Malaysian Street Food : Bak kut teh (pork tea bone soup)

Standard

Bak kut teh is a Malaysian soup, developed from the Hokkien and Teochew chinese communities.  It’s an intensely flavoured herbal soup, cooked down for hours with chunks of melt in your mouth pork rib and a mixture of Chinese herbs and spices, the soup is a dark colour from the use of soy in the broth. It generally includes some offal and a mixture of mushrooms, including those long thin enoki ones.
It’s served with white rice, a mixture of chopped chillis and garlic as a condiment and Youtiao (AKA chinese crullers/chinese donut)

bak kut teh in penang malaysia

As a westerner, this meal is so far out of comfort zones and frames of reference as the soup broth has such a herbaceous and almost medicinal taste to it, mixed with the deep, strong spices associated with Chinese cuisine. It’s both earthy and sweet, with a bit of saltiness from the soy sauce.

Bak kut teh is often eaten for breakfast, although my local friend enjoys eating this late at night after a few drinks or when he feels a bit ill with cold and flu. Penang has a great food culture and old Greenhouse food court sells bak kut the from 8PM all through the night. It’s a little more expensive than your average Penang hawker meal, at around 20RM, but the portion will easily serve two.

It’s well worth trying once, when visiting Penang.

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook & follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.

Malaysian street food: Curry mee (curried noodle soup)

Standard

After grazing our way through some other areas of Malaysia we made our way up to Georgetown, Penang (or Pinang), lauded as the food capital of Asia, street food mecca, whatever. We had high hopes. 

Penang is world famous for having a cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese and Malay population who all contributed to the culinary landscape.
Penang did not disappoint, in fact it was probably better than expected – One thing; if you’re planning on eating like it’s your last week alive don’t visit during the lunar new year festivities.

Curry mee, a noodle soup, a sort of curry mixture. That sounds like a safe choice and a nice comforting dinner with a splash of local cuisine. Well, yes and no because curry mee is not entirely as the name suggests.

Curry mee is, essentially a Penang variation on the rich curry laksa, one of the most well known meals in all of Malaysia.
Curry mee varies in a few ways, for example the broth tends to be much thinner with a less creamy texture. One addition less commonplace in laksa is the addition of coagulated blood cubes, with the rich irony taste you should expect (much like a black pudding, for example) but with a jelly like texture. It’s a delicious addition to a rich soup and offsets the curry and (like laksa) cockles.
Penang Curry Mee noodle soup Georgetown

Like a Laksa other ingredients include prawns and light plump tofu pieces.

 It’s a really delicious, wholesome and not too spicy soup which should tick all of those adventurous boxes of experiences and tastes when travelling – The use of cockles and blood jelly are probably unconventional to your tastebuds but they are delicious in the context and shouldn’t put you off trying this. The fresh mint scattered on the top is another great addition and further adds to the layers of flavour.

If you’re heading to Penang, check out my food post about all the great things you should eat and try in this magnificent city.
Phrases worth knowing  

Penang’s a pretty mulitcultural place and English will generally be spoken by almost everyone. But often a few Malay words are useful, although sometimes a grasp of Hindi, Hokkien or Cantonese would be advantageous.

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook & follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.

Malaysia: Georgetown & Penang streetfood and eating guide.

Standard

Anthony Bourdain, host of the Popular TV show No Reservations is no stranger to this great city and once declared “What city worth its concrete doesn’t afford citizens the opportunity to eat on the street?” He was in this instance referring to Rio but it’s an acceptable caveat to apply to any city, especially an Asian one.
Georgetown, Unesco world heritage site and foodie mecca. This, small, friendly walkable city on the island of Penang is photogenic, pretty relaxed and keen to please your stomach ten times a day. It’s basically where you would like to live given the chance.
The TV personality also summarised “When you slurp something out of a hot liquidy bowl, on a low plastic chair. I’m pretty much happy” and that, I have to agree with.

Indian

Restoran Kapitan chicken just keeps me coming back, we’ve spent two lots of around ten days in Penang and eaten in Kapitan at least eight times. In the six months between visits I dreamed of Kapitan chicken – it’s delicious and there aren’t enough superlatives to describe their sour green sauce.
The chicken naan set is good value at around 10RM and their biriyani rice is decent, not amazing but decent. Westerners seem give Kapitan a really bad rep on Tripadvisor, mostly because of the service, but generally we think they’re OK and their food more than makes up for it. We found they lack consistency (and quality naan) the later in the day you visit.
93 Lebuh Chulia: 24hours, seven days a week. Around 10RM per person   

IMG_9236

Hameediyah Restaurant has been open over a century, and serve up South Indian Muslim food – they are especially well known for the murtabak, which is delicious and their range of curries.
It’s a crazy chaotic skinny building but you can head up to an air-conditioned restaurant and order. This restaurant is never going to win any awards for style or cleanliness, but it’s an important heritage restaurant in Penang.
Recently, they’ve announced plans to franchise outlets across the country. So hopefully they will still be able to deliver the same quality in the future.
156 Lebuh Campbell : Open daily lunchtime until 11pm. Closed Fridays.

restoran Kapitan tandoori chicken,  Georgetown.

A chain of South Indian restaurants, Sri Ananda  is spreading across the country. The tandoor is better at Kapitan for me, but they also serve banana leaf curries (look out for the sign ‘daun pisang’ on buildings in Little India) and a decent butter chicken. The Thosai, (or dosa) chef out the front is always busy.
55 Lebuh Penang : 7am-11pm seven days a week. Around 10RM per head

 

Chinese

Sin Nam Huat is a chain, across Penang selling pork, duck and chicken rice. We tried spontaneously due to their hanging meat looking incredible, and it was. It comes with this weird, coagulated meaty soup, which I think is called chai buey – the cooked down bones and leftover cuts of meat with vegetables which for me had too much spice (it upsets me to write this as a chilli fiend)  when eaten with the delicate pork/duck/chicken rice.

They have several branches around the city but this one is clinically clean, and half way between Lebuh Chulia in the heart of tourist-town and Komtar – A good place for those who are worried about food hygiene as I would have happily eaten off the floor in this restaurant.
59 Lebuh Cintra : Opens mornings until 5pm, but the best roast meats will be long gone by 2pm around 5RM per plate.

Tai Wah Café is kind of famous in Penang for their wan than mee but it felt like a homely welcoming kopitiam, lacking a shouty dragon boss lady like a lot of other well-known places. It also seemed to be full of locals who quietly read the paper and slurped their delicious breakfasts.
Basically, for a popular Chinese kopitiam breakfast place it was very very chilled.  The noodles are as close to perfect, the broth is rich and the char siu flavoursome. Everything has a deliciously porky butteriness to it. It Served with shredded roast chicken and gailan.
We’re BIG wan tan soup fans, but almost everybody else was eating the dry, caramelised dark noodles, so perhaps we missed out on their best offering.
Next time, Penang.
84 Lebuh Argylle : open for breakfast, probably finish in the early afternoon. Closed Tuesdays <5M per serve.     

Street food stalls & hawkers

Hokkien mee is one of the Chinese Penang dishes (it’s a Chinese Malay invention, and a quintessential Penang dish) there’s places all over which sell this in the morning, lunchtime and night. We’ve not ventured to any of the reputable morning places (which sell out early) because we prefer to eat it in the evenings. Some Kopitiams and collectives (such as Kheng Pin) will have it at lunchtimes too.
*both of these are available in the evenings*
Most Penangites were pleased with our choice of 888 Hokkien Mee stall, a simple pushcart in a courtyard affair which offers meaty extras like pork belly, rib, and intestines. I really liked the broth, but the shrimp was not generous, looking like it had been through a mandolin.
One local who favours 888 as their go-to Hokkien mee spot said it’s because, the broth is so good, you don’t need the extras, like other places.
The hawker at Old Greenhouse Food Court was not a favourite of the average Penangite but I liked the broth. Also, and importantly whole prawns were bobbing in the soup alongside the egg and crispy crunchy belly pork – that’s love, right there.
Ultimately, I would probably go back to 888, it’s a little cheaper, closer to central Georgetown and it has a dessert cart parked out front too, which dishes up a lot of ABC & chendul.
The lady who runs the place and works the pot, blanching noodles and beansprouts seems to be the only one who interacts with foreigners and amazingly, she doesn’t seem to write orders down.
888 Hokkien mee, Lebuh Presgrave. Evenings only, closed Thursdays, <5RM more with extras.
Old Greenhouse Foodcourt, Jalan Burma. 8pm –4am, closed on Sundays.  <10RM

Char Kway Teow hawker, Georgetown Penang

Teh soon café  is a great place to eat breakfast, brunch and while away some time watching the staff working in this, one of the oldest kopitiams in town. Despite being little more than a shack in an alleyway is full from morning to afternoon close and presumably has resisted calls to upscale for decades.
The toast is thick cut, hand scorched under charcoal and smeared with homemade kaya, served with soft boiled eggs. They also have premade nasi lemak banana leaf pyramids on the tables which are good quality. The thick, Hainan coffee keeps us coming back.
184 Campbell street : Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm; closed on Sun

Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng is a pretty busy and ‘famous’ place, selling, unsurpsingly koay teow th’ng (although no longer on Pitt Street) – soft white noodles in broth with soft, homemade fishballs. The broth has delicious little squares of crackling floating about and the soy dipping sauce is laced with chilli, garlic and lime. The fishballs are even made with a ridge, to make it super easy to pick up with chopsticks! Fantastic taste & an excellent value breakfast.
183 Carnarvon street:  8am-4pm although often sold out by lunchtimes. Closed Mondays, 3-5RM.

A collective of hawkers have stalls in the Kheng Pin Cafe known for the lor bak, a deep fried pork table snack and something you must try in Penang. Stalls also sell char kway teow and hokkien mee Amongst others. Don’t sit too close to the lor bak fryer or you and your clothes will be covered in a stinky, greasy film.
80 Penang Road: 7am-3pm. Closed Mondays, around 5RM per serve.

Like Kheng Pin, Kedai Kopi Seng Thor is a hawker collective with Lor mee and wantans in the mornings – Popular for the fried oyster omelette (also known as ‘oh chien’) in the afternoons.
Carnarvon Street: 630am-7pm, 3-15RM.

In the same vein as the previous two, Joo Hooi café, also had a co-operative hawker stall inside and has various dishes. The asam (penang style) laksa was decent, although it could have been spicier. The lady selling nonya snacks including pai tee was great. You can also order Chendul from the stall outside to eat at the booth – 5oSen service charge.
475 Jalan Penang, 1130am-5pm. Around 5RM per item

Asam laksa, sour fish noodle soup, georgetown

Having had no prior knowledge of it, and only really sought it out of curiosity and being one of the favourite meals of a local friend. Bak kuh teh, translates as ‘pork bone tea’ – soy garlic broth with mixed mushrooms, pork rib cuts and assorted offal in an earthy but sweet herbal soup – I have no comparison, but was recommended the hawker at Old Greenhouse Food Court.  It’s a bit more expensive (and easily serves two) than your average Georgetown meal, but certainly interesting… Am I in a hurry to eat it again? Not really, but I’m glad I tried it.
Old Greenhouse Foodcourt, Jalan Burma. 8pm –4am, closed on Sundays.

Dim sum

IMG_0463
De Tai Tong is a great stop for people watching. Old Chinese ladies fluctuate between gossiping and pushing the dim sum trolleys around (which are actual mobile steamers) and bully you into buying more. Dim sum is available all day,- steamed and fried – unlike other places which are breakfast only. They also have a full a la carte menu.
45 Cintra Street, 6am-12midnight.

Tho Yeun Chicken Rice sell excellent dim-sum in the mornings (until it runs out) and chicken rice at lunchtimes. The owners are incredibly attentive and will explain each different piece of dim-sum if you ask questions. Great service, potential to have a very expensive, but delicious breakfast. The Char siu bao & custard tarts are fantastic.
96 Campbell street, 6am-3pm. Closed Tuesdays.

Malay

Curry mee. That sounds like a safe choice, a comforting hawker dinner? Well, yes and no. A Penang variation on the rich and well known curry laksa.
Penang curry mee, is basically a slightly thinner soup base with tofu puffs, prawns, coagulated blood cubes which are kind of set like a jelly (quite nice, honest) and like curry laksa – cockles.
Tuai Pui, centrally located was recommended to me as a place to check out curry mee. The broth is rich and they add mint leaves, which is a nice touch.
Kimberly Street, 9am-5pm.

Penang Curry Mee noodle soup Georgetown

Expect a bit of a wait especially at peak lunch time, if you’re headed to Kota Lama (fort Cornwallis) food court to indulge in Hameeds mee sotong mamak & Jalil Special Ice Kacang Coconut milkshakes from  the sauce is a little on the spicy side but nothing inferno like – Get a coconut shake from next door, which goes great.  Just grab a table in front of the hawkers and order from the roaming staff from each of the businesses. Even if you’re not interested in eating, the coconut shakes (made with coconut water, flesh and some vanilla ice cream) are worth the walk.
Access from Light Street (Kota Lama Foodcourt) 1130am-8pm. Closed Sundays.  3 -5RM

If you can’t make it out of the way to Hameeds (well worth the walk) Sri Weld foodcourt, on the edge of little India also has a mee sotong stall, which although not as good, is worth visiting.
Beach street/Lebuh Pantai, 9am-5pm daily.

Mee sotong

Restoran Kassim Mustapha, Malay buffet style meals, a mixture of curries and vegetables with rice naans and other mamak treats. You can ask the servers for Kandar, or help yourself.
Corner of Lebuh Chulia & Jalan Penang, 24hour.

Cake and sweets

Because everybody loves cake, right?

Rainforest Bakery & Mugshot Café,  French style pastries, breads and a few cakes, good European standard coffee (and prices) in the attached coffee shop Mugshot which also sells salmon & cream cheese bagels.
Lebuh Chulia, 10am-1opm. Closed Sundays.

The Alley is a tiny little coffee shop selling frappes and European style coffees with a trendy young crowd, they also sell cronuts. Yup, cronuts!
5 Lorong Stewart. 12noon-12midnight, Daily.

There’s a tonne of cakey offerings at China House, the food is a mix of western and Asian and relatively expensive, but the cake is great and choices are nearly endless 6-15RM

For me, I’m no local and I think most chendul tastes the same, It’s a nice little sweet treat, great on a hot day but possibility of qualifying one over another? Not a chance for me, so I just do as what is natural to us Brits and join a queue….

Penang Famous Teochow Chendol is a popular choice, it’s also directly opposite a rival – If you order from the cart, you stand around and eat out of a little bowl, but if you go into the Kopitiam next door, Joo Hooi Cafe not only can you get a meal, but you can sit and enjoy the chendol in peace at a table – 50 sen surcharge – they will also deliver it to you and you don’t have to stand in what can sometimes be a huge line!

There is also a unnamed chendol cart outside of 888 Hokkien Mee, which is a good pudding after a spicy, sambal laced dinner and my local confidant told me was one of the best in town…Not being one to do as I’m told, I had the ABC which was also good.

Foodcourts

 

Sri Weld Foodcourtchee chong fun, nasi lemak , mee sotong – everything we’ve had here has been pretty decent, the Nasi lemak (right at the entrance) has a great flavour and the sambal is on the spicier side.
Red Garden Foodcourt – awful, just awful with an Abba cover band in drag.
Old Greenhouse – Hokkein mee & bak kuh teh, worth the effort to get out of the city.
Gurney drive – rojak, asam laksa, wan than mee, nasi lemak & char ke teow – a bit disappointing, in my opinion. The dishes we tried were mediocre by Penang standards.
(Lorong Baru) New Lane hawker Junction – Good variety of stalls, old fashioned pushcarts and plenty of Malay and Chinese options, chee chong fun, congee, popiah, curry mee, char kway teow etc.
Kimberly Street Night Hawkers – char kway teow, Rojak, popiah, satay. All outside Sin guat keong coffee shop – nothing I had here was overly memorable (also we tend to favour rojak & popiah in Melacca, where the flavours are more balanced and less sweet) but a good enough introduction to some flavours if they are new to you.

This is just my findings and opinions based on a few internet searches, local Malay blog sites, word of mouth and wandering around – Every Penang local we spoke to was happy to disclose their favourite places, it takes little to coax a good recommendation out of someone. This is neither definitive, nor complete – Eating in cities like Penang is an exhaustive task and one that is never likely to be completed.
EatingAsia is a great site to read more (and salivate over photos) about the Georgetown food culture and Asian food in general.

There is also so much more to visit Georgetown than just the food, it’s beautiful in every which way, the architecture, the public arts programs and the museums will knock your socks off.
Most backpackers on a standard ‘three months in about seven countries’ kind of trip (that we spoke to) only stopped by for a night or two (and often spent the day in the National Park!) Give yourself a week, explore, endulge and enjoy it.

Phrases worth knowing  

Penang’s a pretty mulitcultural place and English will generally be spoken by almost everyone. But often a few Malay words are useful, although sometimes a grasp of Hindi, Hokkien or Cantonese would be advantageous.

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook & follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.

Malay street food : Loh mee (hokkien noodles in gravy)

Standard

After grazing our way through some other areas of Malaysia we made our way up to Georgetown, Penang (or Pinang), lauded as the food capital of Asia, street food mecca, whatever. We had high hopes. 

Penang is world famous for having a cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese and Malay population who all contributed to the culinary landscape.
Penang did not disappoint, in fact it was probably better than expected – One thing; if you’re planning on eating like it’s your last week alive don’t visit during the lunar new year festivities.

Loh mee sits comfortably in Penang – a dish of chinese origin in a town famed for its streetfood culture. To describe it simply, Loh mee is yellow egg noodles in a thickened gravy.

It’s commonly eaten for breakfast in kopitiams and hawker stall foodcourts.

Historically, it’s a dish of Hokkien, Chinese (Fujian) heritage, The noodles are thick and yellow, mixed with an emulsified gravy sauce which has been thickened (like a lot of chinese soups or gravy’s) with corn starch. The flavours are quite subtle and on the face of it you can be forgiven for wondering ‘what the heck have I ordered?’ when a bowl of snotty brown soup arrives with some noodles floating about it the gluey liquid.

 

Loh mee noodles

Loh mee noodles

Give it a try, I must admit it, having ticked it off my impressively long Penang streetfood wishlist I never got a chance to head back as I was drawn to the appeal of more attractive breakfast soups such as wantan mee and koay teow t’hng for their lighter flavours and lingering appeal on the tastebuds. I was more than happy to indulge in a slightly heavier, more robust noodle breakfast with hearty chunks of roast pork, flecks of egg and hints of spice and minced garlic in the sauce.

Next time Penang, I promise to give you another try.

Phrases worth knowing  

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you (people will often respond with ‘sama sama’ which means’ you’re welcome)
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook, for more pictures, and other bits and pieces. You can also follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.

Malay street food : Kiam bak chang (Hokkien dumpling)

Standard

After grazing our way through some other areas of Malaysia we made our way up to Georgetown, Penang (or Pinang), lauded as the food capital of Asia, street food mecca, whatever. We had high hopes. 

Penang is world famous for having a cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese and Malay population who all contributed to the culinary landscape.
Penang did not disappoint, in fact it was probably better than expected – One thing; if you’re planning on eating like it’s your last week alive don’t visit during the lunar new year festivities.

One of the best things about travelling stomach first is that sometimes you get to discover things you had no idea existed. I was  aware that sticky rice parcels were popular in Chinese and South East Asian communities, but I was unaware of the variations, and specialties. In Malaysia, we were lucky enough to try both kiam bak chang in Penang and Nonya dumplings in Melaka.

Kiam bak chang is a savoury meat dumpling, it’s popular with the Hokkien community. It’s eaten as part of their Lunar New Year celebrations, which is where we were happy to discover it.

According to my internet research they can also be called Zong zi, Salted pork dumpling and also savoury rice dumpling

Kiam Bak Chang

Kiam Bak Chang

The ingredients are a mix of pork belly, chestnuts, mushrooms, Chinese sausage and dried shrimps with a boiled egg yolk (no white) delicately situated in the middle. It absolutely tastes as good as it sounds.

From speaking with the lady in Melaka who made the sweet, Nonya dumplings, they are a time consuming process – the rice must be soaked overnight, and the steaming takes a long time as well to make the parcel gelatinous.

My experience of these disappeared in a few delicious mouthfuls and unfortunately we didn’t find them again during our time in Malaysia. This blog has a bit more history, for anyone that is interested and a time consuming (but definitely worthwhile) recipe.

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook, for more pictures, and other bits and pieces. You can also follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.

Malay street food : Cendol (coconut milk and ice pudding)

Standard

After grazing our way through some other areas of Malaysia we made our way up to Georgetown, Penang (or Pinang), lauded as the food capital of Asia, street food mecca, whatever. We had high hopes. 

Penang is world famous for having a cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese and Malay population who all contributed to the culinary landscape.
Penang did not disappoint, in fact it was probably better than expected – One thing; if you’re planning on eating like it’s your last week alive don’t visit during the lunar new year festivities.

I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, I’ll always choose savoury over sweet and sugar laden deserts and sweets like toffee or fudge are generally the last thing I want to eat.

