Continue my food journey in Penang. This time, I met my brother for lunch. I was running some errands in the city, near my brother’s office located in the heart of the financial district. It is a busy area, with all the major banks – HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, OCBC, and some very fine colonial architecture.
While waiting for my brother to finish his meeting, I had to have a noodle fix. There is a famous hawker centre on Beach Street. The nasi lemak here is very popular. I walked around and browsed each of the hawker stall, ended up choosing Mee Rebus. But after waiting for 10 minutes, I cancelled the order or I will be late for my meeting with my brother. Instead, I went for Curry Mee, which is the stall next to it.
The curry mee was very good, topped with fried puff tofu and “jew hu” (cuttlefish). The homemade chili paste added a new dimension to the curry stock. It was hot and spicy, but not too spicy so I could still taste the stock one spoonful after another spoonful that went down my throat, churning my stomach upside down in a flame of fire. That to me, was a big wow factor.
The bowl of curry mee costed me MYR$3.00 (AUD$1.00). Awesome!
After another hour, time to meet with my brother. He took me to a Chinese restaurant in a colonial style building. Penang has a fine collection of heritage colonial buildings dotted around the city.
The restaurant, Maple Palace, has a set lunch menu special for MYR$48.80+ (AUD$16+) for 4 people max. The + sign is a 10% service charge. If there is a second + sign, it adds another 5% for government tax. In most restaurants, there is a ++ on top of the bill. It is not customary to give tips if there is already a service charge.
The set menu included a soup of the day, 3 main dishes and a dessert. My brother selected a stir fried prawns with salted egg yolk, curry fish fillet in claypot and deep fried chicken with barbeque sauce. The food was not too bad. It was a good value lunch.
Maple Palace is a flash looking restaurant. The entrance is welcoming with nice warm and light colour scheme. The decor is Chinese chic modern with bird cages hanging from the ceiling, soft drapes, dressed up tables and chairs. If you asked me, it is probably a bit OTT (over the top).
So much food and so much eating. Is there an end to this? Probably not. In another few hours, it is dinner time. We went to Dragon-I, which specialise in Shanghainese cuisine and famous for their made to order “Xiao Long Bao” and handmade noodles.
Dragon-I has two outlets in Penang. We went to the one in Queensbay Mall, the largest shopping mall in Penang. It is a nice looking restaurant with giant size terracotta warrior statues looking towards the water across the mall. It is probably the most successful restaurant in the mall, and there are plenty of restaurants and food courts to choose from at the mall. It is always packed at lunch and dinner time, and especially in the weekend there is a long queue.
We have been to Dragon-I only once, a few years ago with my nephew and niece. At that time, we tried their Xiao Long Bao and noodle dishes. We revisited the restaurant again. This time, we had a proper dinner meal from their extensive and well structured ala carte menu.
A crispy eel stir fry shanghainese style. Absolutely delicious. Sweet and caramalised with fresh julienne ginger.
Stir fried chicken and prawn shanghainese style with dried red chilies and curry leaves. When this dish arrived at our table, I was delighted by the smell and sights of all the dried red chilies. It was a very good dish, with lots of crunchy little pieces of chicken meat and six large prawns. The prawn shell was crispy that I ate the entire shell except the head. This dish was so huge that we had to takeaway what was left.
Look at the number of dried red chilies on this dish. Surprisingly it was not terribly hot, hot. It was a nice hot with a nice aroma of the pungent, smoky flavour from the dried chilies and curry leaves.
Braised bean curd in crab meat sauce. Another beautiful dish from the kitchen. The tofu was soft and silken, melted in my mouth and combined well with the more delicate and flavoursome crab meat sauce, with a mixture of chunky and shredded crab meats.
Soft shell crab was featured in the menu, so we had to order this dish. It was fried with dried red chilies and curry leaves. It was nice. But, if this was the battle of the Soft Shell Crab, the one we had at the Ocean Batu Maung Seafood Restaurant was better than the Dragon-I’s version.
Again, we have over ordered and over eaten at dinner. I told myself that the next dinner, it had to be light, less greasy and less deep fried.