Hokkien mee: Tunglang’s Choice

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Tunglang takes us on a gastronomical adventure at his favourite hokkien mee haunt in Penang.

Photos taken by tunglang in April 2012 with permission from the Ori-Maestros.

Inner city George Town has barely awakened, the sun barely rising above the maze of heritage terracotta rooftops. With a hunch of a good Saturday morning food binge building up, I decide to crawl my way to this 1960s Penang Hokkien Mee stall.

Served by two Ori-Maestros, a brother and sister team with no outside help (to keep it as original as possible), many Tham Chiak Kuis frequent this long-time stall as early as it starts business at this kopitiam, located at the junction of Lebuh Carnarvon and Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze.

As kiasu as any TCK Penangite, I reach the stall at 7.00am salivating at the first sniff of hae th’ng (prawn soup). Standing at the side of this five-foot-way stall with all the liao on display, I present my order, almost giving in to the temptation of keh liao!

The sight of yellow mee, tau geh, eng chai, chilli fried prawns, yew chang (fried onions) and red chilli oil swirling like a whirlpool above the hae th’ng prompts a flood of reminiscences of the 1960s and 70s. Back then, I was a hokkien mee boy-helper in Madras Lane and Macalister Lane who frequently took curi-bites of spicy hae while at work.

Time to secure a table before more TCKs walk in. The friendly kopitiam towkay, as usual in a jovial mood, pushes his ‘international’ brand of juice drink, which he claims is good for cooling the body. What an enterprising and global-minded towkay ready for the soon-to-become cosmopolitan Penang.

My eagerly awaited order finally arrives with keh liao and steaming, spicy and rich hae th’ng served in a ‘red cockerel’ bowl. The first bite of chilli fried prawns starts me on a slow gastronomical experience of the finest hokkien mee in inner city George Town.

The slippery but well cooked mee, though not as salty as the ori-1960s, romances my discerning palate, preparing it for even more of the distinctive 1960s Penang hokkien mee and hae th’ng. I savour the bak kut, with a strong heavenly flavour of bak, in what seems like a timeless experience of this Ori-Maestro Hokkien Mee.

My last million-taste-buds tango ends with a finale – a bowl-cleaning flourish to the last trace of hae. No pai seh. Winding up with a flushed face, sweaty forehead and prawn-flavored lips, I draw my “Good Morning” mini-China towel like a matador ready to wipe away the evidence of delightful Tham Chiak Kui desires.

Now it’s time for my kopi-O kau kau. I enjoy sipping it slowly while taking in the heritage ambience of this prewar kopitiam minus Rediffusion’s Canto ballads below the Sin Kong (Star) Hotel.

The 1960s Penang Hokkien Mee can be found at the junction of Lebuh Carnarvon/Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze = “Si pek ho chiak!”

Note: Come early as it usually finishes by 10.00am. Also, do bring along a mini towel!

Do you agree with Tunglang’s Choice? Or do you know of other heavenlier spots?

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Kien Hong
Kien Hong
7 Jul 2012 9.54am

Such advertising by tunglang will alert the Singapore tauke to poach such maestro to operate in Singapore. Watch out! One Signapore dollar now can fetch 2.5 Ringgit!

tunglang
tunglang
7 Jul 2012 4.34pm
Reply to  Kien Hong

All the more for setting up a Penang Street Food Museum to honor our rare breed of Ori-Maestros. The state gomen can do more for them to retain street food talents & our food tourism competitive edge. Without the Ori-Maestros we will soon churn out ‘fakes’ like those look as good ‘Rolex’ business. Bakso Koay Teow Th’ng, anyone? Otherwise, we are at losing end to the attraction of better Sing Dollars & open door warm welcome & recognition by foreign island state gomen of our envied heritage food assets. Enough have been discussed on this slow-go-slow-dying off issue which may… Read more »

Kenneth
Kenneth
8 Jul 2012 10.31am
Reply to  tunglang

The museum idea will not generate the income for the Ori-Maestros, who would prefer to make money in low cost conditions without alerting the Inland Revenue!

Jom Sure Giler Meletup
Jom Sure Giler Meletup
8 Jul 2012 11.01am
Reply to  Kenneth

Approach UncleSeekers (NTV7 Paranormal series – Seekers) to camp overnite at State Museum (grave still nearby?), may be the ghost of Francis Light can show up looking for Hokkien Mee !

tunglang
tunglang
8 Jul 2012 3.19pm

Hungry Ghost month, a cultural practice most prominent in Penang compared to other states presents an opportunity – to sell adventure (ghost tours) & dining (street food binges).
Francis Light? He may not be around the graveyards anymore when he is resurrected in the future!

tunglang
tunglang
8 Jul 2012 3.10pm
Reply to  Kenneth

Have you heard of franchising? Or branching out to other locations? Or heritage status of national food / beverage that can profit the locals & industries? Branding is such powerful tool even the politicians are doing it! Integrated experiential & viral marketing is even more powerful (you don’t leave the million taste buds dancing without them engaging the real flavors, do you?). Penang is now in the lead of heavenly Asian food perception among global tourists & Tham Chiak Kuis. This is already food tourism branding at work, though not integrated for greater effectiveness & consistency of its unique, differentiated… Read more »

Royston
Royston
9 Jul 2012 11.53am
Reply to  tunglang

Ori-Maestros must be thankful to the likes of tunglang to continue their operation.

However, young generation prefers the air-cond comfort of Modern-Maestros. Can you imagine them bringing their girlfriends/boyfriends to dine at the old haunts of ori-maestros?

