If there was a 2nd national dish competition held in Malaysia, char kuay teow (CKT) would be the undisputed winner. This wok fried rice noodle dish is found everywhere in Malaysia, from the hawkers stalls to fine dining restaurants. Commonly made with soft rice noodles, dark soy sauce, beanshoots, garlic chives, prawns and cockles. We googled and also asked our staff which ones are the best in Penang (also therefore the best in Malaysia), and made our way there.
Took an uber to Kafe Heng Huat 108, Lorong Selamat, George Town. The trip was only 7MYR which equates to $2.3AUD. Great way to get around because the taxis always charge double or triple for some reason.
As we got out of the uber, the first thing we see are the sweet old ladies are cooking from the wok stand at the front. We knew right away we were at the right place. The best hawker places always sell one or two things. We weren't sure how to order or what to do, we might as well have TOURIST stamped on our foreheads. So we figured out that you have to sit down where there is space, wait for the waiter/waitress and order what you want , easy enough. When the delicious plate arrives to your table, you have to pay the waitress on the spot.
The size was smaller than what we're used to, but it certainly proved size doesnt matter. Smoky, savoury, and sexy. Noodles were soft and tender and seasoned to perfection. Before you knew it, the plate was empty.
The drinks and dessert section is normally located at the back, and if you dont order a drink you have to pay 0.50MYR (15 cents AUD). Sweet old lady showed me a drink menu, and i just pointed to ais kacang which was 4MYR (1.30 AUD). The ais kacang was also great as well, the syrup they used have a strong artifical cherry flavour which was the prominate flavour.
Around the corner another shop caught our eye, so we promptly walked in and ask for a table. Yi Xiang Bak Kut Teh is located on 88 Jalan Macalister in Georgetown. Bak-kut-teh is a meat dish cooked in broth popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore, where there is a predominant Hoklo and Teochew community, and also in neighbouring areas like the Sumatra, Indonesia and Southern Thailand. The name literally translates as "meat bone tea", and at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours. Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.
Ordered pork ankle, pork ribs, enoki mushrooms and choy sum. Buk kuh teh is light compared to other famous dishes in Malaysia. The ankle and ribs was very gelatinous in texture and quite comforting. A 'must have' is a dipping sauce which you can mix on your own. We were told to mix the raw garlic, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and chilli. It goes really well, its not a seasoning but more balance to the buk kut teh. Never had anything like this, so tasty.
At night we walked into the tourist friendly Gurney Drive Hawker Centre in Penang, A hawker food centre is typically a group of food stalls, serving extremely tasty food at a reasonable price. There is lots of tables and chairs so you can choose what you want to eat and bring it back to the table and chow down. Definitely a must for any traveler. a little bit more pricey for Malaysian hawker standards. Everything looked and smelled awesome, there was so much variety. We couldn't possibly try everything, so we settled for Curry mee, Char mee, Nasi lemak, Satay skewers and Wat dan mee.
That was a great first hawker experience. Tried a lot of new dishes in their street food state. Cant wait for our next outing.