Monday, April 07, 2014

Apom Balik for Tea

Apom/Apam, or apong(in local Hokkien) is a local favorite on the island of Penang; a sweet savory Nyonya treat in the form of a folded mini pancake and its soft, fluffy and pillowy texture along with a hint of aromatic coconut milk will leave one craving for more.
It is not unusual to see stalls selling this local and delicate delight around the island wherever you go; from morning markets to outside coffee shops, schools, banks and offices, until night markets to show you that this is an all-day favorite treat among the locals.

There are two variants of this; a lighter batter in a crepe-like version with a soft eggy texture which is also known as Apam Telur(Apom/Apong Telur) and the other is as described above, a slightly thicker and richer version with coconut known as the Apam Balik.
You can find both version around the island.

Ask any Penangite about the most famous Apom Balik, and they will probably point you in the direction of Burmah Road where there are two stalls; indisputably famed for this light tea snack.
Apong Guan and Apom Chooi are both known for their reputation in making the best apam on the island; although the former holds the superior title to the latter, wooing customers from both the local Penangites and also those from the other states.
By the way, did you know that Apong Guan and Apom Chooi were actually related, though they are still competitors? (Trivia)

Apong Guan is well known for his wonderful customer service, the elderly man behind the stall is never without a kind word or a smile for each and every of his customer and there was never an air of arrogance around him despite rushing to meet the demands of his customers. I joke you not, as there are customers who would order 50-100 pieces (minimum) from him!

Anyway, I will cover more on the story of Apong Guan in a separate article, as this round, we tried out Apom Chooi, whom, rain or shine opens for business every day. His stall is located just a few steps away from Apong Guan, before the primary school, SJK(C) Union along Burmah Road, and next to him is a stall selling sugar cane juice.
Apom Chooi, is also busy making these little savory pancakes in huge orders for the visiting customers during the Qing Ming period.

Priced at MYR0.50 each, we bought the original flavor and the pandan flavored atom.
(Used to be priced at only MYR0.40, the price has increased early this year)

Original Flavored Apam Balik

Pandan Flavored Apam Balik

Apom Chooi did not disappoint in delivering a good Apam Balik, and is a slightly less sweeter version compared to his competitor, Apong Guan.
There is no one far superior in this, and the post is not meant to make an contrast or stark comparison between the two famous stalls as it really boils down to a matter of personal preference, which is the main reason behind both stalls' own base of fans lusting after the light afternoon snack.

Apom Chooi is run by an elderly, slightly over 70 years old man, who does not speak much and just prepares the pancakes based on customer's orders.

If you are interested to compare between the two stalls, or just craving for the Apam Balik for an afternoon snack, you might want to head down to Burmah Road, which, by the way, is also a street famous for many other food which I shall cover on in the future.


  1. Apam balik was my childhood favorite too, RM0.50 is really cheap! I think we have to pay at least RM2 here.

  2. I used to love this too. My grandparents lived in Penang and we spent school holidays there - used to eat tons of this!

  3. awesome pics of the apam balik! this brings back nice memories of my campus days in USM Penang, so thanks for sharing :) i can't remember how much it cost back in the mid 1990s, but i guess it might have been even lower than 40 sen, heh :)

  4. Baby Sumo, I'm so with you on used to be only .40 cents last year and the price only went up this year. In KL, oh dear, there is nothing near the word 'cents'..LOL:-P

  5. WokandSpoon, Oooh, then you're like me, where we travel to Penang during the school holidays to visit my grandma during my childhood. Now I'm married and in Penang...hahaha :-P

  6. Sean, oooh, I would think so...back then according to my parents, even 10 cents could buy you a bowl of noodles. Today, even a dollar can't get you anywhere near a decent meal :-P