My family is no stranger to the island, having visited them a few times a year ever since I was a child (I used to travel along with them before I ended up being a resident here, not that I am complaining ;-) and therefore, places which scream tourism and on the radar of the over-publicity are definitely known to them and perhaps less appealing following their visits in the past (with an exception of a few local favorites which still maintained their qualities and the owner's demeanor in the rising popularity of Penang as a tourism hub).
We have been wanting to check out the reputable Genting Chee Cheong Fun in Island Glades, but when we arrived (probably between 3-4pm on Saturday), it was already sold out, bummer.
The crowd at the coffee shop, however did beckon to us to check out the offerings from the resident stalls which were the usual display of the close to home hawker fare.
Popiah (MYR2.50) is a familiar wrap of stir-fried jicama with curd (tau kua) and french beans, with an occasional toss of fried shallots on the turf of fresh lettuce leaves.
A far more humble version here sans the seafood inclusion of crab meat or prawns, and with that the unmistakable tinge of sweetness from a dab of sweet sauce on the outer wrap.
Wantan Mee (MYR3.50); tossed egg noodles with black soy sauce served with shredded chicken, char siew (bbq pork slices) and vegetables. As its name suggests, it would typically come with a serving of the little wraps of wantons (dumplings) and this came with the fried version served along with the noodles; deviating from the usual soup dumplings.
Lor Bak, always refers to the familiar sight of minced pork roll wrapped with the brownish fried bean curd sheets (foo chook) which is a home favorite familiar to most Penangites (or at least, most of them).
However, the Lor Bak doesn't always come alone as it will always be accompanied by its co-stars offered by the stalls, providing more variety for that plateful of treat and the usual fare might include (though not limited to) fried prawn fritters, fried fish cakes, century eggs, or braised eggs (like the following) and lots of cucumber by the side (a remedy for the heat from all those fried stuffs maybe?)
Of course, the most important part of this platter is always the in the accompanying sauce; which comes in two variants, from the starchy and slightly sweet sauce (not too sweet, just a hint) and the usual spicy chili sauce.
Dip your pick from the platter into both sauce and then into your mouth.
Yes, that's how the locals do it!
Assam Laksa is the aromatic (or may be pungent to some) broth of tamarind pulp cooked with fish to create that sourish taste and then served with thin rice noodles and the famous shrimp paste (which is the culprit to the mixed response to its aroma, though generally most Penangites love and are proud of its tastes).
This version is unique; where it came with an accompanying fried popiah to dip into the broth.
(The other version similar to this can be found in the mainland; Bukit Mertajam or further up north in Kulim).
We came here to hunt for the famous Chee Cheong Fun, but we walked away with a mouthful and discovered another gem of a local Muar Chee, which was located right outside this shop.
Sometimes, the good things do come when you're not looking?