[Penang, Malaysia] Teochew porridge lunch at Ah Jin's Porridge, Magazine Road

Septuagenarian Tan Jin Hock aka “Ah Jin” has been running Ah Jin’s Porridge stall for over 6 decades, now with the help of his son, Tan Joo Hong. They serve an average of 20-over side-dishes each day, to accompany their plain rice porridge - and they do about 100 to 150 covers per day. The uniqueness of Ah Jin’s Porridge stall is their trishaw-puller’s seating style: small, wooden stools stacked atop long wooden benches lined up against the periphery of his serving counter.

Ah Jin’s side-dishes are cooked Teochew-style: braised minced pork cooked with chilis and preserved soy-bean paste (“taucheo”), batter-fried fish fillets, stir-fried beansprouts with tofu, clams cooked with ginger and preserved soy-beans, salted duck’s egg, pork steaks covered with dark soy-sauce, etc.

The seating style here used to be de rigeur amongst Penang and Singapore’s Chinese trishaw or rickshaw-pullers, who preferred a crouching stance when they were resting, even when they were eating their meals - a tradition carried over from Southern China where they or their forefathers emigrated from in the 19th- till mid-20th-century.

In such eateries, the diners would crouch on the wooden benches lining 3 sides of the serving counter, much like a traditional Japanese sushi counter arrangement. Over time, tiny wooden stools were stacked atop the wooden benches to “make the diners more comfortable”.

Perched on these seats, I can attest that it gives the diner an amazing elevated eye-view over the spread of side-dishes available to accompany one’s bowl of rice porridge!

I opted to sit at one of the more conventional tables and chairs available away from the serving counter. But, if one is adventurous enough, do try one of those seats - they have disappeared completely from Singapore, and this is the last of its kind here in Penang.

It’s just a challenge to catch this place open - the old man does not announce his off-days, and he sometimes simply take a couple of weeks off. But if one walks by this place and it’s open, don’t hesitate to go right in!

Bee Hong Coffeeshop (美鳳茶室)
93, Jalan Magazine
10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 10.30am to 4.30pm Thu to Sun. Closed Mon to Wed. Additional days off are sometimes unannounced.


Old-fashioned and local. My style.

I don’t like rice unless it’s in the form of noodles or porridge, or sake. I do like savoury sticky rice.

Fantastic spread.

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Sake! Oh yes. :joy:

The COVID pandemic has claimed another old-school eatery in Penang: Tan Jin Hock of Ah Jin’s Porridge has decided to hang up his gingham apron for good after more than 60 years of business.

The old man felt the on-again-off-again rolling lockdowns has taken a toll on him, plus the fact that, at 70-plus years old, serving his meal at the counter has become risky business. So, he’s decided to give his wife (who did most of the cooking) and himself some well-earned rest.

Local Kwong Wah newspaper report on its closure:
80年历史老字号 坐凳子吃潮州粥不卖了!光华日报 | 1910年创刊 创新每一天生活 (kwongwah.com.my)

Farewell, Ah Jin, and thank you! Your cooking will be missed!


Sorry to hear this happened one after another, especially knowing the knowledge and cuisine will forever be lost.

Btw, did you tried those double stools on the bench?

I did - it was a lark. I was so afraid to lean forward, in order to adjust the position of my posterior vis-à-vis the (rather uncomfortable) tiny stool perched atop the bench - I was afraid I might accidentally fall face first into the trays of food in front of me.


That was some balancing act! :rofl:

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A shame. I tried going a couple of times when I was last in Penang in 2017. But like you said in your OP, it’s a challenge to go when it’s open.

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Many Penangites had been moaning about the retirement last Feb 2021 of septuagenarian Tan Jin Hock aka “Ah Jin”, who has been running Ah Jin’s Porridge stall on Magazine Road for over six decades.

Good news: his replacement, 68-year-old Teochew owner-chef, Ooi Yew Meng, and his wife also do an excellent version of Teochew rice porridge with a wide range of side-dishes to choose from.

Rice porridge with sweet potato

All the dish items we had today: steamed minced pork-with-eggs, stir-fried lala clams in taucheo (fermented soy beans), stir-fried long beans, crispy-skinned roast pork, and fish in taucheo sauce, were very tasty.

The “coolie squat” style of seating, of course, harked back to the 1960s, like this old photo in Singapore showed:


We’ll eat here when you are in Penang next!