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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 2 in Penang on 7 Nov 2010 - Penang Street Famous Food

There is a really popular local food street in Penang located within a stone's throw from Gurney Plaza at Gurney Drive. This was how the place looked like at 6pm on a Saturday evening and it was tough finding a seat not only because of the crowd but also because many stores reserved the tables in front of their store for their customers.

My friend from Penang, P, who had dropped us off here told us that the stores towards the start of the street were more popular and even so, to help narrow down the bewildering array of choices before us, my CEB and I decided to order only from the stores with the longest queues on the assumption that these were the best. So he got in line at the "Cantonment Road Famous Char Koay Teow" stall (this is how it was spelled). The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. Nothing too extraordinary about the char kway teoh really save that it was light, non-oily and went down the throat most easily.

He also ordered the Ikan Bakar (BBQed stingray) which turned out to be done in a very different style from that which we are used to. The Slog Reviews: 4/10. There was very little meat to the fish and the sambal/chilli sauce was bland and unremarkable. Not worth ordering.

I had a craving for carrot cake but he couldn't find any and ended up ordering fried oyster. The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. I don't eat oysters so I can't comment too much about the freshness of the oysters but my CEB ate all of the oysters with great relish. As for the egg, I found the consistency a little too heavy for my liking.

The conclusion I drew after our experience at Gurney Drive is that Singapore's hawker food easily gives the street food there a serious run for its money. Not so though when it comes to Penang Laksa. Never, and I mean never, have I heard of any place in Singapore selling penang laksa that is able to rival the penang laksa sold in Penang, esp the penang laka sold at this very old run-down 1960s coffeeshop along Penang Road.

I don't know what the name of the shop is and neither does my friend who had earlier posted pics of this place and the penang laksa on her facebook page but if you walk along the main Penang Road, and ask the hawkers there (Even those selling penang laksa themselves) where the famous penang laksa is, they would point you in the direction of this coffeeshop which sells this.

Despite its appearance, and despite my having an aversion to sour-tasting laksa, I have developed a craving for penang laksa (even now as I type this) ever since having a bowl of this penang laksa. It is that good. The Slog Reviews: 10/10. Don't, don't ever give this laksa stall a miss if you are in Penang. It is worth the wait, worth the crowd and the walk to get there. While my CEB downed his second bowl of penang laksa from the shop, I had him get me a bowl of the chendol from the stall outside the shop (Had to pay an extra 50ct to the penang laksa seller to eat the chendol in his coffeeshop)

But before you diss the appearance of the chendol above or the fact that I had to part with 50ct just to eat this sitting down comfortably, take a look at the picture below of the queue for the chendol and the people standing around in the broiling hot Penang sun enjoying the chendol.

The name of this chendol stall is "Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul" (yes, spelt this way). Now, if you have folks back home whom you pity for missing out on all the smashing great food in Penang, you can go to this famous shop called CHEE HIANG Penang to buy back some biscuits for them. Take note though of the long queues and impatient attitude of the staff behind the counter - although it is ridiculous that the choices of biscuits isn't made available to one while one is queuing, one is expected to know exactly which boxes of biscuits one should buy upon being served.

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