Food Glorious Food

Trip Start Sep 19, 2012
Trip End Jul 22, 2014

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Flag of Malaysia  , Pinang,
Monday, April 15, 2013

Food facts for Penang
* Ranked in CNNGo's Asia's 10 Greatest Street Food Cities in 2012
* Ranked 12th in the New York times Frugal & Food Category
* Penang's Assam Laksa: Ranked 7th in CNN's World Most Delicious Foods in 2011

This is just an example of what is available. Due to the melting pot of different nationalities on this Island the food is an amazing mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and Western cultures. There are thousands of places to choose from. Street vendors, coffee houses, food markets, restaurants and hotels. One is constantly assailed by the smell of cooking food. The hardest part is choosing what to eat.

Penang Assam Laksa: The signature dish. A noodle dish with a fish based broth. The broth is made from poached boned mackerel, stewed with lemongrass, chilies and tamarind (Assam). This is served with thick vermicelli with added ginger flower buds, sliced onion,cucumbers, lettuce, red chili, mint leaves and then drizzled with a thick 'Hae Ko' (prawn paste).
Hokkien Mee: Eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Yellow noddles and rice vermicelli in a soup made of prawns and pork. Served with spinach and crunchy bean sprouts. Then slices of lean pork fillet, boiled egg, prawns and shallots are added. Side order of hot chili sauce. The prawns give it a pleasant sweet taste.

Wan Tan Mee: This can be either wet or dry. Wet has an added clear pork soup. Egg noodles (thick or thin), that have a springy texture almost like chewing on squid. Dressing of dark and light soy sauce and lard. Served with slices of BBQ pork, mustard greens and spring onions and the best bit - shrimp dumplings.

Fried Oysters: Mixture of eggs, tapioca flour and chives  is fried in a flat wok. Oysters are added to this omelette and fried till golden brown. Served with a side of sweet and sour chili sauce. You have a crispy outside and a chewy inside.

Nasi Kandar: Basically  rice served with a host of curries, chicken, fish, prawn, squid,beef and sometimes crab and fish roe. As well as vegetables and other side dishes. This is a taste explosion.

Mee Goreng: Yellow noodles fried in a thick tomato gravy. Add spicy stewed squid, diced potatoes, fried tofu cubes and crispy flour and chive fritters. Squeeze some lime over the top and away you go.

 and to cool off

Cendol: Cendol is a green chewy noodle like condiment made from rice flour and is bright green. The colour comes from an aromatic herb called 'pandan'. A bowl is filled with shaved ice, red sweet beans, and a palm sugar syrup. Add a scoop of Cendol and pour large amounts of fresh coconut milk over the top.Very refreshing in the Malaysian heat.

The street stalls are great. They set up in the early evening and put tables and chairs on the pavement and the road. Each vendor only sells one or two items. So after having a look around you order from whichever stall you want, grab a table or share if it is busy and within in minutes your food is brought to you. You can watch them cook it and everything is fresh and clean. Quick, cheap and tasty. 

I found a food market situated in a huge hall. There must have been at least 30 stalls. Each selling different types of food. There was very little of any body duplicating items. In the middle where about 200 tables and seating for about 1000 people. At one end was a huge TV screen usually showing sport and at the other was a raised stage with a guy playing music on his Hammond Organ. Anything from local music to Bob Dylan, CCR, The Beatles and ABBA. Very cheesy but very entertaining. Later on there is karaoke which is taken very seriously with contestants dressed up in spangly outfits as you would see in ballroom dancing competitions.

After walking around deciding what you want, you start again because the array of foods is vast. Some stalls have up to 25 items on their display. Each outlet has large photographs of the dish with the price. There is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Western, Portuguese and and of course all the local delicacies. Even a version of Bunny Chow. Once again you grab a numbered table, place your orders at the various stalls you have chosen and take a seat. Waiters are constantly hovering to bring you beers, fresh fruit juice, teas or coffees.  You never wait long. Before you know it, servers from the different stalls arrive with your food and the feast begins. Get up order more food or desserts and it is brought to the table. As each item arrives you pay for it straight away. All the stalls use the same cutlery and crockery and cleaners walk around with trolleys collecting the dirty plates and everything is centrally washed and sent back to the stalls. Hygiene standards are high and even street stalls are inspected and graded by local authorities.  A really brilliant concept and a gastronomic delight.

Some of the local food is a bit odd by western standards but nothing goes to waste. Every part of the animal is used. Specialties are satay, crispy duck, BBQ meats especially pork, cuttlefish, rice, noodles, deep fried ice cream, clay pot stews, curries and just about anything you can thick off. A foodies heaven. 
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Lu on

How do you choose? So much choice? Bon apetite!
Enjoyed the pics, as always!

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