Gourmet Garden

Hunting For The Flavors & Texture Of Yesteryears'

Explore Penang

What to do, see, eat and try in Penang through the eyes of a pick Penangite.

Penang Hill After 20 years!

Posted by Jason Wong On June - 24 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Jamie will sure kill me and throw me on to the tracks and cause another breakdown! This post is very very long overdue and I apologise…

About a month or so before the Penang Hill funicular train service opened its doors again to the public after the long needed upgrading, we were invited by the Tourism Malaysia and Project Penang to test ride the new trains and have a walk about at the top of the hill. Although many things have changed on the hill, but it was still like getting to know an old friend all over again after 20 years of being apart. Time flies and it has been almost 20years since I last set foot on the hill. I could still remember the time when our scout troop hiked up the hill through the wet jungle tracks early in the morning after a night of rain.


Before the trip we were briefed about the train station, the upgrading works and what they have done or will do with the material salvaged from the old tracks. If and when you are at the lower station, you might see a piece of history now being used as a door/window frame.



The trains are well conditioned and fast. So travelling up and down the hill is breeze. But some people might like a slower ride for them to soak up the great scenery of Penang.






The new trains look slick and new, but I still yearn for the nostalgic flavour of the old trains minus the break downs and the sometimes warm and humid atmosphere in the cars.


Up on the hill we took some time to look at the almost forgotten memories that we have had during those good old days when Penang Hill was one of places to visit during holidays rather than now’s shopping complexes. I guess many of our age would remember the family trips up the hill, spending quality time together and building a stronger family bond.


During the trip, I had lots of opportunity to take some photos of plants and flowers that are abundant in the hills’ still surrounding.








A few days after our virgin ride on the new trains, we were invited again by Tourism Malaysia to witness the handing over ceremony of the Penang Hill Train Service to the Penang State Government. It was a simple event to officially return the trains back to Penang.








With the new and faster trains, we plan to go up the hill again to hunt for things that we have long loss touch with.


Penang’s Good Eats with A Celebrity Chef

Posted by Jason Wong On June - 21 - 20111 COMMENT

It is not the first ‘Food Trip’ that we have planned and guided, but this ‘makan’ trip is one that we have been asked to draft for Taiwanese Celebrity Chef, Chen Hong 陈宏。 All the those eating spots that we have included in our section of the 3 days 2 night foodies tour was compiled from our eating experiences, reviews and most importantly recognition by the general public who patronizes these places to fill their tummy.

Argyll Road Roti Canai, they serve roti canai that has a crisp surface with a fluffy center and curries that have 60 years of history.

Kimberley Street Char Koay Kak, it is a 2nd generation business that still uses wood to fuel heat the big circular cast iron pan to stir fry pieces of hand cut ‘Koay Kak’ or dough cakes.Siew Fong Lye Chee Cheong Fun at Soon Yuen Coffeeshop, rolls of hot rice noodle sheets topped with generous amounts of sweet sauce, ‘har koa’ or prawn paste, chilli paste, and garnish with sprinkles of toasted sesame seeds.Gill is seen here talking to Chen Hong about the specialty of the Chee Cheong Fun.

At Cecil Market, we visited many street food stalls that many Penangites have grown up with. But before the visit started, Chen Hong had a short chit chat with  Gill and Ash Loh of Kwong Wah Daily.Cecil Market’s Jawa Mee, it has traditional flavours that we have grown to like. A bit of sweetness and acidity in a tomato base gravy over freshly poached noodles and bean sprouts.Cecil Market’s Ah Chuan Curry Mee, soup that uses both coconut milk and evaporated milk as the base that would have less strain on our health.Cecil Market Sago Char, after Weld Quay’s stall ceased operation they are the last one still selling this unique delicacy that uses ‘sago’ to make the cakes that are then stir fried with chilli and bean sprouts.

Cecil Market Duck Meat Koay Teow Th’ng was an ad-hoc addition  to the visit to Cecil Market. Chen Hong likes soups that are light and easy on the palate.

Cecil Market Pasembur is one of the well accepted Chinese style Pasembur in Penang. Our other choices would be the one in Batu Lanchang market food court.At Cecil Market Nyonya Kuih, it is their tapioca kuih, yam cake, etc has texture and old flavours which got it into the list.

At the junction of Kimberley Street and Cintra Street we found ‘飞鸿’ ‘duck feet’ wraps that still has the old school tastes that we constantly hunt for. The rich, slightly savoury with a sweet after taste duck feet wrap or ‘鸭脚包’ consist of duck feet with its web, a piece pork fat and meat wrapped (tied) with a piece pig intestine lining.  The couple is already semi-retired, so it would be best to know their business days and hours. We were lucky to have pre-booked the ‘duck feet’ for the shooting as it was already sold out even before we arrived.Kimberley Street Thong Shui, they are famous for their almond tea and traditional sweet desserts. This business is already in its 4th generation of proprietorship. Mr. Goh is lucky to have family that is willing to inherit his hard earned patrons and skills.

