My wife and I with the dishes we had at Hua Hee Restaurant (8 June, 2017)
In Penang Hokkien, we have a saying, "hnua3hee4 ciak3 pa1-pa4" , which translates loosely as "bon appetit". I was thinking of this as we had our dinner last night, at Hua Hee Restaurant (GPS: 5.31989, 100.26863) in Sungai Ara. We normally do not go to Sungai Ara, particularly during dinner time, because of congestion, which often slows traffic going there to a crawl. Even from nearby Bayan Baru, it look us more than half an hour to get there. But it is truly worth the journey, because the food at Hua Hee Restaurant is so nice.
This is only the second time that my wife and I have dined at Hua Hee Restaurant. We have enjoyed our first meal there very much, and we delighted when Hua Hee Restaurant invited us back to try some of its new dishes. But since there were just the two of us this time, we limited ourselves to fewer dishes.
The first item served to us was the Baby Bak Choy Fried with Three-Style Eggs 三皇奶白. It is a vegetable dish using three types of eggs. There was regular chicken egg, salted duck egg and century egg. The gravy is just nice to mix with rice. It makes a fitting start to our meal.
The second item to arrive was the Nyonya Prawn 娘惹凤梨虾. This dish is served in a halved pineapple. It is in fact a dry curry that uses chunks of pineapple as well as some of the pineapple juicem so it receives some of the sweetness from the fruit. Just look at the photograph. The prawns were fresh and juicy, and not overcooked. Just nice. I don't have to tell you that it is absolutely delicious.
Next came the Watermelon Champagne Chicken 欢喜西瓜香槟鸡. This is a sweet-and-sour chicken. What is so marvellous about this dish is that it was prepared using a bit of champagne as well as some watermelon juice. The result is a marvellous combination. The dish also included balls of watermelon which I initially thought were cherry tomatoes. But no, those were watermelon, and they went very nicely with this dish. The dish was served in a beautifully halved watermelon.
The final item we enjoyed that evening was the exquisite Special Stir-fried Crab with Dried Chili and Garlic 避风塘炒蟹. My wife and I enjoyed one whole, rather large crab between the two of us. It was aromatically stir-fried in chili and garlic, and the fried garlic was so delicious, I ate them pieces of it with the crab flesh. When I later remarked to the restaurant that the crab was very fresh, I was told, "Of course - it has just been air-flown in this morning!" I had thought that the crab was local, so when I asked where the restaurant got their crabs, I was told that they are specially flown in from Sri Lanka and Medan. Wow.
One thing I can say is, the restaurant is unsparing in its use of quality ingredients and fresh items, but not going to the extend to allow one item overwhelm the taste. The use of champagne in the Watermelon Champagne Chicken, for example, is only a tinge, sufficient to enhance the taste.
We enjoyed the meal with a glass of Barley with Lemon and Butterfly Pea Flower 兰花意米柠檬 (bunga telang) extract, which gives the drink a sort of lilac colour. It was just nice, not too sweet.
At the time we arrived, only one table was filled. We probably have arrived a tard early, because gradually every table became occupied, so much so that my wife urged me to eat faster, in order that we could vacate our space to paying customers. I was told that the restaurant is completely filled up almost every night.
This has been a thoroughly enjoyable meal, and so worth making the journey to Sungai Ara. I did not ask for the price of each item that we ate, considering the meal was on the house, but I am quite aware this is not a "cheap" meal. Neverthelss, if you are looking for one of the best cooked-to-order Chinese dishes in Penang, go give Hua Hee Restaurant a try. As for me, I look forward to coming back soon!
Baby Bak Choy Fried with Three-Style Eggs 三皇奶白 (8 June, 2017)
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