In every trip, I look forward to tasting what locals eat on a daily basis and collecting suggestions that they gladly provide for reference. It’s fun to observe how everyone seems to have a different opinion of the BEST version of a certain dish. I find it even more so customary in Penang. To me, Penangites are wise eaters. It’s a complete package of taste and value that they are looking for. Perhaps it’s this very reason that prices are still kept relatively low without having to compromise the quality of food. I like their humorously sour reaction too, every time I bring up names of those overrated tourist eateries in town.
A friend of ours, the cool cordon bleu chef brought us to a coffee shop that, according to him, serves the best char kway teow in town. Given his enthusiastic description, we could tell that it’s his favourite stall as well. Perhaps I’m too obsessed with the black Hokkien mee that I haven’t had the time to notice that duck eggs have now become a welcoming alternative to the usual chicken eggs in char kway teows. I liked the smoky aroma of the fried kway teow here, which also came with a more pronounced egg flavour. Yes, duck eggs do taste richer. So, what’s next? Golden yolks from free-range ducks? I can’t wait.
As I recall the dishes we had that afternoon, I realize that a few were duck-related, including the kway teow tng with duck stock and duck meat slices. The meat came from the same duck used in flavouring the stock and was tenderly good in its own juice. The dressing of fresh garlic oil was a nice touch. There must be a practical reason why duck meat is mostly used in herbal soups. Perhaps it has got to do with the prolonged simmering and their tougher meat. So, to be able to taste a clear stock of duck essence here was a refreshing change. When I first heard of a duck stock, I was expecting a thick coverage of oil but was pleasantly surprised that it was visually not any different from our usual pork/chicken tng.
Ask me of the most memorable dish and I’d say it’s the lor bak – the deep-fried stingray, to be exact. Stingrays are known to be fleshy, soft and flaky. When deep-fried, the encrusting batter provides a crispy contrast to the soft meat. A fun plethora of textures in every bite.
Ping Hooi to me, serves not the typical Penang food that I’d learnt in the past. The out-of-towner me liked both the food and old charm here. I wonder if the locals will agree.
Char Kway Teow With Duck Egg
Kway Teow Tng With Duck Meat
Kafe Ping Hooi
At the junction of Lebuh Carnavon and Lebuh Melayu