Ho Ping is a traditional Chinese coffeeshop on Penang Road which dates back more than a century. It’s one of the busier breakfast places along Penang Road, the crumbling main thoroughfare which cuts through George Town’s old quarter. Ho Ping stands on the corner of Penang Road and Kampung Malabar, a side-street so-named because of Malabari settlers from Kerala, India, who settled there in the 19th-century. The street is known in local Chinese-Hokkien parlance as “Jee Poon Kay” or “Japanese Street”, as large numbers of Japanese businesses, including notorious brothels, took over the neighbourhood at the turn of the 20th-century.
Our breakfas options this morning:
- Soft-boiled eggs on toast. This is a local Hainanese-Chinese take on English eggs-and-soldiers, but with soft-boiled eggs cracked atop buttered toasts, served with light soysauce and white pepper on the side.
Hainanese coffee is a must-have - full-bodied, very aromatic, and served pre-sweetened. So be sure to tell the waiter if you don’t want sweet coffee.
Penang char koay teow is a must-have for most visitors to Penang, although a tad heavy for breakfast. Perfectly respectable rendition here, with the requisite “wok hei” aroma.
The dim sum options here lack the finesse of Hong Kong-style dim sum. We ordered a “dai bao” (large meat bun), "lor mai kai" (glutinous rice with chicken) and “siew mai” (steamed pork-shrimp dumpings), all were okay, though not memorable.
We also ordered a Penang-style wantan mee, the quintessential Cantonese breakfast noodle dish. Penang’s version closely approximates those in Kuala Lumpur in that liberal lashings of dark soysauce are added to the light soysauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil dressing. It’s served garnished with slices pork and shredded chicken. Again, whilst the version here is perfectly acceptable, it didn’t possess the “wow” factor that can set it apart from any other spots aroun town.
Penang Hokkien mee (known as Prawn Mee in Singapore) is perhaps the best breakfast option we had here - savoury-sweet-spicy pork-shrimp broth with a combination of yellow Hokkien noodles and bee hoon rice noodles. It’s garnished with slices of hard-boiled egg and shrimps.
Overall, a perfectly good place for breakfast if one is in the Penang Road area in the early morning. Its rival coffeeshop, Kheng Pin, across the road is much busier.
Ho Ping Coffeeshop
211 Penang Road (corner with Kampung Malabar)
1000 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 8am-8pm daily