Penang - Penang's famous street food staples at One Corner Cafe (Update)
One Corner Cafe near Hotel Royal is one of those popular "local" Penang breakfast and lunch spots - ever crowded with Penangites looking for very well-prepared renditions of famous Penang street foods. Foreign tourists tend to miss this place in favor of the larger (but more touristy) New World Food Centre a block away in Swatow Lane.
Some street food items I tried today:
- "koay teow thng" or flat rice noodles in pork soup, with minced pork and pork balls. The version here was one of the best I'd ever had on theisland - clean taste from the clear consomme, the delicious minced pork gently-flavored with garlic, and the thin, smooth noodles.
- Steamed yam cake, topped with finely-chopped scallions and golden-crisp shallots, served with sweet chili sauce, spicy "sambal sauce, and "hoi sin" sauce. The delicate, smooth yam cake here - not the best around (the best known in Penang can be found in the same coffeeshop on MacAlister Road as the famous Two Sisters fried koay teow) , but very tasty all the same.
- Steamed Hokkien "bakchang" - glutinous rice, filled with marinated pork belly, salted duck's eggyolk, shitake mushroom and dried shrimps. The one here tasted pretty average - I'd give this a miss if I'm to come back to One Corner Cafe.
- Penang Assam Laksa - extremely good version sold by an Indian man - he only comes in around lunch-time. Penang's best-known noodle dish of smooth "laksa" rice noodles in a sharp, spicy, tangy, piquant fish-flavored soup, topped with finely-julienned cucumber, torch ginger, fresh onions, pineapple, red chilis and whole sprigs of mint leaves, drizzled with strong prawn paste (a Penang specialty) - the version here was as good as it gets. One can also order deep-fried spring rolls to dunk into the laksa soup - a unique Penang way of eating the noodles which doesn't have a parallel in *any* other Malaysian street food.
- the same laksa spot also sells an array of Nyonya "kueh" or sweet steamed puddings. Traditonally, Nyonya kuehs in Penang produced by the "kiah keh chu" (called "rumah kiah keh" in Malacca and Singapore) or traditional Peranakan households will be peddled by Indian sellers in the streets. The "kuehs" I tried here: "pulot tay tay" (glutinous rice squares topped with "kaya"/egg jam), "kueh sarlat" (two-layered pudding with glutinous rice at the bottom and pandan-flavored custard on top), "kueh lapis" (multi-layered steamed rice pudding) and "kueh bingka beras" (steamed then baked rice pudding tinged purple with the use of the blue-colored butterfly-pea flower)
- Penang-style steamed "otak-otak" - the version in Penang is closer to its Thai cousin, the "hor mok" steamed fish mousse - soft and custardy, rather than the Southern-Nyonya "otak-otak" from Malacca or Singapore, which has a firmer consistency. The Penang version was rich in flavor from the generous use of coconut creme, fresh mackerel or other white-fleshed fish, strongly-spiced with fresh turmeric, Vietnamese basil, blue ginger, lemongrass, candlenuts & shallots. The concoction will be wrapped in banana leaves, together with betel leaves, and steamed. The version I had at One Corner Cafe was very, very good indeed.
One Corner Cafe
12 Jalan Bawasah