Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to Penang: Hoikken mee twice for lunch

I was about to write a potentially very boring post about how much I love Hokkien mee in Penang, and then I realized that I already wrote that post last March. I'm here for the holidays and harboring fantasies about moving here and spending the rest of my life doing nothing but eating hawker food. George Town is one of the best food cities I've ever been to. Last time I visited I didn't quite appreciate how easily I can communicate here, but after five months in Cambodia I've come to be very grateful when I meet bilingual locals that I can have actual conversations with. The vibrant (and vaguely hygienic) street food scene is made even better by the fact that every street food stand has a sign stating exactly what they sell.

My local food ambassador, Mr. Oon, loves Hokkien mee. Just out of the hospital he tells me that he nearly died, possibly from not having Hoikkien mee for a month. He said his doctor has just given him a clean bill of health and that he's now allowed to eat as much Hokkien mee as he wants (but he still shouldn't drink the soup, too much cholesterol). Of course he can't help but have a few spoonfuls every time. Too delicious, lah.

Today for our four hour lunch we started with the soupy Hokkien mee (above) and finished with Hokkien char mee from a different place with the same plates (below).

I've nothing to say about Hokkien mee that hasn't been said before, but I love that Mr. Oon loves it and made me eat it twice for lunch today. He's also twisted my arm into going for an even better version tomorrow morning.

My favorite part about Penang is that hawker-stalking is a full time job. I don't need to bother sightseeing--I spent all day trolling the streets George Town looking for hawkers on my list of recommendations, buttonholing locals trying to suss out the best curry mee, and walking past the koay teow th'ing place again, hoping they will finally be open. Who needs beaches when you can do this?


  1. I am so glad that you went to Penang. I love Hokkien Mee. Not sure if your friend took you to Classic and Super Hokkien Mee. Both of them are great, and another one that comes with mantis prawn topping. :)

  2. red faced ambiguousJanuary 4, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Please describe what makes these dishes different from each other. Do vendors make their own curry mixes? Is their food hotter than Thai food?

  3. Rasa Malaysia - I don't think I went to those places, I will keep them in mind for next time!

    RFA - One is the "dry" version and the other is a soup. Every Hokkien mee is different depending on the vendor. They all make their own curry mixes and although they are spicy, they are not as spicy as curries that you will find in Thailand (although easily as spicy as Thai curries you will find in the States). As always, Wikipedia is far more informative than I am:

  4. red faced ambiguousJanuary 7, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Your personal take on things is always preferred! Have you tried crispy fried tarantulas yet? According to the NYTimes they are a Khmer specialty. You will NOT be taken seriously as an Asia traveller until you do!

    Unless you have written about them previously and I missed them.

  5. Haven't tried them, but I heard they taste like softshell crab. I did try a cricket, though. Will post a picture of that soon.

  6. You have to eat Hokkien Mee in Kuala Lumpur if that's the best Penang has to offer.

    They don't seem to know what Hokkien/ Fukkien Chow is.

  7. Just the Penang variation, I think. I had a great version at Hong Ngek in KL, too.