Time has change.
Our mind must develop along with the developement of the modern city of Penang. That’s adaptability.
Failure to do so will see you ranting and ‘kau-peh-kau-boh’ on blogs.

tunglang
tunglang
9 Jul 2012 8.57pm
Reply to  Royston

Then all the heritage icons like Khoo Kongsi, Baba Nyonya Mansion & Cheong Fatt Tze Mansions should be turned into warehouses by now. And Teochew Chengdol will be too Phai Seh a waterhole of Tham Chiak Kuis all the way from SingKahPoh. or Taiwan. What marketing logic is this! Not all developments, tourism or housing are the princely domains of the young generations who btw have no purchasing power to match the baby boomers, who are the big spenders among tourists or Tham Chiak Kuis & who have all the time to makan-makan, not rat-racing. Know thy markets, not thy… Read more »

Yang
Yang
6 Jul 2012 8.04pm

I feel relax coming over here after feeling the amok by Ong Eu Soon next door. Everyday pass through the area but have not try that Hokkien mee. Shall try it tomorrow. As for 888 their business is very good but I feel that their hokkien me is not that good.

tunglang
tunglang
6 Jul 2012 9.15pm
Reply to  Yang

Another secret of Penang Hokkien Mee: the yellow mee. It used to be manually made by hand & feet by the mee man who would step on the flour as if A-Go-Go 60’s style. The timing & art of mee making is now a lost art of the 60’s era of Lorong Selamat mee manufacturing shop (opposite the famed Char Koay Teow stall). The mee has to be boiled at just the right timing, not over boiled to taste like fat sponge mee but just boiled for the right feel of the slippery twist & salty fullness of the mee… Read more »

Ong Goo Kang
Ong Goo Kang
8 Jul 2012 12.34pm
Reply to  tunglang

When you make the yellow mee ‘halal’, you lose the required texture and flavour.

Yang
Yang
8 Jul 2012 4.31pm
Reply to  Ong Goo Kang

Ong, I think you are wrong. By using natural ”kan sui” you will get the requires texture and flavour. Nowadays most mee did not have that falvour and texture is because they are using artificial alkaline (soda) instead of the kan sui

Andrew I
Andrew I
6 Jul 2012 7.59pm

A few good places left. I like the one opposite the padang off dato keramat road. Sadly, most places are bay how kaw. The best hokkien mee used to be found in the school canteen many many years ago. P

Yang
Yang
6 Jul 2012 9.45pm
Reply to  Andrew I

Yes opposite the padang is very good and also quite expensive

statistician-real
statistician-real
6 Jul 2012 7.33pm

So Young cafe along the LamWahEe Hospital – morning only. Normally finish before 10am. The hokkien mee is superb

tuakee
tuakee
6 Jul 2012 5.11pm

Penang Best 888 Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodle) @ Lebuh Presgrave, Penang

http://www.taufulou.com/2012/01/31/penang-hokkien-mee/

hEAVENLY gOOD ????

Jong
Jong
6 Jul 2012 11.51pm
Reply to  tuakee

I agree, love this one with roast pork and lots of chillies! Good 😀
But stall only open late evening till night.

CPL
CPL
7 Jul 2012 11.17am
Reply to  Jong

Is this the one at night ? I find the soup rather sweet

Jong
Jong
7 Jul 2012 12.10pm
Reply to  CPL

Agree, could have been better with less sugar.

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
6 Jul 2012 2.04pm

Anil, what are these strange text on your site:

Warning: md5() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/street08/public_html/wp-content/plugins/twitter-tools/twitter-tools.php on line 674

Catchable fatal error: Object of class stdClass could not be converted to string in /home/street08/public_html/wp-content/plugins/twitter-tools/twitter-tools.php on line 681

tuakee
tuakee
6 Jul 2012 1.54pm

#396337 in the hokkien mee posting.

gonna buy 6D if strike can buy a condo in Penang ?

tunglang
tunglang
6 Jul 2012 4.06pm
Reply to  tuakee

Don’t forget Tunglang.
Ho Chiak, Ho Yeah (strike Yi ho beh), Ho Khai!!!

Ho Ho Ho
Ho Ho Ho
6 Jul 2012 9.26pm
Reply to  tunglang

Ho 😆 Ho 😆 Ho 😆

😆 Wah Lau Eh!…..all start with HO!!! sure GOOD + HO CHIAK lo…..hohohohohohohoho liow !!!!!! 😆

Ho 😆 Ho 😆 Ho 😆

tuakee
tuakee
6 Jul 2012 1.52pm

finally Tunglang gained Anil’s recognition to highlight the name (copyright?) prominently in the heading ?

Ong Eu Soon with his many postings is catching up and not sure if Anil does swim and sink with Soon’s thinking ?

Hokkien Mee in SP also a gem awaiting Tunglang to explore !

tunglang
tunglang
16 Jul 2012 6.04pm
Reply to  tuakee

Update from Tunglang:

Tham Chiak Kuis, locals & tourists can now follow me to salivate @ http://tunglang99.blogspot.com/

For Tunglang’s Choice of Ori-Maestro Street Hawker Food crawling map:
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=207939075877302193704.0004c425a14d508070ea7&msa=0

For cheap & good, multi-purpose food binging towel:
Buy “Good Morning” mini China towel

“What the ho chiak?”

tunglang
tunglang
16 Jul 2012 11.12pm
Reply to  Anil Netto

Sama sama Tham Chiak!
Ah Soon Kor, take a break from battle field & go makan makan online!
Win or lose, doesn’t matter.
You already made your points heard loud & clear.