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…”
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“.
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.
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…
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…
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…
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! 😀