Penang Top Eats – Penang Road Famous Cendol & Sisters Curry Mee

PENANG TOP EATS

Being the foodie capital of Malaysia, Penang resonates with many special signature dishes such as char kway teow, wok fried noodles with prawns; hokkien mee, a prawn noodle dish in a prawn broth; and assam laksa, a tangy and spicy fish broth noodle soup, but to name a few.

You need months to try the best that Penang has to offer, but if there are two things everyone must try at a minimum, then in my opinion these are the following:

1.Penang Road Famous Cendol

This cendol is legendary in Penang. All my research pointed to this being the best in Penang and every local I spoke to also agreed it was the best. Made with coconut milk, pandan jelly noodles, shaved ice, palm sugar and red beans, this was a deliciously refreshing, creamy and not too sweet. It was so delicious I kept going back for more. At MYR2.50 (about £0.42), I also thought it was great value (by Western standards).

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog

Penang Road Famous Cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - Cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol – Cendol

Note that there is another cendol stall across Penang Road Famous Cendol, but just head to the one with the queues. You really can’t miss it.

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - The queues

Penang Road Famous Cendol – The queues

Penang Road Famous Cendol - London Food Blog - Locals eating cendol

Penang Road Famous Cendol – Locals eating cendol

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Kanada-Ya

Where: Kanada-Ya

Photos and words by Food Porn Nation and I.

Kanada-Ya on St Giles High Street opened its doors in September 2014 and has since cultivated a large following with its special brand of ramen. Kanada-Ya is the brainchild of the award winning tonkostu broth master Mr Kanada who has been making ramen in Japan since 2009. It specialises only in tonkostu ramen and does not stray into shio, shoyu or miso based broths.

The secret to Kanada-Ya’s success is its specially cooked 18-hour pork bone tonkotsu broth which is tended to overnight. There are three different types of ramen bowls available – the original, the moyashi (a lighter broth) and chashu-men (ramen finished with a chashu collar). The word ramen is taken from the Chinese word ‘lamien’ which means ‘hand pulled noodles’ and the ramen at Kanada-Ya is literally that – hand pulled noodles prepared on site by their very own noodle whiz. Kanada-ya also serve onigiri (Japanese rice balls wrapped in nori) that can be washed down with a selection of Japanese beers, sake or soft drinks.

Kanadaya - Chashu men, 18-hour pork bone broth, secret sauce, hand pulled noodles, chashu, pork, wood ear fungus, nori and spring onion finished with pork collar

Kanadaya – Chashu men, 18-hour pork bone broth, secret sauce, hand pulled noodles, chashu, pork, wood ear fungus, nori and spring onion finished with pork collar

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Shoryu Ramen Soho

Ramen noodles are all the rage at the moment. In the last year or so London has seen the opening of such ramen houses (or ‘ramenya’ as the Japanese like to call them) as Bone Daddies and Tonkotsu. I can’t work out whether these openings have either fuelled the ramen craze or were in response to the craze, but competition can only mean standards remain high and that translates to good news for the diner. Another addition is Shoryu Ramen which is owned by the same people as those who own the Japan Centre on Regent Street. Now these people know a thing about Japanese food, and the success of the first branch of Shoryu Ramen on Regent Street has led to the recent opening of their second branch, Shoryu Ramen Soho.

It’s a no reservation restaurant but there were no queues when we popped along on a Monday night. It’s a lovely little space, modern and comfortable with nice thoughtful touches such as the wicker baskets placed under each of the tables for ladies handbags. And in addition to the condiments on top of the tables, there’s also a basket brimming with fresh garlic and some garlic crushers should you choose to enhance the flavour of your tonkotsu broth.

Garlic to flavour your broth

Garlic to flavour your broth

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Bone Daddies

Oriental noodle dishes are all about the broth. There’s no doubt that noodles are an important facet, but the flavour comes from the broth, and chef-proprietor Ross Shonhan champions this fact with his noodle house Bone Daddies where he serves up noodles in bone-cooked broth as is typical oriental tradition. Shonhan has spent some time at both Nobu and Zuma so Japanese-inspired flavours are old hat for him.

