Yes, there’s more food on the very near horizon.
Unfortunately my plan for doing the food tour the day before the cookery class didn’t pan out and I was requested to go on the food tour the same day from 5pm. Luckily I had digested the rather substantial lunch, and fitted in a very nice affiagato at The Safe Room where the ice-cream is made using liquid nitrogen – resulting in a suitable sugar and caffeine hit to set me up for the evening session of eating.
The tour was with the originally titled Food Tour Penang. There were 4 of us, me, an American ex-pat couple over from Shanghai for Chinese New Year and Bri-Nylon, another American, this time from Washington DC, who reminded me of Big Bird but with Simon Cowell trousers – those front pleated loose chinos pulled right up with a large belt. I was feeling a bit left out as everyone had huge cameras with mahoosive lenses and there was me with me rather crap Fujifilm camera. Mustn’t compare, mustn’t compare… Our guide Junie was stick thin, watching us devour the offerings, acting as everyone’s mum with tissues and Tescum wet wipes at the ready for the messy pups in her charge.
The streets were being closed off ahead of celebrations for Chinese New Year so we were a bit traffic bound heading to our first stop – laksa asam, and the chendul pudding at Teochew Chendul, a famous must go to place for it’s dessert. The shop shuts at 6pm so it was early doors for dessert or dip out.
Both dishes were superb, and set us up for the rest of the tour. We were sharing dishes so all on best behaviour of not being seeing as porky pig-outs which meant there was food left in the bowls and leaving leftovers is a hard one to stomach. Me and the American lady therefore took one each for the team and finished them off so as to spare the gents.
We headed out to Macallum, reclaimed land and surrounded by towerblocks for mass housing with an array of kopitan shops (coffee shops) and hawker stalls in the cenre. We came in order to consume fried foods galore. If you could coat it then you could fry it, and thus we had shrimp with rice flour, radish and rice flour and (not shown) banana in rice flour.
One of the guys was allergic to shellfish, so he was going to miss out for quite a bit of the food because things were fried in the same oil as prawns or things had small prawns in them. He held out until he looked as us all tucking into fried offerings and his FOMO kicked in and he decided he’d live with tingling lips and the risk of an anaphylactic shock. Luckily his allergy was low level and we weren’t having to take a swollen-headed, thick lipped man with a closed throat to the hospital at any point.
We then moved onto Indian pancakes and I was starting to feel a tad stuffed, but we were only 2 stops in. Heaven help us for the remainder. Anyhow, we ploughed on and waddled back to the car to head of to Mac no.2 – Macalister and to New Lane Hawker Centre. Here we went to a coffee shop – it sold only drinks but you could buy from around at various stalls and bring the food to the coffee shop. Buying a drink was mandatory or you paid a 50p surcharge.
At this point Junie turned into the Magic Porridge Pot and starts bringing out food left right and centre, satay, bbq chicken, char kway teow (stir-fried noodles with prawns), wantan mee (a dark soy based noodle dish with pork, wontons and vegetable).hokkien mee (more prawns, with noodles, as a soup).
To be honest I lost count of the number of items we ate – I’ve photos of 16 in total but we ate way more than that and were starting to hit food fatigue. Silence descended – more in that way to prevent groaning from over-eating and to maintain dedication to the cause than from focusing on the flavours and taste of the dishes. It was all rather scrummy though, and although the silence meant we could practically hear our arteries clogging up from all the lard we were happy.
Our final stop was Sri Ananda Bahwan, which was rather exciting as Peter from cooking had recommended it.Over a lime juice we indulged in dosas, both savoury and sweet. Eating had lulled to a more polite picking of the dosas and everyone was food fatigued. IIt also gave us an opportunity to watch a table of dirty hippies (yes they do exist) rock up, bare foot, long haired and stick=thin stock up at the buffet. Each had a tray that they filled with rice, dhal and whatever else was available. They looked as if they’d been on a food fast for a month, and they were making up for lost time with their food mountains. I’m surprised they had the strength to carry the equivalent of what was food for five for each of them back to their table. Meanwhile us leisurely grazers, who’d each eaten food for five over 3.5hrs had, in theory, another hour to go but I think if any of us were offered anything more, we would have cried.
Slowly we got ourselves upright and waddled our way out the door, thankfully I was a decent 15mins from home so I was able to wobble off at a leisurely pace and use the walk to allow my food to digest. Suffice to say breakfast wasn’t top of the list to be thinking about. What I was thinking about was getting out of my windowless hovel the next day and into converted colonial mansion majesty with big windows and I wasn’t to be disappointed!