36 Hours in Penang 🇲🇾: Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company ☕, New Siam Road CKT 🍝, Sup Hameed 🍲, Moody Cow Café 🍰, Nasi Kandar Beratur 🍛, Lorbak @ Kheng Pin Café 🍢, 92 Armenian Bird’s Nest Delicacy 🐦, Ang Bak Kia Durian 😋, Air Itam Market 🥩

I was in Penang for a business trip last week. 🏝️ It’s the land of food so I made sure to properly plan my meals so I could maximize the amount of delicious hawker food I could indulge in during my short time on the island. I made a list of the must eat foods within close proximity to Cititel Penang (the hotel I was staying at) and walked to most places so I could work up an appetite.

The first meal I had was at Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company. ☕ I had a work lunch meeting here so I took a Grab straight from Penang Airport. This is a converted warehouse that serves primarily coffee (and gelato) as well as a selection of hot food. I went for the Macallum’s Coffee Spaghetti (RM 23) and an iced latte.

The coffee spaghetti was made with creamy coffee sauce and chorizo pork sausage. 🍝 It tasted surprisingly good. I originally expected this to be more of a novelty dish but it was rich and delicious, with an aftertaste of roasted coffee beans and pepper. The latte was excellent too! Our business associates picked up the bill – thanks for lunch!

I checked in the hotel after lunch and worked for a while before heading out for some char kueh tiaw. I wanted to eat at the esteemed New Siam Road Char Kueh Tiaw. 🍳 This is probably Penang’s most well-regarded CKT, better than the tourist-overrun Lorong Selamat CKT. There was a sizable queue even at 4 pm in the afternoon.

I waited about 20 minutes for my plate of CKT. You need to queue up before you can get seated. They don’t take orders and deliver to the table. Check out the huge industrial blower they have going! 🔥 This is still made on an old school charcoal stove and the blower supplies the wind to keep the heat high.

I love the CKT here at Siam Road. It’s easily the best CKT I’ve eaten in Penang, which makes it the best CKT in the world. The wok hei flavors come through really well, providing a smoky aroma that goes perfectly with the charred lap cheong (Chinese sausage), soft cockles, and crunchy beans sprouts. 💨 It’s exceedingly delicious! 10/10.

I could still eat after that so I went to Sup Hameed beside my hotel for a snack. I’ve eaten the sup torpedo here 10 years ago. That’s bull penis soup. 🐂🍆 I remember enjoying the gristly and gelatinous bovine dick. I wanted to try something different this time so I ordered their famous Sup Kambing (Goat Soup).

All their soups use the same base, it’s just the protein that’s different. You can see the different cuts of meats and organs they have on the soup prep station. 🍖

This is what their goat soup (RM 7.30) looks like. 🐐 People usually eat it with thickly sliced bread (RM 0.80). Their bread has a charred, bitter edge that goes very well with savory soup dishes. There’s not a lot of goat here though, but I didn’t expect much due to the price. It’s mostly bones with a bit of meat sticking on them. Not a bad snack though!

I had to rest for a while after all that food. The next destination was a good 4 hours later at night. I’ve heard of a place called Moody Cow Café which serves slices of cake priced RM 42 and above. 😱 I thought that was a shockingly expensive price tag for just a slice of cake! I was very intrigued. I had to go and see what they’re about.

Moody Cow Café is one of those Instagrammable cafes with a beautiful interior and seating arrangements. 📷 I love their vintage high-backed chairs and quiet environment. It is very dark inside though. I think that’s why they’re named moody – the temperamental lighting is a conscious ambiance cue.

I ordered their flagship Cempedak Madness (RM 42) cake. 🍰 They have several different premium ones, including a chocolate rum concoction but the owner recommended this as their bestseller. The RM 42 slice was generous, tall and thick. It’s made with tons of real cempedak fruit. It’s an extremely rich cake with lots of butter and cream and tropical fruit and I had to struggle to finish the slice.

The cake slices here are definitely meant for sharing. It’s too cloying for a single person to eat. 💀 I did enjoy the Cempedak Madness cake though. I know I’ll have enjoyed it more if I were hungry. It’s very expensive but worth a try if only for the sticker shock kudos you’ll get from social media.