From the starters, a soft-shell crab (£8) was meaty, nicely cooked and very tasty. The spiciness in an accompaniment of chilli and ginger sauce was great, and it added a sparkle to the shellfish. The batter wasn’t thin in a tempura-kind of way, but it really worked with the crab.

Soft-shell crab

Soft-shell crab

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Koya

Koya is the hottest udon-ya in London right now. In fact, it’s the only proper udon-ya in London where a man in the basement makes the noodles by rolling them with his feet for five hours every day. The restaurant is homey and simple, with tiled floors and pinewood furniture. The tables are for sharing, and it’s the kind of place that you imagine would be fantastically warm and cosy in winter. As I walked in, I couldn’t help but be taken in by the wonderful, gentle aroma of the delicious, smelling miso soup. Perfect for the onset of the autumnal weather!

Udon noodles are the highlight here, but I wanted to try some of the other dishes as well. From the specials menu, baby clams steamed in sake (£8) were nicely cooked such that they were still firm. However the accompanying broth was extremely salty which made it quite overwhelming.

Baby clams steamed in sake

Baby clams steamed in sake

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Viet Noodle Bar: Noodle express

Goi, Vietnamese prawn salad at Viet Noodle Bar

Goi, Vietnamese prawn salad at Viet Noodle Bar

I was running late. Worse yet, I was running late to meet my friend, J, who never ran late. If anything, she usually ran early. Having worked with her before, I knew her time keeping skills well, and punctuality was one of her core virtues. Personality-wise, as a cute version of Speedy Gonzales in a size four outfit, she used to zip around the office with the gusto of an Olympic ice speed skater. Highly energetic, she was so quick at what she did that I was never able to keep up.

The sweet irony is that I am generally, (occasionally?), reasonably, on time. In fact, more ironic was that I always seemed to be on time for those friends who run late for me. Take last week for example when I was due to meet a certain friend for a bite. For some perplexing reason there were no delays on Transport for London and I managed to arrive early. The friend then called me 10 minutes after we were due to meet to tell me he’d forgotten the time and he was only just leaving home. An hour and two glasses of champagne on an empty stomach later, I was surprised that I managed to still hold a conversation.

So feeling rather guilty when I finally showed up, I could do little more than apologise profusely. Being mid-week with certain work pressures in the office to uphold, it was just as well that we were having lunch at Viet Noodle Bar, where the service, like J, was lightning quick.

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Asian Kitchen noodles: Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Two dodgy aeroplane meals (bland chicken curry, soggy rice, overcooked vegetables, etc) and four movies later I arrived at the International Airport at Kuala Lumpur on route to my destination, Jakarta. As I stepped off the plane, I marvelled at how one moment you could be in one country and half a day later on the other side of the world. Attached to such mobility was a certain freedom of movement that struck me as somewhat surreal.

I was starkly reminded of where I was when I visited the facilities at Kuala Lumpur’s Low Cost Carrier (KLLC) Terminal at Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport and the first cubicle I encountered was a squat toilet. Not exactly to my preference, I visited another and it amused me no end when I discovered a warning sign advising those that custom this toilet not to squat on top of the toilet seat itself.

No squatting on the loo...

No squatting on the loo...

Clearly cultural differences infiltrated even at this level of everyday life. I guess there was a risk that one could fall in which would presumably not have been too pleasant. It reminded me of the occasion when one of my Japanese girlfriends went on a tour of a Sumo Stable (sumo training house) where unsurprisingly the toilets were also proportionally sumo sized. “It was this big,” she said, drawing a full circle around her petite size six frame as far as her arms would stretch. “I was so scared of falling in, I held onto the walls for dear life”.

Anyway, with four more hours to kill before my budget airline flight to Jakarta, I decided to eat, partly to fight fatigue, partly to ward off boredom. In an airport in the UK, this might have been Garfunkel’s. Here at Kuala Lumpur’s Low Cost Carrier Terminal was Asian Kitchen, which served noodles and rice dishes. For the bargain basement price of about £1.50, I ordered soup noodles with fish balls and dried pork rind, which reconstituted back to a soft mushy form on contact with the liquid. Overall the soup was decent and a good time killer.


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