[Penang, Malaysia] Hainanese chicken rice lunch at Pak Hock, Carnarvon Street

For the longest time, Chulia Street in Penang had 3 popular Hainanese chicken rice restaurants: Goh Thiew Chik, Pak Hock and Sin Kuan Hwa. Sadly, Sin Kuan Hwa closed down in Sep 2017, and was promptly replaced by a run-of-the-mill pub. Thankfully, the other two eateries had been going strong till today, despite the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, and the frequent lockdowns and bans on dining-in whenever the number of infection cases go up - like now.

I’d had a quick lunch at Pak Hock earlier this year. The eatery (est. 1946) is located right across the road from the bigger Goh Thiew Chik. The standard at Pak Hock is pretty good, as well, actually.

The chicken rice here is a tad saltier than other renditions elsewhere, but is pretty palatable, all the same.

The Hainanese-style poached chicken here was much better than I expected: moist and with the silken-smooth texture from perfect timing of the poaching of the chicken:

Poached chicken livers and pan-fried tofu:

Pak Hock is quieter than the very busy Goh Thew Chik across the street, but I think the food here is actually tastier:

Pak Hock Penang Famous Chicken Rice
393, Chulia Street, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-406 7853
Opening hours: 10am to 4pm daily


UPDATE Pak Hock has moved to a new address eight months ago:
167, Carnarvon Street (Lebuh Carnarvon), 10100 George Town, Penang. Tel: +6010-465 8599.

Lunch today was at Pak Hock, which used to operate at Chulia Street from 1945 till Jan 2022, after its founding by Foochow/Hockchiew emigrant, Cheah Ee Kwee. It’s re-located to 167 Carnarvon Street about 8 months ago.

Current owner-chef, 51-year-old Lim Poh Chin (the founder’s grandson), took over the business from his late maternal uncle, and is now assisted by his mother, who knew the family recipes.

Mr Lim himself is of Cantonese descent, whilst his maternal grandfather was a Foochow. Like many other Foochows in Malaysia, they run coffeeshops, rivalling the Hainanese.

Mr Lim’s grandfather learnt his chicken rice recipes from a Hainanese chicken rice chef who used to lease a stall in his kopitiam. When the Hainanese chef moved away, Mr Cheah took over the running of the stall himself, and the family’s connection with good Hainanese chicken rice carried on from there.

Pak Hock’s offerings still tasted much the same as before, as the family hands down its closely guarded cooking secrets through the generations.

Poached chicken, drizzled with dark- and light-soysauce, sesame oil, and garlic oil, topped with chopped scallions and coriander leaves.

Soy-braised tofu, chicken feet and hard-boiled eggs

Poached beansprouts, dressed in sesame oil and light soy sauce, topped with cut red chilis and fresh coriander leaves.

Poached chicken livers and gizzards - a must-order for me when having a Hainanese chicken rice meal. In Thailand, their version of Hainanese chicken rice, called “khao mun gai”, also includes chicken blood pudding as a side.

Kiam chye boey - a classic sourish soup made from preserved mustard leaves and chicken carcass, lemongrass and galangal.

Hainanese chicken rice is usually cooked by first sauteeing the uncooked rice grains in chicken fat, with ginger and garlic till fragrant, before being steeped in chicken stock. Pandanus leaves were then added for additional fragrance.

Very good to see Pak Hock back again and going strong, after a very challenging last two years because of the COVID pandemic lockdowns.