Nasi Kandar Beratur is another Penang institution that I wanted to try. This place is famous for opening at 10 pm at night! 🌙 I went at 11 pm and there was a queue coming out the front. Luckily it moved quite fast. It’s popular among the locals for some late night noms.

They have a selection of freshly cooked dishes to pair with rice. I opted for a fried chicken leg, which I hear is a must have. I also added on prawn curry and sotong (squid) curry as well as a personal bag of papadom. 🍛

My meal cost RM 22.50. 💸 The fried chicken leg is very small, likely from a free range kampung chicken. I wasn’t too impressed by it. The squid and prawns were decent but nothing special. I prefer the dishes at Nasi Kandar Line Clear. I’m glad I tried this though.

I went to Kheng Pin Café the next morning for some Penang lorbak. 🍢 This is a very famous stall that’s right beside my hotel. It’s run by a friendly husband-and-wife duo. They’re really busy in the mornings – every table I saw had a plate of lorbak.

The lorbak is freshly deep fried before being delivered piping hot to you. I opted for a selection with everything plus century egg for RM 8. 🦆

This the second-best meal I had in Penang this trip, after the Siam Road CKT. The prawn fritters are particularly delicious and I love the ngor hiang too. 🍤 It goes very well with their house chili and lu dipping sauce. 10/10.

92 Armenian Bird’s Nest Delicacy is a café specializing in all things bird’s nest. 🐦 Mandy made a special request to tapau their bird’s nest egg tarts so I walked here after my lorbak breakfast to order some egg tarts.

This café has the best packaging I’ve seen. They lovingly bundle up the 2 egg tarts I ordered into a fine, red box and put that into a high-quality custom paper bag. The egg tarts are attached securely via custom holders and there’s a nook that fits a small vial of bird’s nest beside them. Very impressive. 🍮

The egg tarts are priced at RM 9 each. 🥚 You drizzle the bird’s nest soup over the egg tarts before you eat them. I wouldn’t say they’re very delicious but they’re not bad and the packaging is superb.

Next meal was herbal duck drumstick mee sua. 🍜 My Penang colleague picked me up and we wanted to go to a popular hawker center for lunch but he couldn’t find parking. It was close to our next meeting so I told him we can just eat anywhere there’s parking. It was pretty good – a nice, blander change to my heavily seasoned normal meals.

The next time I could eat was after work commitments, when I popped into a roadside durian stall to indulge in a durian. The durian seller said he only has 1 local durian and the others are from Thailand. 🇹🇭

I was told this is Ang Bak Kia – a local Penang breed. 😋 However, I’m not so sure as the Penang durian season is yet to start. This is likely a Thai durian.

It was RM 22 for this Ang Bak Kia durian. It satisfied by durian craving but I have serious doubts about the provenance of said durian. 🤔

I was in the Air Itam area for work but unfortunately the famous Air Itam Laksa was closed on that day. The local favorite Bisu Laksa @ Air Itam Market was also closing by the time I finished with work so I couldn’t eat there either. 🤫 I ended up patronizing a random CKT shop and had CKT with duck egg. It’s not as good as Siam Road, but sufficient to tide me over till my next trip.

I forced myself to scarf down one last meal before I flew back to KL. It was at a lor mee / prawn mee stall at Air Itam Market. After seeing my hesitation in deciding, the seller suggested mixing the two soup bases together. Big mistake. The unholy marriage tasted quite appalling. I didn’t enjoy it at all. 🤮

Before booking my Grab to the airport, I stopped by a local bakery down the road called Sin Ka Onn. The shop was the perfect place to wait and I’ve heard good things about their store made kaya. 🥥 I also grabbed a half-loaf of soft, pillowy bread to pair with the spread.

I thought that half loaf would be too much for the two of us. Wrong! I only ate two pieces before Mandy inhaled the rest! She really enjoyed it. 🍞

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle (1 Michelin Star)

Hill-Street-Tai-Hwa

I made it my mission to smash one of these famous bowls of pork noodle (bak chor mee) during my recent trip to Singapore. I have heard about the legendary lines which can form here, so I checked Google to see which are the non-peak hours and went with my dad at 3:30 pm on a weekday. They’re the second ever hawker stall in Singapore to be awarded a Michelin star, after Hawker Chan. I have eaten at their competitor High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle, which has recently won a Bib Gourmand, but should not be confused with the 1 Michelin Star Tai Hwa. It’s run by the nephew of the owner of Tai Hwa though.

