Friday, September 20, 2013

Ah Ma 90th Birthday, Makan trip in Penang and Kedah

During the one week school holiday in September, we flew back together with Auntie Lilian and Uncle Chin Weng to my husband hometown in Kedah, Malaysia to celebrate Ah Ma's 90th birthday. She has recuperated well after a terrible fall at home which rendered her to be hospitalised at that time.  Despite her old age, she is one feisty and iron lady who demonstrates a strong and sharp mind.  Still wheel-chaired bound and yet she diligently did her morning exercise with the help of walking frame (aid).  Certainly high in spirit and in good health though.  We had a vegetarian dinner prepared by the chef of the day i.e. Lai Gu and all the 姑s.  A great evening for the young and old to catch up with each other (just like we did in the Chinese Lunar New Year). 

Vegetarian dinner at Ah Ma's home
Sou tao (aka longevity peach) made of flour and mug beans
gifted by Yin Yee Jie Jie

Happy moment!

Our dear 90 years old Ah Ma
I also called this a makan (means eat in Malay language) trip mainly because we have been pampered with all sort of yummy food in Penang and Kedah. Highlights would be :-
at Penang - the charcoal grilled toast at Toh Soon Café, Ayer Itam assam laksa and;
at Tanjung Dawai, Sungai Petani, Kedah - fresh seafood
We had a lot of coffee and toast cafés in Singapore which offered classic breakfast like charcoal grilled kaya bread, soft boiled egg and coffee in an air-conditioned environment.  But Toh Soon café in Penang appears like a run down shank right smack in a back alley. Yet, the café was bustling with locals. It would be difficulty to locate the café without Yin Yee Jie Jie.  We like the soft white bread charcoal grilled till it was charred. 

Charcoal toasted bread at Toh Soon Cafe 多春茶座
Campbell Street, Off Penang Road,
George Town, Penang

I have long heard that the best street food in Penang usually found in dark, dirty and smelly alley. That was why I was really sceptical and not keen about trying the laksa there.   In fact, the famous assam laksa at Ayer Itam in Penang is one true living example.  It was raining like cats and dogs that Saturday after we came down from a tour to Penang hill.   May be it was windy and the wet market was closed.  It did not occur to me the place was really filthy and smelly but my hubby said that the condition of the place was much better now than previously.  The assam laksa was indeed rich, thick and flavourful.  I really enjoyed it and I must say that it was the best laksa I ever tasted!  Even my boy was game enough to have a spoonful.  But our dear Yin Yee Jie Jie accidentally shoved the chilli  into his mouth. Oops!  He almost teared and luckily he did not throw out the food.  He continued eating his favourite fried popiah and fish cake.

Assam Laksa Air Itam Market
Pasar Road (Beside the Air Itam Market)
11500 Air Itam

Fried popiah and fish cake


Singaporeans generally headed for Malaysia for its seafood which is cheaper due to the exchange rate difference.   Sam Pak (三伯), who is a fishing enthusiast, knew where to find the best seafood in Kedah.  Tanjung Dawai here we come!  A fishing village, 30km away from Sungai Petani in Kedah.  It was really quiet on a week day.  Sam Pak led us through a small alley where the fisherman kept the mantis prawn in a big holding tank as well as other seafood.  We saw live mantis prawn for the first time.  Then we brought along our supply of seafood to an old ramshackle restaurant by the jetty to be cooked by the chef. Besides curry crab, prawns, mantis prawns, there were also  steamed fish and a plate of stir-fried vegetables.  It was indeed a very fulfilling, enjoyable and finger licking good lunch!  Even my boy who dislikes prawn also dug in and ate four large prawns and one mantis prawn. Thanks to Sam Pak, who was our host and also our chauffeur, brought us to this little known fishing village.
Curry crab

Steamed large prawn

Steamed Mantis prawn

There were many more delicious street food in Penang and Kedah. Even their simple chee cheong fun was nicer.  To me, the most uncommon eats we ever ate were cuttlefish kangkong at Gurun and Steamed flat noodles (蒸大盘).  It's a pity that I did not take a pictures of the these.  Wow, blogging about food makes me hungry! 

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