Penang, Malaysia: Ho Ping Cafe

by gigi on August 15, 2011

After our brief stint in Cambodia, Jenkins and I were off to the final leg of our Asia trip..going back to the island of Penang in Malaysia. In recent years, Penang has gained some popularity as a tourist destination, partly due to its beaches and delicious food.  I knew it was a must see for us if we were going to Malaysia and we decided to end our trip there so we could wrap things up on what was sure to be a good note. We arrived in Penang early in the evening so our first stop was a place for dinner. I had done some research beforehand and Ho Ping Cafe was pretty close to our hotel so that was our first stop for the culinary delights of Penang. Smile

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As with all our other stops in SE Asia, it was sweltering hot in Georgetown, which is the capital and main city in Penang, so the first thing we did after sitting down was order some iced barley drinks. It has a mild flavour and is slightly sweetened. Many hotter Asian countries drink this as it is believed to be a cooling drink in hot weather.

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Although called a cafe, Ho Ping is sort of like a mini hawker centre and is made up of several different vendors. Jenkins and I took turns wandering around to figure out what we wanted to eat. We spied a char kway teow stall and since it is one of Penang’s renowned dishes, we knew we had to order it. The Penang version is drier than the one we had in Singapore and we liked it much more. The wok was super hot, resulting in a dish with excellent “wok hei” and everything retained a bouncy or crunchy texture. The noodles were not mushy and there was a generous amount of prawns and cockles. We ordered this version spicy and it was just the right amount, without overwhelming the flavours of the other ingredients. Our Penang adventure was off to a great start. Smile

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We also ordered some char hor fun. I thought it would be similar to the Cantonese style that I was more used to but this version was soupy and totally different from what I expected. I still enjoyed it quite a bit though. The noodles appeared to be stir fried first and then the sauce was added along with some pork, fish tofu, and veggies. It’s unlikely that Penang is ever as cold as winter in Vancouver but I think this would make a great rainy weather dish.

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Since we were back in Malaysia, we also had to order some chicken satay. The chicken was pretty juicy but we would have liked for there to be more of a charcoal flavour and we wished that they had given us more peanut dipping sauce. In our short time in Malaysia, we felt that we had become quite the satay connoisseurs. Smile

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By now, we were actually pretty full and probably should have stopped eating but the food was so delicious and cheap that we wanted to order one more dish. I let Jenkins do the honours and he settled on a small order of mee goreng. This version was really spicy but it was a great combination of sweet, tangy, savoury, and spicy. There were even more ingredients than the noodle itself and it was wetter than we were used to but very tasty nonetheless.

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After stuffing ourselves silly for dinner, we had to walk off our meal by strolling back to our hotel. This gave us a good opportunity to check out some of the other restaurants along the busy street where Ho Ping was located so we could plan our other meals during our stay.

Jalan Penang, 10000 Penang

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