[Penang] Best Bakchang from Cintra Food Corner

Cintra Food Corner specialises in “bakchang” ( 粽子) since 1933, and continues to be Penang’s most popular spot for these steamed rice dumplings, stuffed with meats and other savoury ingredients.

Cintra Food Corner has actually expanded its repertoire of offerings through the years. I remembered 40 years ago when it sold only the Hokkien (Fujianese) bakchang - the glutinous rice tinted brown from the soy sauce and other condiments used to fry-flavour the rice grains before being wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. Stuffing include stewed pork, salted duck’s egg yolk, mushroom, and chestnut, and served with a sweet chilli sauce and hoi sin sauce.

These days, Cintra Food Corner offers Cantonese “chung” (pale ones as the Cantonese do not add soy sauce to the flavourings) filled with pork belly and yellow mung beans, eaten with sugar - for a savoury-sweet sensation.

There was also steamed taro pudding (“orh kueh”) which is custard-like and savoury, topped with crushed peanuts, golden-fried shallots and chopped scallions:

And finally a red bean soup for dessert - very popular among Penang’s mainly Hokkien populace. The version here also has a subtle dried orange peel scent:

Address
Cintra Food Corner
40, Lebuh Cintra
10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6012 480 3308
Operating hours: 9am - 6pm daily

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This is so interesting to me as this is the exact combination in the Vietnamese “banh chung”, made and eaten for the Lunar New Year. They are typically larger than this and wrapped in banana leaf. There is a distinct Vietnamese legend on its origin and conception (c. 1712 - 1632 BC). Now it turns out it may have been Cantonese in origin? When you write “chung”, is this the Cantonese pronunciation of bakchang or does it refer to this variety/combination of ingredients?

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Yes, “chung” is the Cantonese term for the Hokkien “chang” (“bak” means ‘meat’).

I find many Vietnamese food items are almost identical to those in Penang - with very slight, almost imperceptible differences, for e.g. Penang “chee cheong fun” = Vietnamese “banh uot”, Penang “koay teow th’ng” = Vietnamese “hu tiu Nam Vang”, etc.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold