Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wrap Up : Penang Trip

 It was my first time doing a full body massage. It came "complimentary" with the hotel room we booked. Really an "eye opening" experience for me during that 45 minutes. After a rejuvenated me... I was hoping to for some "nite life" in Penang...

 But the drizzle left us stranded but to simply grab some hawker food in Gurney Drive. The food here sucks!  Despite the warning from a few of my Penang friends, the dinner here spoilt my mood for the night... and practically the whole remaining trip. I will just fo with 1 photo here, which is the Penang Chee Cheong Fun. Doused in a black sweet sauce with prawn paste (he ko), I am not accustomed to the taste. Still prefer savoury type of mushroom gravy + curry (Ipoh's version).

 Fast forward to the 3rd day (NO NIGHT LIFE, NO BEER, NO CLUBBING last night makes a grumpy and black faced me the next morning), we had some Dim Sum opposite the hotel. It's the "self service" type, grab a tray and point to those items which you fancy.

 Looks like a bakery/cake shop more than a Dim Sum place right? Common, no matter how hard you try, nothing beats Ipoh Dim Sum okay. =D

 We reached the Mainland to have an early lunch before proceeding back to Ipoh. I heard some "good comments" from my colleague about the Hokkien Mee (Prawn Mee) in Chai Leng Park. Upon checking from the blog posts from other foodies, I had mixed feedbacks on this shop named Lean Gaik.

 Upon arriving on my table, I think there will be another count in the negative feedback. Firstly, the soup was so dilute. It looks nice from the orange-reddish hue from the prawn oil, but the broth underneath was pretty much tasteless. Not only I DID NOT get to "top up fried mantis prawns" (as described by my colleague), the existing prawns (I think better call them SHRIMPS) is so small. Even the fried shallots can match its size!!! The ingredients portion is so skimpy!

Let me show you what I call PRAWN MEE! Even my home cooked version using instant noodles can beat it NINE STREETS!!! Check out my recipe here:

 The braised herbal chicken legs. Not too bad, with a tinge of spiciness from the dried chillies.

Because the SHRIMP noodles portion is skimpy and most of the items in the menu (LOR BAK, FRIED POPIAH CHICKEN, etc) were NOT available, we resolved into ordering a portion of Roast Pork to facilitate the eating of the lacklustre noodles.... 

In conclusion, have a local to guide you instead of getting 3rd party feedbacks  from blogs. You might save your time from a few rotten eggs in the list of Penang Street Food.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Penang street food continued: Teochew Cendol and Charcoal Fried Char Kuay Teow

 Another to eat street food in Penang is Cendol... And apparently from recommendations in food blogs, most are operated by Chinese and not Mamak/Indians. And the famous one seems to be in Penang Road's Teochew Cendol. A good bowl of Teochew styled cendol will have the green-wormie-pandan flavoured rice flour-thingie, red kidney beans, coconut milk and gula melaka on shaved ice.

 There are 2 stalls which serves cendol here. Blue arrow signifies the FAMOUS one and orange one signifies the.... "alternative". Both are at RM2 per bowl.

 Judging from the long queue on this side of the road, we believe that the stall with this logo and name is the famous one. After returning from the trip, I found out from the Internet that they have commercialized branch in Prangin Mall. Besides the photos of Gurmit Singh (Phua Chu Kang) and Irene Ang (Rosie) patronizing their stall, they also boast a HALAL status with a Halal certification issued by IFRCA. From my work experience, I can confidently tell you IFRCA cert is no longer valid and recognized now. So.... if their rival from the opposite side wanna stir up some trouble, they will be in deep sh**.

 Using orange bowls, I prefer the version served by the opposite stall. There is no queue here unlike the famous stall using blue bowls. This stall has my extra slight preference because it has thicker gula melaka , reminding me of the version in Melaka. Not really a thirst quencher due to its slightly sweeter and creamier aftertaste, one man's meat is another man's poison. Both stalls are equally good.... But I like mine with glutinuous rice and loads of gula melaka. Teochew's version............ don't really incorporate that.

 On our way to Jalan Sungai Ujong/Kimberly Street for the Char Kuay Teow, we were attracted to the Belacan Fried Chicken. Erm... nothing really stands out as it lacked the pungent prawn paste aroma, as if you did not tell me its Belacan flavoured, I wouldn't have managed to identify it from its subtle taste.

 We finally arrived at this corner shop where it houses one of the few famous Char Kuay Teow in Penang. Upon arrival, I was a bit skeptical as I saw a big portion of "pre-fried" kuay teow. Being a firm believer that every food plate of fried noodles must be individually and passionately fried on the spot before serving, I was doubtful and waited for it to arrive.

Oh, I was totally wrong by my stereotyping! The plate of Char Kuay Teow turns out to be full of wok hei with charred bits of noodles coated with eggs. Every mouthful of greasy noodles is accompanied by some chives and crunchy (although not as juicy as Ipoh's) beansprouts which were not overdone. If there were some drawbacks, I would say that the additional mantis prawns failed to deliver. The mantis prawns were not the deep fried, batter coated versions which I hoped for. Unseasoned flesh of mantis prawns were just added while frying the noodles, resulting in a squishy mushy flesh.

