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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Penang Famous Cintra Street Dumplings

My Ratings: 5 Stars

Location: 40, Cintra Street, 10100 Penang
(shop in between Campbell and Chulia Street)
Non Halal
RM10 - 30 per person
Contact: +6012-4803308 or +6016-4579590
Open daily: 9:00am - 6:00pm except Sunday.

GPS: N 05 25.108 E 100 20.032

This little specialty shop along the famed Cintra Street serves one of the best traditional rice dumplings I have ever tasted in Penang. Established more than 70 years ago by a Chinese immigrant from Guandong, a Mr Lor Hong Yen and now run by a 3rd generation Mr Lor Kah Fai. This family has been serving thousands of Hokkien and Quandong styled rice dumplings to Penangites and its visitors, soon became known to be the most popular dumpling stall in Penang and earned the title "Cintra Street Dumplings".

The Lor family started to sell Quandong styled rice dumplings, a unique combination of white glutinous rice, green beans, egg yolk and streaky pork. Steamed to perfection, a bite on its soft dumpling leaves the diner filled with joy. Hokkien dumplings were later introduced to cater the local Hokkien community's demand. Hokkien dumpling on the other hand is filled with dried mushroom, salted egg yolk, fatty pork belly and seasoned with dark soy sauce. Hokkien rice dumplings is firmer in texture and the taste is heavenly as the pork fat meats in heat of your mouth.

To top the rice dumpling experience, we saved the best for last. We ordered the giant Guangdong (Cantonese) rice dumpling (Guo Zheng Zong). Weighing in at least 2kg and cost RM40 each, it is big enough for up to 5 person's portion. It is worth every sen and it is filled with a combination of chicken, duck, pork meat, roasted pork, char siew, dried oysters, salted egg yolk, chestnuts and dried mushroom. This dumpling is available only during the dumpling festival and it will sell out fast as it is considered as a symbol of prosperity and is often given as gifts.

There were some side dishes like the yam cake, red bean soup which is also a must try. The atmosphere is no frills but it serves the best rice dumplings (best accompanied by homemade chilli and special dark sweet aromatic sauce). A must try recommendation from me

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fruits N Spice

My ratings: 4 Stars
Cuisine: Chinese, street food

Location: 202B Jalan Sungai Pinang, 11010 Balik Pulau
Pork Free
RM 7-10 or RM15-20 (include durians)
Contact: +6048661807 (Eric Kee)
Opens weekends and public holidays only

GPS: N05 23.727 E100 12.998

Nestled in the hill side of Balik Pulau, there is an unique place to have laksa and durians - the favourite indulgences of Malaysians. The place is actually a private cottage with a vast durian plantation in its backyard - a place where lives a passionate man in the art of making laksa and has the green thumb especially for the durian tree.

Eric Kee gave up a corporate career to focus on his love of cooking and dreams in living in harmony with nature and has made Balik Pulau as his home. Eric cooks up a wonderful dish of homemade assam laksa and the nonya pai tee. Helped by his lovely wife, family and helpers. Eric also has manage to grow his business and now Penangites and its island visitors traveled all the way up and around the island to Balik Pulau solely for his laksa. And when the durian session is here, the crowd just keep coming over for the fruit and spicy noodle - a perfect combo and a hallmark of Balik Pulau. And visitors always go home with laksa to go and packs of durian flesh

It is truly a "home made" enterprise. The laksa is only available on weekends and public holidays. Eric has converted his house porch into the dining hall and he also converted the living quarter into an antique gift shop. Eric is an avid antique collector also trades in antiques. The durians are picked fresh from his ochard at the back of the house. Eric has most of the varieties of durians including the famed "Ang Heh". The durians are harvested when they (fruit dropped from the tree and not fall to the ground. To prevent the fruits hitting the grounds, they are tied up to the tree using string or collected from a net above ground. Once the fruit has hit the ground, the taste and texture of the fruit becomes inferior.

The laska (RM3:00 small/RM400 big per bowl) ingredients are fresh and the taste is well balanced. Not too sweet nor salty (add shrimp paste to taste), so it is perfectly suited to the health conscious. 2 type of drinks are served. First is Nutmeg juice (another hallmark of Balik Pulau) and sour plum drink (RM1.50 each) . The pai tee is crunchy and light (RM3.00) for a plate of 5 pieces.

The cottage is packed with customers. While waiting for your table, you can start with the durians under the shade of the durian tree. The cottage commands an excellent view of the valley below. Drivers driving to/from Teluk Bahang to Balik Pulau can never miss this place. It is a very well maintained and beautifully landscaped front yard.

I definitely recommend his place whenever you are heading to Balik Pulau. You will get good simple food, farm picked durians and a fasinating collection of antiques (some for sale) but most important you also get to experience how it is like to stay in a location that is so close to nature.

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