One of the best-known spots for a Malay plate lunch meal in Penang is 𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗶 𝗠𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘆𝘂 𝗠𝗮𝗵𝗮𝗱𝗶 near the Tanjung Tokong UDA flats. It’s a little stall within a food court located in a working-class neighborhood.
Run by the husband-and-wife team of Mahadi Taib and Normah Ibrahim, the famous eatery was actually started by Normah’s elder sister, Norbee Ibrahim, 70. Norbee used to sell nasi Melayu at Tanjung Tokong village, but moved her business into a foodcourt next to the Tanjung Tokong UDA flats in 1987 when the village was demolished to make way for the council flat project.
Norbee and Normah both hailed from a family well-known in the Tanjung Bungah & Tanjung Tokong areas for their culinary prowess – their elder sister, Lallbi Ibrahim, 74, had started selling nasi Melayu from a push-cart in 1976, and her business expanded through the decades, in tandem with the growth of Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah as tourist spots. Today, Lallbi’s own eatery has become the ever-popular 𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗶 𝗠𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘆𝘂 𝗟𝗶𝗱𝗶𝗮𝗻𝗮, set up on a hill-slope overlooking the Floating Mosque, in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami which swept away their old premises by the sea.
Over at 𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗶 𝗠𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘆𝘂 𝗠𝗮𝗵𝗮𝗱𝗶, business is usually very brisk, and one needs to be early to catch the more popular dishes before they sell out. One queues up and select one’s own choice of dishes from the self-service food counter, then pay for one’s purchase at the cash counter. Many curried dishes to choose from, but I always thought their pajeri nenas - lightly-spiced pineapple - is a must-have.
Our plate lunch sets:
Mine consisted of: hati ayam goreng sambal (fried chicken livers & offal, slathered with spicy red sambal sauce), kacang goreng kunyit (French beans & julienned carrots stir-fried with fresh turmeric), tauhu goreng (deep-fried tofu, smothered with a spicy peanut sauce), ayam goreng hitam (fried chicken in a spiced, dark soy sauce dressing) and pajeri nenas (spicy-sweet-sour cooked pineapple).
My lunch partner’s plate: ayam masak hitam, telur dadar (Malay-Indonesian-style egg omelette, usually eggs with chopped onions & sliced chilis), kacang goreng (spicy-sour caramelized groundnuts & fermented soybeans/tempe, peria masak kunyit (stir-fried bittergourd with carrots in turmeric, ikan masak lemak (curried fish with coconut milk & fresh turmeric) and kacang buncis (boiled okra).
Gerai No. 9, Flat UDA Tanjung Tokong
10470, Jalan Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia
Opening hours: 9am to 3pm, Mon to Fri, Sun. Closed on Saturdays.
The placemark to look for is the UDA Tanjung Tokong government low-cost flats. The food court is right next to the blocks of flats.