[Penang, Malaysia] The Thai Shop, Hutton Lane

The newest Thai eatery in Penang also happens to be the most authentic - the Thai Shop on Kimberley Street has a small menu, specialising in “khao ka muu”, stewed pork-leg with rice, one of my fave Thai street food dishes of all time.

The Thai Shop is located on Kimberley Street, near the junction with Penang Road. The restaurant consists of two sections: a restaurant proper inside a shop-house lot, and a series of small carts and a cooking station outside on a side-alley, with al fresco seating, which I preferred.

What we had:

  1. Khao ka muu - very good. It doesn’t really approach the standards of the best ones in Bangkok, but excellent nevertheless. Stewed pork leg with hard-boiled egg, served with rice together with boiled “kai lan” and pickled mustard stems.

  1. Thai green curry chicken with rice. A rather mild but tasty version here.

  2. Som tum green papaya salad - excellent!

  3. Thai pork sate, which we really liked.

  1. Tub tim krob or red rubies dessert. Definitely the best version I’d tried in Penang.

Best Thai street food in Penang, bar none.

Address
The Thai Shop
257 Lebuh Kimberley
George Town
10100 Penang
Tel: +6012 7411 868 (Mervyn)

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Just an update - Thai Shop, which had moved to Hutton Lane in late-2018, is currently temporarily closed as its owners are still stranded in Korat, Thailand. The closure of the borders between Malaysia and Thailand since March 2020 has made it impossible for them to return to Penang at the moment - the husband-and-wife team that owns Thai Shop are Penangite, Mervyn, and his Thai wife, Nueng. Their all-Thai kitchen crew are all current back in Thailand.

Some photos taken during our dinner at their new Hutton Lane location pre-COVID lockdown. The little alleyway that led from Hutton Lane into their backyard was like a portal from George Town straight into Thailand.

Grilling moo ping - pork skewers and pork sates. The ones here were greasy, smokey and sinfully delicious.

Grilled sai oua sausages. These fat, juicy minced pork sausages were highly-spiced, with strong lemongrass, kaffir limes leaf, galangal and red curry accents.

Preparing the spicy som tam (green papaya salad). The version here is 100% authentic, although I did tell the chef to hold back in the tongue-searing chiles a bit. They sure got the crunchy textures and the sweet-sour-spicy balance of flavours just right here. I still needed at least two tall glasses of Thai iced-tea to douse the chile heat!

One of my fave dishes here: khao ka moo - stewed pork-leg, served with hard-boiled eggs. In Bangkok, my fave district to go for this dish is Saint-Louis off Sathorn Road, where a phalanx of good khai ka moo eateries can be found. But, with the current restrictions on international travel, Bangkok is so near yet so far from Penang.

The unmissable tom yum soup. I liked that the chef puts a squirt of evaporated milk into the soup, giving it a slightly rich flavour that undercuts the spiciness to a certain degree. We ordered the “tom yum talay” (seafood) version as I preferred fish slices in there than the just-shrimp “tom yum koong”.

Tum tim krob dessert - the shaved iced dessert which used diced waterchestnut covered with pink-tinged tapioca starch to emulate the appearance of pomegranate seeds. Slices of sweet jackfruit were added, and sweetened fresh coconut milk. It was perfect.

For the moment, the best place for Thai street food in George Town remains closed.

Address
The Thai Shop
102B, Jalan Hutton (Hutton Lane)
10050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6012-741 1868
Operating hours: 12-3pm, 6-9pm, Tue to Sun (CURRENTLY CLOSED TEMPORARILY)

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Good news to fans of Thai Shop on Hutton Lane. It’s now back in operations, albeit with a limited menu, as the owner is doing all the cooking himself at the moment (his former kitchen crew are all still in Thailand).

During my last visit there, there were only two items on offer, but both were by far the best-tasting renditions of those items I’d had in town!

Kha kha moo - stewed pork leg, with hard-boiled egg, blanched “kai lan” greens and pickled radish stems. I could eat this every day.

Mama tomyum noodles with prawns and pork-balls - another sure winner. I dread spicy tom yum and usually do not order it in Thai eateries - but I ordered the one here since, well, there wasn’t anything else on the menu. It turned out to be a winner - perfectly balanced sweet-sour-spicy flavours - mildly spicy, too, which suits me just fine. I’ll actually come back just for this.

Drinks were Thai iced tea, and iced green tea with milk, both refreshing and not overly sweet like those in most Thai places tended to be.

