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Archive for the ‘Kedai Kopi’ Category

Chee cheong fun (*see note below) is widely on offer by Chinese hawkers in Penang. Originally it came from Hong Kong and Guan Dong province in China. That makes it a Cantonese thin (well, sort of?) steamed rice roll. It’s sheets of rice noodles, made from a mixture of glutinous rice flour and water, spread open on a table and wrapped together. This intestine (chee cheong) noodle (fun) is very popular, also in Hawker Paradise Penang.

They are filled with a diversity of ingredients. Pork of course but also beef, shrimps,fish, chicken, bean sprouts or other veggies. When served pour soy sauce over before eating. In Malaysia it is served mostly with a black sweet sauce, a kind of hoisin sauce. (Goooooogle is my friend!). In Penang, I’ve been told it is usually served with a black and sweet shrimp paste sauce or a chilli sauce or a mix of both. And there I was thinking the Penang chee cheong fun was served with just an ordinary soy sauce!

Still, not really my personal favourite as I find it in general a too much slippery noodle with not enough filling. Not well balanced according to my taste.  Then again, as the frenchies say: “Les gouts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas!” And right they are.And then here is another way, also made in Penang:

(*note) Not referring to Sgt Chee Chong FFFUNNN from the Singaporean army as shown in a rather comical series on the National Geographic Channel about “every Singaporean son’s military service”.

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IMG_1370   Lok Pin at Anson road is a place selling Fish Head Behoon, Chicken Rice, Hokkien Mee, Wantan Mee, Loh Bak and (according to the stall’s owner own saying) “Famous Asam Laksa Anson Road”. On the street in front a few more hawkers selling pancakes, fruit, Mee Goreng…

The café itself was under renovation. I don’t know what it looked like before but now it seemed  they were busy turning it into a more modern place, with more fancy seating and tables and a few flat screen TVs on the walls and giving it a so-called trendy look. We’ll have to come back another time to see the final result. I’m always a little wary about this kind of renovation. Most of the times it turns a beautiful place into a cold venue with no traditional or heritage feel left at all. I wonder what the stance of Unesco is.

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 The Penang Asam Laksa we ordered was worth every sen. Nice sourish, not watery it is one of my favourite plates and one of Penang’s signature dishes, totally different from laksa from other Malaysian regions. A yummy balance of sweet, sour  and spicy flavours. One suggestion: don’t miss it!IMG_1372

Loh Bak is also very good, …especially as I forgot to pick the most important item when I was chosing among all the different goodies… Hmm, yes after they fried our plate and served it to our table, my wife wondered where actually the Loh Bak was???… Right, my blooper for the day.IMG_1383

 Where is the Loh Bak hiding, he?IMG_1381

Some tropical downpour all of a sudden helps to cool the temperature at lunch hour. 

 According to pancake specialists (not me… yet), the pancakes from this stall just opposite Lok Pin are among the better on offer. Have a look at this review of a Ban Cheang Koay stall: http://www.penangtuapui.com/2008/06/speedy-makan-makan-part-4-ban-cheang-koay-anson-road/

After a huge but short downpour, the streets are drying in only a few minutes and everybody resumes cooking, buying and eating. This place below, called “Kedai Kopi Juventus” is the neighbour of Lok Pin and sells among others Curry Mee, not FC Juventus T-shirts. It’s the old style small kopitiam with neon tubes, not fancy but I like the atmosfere perhaps more.IMG_1385

Have a look at this café just a little round the corner, I think on Siam street. These are the ones I personally like much more than the new modernised places. All it needs is a decent maintenance and eventually some restoration, not modernising. No need to make it look like boring western places without a soul.IMG_1388

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Wa i chiak Hokkien Mee!

According to Wikipedia there are 3 kinds of Hokkien Mee. My favourite is the Penang version.

Hokkien hae mee
(prawn noodles)
Hokkien char mee
(fried noodles)
Refers to either the Penang prawn noodle or Singapore prawn noodle Refers to the Kuala Lumpur Hokkien noodle
Soup based (Penang) and stir fried (Singapore) Stir fried
Egg noodles and rice noodles Fat yellow noodles
No dark soya sauce used Dark soya sauce is used
Prawn is the main ingredient with slices of chicken or pork, squid and fish cake.
Kang Kong (water spinach) is common in the Penang version
Slices of chicken or pork, squid and cabbage

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Together with Penang Assam Laksa and Char Koay Teow, Penang Hokkien Mee is one of the signature dishes of the state and more precisely of the island [Pulau] of Penang. The soup is a ‘sourish’ and ‘shrimpy’ tasting seafood broth using fresh prawns, dried shrimps and pork meat. It’s served with egg and rice noodles, small prawns, sometimes with thin slices of pork and a half hard boiled egg. Served with a spoon of chilli paste for an extra kick aiming at your taste buds. I’ve eaten Penang Hokkien Mee at different kopitiam and hawker stalls and here I’m trying to get a few of them in some kind of  ranking with my personal rating.

