Some of the options to ladle onto one's plate of rice
at my favorite Malay rice stall in Penang
There are so many delicious choices to be had that even
regular customers need to pause to ponder a while
what they want to have for lunch when they visit! ;b
My choice on my most recent visit -- including
a drink of ice rose syrup water with a lime for added flavor!
A couple of weeks ago, thanks to the wonders of Youtube, I watched the No Reservations in Penang episode that had aired in the US on June 4th. Fortunately, because I knew I'd be back in Penang soon, I wasn't too jealous of No Reservations' main man, Anthony Bourdain, getting to eat all sorts of delicious dishes in that part of the world.
In the very first season of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain and his crew had visited Malaysia -- but, inexplicably to me (and many other of the region's foodies), had not included Penang in his itinerary then. So it seemed long overdue for him to feature Penang -- but when I have to say that the wait was worth it. Put another way: I really do reckon that he generally did good by it -- and has made many a Penangite happy and proud in the process.
At the same time, I have a couple of quibbles re the representation of Penang and its food scene. One of these is that Penang (like with Hong Kong) is both an island and a larger territory (that includes other islands and a "mainland" -- with Penang's being part of Peninsular Malaysia). The second is that I'm surprised that, aside from the opening shots focusing on nasi lemak, such short shrift was given to Malay foods in No Reservations' Penang episode.
With regards to the latter: Anthony Bourdain clearly enjoyed the bowl of assam laksa that he had at the Air Itam market and it's true enough that particular stall would be many people's choice for best Chinese assam laksa place. However, this Penangite actually prefers Malay assam laksa -- with its soupier (rather than thicker) broth, softer (less "springy") noodles and less generally tart taste (due to it not having pineapples in its mix unlike the Chinese version) -- and specifically, those cooked up at the Laksa Tanjung Bungah stall over at Shamrock Beach.
And while I also would recommend nasi kandar as a "must try" for foodies visiting Penang, I really do like my Malay rice options as well as Indian Muslim ones. Consequently, while I did make a point to revisit Hameediyah for my nasi kandar "fix" (rather than Anthony Bourdain's choice of Line Clear), I also was very happy to have managed to fit in lunch at the Malay "economy" rice stall in Tanjung Tokong that's located in the shadow of the fishermen's flats.
For those who are wondering, the toppings I chose for my rice consisted of (from left to right in the third photo from the top of this entry): crunchy winged bean, red onion and chilli salad, rich-tasting curried beef kidney (don't knock it until you've tried it!), meaty-tasting curried fish roe (ditto!), a sweet and spicy curried pineapple chunk, and a tangy mango, onion and red chilli salad. All this -- and my rose syrup drink -- for less than 6 Malaysian dollars (i.e., less than US$2 or HK$15). So yes, a real bargain -- one more thing about Penang food that Anthony Bourdain forgot to mention... but I'll forgive him for that as I get the feeling he was enjoying his Penang food too much to notice how much (or, rather, little) it all cost! ;b