Thursday, 25 August 2011

Hawker Centre: New Lane - Georgetown, Penang

Most will know that Penang is awash with hawker stalls and food courts with different eateries situated alone or in clusters almost every few yards you walk. There are some though that seem to be sought out by the locals perhaps over and above the others. This may well of course be on the basis of a preference for certain types of dish, no good heading of in search of a hokkien mee and going to a food court / hawkers that doesn’t serve it!! Despite the dish preferences, still some hawker centres seem to be more popular than others. The previously reviewed Goodall centre is one of these and another is that clustered on the corner of New Lane.

I was taken here one evening by a friend and fellow foodie, a life-long resident of Penang. It is quite easy to find and is just on the corner of Mcalister Road and New Lane with the Sunway Hotel being the closest land mark, being just a hundred yards or so further down the road. Travelling by bus you can get to this place on the Rapid Penang 101 service, just keep a look out for the Sunway or ask the driver to let you off at New Lane.

Despite the general appeal of this cluster of hawkers, even here certain food seems to be favoured by the clientele. On this particular occasion we opted for a range of dishes which comprised:
  • Chicken Satay
  • Loh Bak
  • Hokkien Prawn Mee
  • Cheng Tung Soup
  • Che Cheong Fun
Working down the list I have to say that the satay here was outstanding. Probably the best I have sampled so far in Penang (although the satay they serve at the Muntri Mews hotel comes quite close – review to follow). The satay, cooked fresh with each order, is well marinated, moist, and served piping hot with an outstanding sauce with just the right blend of peanut and chilli. The meat exudes the flavours of ginger and soy sauce with that unmistakable taste that you can only get from a real barbeque /grill. The Loh Bak is another firm favourite here, a spiced pork sausage wrapped in a thin and crispy pastry the diners seem to order it almost exclusively with the favoured accompaniments of prawn fritter and barbequeued tofu. The hokkien prawn mee was very tasty also but couldn’t compare to that sold at the Pulau Tikus hawker stall (see previous review) and the Cheng Tung soup was also very nice. This is a bean and fungus based clear soup served warm or even chilled and often eaten by the Chinese for breakfast. This is also a favourite of mine. Finally there is the Che Cheong Fun. Now, this is somewhat of an acquired taste!!! It’s OK but may take some getting used to. It’s basically a noodle which is fashioned to look like pig’s intestine (quite why is a little beyond me). The unique taste comes from the blend of sauces that accompanies the noodle which, in Malaysia, is served without any meat or shellfish. The thnee cheo sauce is dark red and quite sweet, hae ko is the the prawn paste found in many Penang dishes (including Rojak) and huan cheo is a spicy chilli paste. The dish is generally sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and a sparkling of oil and you then mix it all up to spread the sauces round prior to eating. Now I am very very liberal with regard to my taste in food and always happy to try anything new but, while I could certainly eat this dish I have to say it was not the favourite of the evening and, as I have already said, I would consider it to be an acquired taste. At only RM 2 a plate though it’s worth giving it a try. Who knows, you may love it.

I have added New Lane hawkers to my increasingly long list of regular haunts but believe me, this place is popular and you may struggle to get a seat at some of the busiest times. It’s well worth a visit and I would suggest the satay, loh bak and cheng tung are ‘Must Try’s’. The che cheong fun, you’ll have to decide for yourself. Sorry about the lack of photos this time, too hungry and had eaten most before the word 'camera' came to mind sad

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