Penang hawker food is internationally renowned. Even people throughout Malaysia knows Penang as home to good hawker food. But what is good Penang Hawker Food, and can we, the People of Penang, identify good Penang Hawker Food?
As someone who was born in Penang and has lived in Penang all his life, I love Penang hawker food. And I'm very fastidious about the quality of hawker food that I receive.
If you follow me on the Masa Masak Facebook Group you know I get a continuous supply of good homecooked food. So I am constantly training myself to determine the quality of food.
It's not enough to say food at X stall is good or bad, we need to be able to article why good, why bad, because the soup is so delicious, the prawns are fresh, the noodles are overcooked, it doesn't have the expected aroma, waiting time is too long, service is surly, etc.
When I think of good Penang Hawker Food, I break it down two four main points: taste, aroma, speed and price.
Mr Cheang Hun Meng with his award-winning Hokkien Mee (9 June, 2014)
Taste of Penang Hawker Food
A lot of hawker food is becoming too sweet. It is not natural sweetness from fresh, quality produce, but the sweetness of white sugar and MSG. Some dishes, such as wan than mee, is naturally sweet, from the sugar in the soya sauce, we need to be conscious if a curry also tastes sweet, then we need to determine where the sweetness is from.
Aroma of Penang Hawker Food
You can walk pass a stall selling curry mee, Hokkien mee, wan than mee, chee cheong fun, char koay teow, koay kak, and even with your eyes closed, you should know the dish by its aroma.
Speed of Delivery of Penang Hawker Food
I don't buy an excuse that a stall is so popular that you are made to wait over half an hour. I would understand if it's a cooked-to-order restaurant, but not a hawker food where you prepare just the same type again and again. It is up to the hawker to buck up if waiting time exceeds 20 minutes. I won't even taste-test any stall that require waiting time of 30 minutes.
Price of Penang Hawker Food
Once upon a time, Penang hawker food is regarded as cheap. Slowly, we began to notice that thought it was cheap, the portion is also correspondingly small. Nowadays, however, prices have risen, and while it may appear cheaper than at Kuala Lumpur, portion size has not increased in relation. In fact, if you compare the price of hawker food in Penang with that in Singapore, you would be surprised that you get better value for money (ringgit to Sg dollar) over there.
Every stall is as good as our next visit. So do not expect that something that is food will remain good for every subsequent visit.
I fully encourage you to talk of food with this passion. Penang hawker food is great, not because everybody says it's great; it is great because we can clearly articular what makes it great, and we continue to push an uncompromising standard on our hawkers to produce great food.
That, dear members, makes Penang hawker food simply great.
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