Monday, December 17, 2007

In the Pearl of the Orient: Episode 2

Just back from my 3 day food trip! In the span of just three days, we've covered a lot of ground and visited a lot of really good makan places, ranging from famous Penang Char Kuay Teow to really good fried oyster from a makan place deep in the heart of Alor Star.

After our short pit stop at Bidor for the famous herbal duck noodles, we continued on our journey towards Penang. After checking in at the Evergreen Laurel Hotel which I commend for providing complimentary internet connection, we crawled towards Penang Road to have Char Kuay Teow. The traffic in Penang was phenomenally terri-bad! If you think KL is bad, Penang is so much more worse. It was just painful just to wait as the car only inched along the horribly congested streets of Penang. Penang is a really densly populated island, and even as its population has continued to escalate over the years, little has been done to improve the island's transportation system. Roads were narrow, with only one lane on most roads. The already narrow roads were made even more precarious with the haphazard parking habits of Penangnites. Little cars were also constantly swerving in and out of lanes and it was not uncommon to see a little Kancil swerve to the side of the road, creating its own extra lane.

When we finally made it through the painful traffic, we reached our destination which was a old coffeeshop on Penang Road. It was at your typical old-school Malaysian coffeeshop which like many other buildings of its age, was slightly run down. One thing about these "famous" hawker places in Penang is that due to such good business, many hawkers have become really rude cause they don't see the need to be nice to their customers anymore. Its really disheartening to see customer service at these places when the food is just so good. Makes you not want to go to these gems anymore. Anyway, the Char Kuay Teow here and the Cendol accompanying it was decent but sadly not really worth the jam and all they're better places in Penang for these anyway.

After finishing two plates of Kuay Teow and half a bowl of laksa, when we all thought we were done for lunch, my auntie brought us to another place for oyster noodles, oyster omelette and something unique to this place - Pig Tendon Ball Soup. The oyster omelette was

After resting for a few hours, my cousin took us to this seafood place near Penang Port for seafood. The seafood there was good and cheap, definitely real value for our ringgit. Sadly the Penang Port area smelt really bad due to the bad maintenance of the port area. Refuse and pollution caused the water to release a really bad smelling smell which was definitely a turn off. The ironic thing is that this area is the new up and coming 'trendy' area where youths come to drink and hang out. The thing is when you compare this port side area to another port side night spot that I'm familiar with - Clarke Quay in Singapore, this place definitely pales in comparison. The sad thing about this place is not that it hasn't been developed enough or that it isn't happening enough - that's true for any developing chill-out area, but that it's just so blatantly clear that the government doesn't care about this area's potential for development when you walk by and smell the terrible smells wafting in from the sea.

The next morning we woke up to beautiful Apom and Chee Cheong Fun delivered by my auntie direct to our hotel. The Apom was wonderful - light, fluffy and just right. The Chee Cheong Fun was great too, it looked simple, but was amazingly addictive. After our light "pre-breakfast", we my cousin took us to the "Jie Mei" Char Kuay Teow place at Macalister Road. This place is a well known place and boasts a really long history as my auntie has been visiting this place for its Char Kuay Teow years already. The thing is that this place's popularity has made the waitresses here really arrogant and the one serving us boastfully told us that we would have to wait at least half an hour before we got our food and we better make sure we properly placed all our orders. There was also some confusion between the morning shift Kuay Teow lady and the one manning the afternoon shift. The thing is that in this place, there are two cooks per day who produce slightly different tasting Kuay Teow. The thing is that we placed an order with the morning shift lady then the afternoon shift lady came over saying that if we don't let her write our order down, the morning lady would forget the order. So we ended up kind of double ordering, but luckily the two sisters figured it out and worked out our orders. So, if anyone reading this goes to this place, please be wary that there are two shifts and be sure to place your order with the right lady.

Pictures will come later when I upload them and take them from Ben Ku. Thats about all I have to report on the Pearl of the Orient. After the "Jie Mei" Kuay Teow, we then made our way up towards Alor Star where we wanted to have the delicious satay there, but thats for another post.

Just getting off the computer to call you back again my dear...