Sun Kee Oyster Noodles is a new-ish little noodle spot located on the corner of CY Choy Road and Cecil Street, a short jaunt from the popular Cecil Street Market and Hawker Centre.
Penang, like the rest of Malaysia, is currently in the midst of a lockdown because of the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis, so this review was a throwback to our visit to Sun Kee last month.
What we had for lunch:
Oyster noodles (“oh mee”) - this is a very common Hokkien/Fujianese stir-fried noodle dish which combined the yellow Hokkien wheat noodles with briny little oysters found off the coastal areas of Penang. Plump shrimps, thin slices of fresh garoupa, and fatty pork strips added sweetness to the broth. Leafy choy sum and finely-chopped scallions gave the dish a fresh vegetable crunch. It’s akin to the oh-wah mee I’d had in Taiwan, where the populace, similar to George Town, is mainly Fujianese. But, unlike the Taiwanese, Penangites loved their chilis, and the little saucer of sambal belacan (minced chilis with fermented shrimp paste) added a sharp umami bite to the dish.
Stir-fried glass noodles (“char tung hoon”) - this is another Southern Chinese classic, with the light diaphanous mung bean noodles (popularly called glass noodles) being tossed with the tiny oysters, shrimps, pork and noodles. Dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and perhaps oyster sauce were added (the exact combination of the condiments is a jealously-guarded trade secret of the chef). Before serving, a generous spoonful of golden-fried minced garlic, and chopped green scallions topped the wok-tossed combination. The taste was deeper, mellower than the earlier dish.
Braised tofu with leeks (“tau-kwa sua-nah”) - this is a very popular dish in Penang’s Hokkien restaurants, but it’s usually served with steamed white rice, so I was a bit surprised to find it here among Sun Kee’s repertoire of noodle dishes. The dish was really very well-seasoned here, and tasted even better than those from more well-established Hokkien restaurants in town. Never underestimate a small, new place, eh?
Fried chicken wings - these were crisp-fried chicken wings, marinated with light fish sauce/soy sauce and perhaps a smidgen of Chinese 5-spice.
Overall, a pretty good demonstrations of the chef’s talent. Being so close to the busy Cecil Street Market’s large food centre can work either way: this little eatery is close enough to a lot of pedestrian traffic and, if it plays its cards well, can really be the next big thing in the neighbourhood.
On the other hand, the Cecil Street Hawker Centre has dozens of good food stalls standing cheek-by-jowl next to each other, and so much more variety for the lunch crowd to choose from. Sun Kee runs the risk of being overlooked or simply ignored for being a standalone, even if it’s only 3 minutes’ walk away. Let’s see how things go. As it is, the lockdown as a result of the pandemic is putting a LOT of stress on everyone here.
Sun Kee Oyster Noodle (汕记蚝面)
244, Jalan C.Y. Choy
10300 George Town, Penang
Tel: +6016-400 0645
Opening hours: 11am to 5pm daily, except Thursday (closed)