Keh Pui @ Batu Maung, Penang

I have read countless travel blogs where the travelers always say: When I travel to a new country, I always try to eat what the locals eat on a day to day basis instead of having touristy food. I don’t know about other countries, but when they come to Penang, the eat what the locals eat usually mean 炒粿条 char kuay teow, 粿条汤 kuay teow th’ng, 槟城叻沙 Penang laksa, cendol (shaved ice), etc. Sometimes they have a local friend to act as a guide so it becomes more believable.

I don’t know, but I always feel conflicted when I read these blog posts. What’s that term… 哭笑不得, not sure whether to laugh or to cry. You see, well, there’s absolutely nothing wrong for tourists/travelers to come to Penang and have char kuay teow and laksa. After all, these stuff are what Penang is famous for as a foodie haven. The thing is, you see, these stuff are what the locals eat, but they’re also not what the locals… really eat. I mean, they’re what we eat sometimes, and what we bring tourists to have. They’re not exactly what we eat on a regular basis.

I guess my point is, when you come to Penang and got your char kuay teow and laksa fix and feel very proud to be having what the locals eat, they’re not exactly what the locals… really eat. They’re still more like tourist food. Local touristy food, if you would. They’re local food, but not local food that locals eat on a regular basis.

Okay, enough of cheong hei (long winded) introductory speech. Today I am going to show you a place where the locals… really eat. Or at least where the engineers on my side of the island do. This isn’t something that you can normally see in travel blogs…


Keh Pui is not the name of this eatery. Keh Pui is just the Hokkien pronunciation of… Chicken Rice. I don’t even know the name of this place, or whether this place even has a name. All I can tell you is that this place basically operates out of a corner lot house in the residential area part of Batu Maung. This place is closer to Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone 4, where Altera, Motorola, Vitrox and Pentamaster are located. I come here quite frequently whenever I want to have lunch with my friends who work in the above-mentioned companies. Usually we would just say: “Eh, let’s go to that corner house keh pui place…

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I’ll show you a crude location map at the end of the post

This place is properly crowded every weekday at lunch hours. If you come after 11.45AM, you will be sure to see a long queue. That’s why we always try to come before that, or at least some of us do to safeguard the tables and seats. Let me show you something else that is evidence of “this place must be good“.

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See how loaded their food counter is? Filled with roasted chicken and pork to the brim. Why is this evidence of goodness? Well, only a place that is certain that they will definitely sell out, would dare to stock up like this. And the only reason they will sell out is because they’re good. Very good.

One thing that this chicken rice place does differently compared to other chicken rice place is that they also offer a wide range of side dishes to complement the mains. There’s vegetables, egg, tofu, fish, pig innards, etc.

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So what we do is, we queue up, and if we want any of the side dishes then we grab a small plate and fill up with the stuff that we want. After that, you reach the mains counter and place your order. In a chicken rice place, the mains are typically: 烧鸡 roasted chicken, 叉烧 char siew (BBQ pork) and 烧肉 siew yoke/sio bak (roasted pork). Here, they also have 烧鸭 roasted duck, 咸肉 kiam bak (salted pork) and 炸鸡 fried chicken. You can have 1 main, or a mixture of the mains.

Then you carry your plate of mains and side dishes to the cashier to get charged and pay accordingly. You can also order some drinks here. Then you carry everything and look for your table and sit down. The rice will be served by one of their waiters/waitresses once you are seated. They also have complimentary soup, both the savory and sweet types.

Here’s my typical loot…

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RM 7.50 (US$ 2) for all these…
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Sambal (Dried shrimp chilli paste) eggplant and stir fried cabbage
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烧肉 siew yoke/sio bak – roasted pork

I actually seldom have chicken at chicken rice place. You know I am a pork man, so I either go for char siew or siew yoke. And I quite like the siew yokes here. They have the perfect ratio of fatty pork:lean pork, which is approximately 50% of each. And their roasted skin packs a nice crunch. Lovely.

** Edit 11-June-2015 **

I read so many comments claiming those to be all fatty pork and asking me where the lean pork part is in the picture above. What the f**k are you guys smoking when you are looking at that picture? The layers are SO OBVIOUS. You guys teasing me, playing pranks with me?? Come, I put some pointers to make the obvious EVEN MORE OBVIOUS…

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See?? EVERY SINGLE PIECE are like that, not just that one piece. Come on guys, you’re not going to tell me the parts where I mark Lean should not be considered lean pork….

Seriously, a good and delicious slab of roasted pork MUST have half fatty and half lean pork. 半肥瘦烧肉. There is no such thing as a delicious slab of 100% lean roasted pork. All lean pork and no fatty pork makes Lazy Man an Unhappy Man instead.

Oh right, I said I will share a crude location map of this place. Here…

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I think it could be difficult for you to come here without anyone in the know bringing you. Which is exactly what makes this place such a local place! 😀

 

24 Comments

  1. I am really not a fan of eating fats. Not just for health reasons, but I…don’t like the taste of it. But, I’m sure the siew yoke there with its fats and all taste way better than the ones we have in Australia…

    What the locals…really eat. Such a good point. What the locals…really eat tends to be plain and simple 🙄

    • I eat pork fats for the texture more than the taste to be honest. You know, when done properly, those melt in your mouth feeling, heaven!

      What the locals (me)… really eat is usually oats and cereals, or baked chicken. I’m afraid it would not be terribly different compared to westerners. They would be disappointed. 😐

  2. “All lean pork and no fatty pork makes Lazy Man an Unhappy Man instead.”
    What a brilliant new proverbs that should be updated in Websters.

    I am truly convinced that they sell very delicious chicken rice with the number of roasted chickens. Seeing is believing!
    I eat chicken rice quite often here and the most crowded big coffee shops still do not hang so many like this Keh Pui shop.

  3. I will not say no to keh pui and surely must have an order of sio bak! Usually I prefer the poached chicken as opposed to the roasted/deep fried one. The side dishes look pretty good too and I’m eyeing the tofu and eggs 🙂

    • I don’t really fancy chicken at all, poached or roasted. I don’t know, I just feel chicken from chicken rice places are always bland 😐 .

  4. Yes, I agree that good siew yoke (like char siew) should be “pun fei sau”…the definition of which (to me) is one layer fat and one layer lean and one layer crunchy skin. Oi, this one here is 3 times the fat…3 layers fat, 3 layers lean…that’s too much leh!! I’m sure it’s good and popular (looking at the quantity that they’re selling) but I can’t say that I’m a fan of this longish-type of siew yoke…and what’s with the sauce overload 🙁

    • It is just longish because it was cut thinly. If proper cut then not long at all. 😛

      The sauce thing, I think it is a Penang thing. I couldn’t get used to it in the beginning too, but it is fine for me now. Minor thing compared to the main ingredient the pork. 😉

  5. I also dun usually order chicken rice at chicken rice shop too…yea, I m a porky person and I like siu yoke or combination with char siew as well!

  6. But some really go to the country to hunt for local food instead…but for me serious food just the side, side and super side story for me, don’t need something expensive and specify the super famous one, good to fill up my stomach then is fine.

    • You are those that don’t really care about the food when on vacation. For me, food is a very important part when traveling. Haha we better don’t travel together, later get into fights! 😐

  7. Keh pui? Toh pui I hear before la, hehe..Oh, when I think of Penang, I think of kuey teow thn’g with duck blood and curry mee with pig’s blood.. I agree with you, people associate Penang with laksa and rojak, must-have “tourist” food, must-go Batu Feringghi and Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si, ala, biasa la.. Me also leh..Wah, your siew yok very fatty leh, all fei yok, no sau yok? Usually sam chang bak..

    • Keh = chicken, pui = rice, keh pui = chicken rice LOL! You travel around and you admit you want to be tourist ma, so it is great that you get to eat tourist food. What I mean is some who travel and insist want to be local, but they end up eating tourist food and then feel very proud for being like a true local. I always find it quite funny 😀

      Tsk, another one, you all tengok apa one… later I edit the photo a bit…

  8. You will see such things in mine – I do eat them here, in KL…anywhere but I go anywhere, I would want to eat the local stuff that’s really really special there, nobody does it better – not what they usually eat or things I would eat at home…in which case, I might as well stay at home and save all the money.

    • The difference is most travel blogs are those Americans/Europeans. I don’t mean fellow local Malaysians who visit other states lah. LOL!

  9. how regular is on a regular basis? Even in KL, I eat char kway teow once a week so is that regular enough to be counted as food that locals eat on a regular basis?

    Hahaha, you are gonna wanna punch me for this – there is a typo in your post – only one so means very good. The typo is in this sentence:

    “..we grab a small place and fill up with the stuff..”

    should be plate and not place, right?

    So next time you bring all your friends tourists or colleagues from overseas to this keh pui batu maung place la so that they can correctly proclaim that they ate some food that locals ate on a regular basis.

    I am going there the next time I go Penang so that I can take photos and blog about how I ate what locals ate on a regular basis but then ahem, RG is not exactly a Pg local, hehehehe.

    • What the.. char kuay teow once a week? That must be your favorite food! 😐

      You correct my typo, why punch you? I thank you leh!! Thanks!!!

      If I bring tourists to eat keh pui instead of laksa or char kuay teow, then I think they will punch me instead.. 😐

      I am not local, but local enough la, wakakaka! XD … Actually chicken rice, you can eat in KL, no need to go to Penang lah…

  10. i give you high five for what you’ve said about the “local food”, it seems like that is from the tourist perspective only.. and I guess many will just tell the local friend “I want to eat this and that” (bcos I saw someone eating this and that on the net) and hence they eat.. haha!!

    err, I wonder the siew yoke is all fat or all lean?? cos I cannot see the layers!!! I would prefer the lean one and especially the darker parts which are more salty.. I always “pui” the fats out.. :p

    • Exactly, I think it is a cycle. I think even when there are tourists or backpackers getting you as a guide, you still need to bring them to eat touristy food, because that’s what they read from well-known travel blogs claiming those touristy food to be must eats.. which is quite true also. I can’t imagine my visitors to be very happy if I bring them to have some chicken rice hahaha! 😀

      What you seeing one? See properly, lean fat lean fat on each piece leh! I think you prefer those siew yoke from pasar. I don’t think I’ve seen many chicken rice place serving siew yoke with those darker parts. Those fats are gold leh!! Why you spit them out?? WTF!?

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