Soon Yuen Coffee Shop (Koay Teow Soup & Chee Cheong Fun) – Penang Street Food Series (3/5)October 6, 2010 | 5,943 views
Penang Street Food Series :
Chapter 1/5 – Batu Lanchang Market Food Complex
Chapter 2/5 – Eng Loh Coffee Shop’s Breakfast Galore @ Church Street
Preparation of bowls after bowls of Koay Teow Th’ng, or Rice Noodles Soup with strips of chicken, fried garlic, and chopped scallions, then subsequently poured upon with a light soup boiled from a combination of pig’s, chicken’s and duck’s bones.
Koay Teow Th’ng (KTT). Or rice noodles soup to those uninitiated, is a classic Penang hawker food not found anywhere else. Maybe there is a dish that resembles this closely, for instance we have Ipoh’s famous “Kai See Hor Fun” (aka Shredded Chicken Koay Teow Soup), or “Hor Hee” (here’s one of my favourite from Li Heng Fatt in old town). But of course, you can also find fish ball noodles soup, or soup noodles with chicken, pork or duck meat, and known by another name in the other states of Malaysia.
Only in Penang was I introduced to this Koay Teow Th’ng (literally means Koay Teow Soup), a perennial favourite amongst the Penangites when it comes to breakfast or in some instances, supper. Still, memories of eating a hearty, tummy-warming bowl of KTT during those dire times (those dastardly examinations, struck with illness, no appetite, etc) came flooding over me whenever I saw any KTT stall in Penang.
For a version that has been proudly proclaimed as one of the best on the island, Soon Yuen Coffee Shop was all but lost on me throughout the four years I spent on the islands. Somehow, we were not as adventurous back then. Excursions to town on the weekends were all precious escapades (sometimes by bus; and you still remember those devils-on-the-road aka green mini buses of Penang back then?), thus we usually opted for the popular laksa, hokkien mee, cendol and char kuey teow stalls, instead of something as mundane as a bowl of chicken rice noodles soup.
Read the full story on Soon Yuen, and how the Chee Cheong Fun here can give Seow Fong Lye a run for their money ……
A few pieces of bouncy homemade fish balls or irregular shapes, and lots of fried garlic for the added zing. The ‘koay teow’ (also known as ‘sar hor fun’ here in Ipoh) is not as silky smooth as Ipoh’s, but with a thicker texture; offering a certain bite.
To find this coffee shop in the heart of Georgetown is not extremely hard. We entered from Lebuh Chulia (Chulia Street), as the whole stretch of Jalan Kuala Kangsar (where the coffee shop is at) was closed off, no thanks to the morning market.
But the sheer number of people shopping around for bargains at the market was mind-boggling. You have to squint, glance around, and be aware of your surroundings if you are not sure where Soon Yuen exactly is. Just like when I had to tip-toe to see above the massive crowd, and read faded signboards of eateries swarmed by the breakfast crowd.
Beautifully poached chicken with a toothsome texture (none of those raw, bloody bits), served with generous handfuls of bean sprouts, and garnished with lots of fried finely-minced garlic.
What in the World is this? No, this sheet is not made of rice. Nor suitable for vegetarians. This my dear, is a thin slice of offal (intestines?) from the chicken!
The Koay Teow Th’ng (RM3/USD1 for a small serving, RM4/USD1.30 for the bigger portion) at Soon Yuen was good, especially the light and flavoursome broth. Thankfully, no MSG (flavour enhancer), but owing the umami properties to the mix bag of duck, chicken and pig bones boiled for hours. The funky pieces of homemade fish balls (made from saito fish, also known as wolf herring) deserve a mention, for unlike the highly-processed, commercialized version, the fish balls here tasted genuinely sweet and tasty with a soft bite instead of an artificial bounce. However, comparing the noodles here to Ipoh’s ‘sar hor fun’, my allegiance is still pledged to my hometown’s version of the slippery smooth rice noodles.
But the other plate of poached chicken, bean sprouts, siew bak choy and chicken’s intestines was superb. On paper, this sounds like a potential Fear Factor candidate. In reality, the crunchy thin sheets of well-cleaned offal surprised me. Tasteless on its own, but punctuated with the flavours coming from the slices of poached chicken flavoured with the simple combination of soy sauce and oil, then garnished with crunchy bits of fried garlic, and the accompanying bean sprouts and vegetable (siew bak choy).
About RM10.00/USD3.30 per serving, the portion is enough to be shared between two persons.
Here you have Mr Tan, deep in concentration while this nosy Motormouth was in a snapping frenzy. Come to think about it, the shop was so crowded we were having difficulty even to stand around!
And if you’re not a fan of hot, soupy noodles (like yours truly), then go for a plate of Penang Chee Cheong Fun from this stall directly next to the KTT stall.
You can even request for extra toasted sesame seeds for extra fragrance. (RM2.50/USD0.80 per portion)
And don’t miss the Chee Cheong Fun here at Soon Yuen. Though not as memorable as Seow Fong Lye‘s, but at least you don’t have to wait a half hour or more. And there was NO attitude at all. She was very accommodating to the requests of the customers, for we saw people asking for extra sesame seeds, requesting for their rolled rice noodles to be ‘opened up’, less of this and more of that, etc.
Us? We had the ‘semua taruh’ option.
Like a MADHOUSE. On the outside, as well as the inside. Soon Yuen Coffee Shop is a hotspot for breakfast in town. But don’t despair, and just brace yourself for the wait.
I will probably be back for the CCF when the craving comes, and of course the plate of chicken with offal and bean sprouts. I bet the latter goes even well with some white, or oiled rice!
SOON YUEN COFFEE SHOP
No 25 & 27, Jalan Kuala Kangsar
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.
Business hours : 7am – 12pm.
Days off not fixed.
GPS Coordinates : E100 19′ 56.3″ N5 25′ 3.4″
Google Map to Soon Yuen Coffee Shop
TO BE CONTINUED ….