The Food Paradise - Penang

Jessie jots...

Warning, excessive salivation may occur ahead. Read with caution.

Someone told me I should put up pictures of food I had back home and here it is! I have too many food pictures on file... I had to pick and choose. I had to also divide the food pictures into categories as to where I found them, which I think will make better statements and it'll bring them justice why they are so special... at least to me. First post here is all about food from Penang... purely from the Pearl of Orient also known as the Food Paradise of Malaysia.

By the way I'm lucky to be born in the Penang, even more lucky to be born in a family who enjoys food and knows where to find good food. But warning though, staying with my family can result in the expansion of your waistline. Actually, its the same goes with any other family in Penang cos all of their favorite thing to do is EAT, EAT, EAT!

Wedding food
Here's some typical wedding food of a quite traditional wedding dinner.

First dish is always the sampler of appetizer. From the yellow thing to the right, you have the otak-otak (baked fish with coconut milk and turmeric), baked herb chicken in individual foil wrappers, stir-fry mixed veggies, restaurant's homemade tofu and in the middle, egg stir fry with shark fin and mushroom.

Shark fin soup (plus abalone, sea cucumber and eggs), a few dash of black vinegar

Two flavors of chicken - left is the roasted and right is the fried one with sweet and sour sauce. The pink thing is prawn crackers.

And there's actually 5 more dishes after this dish but I lost track as I was busy yakking with other people. My bad! Not a good note taker, as you can tell!

Balik Pulau - Fruit Hunt
We round the island one day and spontaneously wanted to do a fruit hunt. So here goes,
Dad shopping for the King of Fruit - Durian! I sorta learn how to pick one but Dad knows best. I've only recently acquired the taste of durian and start appreciating like any other Penangites. I tried with the sweet ones first but when Mom persuade me to try her favorites, the more bitter ones, I'm surprise I kinda like it.

Contrasting taste - The upper one is sweet, typically white ones are sweeter, so nothing special about it but the bottom orangey color durian is quite something. The name? "Ang He" (Red Prawn), somewhat a special breed they made into getting that taste of a durian. It got its name due to its color and taste, also as it come in the shape of a prawn. 'Ang He' is no doubt a bit more expensive than any regular durians that can cost as low as RM1, but this one was about RM40 ($11 per durian) for one fruit. The first taste of Ang He almost threw me off my seat, it almost made me sneeze. It was too bitter. But from then on, I know what its like to enjoy the bitterness taste, it is really unique.
Just to throw it out there, as the famous Chinese saying goes: if you can't eat bitter food, you cannot tolerate your life's hardship. :) You have to taste bitterness first before you taste the sweetness in life.
Hakka Food
I have many Hakka friends in town but have never heard of Hakka restaurant in Penang until recently. A friend told me of this restaurant located near Sawtow Lane, you locals should know and my mom and I went there for a try. The food is as interesting as the Hakka people. Hakka is one of the dialects/sub-group people found in the Chinese community. Their way of living, their beliefs in religion and their dialects is somewhat different... so is the other sub-group of Chinese people but I find them more interesting because its rarely been learn of their tradition, the beliefs system and especially, their cuisine. Nowadays, it is quite difficult to find people who knows how to cook Hakka food as Hakkas seem to lose their originality and heritage as Penang modernize in the recent years.
So I'm quite lucky here... to be able to sit down and be served food that was almost extinct. Upper left is the stir-fry glutinous rice balls pre-mixed with yam. The sauce is a mixture of mushroom, chinese celery and lots of soy sauce. The lower right is a plate of plain rice, mixed in with the herbal tea (includes basil, mint, etc) as well as steamed veggies such as cabbage, spinach, and some peanuts. It was simply delicious!
Mom-in-law's visit to Bukit Mertajam
Though you will not actually see my MIL in action here, I'm categorizing it this way so that none of you think that we all feast like this everyday! Dad being the hospitable (not to mention, foodie) person that he is, couldn't resist bringing us to a few places that he deemed special and extraordinary, all for the gesture to welcome my MIL's stay in Bukit Mertajam. And boy, did we all like it! So did MIL. Thanks Dad :)
Yeh-May (Exotic meat) Restaurant in Jawi. From upper left to right: Deer meat, shark and sting ray in curry, spinach. Lower left to right: Wild boar, fried pig's foot and steamed clams.
At another occasion, we brought MIL to an authentic Thai restaurant, which has a very pleasant atmosphere with your own little hut that you get to sit in and enjoy your food privately without the chatter noise of other diners.

Raw shrimps salad, served with shredded cabbage and raw bittergourd, drizzled with lime juice, garlic and lots of chillies! YUM-O!!! I think I had it like three times in one week... simply love it!
This is the horseshoe crab's egg/roe salad, mixed with unripe mango, chilli, dried shrimps and onions. Too much of the eggs actually make you feel a lil woosy, which is funny... I don't think they stuffed the crabs with alcohol. Could be just the nature of the egg's chemical. I don't know!
Left, steamed mantis prawn with really, really sour sauce. Right is calamari/squid stir fry with spicy sweet and sour sauce, mixed with salted egg yolk. Omigod, has to be my ultimate favorite. You wouldn't believe the taste... indescribable!
And that's how hypnotize by food I've been, wore the wrong pair of slippers to the restaurant.