Tai-Hwa-Eating-House

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is located at a small residential food court. There are a few other stalls besides it and even at this odd hour, there was a queue in front of the stall.

Tai-Hwa-Noodle

However, it moved quite quickly so it wasn’t an issue. The chef-owner Tang Chay Seng was there cooking every single bowl by himself. I managed to take a selfie with him. He must think it odd that the Michelin Guide has elevated him to a somewhat celebrity chef status but I’m sure many people have done this before so he must be used to it. Haha.

Tai-Hwa-Selfie

There’s a large setup of trays beside him which holds raw pork – everything from pig liver to sliced and minced pork. The meat are just sitting in their juices. I admit, I did wonder if this was refrigerated/has ice below the trays or the stall just goes through meat so quickly that it doesn’t have a chance to spoil. I’m not that anal about food safety. I happily eat at random food stalls with questionable hygiene practices all the time. Just curious.

Pork

I have experienced some hits and misses with the Michelin Guide in Singapore and thus braced myself for a mediocre bowl of noodles. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. The flat noodles have a wonderful bite to them but it’s the sauce that makes it shine. The beautiful concoction it was tossed in has a nice vinegar taste, which helps cut through the richness of the pork. It’s very savory and I can see why people love it. The pork slices and wonton are delicious too, but it’s the soup which stole the limelight. The pork broth is mixed with seaweed and results in a umami explosion. Top notch! There’s also a deep fried piece of fish which adds a nice texture.

Tai-Hwa-Pork-Noodle

There are many Michelin star places which I would never visit a second time. This isn’t one of them. I would come here when I’m in Singapore again coz the pork noodles are really good. I regretted ordering the SGD 8 medium sized bowl. I’ll go for a large next time.

1-Michelin-Star-Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Blk 466, #01-12, Crawford Lane, Singapore

1 Michelin star Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Hawker Chan)

Hawker-Chan

This was the very first street food/hawker stall in the world to ever win a Michelin star. Not Bib Gourmand, a proper star. It’s a common misconception that Michelin rates ambience and decor when giving out stars. They have always maintained that the star is awarded for food only, and that includes things like the chef’s personality coming through clearly. They have a separate icon for comfort/ambience (fork and spoon) which rates how luxurious the restaurant is but star ratings are always based on the quality of food alone.

Liao-Fan-Hong-Kong-Soya-Sauce-Chicken-Rice

I was in Singapore with a mission to try out this much hyped soy chicken rice stall. I made sure to go to the right one. People have the false impression that the Michelin star travels with the chef and applies to all outlets he opens. That’s simply not true. The Michelin star is rated for that restaurant only. The only Hawker Chan with 1 Michelin star is their original shop at Chinatown Complex Food Center. The modern and air-conditioned new premises opposite only has a Bib Gourmand.

Hawker-Chan-Queue

I went early with my dad before they opened and thought I was lucky enough to be first in line. There didn’t seem to be a queue. I confidently walked up to order, only to be told the queue was behind me. It was only then that I spied a long snaking line of people looking displeased at me. Haha. I honestly didn’t see them. The queue starts from beside the opposite stall so they don’t block foot traffic. It even has a velvet rope. Very proper.

Hawker-Chan-Selfie

The wife of Chan Hon Meng manages this stall and she was friendly enough to take a photo with me. Service is quick and the line moves along well so don’t worry about having to queue up.

Hawker-Chan-Menu

I ordered the flagship dish of soy sauce chicken rice. It’s SGD 2.50 for the drum portion. The meat was marinated beautifully, with a sweet soy glaze that permeates the gelatinous skin of the chicken. It’s surprisingly flavorful and robust. I can taste cinnamon and other spices in the marinade. The inside is still soft and juicy. I love this perfectly cooked chicken. 10/10. However, the chicken rice I got was lumpy and mushy. Maybe they were having an off day but I’m not a fan of this rice, which seems to have the fundamental error of having too much water mixed in.

