The Unique Taste of Penang Hokkien Mee

Penang very own Hokkien Mee
Nothing beats on a lazy Sunday morning than
to stroll along the popular streets of Penang
and to try out Penang famous dish - "Hokkien
mee". Arguably Penang most favored dish,
Hokkien mee or "Prawn noodles" has long been
one of the favorites' among the locals.

There are two version of Hokkien mee in
Penang - One is the soup base and the
others are the dry type. Ask any Penangites
what is their definition of Hokkien mee and you'll definitely get the same answer. It's a blanched "bee hoon" or "mee" and added with crunchy bean sprouts, kangkung, eggs and sliced prawns with meat laid on top.

Together with the good aromatic stock made from prawns, onion, chili paste and served with a sprinkling of fragrant "eu chang" - Shallot fritters, it is the perfect
blend which made up the delicious Hokkien mee.

The dry version is called "Hokkien char" by the locals and it is made with fat noodles dried with dark soya sauce and eaten with sambal belacan. A slightly different taste but it is just as delicious.

In the olden days, Hokkien mee sellers usually push or cycle their stall along the neighborhood "calling out" loud to tell people about their particular dish, but today the location are fixed at either coffee shops or hawker centre.

Throughout the island, you can find many places selling Hokkien mee. From Teluk Bahang to Jelutong and from Balik Pulau to Air Itam. The famous ones are perhaps located at Pulau Tikus and Perak Road Market. They have halal or non-halal version of Hokkien mee and is served together with additional top up such as chicken feet, spare ribs, intestines and others ingredients.

In Penang, if you want to find a best kept secret of Hokkien mee, it will mean only one thing - Longer waiting time and a little bit of patience.

There is a place in Pulau Tikus where I need to wait up to 45 minute for a bowl of Hokkien mee. The number of customer far exceed the capacity at that times and the temper get a little bit heat up - I must admit. But... When the aromatic prawn noodles is served on the table, all the antagonized wait will be quickly forgotten and buried in the midst of delicious and alluring taste of the spicy noodles.  

Normally, sellers of Hokkien mee is a family run business that has been pass down for generation. There is a place in Tanjung Bungah coffee shop where the noodles sellers has been making and selling Hokkien mee for more than 10 years. According to the owner, the secret recipes have been inherited by them from their father who has been doing the business for the past 50 years.

Now, their own sons and daughter also starts to help out especially after school and during weekend to ensure that the family run business remains in good hands. The family routine starts at 4am in morning, preparing all the ingredients and ensure all will be ready before 6am. The laborious and painstaking prawn stocks is prepared and cooked every day to ensure its freshness. By 6:30am, customer starts to flock into the shops and from there the business started.

You might not notice it, but normally customer who ordered Hokkien mee has their own preference - more of this and none of that. Some wants to add more sambal, some more kangkung and some wants it extra large. It's fascinating to see the sellers remembering all the orders even during serving up the bowls of scrumptious, piping hot noodles and soup with mind boggling accuracy, speed and deftness.

Although the noodles is also sold in others part of Malaysia, but for the penangites or Hokkien mee lovers, Penang style noodles is special and has a distinctive taste of its own. You can never find the same taste anywhere else.

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