February 21, 2011

Penang Food Crawl: Macalister Lane Char Koay Kak and Other Goodies

When I was still in lower school, my super nice dad would wake up early morning, go for his usual exercise and rush back to ‘ta pau’ this lovely char koay kak (CKK) or fried radish cake for me from this special uncle in Macalister Lane. Uncle’s CKK was really de-li-cious and special as it was wrapped in banana leaf and smell awfully sinful in the wee hours of the morning! This was a luxury to me as I always look forward to this breakfast from dad. Sigh..after all these years, memories of this are still so vivid to me...dad passed away for almost 20 years already but I can still remember such small and simple things of the past so clearly.

Lucky me get to sleep in and my lovely mom ‘ta pau’ lots of breakfast for me on the 3rd day of CNY for me. She surprised me with the same CKK from the uncle and I was ecstatic with joy! Now if you are wondering how come uncle is still around, sad to say but uncle has long passed away as well, but his daughters have continued his legacy of churning out the beautiful CKK! You can find the stall in front of Seow Fong Lye Coffee Shop in Macalister Lane.

Check out my breakfast and see how gluttons runs in my family…hahaha

See how uniquely wrapped the CKK is? I don’t think I can find a cone shape packaging anymore for CKK, especially in KL. This is traditional packaging done by the uncle since I was small. This CKK stall has been around for more than 30 years! Truly a masterpiece and I sincerely hope the legacy continues.

What makes the CKK from this stall unique is that the texture of the koay kak is very soft. The owners put a lot of chai por and it is stir fried till everything combines and is soft. The CKK is dark in color as dark soy sauce is use for a beautiful aroma which pairs like a match make in heaven with the banana leaf aroma. The take away version is still as good as I had when I was young as there is still a piece of banana leaf (reduced size though) in the packaging and but taste is really sinful. Did I tell you that a big plate with egg cost under RM3? Memories always make food taste like heaven! J

Another popular stall in this area is the Chee Cheong Fun (CCF) managed by an elderly couple. I don’t really recall having this during my early years but this stall always has a queue. Some customers even stand at the stall for self service dine-in to quicken the pace as the elderly couple appreciates all the help they can get. Another quick tip to get your order faster is to not unroll the CCF. I never like my CCF unroll anyway.

Simple steamed rice noodles with a luscious dark and sticky sauce of prawn paste, sweet sauce and chili sauce with a dash of sesame can really bring wonders to your palate. This dish relies a lot on the sauce, hence the elderly couple really concocted a well balanced sauce mixture for the soft rice rolls. Sweet and pungent from the sauce, this was heavenly to my taste buds.

Penang Curry Mee is another unique dish for us Penangites. KL curry mee has a rich and thick soup laced with spices and thick coconut milk often served with a side of curry chicken and some vegetables. The Penang version has a coconut soup that is thin and whitish in color with a layer of curry oil. The taste is sweeter and lighter on the spices and fragrant chili paste and oil is doused to fiery up the soup.

The curry mee here is also served with prawns, plenty of bean curd puffs (soft and less meaty), cockles, cubed coagulated pig blood and slivers of brown squids. I love this version and the stall at Seow Fong Lye has a good curry mee stall too! Well balanced in taste and ingredients are plenty, this really hits the spot for me.

I had the full dish of CKK and curry mee, a few bites of the CCF and then sister opened her packet of Stir Fried Tanghoon. Sigh…sneaked in a few bites of that Fried Tanghoon as well.

Stir Fried Tanghoon was average but I love the pungent sambal belachan that goes with it. It really brings up the flavors of the noodles.

After that enormous breakfast, one would have been super full to the brim but guess what? Sister bought some piping hot Curry Puffs and pre-packed Nasi Lemak from Pulau Tikus market. Sigh…cannot resist curry puffs and nasi lemak! I walloped a whole piece of curry puff and stole a bite of nasi lemak from my niece…hahaha.

Curry puff (RM1.50 per piece) was still warm and very flaky. Filling was really meltingly tender and lip smacking good! The curry puff was almost as big as my hand and there was a sizable piece of chicken meat in it. Just too good to resist and I was bursting by the time I finished this puff!

Check out the simple Nasi Lemak that cost RM1.50 each. Topped with half a boiled egg and some anchovy sambal, this was also good and had a beautiful aroma of the banana leaf. How come food smell so good with banana leaf?

My mom was Horrified at me for chomping down the huge breakfast and sister piped in to announce she also bought fresh and crispy Fried Banana and Nian Gao! Luckily I am not a fan of banana else I would have taken a few more bites of that.

Check out the crispness of the fried items! My sister said they were really yummy as everything was crispy and not oily.

Mom warned me to stay off lunch and said she will not buy so much breakfast anymore as she didn’t expect me to polish this off at one go. Kakakaka…Sometimes I amazed myself as well!

One Happy Burp…J

Macalister Lane Char Koay Kak & Other Goodies
94C, Macalister Lane (right before Seow Fong Lye Coffee Shop)
Business hours: 7.30am to 1pm daily.
Closed when Seow Fong Lye is closed (usually once a month, on weekday)

*Still more Penang food crawl to come..

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