Sunday brekkie - back to old faithful, 77 Food Yard kopitiam (which used to be known as Kwai Lock to Pulau Tikus residents) on Moulmein Rise, off Burmah Road.
My fave orders here are usually:
Penang-style curry mee from Mr Seet, who has been here for more than 30 years, first assisting his famously rotund aunt in manning the curry mee stall back in the 90s. He now runs it with his daughter.
Penang-style curry mee is unique with its emphasis on a soup-like liquid gravy (flavoured with dried shrimp), rather than the thicker chicken curry gravy of Singapore-style curry mee garnished with poached chicken, tofu puffs and curried potatoes; or KL-style curry mee with its spicier gravy, garnished with curried chicken and long beans; or Ipoh-style curry mee with Indian curry powder-scented gravy.
All have very different taste profiles from the Penang-style rendition, easily identified by its garnishing of pig’s blood cubes, fresh shrimps, blanched cuttlefish strips and tofu puffs on a mixture of yellow Hokkien noodles and thin rice noodles (“bee hoon”).
Mr Seet spooning a dollop of extra-spicy chili paste atop the bowl of noodles before serving.
Ark tui mee suah (duck drumstick in herbal soup, with rice vermicelli) by Mrs Teh. She started running this stall with her husband 25 years ago. Uncle Teh now stays at home due to an old automobile accident injury. Her son now helps Mrs Teh run the stall. Still the same flavours after all these years.
Mrs Teh blanching the rice vermicelli (“mee suah”) for the dish.
The duck drumstick in herbal broth was then poured over the blanched noodles.
The duck drumsticks were all steamed in individually-portioned metal cups.
The herbal soup included young ginseng, red dates, and Chinese wolfberries.
Both the Penang-style curry mee and the ark tui mee suah are among the best of their genre in Penang.
One can’t ignore the Nyonya kuih stall by Mr Ong Choon Hin, perhaps the longest-serving hawker here, outside the kopitiam. Mr Ong is a common sight and seemingly permanent fixture here for the past 40 years or so, and never seemed to age.
Char koay kak - Teochew-style pan-fried rice pudding cubes with lard, fish sauce, soy sauce, salted radish, eggs, beansprouts and chives. A sort of Chinese bubble-and-squeak (as Masterchef UK judge, John Torode, described it). Totally addictive.
Thick Fujianese pancakes, called 𝘣𝘢𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘦𝘯 𝘬𝘶𝘦𝘩 or 𝘣𝘢𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘬𝘶𝘦𝘩 (慢煎粿), known as 𝘮𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘦𝘯 𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘺 (面煎粿) in Singapore and 𝘥𝘢𝘪 𝘨𝘢𝘰 𝘮𝘦𝘦𝘯 (大旧面) in Ipoh & Kuala Lumpur.
Ban Chang Kueh was purportedly invented by General Tso Tsung-t’ang or Zuo Zongtang (1812-1885), the same Manchu Dynasty viceroy who’s commemorated in another dish, “General Tso’s chicken” in American-Chinese cuisine.
General Tso started his military career during the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s. During the Manchu invasion of Fujian, where sugarcane & peanuts were found in abundance, he asked that pancakes (which used to be savoury) be flavoured with sugar & peanuts to feed the Manchu/Qing troops.
Hence, there were suggestions that instead of “Ban” (which is the Hokkien word for “slow”), it was “Man” (from “Manchu”) which should be the character used to describe “Ban Chang Kueh”. If true, it meant that “ban chang kueh” is at least 160 years old, and originated from Fujian, China.
This stall on Solok Moulmein, right outside 77 Food Yard kopitiam, is one of the best in town.
77 Food Yard
295, Burmah Road (intersection with Moulmein Rise), 10350 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Operating hours: 7am to 3pm daily