One afternoon I found myself eating a mountain of cendol…

Penang cendol

Penang cendol

 

Cendol, (pronounced shen-dul) is a sugarific Malay desert consisting of shaved ice, coconut milk, gula Melaka – a type of sugar syrup, originating from Melaka, kidney beans and little green worms which are actually pandan flavoured rice noodles. The noodles are also called cendol.

To my great surprise, I actually quite enjoyed it –  it was a delicious cooling pick-me-up on a hot afternoon, the gula Melaka was rich and flavourful and not the cheap sugary taste I expected. The coconut milk was refreshing, the kidney beans were strangely my favourite part and the noodles made a necessary textural change. Even when it all started to melt and looked like soup with an identity crisis it was still delicious!

Penang cendol

Penang cendol

Penang road, near to the KOMTAR is home to not only the famous and busy Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol but also rival stalls, too!

Although Penang is famous for the cendol, it is also well known in Melaka. Jonker 88 is a favourite..

If you’re keen to branch out on the sweet deserts, Ais (ice) Kacang is also based on shaved ice and sugar, with the additions of condensed milk and lumps of jelly.  Another sweet local speciality of melaka is tai bak a Peranankan desert of coloured noodles in pandan syrup.

Phrases worth knowing 

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you (people will often respond with ‘sama sama’ which means’ you’re welcome)
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook, for more pictures, and other bits and pieces. You can also follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.

Malay street food : Hokkien mee (Penang prawn noodle soup)

Standard

After grazing our way through some other areas of Malaysia we made our way up to Georgetown, Penang (or Pinang), lauded as the food capital of Asia, street food mecca, whatever. We had high hopes. 

Penang is world famous for having a cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese and Malay population who all contributed to the culinary landscape.
Penang did not disappoint, in fact it was probably better than expected – One thing; if you’re planning on eating like it’s your last week alive don’t visit during the lunar new year festivities.

Hokkien mee simply translates as Hokkien (as in, the place of origin – Fujian province of China) and mee, meaning noodle. To anglicise, you could call it a prawn noodle soup, but that’s an injustice because it’s so much more.

It’s a pretty complex dish and a well-known Penang hawker speciality – The use of the name, or variations apparently exist in KL & Singapore, but the end product is a type of stir fry, and does not bear similarities to Penang Hokkien mee.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is probably not only the best Penang hawker food we ate, but probably the best meal I had in all of Malaysia. I know, it’s a big claim – provided you get it from a decent hawker stall.

Heaven in a bowl

Heaven in a bowl

The base is a rich, slightly spiced fishy prawn broth which is naturally slightly sweet due to the shellfish. The prawny soup is turned a deep red with the addition of chilli sambal.

The standard additions to the Hokkien mee soup are a mix of noodles, part yellow egg noodles and part skinny rice vermicelli noodle, along with some boiled prawn and egg and a little pork meat.
The end product is a divine creation – sweet hints from the broth, chilli & garlic spices from the sambal floating around in the stock, mixed with the flavours of pork meat and egg is like a party in your mouth with every sweat encouraging mouthful better than the last.

We ate Hokkien mee at a few places, one was absolutely awful and bore no similiarity to any others I’ve seen since; In Red garden food court, which had drag queens singing Abba – best avoided on all fronts. A pretty decent one at a hawker stall on Lebuh Kimberley, which has a whole heap of options for eating in the early evening (It’s also close to the famous chendol street). Lastly the best meal we ate in all of Malaysia was recommended to us, as we would have never found it on our own at Greenhouse Food Court – a half hour walk out of central Georgetown up Jalan Burma. It’s absolutely worth the effort.
The additional pork hunks were like sweetcure bacon sticks, with the prawns and the broth and just enough spice to get the lips tingling – heaven in a bowl.

Just look at those pork sticks!

Just look at those pork sticks!

Expect to pay from five to eight ringgits per bowl, depending on your choice of fixings.

Phrases worth knowing 

Satu – One
Dua – Two
Tiga – Three
Hello  – Hello
Apa kabar – are you well/ how are you?
salamat pagi – good morning
Salamt tingal – goodbye
sila (see luh) – please
Terima kasih –  Thank you (people will often respond with ‘sama sama’ which means’ you’re welcome)
berapa harga – how much?
tidak pedas – no chilli
bungkus – Take away
Tidak – No
Ya – yes
Maaf – sorry

*

Thanks for visiting! You can join us on Facebook, for more pictures, and other bits and pieces. You can also follow us via email & if you liked our posts please share them using the little social media buttons below.