Monday, November 8, 2010

Breakfast Technicolour while we wait

Been a little over a drab, dismal week since Ollie left Penang. And with his departure goes the immediate catalyst for me to head back to the island as often as the opportunity presents itself. It isn't entirely a warranted bias, considering the multiple other wonders each Penang trip packs in.

Tends to start off a little like this - we hit the highway by 5AM, he, eager as a beaver on acid and I, bleary-eyed and most certainly hungover. Engage in sardonic pre-dawn banter until we reach Penang, the sight of the ocean from the bridge crossing to the island drawing a sigh of brief contentment and a moment of silence.

And then, it's time for breakfast.

Ugly commercial monoliths juxtaposed with the agreeable facade of old Penang

This particular morning, he convinces me that I simply must try the famous Pitt Street Koay Teow Th'ng, relocated to Carnavon Street. I argue that I've never seen koay teow th'ng as food fit for the hale and hearty. But he wins this round.

There is something to be said about food this pale and uninviting in colour, but delivers the warmth and nourishment deemed necessary for rehabilitation WITHOUT tasting like it came from the hospital's cooking quarters. The fish balls are high-spirited characters, springing upon every dip and bite.

Requisite condiment of bird's eye chillies and chopped garlic swimming in soy sauce

OK, I couldn't get past the paleness of koay teow th'ng and sent him running for neighbourly atonement in the form of Penang Hokkien Mee from Kafe Ping Hooi down the road. Fire-engine red crustacean-laced broth screams "Welcome back!!!" like no other. The accompanying tender pork ribs are a legitimate rival to Hong Kong Street's version across the road.

The resident pastry vendor within Pitt St. koay teow th'ng's coffee shop also showcases a few tricks up their sleeves, one of which being the Coconut Tart. Crumbly, candied golden Penang charm.

The potent taste of old Penang deliver the dark, solemn crucial wake-up call to begin another colourful weekend from the island treasure chest.

So while Ollie packs on the year-end warm duds to counter the bitterly cold winter in the Kansai region of Japan, we await his return, drumming our grey fingers on the tabletop serving the sunny, vibrant spirit of Penang.

Famous Pitt St Koay Teow Th'ng
93 Carnavon Street
10300 Penang

Kafe Ping Hooi
Corner Carnavon Street & Lebuh Melayu
10300 Penang