When proposing a couple of locations for the company work trip, I secretly rooted for Penang or Malacca to be chosen because..... these two Malaysian states are well known for their glorious food! Haha! We landed in Penang eventually and though the agenda will have to be spent mainly in the hotel for meetings, we still got a little free and easy time off. Big yay to having some like-minded colleagues who also feels that a trip to Penang is not complete without a sampling of their signature street food such as Char Koay Teow and Assam Laksa! We soon made our way to Lebuh Keng Kwee at Georgetown, where the famous stall called Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul is located, selling what many reviews named as the best chendol in Penang. This would also be where most locals will point you to if you asked them, "What to eat in Penang huh?"
Having been here before during my previous Penang trip, the stall remains how I remembered it to be. Operating from just a humble pushcart located in a street off Penang Road, throngs of supporters are still milling around the stall slurping down their bowl of chendol under the scorching Penang sun as cars and motorcycles honked and squeezed by the narrow lane. Business is unquestionably brisk even with competition coming directly from a stall across the lane which sells chendol too. The winner is evidently clear from the queue.
Beneath the nondescript facade, Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul boast of a history dating back to 1936, when founder Mr Tan started the business of selling the simple dessert to support his family. The taste of his freshly made chendol not only found and remains in favor with the local palates, but slowly gained recognition from overseas fans as well, leading to its continued expansion of a few outlets, no doubt banking on the incredible reputation it has built up over the years. The business is still in the hands of the family, now managed by the third generation.
Though the atmosphere of standing and eating by the roadside where it all began is an authentic experience which really cannot be replicate, we were grateful to know that air-con relief is now available in form of a shopfront less than a minute walk down the lane.
We all ordered a serving of Chendol (RM2.10) each. Bowls of familiar-looking green pandan-flavored worm-like jelly and red kidney beans floating on a bed of coconut milk and shaved ice arrived faster than the beads of perspiration rolled ferociously down my forehead. A quick stir ensured all the ingredients are enveloped in the sweetness of gula melaka (palm sugar).
Compared to the Malacca's version, the chendol here is a lot subtle in taste. Though the robustness of gula melaka is lacking, it allows the fragrance of the coconut milk to shine forth more prominently instead. You will like this if you prefer a more well-balanced taste. Though not spectacular in an overwhelming sense, each spoonful of this no-frills delight provided a much needed refreshing remedy to blistering heat.
What overwhelmed me unexpectedly that afternoon was the bowl of Assam Laksa (RM3.70) which is also selling at the same shop! Though I'm not quite a fan of assam laksa, I thought I should give it a try since I'm all the way in Penang already. Certainly a decision of no regrets!
Packed generously with thick vermicelli, flaked mackerel and a medley of pineapple, cucumber, onion, lemongrass, mint leaves, red and green chilli, the most distinguishing features of assam laksa are the use of tamarind juice which give the soup notes of sourness and prawn paste which added piquant depth to the overall taste.
A sip of its intense tangy, spicy fish-based broth instantly won me over, making the renditions I had in Singapore taste like watery sour soup. Love the thick vermicelli which was of perfect smooth and springy texture, and the whole combination of flavors which exploded with extreme deliciousness in my mouth. Utterly addictive and appetite whetting, assam laksa is one unique dish you certainly wouldn't want to miss when you're in Penang. If you know where to get the best of best, please let me know!
We also ordered the Rojak (RM5/6/7), an 'Asian salad' of sliced fruits such as mango, pineapple, as well as crunchy turnip, cuttlefish, beansprouts and dough fritters, all mixed in dark sweet sticky shrimp paste and topped with roasted peanuts and sesame seeds. Though it wasn't as memorable as the assam laksa (probably because we ordered the non-spicy version as one of my colleagues can't take any spiciness at all), it still made an enjoyable snack.
It was a quick yet satisfying visit to Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul. Happy moments like this should be kept in photo memories. Smile! :D
Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
Address: 27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee, 10100 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Contact: +604 262 6002
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10.30am - 7pm / Sat & Sun 10am - 7.30pm