Serving authentic Penang street food since 1986, Penang Hawkers’ Fare is back from now till 20 September at White Rose Cafe, York Hotel. Featuring famous Penang street food items, 11 popular Penang hawkers were flown in just for this promotion. We were there last Friday evening for a tasting. It was the first day of the promotion. Not only was the cafe packed, there was a long line of people waiting for a table. Considering the chances of getting a table is slim as diners tend to take their time during buffets, I figured that they must be major fans. Our hosts told us that some of the regular diners are Malaysians who visit Singapore for the promotion as it’s easier to get all of their favourite street food in one place than to drive around Penang.
One of my favourite Penang street food dishes is Penang Char Kway Teow. I ate 4 plates in 3 days when I was in Penang last year. Though the version here isn’t fried with duck eggs (due to import restrictions), it was nonetheless tasty with a hint of smokiness. This is a Must-Try!
I wish the umami-rich broth of the Penang Prawn Noodles was served a little warmer. Topped with succulent chunks of pork and a slightly spicy chili sauce, this is worth a try.
Penang Laksa is another classic street food dish. Here’s my bowl that’s garnished with more fragrant and slightly tangy Bunga Siantan / Bunga Kantan (Torch Ginger Flower). I wish there was more mint leaves though. Unfortunately, the person prepping this bowl may not have drained the rice noodles adequately which resulted in a slightly watered down version of the piquant gravy. Served with sardines instead of traditional Ikan Kembong, thankfully they’d washed the sardines so the “canned tomato” flavour didn’t permeate through the dish.
The Orh Luak was one of our favourite dishes at the buffet. The tasty and fluffy oyster omelette could do with a little more tangy and spicy chili sauce on the side. This is a Must-Try!
Another Must-Try is the Fishball Noodles. Available in soup and dry versions, I recommend ordering both for the best of both worlds. The soup version is a lighter dish of blanched flat rice noodles served in a flavourful, clear broth and topped with bouncy balls that were made of fish paste. The dry version is served with a tasty and smoky dark soy sauce-based dressing that adds flavour to the bland rice noodles.
The Lor Bak here was topped with a slightly savoury and starchy sauce (aka lor) which added flavour to some of the more bland items in the dish. Perhaps the Lor Bak served that day wasn’t the best version of the hawker’s usual offering. The fried Ngoh Hiang could do with a little more Five Spice Powder and salt.
In spite of how full I was feeling, I had to try the Ban Cheang Kueh (Peanut Pancake). Known as Meen Cheang Kueh in Singapore, it was one of my favourite hawker snacks as a child. I stopped eating it in recent years because the thick pancake versions sold in Singapore are really starchy and some hawkers have replaced the crumbly roasted peanuts with a chunky peanut butter-esque jam instead. Resembling a taco, the Ban Cheang Kueh’s light-as-air, crispy crust was delightfully filled with crushed roasted peanuts. The smoky and slightly sweet flavour of the Ban Cheang Kueh is perfectly complemented with a warm cup of Teh Tarik Kosong (Milk Tea without sugar). Definitely a Must-Try!
Tip for Large Groups: York Hotel doesn’t take reservations for this dining promotion but I asked our hosts about what we could do if we’re planning to go as a large group. I was told that if you have around 20 diners, you can call ahead to book. Pre-payment is required to secure your seats.
White Rose Cafe @ York Hotel
21 Mount Elizabeth,
Phone: +65 6830 1156
Penang Hawkers’ Fare (4 – 20 Sep 2015)
Lunch: 12 pm – 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6.30 pm – 10 pm
Weekdays (Monday – Friday): $25.80* per adult $18.80* per child (below 12 years of age)
Weekends (Saturday & Sunday): $28.80* per adult $20.80* per child (below 12 years of age)
* All prices subject to 10% service charge and prevailing Goods & Services Tax (GST)