Glutton’s Paradise – Swatow Lane

on our last day in penang, we headed for Swatow Lane, my personal favourite place to just pig out. local penangnites don’t seem to think much of this place, scoffing it as a tourist trap but i still rate it highly for variety and in my opinion, one of the best or kueh and ice kacang. it took us a while to recognise it this time, due to the ongoing construction works nearby. i wonder if these newly constructed buildings will affect the hawker stalls? still it was welcoming to see the stretch of hawker stalls with their colourful market umbrellas opposite the New World Cafe.

Or Kueh 芋糕 Bak Chang 肉粽

we quickly found a place by the stalls under the shady trees and went crazy ordering stuff. i started off with or kueh (芋糕, yam/taro cake) and bak chang (肉粽, glutinous rice meat dumplings) for the kids. the yam cake was so very delectable, with a soft texture that literally melts in one’s mouth. the rice dumpling didn’t make much of an impression on me. i can’t even remember what was in it! but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tasty, i was just more taken with the other food my aunt ordered. the hawker that sells these two also had chee cheong fun (猪肠粉), flat rice rolls served with a sweet sauce and sesame seeds which was very popular. i resisted the temptation to order some until i checked out what food my aunt ordered. in her excitement, she ordered a little too much for the 5 of us…

Or Chien Lor Bak

by the time i got back to the table, my cousins were already tucking into their wan tan mee and curry noodles. i vaguely remember trying the wan tan noodles on an earlier visit to penang. the noodles were deliciously springy, if i can recall correctly. my aunt also ordered the or chien (fried osyter omelette) and lor bak platter and i was transported to gastronomic heaven. the oyster omelette is normally made by adding starch to the egg mixture and using fresh oysters. the version here has a crispy base with the oyster omelette poured onto it. our Lor Bak platter had fried beancurd/tofu, taiwan pork sausages, beancurd-wrapped sausages etc. and was served with chilli sauce and a starchy dipping sauce with egg & five-spice powder. it was oh so good. my aunt also grabbed a couple of banh chean kueh (slow-cooked pancake) which was sinfully yummy when served piping hot. crispy outside and gooey inside. these “pancakes” are cooked over hot cast iron pans and sprinkled with ground peanuts and sugar, added with a dollop of margerine/butter and a spoonful of creamy corn. once it is ready, it is scraped out and quickly folded to sandwich the ingredients.

Ice Kacang Char Kway Teow 炒粿条

and when in swatow lane, the ice kacang or shaved ice dessert is a must have. the specialty is to either have ice-cream or fresh fruit added but we ordered the plain version which already had a chockful of ingredients swimming in it. Sweet red beans, jelly, atap chee, sweet corn and fruits are covered with shaved ice, then laced with rose syrup, brown sugar syrup and sweetened condensed milk – the perfect refreshment for a hot afternoon! my aunt couldn’t help but order the char kway teow after our disappointing one at McAlister Road previously. and i am pleased to announce that this was way better. the flat rice noodles was lingering with wok hei (the wok’s breath, a distinctive charred essence to mouthwatering fried dishes) and stir-fried with its signature ingredients – beansprouts, chives, eggs, chinese wax sausage, succulent large prawns & cockles. needless to say, we all overate. and i nearly fell off my chair when my aunt said she wished she still had space for the famous char kway teow at lorong selamat. another trip perhaps?

other foodie accounts on swatow lane :
pearl of the orient


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