Best Pan Mee in Penang!

When I was younger, I’d never tasted Pan Mee before. I only discovered this delicious off white homemade noodles made out of flour, when I studied in KL. I remember tasting my first bowl of pan mee at a road side stall along the streets of Wangsa Maju. And have been a fan ever since.

When I came back to Penang, I was most disappointed to find that there were no good Pan Mee stalls in Penang, until…. I discovered this little gem, ‘Hou Mei Yuen’ kopitiam, tucked away in the flats opposite Vistana Hotel, near Bukit Jambul Complex.

This kopitiam only sells Pan Mee, served dried or with soup. The ‘mee’ (noodle) comes in 2 varieties – thick and flat, or thin. I like my Pan Mee thin and will always order the dried version, which looks something like this….

The dried version Pan Mee has mee mixed in yummy black sauce and comes with minced meat, crunchy ‘ikan bilis’ (anchovies), black strips of ‘bok nee’ (dried black tree fungus, ok it tastes better than it sounds!!) and a bowl of soup with fish balls. Best of all, the chilli dip that they serve is also two thumbs up! Its not too spicy and slighty tangy…makes for a great companion to that scrumptious plate/bowl of pan mee!

This being a kopitiam, and a very popular one at that, there are no frills. You write your orders on little stacks of papers and hand the paper with your table number written on it to the girls at the stall. You also have the option of adding extras like ‘ikan bilis’ and fish balls. They usually only serve “leng teh” (cool tea) either hot or cold.
‘Hou Mei Yuen’ is open Monday-Saturdays 8am-3pm. Happy eating!

A Very Special Birthday Dinner

A few years back, a close friend of mine made me dinner. This friend of mine is a guy who loves cooking and trying out new recipes when time permits. We made papaya and green tea ice cream once, but thats another story altogther…. 🙂
And so, for my birthday that year, he whipped up an ‘8-course’ dinner!!

First course…

He called it “Lake of the Forest”. It was a creamy watercress soup…

His special garlic bread with cheese on top…truly yummy!

Mashed potatoes with added mushrooms (because I like mushrooms!)

His version of Chicken Satay (kinda like Batu Maung Satay)

Roasted Chicken Wings

Homemade Fish Balls

“Black pepper surprise”

And finally…Tuna Mushroom Spaghetti!

After all that, we had dessert. I was filled to the brim and couldn’t eat another bite!

Ah Leng Char Koay Teow

One of the best Char Koay Teow available in Penang is Ah Leng Famous Char Koay Teow located in a kopitiam (coffee shop) along Jalan Dato Kramat, opposite the old Federal cinema (currently known as Honolulu cafe where Clark Hatch Fitness center is)
Ah Leng has been around for a long time at various locations, this being the latest one.

This Char Koay Teow is so famous that they can charge RM9 a plate and still have customers coming back for more! I once brought some friends from outstation who had 2 plates each at one go! It is value for money because the RM9 special comes with 4 big succulent prawns, mantis prawns and duck egg. (It’s RM8.50 a plate if you swap the duck egg for normal chicken egg).

Having not eaten at Ah Leng’s for about half a year, it was a joy digging into my plate of spicy special and savouring the sweet juicy prawns….(cholesterol? what cholesterol?!)

Ah Leng’s Char Koay Teow with chilli
Without chilli

I’ve noticed that Ah Leng tends to undercook his prawns a little so if you prefer them more cooked, all you need to do is to remind Ah Leng when ordering.
The standard plate is also available at RM5 each. Ah Leng is open during the mornings as early as 8am til about lunch time. Open on Sundays as well.

Dong Hai Tong (Dim Sum) Seafood Restaurant

On the first day of Chinese New Year, we went to one of the few places open for breakfast on that day.The venue of choice was located along Anson Road – a new dim sum restaurant which just opened a few weeks ago. I had spotted that restaurant on the way to work and had been wanting to give it a try. I didn’t have very high hopes for, in my humble opinion, Penang has been honestly lacking in good dim sum places for a very looooong time! As yet, I have not been able to find a place that serves good dim sum… most are just mediocre.

From the signboard, it mentions that they are a (dim sum) seafood restaurant but the morning menu showed mostly dim sum dishes. They are the standard self service type of dim sum restaurant. No push carts as space is quite limited. Instead, you pick your food and order whatever you want from the counter, and later bring it to your own table. They serve a variety of teas and hot water is available at the corner for you to help yourselves.

