Part of Penang’s charm is the availability of food at (well, almost) anywhere at anytime.
Usually the dearth of dining options in-between the lunch and dinner hours of 2pm to 7pm is an issue for some areas/states, but in Penang there are plenty of hawker centres that caters to the food loving crowd.
While one can argue that there are independent cafes and the F & B establishments in the shopping malls are open 11am – 10pm, there’s nothing like enjoying fuss-free, CHEAP and authentic local cuisine in a hawker street setting right? 🙂
Places like New World Park (Swatow Lane), Mt Erskine hawker centre, Batu Lanchang market, Jalan Johor Hawker Street and Padang Brown Hawker Centre are popular for a good reason.
Here you see generations old folks bent over the stove, stir-frying plates after plates of glorious food, ladling soups into bowls as they try their best to keep up with the steady stream of orders.
No foreign workers (no disrespect but I do prefer the hawkers themselves handling my food) spotted and savouring generations old recipes that are never successfully replicated elsewhere is bliss!
The Padang Brown Hawker Centre is specifically popular for its seafood popiah and the yong tau foo.
I was in Penang for slightly more than 48 hours and had some engagements with Tourism Malaysia in between but I did my best to hit my target of 10 char koay teow reviews so I didn’t have space for yong tau foo. However I couldn’t resist the seafood popiah!
This is RM3.40 for 2 rolls. I remember those days when popiah was only RM2.00 for 2. Yes, that was many years ago.
Anyhow this was still worth the price if you ask me.
In KL popiah (wet spring rolls) starts at RM2 or above per roll and they are miserably tasteless, scrawny with barely any filings or simply inedible. And for the same price it sure as hell doesn’t come with CRABMEAT!
These 2 rolls are delicious with the natural sweetness of finely julienned yam bean aka jicama aka sengkuang coming through from hours of stewing. The skin is also better; delicate and thin yet resistant to tear. The ones in KL? Thick, rubbery & bland.
As you can see below, the white bits are crabmeat with a bit of tofu (beancurd) at the sides.
While I had no complaints of my popiah, my char koay teow here fell short. Though the CKT stall is quite popular, I didn’t think it was worth recommending. For starters it too wet and greasy.
This plate of wet, clumpy mess is RM5. It was undeniably tasty, and could possibly please some palates, if you do not mind the grease. He uses the thin koay teow, which did hold the flavours of the condiments better. The wok-hei (wok fire) was decent and it was spicy enough. There were bits of crunchy lard too and fans of those would be pleased.
See the cockles? Eiks!
I hate rubbery small cockles like these. The char koey teow here came with the standard beansprouts, egg, 2 prawns and kucai (chinese chives/garlic chives). No chinese sausages or duck egg though.
If you want to try the Char Koay Teow, this is the stall.
The Padang Brown Hawker Centre is divided into two sections; one on the opposite side of the other. The one I was at is the where the Chinese hawkers are (afternoon session). In the evenings, the other side comes alive with Malay and Indian stalls serving, predictably, Malay and Indian food.
The hawker area is shaded with metal tables and stools placed in front of the stalls. You can choose to dine under the shade or without.
Other than yong tau foo, char kway teow and the popiah, the lok-lok is popular too. Sit with a group of friends and share the fun of boiling skewers of meat/seafood and dipping it in peanut or chilli sauce.
There is a stall here that goes by the name Mary’s Hot Bread.
She offers a variety of stuffing in between 2 thick slices of bread which she would then coat them with breadcrumb and deep-fry.
I’m a huge fan of Roti Babi so I ordered one for RM3.80.
It wasn’t bad tastewise, but the roti babi I’m familiar with is coated with egg and fried, not with breadcrumbs.
This was somewhat like a “modernized” version, which didn’t augur well with me.
Since I was alone, I shared a table with a lone uncle who is kind enough to share with me a tip. He said this curry mee stall is very good. I eyed his bowl as he ate and I had to admit it did look very delish. Well, next round then! 🙂
Name: Padang Brown Popiah, Char Koay Teow
Address: Anson Road, Penang (opposite the Penang Buddist Association)
GPS: N05° 41432 E100° 316548
Time: Afternoons – busiest from 2pm – 5pm
I’m slowly but surely writing about the 8 plates of char koay teow I had in Penang. For the 1st post, you can read about the Jalan Johor (night time) char koay teow as below.
For good Penang food in KL, head to Penang One in Kota Damansara or Puchong. My review here –> Good Penang food in KL – Penang One.
I go to the Kota Damansara outlet almost twice every month. I shall update a post on my visits (many visits!) soon. Do note that it may not be the best (or similar to your favourite stall in Penang) but Penang One is still your best best for a good variety of Penang food under ONE roof, with air conditioning while sparing you the journey through and fro KL-Pg-KL.
Do avoid the lor bak here though.