Ah Wong’s wife had told us that there would be a second durian season for the year when we were there in June. Incidentally, we arrived at the tail-end of the season again, just like what happened on the previous trip. We did not pre-book any durian from Ah Wong this time and decided to simply drop in to test our luck. He was not around when we arrived anyway, having gone to Macalister Road where he has another stall. The fruits fetch a better price there.
D14 Balik Pulau durian.
His father served us. There were still a few “ho bak” durians that were reserved for regular customers. We picked two medium sized fruits. The first was D14. Its deep yellow flesh was sweet and sticky, and imparted a strong fragrance. There was a slight bitter aftertaste which I thought did not jive well with the initial sweetness.
Cheuk kang hor lor Balik Pulau durian.
We had hor lor during the previous trip but since good durians were in short supply, beggars could not be choosers. Ah Wong’s father called it “cheuk kang hor lor” or cave bottle gourd durian. The name probably came from the tree growing near a cave. Its pleasantly sweet aroma hit my olfactory senses just as I took the first bite. This popular cultivar has a very sweet taste that came from its smooth and fine textured flesh. The best of all was the undeveloped seeds called “chew hoot” which made the flesh even thicker.
Balik Pulau old tree kampung durian.
The second fruit did not satiate our cravings. Ah Wong’s father recommended a kampung durian. Its cream coloured flesh belied the unique pungence and bitter taste which we both liked. Unlike many of such durians, it had small seeds. These kampung durians are not as popular for the connoisseurs but I would not mind having them over the more sought after cultivars like ang heh or hor lor.
Penang char koay teow in all its glory at Mutiara Selera @ Pearl Restaurant in Island Glades.
After we left Balik Pulau with the aroma of durians still clinging to our lips, we went to Giant Hypermarket at Bayan Baru for me to use the toilet and while some time away waiting to have dinner with my cousin Peter. The idea was to eat seafood porridge at Joo Leong Cafe at Sungai Tiram. The shop was located by the road with with few suitable spots for parking. We could not find one where I could get out safely from the car. In the end, we went to Island Glades instead.
Koay kak without eggs at Mutiara Selera @ Pearl Restaurant in Island Glades.
Mutiara Selera @ Pearl Restaurant is famous for its duck egg char koay teow that I would not miss whenever I am around the vicinity. I ordered mine with chicken eggs. It was still as good although my appetite was somewhat curbed by the durians earlier. I did not enjoy it as much as I should. The koay kak there seemed popular too and I had one without eggs. It was a mistake. Koay kak without egg was just not that delicious. With that, our food adventure in Penang ended. We were to leave for Ipoh early the next day.
Wuan and I went to Jalan Sayur in Pudu for the first time, first time for me that is. Apparently, there are some delicious food to be had there, especially in the evening. We tried to look for the place but got lost the day before. I was not too keen at parking illegally at Jalan Pudu. We used the GPS device to guide us the next day. We were directed to turn left into a back lane right after the Jalan Pudu – Jalan Pasar traffic lights. That led us to a car park next to Jalan Sayur.
Jalan Sayur char koay kak.
The char koay kak stall, which opens only in the evening, had a long queue despite the strong stench emanating from the waste container right behind the stall. It was a 30-minute wait. Wuan ordered the large portion with egg. It came with the usual ingredients of bean sprouts and minced chai por (preserved radish).
Truth be told, I was not impressed. Perhaps, the stench messed up my olfactory senses and taste buds. Moreover, the koay kak, literally meaning rice flour cubes, were more crumbs than cubes. That made it difficult to pick up with the chopsticks.
We wanted to eat the eggs steamed with fresh milk but they were already sold out by 7 pm. When we go there next, the other food we want to sample are the fried chicken, chee cheong fun, wu tau kou (yam cake) and hakka noodle. The stalls serving these popular hawker fares had equally long queues.
We will be having another go at the char koay kak again, this time hopefully the malodour is less overpowering and the queue is shorter, just to see if our taste buds were mistaken. Surely it must be delicious enough for people to be willing to stand in line for 30 minutes. I have not seen a queue this long for a while already. That is also because I have not been to places like this in a long time.
Economy noodles, keng chey bee hon, keng chai mai fun – they are all the same description of this tasty breakfast that does not hurt the wallet. Cheap is the keyword here. The fact that they are then wrapped in old newspaper lined with plastic does not put off customers at all. It has been done like this for as long as I can remember.
One packet of economy noodles cost 30 sen in the good old days. That was like thirty years ago. It is RM1.50 now and is still one of the cheapest meals around. They go very well with condiments like pickled green chillies and garlic chilli sauce. Some stalls give tnee cheo (sweet sauce) which makes it even tastier.
On weekends and days when Wuan is on leave, she buys breakfast for me from the wet market in Pandan Perdana. I usually choose between koay kak and economy noodles. When I want something light, I go for economy noodles. Koay kak is only nice when slightly spicy – not a good thing for an empty stomach.
There are several stalls selling economy noodles but I only like a particular one because its noodles taste quite similar to the one I used to eat in Penang. My favourite is yellow noodles and bee hoon with pickled green chillies and deep fried tim chuk (dried sweet bean curd strips) which is crispy and fragrant. Tim chuk is not included anymore nowadays as it is expensive.