13:30 06/07/2013 The 5 hours Journey from KL to Pulau Pinang brought us too much excitement. Not only for temple hopping and historical musings but for a gastronomic adventure. Penang is lauded as food haven of Malaysia and known as one of top food destinations in the world. With all this ballyhoo, Penang didn’t only drooled us with its unique savory food but totally change our appetite and palate standard of Malaysian grub. Please follow our stomach-filling adventure in the food capital of Boleh land.
An unplanned stop over towed us at the food court of 1st Avenue Mall in Georgetown Penang. Hey, why food court? Yeah, not a wise choice but we just want to have a benchmark for comparison when we start our foodgasm treat in Penang.
Food Court in 1st Avenue Mall
The chicken rice we ordered taste ordinary and nothing to shout about. But the large servings makes up for it.
The fusion of fresh mint, sweet pineapples, onions, chilies and sardine chunks topped on tamarind based soup with Rice noodles delighted our stomach. Our first taste of Penang Laksa leaves us a good impression of what to expect on the island loved by foodies.
The Famous Penang Assam Laksa of Air Hitam
Someone told us, don’t leave Penang without tasting the famous Penang Assam Laksa in Bukit Air Hitam.
A bowl load with tamarind base soup, rice noodles, topped with generous amount of fish flakes, chilies, thinly sliced onions, sweet prawn paste and chopped torch ginger flower. The absence of mint and pineapple on this Laksa made the fish flakes and sour soup more noticeable.
Bowl of joy that made us scream all the superlative words we had known. Expressing how a simple looking but ultimately delicious Laksa we ever tasted. As said, don’t judge the food by its simplicity. True for this case and Anthony Bourdain would attest, that this is the best Assam Laksa on the island.
Hawkers along Lebuh Chulia near Lorong Love Lane
There are hundreds of hawkers across Penang that sells a variety of its famous cuisine. Such as Laksa, Curry Mee, Cendol and the famous Char Kuey Teow (CKT) . One of the CKT stall near the junction Lebuh Chulia and Lorong Love Lane sells one of tastiest in Georgetown.
This is one of the food that they’ll cook in front of your very own eyes. A large wok was heated before the chili paste was poured followed by prawns, cockles, Chinese sausage, then fried the flat noodles. Add the egg and put the bean sprout. Then our CKT was served. Voila! Our first ever CKT tasted in Penang Island.
Indeed the CKT in Penang is far better that we exampled in KL and in Malacca. It’s bit spicy but not to the point making you gag. No doubt, people craves for it and thus this dish becomes synonymous to Penang.
Char Kuey Teow of Kafe Heng Huat at Lorong Selamat
We thought, we had already tasted the best CKT of Penang at Lebuh Chulia, but we’re wrong. The CKT prepared by Auntie Soon in Kafe Heng Huat was the best. It has a distinctive taste, maybe because it was cook using charcoal instead of a usual gas burner. Or a secret sauce that she kept for decades or maybe the Chives. Or that ginormous prawns that almost cover the servings on the plate.
It maybe a little bit pricey than regular CKT in Penang, but it’s all worth it. The big serving not to mention it’s rich flavor will make you stop thinking about the price.
For dessert, we tried their Ais Kacang with Ice cream. Aside from it’s semblance to our own Halo-Halo , it has a unique taste. Not too sweet but satisfying.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
A place to go if you want to sample all the food that Penang has to offer. Approximately a hundred stalls serving a different kind of dishes such as Curry Mee, CKT, Laksa, Satay Celup, and desserts like Ais Kacang and Cendol.
Again, we sample the Penang Official dish, Char Kuey Teow at Gurney Drive. This version is more spicy compared to what we tasted in Lebuh Chulia. Though it was flavorful but it was overwhelmed by it’spiciness.
To ease off the stinging spicy of that CKT, we buy Cendol. It ‘s made of shave ice, red beans, worms-like jelly made from rice flour and coconut milk. It didn’t make us wowed because our tongue was bias of Cendol in Melaka.
Teow Chew Chendol Penang Road Famous at Prangin Mall
Instead of ordering their famous Cendol, we favored Penang Assam Laksa. This one is more similar of what we tasted in 1st Avenue except that it’s bit spicy. It’s base soup had blended perfectly from the bird’s eye chili toppings and thus made us sweat profusely. Emptied the bowl with a smile on our face.
This gastronomic affair only covers a fraction of what Penang can offer to its visitors. We know that we’ll keep coming back into this island not now but soon, for the love of food.
Sky and Summer