Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Penang Food Trail

yes, this is how we spend our day offs... eating and planning eating trips. And yes, I gained 1 kg and a week of constipation from this "discover food adventure."

Partners in crime: my dear hubby, EL and CCH.

First stop: Ipoh town for some famous Ipoh Hor Fun (@ a shop opposite Nam Heng restaurant). The white coffee wasnt that great. In fact, i prefer the one in our very own TeoChew restaurant along Jalan Pahang. This coffee was kinda bland whereas the one I like has this unique 'burnt' coffee bean taste which adds to its flavour and aroma.

Anyway, I developed a sudden urge to buy stools (hey wat were u thinking?! wooden stools la) or a bench, those found in any typical kopitiam shop. We walked around in search of it but no go :( however, we did chance upon a sort of wholesaler of ceramics and plastic ware. Hee hee, well! if i ain't gonna be able to get em stools, nothin's gonna stop me getting those "famous" kopitiam-type cups and saucers. i bought 4 sets, each set costs rm 4 only! wot a steal!

Onwards! we travelled for another 2 hours plus and managed to find our hotel VISTANA without much ado. dumped our stuff and practically ran out in search of food as we were totally famished!

what luck! we were driving towards Air Itam and was passing through the market street when E shouted - look! the asam laksa stall is still open!! (@ the Chop Wah Chee coffeeshop near Kek Lok Si temple). well, OF COURSE we parked the car in a jiffy and proceeded to also park our bums at the stall haha.

Orders were quickly made but we just couldnt wait for the asam laksa so we (or rather i) ordered a quick snack of popiah, just beside the laksa stall. It was YummiLICIOUS! look at the pix yourself! mm-mmm... cripsy on the outside with piping hot, sweet, crunchy yet juicy stuffings of seng kuang and wat not... sorry, i'm not good with details but all i can say is, this was the BEST popiah i have EVER had! yum YUM!

and then, our assam laksa arrived!!! YAY! this was the highlight of our entire journey to Penang, sob sob... its finally here! (do excuse the drama). My hubby had to resist the fragrant, mouthwatering aroma to quickly take a pix for the sake of our blog.

Apparently the asam laksa here uses only FRESH sardines, or tua bak hoo (big-eyed fish) and the best belacan and hae ko (shrimp paste) so there is no overly fishy smell.

With our tummies well fed, we continued in our glutton-like state in search of MORE food. Can you believe we could still actually eat more?

Look! Opps sorry, no close up pix.. hmmm but you can see the look of utter satisfaction on the faces of these gluttons haha (me excluded) munching on Ban Chean Kuihs.

here's a pix of the lady who was highly amused with us clicking our cameras. (from the way we were acting, I dont think anyone believes we are born and bred Malaysians. Good grief *rolls eyes*.

That's the charcoal stove used to cook her delicious kueh. mm hmmm . There are 2 types: the traditional thick, fluffy pancake and the paper thin type. Both are topped with roasted peanuts, sugar and margerine. Out of this world!

Ironically it takes only 5 minutes to cook but its name Ban Chean Kuih actually means slow-fried cake!

Dinner! We moved on to MacAlister Road! See how busy it is? hee hee actually that's me taking a really bad shot, moving before the shutters' done.

We had Oh Chien here which was ABSOLUTELY divine.... the oysters were so juicy and mouthwatering... I mean just look at it! Fried with lots of eggs, garlic, chives and with the fragrant whiff of fish sauce. (That's wat they say that makes a huge difference in taste.)

2ND day:
Up early to catch all the yummy food at Air Itam morning market!
Curry mee from the famous stall where 3 sisters cook them. We spotted them - Wow! there's a pic of them on the Penang food guide book that my hubby got for my birthday. Yep, these sisters are THAT famous. They certainly knew how to market a product way back then.. the concept of em sisters sitting round the cooking pot has its charms to tourists like us -ahem.

And here's a pic of their famous curry mee - with lots of liau like prawns, bean curd puffs, sotong, cuttlefish and bean sprouts in a light, coconut-milk based gravy. The auntie told us - "KL food no good, no liau wan". haha we simply nodded in agreement :)

Hubby knew i had cravings for Chai Kuih so he scouted around for it in the market. wot a darling! hee hee, and he did find it, only at that time, he didnt know that it was quite a well known stall, noted in our penang food guide book.

The skin is made of a mixture of wheat starch, tapioca flour and glutinous rice flour. The fillings are made of yam bean, carrot, dried prawns and garlic. The mark of a good Hokkien Chai Kuih is the fine, light dumpling skin which breaks apart at a bite. This was certainly it.. Mmm-mmmm. i am just about the happiest girl ever.

C then found a stall selling Char Kuih Kak (fried radish cake), ooOOoo we couldnt miss that one out! errr. The texture of the kueh was just right: smooth, firm and just tat bit of glueyness for the perfect 'chewy' texture.

er, the pix didnt do much justice to it (my hubby took it *wink)

Next, we moved on to look for the famous Lam Heng Cafe. Haiyoh, after so many wrong turns and going up the SAME one way street several times, we FINALLY managed to find this cafe. No wonder too, it was tucked in a secluded corner and didnt have a big sign which we expected since it was famous.. Well, this place is suppose to be famous for its Mee Jawa, Char Kuey Teow AND Or Kuih! woo hoo! the gold mine!

I'm not much of a fan of Mee Jawa but the gang said it was good! The lady here uses mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes as the base for her gravy. Other stuff like fried onions, dried chillies, tomato sauce and seasonings are fried together before being added to the gravy.

the Or Kuih.... ahhh, this savoury yam cake is topped with dried shrimps and fried shallots. The ladies here sure know how to pick their yams! selecting the right yam ensures the cake achieves the desired fluffy texture. This is so unlike anything we get it KL.. hard and full of flour.

The lady being photographed by my hubby. SHE's hard at work servin up OUR Char Kuey Teow.

And THIS is the BEST Char Kuey Teow (hubby says "in the world") as agreed by us 4. topped with pieces of crab meat, crunchy bean sprouts, smooth kuey teow, stir fried eggs, spring onions, cockles, fat, juicy, VERY fresh prawns. The cooking oil is mixed with lard for that extra sinful ommph! and the soy sauce is specially brewed by a local guy according to their specifications. Fuiyoh! Apparently these sisters have been cookin up a storm for 50 years!

We finally decided that that was enough for the day, so we took a lazy drive up to Batu Ferringhi. Hmmm.. the hotels along the beach weren't that well maintained - wat a disappointment. However, the Rasa Sayang hotel under Shangrila group recently underwent a major 'facelift'. Well! This hotel was certainly top notch and expensive (as seen with its 90% Ang Moh population.)

beautiful landscaping

us just chilling out (for free!)

We had dinner at Hai Boey, a beachside restaurant located at Teluk Kumbar along Balik Pulau area. CCH sure did miss out on a sumptious dinner!

For appetizers, we had deep-fried prawn balls covered with brinjal slices - goes well with the chilli served.. mmm mmm.

Followed by stir-fried Kapar clams with tom yam sauce (one of the recommended dishes).

Last but not least, the fish steamed in a claypot. The flesh is so soft, it literally melts in your mouth.

oh boy do I feel full even just blogging.

Comin up next, the journey back and more places to eat in Ipoh!

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