[Penang, Malaysia] Hainanese lunch at Yeng Keng Cafe

Hainanese lunch at Yeng Keng Cafe today. The old, long-serving Hainan-born Executive Chef Tan Jee Yong has retired last year, and Yeng Keng Hotel now sub-contracts the running of the restaurant to Bok Jee Seem’s Hainan Town of Weld Quay.

Yeng Keng Hotel’s main building was built in the 1850s, and has functioned as a hotel/lodging house since the early 1900s. It came under the auspices of the trustees of the Straits Chinese British Association (SCBA) in 1939

Lunch today:

  1. The Hainanese chicken pie turned out to be the best I’d tasted in town. It’s very tasty on its own, but came with very piquant home-brewed Worcestershire sauce which further improved the flavours tremendously. The filling was akin to Hainanese chicken stew, with chicken meat, peas, carrots, onions, mushroom and a wedge of hard-boiled egg.

  1. The choon phneah, unfortunatly, was not authentically done, with the use of smooth-skinned popiah skin wrapper. Filling is okay: finely-diced jicama, carrot, chicken, shallots, parsley and a little crab-meat. It’s served with the excellent Worcestershire sauce dip, which also incorporated cut red chilis and finely-chopped raw shallots.

  1. Inche Kabin - the classic Penang-Nyonya fried chicken dish. The chicken pieces are usually marinated overnight in coconut milk, pounded shallots, cumin, coriander, fennel, cloves and cinnamon. The chicken pieces are usually twice-cooked to obtain its signature crisp crust, and served with a Worcestershire sauce dip.

  1. Hainanese chicken chop - the kitchen delivered a standard rendition, with all the requisite touches - light-brown, fairly-liquid gravy, crisp-fried chicken, potato wedges, peas. Didn’t have the aromatic smell/taste of cinnamon & cloves which we expected. It’s okay, though I won’t come back specifically for this again.

  2. Hainanese fried noodles - another average rendition. Loved the fresh shrimps in there. Didn’t have the depth of flavours we found in Nam Kie on Kimberley Street.

We finished off our meal with some traditional Hainanese coffee, lightly sweetened and aromatic.

It wasn’t a perfect meal as we’d hoped for, but the new kitchen team still acquitted themselves pretty well, though we weren’t sure if the chefs are Hainanese.

Yeng Keng Cafe-Bar-Restaurant
362 & 366 Chulia Street, 10200 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604 2633177
Opening hours: 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm daily