Joo Leong Cafe, Sungai Tiram, Penang.
GPS: N5 18.160 E100 16.552
Photo by Wuan.
My trips to Penang can never be complete without a visit or two to Joo Leong Cafe at Sungai Tiram for a bowl of seafood porridge in the evenings or buttered toasts for breakfasts. The shop is located just beside the busy Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah on the way to the Penang International Airport. The airport runway is a short distance away behind the shop from which the sounds of jet engines can be distinctly heard.
Joo Leong Cafe seafood noodles.
Wuan and I had seafood porridge at the shop two Sundays ago when we were in Penang. I ordered fish maw and fish slices to go with my porridge while Wuan had the same for her instant noodles. While waiting for our orders to be served, we had buttered toasts for starters. The porridge and noodles came garnished with chopped Chinese parsley and tang chai (preserved vegetables) to make the soup even more appetizing.
Joo Leong Cafe seafood porridge.
Apart from fish maw and fish slices, diners can also select crabs, deep fried fish slices, frogs and prawns to go with porridge, instant noodles, mee suah (flour vermicelli) or bee hoon (rice vermicelli). The bill for the seafood porridge, seafood noodles, three glasses of leong fun (RM3.60) and two slices of buttered toasts (RM1.60) came to RM23.20. At RM9 per bowl for fish maw and fish slices, it was not exactly cheap but the ingredients were assuredly fresh. The only grouse we have is the lack of parking spaces and the sometimes long wait for a table. Otherwise, our trips to Joo Leong Cafe had always been pleasant experiences.
Penang char koay teow.
Wuan and I would patronize restaurants serving Penang hawker food whenever we come across any in the Klang Valley. We were at 1 Utama last weekend and were undecided on what we wanted to eat after we finished watching ASIMO in action. We wandered around and came across a restaurant tucked in a corner and remembered that we had eaten there once a few months before. I also recalled that I had a rice set dish which I thought was too bland in taste.
To play safe, I decided to order something else. The last time I had char koay teow was many many months ago. I have yet to taste a plate of nice Penang char koay teow in the Klang Valley. I ordered that anyway hoping that it would appease my appetite at the very least. I also ordered cincau. Cincau or leong fun is a black grass jelly. It is served thinly sliced in a glass of simple syrup and ice cubes. It is one of my favourite drinks. Cincau is especially refreshing on hot days.
It took a while before the dish was served. The moment it was laid on on the table, I already knew I would not like it. First, it did not have that unique aroma common in a good plate of char koay teow. First and foremost, the koay teow must be stir-friend on a kuali that is well heated which I believed was not the case. The heat is to remove the raw smell of the taugeh (bean sprouts) and bring out the aroma of the other ingredients, especially the egg.
The dish had the usual ingredients like ku chai (chives), si hum (cockles), shelled prawns, taugeh, crab meat and egg. What it did not have were bak eu pok (crispy pork lard) and sliced lap cheong (Chinese waxed sausage). The omission of the last two ingredients kind of contributed to the lack of aroma. Penang char koay teow without the bak eu pok is just not Penang char koay teow.
Sauces also play an important role in making a good plate of char koay teow. I guess it was not well blended. The dish was rather bland and not as spicy as it should be. Char koay teow should be a little on the salty side which is somewhat complimented by the sweetness of the lap cheong slices. This dish was none of those. All said, I would rather forget that I had char koay teow that day. It was a total disappointment and I promised myself that I will never return to eat at that restaurant again.