To most Singaporeans, Bak Kut Teh shouldn’t be the unknown. Pork Ribs served in delicious peppery broth, who could resist. Yet, how many knows of the difference between Singaporean and Malaysian BKT. Since I was in Penang for holiday, a place unparalleled for its diversity and quality in hawker fare, I was in luck to give Malaysian BKT a try.
Bak Kut Teh (Malaysian style): Visually, the difference is distinct. The clay pot is overflowing with ingredients. Besides the mandatory pork ribs, this particular style comprises of mushroom and beancurd skin as well. In addition, as compared to the slightly translucent looking soup of Singaporean BKT, the broth here is brown and clear looking instead. Taste wise, the broths are poles apart. The soup here tastes distinctively of herbs but yet, definitely still delicious in its own way.
Fried Lotus Slice: I seriously believe that despite us being close neighbours, we sure have distinct palates and culinary talents as well. Who would have known that sliced lotus roots would taste so delicious sautéed with vegetables and you tiao? This is definitely the work of a hidden culinary prodigy.
Steamed Pomfret with kway teow and bee hoon: As if brunch isn’t bizarre enough, our steamed pomfret appears on a bed of kway teow and bee hoon. And just like this, you can have your protein and carbohydrates all in one single dish. One key aspect that ties the dish together is the light and savoury sauce that the crew will not hesitate to refill for you.
Hokkien Mee: Once again, we agree to disagree. Another variation to a name that we’re familiar with. This dish was so popular and delectable that the boys wiped out the plate within minutes.
62 Gurney Drive 10250 Penang
Opening hours: 6.30am – 2.45pm, 6pm-11.30pm
When people talk about food in Penang, most would mention Gurney Drive, the street famous for its local fare at night. I was looking forward to having a taste of the authentic flavours, but my evening flight back home clashed with Gurney Drive’s late opening hours. So what happens if you’re in Penang and you really want to try Penang local cuisine? You head to Sungai Pinang.
Penang Laksa: It was my first attempt of the famed Penang Laksa and there is no better place to try it than its place of origins. I hope I can find a mean version back in Singapore because the bar has been set pretty high. Spicy, sour and salty. All the different flavours packed into a small bowl. The plain white thick beehoon goes exceptionally well with the feisty broth. Slices of raw onion, cucumber and coriander leaves are just perfect finishing touches to this dish. If you have not tried Penang Laksa, I strongly recommend that you do.
Oyster Omelette: This dish possesses multiple forms and taste in different countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. Penang serves oyster omelette that is entirely similar to our local’s fare. Tasty and yet less starchy than the rendition in Taiwan. Penang Fried Kway Teow: This is distinctively different from Singapore’s Char Kway Teow. Firstly, the former is much lighter in appearance. This is due to the lack of dark soya sauce as compared to our version. The taste is the second difference. The dominant flavour of the Penang Fried Kway Teow is salty, instead of the sweet soya sauce found in our Char Kway Teow. Thanks to a strong wok-fire, the street is taste and flavourful
Grilled Scallops: Something that you do not get to see often in Singapore. The shellfish are well-seasoned and grilled to perfection. Doesn’t take a shellfish lover to love this dish.
Barbecue Chicken Wings: Another familiar sight in Penang. The wings are well-marinated, tasty and adequately moist. I was caught devouring quite a few of them.
I took a walk around the area and found the place remotely similar to some of our food centres, like Newton Circus or even Chomp Chomp. But of course, the area here is much bigger and can accommodate many more tables than ours. It can get pretty stuffy during dusk but the affordable food and fruit juice will keep you distracted.