Kimberly Street Duck Koay Chiap after years of changing and improving their delicacy has left some impressions in our taste buds. Though the noodle is different from our preferred rough textured noodle opposite the Air Itam wet market, its savoury duck gravy and the slightly smooth handmade noodles were well matched.

(The above photo was used by another prominent blogger in Penang)

By late evening, we were at Chulia Streets’s ‘沙爹王’ Hainanese satay stall. It’s specialty would be the unique Hainanese recipe for marinating the tender pieces of pork and chicken, and the sweet potato base gravy used to dip the evenly grilles 3 pieces of meat on a bamboo skewer. Do not net forget to order his ‘roti bakar’ or toasted bread to mop up the remaining gravy.

We were at Song River coffee shop for their charcoal flame grilled chicken and grilled fish. At Song River, our favourites are the chicken wings and bishops’ nose, which when prepared properly offers a taste of smokiness, caramelization, savouriness and sweetness.
As for the grill fish, it is the marinate that consist of lots of raw garlic and birds eye chilli, fermented bean paste, sugar and “asam”. The readied product would taste rich, sweet, spicy and nutty with slight acidity, but yet would not overwhelm the flavours of the fish.
Many thanks to Mr. Koay and is family for hosting us and the arrangements.

On the second day, we met up with them at Teluk Bahang for Auntie Bee’s Loh Mee which has the sinful flavour of 5-spice and a consistently thick texture. Her Hokkien Mee soups is also not bad with a a heavy taste of Prawns and the price is very reasonable with portion she serves. The stall is just a stones throw away from the Caltex station under a big shady tree.Then we went down to Shamrock Beach to sample the ‘Tanjung Bungah Laksa’ that only opens on weekends. If I am not mistaken, the Malay Nyonya fusion style laksa had its humble beginnings of just being operated on a push cart by the current operator’s mother. Now they operate from a all white food truck that only rolls up during weekends. The laksa has a spicy and sweet taste without the fishy after taste. Though the price is slightly on the high side, the taste does induce one to have more than one serving.

 After laksa we headed to’ Kedai Makanan Lidiana‘ to introduce Malay ‘nasi campur’ to Chen Hong. The dishes at Lidiana are less oily, fresh, and inexpensive compared to others we have tried. For more details do visit our old postings about this place.
After Lidiana we parted ways and only met up again at ‘Chin’s Stylish Chinese Cuisine’ in Tanjung Marina. At Chin’s, Dave introduced some of their signature dishes to Chen Hong and shared some of his experience in the many years in the F&B business from England to Malaysia. We will definitely be back with more details of this Chinese Fine Dine in Penang.

Aromatic Duck, that has been deboned and its fibres broken downed.With the visit to Chin’s we end our list that was contributed for the purpose to promote Penang’s food scene and also to assist Chef Chen Hong on his quest to re-familiarize himself with Penang’s well sort after delicacies.



2011 New Year Eve Fireworks

Posted by Jason Wong On January - 1 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

We would like to wish all our readers and peers a Very Happy and Bountiful 2o11!

Fireworks at Esplanade and Prai area.

Fireworks at Straits Quay in Penang.


Tiger in Penang, Chinese New Year Celebration.

Posted by Jason Wong On February - 24 - 20106 COMMENTS

Last weekend we took time off our daily chores and went walking around the Penang state Chinese New Year celebration to usher in the Year of the Tiger. we decided to attend this years’ festivities after a one year absent. From what we saw, it seems that the exhibition of traditional and clan cultures has dwindle slightly due to the lower budget available from the private sector, but the food stalls has increased in numbers and prices were not to expensive. I guess may be due o the increase competition?!

During our walk through of the enclave, we managed to get some good shots that we would like share with those who might have missed this event.

Old Trades That Need Support

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Sweets of Yesteryears

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Old Time Favorites

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Traditional Games

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The People and Festivities

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We didn’t stay for the fireworks as it would be very taxing on us because we were on location since 4pm or so. security was tight and the atmosphere was fun but weather was hot and humid plus the place was jam pack with visitors from local and abroad.


Colors’ of Thaipusum In Penang

Posted by Jason Wong On February - 2 - 20105 COMMENTS

Last week after returning from Kuala Lumpur,we made a decision to capture the colors of Thaipusum in Penang to share with our friends. Thus, we decided to stack out at Dato’ Keramat Road for the pilgrimage journey to the temple in Water Fall Road.



The sharing and giving.







The preparation.



The offerings.





The pilgrimage.



The smashing.






The photography enthusiasts.




The people.



The Law.


The clean-up.


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