Out and About, All Hawker Street Food
Yup, we were all out and about. Hushby had his share, was he satisfied man! We were starved for too long... from home comfort food that is!
Here are all the little knick-knacks people use for praying as offerings, or even just have it for breakfast or at tea time. These are call 'kuih' in Chinese and Malay, and here is just a small fraction of it unfortunately. I wish had more pictures but before I knew it, they were already in my tummy. Sorry!
The pink cupcakes on the left is made of rice flour. Its sweet and fluffy... so is the white bigger cupcakes. Right to that, the brown curry puffs are usually stuffed with curried potatoes and chicken and then fried to golden brown. Above the curry puffs are the 'ki-chang', also known as the sweet dumplings, which you dipped with 'gula melaka', dark brown aromatic palm sugar. I was lucky to be home around the dumpling festivals, so of course, I make a point to have them as much as I possibly can.

Nearby the kuih stalls, is the famous BM's wonton mee stall. The couple has been selling wonton noodles for as long as I can remember... ever since I was little, Dad would buy one for me for breakfast. Mom would feed me this when I went to the market with her... we wouldn't miss it. It may not seem like a tradition at first but now, with the not-so-new addition to our family, Hushby always make sure he has a bowl of this noodle before anything else. He has already make it seem like a tradition we must carry on until the next new addition. It's not only tasty, its addictive. Why? Coz it has pork fat all over the noodles but who cares in this case, right? And not forgetting the yummiest part, the roasted pork and the wonton! By the way, they are all home-made and the seller speaks english. LOL

In Penang, we usually like to stop by at the Padang Tembak/Tembok, somewhere around Dato' Keramat where now the new Penang Time Square is. Located at one side of the soccer field is actually a row of hawker street food, quite hidden behind the big trees, but food can never hide from me! haha! It's a well-known place since I was a little girl. Folks there are old as my Grandpa would be... and their food, is without a doubt, the most authentic ones you can find. Here's the famous Yong Tau Fo, usually come with your own choice of fish balls, and veggies and sea weed (the black thing) cooked in their special chicken broth.

I ordered this but someone else had it. The curry mee with half-cooked bloody crockles... yummy!

And Penang's most iconic food of all... the Char Koay Teow (stir-fried flat rice noodle) cooked and covered with glorious pork fat, and more bloody crockles as well as fried eggs. OMG

We actually had more food than this but I dived in before I manage to snap. Sorry, I was overwhelmed by the smell and sight of these food... I apologize for the lack of willpower. And as a result, here's one of the not-so good shots of Laksa (rice noodles with fish and prawn broth) mixed with raw mint leaves, cucumber and chillies! The smell was to die for... though claimed by many Westerners, Laksa stinks. :)

Dessert anyone? I absolutely love a good bowl of cooling dessert in warm weather place like Malaysia... they are simply pleasing and satisfying. This one is call See Koay T'ng, which I'm not sure how to translate from Chinese to English, anyone can help? It's actually a mixture of many, many type of food... such as white fungus (believe to be good for cleansing blood), lychee, tapioca pearls (cool your body temperature), one quail egg (nourishing to your blood), lotus nuts, jelly, yam or sweet potatoes and many others, swimming in the sweet, in-depth taste of longan soup. All this for only RM2.50 (less than a dollar). OMG

And look at us going below. My goodness... one of the best dinner I ever had with my friends. Thanks to Su Ying's colleague recommendation, we tried this authentic Malay food, located in Bandar Perda near to the new Jusco. The set of dinner include one plate of rice, one curry with a few okra/ladyfingers, a fried fish drizzled with sweet thick black soy sauce, some raw veggies and cucumber served with Malay super duper good sambal! OMG
Look at us going... look at the stacked plate beside us. OMG We actually ordered more than one serving each. All of these, for 4 person... the grand total came to only RM40!! Equal to one of that 'Ang He' up there. OMG
Next, wait for my next update on Taiping, KL and Malacca! You sure don't want to miss it. HAHA


Anonymous said...

OMG! Best Post ever. *drool*


Anonymous said...

OMG.. Must.. stop.. drooling.. Knees gone wobbly.. *thud!* Its.. too much.. *thud!*
Gives up, looking at the computer screen from the floor..


zleenz said...

ahahha.. entry yang sangat kejam untuk San San *lol

i antu durian tapi tak pandai pilih durian lor... ur dad bleh buat kelas tak? haha...

ppl say penang food is gud coz ppl in penang cook with love :))

janediva said...

*drown in own saliva*

This entry just killed San. Poor oyster.

Charlotte said...

This stuff looks so amazing! Can't believe all the exotic meats, fruits, veggies... esp. shark fin! I hope someday I can at least visit you and try a few things. (I do currently have fish balls in my freezer--any suggestions on how to cook / season them?)