Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Almost Ex-Convict and a Cop at Penang's First Nasi Kandar, Jelutong

Dogged by alcoholic wakefulness over the recent break in Penang, I would invoke the most random food cravings at odd hours of the night. However, eating out at my usual favourite kopitiams in the thick of Chinese New Year celebrations is strictly off-limits, given the certainty of decline in standards and jaw-dropping price hikes.

One such morning, after a fitful night's sleep haunted by unprecedented hunger, I was fortunate to have the company of an acquaintance, who suggested early breakfast, at the first and oldest nasi kandar stall in Penang, no less. He had read about this here, amidst the abundance of content online celebrating the ever more popular Line Clear Nasi Kandar in town.
This Nasi Kandar stall is without a name, though it sits squarely next to Kedai Kopi Tai Min, in a dilapidated annex, along Jalan Jelutong, right opposite the Jelutong police station. Now, my friend had some choice stories to share about the men in blue who worked opposite, for he happened to have been arrested and thrown into lock-up there many years ago (for an allegation that was laughably trivial, mind you).

The Nasi Kandar here attracts folks from all walks of life, of varying colour, creed and disposition. While we took our place in the snaking queue in front of the stall, we spied pakciks and makciks at leisure, exercise bunnies in jogging shoes and workers clocking holiday overtime. My almost ex-convict friend even spied a cop from across the street, whom he recognised as part of his arrest those many years ago. On account of the less-than-pleasant one-time encounter, my friend decided to not say Hi, understandably.

The choices offered here are fairly limited, as nasi kandar of yesteryears were no doubt a much simpler affair compared to the Kayus and Pelitas of today. Choose from chicken, beef, squid, fish, fish eggs, lady fingers to top the signature drenched rice. What immediately stood out was how light and mild the gravy was, nothing like the laborious, plodding nasi kandar that we knew. Kinda like how a country's judicial system is when bogged down by modern-day gluttony and garbage.

Slightly traumatised by the reminder of his harrowing rendezvous with the Malaysian arms of law, my friend went on a protein binge, with fish AND fish eggs, hard boiled egg and ladyfingers.

The kopitiam itself was as colourful and intriguing a scene to consume as the Nasi Kandar, which has aged well. The horror stories of those imprisoned by corruption and abuse, however, is a different pot of rice altogether.

20 comments:

wiZsurf said...

Your almost Convict friend must thank the good Lord he had his 2nd chance & years later enjoy eat-out-joy in so familiar surroundings with a like minded boisterous lady partner,sharing delicious saucy tales of what might have been, in a classic casual slipper sarung clad Malaysian food joint

ck lam said...

An interesting place to check out :)

worldwindows said...

This belongs to another era.... Food and cultural milieu-wise.

Sean said...

i can totally empathize with your friend. i once spent two hours in police custody (for unwittingly being in the company of cameramen who shot footage within a police station without permission), but luckily, like him, i escaped without charges too.
is good nasi kandar becoming endangered? coincidentally, i had some in bkt bintang yesterday (with fried chicken and fish eggs, my favorite ingredients next to liver), but it was so blah.

Bangsar-bAbE said...

So kesian la your friend! He must have been shocked bumping into the same cop. But the protein binge thingy was interesting. I would have lost my appetite completely! =P

iamthewitch said...

Oh my.. what an experience! And btw, I noticed your nasi was Drenched! Just how nasi kandar should be! LOL

Big Boys Oven said...

i first read this p[ost I recall when i was young my parent always says " If you are naughty, you will end up " Sek Ka Li Fan!" lol! but now, I wouldn't mind! lol!

qwazymonkey said...

Curry rice! Hehe. Looks good though. A far cry from Line Clear's bubbly diarrhea-inducing curries. :)

qwazymonkey said...

Curry rice! Hehe. Looks good though. A far cry from Line Clear's bubbly diarrhea-inducing curries. :)

CUMI & CIKI said...

wow, that's new to me! interesting post.. great shots.. that nasi kandar looks fabulous.. i totally ODed on nasi padang this trip !

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Hmmmm. I don't think I have any almost ex-convict friends. Perhaps I should befriend yours to fill the emptiness in my life. =) Nasi kandar has never been my cuppa tea, primarily because my dad forbade me from eating it in my younger days. (And I'm from Penang somemore!) Unfortunately, I can't tell you why in such a public forum. :-D

Nic (KHKL) said...

The look says it all - DELICIOUS! if only we have a system as good as this, we will all be happy...and full. :)

thenomadGourmand said...

And I never knew about this place either! Ahh..which reminds me..must share w u the Nasi melayu at Air Itam..heard of it?

J2Kfm said...

Yeah ! This the one!! Very hard to find la. Last time uni mates brought us here once. Then x idea how d.

minchow said...

wiZsurf, yes he was never the same again after that arrest, I must say.

CK Lam, quite unassuming but very easy to find! Just right across from the police station!

Worldwindows, true. I couldn't imagine it going down well with everyday modern palates.

Sean, I have to be honest - I've never been completely sold on nasi kandar myself. All my nasi kandar encounters have just been mediocre, overcooked and stale food. And ridiculously priced at that! This is still RM5 a plate but a steal compared to everything else out there.

Bangsar Babe, ya lor, his face totally changed when he saw the cop. I can't begin to imagine what kind of memories were invoked!

iamthewitch, yup yup, banjir ALL the way! The only type of banjir that puts smiles on faces, surely!

minchow said...

BBO, yep, I always wondered about that... what were parents thinking when they thought that line would scare us kids? Bring on the curry rice!

Qwazymonkey, oh no, were you victimized too?? I have heard enough stories about that place to take extreme caution!

Ciki, I happen to think nasi padang is a wayyyy trippier carb offering than nasi kandar. The options are just more up my alley!

LL, I wanna hear the story!! This should definitely be one of those ROFL gems! And just so you know, (almost) ex-convicts make no more than your regular companion, comes only with the added stern finger wagging reminder to never, ever, EVER partake in certain happy substances :-P

minchow said...

Nic, haha, tell me about it. I suppose our current system keeps us on our toes, keeps us angry and drives us to seek more comfort food like this... hey, it's a vicious conspiracy!!

TNG, which Nasi Melayu in Air Itam? I am hopelessly underexplored in the Air Itam area, don't know much beyond the laksa stall in Farlim and the hawkers near Rifle Range!

J2Kfm, now that there's that new expressway from Pg bridge, you just need to keep going straight and you'll hit Jalan Jelutong, which is where this is. Give it a go!

superwilson said...

Looks awesome!

簡單嗎 said...

A stitch in time saves nine. ........................................

Curious N said...

Hi
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