So, whilst we await Thai Shop to regain its full operations, we’ll just have to make do with the current two food offerings.

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With the lifting of border restrictions between Malaysia and Thailand, processing of working visas for Thai workers to come to Malaysia have been resumed, after two years of lockdown because of the COVID pandemic.

Owner, Mervyn Wee, shared the great news that his full crew will be operating once again by the end of this month, once his Thai staff from Nakhon Ratchasima/Korat (Isaan region) arrive back in Penang.

We are so looking forward to the “moo ping” (pork satay) and “som tum” (green papaya salad) which the Thai Shop is famous for once again.

In the meantime, we made do with their current limited offerings during our dinner there last night:
:small_orange_diamond: Khao ka muu (braised pig’s trotters on rice)

:small_orange_diamond: Sai oua (grilled Northern-style pork sausage) - these famous sausages from Northeast Thailand/Chiengmai utilizes slightly fermented pork for its stuffing, giving the sausages their trademark slightly-sourish flavour.

:small_orange_diamond: Mama tom yum noodles - this is the most famous brand of instant noodles in Thailand: the sourish-spicy tom yum flavour, but perked up here with the addition of fresh kaffir lime, then garnished with fresh prawns and a raw egg yolk, to be stirred into the hot noodles at the last moment:

:small_orange_diamond: Ko muu yarng (grilled pork neck, and kai yarng (grilled chicken) - both type of meat were superbly grilled, with a tantalizing smoky aroma. The pork neck, in particular, was delicious, with a rich, fatty sweetness which the chicken could not begin to compare with.

:small_orange_diamond: Thai iced tea (red & green varieties)

A superb meal, even if Mervyn did not have the full complement of his restaurant crew yet.

The clientele have picked up tremendously - a full house even on a mid-week/Wednesday.

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Very nice place by the looks of it… And the food looks amazing… :slight_smile: When I go to Penang (hopefully next Feb) I’ll be sure to ask you tips!

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Sure thing!

What a great post, Peter! You have four of my favorite Thai dishes in one post! Khao Kha Muu, Tom Yum Talay, Sai Oua, and Som Tam are my “Hall of Fame” dishes for Thailand.
Like most food lovers I have vivid memories of favorite dishes, some of which may not be the very best examples of the dish but made a huge impact on memories of journeys. I remember trying the Khao Kha Muu from the cowboy hat lady’s stall in Chiang Main and the food was simply outstanding. I have been told it is only above average but every time I have gone back the pork leg, the greens and the soft boiled egg have been just outstanding. Still one of my greatest food experiences.
My hostess at New Way bungalows on Ko Tao (a lovely woman named Pan) used to do a Tom Yum Talay with whatever seafood looked freshest that day and every time it was a bit different but simply delicious. We would sit with our toes in the sand under the thatch overhead and eat outstanding food, drink Chang and watch the sun set in fiery red hues that seemed to burn into our memories.
Sai Oua is a dish that I have had so many different places that no one of them stand out, but the rich pork flavor balanced by the lemongrass and galangal is a huge part of northern Thailand and southern Laos in my mind.
Finally, I encountered Som Tum for the first time back in 1994 when I stayed on Bo Phut beach by Ziggy’s. An old woman with a cart prepared Som Tum and grilled chicken thighs that were simply outstanding. Every day she would roll her cart up to where I was chilling in my hammock and she would hold up a handful of mouse shit chilis. The first week I would ask for 2 then 3 mouse shit peppers and the Som Tum she prepared in that laborious process using the mortar and pestle was mild and flavorful. I gradually worked up to 9 or 10 chilis and the Som Tum packed a good deal of heat to go along with the flavor. I asked her once, “How many chilies do you put in your own Som Tum” and she prepared a small portion for herself with 20 or 30 chilis and happily munched away at the fiery concoction, laughing at my wide eyed reaction. She was a character to remember.
I love the food of SE Asia!

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Amazing food memories you have there, @ZivBnd !

My maternal grandparents were Bangkokian-Chinese, before they moved to Singapore. So, our family ties in Bangkok made each of my visits rather busy, and I do have a lot of fond food memories there.

But I can never get used to the Thai “full breakfast” - if I do happen to stay at one of my relatives’ home, there is really no distinction between the foods we have for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

When staying with one of my aunts there, she’ll be up by 6.30am to start cooking breakfast. The breakfast spread below was what we’ll see at 8am:

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