The wok hei and near-perfectness of this sinful dish has the charcoal furnace to be its secret weapon. Can you spot the small fan used to control the intensity of the fire at the furnace inlet? I'm quite satisfied with the Char Kuay Teow. A standard plate would be RM3+ and if you request for mantis prawns to be added, it will fetch a RM5+ price tag.(Still cheaper than the Sister's Fried Kuay Teow, which is RM6+, and you need to queue up and endure their EGOISM/SNOBBISHNESS) This wraps up the post for today as I will highlight some "fail to meet its mark" food in Penang in the next post

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Penang Day 2 (continued)

The trip to Penang will be never complete without trying out one of their signature dishes, the Penang Assam Laksa! The hot Milo and biscuits is all burnt after the stroll in Penang Hill and this was our proper breakfast before continuing our day. We were just like most tourist, being led to this stall opposite the wet market of Air Itam. Dubbed the "Kek Lok Si" Laksa, let's see how well it lifts up to its name...

 Although I'm not a big fan of laksa (especially plain ones without any fried "liews" to go along with), my friends do agree with me that we were quite disappointed with the version here. The broth is quite diluted. Though at the right degree of sourness (taste bud preference may vary), the soup lack some "kick" from the "he ko" and fish meat. Rather small portion for RM3.50, I wished they would be more passionate in giving more ingredients to uplift its reputation. No wonder most locals will advise you to AVOID this place and go for other less known laksa stalls instead.

 Not satisfied with our breakfast, we continued with the walk up to Kek Lok Si temple. You can buy stalks of kangkung to feed the tortoise here.

 The grand and aesthetic structure with the fine carvings art. Not much comments from me further as it was never my preference to visit religious places. Let's just move on to the food =D

 Another "must have" in Penang is the Nasi Kandar. I was like... WHAT?! Go to Penang all the way for something you can easily find in any mamak?! I mean, there must be something special that attracts both tourist and locals alike. I mean, check out the long queue in the photo above.

 Well, Ipoh too has the famous Nasi Vanggey or fondly known as Nasi Ganja. I heard that they use some kind of poppy seeds (kas kas spice) in their curry, thus giving you the "addiction" and cravings to come back for more. Another myth, or rather fact, is.... they keep on replenishing the curry. Since they run on 24 hours, they never wash their curry pots. It's a continuous production flow... rather than batch production *if you know what I mean*

 Just be patient with the queue. Entrust a friend to look for a table while you order and grab food on his/her behalf. And you should be fine. Your turn will surely come.

 In the meantime while you are closing to the destination, you will be spoilt for choices on what dishes to take. Well, at least, get decided on taking on white rice or briyani. Then select a meat dish, or two. Then a vege dish or an egg dish. You might not wanna get overboard with your picks as your fate lies in the hand of the uncle here, giving you the small piece of cardboard in which the price of your plate of rice is scribbled.

 I just had one piece of BIG fried chicken drumstick with briyani rice and said "CUKUP". Yes, I'm a sucker for Ayam Goreng Berempah in mamaks. Uncle insisted on throwing in some "free" ladies finger for good excuse to charge me extra. I was charged RM8+ for this plate of rice. o.O

 Be ready to get charged for nearly RM10 (even more if you go for seafood) per person for a one meat + one vege plate of rice. Tastewise, it's nothing really spectacular. The fried chicken is not bad but I'm sure many other mamaks could reach this level of food. Perhaps other dishes like those Curry Crabs and Prawns would be real good (and real expensive too)?

 Well, not bad but I would say a it's like a typical meal in a local mamak. At least I got a taste of the hype of lining up....

..............After all, this place is named LINE CLEAR. Take a pause from this coma inducing lunch and more food hunting to follow later part of the day =)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 2: Penang Hill

Goodness! I've abandoned my blog for nearly a month. There a few food post to be up before photos keep piling up. Before that, I shall try to wrap up the Penang trip in March.The next morning we went to Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill).

Ticket for an adult is RM8 (both ways) This is the History Walkway.... whereby you can see pictures of the trains used throughout the years while waiting for the train. It's half an hour per train, if I'm not mistaken.
Recently, they have just upgraded the trains to the ones like KL Monorail. It is completely concealed and air conditioned. The plus point is it is well ventilated with the air conditioning system but the slight drawback was the passengers missing out of the crisp cool air as the train escalated higher.
This is a snap shop of the train. A cross between KL monorail and Genting Skyway Cabins. This train has a maximum capacity of 100 passengers equally split out in 6 cabins. That's about an estimated load of 7500kg as shown in the photo below.

Rest assured its manufactured in Switerland and not locally assembled.

The one way journey takes around 7-8 minutes... Nothing much to see throughout the short journey up, except for the green side of nature.

Just like every other passenger, we started snapping photos as soon as we arrived at the peak station.

The lush greenery on top of the hill. It would be great if you can watch the sunrise at this altitude.

Overlooking the whole of Penang Island and the Mainland. After all, we are more than 800 metres above sea level.

Proof that they were here?? o.O
There's a restaurant on the peak of the hill. Recently it had a candle light dinner promotion for Valentine's Day...

Be a Peeping Tom for just RM1. You get to use the binoculars to view the whole of Penang Island for 2 minutes. Check whether Lim Guan Eng is at his office on a weekend or not. Or the infamous Tow Truck Aunty Jessie Ooi is catching illegal parking offenders.

My signature Asian pose overlooking a "ghostly town" background. A light drizzle caused a fog which made it look like oversea countries.

Some historical background of Penang Hill/Bukit Bendera. There's this inn and tea house situated somewhere near the police station (Yes! There IS a police station on top of this hill)

Some handicrafts and oil painting for display and sale. Check out the price! Gosh....

Well, save that for Camerons if you have thoughts on having some scones and a cup of hot Earl Grey overlooking a misty scenery.

There, a simple post on Penang Hill. Next chapter. Downhill to Kek Lok Si and the food trail which awaits.