This felt like a proper road trip because we spent so much time in the car during these 4 days. Set off at 4:30am on Christmas Day in Singapore, didn’t experience any of the monstrous jams that we’ve been reading about in the papers, and arrived bright and early in Kuala Lumpur. Then stayed over for 1 night before heading up north towards Penang in our rented MPV.
It takes around four hours to get to Penang, so it made sense to have a lunch stop at Ipoh, for its famous hor fun. We settled for Lou Wong, which was among the cluster of coffee shops that were kinda famous. The soup hor fun was really nothing to shout about, but the fat, juicy tao gay was shiok! The steamed kampung chicken also won us over with its salty oily sauce.
When we finally checked into our accommodation at Straits Quay (came here once, but didn’t know there were residential rooms just above the mall), we were not only impressed by the view, but also very happy at how clean and spacious the suite was!
And where else to start a Penang food trail than at…………… DÔME cafe? Haha… Only because we were hungry and wanted to shop around in Straits Quay. The food was decent though!
One thing that baffles me is how persistent Penang’s heat is. Monsoon season or not, the sun beats down ruthlessly during the day. I’ve visited Penang about 4 times, and it’s ALWAYS scorching. So much so that when people mention Penang, the first thing that pops into my head is the heat, rather than its glorious food.
We took things a bit more seriously when it came to dinner. We made a beeline for Chulia Street’s wanton mee because after stumbling upon it 4 years ago, we’ve been dreaming and yearning for it. Its black sauce is to die for, making this my all time favourite wanton mee stall. It’s still as good as I remember, and I’m sure I’m going to be missing it the next few years…
The Penangites do rojak a little differently than the Singaporeans, and I much prefer their version. The biggest difference lies in the Hae Ko (dark prawn sauce) – it tastes and smells much less fishy than the ones you find in Singapore.
Later in the night, we found ourselves at Green House coffee shop along Jalan Burma for a midnight “snack” consisting of white steamed chicken, hokkien mee, indian rojak, and stingray. All of that felt so damn good in my belly after the drinking session.
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Sin Hwa was the first thing on our itinerary for day 2. Its claim to fame is the char kway teow with duck egg. While that was great, their kway teow soup triumphs it. Its simple ingredients belie that flavours that it contains. I’m not usually a fan of clear soup type of dishes, so I was quite surprised at how much I found this fuss-free bowl of soupy kway teow so comforting.
Kebaya restaurant at Seven Terraces hotel was a lovely way to wrap up our Penang food trail. Keith recommended it, and found out later that it’s actually the number 1 restaurant in Penang ranked on TripAdvisor. And its Peranakan cuisine really did live up to its reputation.
We all took the 3-course meal, which worked out to about 4 different types of starters, 5 meat and fish mains, 3 veggie dishes, and a dessert each to share among the 6 of us. It made for a pretty damn filling meal. Almost every dish was a hit, but the meats were exceptional. Especially the slow cooked beef with tamarind, which tasted slightly sweet, and just broke away and melted in my mouth. The joy was too short lived… I want a whole pot of this phenomenal dish!!!
I haven’t had a meal this good in a while, and it was so reasonably priced at SGD50 each. What a fantastic way to end this short and sweet, salty, tasty, fatty food trip.