There’s nothing tranquil about this place. In fact, I don’t think it ever was, since my first visit about 25 years ago. But one thing’s for sure. The roads are now wider and the number of shops multiplied. Cars piled by the road and restaurants seemed to be in full swing. I observed more foreign tourists too. That’s good news.
It was a hot afternoon when we reached the fishing village of Pasir Penampang. Here, it’s all about seafood, mostly dried. The busiest area is always at the junction or concourse as I like to call it, where the two most prominent restaurants are located. Sans proper traffic system, congestion is inevitable and it’s always entertaining for diners at the restaurants to see how drivers untangle themselves.
The few rows of shophouses, where most businesses take place, stretched thinner as we moved away from the restaurants. Some say that it’s along the narrower lanes that better bargains can be found. I left that to my momma and aunties to decide.
Playing tourists, we were very much anticipating the food that would be laid upon us. The restaurant did deliver, in terms of freshness of the seafood. However, the execution, be it intentional or not, left much to be desired. The oyster omelette was basically a thick, tough pancake (where’s the cornstarch?) with the slightest amount of oysters. Among other flops were the soggy fried calamari and greasy stir-fried snow pea sprouts. As for the visually delectable stir-fried bee hoon with crab, well, let’s just say that perhaps the only seasoning used was soy sauce. The sweet crabs and the springy rice vermicelli were cooked in vain. An addition of hotplate cockles saved the day with a flavourful sauce, which consisted of sweet beanpaste, onions, dried shrimps and chillies. Again, playing tourist, I’m sure the view from the restaurant’s amazing come sunset.
Restoran Makanan Laut Jeti
No. T26, Jalan Pasir Penampang
45000 Kuala Selangor
Tel : (+603) 3289 2917/ 3289 4917
Here, shopping for dried seafood after a meal seems obligatory. And why not? The briny smell and colourful local produce are invigorating. Crispy, amber dried shrimps, large dried oysters and gorgonzola-like salted fish were just part of the display that got me salivating. Let’s not forget the snack that’s synonymous with fishing villages - prawn crackers. As strange and even ludicrous as it may sound, I actually found one of the best heong pehng (fragrant biscuit) right here. Hot from the oven, the fresh bake, coupled with the sound of crispy crust against the steel tray got my imagination running wild. The simple filling of maltose syrup and fried onion oil was really delicious. The dozen that I bought stayed fresh for about a week. If I were to return, this will definitely be on top of my shopping list.
I remember the photo of a very young HairyBerry, in his little cartoon sweatshirt, standing beside one of the ancient cannons on top of Bukit Melawati or Monkey Hill, as my parents would call it. Among us were historical structures (mainly in white), silver leaf monkeys and long-tailed macaques. To a kid, this was definitely more memorable than the fishing village. So we decided to revisit the hill after stocking up at Pasir Penampang. Unbeknownst to us, visitors are prohibited from driving up the hill on certain dates and since the elders were reluctant to climb, we abandoned the idea and headed for some cooling coconut drink before leaving the old royal capital of Selangor.
It may not be every urbanite’s idea of escaping the hectic, bustling life but to absorb in a timeless town that promises everything from fresh seafood to history to lush greeneries and (to a certain extent) fireflies sounds like a fun weekend getaway to me.