Penang Foods

TRANSFER Road in Penang is famous for roti canai and nasi kandar stalls, writes C.K. LAM.

PENANG is the ultimate gastronomic paradise for most of us. It is well-known for its abundance of superb hawkers´ delights which locals claim can´t be duplicated elsewhere.Since Penang is synonymous with good food, there are many places with a good concentration of hawker stalls and restaurants on the island and one particular place is Transfer Road.

Mention roti canai and locals will point you to the most famous landmark in Transfer Road. This famous roti canai stall has been in operation for decades next to an old abandoned warehouse. Breakfast here is an indulgence – soak in the atmosphere and enjoy the slow pace of life in Penang.

There are several delicious curries – mutton, beef, and chicken – and dhal to complement the roti canai. However, the best combination is kuah banjir!

Customers can also order the curries without the roti canai. Chicken curry comes with tender pieces of meat in flavourful gravy. However, most customers prefer the tender mutton curry which is relatively spicy. The aromatic mutton is a crowd favourite. The stall is open from 6.30am till 7pm, with a break from 1pm till 3.30pm.

Just a stone´s throw away from the roti canai stall is the famous Nasi Padang Minang restaurant. Located on the left hand side of Transfer Road, this restaurant has been serving a delectable spread of Sumatra delights for decades. Though Padang cooking is characterised by lots of chilli, lemongrass and turmeric, surprisingly, most of the dishes here are not very hot. The restaurant emphasises taste and flavours rather than hotness.

The array of dishes is inviting, with a selection of fish, meat and fresh vegetables which are spiced for a range of flavours. Dendeng daging is prepared dry and eaten with chilli and onion to enhance the flavours of the meat. It is well-spiced, with a chewy bite. On the other hand, deep-fried cencaru sambal is stuffed with ground red chilli and deep fried onion which is simply scrumptious!

There are also dishes unique to this restaurant, such as stir fried tempeh with French bean. Others are chicken curry and vegetable lodeh. The curry is savoury with a mild spicy taste while lodeh stands out with flavourful coconut milk gravy.

In addition to roti canai and nasi padang, Transfer Road also has a famous nasi kandar stall. Deen Nasi Kandar, which has been in business for nearly 50 years, is among the oldest stall of its kind in Penang. It is located in Kedai Kopi Toon Leong, an old-style coffee shop located in a heritage shop house at the corner of Transfer Road and Argyll Road.

It has a variety of spicy dishes with a riot of flavours and choices such as beef, squid, fish and chicken. Its curries have a distinctive and outstanding taste, and many customers flock here for kuah banjir as well. In addition to the excellent squid curry, its signature catfish head curry is a must-have. Unlike Nasi Padang Minang, Deen Nasi Kandar opens early for breakfast. Business is brisk and quite often the dishes are sold out by mid-morning! It closes on alternate Sundays.