The strangely-named Cowboy Street Cafe offers the hard-to-find Foochow cuisine (plus some Teochew dishes, courtesy of the Foochow owner’s Teochew wife) at its bright, cheery dining room on the corner of Victoria Street and Armenian Street Ghaut. Desite its Western-sounding name, nothing on its menu is even remotely connected to Western cuisine.
The bright dining room with traditional Southern Chinese coffeeshop furniture serves a good selection of Chinese comfort foods guaranteed to please the most finicky of Penang diners.
Sour plum Mandarin iced drink - refreshing, although the salted plums used were more potent than I’d expected.
Crisp-fried Teochew guang jiang (潮汕灌煎). This is the crispiest, freshest guang jiang I’d ever come across in recent memory, and certainly a class above those found in the markets of George Town. I asked the owner why guang chiang, which is a Teochew dish in his otherwise Foochow menu - he said whilst he himself is Foochow/Hockchiew (福州人), his wife is Teochew (潮州人) and she wanted to offer her dialect group’s specialty. But, boy, did she do a good job - I’m half-Teochew myself and I really enjoyed this rendition.
- Selection of Foochow fishballs and meatballs, including pork-stuffed fishballs, which is unique to the Foochow people.
- Foochow red wine chicken with mee suah - perhaps the best-known Foochow dish in Malaysia/Singapore. The rendition here was superb - home-brewed red wine lees used to cook the chicken was light & flavoursome. The dish comes with a whole chicken drumstick (cooked till fall-off-the-bone tender) and a hard-boiled hen’s egg.
- We could not resist ordering the chicken-and-potato curry, served in a bread bowl here. This Chinese-style curry is de rigeur in any Chinese family restaurant from Singapore to Malacca, KL, Ipoh and Penang. Richer than Malay or Indian curries from its generous use of coconut milk, strongly-spiced with Indian curry powder (usually, Baba or Alagappa’s are the most popular brands in Penang), the curry was chili-hot, and decadently delicious.
Cowboy St Cafe bodes a return visit - to try other dishes in their repertoire which I’d not tried. But I’m already hankering for all the dishes I had today and would gladly do them all over again.
Cowboy Street Cafe
171-B, Victoria Street (near junction with Armenian St Ghaut)
10300 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: +604-262 0713
Opening hours: 8.30am to 8.30pm, daily.