Thursday, March 15, 2012

Penang Getaway: Day 1

Penang Island: Weekend getaway kicked start from Ipoh. Michael picked me up from Ipoh on a Friday morning. Before heading up north, we had our Dim Sum breakfast in Yoke Fook Moon and stopped for some drive through Funny Mountain Tau Fu Far.

It was a clear day.... We reached Penang Island around 2pm and we decided to checkin our hotel called B-suite. We had a short rest before proceeding with our food hunt. It was 4pm when we were looking for "lunch". We decided on some street food and we picked ROJAK. And from some sources, the roadside stall in Macallum Street seems to be famous.

We had a hard time searching for this street... It took almost more than half an hour rounding here and there.... and we are racing against time as the stall is said to close at 5pm. After some guided help with GPS and asking the locals, we finally found this stall, Hock Seng Rojak.

After all the hard work, let's see what is so special about this Rojak. For a road side stall, it was not cheap. RM6 for small, RM8 for medium, RM12 for big. We ordered 2 Medium size for "takeaway" as there was no place to dine in as the coffeeshop nearby is closing already.

A tupperware of hae-ko sauce is sprinkled with some powder said to be "dried squid powder" (or I believe its flavouring/MSG) before topping up with generous portion of  UNCRUSHED peanuts and fried dried shrimps. The items to be dipped includes sengkuang, cucumber, unripe mangoes, pineapples and not to forget brown sotong!!! No taugeh or prawn crackers are used in their version.

Look at how viscous is the haeko sauce! Even the peanuts and dried shrimps will not submerged in it. I even had a hard time "digging" out a piece of cucumber "sunken into quicksand". Tastewise... a totally different experience of Rojak! I believe they have the rights to self proclaim themselves as the Rojak King. Despite the higher than normal price, the sauce is something very unique and potent in flavour.

Spiciness can be adjusted to your preference and we opted just for "mild" level to avoid any stomach discomfort when indulging this with an empty stomach. Look at the ecstatic facial expression, enough said. Hock Seng Rojak was a rare gem worth hunting for! Ho jiak!!!

It was raining that evening and we were quite "aimless" as most of our food targets were "open air dining". We roamed and arrived in a wan tan mee stall which is said to be not bad as recommended by Joanne. Its just a corner shop next to New World Park. The main road is Jalan Burma and stall name is Maria's if I'm not mistaken.

Wan Tan Mee is surprisingly cheap in Penang. RM3 for small (single noodle), RM3.50 for medium (1 1/2 noodle) and RM 4 for big (double noodle). It comes with a few slices of Char Siew and 3 pieces of Wantan served together with the dried toss noodles. The additional bowl you see was the Sui Kow (Dumplings) at 80 cents per piece. Noodles has the "Q" factor (bouncy) but the Char Siew spoilt the day. I dislike pinkish skin "BBQ" meat which is heavily laden with artificial colouring. Good wantan noodles should be best coupled with greasy and slightly charred BBQ pork!

Not too bad of an "alas perut" pre-dinner after having rojak as our "lunch". It's only 6:30pm... and in the midst of the drizzle, we have plans to head up north to Gurney/ Batu Feringghi area, which initially we thought of saving that for our second night, since our hotel will be there.

But heck, as if Penang is very big.... on our drive up north of the island, we picked up some "apom"/pancakes. 40 cents per piece, these were great on a rainy day! Moist and warm with a slice of two of banana and "few pieces of corn", the pancake batter was very rich in coconut aroma!

After a so-so recommendation earlier on, Joanne made things up by introducing us to this seafood restaurant in Tanjung Tokong. It is just situated next to Tua Peh Kong temple, overlooking the sea. But too bad, it was still raining, else we would be sitting at the very edge of the restaurant in the open air, enjoying the sound of  the waves and sea breeze.

This place is famous for the seafood (duh!) and the salt baked ones are highly recommended. I'm not sure whether they have other ways of cooking it. 1kg of crabs (I opted for the "meat" species but "roe" species are also available) will get you around 5 averagely small size crabs. Without any marinade or sauce, they are cooked like how Ipoh Salted Chicken is prepared.

The prawns were cooked in the same manner. This is a portion of 500g which will get you slightly more than 10 pieces of medium sized prawns. You will get the original taste of the crabs and prawns. The flesh was succulent and bursting with the juices of the sea! Not at their tip top "freshest" state, if you are not accustomed to the "taste of the sea", you can always dip them in the chilli sauce provided. But for me, I prefer to enjoy them on their own using my bare fingers and sucking every morsel of flesh! The price to pay was just RM60+ (inclusive of drinks for 4)........... and also hands which smells like sea water despite thorough washing. =p

On the way back to our hotel, we passed by Gurney Drive and a sudden wave of cravings hit us out of nowhere for some light snack/street food. We had our takeaways of Mua Chee and Fried Chicken Skins to munch in the car.

Sinful and guilt laden street snack! Actually it was available in pasar malam nowadays. Just that I refrain from having them. Okay, I did had a piece... or two that night.

But I still prefer something sweet to end the night. Mua Chee was just average. This standard could be found almost everywhere. Besides having a slight feeling of being unsatisfied of eating, the fact that I am back in my hotel room at 9pm is simply disturbing. Something must be wrong with me to be on bed at 9+. And summore, I've came all the way here! *grabs phone and scroll down phonebook contacts*

Help was on the way after I dialed the "emergency number". Rescue car came and braced through the heavy rain and brought us to a food court in Greenlane for supper! It was warned that although the food court offered a myriad of food options, bear in mind that most of it are just of average standard.

Well, indeed they were some hit and misses. Perhaps it's more because of I'm not used to their way of preparing certain dishes. Take for example the Popiah. Filling wise, it was quite okay. But the version here is doused with some broth, causing it to be damn soggy! >.<

The Pie Tee proved to be a better snack and the crunchy shells saved the night!

The Char Kuay (fried radish cake) was okay. Nothing spectacular but indeed was palatable.

The Or Chien (Oyster Ommelette) which is said to be one of the "must eat dish" in Penang. A bit soggy and too moist, I prefer the egg being "well done". Oysters were quite small in size. No complaints. But no specific praises on this either.

Next is the Pasembor. Pasembor is a type of "Indian Rojak" whereby the fritters is a core of the dish and the sauce used is the chilli based "satay like" sauce. This looks like your average plate of Pasembor which can be found anywhere in Malaysia....

Until you see this photo. Yup, you can customize your ingredients in your plate of Pasembor. Besides fritters and crackers, you can choose fried taufu, sausages, fish balls, fish cakes to be in it. Shredded cucumber, sengkuang and potatoes are basic items which come with the sauce. Reminds me of the "lobak" concept...

The grilled Stingray was superb! The paste used for marinade has dried up and lightly charred. Eating the flesh with the "crumbs" of the paste was just so tasty. Dip the flesh into the sambal belacan cili for that extra kick! A big thank you for Kooi Pin and boyfie Gavin for treating me and Michael to a scrumptious supper. The amount of food for supper simply override the whole day's portion!

And now, I'm satisfied! *burps* The other 2 girls who wanted to be back to the hotel at 9pm will be envious of our supper! It's already 12:30am already... and I will be sleeping with a full stomach! =D

The spacious room in B-suite (RM135 a night) promised a very comfortable sleep! And that wraps up day 1........ and we are hoping to wake up at 7am the next day to continue exploring Penang. Stay tuned for write up on Day 2: Weekend Getaway in Penang! =D

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