Monday, December 31, 2007

My favourite popiah @ Mount Erskine

I know I mentioned popiah and yet I featured crabs, right? Well that's the thing! I love the popiah here for its crab fillings. And in addition to this, there are so many more great food here that I would not miss it every single time I visited Penang. This is Mount Erskine. Years back when I was still a fresh college student, I used to stay in Mount Erskine. This place was my main station. In order to limit my spending to RM5 per day, I used to buy buns here and keep for my daily consumption. But the popiah stall didn't start until 2-3 years back. This stall used to be located at the old Rex Cinema along Jalan Burma. It was already famous then (at least to me and my friends).
Now Mount Erskine has since flourished with even more variety of stalls. You can find mixed nyonya rice, chicken rice, fried rice, porridge, clear soup noodles, curry noodles, Indian noodles, snacks, desserts, fruits and the list goes on. Amazing right?

Location: Mount Erskine, Penang
Rating: Great

Like I said before, I have visited this shop from Jalan Burma till now. And I can assure you, you can't find this elsewhere.I love the soft and moist popiah wrapping that envelopes the fragrant crab meat and crab eggs. The crab meat portion looks little compared to the vege, but believe me the balance is just perfect. I don't want an overpowering seafood roll, I would have gone for seafood if I want that. You can taste a hint of sauce and again it is just enough to add flavour and not overpowering. Oh I miss it already.Then there is this dry koay teow (flat rice noodles). They come complete with a variety of fish paste.
And the owner. Oh man, can he talk.. He is one of the sweetest talker I have ever met. But you have to respect his spirit. Who wouldn't love a chirpy cook? I know he looked kinda serious in the pic (I suspect he is trying to act cool :P)
But his talks aside. You have to give it to him that his dry koay teow is really good. Especially when mixed with his sambal belacan (prawn paste chili). The sambal is so strongly fragrant and spicy. I can feel the kick.The koay teow is also really smooth. What's beautiful is the fact that it is not oily, yet very smooth and blended well with the sauce. I practically had to kick Ben to stop in order for me to take this photo. He was happily slurping away without a care.Ah.. Fried koay teow. Ben awarded this place best fried koay teow! I have to say the koay teow here is good.
The noodles is crispy and dry (not oily or lumpy). It is strongly fragrant with what Cantonese people call "wok hei", basically means enough heat to bring out the flavours and concentrate the juice into the food. If the above koay teow gives me a kick, this gives me an "umph". And then there is Che Hu (Hokkien for fresh fish). Or some call it Chinese pasembur.The sweet potato sauce is thick and creamy. The fritters are rather normal though. But at least it has fresh jelly fish as a che hu should have.
With all the fiery stuff we had, this is just the best thing to douse the fire within. This is coconut sea with honey. They used to have a special which includes rambutan+pineapple mix. But the last time I tried to order, this newbie do not understand me. So you'll just have to make do with this.But do not underestimate this sweet little thing. The fragrance of honey and coolness of sea coconut is simply refreshing.
To be truthful, I hate to recommend this place. It is one of my fave and I selfishly want to keep it for myself. ngiat ngiat ngiat...

Medan Selera Sri Weld

It is not a very old establishment, but some shops here are worth mentioning. What's more, parking is rather convenient. There is a small lane at the left of this photo above. Turn in and you'll find parking at the side and back of this food court.

Malay-English Translation
Medan Selera - Food Court

Location : Lebuh Penang, Georgetown, Penang
Rating : Good for some, below average for some

