Penang Hokkien Noodles
Been here for 45 years, this store has only recently started gaining popularity among the Malaysian foodies. Luckily for me, my uncle happens to run this store, and during my visit to my grandfathers’ he decided to drop by too.
Where the topic of food is concerned, there will always be differences in taste/preference, and it is never more apparent especially among Penangese Malaysian. Do I think that he makes the best Hokkien noodles on the planet? Maybe not. Do I think that his dish tastes good, and is a great addition to the variety in Penang Hokkien cuisine? Hell yeah.
Cost: RM4.50 per bowl; additional pork ribs cost RM 1 per piece
What to expect:
A recipe perfected over 45 years, it is no surprise that my uncle stopped selling laksa and curry noodles in favor of these Hokkien Noodles, as evidenced by the aroma wafting from the soup itself. Misua and yellow noodles are the carbohydrates present in the dish, complimented by prawns, pork strips, bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs, pork ribs, and fried onions. The dish itself comes with a tablespoon of sambal (Malaysian hot sauce), in case you want to mix it into the soup for an added boost of spice. The first mouthful is instant love. The sweet, (slight) spiciness of the prawn broth overpowers everything on your tongue, leaving nothing but a wonderful tasting sensation that warms it to the core. With the second mouthful, you start picking up on more subtle flavors in the dish: from the sweetness of caramelized onions to the undercurrent of pork flavor, and if you mixed in the sambal, the flavor of the belacan that is enhanced by the soup. The flavors are soaked up by, or complimented by the individual ingredients, leaving an slightly sweet, prawn-ish, umami aftertaste on your tongue once the experience is over. And if you’re like me, who enjoys strong, unique, flavors in my food, you know you’ll be ordering a second bowl soon enough.
According to my uncle, the secret to this dish is the SLOW boiling of pork bones (or ribs) and prawn shells together to produce the soup which is the highlight of the dish. This is made even better when left to simmer over a long, slow, coal fire, where the full flavors in the soup can be unleashed. However, this tradition is dying out, as the increasing demand pressures hawkers into using gas stoves, which cook faster but do not yield the same character as when prepared traditionally. Also, the pork intestines are optional, too.
What’s more, the best part about the New Lane Street is that it is next to Macalister Road in Penang, a haven for some of the best culinary hotspots that Penang has to offer.