For dinner one evening, Jenkins and I decided to check out the New Lane hawker stalls, which crop up sometime around dinner time along New Lane Street. It is located just a couple of blocks from the main Komtar shopping complex so it is quite central and as you can see in the picture below, it can get quite busy. Jenkins and I were able to snag a table right next to a row of hawker stalls and from there, we were able to map our plan for dinner.
First, we ordered an oyster omelette. The last oyster omelette I had was back in Melaka and I wanted to eat it at least one more time before my trip was over. The omelette was probably more oyster than egg as you can see below. The oysters were quite small but very fresh and flavourful and it was bound together with the egg by a gelatinous soy-based agent. I really enjoyed dunking pieces of the omelette in the accompanying chilli sauce.
Since we were in Penang, we felt that it was only fitting that we also order a bowl of Penang laksa, also known as asam laksa. It is different from Singapore-style or curry laksa in that it is made with a sour fish-based broth. The noodles themselves were cooked just right and were slightly chewy and there was an abundance of ingredients in the laksa, including fish balls, veggies, and of course, chillies. I have to admit that I like the curry laksa more than the sour asam version though.
One thing I really liked about Malaysia was the abundance and variety of really tasty and icy beverages. In such humid and hot weather, having a cold drink is pretty much a must and it was really easy to find really interesting drinks that appear to be specific to particular regions of Malaysia. Jenkins and I weren’t really sure what to order but the old lady who took our drink order convinced us to order the “drink” below, which was served in a bowl. It was a sweetened iced soup or tea, which came with longan, lotus nuts, and red dates. I’ve only had this drink hot and the cold version was very refreshing.
We also ordered some chee cheong fun, which is the Malaysian version of what I knew as Cantonese steamed rice rolls. The rolls themselves were only so so as I would have liked for them to retain some more bounce but I really liked the dipping sauces, which included chilli paste, hoisin (which isn’t so different for me), and a sweet dark soy.
We were starting to get pretty full at this point, but I convinced Jenkins that we should order one more dish before moving onto dessert. I noticed that the char koay kak stall seemed to be pretty busy so I decided to give that a try. The ingredients are pretty similar to char koay teow but instead of noodles, the starch is provided by rice cakes. The rice cakes are actually pretty similar to the turnip cakes with dried shrimp and Chinese sausages that people eat at Chinese New Year but seem to be missing the turnips. I’m not sure if it was just this stall, but it seemed to be greasier than the regular char koay teow because the rice cakes seemed to just absorb more oil than the noodles. Flavourwise, it was pretty good though, with chives, Chinese sausages, sprouts, and eggs.
Finally, Jenkins and I were ready for dessert. We decided to try the ice cream version of ice kacang, which is basically a regular ice kacang with a huge scoop of ice cream on top. This version had most of the standard ingredients, but we noticed that it was missing the cream soda syrup, which ended up making the ice kacang taste a little bland, if that’s even possible. The ice cream added an interesting dimension but if I had to choose between having the ice cream or the cream soda syrup, I’d probably go with the syrup. Jenkins agreed with me, saying that the ice cream did not seem to add much in his opinion and that he preferred the regular version more.
As was starting to seem the norm in Malaysia, Jenkins and I ate way too much for dinner again. We liked how we could choose our dishes from a variety of vendors but it made it pretty difficult for a couple of gluttons like us to control how much we ate. The stalls at New Lane seem to open around dinner time (6PM or so) and we were told that things usually wrap up around 11pm. Some vendors seem to open later in the evening so if you go at around 7-7:30PM, most stalls should be open.
New Lane 10400 Penang (opposite Maxim Cafe)