[Penang] Breakfast at New Cathay Kopitiam, Pulau Tikus

New Cathay Kopitiam at the junction of Burmah Road and Kuching Lane is one of the most popular breakfast spots in George Town. If you come before 10am, be prepared to join the big breakfast crowd which tapers off towards late-morning, only the build up again at lunch-time.

  1. Koay chiap - a popular hawker dish of Teochew/Chaozhou/潮州 origin. Wide rice noodles in a strong, almost herbal duck-pork broth, garnished with pork, duck-meat, pig’s offal, hard-boiled egg and tofu, topped with golden-fried chopped garlic and garnished with fresh coriander sprigs. New Cathay is pretty well-known for this koay chiap outlet, rivalling those in Ayer Itam market and also the evening one on Kimberley Street.

  2. Char koay kak, another hawker dish of Teochew/Chaozhou/潮州 origin. It’s a very popular dish within the Chaozhou diaspora in South-east Asia, and the dish (with very minor variations) is known as “pad kanom pak kard” In Thailand. “chai tow kway” in Singapore, and “bột chiên” in Vietnam. Basically steamed rice flour cakes with consistency of polenta, cut-up into small cubes and fried with lard, beansprouts, eggs, chopped salted radish and garlic, flavoured with fish sauce and soysauce, then given a spicy lift with a dollop of chilli paste.

For other well-known char koay kak stalls in Penang, try:

In Bangkok, there is a very good version at Soi Saint Louis:

  1. Chee cheong fun - steamed rolls of rice noodles. The Penang version uses a strong prawn paste (hae koh) to pep up the dish, with its usual beansauce and chilli paste dressing.

The same stall also offers steamed yam cake, topped with dried shrimps (hae bee), shallots and chopped scallions. Delish with a dash of sweet chilli sauce.

  1. Penang-style “char koay teow” - there are so many other better-known renditions in Penang (Penang's Top 6 "Char Koay Teow" Spots), but the rendition here is pretty respectable.

Kedai Kopi New Cathay
425, Jalan Burmah, 10350 George Town, Penang
Tel: +60 16-452 1378
Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 8am-2.30pm. Closed on Sundays.


Breakfast this morning at the ultra-popular 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘆 𝗖𝗮𝗳𝗲 on Kuching Lane in Pulau Tikus, after a long hiatus on our part.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘗𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘮𝘦𝘦 - traditional Penang flavours - noodles & beansprouts in a salty-savoury coconut-infused broth, garnished with pig’s blood cubes, cuttlefish, shrimps, fishballs and tofu puffs. However, the vendor must’ve changed from the one I knew from the 1990s - this one puts in par-boiled long beans (a practice in Prai, and KL, but never on Penang island) in place of a sprig of mint leaves.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘳 𝘬𝘰𝘢𝘺 𝘬𝘢𝘬 - this is the Penang incarnation of what is known as fried 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘪 𝘵𝘰𝘸 𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘺 in Singapore, except that the Penang version includes beansprouts.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘗𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘯 𝘮𝘦𝘦 - the Penang version has a springy, 𝘢𝘭 𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦 texture similar to HK ones, but never in KL renditions. However, the dressing in Penang is dark soy sauce-based, similar to KL’s.
Actually, I’d always preferred KL’s 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘯 𝘮𝘦𝘦, which I think has a richer, tastier profile.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘙𝘰𝘵𝘪 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘪 - a hard-to-find Nyonya version of a filled French toast (and progenitor of Malay 𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘪 𝘑𝘰𝘩𝘯). Tasty, but it’s bread-crumbed crust is not the one I remembered from long ago.

The minced pork, onions and shitake mushroom filling was quite tasty, although the accompanying Worcestershire sauce dip tasted quite watered-down.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘔𝘦𝘦 𝘑𝘢𝘸𝘢 - this is a sweeter, more tomato-ey Chinese rendition of the spicy noodles sold by itinerant Javanese vendors in Penang back in the old days. Very good version here - yellow noodles blanketed by a thick gravy thickened with sweet potato, which also lent the dish an earthy flavour. The garnishes included Chinese firm tofu, crisp golden-fried wafers, hard-boiled egg, scalloped potatoes, and fresh Chinese lettuce leaves.
A spoonful sauteed chili paste accompanied each plateful of 𝘔𝘦𝘦 𝘑𝘢𝘸𝘢, to be stirred in by the individual diner, depending on one’s tolerance for chili heat.

:small_orange_diamond: 𝘚𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘩 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘱𝘰𝘮. Probably 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘆 𝗖𝗮𝗳𝗲’s most famous stall - 𝙍𝙖𝙫𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙧𝙖𝙣 𝙎𝙪𝙥𝙧𝙖𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙞𝙖𝙢 and 𝙆𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙖 𝘿𝙚𝙫𝙞 𝙆𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙢𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙪’s 𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘱𝘰𝘮 food-cart parked on Kuching Lane, right outside the cafe.

I first met this legendary couple when they were invited to represent Penang at the 𝟮𝗻𝗱 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 in Singapore, organized by Makansutra back in 2015.

𝘐𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘱𝘰𝘮𝘴 are soft-bellied, lacy edged crepes which are insanely addictive. We ordered ours topped with coddled eggs, served with molten centres. You can never stop at one.

This is still a very busy breakfast joint, so come early (8am) to avoid the crowd. 𝗡𝗲𝘄 𝗖𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘆 𝗖𝗮𝗳𝗲 is still one of the quintessential stops for any foodie tour of Penang. Don’t miss this place. It’s open for breakfast & brunch Mon to Sat. Closed on Sundays.


Check out those appams! No curry with them?

(Maybe I’ll try them at home while I have access to the appam pan.)

No curry/dhal sauce at all - it’s served in a very Malaysian Hainanese-style: with a bottle of Chinese light soy sauce and a white pepper shaker on the side! We didn’t add any of the condiments, as we noticed Kanchana already drizzled hot ghee around the eggs.


Back to New Cathay at breakfast-time today, as I was showing visiting Norwegian food blogger, Ben, the place for South Indian appams in Penang. Ravindran Supramaniam and his wife, Kanchana Devi Kalimuthu, were genial and all-smiles as always.

Stupendous appams: with crisp, golden-brown lacy edges, and moist bumps in the middle of each crepe.

The sweet-savoury egg appams were my favorite: