[Penang, Malaysia] Hokkien cuisine at Hock Chuan Heong, Cecil Street Ghaut

Hock Chuan Heong is one of the top 4 Hokkien (Fujianese) restaurants in Penang. The other three are Ang Hoay Lor, Sin Lean Heang and Quan Zhou. All 4 restaurants offer about the same spread of dishes originating from Hui’an County in Quanzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, China.

Hock Chuan Heong was founded in 1989, and is now run by 57-year-old owner-chef, Ang Peng Teng, a former mechanic who never dreamt of entering the kitchen until his father died suddenly just a year after starting the restaurant, necessitating him to take over the family business. He spent half a year learning how to cook all the dishes from his mother, and has never looked back since!

What we had for lunch today:

  1. "Tau-kwa cha sua-nah" (Stir-fried tofu with leeks and shrimps)

  2. "Hae kean" (Prawn fritters)

  3. "Hu Chien Chuan" (Fish fillets, cooked in taucheo/fermented beanpaste with scallions, celery stems and red chilis)

  4. "Oh chien" (Oyster omelette)

  5. "Bak kee th’ng" (Pork strips coated in tapioca starch, cooked in a vegetable soup)
    This soup is really an acquired taste - and I really did NOT like the slippery texture of the pork strips coated in tapioca “sludge”. The soup is a bland vegetable soup with chopped cabbage, scallions and other leftovers. Not my cup of tea, but some people here liked it a lot - majority of Penangites are Hokkien/Fujianese-Chinese, so some claimed it’s “cultural” that they liked the dish. But then, I’m half-Fujianese myself, and I’d never seen or tasted this dish until I moved to Penang last year. Majority of Singaporeans also happen to be Fujianese-Chinese, but “bak kee th’ng” does not exist in Singapore, where the Hokkien cuisine restaurants offer a whole repertoire of dishes very, very different from Penang’s Hokkien restaurants. So, I surmise that Penang’s Hokkien restaurants are dominated by people from Hui’an County in Quanzhou Prefecture, Fujian Province, whilst Singapore’s Hokkien restaurants offer dishes more similar to those from Xiamen.

Nowadays, Hock Chuan Heong is known among Penangites as the “Hokkien eatery behind the post office”.

Its official address is 344-G-5 Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay), 10300 Penang, although its exact location is nearer Cecil Street Ghaut. It opens 12 noon to 4pm Monday to Saturday, but they sometimes take unannounced days off (an annoying trait among family-owned restaurants in Penang). Call ahead at +604-2611004 to confirm before you go.

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Great Photos. And that Oyster Omelette…OMG!

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First time back here after the COVID lockdown was lifted in early-May. Social distancing rules applied, but the food seemed to taste even better now - maybe the owner-chef, Ang Beng Teng, returned to the stoves rejuvenated after a two-month hiatus.

The noodle dishes were the best-tasting options at lunch today:

  1. "Oh mee" - oyster noodles, with pork, pig’s liver, fish, shrimp and oysters

  2. "Char tung hoon" - stir-fried glass noodles with pork, shrimps, chicken and pig’s liver

We didn’t miss ordering the other usual suspects:
3) “Oh chien” - oyster omelette

  1. "Hae kien" - prawn fritters

  2. "Taukwa suanah" - hard tofu with leeks & shrimps

  3. "Hu chien chuan" - fried fish with taucheo-chili sauce

The lunch crowd started coming in after 12 noon. It’s a working-class neighbourhood here, with most of their clientele coming from the factories and motor workshops nearby.

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I think I like tofu every which way. It’s a marvellous, versatile and adaptable ingredient.

I also like the overhead shot very much. Shows all the dishes and hands. Normally I don’t like seeing body parts in food photos but this kind of shot is an exception.

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It is. But many Indian restaurants in Malaysia cook dishes which normally called for paneer cheese with tofu instead - doesn’t always work.

Those Prawn Fritters… :ok_hand:

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold