Penang, Malaysia - Old-World Hainanese cuisine at Yeng Keng
I first heard about Yeng Keng last year when it hosted a big dinner for the annual Peranakan convention, whence Babas & Nyonyas from Malacca, Penang, Phuket & Singapore converged together at the host city for a pow-wow. I missed that convention as I was travelling on business then, but I heard quite a bit about the Hainanese cuisine served there.
This time, I was back in Georgetown with my cousin from Melbourne who's visiting Malaysia/Singapore for the first time in decades. He's 2 years older than I, and we pretty much have the same tastes when it comes to things culinary - important when you're Chowhounding. Anyway, it was pure serendipity when my cousin's former classmates (local Penangites) from his university days back in Melbourne decided to host us for lunch at Yeng Keng. More importantly, one of them had pre-ordered Yeng Keng's specialties: the macaroni pie and the chicken pie, which needed 4 hours' advance booking.
These pies were nice, but didn't quite hit the spot for me - the fillings were too bland & uninteresting.
However, what really impressed both my cousin & I were the Nyonya "choon pneah" (spring rolls) and "Inche Kabin" (spiced, fried chicken). They were mind-blowingly delicious!!
Dessert was "Bombe Alaska", which I simply adored. Yeng Keng's version was 100% retro, down to its Neapolitain ice-cream filling & rum-moistened sponge cake. Superb! It knocked Shashlik Singapore's version for dead.
Yeng Keng Cafe & Bar
Yeng Keng Hotel
362 Chulia Street
Tel: +604-262 2177
I haven't been back to Hainanese Delights for more than a year now. From the last time, I can remember that their spring roll was not as tasty as this one at Yeng Keng.
But Hainanese Delights is more flexible with their ordering, whereas Yeng Keng has many dishes which are large and require advance ordering. For example, Yeng Keng's Hainanese chicken rice set requires 24 hours advance order and made to serve 10 people. Their curry kapitan chicken (10 person portion) also needs 1 day advance order and costs MYR75.
Yes, I remember choosing between them both on my last trip and ended up at Hainanese Delights for those reasons. I thought the chun peah pretty good already at HD (reminded me of the ol' Hollywood ones many years ago) so the one at YK must be the bee's knees if they are better.