Kedai Kopi Kwai Lock is one of the bigger coffee shops in Pulau Tikus. It is located at the corner of Jalan Burma and Solok Moulmein.

HokkienMeeRating: 13/20.

Good balance between the sourish broth and noodles, little prawns. A decent but average plate. Good spicy chilli. It’s a big coffee shop and very busy in the morning.

Kedai Kopi Swee Kong is situated just opposite Kwai Lock, also on the junction of Jalan Burma with Moulmein. Opens very early in the morning till about 9:30. Reopens afterwards for lunch.

HokkienMeeRating: 15/20

Comes without the egg but it’s very tasty. If I recall correctly there are also some small clams mixed in the broth. Worth a try but do come early,  you might have to wait a while as the place can be very crowded.

Kafe Khoon Hiang – Jalan Dato Keramat at the corner with Jalan Dunlop.

HokkienMeeRating: 9/20

When I ordered the dish was looking very promising. Alas, at the first tasting it turned out to be a disappointment. The secret of a good typical prawn broth was definitely not mastered by this cook. Way to sweet and even adding lots of chilli paste was not able to improve the taste. A pity.

Bee Hooi Coffee Garden– on Kimberly road is a big cafe. We were strolling through the neighbourhood and decided to have some refreshments at the outside terrace. Then my eyes made contact with a Hokkien Mee stall in full schwung. Of course,I had to order a bowl> Mind you, only for analysing and rating purposes [grin].

IMG_1316  Rating: 15/20

Very good balanced broth with many prawns and added hard boiled egg.

Kedai Kopi Classic –  Address: 126, Jln Perak, opposite Padang Brown food court. It has the reputation of being one of the best Hokkien Mee stalls on the island and yes, the stall lives up to that reputation!

HokkienMeeRating: 18/20. Simply superb.

Sungai Samagagah-Kuala Jalan Bahru. Fishing village near Balik Pulau at the Kampung Jalan Baru. Private houses that open their kitchen for guests only during the weekends. This one is famous for both Hokkien Mee and Penang Assam Laksa. The Hokkien Mee was very good and served in a rich broth with plenty of sliced prawns and pork meat. Yummy.

HokkienMee

Rating: 17/20. Excellent, full of rich flavours. Quality ingredients.

My apologies for only reviewing a small number of outlets. I’m sure there are many more excellent Hokkien Mee sellers. It would take a life time job to review them all. When returning and testing more places I’ll update this post.

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Lam Heng Cafe is a corner coffee shop at the end/beginning of Macalister Road. It’s in this place that the sisters operate their business. The kopitiam also offers Assam Laksa, Mee Jawa and their own Otak-Otak. They say the Laksa is also of superior quality but I haven’t tried it out yet. Next time…

2007 Picture courtesy to Jay Jun's blog

2007 Picture courtesy to Jay Jun's blog

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Regarding the Sisters and their reputation, I admit being a tad sceptical. No doubt that their Char Koay Teow is among the better on offer in Penang but I must say that the quality is lacking consistency, especially when the skinny Sis is stirring the wok. Sometimes it’s completely out of balance, like on our visit in June, but then again, last week the plate was perfectly cooked. I don’t know how to explain those inconsistencies unless maybe that the girls are getting older and are loosing some of their skills. Not impossible, as I experienced the same with some elderly members in my own family.

I prefer the CKT cooked by this sister:

IMG_0934Anyway, my biggest complaint regarding this stall/cafe is their use of styrofoam plates and throw away chop sticks. Ok, there is no need for using their best china plates, porcelain spoons or high-end ivory chop sticks. Good hard plastic plates/spoons/chop sticks will do, thank you very much.  I’m thinking to bring my own plate and chop sticks but am a little bit afraid that might cause a tantrum… Anyway, someone with more guts than I have, ought to tell the sisters that they are really a lazy bunch, apparently oblivious regarding the impact on the environment. We, our kids and grandkids do really appreciate.  NOT!

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Ah Leng

Location :  Kafe Khoon Hiang, Jalan Dato Keramat/Corner with Jalan Dunlop, Penang. Opening hours are from 8am till 2pm and their closing day is Thursday.  It’s situated in the same  neighbourhood as  Padang Brown food court and Kedai kopi Classic. A highly recommended area for food lovers.

