The lively area around Jelutong morning market, one of the most popular markets on Penang island, has a few popular coffeeshops: Seong Huat, Kim Hee and Thor Pheng Cheng, all with their own specialty street food stalls, and respective bands of loyal customers.
This morning, we decided on Thor Pheng Cheng for our breakfast.
Oh kuah moi (dried oyster porridge) - one of the most famous offerings from this coffeeshop, and a Hokkien/Fujianese staple. The version here is garnished with shredded chicken, chopped scallions, Chinese parsley, golden-fried shallots and pieces of deep-fried, crisp crullers.
It’s a simple, flavoursome dish, with the right balance of flavours, and with some interesting textures.
- Mee Jawa - this is a Chinese adaptation of an early Javanese dish which, in itself, was first adapted from the Chinese/Hokkiens. The Javanese used Chinese Hokkien yellow wheat noodles, but gave it a typical local Javanese sweet-spicy slant, but added Chinese garnishes like fried tofu. The dish gained popularity, not just among the native Javanese, but also the emigrant Chinese in Java themselves, who then cross-adapted the dish back, and made it less spicy (as the Chinese, in general, prefer milder flavours), but more tomato-ey to retain the dish’s reddish hue. The dish is an example of cross-influences, back and forth, between the natives and the Chinese, typical of many street foods one finds in South-east Asia, where the Chinese have settled for more than seven centuries.
The version here included tofu, crisp-fried yuba skin, boiled potato wedges, hard-boiled egg, Chinese lettuce leaves, and crushed peanuts. It’s one of the most-ordered dishes in this coffeeshop.
Penang-style curry mee - the Penang version of curried noodles have a more soupy coconut milk-enriched broth, compared to the KL, Ipoh or Singapore versions, with their thicker curry gravies. The version here, garnished with the trademark pig’s blood pudding cubes, is very spicy! It also included the standard tofu puffs , but also have extras like “char siew” (Cantonese-style BBQ pork), and a sprig of fresh mint leaves.
Otak-otak - the Penang-Nyonya equivalent of Thai “hor mok” or Cambodian “amok”: steamed, spicy, savoury seafood custard pudding, wrapped in banana leaves. The version here utilizes shark-meat. Somehow, the flavours were not as strong today as it was during pre-COVID years. I remembered bringing fellow SF Bay Area Chowhound, DaveMpHound, here and ordering this dish for him, during his visit to Penang in March 2019.
It had a more distinct wild betel leaf scent and flavour back then.
Economy beehoon mee - this is a classic Chinese-Hokkien breakfast dish, but the Penang version is blander than the sweet-savoury Singapore version which I loved.
This very popular stall is actually parked outside Kim Hee coffeeshop, adjacent to Thor Pheng Cheng, and also does take-aways.
I missed a few other popular dishes here at Thor Pheng Cheng this time round, e.g. lor mee and wantan mee, so will have to make a return trip for that.
Thor Pheng Cheng
71-J, Lorong Ipoh (Ipoh Lane), Jelutong, 11600 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Operating hours: 7am to 2pm daily