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:
"Tau-kwa cha sua-nah" (Stir-fried tofu with leeks and shrimps)
"Hae kean" (Prawn fritters)
"Hu Chien Chuan" (Fish fillets, cooked in taucheo/fermented beanpaste with scallions, celery stems and red chilis)
"Oh chien" (Oyster omelette)
"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.