Hai Nan Town choon piah – vegetable, prawns and crab meat spring roll.
Choon pneah, or better known as spring roll, was a luxury when I was a kid. That was because my parents seldom ate out at places where this was served. The few restaurants that served choon pneah in the seventies were Hainanese restaurants like the Loke Thye Koo and Hai Onn in Burmah Road, and Hollywood in Tanjung Bungah.
I was not very fond of it then as I disliked the taste of the marinate for the ingredients. The Worchestershire sauce for dipping also made me nauseous. Over the years, I grew a liking for Lea and Perrins’ quirky flavours, which went well with the deep-fried aroma of the choon pneah. Now, whenever the menu in a restaurant offers it, I would order it.
The main ingredients of minced pork, crab meat and prawns are stir-fried with julienned cabbage, sengkuang (yam bean) carrots and onions. These are then wrapped in spring roll pastry and deep fried. The roll is then cut and eaten dipped in Worchestershire and sliced red chillies. Despite having savoured some very nice choon pneah, I have yet to find one that gives that extra oomph and makes me want to go back for more.
Tanjung City Marina at dusk.
Photo by Wuan.
Most of my relatives in Penang are not aware that I got married last year. If Mum was around, it would have been a grand reception as our extended family members number by the hundreds. Nonetheless, I like to officially introduce Wuan to them by holding a wedding reception in Penang some time next year. It has been a while since I met many of them. This will be a good opportunity to rekindle our kinship.
I have been looking around for restaurants that serve good Chinese wedding banquet dishes only to realise how out of touch I am with the happenings of the culinary scene in Penang. The only restaurants that I could think of were Haloman, Fortuna, Prosperous and Lee How Fook. All have closed shop since many years ago.
When Wuan and I were in Penang last year for the Forum on Public Transport for Disadvantaged Groups in May last year, we were treated to a sumptuous dinner at Hai Nan Town Nyonya and Hainanese Restaurant by the organiser. We loved the food they served. We really do not mind serving Nyonya and Hainanese dishes for the reception. Besides, the view of the Tanjung City Marina at dusk makes for a very romantic background. I wonder if they do wedding banquets.