[Penang, Malaysia] "Lor Mee" from Hai Beng, Stewart Lane

Lor Mee is a Fujianese/Hokkien noodle dish characterized by its unctuous, gooey, brown-hued gravy, scented with Chinese 5-spice and flavored with soy sauce, eggs and other condiments. The dish utilizes the Hokkien yellow wheat noodles, together with thin “bee hoon” rice noodles for that contrast in textures so well-loved by the Hokkiens.

There is a distinct difference between Singaporean “lor mee” and Penang “lor mee”, despite the somewhat similar appearance.

Singapore-style “lor mee” contains fish-meat and crisp-fried battered bits for an added crunch. Vinegar, minced garlic and chili paste are provided on the side, to be added to the noodle dish as per one’s taste preferences. The bowl of “lor mee” below is from Yuan Chun Lor Mee at Amoy Street Food Centre, my fave spot for this dish in Singapore for the past 30 years:

Penang-style “lor mee”, on the other hand, has a deeper, more savory flavor from the use of pork and chicken broth for its gravy. It’s served with braised chicken-feet, braised pig’s skin, pig’s liver and intestines, plus soy-braised egg. No fish-meat, and the crisp texture comes from golden-fried shallots. Minced garlic soaked in vinegar, and chili sauce were also provided on the side - but I personally found this unnecessary, as the Penang version was already so tasty on its own.

Hai Beng, located across Stewart Lane from the 220-year-old Kuan Yin Teng (Goddess of Mercy Temple), is my personal favourite spot for “lor mee” in Penang.

Hai Beng was founded in 1957 by Hainanese hawker-chef, Cheah Meng Kin, at Carnarvon Street (“Lam Chan Nah”). At the time, his was one of only two “lor mee” stalls in the whole of Penang. In 1968, Cheah Meng Kin bought the current shophouse, which he named Hai Beng, and which he ran with his wife. After he was widowed, his eldest son, Cheah It Ong, and his daughter-in-law, stepped in to assist him.

Currently, Hai Beng “lor mee” is managed by the 3rd-generation of the family: Cheah It Ong’s eldest daughter, Cheah Siew Li. The “lor mee” here, although it may not actually be as aromatic as during Cheah Meng Kin’s time due to the non-availability of certain herbs and ingredients used during the elder Cheah’s time, still remained, IMO, the tastiest in Penang by far.

The Cheahs also make an amazing rendition of the Penang-Nyonya otak-otak, a spiced fish mousse, wrapped in banana-leaf parcels and steamed, which I absolutely can not resist if I ever saw one offered anywhere. And the one here had all the right flavors - wild betel leaf, turmeric, coconut milk ,chilis, fish-meat.

The shop has a dated, retro feel - almost unchanged since the 1970s. I loved this spot to bits - familiarity breeds content. :grin:

Lor Mee (Hai Beng Coffee Shop)
32, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, corner with Lorong Stewart (Stewart Lane)
10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-490 5252
Opening hours: 8am to 4pm, daily


Back to Hai Beng last Saturday after a 3-year hiatus, and happy to see that it’s still as good as we’d remembered it from before.

A standard bowl of “lor mee”, with the requisite tasty, unctuous gravy slathered over a mixture of yellow Hokkien wheat noodles, thin rice 𝘣𝘦𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘯 noodles and blanched beansprouts, garnished with soy-braised egg, stewed chicken feet, pig’s liver, pig’s skin, pork belly, and pig’s intestines.

Two bottles of condiments are placed on each table: minced garlic in vinegar, and spicy chili sauce - both served to undercut the rich taste of the 𝘭𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦𝘦.

Our favorite garnish - the gelatinous stewed chicken feet:

We then crossed over to the Goddess Of Mercy Taoist temple next door - it’ll be the busiest spot in George Town come Friday evening, Feb 9 - the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, whence we’ll welcome the Year of the Dragon!

My latest article for the Michelin Guide:


The Penang Lor Mee sounds outstanding!!
And the “Familiarity breeds content!” is a comment worth remembering! Well played!
I wish I could enjoy chicken feet, the flavor and the texture are both pleasing, but the idea of it puts me off my feed. I ordered them by accident at the old Big Wong’s in DC and felt duty bound to eat them, much to the horror of my GF.
And a certain amount of trepidation on my part, admittedly.

Way off topic: One of my favorite classes in high school was Word Clues in which we learned the Greek and Latin roots of most English words. Trepidation must be the same cognate as intrepid, I would guess. I suddenly need to find my old text book…
Oh, wait, what is the definition of cognate? Did I use it correctly?
Now I really need to find a good book on the subject.

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Once, I was in Hong Kong for a one-week assignment with a Singaporean colleague. We always knew that Hongkongers love their dim sum - we just didn’t expect that they loved it THAT much!

Our HK counterparts took us for dim sum lunches every day for that week! They simply presumed Singaporeans would have exactly the same dietary preferences as they do.

But my fellow Singaporean colleague actually has an aversion for dim sum and won’t eat anything with pork or shrimp in them, which was practically almost everything in a dim sum spread … except for chicken feet, of course!

It was a weird experience for me to watch my colleague eat three helpings of chicken feet for his lunch every day for a week! :joy: