We had a simple, Malay-style seafood dinner at 𝗪𝗮𝗿𝘂𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗼𝗸 𝗠𝗮𝘁 𝗠𝗲𝗲 𝗨𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗴 in Tanjung Bungah last night. The somewhat hidden-from-view eatery was started by an old fisherman, Tok Mat, for his son and daughter-in-law. Both Pak Murad and his wife, Kak Rahmah, have had two-decades-long experience each cooking in hotels in Penang and Singapore, before they decided to run the seafood restaurant here.
Like most Malay eateries in the vicinity, it’s a simple zinc-roofed structure set amidst waving coconut palm trees, and a small stream which leads out to the sea. A small dilapidated bridge leads to the eatery from the sandy space where we parked our car.
Their eatery looks out to a secluded beach lined with fishing boats, and a view of the Floating Mosque in the horizon.
What we had there:
Ikan bawal set, with rice, ulam, kuah gulai ikan & sambal belacan (RM25/£4.50/US$5.90). This consisted of a freshly-caught white pomfret, simply pan-fried and served with a bouquet of “ulam” (Malay herb-and-vegetable salad, with a spicy sambal dip & a dark soy sauce/chili dip on the side), steamed white rice, and a small bowl of fish curry sauce. It’s very rustic and simple, basic fare, but totally reflective of a Malay village meal.
Nasi goreng kampung (RM6/£1/ US$1.40) - this literally translates as “village fried rice”, and was simply fried rice with small dried anchovies (“Ikan bilis”), springs of fresh coriander, and shallots, topped with a fried egg.
Sotong tepung goreng (RM15/£2.70/US$3.55) - batter-fried calamari rings, with sweet Thai chili sauce. What sets the version here apart from most other eateries we had was the freshness of the produce: most of the seafood used here were caught the same day, perhaps a few hours before. Nothing is frozen, but used immediately. The ones here were so light & tender, we finished the whole plate in minutes.
Butter prawns (RM25/£4.50/US$5.90) - this was the only item on their menu without a Malay name (it would have been called “udang mentega” otherwise). The use of English for this item signified it’s a “Western-style” dish, rather than a Malay one. But the preparation was totally Malay-nised: crisp-fried shell-on prawns smothered in a buttery-creamy sauce, topped with crisp-fried shallots and chopped scallions.
Like all other items on their menu, the dish was treated with the lightest touch of spice or condiments, so as to let the freshness and natural sweetness of the prawns to shine through. Utterly scrumptious.
Mee Udang (RM25/£4.50/US$5.90) - Malay-style prawn noodle, which has a tomato-based gravy. The version here tasted blander than those we’d had elsewhere, which was surprising, seeing that the eatery’s name was translated as “Tok Mat’s Prawn Noodle Stall” - so this was supposed to be their signature dish.
But the dish was rescued by their very fresh, meaty, large prawns.
The generous husband-and-wife team runs 𝗪𝗮𝗿𝘂𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗼𝗸 𝗠𝗮𝘁 𝗠𝗲𝗲 𝗨𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗴 with strong, steady hands, and warm, friendly smiles. Owner-chef Kak Rahmah (pictured below) was a large, genial woman with a gentle demeanour.
Warung Tok Mat Mee Udang
Jalan Tanjung Bungah (near junction with Jalan Chan Siew Teong), Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 11-2401 4303
Opening hours: 6pm till late (last orders: 10pm) Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.