I'll start off with the good ones. First we have Ali Nasi Lemak (coconut milk rice with chili/curry). It is a simple affair. 3 types of nasi lemak - eggs+anchovies, fish, or prawn, all readily packed.We picked eggs and anchovies, the conventional ones. The lovely green banana leaves serve as wrap, and it enhances the aroma of the rice. Don't worry abut its freshness. Although they are prepacked, the owner is just behind the stalls preparing them.Sorry if my hands kinda shaky. I just can't wait to grab a spoon and dig my way into that inviting pile of nasi lemak. Taste wise it is just lovely. The rice is fragrant and adequate sambal (chili sauce) is provided. Sambal is slightly sweet. The warm rice coupled with the sambal and aroma of banana leaf - fantastico!Next we ordered dried koay teow (flat rice noodles) and fresh beef slices + beef balls soup. This is the 2nd generation/branch from the original shop somewhere around Weld Quay. My dad used to visit the original shop and ordered a beef noodle special. How special you asked? That bowl of noodles cost RM15. The soup is made of Chinese herb called "Sip Chuan" or literally 10 herbs. And they included all parts of beef (I seriously mean all parts). But we did not order that. I am not sure if they still have that. But our koay teow came. Unassumingly clear in colour. I had expected dark soy sauce mix. Nevertheless, the koay teow is fragrant on its own right and smooth. I guess this way makes mixing the koay teow with the soup remain beefy, as dark soy sauce may have spoil the taste of the soup.Again, I did not expect the meat's colour to look so dark. Normally fresh beef slices are pinkish in colour. I thought the meat will be very tough then. Again I was wrong. The meat was just as tender. It is very juicy too. The beef ball is bouncy. Love the clear soup - fragrant yet not overpowering.
Now comes the below average stuff. It is not that they are bad, but when compared with their other counterparts around Penang, they are just below average.
I had Chie Hu (literally means fresh fish), a form of Chinese pasembur. Pasembur is a mamak (Indian Muslim) food with fried fritters mix with fresh vege doused with chili peanut sauce. Back to this Chie Hu. It usually has fresh jelly fish strips and the sauce is orangey thick (made of sweet potato). This one came with thin sauce and no fresh jelly fish. Feels like a pirated Chie Hu.Then we have popiah (spring rolls). I love Northern popiah as they do not have those hard crunchy stuff that hurts your mouth ceiling and gums.. I like my popiah soft and juicy. The one we had here is a bit dry and tasteless. Although Northern popiah does not have crunchy stuff, they have wither eggs or beancurds or other forms of soft accompaniments to go with the vege. This stall has none. Again feels like a pirated popiah.
So there you have it. 2 good and 2 below average. If you are asking then where to find a good popiah and chie hu? Coming on my next post. Till then, tata..

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Time warp in Yong Sing

Long long time ago, we used to follow our dad to Penang for his collections. After collecting cheques from his clients, he would go to Beach Street to do banking. That's when we would stop by this shop for breakfast. My childhood memory on this place is quite a blur. In fact, most of my childhood is a blur. Anyway, I revisited this place during the Christmas holidays and I find the quality is still there.

Location: Lebuh Union (Off Beach Street), Pengkalan Weld, Penang
Rating: Yummy!

On the day that I went, there were only 3 stalls open. But all 3 proved to be worthy contender of the time game. The first stall offers duck meat koay teow soup (flat rice noodles) since 1965. Although the runner now is replaced by the younger generation, but quality wise isn't compromised. The noodles came with multiple meat choices doused with flavoured black soy sauce.
The koay teow is smooth and the aromatic sauce blended well into the noodle. What's nice is that you don't taste the normal soy sauce in the noodles but fragrant of duck meat.Then there is this fried koay teow. I seldom eat fried koay teow in Kuala Lumpur. They are just not appetising. In order to fried a good koay teow, the fire must be strong enough to create a crisp and dry koay teow. Another important step is to make sure the noodles are well separated as shown below. This is to ensure that each strand of koay teow is thoroughly flavoured and fried.
The colour of char koay teow (fried flat rice noodles) here is just beautiful. As simple as this dish looks, experience and skills are needed to make a real good one.And some western influenced snacks of Penang. Egg pancake with banana and raisins. Yes, you can find this in the "Kedai Kopi New Cathay" I have posted earlier. And this is the other place you get this fragrant pancake.Girls who like sweet stuff will like this. The natural sweetness of banana and raisins coupled with fragrance of egg and salted margarine. Toss a handful of sesame seeds and voila - a great unity of the east and west.
Note : I believe lunch hour will be quite packed, and parking may be a problem.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Quickie : Beef Noodles at Ngau Kee

I think it is fair to say that this used to be a famous beef noodles stall around Jalan Alor. Nowadays, the place seemed a bit empty. Kinda expected it. Went there few years back and found the noodles over cooked and the soup+meat nothing special. Since a colleague from Borneo hasn't tried it before, I decided to accompany her and revisit this place.
The chilli is the vinegar and ginger type.
My friend ordered dry noodles. Plenty of minced beef sauce, yet still look unappetising to me.
The noodles came with a bowl of beef balls and meats. So little to offer.
But when my bowl of Koay Teow Soup (flat rice noodles) came, I thought it was quite alright. Though the soup is a bit dark, but it suits me well. I wouldn't mind coming back for the koay teow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kedai Kopi New Cathay @ Pulau Tikus

As you drive along Jalan Burma in Penang, you can't miss this shop. I love coming here for breakfast. Many good food here. It took me multiple visits to collect photos of various food here. Yet I still miss out some of them.

