One of the least appreciated hawker food in Penang is Koay Chap (粿汁), a dish that is not offered at many places in Penang, and so far I have not been able to find any place that sells this in Klang Valley.
the stall is located at Wah Meng kopitiam
One of the most famous Koay Chap stalls is at Air Itam, I remember being introduced to this dish by my parents before the Penang Bridge was built. It seems like the stall is being operated by the younger generation these days.
The dish has a slightly different type of “noodle” that has the characteristics of both pan mee and kueh teow, a sort of thicker kueh teow with different texture (refer to the photo below). Duck meat, innards, coagulated blood, and hard-boiled duck egg makes up the rest of the ingredients. All these are served in a bowl of duck flavored soup that is darkish in color. Thai chili and soya sauce accompanied the dish.
all the good stuff from duck, nothing is wasted
If you are a fan of duck meat and has the nerve to try all the innards and all, this is definitely the dish you should not miss when heading up north. I personally love the taste as well as the uniqueness of this dish. The less adventurous can still order the same dish with only duck meat and the egg.
this stall is just a stone’s throw away from the laksa place
This stall operates in the morning, the same time as the morning wet market. If my memory serves me correct, a bowl goes for RM 2.50 or 3.00.
Jalan Air Hitam,
Ayer Itam, Penang
GPS: 5.400296, 100.277903
One of the must-eat item (especially for females, I don’t know why) in Penang is the Asam Laksa. The most famously stall would be this one at Air Itam, walking distance from the Kek Lok Si temple, by the alley across the morning market.
a walkway packed with hungry people
The place is not particularly hygienic or comfortable, just some tables and the stalls by the busy road, partially exposed to the element. But hey, we’re here for the food anyway.
The Penang Laksa, popularly referred to as Asam Laksa in other parts of the country, comes in a sourish fish (ikan kembung) based soup with thick rice noodle, plenty of shredded pineapple, lettuce, red chili, cucumber, onion, galangal (curry flower), and lemon grass. All these are topped with some mint leaves and the thick shrimp paste with a very distinctive love-it or hate-it smell.
Our order was served up in just a few minutes’ time. Simmering hot and oozing with the glorious laksa smell, we attacked the bowl like a vengeance. There were nothing left 5 minutes later. The combination of sour and spicy soup with the fresh produce and the thick rice noodle was perfect. I never waste the soup either, thick with shredded fish, it has a very unique texture and taste that I find very nice.
the map of air itam laksa!
The smallish bowl of laksa is yours for RM 2.40. I would never recommend this as a main meal due to the sour and spicy nature of the dish, but it does make a nice afternoon snack. This Air Itam stall serves in the afternoon to evening.
Ayer Itam, Penang
GPS: 5.401386, 100.277377