pop.

That brought our total for this late lunch to RM 16.20, which is almost RM 12 cheaper than our breakfast at this Hometown Hainan Coffee in Taman Megah where we had 4 half boil eggs, 2 sets of toast bread with kaya + butter, 1 carrot juice, and a large coffee. I vow never to go back that chain again.

map to Batu Lanchang market food court

Address:
Stall 42
Batu Lanchang market
Lorong Batu Lanchang 
Jelutong, 11600 Penang
GPS: 5.38945, 100.30633

Stall 42