Chee Cheong Fun
Chee Cheong Fun is also known as Steamed Noodle Roll. It hasn’t topped any list (that I’ve seen) of Penang foods to try. And yet it’s a yummy local favorite. My gluten-free expat friends love it because it’s a rice noodle dish that they can eat. So let’s explore what Chee Cheong Fun is.
Wan than Mee. It’s been my go-to Penang Hawker stall lunch for the last few months. Wan Than mee and an iced coffee for RM5 can’t be beat. So what is it?
Can you believe I am still finding hawker stall foods that I haven’t tried before? Hokkien Mee, available with Prawn and without, is one of my new favorite dishes from the hawker stalls. It is extremely tasty without having to burn ones face of with spice.
Hokkien Mee is a noodle dish that swims happily in a beef or fish broth. The noodle is supposed to be consistent from stall to stall. It’s supposed to be a combination of egg noodles and rice noodles (bihun). The rest of the dish is really up to the vendor. There might be a hard boiled egg, or some bean sprouts. There might be bits of meat. I don’t think there’s going to be any weird cuts, like liver or heart, like in Loh Mee. At least I haven’t had any yet.
As you can see in the picture above, the chili sauce (sambal) is served in the little spoon and can be left out if you’re sensitive to spicy foods.
There are lists on the internet for where to find the best Hokkien Mee in Penang. I haven’t had a stand out best one anywhere yet. I think it’s one of those dishes that everyone seems to get right.
Now recently, the Penang Chief Minister proposed a law to make it illegal for foreigners to cook at any Penang food stalls. This really saddens me, especially reading the comments that people make online about foreign workers. The bulk of the negative comments turn into racial slurs against Bangladeshis, Burmese or Indonesian migrant workers. It’s so sad.
The reason for the proposal is to “preserve” the taste of Penang. To make it a legacy and a heritage, unadulterated by outsiders. I think that this doesn’t require legislation. If the particular hawker stall does not taste the same (or better) than your memory of Penang food, stop eating there. They will go out of business when they can’t sell their food. Let the public vote for the legacy they want, not the legislators.
You could also use the internet for more productive means than cutting down foreigners. Let’s be an example, and post in the comments (or on the Living in Penang Facebook group) where to find the best Penang Hokkien Mee.
Today I want to write about a dish that I haven’t found on any list of foods to try in Penang. It’s a shame because it’s truly a Penang specialty and even though the name sounds Thai, I’m told that you can’t get it in Thailand. That dish is Tom Yam Fried Rice.
I announced on social media the news, and now I’m posting it on the blog. Lonely Planet announced that Penang is the #1 food destination. They join CNN travel in stating what we all, those of us who live in Penang, agree as being obvious. Penang does indeed have the best street food. In honor of this announcement I’m putting out this list of my previous posts about the street food I’ve enjoyed in the past. I’ll write up a few more in the coming week and I’ll finish with my own list of foods you should not miss when you come to Penang. Read more…
Since having a baby, I haven’t had much opportunity to get out and explore Penang as much as I use to. Today, I had to get some documents notarized and run a few other errands and so I found myself out for lunch. A great day for an adventure. I stopped at a corner kopi tiam type place, with several food stalls. There was wan tan mee, hokkien prawn mee, but I saw something I never tried before. And so my Loh Mee adventure began. Read more…
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There is a beach access parking lot next to the Lone Pine Hotel across from the Petronas and MacDonald’s in Batu Ferringhi. As you walk toward the beach from the car park you will find several shops selling beach toys, swimwear, tshirts and hats. After that, there’s a little food court of three sellers and one of them is Tai San Guan. This place has the hands-down best char kway teow in Batu Ferringhi, and we’ve tried quite a few. Read more…
I’ve been going to Khaleel Restaurant in Batu Ferringhi for about as long as we’ve been living in Penang. There was a span we were going there at least thrice a week. We’ve tapered back a little since then, but we still enjoy going there for a snack or a meal every once in a while. Read more…
Khaleel Restaurant is a good place to go to get Roti Canai and Dosai. What can we say about Roti Canai? You can’t live in Penang and not have tried Roti Canai. It is a cheap and easy breakfast. It’s buttery and layered like a croissant, but has a good chew to it as well like a piece of bread. Here’s a video of it being made at Khaleel.
Dosai is a different kind of pancake. The dough is made of rice flour. Beware though, not all dosai are gluten free. Our friend Julie, who is very sensitive to gluten is able to eat the dosai at the Batu Ferringhi Khaleel Restaurant, but not at other places (like Sri Ananada Bahwan in Tanjung Bungah). Here’s a video of dosai being made.
Both these breads can be made with fillings: egg, cheese, onion, and any combination of those . For the sweet-toothed, there is sweetened condensed milk (Roti susu), Milo powder, and kaya, the coconut/pandan spread that is indigenous to Malaysia. Besides these there is also Roti Tissue (tisu) that is rolled out thin and grilled with honey on it, so that it is crispy and sweet. Khaleel also is popular for Roti Pisang which has bananas and ice cream.
For some reason Roti and Dosai are not an “all-day” food. They stop making it at 11am and don’t start again until 6pm. Early in our time living in Penang, we made the mistake of asking for it at 3pm. We got a look like we were from another planet, asking for roti when it wasn’t the appointed hour! We’ve never gotten a clear reason why Roti and Dosai are not available in the mid-day hours, but we’ve rolled with it.
My family is currently on a visa run to Singapore. We are still on tourist visas until our work permits can be processed. In the meantime, we have to leave the country before we run out of the 90 days allowed on our visa.
We’re staying with friends and we are conserving our funds by not eating out a lot. But I did get the chance to step out one evening to try out the hawker stalls here in Singapore.
I recently heard that there was some uproar in Penang about some travel magazine rating Singapore’s street food higher than Penang’s. For that reason I had to try it out.
First, the food court I went to was very crowded. I arrived just after sundown during Ramadan. I had a hard time finding a place to sit. Also I had to relearn the “script“. At this particular food stall, either there are no drink servers wandering around, or they were busy with other patrons. Either way, I never saw them.
I was going to try something I like in Penang, so I can compare and contrast. But then this meal jumped out at me and I had to try it.
I’m a sucker for mutton. I love it. And this dish met my expectations.
I like when the broth does not taste like MSG. It might have had some, but to my taste buds, it tasted like a broth that has been boiling over a fire for hours. The meat was tender. The sauces added a nice heat and sweetness to it.
I think it was interesting that the hot sauce is the same as what we get with Chicken Rice in Penang.
All in all, I was impressed with my first foray in Singapore hawker food. I can’t wait to try something else.