I do not think that I’m a very picky or fussy eater but somehow, I did not enjoy the food served at this place. The dim sum dishes to me were below par. To be fair, it may be because they are still very new. However, I do not think I will be returning for a second visit…unless I get word that they’ve gotten a new chef/supplier or someone else sings high praises about it. For now, I shall have to turn elsewhere to satisfy my dim sum cravings….

Reunion Dinner at Spice Market Cafe

Have been toying with the idea of starting a food blog for a while..and what better time to start than the new lunar year? So here goes….

Our family reunion dinner this year was more posh than usual, because my dad decided to have it at the Spice Market Cafe at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa. This would mark my second time eating at the spice market with its open style kitchen, and
I am still overwhelmed by the sheer variety of food they serve at the buffet! There’s the sushi bar, the salad bar, the cold cuts, the soups and breads, the noodle station, the chinese herbal/sharkfin soups, the chinese dishes, the roast station, the action station, the tandoori & satay section, the western dishes and the scrumptious delectable dessert section… whew!!Plus, the decor and ambience of the place still delights me!

The various spices (available for sale) on display upon entering the Spice Market Cafe.

I don’t think anyone can sample all of the different types of food available and as for me, my normal practice at buffets would be to skip most of the mains and leave space for dessert. But that night, I decided that I just had to eat more of the mains that looked so tempting.
Fresh cold flower crabs on ice. Mini mandarin oranges were part of the decor in line with the Chinese New Year theme. They also served lobsters and yabbies in the same style.
The bread spread… my favourite! I know most people would advice against eating filling carbs, but I beg to differ. There’s nothing quite like freshly baked breads and buns especially those baked with some chillies and spices!

‘Yee Sang’ served especially for the Chinese New Year. There was a eager chef on hand to help mix the various ingredients for a perfect plate of tasty yee sang.

The roast section… the cafe changes the menu slightly by serving different types of roast. That night featured roast beef and condiments.
The most popular section of the whole buffet was the ‘Action Station’. As the name suggests, this is where all the action is… as guests queue up to request for their seafood cooked on the spot. The action station features crowd favourites – lobsters, crabs, prawns and fish (all the expensive stuff…heehee). All cooked in a tangy sweet and sour sauce.

Other choices of main courses included a noodle station where we could order ‘laksa’. I also had my fill of chicken herbal soup (they had shark’s fin soup during my previous visit), tandoori prawns with naan and curry, pan fried salmon and spanish paela. While I was almost full to the brim, my family also had baked oysters and helped themselves to the sushi bar and cold cuts.

Last but not least was the very attractive looking dessert station. I liked the way they served the desserts – like mini dessert tapas. Each was a mini masterpiece on its own. One of the house favourites, I was told by the chef, was their creamy tiramisu, served in a small short glass. In addition to these mini desserts, they also had an array of cakes and tarts. That night I also tried the macademia pie/tart which was very tasty. They also served local desserts like ice kacang with a selection of ice cream and some festive new year cookies.

Another star atrraction would definitely be the chocolate fountain. This time they had both dark and white chocoloate fountains. Various cut pieces of fruit and marshmallow on sticks are lined up by the side, ready for chocolate coating! Children and adults alike find the chocolate fountain fascinating. We had the good fortune of sitting just next to the chocolate fountain. And so managed to witness a cu
te chubby little girl of about 5 years old, making her way to the fountain and standing on tip toe to dip her marshmallow sticks into the chocolate… and later dripping all the chocolate back to her table! And this she repeated like 5-6 times!

Another favourite section of mine at the Spice Market Cafe is the juice/wine bar. The colourful fruits and bottles of wine/liquor lined up along the walls make for a very pleasant vibrant display! Unfortunately, fresh juices are not part of the buffet and is chargeable.

Another look at the juice bar

On display – Tools used to make ‘kuih kapek’, a traditional chinese new year biscuit.

All in all it was a wonderful dinner with good food and great ambience. For Chinese New Year, the price increased to RM150++ per head. And some may have complaints that their menu did not differ much from their regular buffet and most things remain the same. But with the sheer variety of food, one can come back often to sample things they missed during their last trip.
I would say that the Spice Market Cafe is a place to bring family and close friends to celebrate a special occasion. And what could be more special than a reunion dinner? 🙂