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Anyway,  after some 12+ visits in 5 years, [trying  to make that now a 4 times visit per year] I’ve made up my mind about the Penang Char Koay Teow. It’s basically a great dish but at some places it’s way overrated. So, I stopped asking for the special or extra add-on stuff, as I personally feel that the basic dish is the right one. No need for extra big shrimps or prawns, neither for (too sweet) mantis prawns. Just K.I.S.S. =  keep it stupid simple.

I’ve had the CKT at various places and personally I prefer it with regular chicks… Oops, I mean chicken eggs, instead of duck eggs.  Anyone out there tried with goose egg? (Grin).

Thus, when we made our way to Ah Leng, I already knew I was going for the regular dish and boy, THE WORKS! It was simply a great treat!

IMG_1334 Tastewise?  The fast frying-and-tossing-noodles technique of the wokmeister plus a professional handling of the heat, resulted in a most delicious Char Koay Teow dish.  Malaysia, truly Asia? CKT: truly Penang!

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Another stall in the same Kafe was selling Hokkien Mee. As I’m a big fan of that dish, I could not resist and ordered a bowl.

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IMG_1337It looked very nice but after tasting, it was a bit of a disappointment. Not spicy, not sour, the soup tasted sweet.  A pity for sure, but then again, who am I to judge? Lots of people, looking like regulars, came and ordered the Hokkien Mee. So, lets agree to disagree and accept that personal taste is very different from person to person.

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Kopitiam Kek Seng... since 1906

Kopitiam Kek Seng... since 1906

Located along Penang Road, near Komtar Kek Seng is well known for its  durian ice-cream and ais kacang. For my better half, Kek Seng brings back childhood memories about visiting the place with her school friends.  IMG_1260

The shop started more than 100 years ago: established in 1906. 

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As the sweet stuff  is not exactly my thing, we went for some little snacks as we already had a great breakfast earlier at the Kedai Kopi Classic and it still was way to early for lunch. IMG_1262

We ordered a small plate of Loh Bak. I was surprised by its excellent taste but then I learned later that the place is very well known for the loh  bak as well as for its desserts.

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I also ordered a bowl of their Assam Laksa. I did like it although perhaps the soup was a bit light and watery. For the laksa there definitely are better places. I’ll write later about some of them that we patronized.

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 We then tried the Popiah. Very decent one although a little dry as they did not add some of the juicy soup. (My favourite one is served by a stall on Padang Brown.)

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Excellent and refreshing watermelon juice

Excellent and refreshing watermelon juice

All in all, Kek Seng is a nice place to eat and to contemplate the history of Penang… I wonder what George Town looked like in the early 1900s.

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Hokkien Mee 

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 Address: 126, Jln Perak, Pulau Pinang.
Open: 8am-12pm – Close: Tuesdays.
Contact Person: Mr Ooi Hee Phen.
Tel: 016-436 8910

Situated  close to Padang Brown food court, this coffee shop is known for its excellent hokkien Mee. A very popular venue among locals. Even if you show up before 8am you still might have to wait some time to get your dish. In our case, we only staid a little week in Penang, went about 4 times for breakfast there and waited always between 3o till 45 minutes to get our bowl of heavenly Hokkien Mee.

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Lots of regulars indeed do call to make reservations for picking up several batches. While we were there and waiting at a table, sipping on our drinks, the phone didn’t stop! Calling for take away 3, 4, and up to 7 batches.

The place is a real goldmine in our opinion. I couldn’t really count the number of Hokkien mee bowls that were delivered while we were waiting. I’m sure though that after a few hours of morning service, several hundred batches of Hokkien mee are sold every day.

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Also amazing is that the lady in charge of taking the orders never ever writes anything down. It’s all by memory to know whose turn it is and what dish: regular, with more prawns, extra or large. Beats me how she remembers it all but she’s really good at it.IMG_1369

As far as the Hokkien Mee dish itself is concerned: it’s    reallllllyyyy   and trulllllyy  the best I ever had in my life till today. Of course  it’s all about the secret of the broth. The soup here is very well balanced yet very spicy. I also think they add a lot of lala shells in the preparation because I thought eating some of that small shell-meat seafood while finishing the soup.

If you’ve never tried the kedai kopi Classic Hokkien Mee, by Jove,  I’ve only one suggestion for you. Get your butt running for it as soon as you can! You’ll not regret.  No boss, no ma’am, you won’t regret at all!

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