Besides street food, the mainland of Penang promises good durians and also fresh seafood. On the way back Ipoh, a friend recommended to stop by Nibong Tebal for some seafood porridge. This hidden gem is a around five kilometers from the toll exit and it is somewhere among the village area. Search for Cheng Hwa Seafood porridge and you will get a lot reviews on this place. Some even uploaded photos of the menu here as well. And their iconic dish is....
Steamed lala is one of the entree to munch on while waiting for the porridge to arrive. The dish looks quite simple though with lemon juice, garlic, ginger and birds eye chilli for that added punch. The secret to this dish is always the freshness of the ingredients. The lala was cooked to the right degree without shrinking and it has a good texture. This is the medium portion at RM12 or RM14 if I am not mistaken.
The Fish Porridge is priced at RM6 per pax only. The portion shown in the picture is for 2 pax. The chunks of fish were fried before cooking it together in the porridge. Basically the porridge here refers to made to order “rice simmered into broth” versions. Hence, don’t expect starchy, translucent liquid with mushy grains porridge. The amount of fish exceeded my expectation for a RM12 price tag slapped on this bowl. Reasonably priced but the quality of the food exceed my expectation.
The Blanched Brown Cuttlefish bears no surprises as it a pale resemblance of the Sotong Kangkung, without the kangkung though. The sauce is a blend between a sweetish reddish sauce used in Chee Cheong Fun while the darker sauce is similar to the one used in Rojak (or to Penangites, its also their perennial sauce to go for along their the Chee Cheong Fun). The sprinkling of crushed nuts did not help much in elevating the taste of the dish. Despite priced reasonably at RM7, I suggest you skip this. The reason I reluctantly picked this was because they told me the Fried Mantis Prawns were “out of stock” or probably they just REFUSE to fry it due to brisk business and congested order queue from the kitchen area, as it seems that all fried finger food were not available that night.
Without my favourite mantis prawns, we picked the hand-made fish balls (RM7 for 10 pieces). As long as the items are “easily blanched” or “put in the steamer without much attention” cooking method, you will be assured they will “never be out of stock” unlike the “unfavourable reply” I got for the Fried Mantis Prawn. At this point of writing, do not take it as biased review though I sounded pissed for not getting my mantis prawns, but honestly speaking, the fish balls failed to shine as well.
And to prove to you that I am ranting my frustration when I could not get my mantis prawns, I shall give them some due credit for this simple plate of greens. Instead of drizzling shallots oil and soya sauce over blanched “Yao Mak” (Butterhead or Romaine Lettuce?), the gravy used was slightly thickened with cornstarch, which is lighter “Lor Mee” gravy and it is topped with some meat floss. What you get definitely exceed what you can get for RM5 nowadays.
They have also Tomyam seafood noodles and other add-ons to be cooked together in your porridge like abalone slices, scallops, fish maw, etc. This map and photo of their shop name is obtained from their Facebook. They do accept reservations but let us all try to be courteous and punctual customers in returning the favour. Happy feasting! :)