Location: Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, Penang
Rating: Good

If you travel by bus, you can take buses that pass by Midland's One Stop. Request to stop at the Convent or Church. I believe most of the buses going to Tanjong Tokong, Tanjong Bungah or Mount Erskine will pass by Pulau Tikus. Or you can just drive (but traffic in Penang is bad).

Forget about the traffic. We're here about food. I am not a big fan of Wan Ton Mee (dumpling noodles), but not in Penang. I love Penang's Wan Ton Mee with sambal belacan (prawn paste chili sauce). Not all stalls in Penang have it, but this shop has.What's better is the noodles were the transparent springy type. The drawbacks here are (1) overcooked noodles (lost a bit of the springiness), and (2) the sambal belacan is not spicy at all (no kick). But I supposed it could fit into general expectation.Next special on my list is Koay Chiap. This you really can't find in many place. It's duck soup with flat square rice noodles. A bowl of Koay Chiap offers beancurd, egg, duck meat and innards.
Penang is not only famous for fried koay teow and prawn noodles you know?If you worry that the soup may be affected by the innards, no worries there. The soup has strong herbal aroma, not very far different from bak kut teh herbs. It is basically quite like a noodle version of bak kut teh. Very good to warm the stomach.Next on the list is the curry noodles. Heck, you don't expect me to miss this do you? Even the curry noodles here is slightly different. The squid used here has been fried with chili paste before serving on the bowl. This enhances the fragrance and attracts non-squid-lover like me.Oh, you don't see the blood jelly here. Nah.. Not my cup of blood :P But I love the tau pok (fried hollow beancurd). The type here is more soft and moist as compared to its KL cousins that are hard and hard. If you like spicy, just get more sambal (chili paste) from the owner. But be warn that its price is not as cheap as its other counterparts in Penang.
For desserts, you can always order pancakes. There is a Chinese pancake in the coffee shop, or you can order the Indian pancake right outside the coffee shop. It's a family business. We call it Apom. And this lovely egg apom sells at RM2 for 5 pieces. Fragrant cakes that are soft at the inside and crunchy at the outside. Both sides offered different level of fragrance. You can eat it togather or separately. There are more stuff that I wanted to share, but I have not got the photos. You should try its Lam Mee (clear soup noodles) with sambal belacan. The Chinese pancake with banana and raisins are also great. There is a plain fried noodles stall (chai fun) that includes tau kee (deep fried beancurd sticks) - Northen style. So much more. A good place to have almost everything.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Restoran Noor - Lunch Express (Mamak Style)

As I followed my colleague cutting through roads, lanes and buildings to get to this place, I wonder how others manage to discover this eatery? For those that are not sure how to come to this place, just walk along the up-river from Masjid Jamek LRT station. You'll find it.. eventually :P

Location: Jalan Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur
Rating: Good

This is a hot spot for office workers during lunch hour. Nomatter where I turn, there are rows of long tables occupied with patrons busy digging into their curried rice. Not to be outdone. We ordered our fair share of dishes. There are (clockwise sambal chicken, curry fish, rice with a standard vege, and fried chicken).

The sambal chicken (chicken with thick spicy sauce) is strongly flavoured with spices. The meat is tender and fragrant, but tend to be too rich with rice. Not recommended for those with small appetite.
The curry fish is also heavy laiden with spice and sourish in taste. Mixing the sauce with white rice is mouth-watering. It is also less rich and healthier, hence making it a rather famous choice for the health conscious groupie. The fried chicken is tender and well flavoured. The meat is tender but may be a bit too dry. No worries though, as all rice are accompanied with a small plate of fish curry.
The vege dish that comes with the rice is standard and choices depends on the owner. It could be cabbage, bitter gourd, etc.
It is a rather simple affair, but a complete meal that's fast and uncomplicated.