Penang Hawker Food @ Wai Sek Kai, Chai Leng Park, ButterworthJanuary 29, 2010 | 23,007 views
After a few months of some serious honeymoon-ing, finally Motormouth got back to action. It’s been quite some time since ze butt got off from ze daily routine of sticking to ze office chair. (But of course, there are exceptions). If it’s your first time here, probably you’re not used to the onslaught of food posts from the other towns and states, no thanks to the immense frequency of travelling owing to the nature of my job. But if you’re a regular, then that most dreaded feeling of ‘Uh-Oh … here he goes again …. >_<” might be all too familiar.
And to kick things off, here’s a short recap of the whirlwind ‘tour’ around the mainland of Penang – Seberang Jaya and Butterworth.
Hello Kitty Leng Chee Kang. How SWEET, huh? Another one in the book of ‘Names That Got Stuck to One’s Mind’
Thanks to CK Lam (she’s like ze walking directory of Penang food), my stay at Chai Leng Park of Butterworth, Penang got lifted with a short detour to Wai Sei Kai (Food Street) of Butterworth, Penang. Not one who’s accustomed to food-hunting on the mainland of Penang, I was a lost sheep. We were required to stay somewhere on the mainland, instead of on the glutton’s paradise (read : Penang island).
Like only Penang could. The northern intepretation of Leng Chee Kang; with EVERYTHING thrown in for good measure!
This was my first visit to Chai Leng Park of Butterworth, and a Google search for food in and around the vicinity will reveal the name Wai Sei Kai (Food Street in Chinese) more often than not. Situated near to the Market Square of Chai Leng Park in Butterworth (was a little confused, since I never knew Seberang Jaya and Chai Leng Park share the same perimeters).
A most traditional Wantan Mee sold by the equally classic uncle, the lacklustre Jawa Mee, and the passable Or Chien.
And after getting lost a little (yeah, as efficient as ever …. note to self : Probably should get myself a GPS unit to usher in the Year of the Tiger. Woo-Hoo?), we finally managed to reach the hands-down most famous hawker outlets in Butterworth of Penang. Opens only for dinner until late night, the stretch of hawker stalls under those zinc roofs and fluorescent lighting did remind me of Ipoh’s very own Tong Sui Kai.
Penang does Street Food best – The Belacan fried chicken was at its crunchy, piquant and pungent best. And the crispy, almost flaky Apom (Malaysian style of coconut milk crepe, sometimes with fillings, sometimes without) as well as boiled chickpeas were fantastic snacks
The Wantan Mee was a surprisingly good find, but of course, judging from the amount of traffic (read : patronage) that particular evening, my doubt was cast off. Aside from forgetting my order (The stall was manned by an elderly couple after all, possibly in their late 60’s?), the 20 minutes or so wait for the thicker strands of egg noodles as compared to the average, basking in the glistening mix of soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, and garnished with lots of chopped spring onion was a case of patience well-paid off. The dainty pork wantan (dumplings in soup) fared not as stellar, but the thinly-sliced pieces of Char Siew were prove of their worth, exuding a most traditional flavour – with dark, caramelized edges (unlike the more common reddish/artificial ones at other Penang’s wantan mee stalls that I frequented in the past).
Other notable items include the fried chicken stall – With options of either the pungent but very Malaysian-ized ‘sambal belacan’ flavour, or fried with Nam Yue (fermented bean paste). The Or Chien (oyster omelette) was a passable fare, with plump and juicy oysters, yet the eggs and sweet potato flour combination was not the most crispy one I’ve tasted and was instead starchy. The Jawa Mee was consumed by my friend, though the plate of yellow noodles blanched and subsequently drenched in the thick, starchy (again?) and sweet-spicy-sour gravy looked almost too bland to be relished.
Pardon the dagger stare – She was a really friendly lady.
The sheer number of stalls lining the street (Lebuh Kurau 5) was mind-boggling, and you either try most of them (come in a larger group for better coverage) at one go, hopping from stall to stall, or you can come back again and again (if you’re a Penangite, it’s darn easy. But not when you’re from the other states, or worse, countries!) for the cheap, yet utterly delicious Penang hawker fares.
The curry puff which comes with chicken or sardine fillings, was almost too good to be neglected. Authentic Indian style of fritters, in non-uniformed shapes and sized, the spicy fillings of chicken curry or the one with sardine were both top-notch. The pastry remained crispy even after a few hours of left-standing under the blaring air-cond. At RM1/USD0.30 per piece, the puffs came in rather generous mouthfuls.
I wished I was there with a most-vacuumed stomach. And dragging a most hungry entourage of gluttons. Well, there’s always another food session in Penang (quick, quick…. any takers/guides?!). Yet to sample CK’s recommended Lok-Lok (instant steamboat of skewered items served with chili/sweet sauce), which was crowded at the other end of the stretch of stalls.
Wai Sek Kai (aka Food Street)
Lebuh Kurau 5,
Taman Chai Leng,
Butterworth, Penang, Malaysia.
Stalls open from about 5pm onwards, until late night.
And here’s a GOOGLE MAP for easy reference.