Our trips to Penang are never complete without a visit to the Batu Lanchang Market food court. Parking is ample and there is a seamless access into the food court although at times it was blocked by haphazardly parked motorcycles and bicycles.
Economy rice with salted fish bone and vegetable curry from Stall #24.
Nowhere else in Penang have I found most of my favourite hawker food with the taste that I like housed in one place except here. I always make it a point to drop in just before lunch time for the economy rice with kiam hu kut kari (salted fish bone and vegetable curry) and the most tender and tasty tau eu bak (belly pork braised in thick soy sauce). This was what I had for this trip and the previous two trips. Unfortunately, I had to go easy on the meat and curry.
Popiah from Stall #14.
Next in my hit list was popiah that I shared with Wuan while she let me have a few mouthfuls of her Mamak mee goreng which was equally delicious. I wished I could eat more after that but my tummy was already filled to the brim. The freshly squeezed sugar cane juice was just the perfect drink to cap an enjoyable lunch. If I could, I would have gone for the char koay teow and ice kacang as well.
Friendly hawker posing at his mee goreng stall. The many certificates below the signboard are awards from the municipal council for cleanliness.
With no plans for the rest of the day, we drove around aimlessly, checking out The Light Waterfront which was under construction near the Penang Bridge. This island has changed so much with massive development here and in Tanjung Tokong. I miss the days when life was more leisurely and the traffic along all the main roads was lighter.
Before we returned to the hotel, there was something that I needed to get to stave off my sugar cravings. The jelly coconut is a must have whenever I am in Penang. The shop, Thum Enterprise, is located at the junction of Jalan Dato Keramat and Lebuh Melaka. I got Wuan to buy four for me. That will be just sufficient for our stay in Penang. Sometimes, it does not take a lot to keep me happy.
Little Penang Kafe Acar Fish Set – (from top clockwise) Acar fish, jiu hoo char, sambal belacan, sliced cucumber, lor bak and white rice.
Whenever I have a pining for home-cooked food Penang style, there are only a few eateries in the Klang Valley that can satiate my appetite. Little Penang Kafé, which has several outlets here, is the one Wuan and I usually head to. The outlet we frequent often is at Mid Valley Megamall as we hang out there a lot on weekends. Each time we ate there, I resolved to try something different but invariably settled for the Acar Fish Set consisting of white rice, acar fish, jiu hoo char and lor bak. The other two outlets we pop in whenever we are in the vicinity are at Suria KLCC and The Curve.
Acar fish is fish slices that are deep-fried and then pickled in rice vinegar, turmeric, julienned ginger, sliced garlic and red chilli. Jiu hoo char is dried cuttle fish yam bean (sengkuang) and carrots that are julienned and stir fried together with belly pork, sliced shiitake mushrooms, onions and chopped garlic. Lor bak is chopped belly pork marinated with five spice powder, soya sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and shallots and made into rolls with bean curd sheets.
Little Penang Kafe serves halal food. The belly pork in jiu hoo char and lor bak are replaced with chicken. Both dishes without belly pork just do not feel as authentic as they should be in the mouth. The lor bak still maintains the aroma and flavour and is delicious nonetheless. The jiu hoo char has prawns added and is garnished with spring onions and deep fried shallots. The jiu hoo char that I like neither comes with prawns nor have garnishing. Perhaps it was added more for presentation purposes than anything else. I would have loved it more had it been stir fried longer to bring out its flavour. I usually eat the jiu hoo char with sambal belacan.
I grew up eating a hodgepodge of Peranakan (Nyonya) cuisine. These are usually served on weekends when the family got together for more scrumptious meals. It included nasi lemak, laksa, popiah, lam mee, lor bak, jiu hoo char, otak-otak and perut ikan, among others. Different cooks would use different amount of ingredients or even use slightly different ingredients that may make the taste varied and unique. The tastes that I like are more mainstreamed. That is what one would get from hawkers and eateries proffering such cuisines.