1-Michelin-Star-Chicken-Rice

The soy chicken is delicious though. Would I return? For sure, to try the noodles next time. I hear it’s pretty good too. You need to set your expectations right for Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. It’s a soy chicken rice stall so don’t expect fireworks and novel molecular gastronomy executions. They’re good at what they do and that’s soy chicken.

Hawker-Chan-Order

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (Hawker Chan)
335 Smith Street #02-126, Singapore
(don’t go to the wrong one, this is located inside the Chinatown Complex Food Center)

Che Jai Meen in Hong Kong

che jai meen noodles

Che Jai Meen is one of the great hawker delights of Hong Kong. It’s literally translated as “small cart noodles” but commonly called peddler noodles.

small cart noodles

These wonderful push carts carries a mind boggling array everything from pork, eggs, veggies, beef, offal and of course, the all important fishball.

che jai meen

You choose the ingredients you want and it’s served up in a huge bowl with noodles and hearty beef-flavored broth.

che jai meen hong kong

This is one of the local delights that you just have to try out. I first saw it in a Stephen Chow movie. Heh. The shop that we went to has very limited seating but that’s part of the deal – it adds to the ambiance.

che jai meen hk

This is Jeanie’s bowl – it has a fish slices, meatballs, sausages, stomach and some vegetables. Each ingredient you choose adds to the total price of the dish.

che jai meen bowl

My very own che jai meen is much more opulent. I think I ticked half of the options that were available and would have gone for more if the cook had not stopped me and said it won’t fit into the bowl. You can barely see the noodles as it is. smirk

peddler noodles

It makes for a very hearty breakfast – the piping hot broth is flavored with a stock that tastes as if it’s been boiling for a long time. However, the beef balls is hands down the highlight of the che jai meen. The huge beef balls practically squirts its juices when you bite into it and it’s springy and chewy. Superb!

meen

Hong Kong does beef balls really well – it seems to be a cultural thing and a pride of the nation…but don’t quote me on that as I gleaned the information from Stephen Chow’s God of Cookery film. ;) However, it is one of the most delicious bowls of noodles I’ve ever tasted in my life – it ranks up there with the best!

che jai meen us

Don’t forget to order the beef balls when you’re eating from a humble che jai meen stall in Hong Kong – it’s delicious and probably one of the best you’ll taste in the world.

toothpick

…and if you’re up to it, you can do like the locals do and stick a toothpick in your mouth after the delicious che jai meen meal to clear any pesky debris sticking to your molars. I’ve never seen Jeanie use it before but she seems to have gone native during our trip there. smirk

Soong Kee beef ball mee

soong kee beef noodles

Soong Kee beef ball mee is another legendary beef noodles place in KL. Some people prefer Ngau Kee beef noodles but after having eaten both, I vote for Soong Kee beef noodles. It’s all in the beef balls!

soong kee beef noodles uncle

Soong Kee beef ball noodles is located at Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sing. I don’t know how to get there but if you have a GPS device and and you’re near Petaling Street – go to Food and it’ll appear on the list. That’s how I got there anyway. smirk

soong kee beef ball noodles interior

Soong Kee has both air conditioned and al fresco seating and the noodles are prepared by a nice elderly gentleman which looks like he’s been doing this for ages:

The beef noodles I went for is served dry and comes with a topping of minced mystery meat which you mix into the noodles.

soong kee beef noodles mee

This is the large portion. I like the springy texture of the noodles and the black sauce (don’t know what it is coz I’m brain dead right now) is really awesome. It’s salty enough to saturate the entire bowl of tossed noodles – always a good thing.

soong kee beef ball noodles

The beef balls is served with soup on the side and according to my count there are six balls in total. It tastes better with a dash of pepper but it stands alone well enough with the spring onion infused broth. The texture is also something to be reckoned with – it’s juicy, yet firm to the bite, a feat many aspire to but few achieve.

soong kee beef ball noodles mee

Eaten together with the minced meat noodles, it’s hawker food at it’s best – neither the most hygienic nor will it win any awards for presentation – but it’s so good that it practically deserves a Michelin Star.

soong kee beef noodles large

Soong Kee beef noodles is my current favorite beef noodles. My only beef with it is that it’s so far away.

Okay, that was lame.



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