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Sep 30, 2012 09:23 AM

Penang - Best "Lor Bak" (卤肉) in town at Kheng Pin Café (群賓茶餐室)

Lau Joo Chon, the cranky, temperamental old chap who runs the "Lor Bak" stall at Kheng Pin Café has perfected the art of deep-frying the various morsels which make up that Penang classic "Lor Bak" dish, consisting of deep-fried rolls of marinated pork wrapped in beancurd sheets, crisp prawn fritters, tofu (the Teochew version is used here), thick slices of stingray and "choon piah" (deep-fried spring rolls). The "Lor Bak" is served with 2 types of dips: a brown, gooey sauce called the "lor", with egg-white ribbons, and the spicy chili sauce.

Kheng Pin Café's other claim to fame was the wanton noodles (雲吞麵) stall - I liked the noodles here very much - but having just had a much better version at CF Food Centre the previous night, the one here was "blander" (I'll need to write about the version at CF - which was featured in the latest season of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations"). But the stall at Kheng Pin served a respectable version which we had this morning: springy fine egg noodles dressed in lard, dark soysauce, sesame oil & other "secret" condiments, then topped with "char-siu" pork, shredded poached chicken, wanton dumplings & blanched "choy-sum" greens.

Address details
Kheng Pin Café (群賓茶餐室)
80 Penang Road (junction with Sri Bahari Road)
10000 Georgetown
Penang, Malaysia

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  1. Uh, that person depicted frying the lor bak doesn't look like a "cranky old chap". :-)

    Haven't had lor bak in a while. In fact, I think the last time I had it was in Penang Restaurant in Chicago's C-Town before they had that fire and closed down.

    4 Replies
    1. re: huiray

      That person in the pic is one of his two daughters - I'd not want to point my camera at *him* :-D

        1. re: huiray

          Cranky ;-)

          I still want to get served my food!

          1. re: klyeoh

            Mr Lau actually spend a few weeks if not months in Singapore every year at the York Hotel -- Penang hawker promotion, he said. You've been there right?

    2. We went to Kheng Pin today and it was closed. I guess it's closed on Mon, as mentioned online by some people (while other people said it was closed on Sun).

      We had Hainanese chicken rice on Chulia St. It was SOOOOOOOOO bad--neither the chicken nor rice had any taste. We can get a better one at a My/SG restaurant in Dallas(Plano), TX, which is owned by a guy from SG (born in JB).

      We had killer Hainanese chicken rice in Melaka last year..

      Would you say most restos on Chulia St (filled with many hostels) are tourist traps?
      Sky Cafe at Sky Hotel was packed during lunch time. Is it popular among locals?

      8 Replies
      1. re: kuidaore

        Sorry, that it's closed, kuidaore. It opens on Sunday - which was when I visited it the last time.

        I won't touch Hainanese chicken rice in Penang - it IS bad there at Chulia Street! I won't touch anything which I can get better versions of back in Singapore.

        Sky Hotel is where Penang's most famous "char-siu" (BBQ pork) and "siu-yuk" (crisp-skinned roast pork) stall is located - locals will form long queues for their roast pork fix there. It's Cantonese-run, but I think I can get much better versions of Cantonese roast pork/BBQ pork in Kuala Lumpur.

        In Penang, stick to what they do best: fried koay teow, laksa, lor bak, lor mee, etc.

        1. re: klyeoh

          Actually, this raises a general issue - would you be willing to lay out a "short list" (by no means does it have to be exhaustive) of what, in your personal experience, would you NOT eat in Penang? (This would bring some balance to the topic of Penang's "general excellence in street food/hawker food" in E/SE Asia...)

          1. re: huiray

            Hainanese chicken rice is the first that usually comes to my mind actually. The other "avoid" item is obviously "dim sum" - another Cantonese thang which mainly Fujianese Penang couldn't do well somehow (come to think of it, "dim sum" items were also bad in mainly Fujianese Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

            Compared to Singapore & Kuala Lumpur, other street food items in Penang are much better.

            kuidaore - Chulia Street is traditionally a backpacking area in Georgetown, much like Khaosan Rd in Bangkok, and sees its fair share of foreigners. Among local Penangites, Chulia Street is well-known for the roast pork at Sky Hotel (mentioned earlier) & the evening street stalls (

            There are 2 Hainanese chicken rice spots there - one of them looked more spacious and cleaner, but the old man who used to ply his trade there had returned to Hainan Island for good, and someone else had taken over. The other more popular chicken rice was more cluttered, but perpetually crowded and locals had to queue up to order. What did the Hainanese chicken rice place you were at look like? I'd not tried any of the two places myself.

            1. re: klyeoh

              klyeoh, thanks.

              The chicken place we went to was the one right next to the economy rice place, a couple of restaurants down from Sky Hotel. We like economy rice (we found a great one in JB) and wanted to try this place, but we didn't because it was empty while Sky Cafe was packed.

              We saw everyone ordering char-siu rice at Sky Cafe and it did look more Cantonese so we didn't eat there.

              We had Hainanese chicken at Tian Tian at Maxwell a few years ago, but we weren't impressed. We liked the Melaka version much better. The owner of the hotel we stayed at in JB said the best Hainanese chicken rice place in Singapore closed because of the owner's son's gambling problem. He said the rice was so flavorful that he used to have 3 servings of rice before the chicken arrived!

              We saw some interesting stalls on Chulia Sun night, but we were too full to eat then. Talking about stalls, I found a great apam balik (my fav) stall near Penang National Park. After I tried one, I bought 6!

              1. re: kuidaore

                "best Hainanese chicken rice place in Singapore closed because of the owner's son's gambling problem" - not sure if he was referring to Swee Kee in Middle Road. That place closed down a looong time ago!

                Which place in Malacca di you go to - is it Chung Wah?

                1. re: klyeoh

                  No, it's a stall right in front of the Hainanese Assoc. at the night market.

                  I tried to follow you, but the Follow button isn't working???

        2. re: kuidaore

          There was a discussion thread previously which touched upon the historic reasons in the preference for "bland" Hainanese chicken rice in Penang:

          1. re: klyeoh

            Very interesting. Thanks!

            I printed out many threads before we went to Penang and KL last year (and tried many stalls mentioned), but we didn't this time so missed your posts...