Penang, September 2013

The Man and I went away to Penang in the last week of September 2013.

It was thoroughly enjoyable, as we decided it would be a relaxed trip. We did minimal research and planning (as we could never not plan anything), and it still turned out great. Our forays centred around the delicacies that could be found in Penang, essentially hawker food.

The Savoury

It was all about FOOD! Found in and around streets of Georgetown (especially Kimberly Street), Batu Ferringgi and Gurney Drive.

Some of the delicious food we sampled in Penang were similar to what can be found in Singapore, but the different ways of preparation and ingredients used differentiated them. My absolute favourite had to be the Penang Laksa (bottom right photo), a mouth-watering bowl of thick rice noodles served in a spicy, sweet-and-sour broth with sardine bits, and with a spoonful of savoury Heh Goh (prawn paste) mixed into it.

Another memorable dish was the Kway Chap (sheets of rice noodles served with soup and braised meat). The differences in the Penang’s Kway Chap compared to Singapore’s were apparent – the flat sheets of rice noodles in Singapore were rolled up instead. This made the noodles more chewy. The rolled up sheets could also fit nicely on the Chinese soup spoon, whereas the flat sheets would balance precariously on the same spoon and hence the chances of the flat sheets plonking back into the soup and splashing dark-coloured broth onto clothes are higher. The Kway Chap broth in Singapore is free of ingredients – the braised meat and organ meat are served on a separate plate. In the huge bowl of Penang Kway Chap, the ingredients were all mixed into the broth, and one could scoop up surpising finds like duck meat and organ meat together with the rice noodles. As the Man and I shared 1 bowl of the Kway Chap, we ended squealing (I did the squealing; the Man seldom squeals) over our surprise finds and fighting over who could find the biggest piece of our favourite meat.

The Sweets

Sweet treats (clockwise from left) – Coconut Shake, Chendol, and sweet “Four Fruit and Nuts Soup” (literally)  

The weather was equally warm and humid, so we frequently stopped for drinks and desserts to hide from the scorching sun and to hydrate ourselves.

Hawker Stall

The delicious food we ate were mainly from mobile stalls like these. The hawkers would prepare their fare from a small stall cart like these, and the small space behind their stalls, by the sides of major roads. Throngs of tourists and locals would order their food and then sit at make-shift tables behind the stalls to wait for their food. Drive-bys were also common, by the locals as they commuted to and fro work. This was how street food were sold in Singapore in the 1960s and 1970s, but can no longer be seen now.

Barber Shop

An old barber shop, reminescent of Singapore’s barber shops through to the 1980s.

The Interesting

Interesting street art found around Georgetown.

Street Art

Different coffee-drinking culture between the younger and older generations.

All too soon, our trip in Penang ended. We came back chubbier than before, both from the food and from the memories of an extremely enjoyable time. Time to plan for the next getaway…

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