[Penang, Malaysia] Nyonya lunch at Green Treasure Point, Hutton Lane

My world this year seemed to have stopped back in March, when Malaysia first locked down for 3 whole months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s never been the same ever since. And now, amidst the second wave of the pandemic, and with Malaysia experiencing four-figures in new cases daily, inter-state travels between Malaysian states have come to almost a complete halt, with Penangites now confined to our little island, which is smaller in area than even NYC (405 sq miles to 468 sq miles).

Well, we make do with what we have amidst these travel restrictions. Nyonya lunch today at Green Treasure Point on Hutton Lane, an 18-month-old Nyonya eatery which I’d actually not noticed till someone highlighted it to me this morning.

The owner-chefs are the Kua sister-and-brother team, Connie and Wai Seng, who poured their passion for Nyonya and Hainanese cooking into their restaurant which offers a whole range of dishes from the Penang-Nyonya staple, Inche Kabin, to the ever-popular Hainanese pork chop.

Our lunch today:

Jiu hu char - shredded jicama and carrots, braised with dried cuttlefish strips, shitake mushroom and pork. The dish was served with a tongue-searing sambal belacan dip.

Gulai tumis with black pomfret - gulai tumis is a soupy, spicy-sweet-sour fish dish incorporating chilis, turmeric, galangal and lemongrass, thickened using candlenuts, and with the sweetness from slowly sauteed minced shallots. Fermented shrimp paste or belacan gives it a piquant lift, whilst a generous dash of tamarind juice plus some fresh tomato wedges gave the gravy a sour-ish tinge - making it like a richer, deeper sibling of the Thai tom yum soup. Pink torch ginger flower, finely-chopped, gives the gulai tumis its unique, unmistakable scent.

The gulai tumis is cooked using black pomfret and okra here, finished off with a scattering of fresh mint leaves before serving. The rendition here is much more sour than I’m used to, but I attributed that to Chef Kua Wai Seng’s personal preference.

Babi buah keluak - the dish here is cooked using pork belly slices (in most other cases elsewhere, pig’s trotters were used). Chef Kua utilized the black-coloured flesh from the buah keluak nuts, which imparted a truffle-like scent to the dish. Chef Kua’s rendition was also more sour in flavour (from his use of tamarind) than I’m used to back in Singapore. His rendition is also drier than the stew-like versions I was brought up with.

Dessert was a Cantonese classic: the Osmanthus flower jelly, which also incorporates red goji berries.

Drink was the half-grass jelly/half-soymilk “Michael Jackson”, a drink name that’s been used widely, especially in the hawker centres in Singapore and Malaysia for the past two decades. No one I asked knew who came up with the name, though it was most certainly inspired by Michael Jackson’s 1991 hit, “Black or White”.

I rather liked these little mom-and-pop (in this case, sister-and-brother) places where the food have a home-cooked flavour, with dishes artisanally-crafted from scratch upon order.

Address
Green Treasure Point
106A, Jalan Hutton (Hutton Lane)
10050 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6016-4191877
Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm Wed to Sun. Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.

4 Likes

The pomfret dish looks yummy. I love sour foods.

Over here, when one makes a joke about Jackson it’s usually the nose.

Nice sunny weather in Penang. Very miserable here today but it’s typical autumn weather.

Hang in there. Think of the fortunate things we still have, especially our health.

1 Like

Actually, I won’t mind a spot of autumn weather here. :joy:
It’s currently 9am in Penang, but the temperature has hit 80 deg F.

View from my writing desk - sunny, but a bit hazy today.

My kitchen window looks out to Penang Hill in the distance. It’s 2,700 feet high, and studded with old bungalows (some dating back to the 1790s). I felt like taking the funicular rail up there for afternoon tea at David Brown’s, but heard that the rail service now runs only once every hour because of the lesser human traffic due to the pandemic lockdown.

3 Likes

Back to Green Treasure Point for lunch today, as we were really keen to explore other items in its menu.

What we had this time:
Hainanese pork chop - this is British-Malaya’s Hainanese answer to the German pork schnitzel (schweineschnitzel): breaded and golden-fried pork chop, slathered with a subtly-flavored brown sauce with hints of star anise and Worcestershire sauce. The version here was executed perfectly - the juiciness of the pork, the lightness of the breaded crust, the savoury-deliciousness of the sauce, accompanied by tomato wedges, baked potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Hainanese spring roll - this is the large, meaty spring roll-on-steroids, filled with finely-chopped jicama, carrots, onions, minced pork and mushrooms. The Worcestershire sauce dip was home-brewed, and has a mellower, deeper, more subtle flavor compared to the Lea & Perrins version.

Sambal petai with prawns - stir-fried petai or stink beans, with shrimps and onions, in a spicy-sour-sweet sambal sauce. Fermented shrimp paste or “belacan” lent the dish an assertive piquancy.

Inche kabin - this was a revelation, I haven’t tasted inche kabin this “authentic” since my grandmother and grand-aunts cooked this 50 years ago. Chef Wai Seng said he marinated the chicken pieces for at least 2 days in his blend of spices and coconut milk, to let the marinade seep into the chicken meat. The chicken are deep-fried upon order, and the blackened appearance is largely due to the spices (much like Cajun spices), whilst the chicken remained moist and juicy inside. Utterly delicious.

Eggs Belanda - this is a simple Penang-Nyonya home-cooked dish, but which is slowly seeping into Nyonya restaurants as a menu option as more and more diners seek out uncomplicated, comfort food outside their homes. Basically fried eggs, usually done with runny yolks, blanketed with a light sweet-sour sauce - the sourness coming from tamarind. At Green Treasure, Chef Wai Seng used Thai tamarind paste, which has a gentler taste and sweeter than the Malaysian and Indonesian varieties. The gravy here was mild enough to be sipped.

Dessert: Bee Koh Moy - this black glutinous rice dessert, simmered with dried longans and sugar, then drizzled with fresh rich coconut milk before serving, is a particular favorite in my family.

This second meal at Green Treasure left a much better impression than the first one 3 days ago. That’s why one should never judge a restaurant based on one visit - chefs oftentimes do some dishes much better than others.

2 Likes

Everything looks good and I don’t even like deep-fried parcels.

I made petai bean dish from a Malay cookery book many years ago but it didn’t happen again since. Found out I had a reaction to the beans. Couldn’t get passed the smell.

1 Like

Oh yes, the smell is quite a challenge for many people, even for those here who grew up with it!

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

― Jonathan Gold