I have been writing about many eateries in Penang so far, both old school and newly opened ones. But I recently realized that most of them have been very… Chinese in nature. I guess there is nothing weird about this. After all, I am a Chinese, so I would naturally go for Chinese cuisine most of the time.
Today, though… I am going to break away from the norm and introduce to you, to a Malay eatery. This is another of those where the locals really eat places which is not located near the main roads or tourist attractions, so if you are a tourist in Penang, you won’t be able to find it easily.
Today, I am going to introduce you to Pak Hussin Tomyam. This Malay restaurant is located in Sungai Ara. I guess if you are someone who is living in this part of the island, you will probably know this place and how to come. After all, they have been around for very long. If you are not from this area, I guess it is pointless for me to describe the location to you in detail.
Pak is the short form of Pakcik, which is the Malay word for Uncle. Hussin is, well, a name for a Malay man. So, Pak Hussin Tomyam can be literally translated to Uncle Hussin’s Tomyam. As the name implies, this place specializes in Tomyam (or Tomyum, or even Tom Yum for some of you). But they do serve a lot of other food, all Malay style of cooking.
I have been a regular to this place since I came to Penang. Actually, all these years in Penang, I have been to quite a number of Malay eateries, to me personally, this is the best one so far. The thing is though, this is a place where you order and share dishes with rice, so it is not a place to dine alone. So ever since I moved to my new place and became a hermit, I hardly come here anymore… until a couple weeks ago when I decided to have dinner with another friend. We both missed this place.
I don’t feel like going into grandmother stories today, so let’s jump straight into pictures of the food.
Ulam – this is sort of like, Malay salad. Most Malay restaurants serve this as appetizer, for free. Like salad, the vegetables are served raw. Unlike salad though, there is no olive oil or mayo dressing. Ulam is always served with sambal belacan (spicy Malay chili paste) dipping.
Tomyam campur (mixed tomyam) – they have a few different options for their tomyam soup. You can have tomyam ayam (chicken), tomyam sayur (vegetable), tomyam seafood (well, seafood), or if you cannot decide, like how we are most of the time, then you can have what we usually have here, tomyam campur. The soup is basically the same, the only difference is the main ingredient that they add when cooking the soup. And the tomyam soup here packs a punch. If you are into spicy soup, this is highly addictive and super delicious. They claim to specialize in tomyam, so they don’t mess this one around.
Ayam masak pedas – ayam = chicken, masak = cook, pedas = spicy. So, ayam masak pedas basically means chicken cooked to be… you know. They do have different styles of chicken, it is basically chicken cut into cubes, and cooked in different ways. I have to say this spicy chicken is my second favorite type of chicken here. My favorite is ayam goreng kunyit (chicken fried with turmeric). Maybe I’ll show you that next time.
Kailan ikan masin – Kailan = Chinese broccoli, ikan = fish, masin = salty. So, this is Chinese broccoli with salted fish. If you are going to comment on a Malay restaurant serving Chinese vegetables, don’t. The thing is, kailan is not a Chinese vegetable as far as Malaysia is concerned. This is a popular vegetable which you can find in almost any cuisine in Malaysia. I don’t know why white people call this vegetable Chinese broccoli. Anyway, this is a very nice dish too. When we come here, we always alternate between this and kangkung belacan (water spinach with chili paste) for our vegetable fix.
There are some other regular dishes that we would have here. If was just two of us this time. If it was a group of 5, you would probably also see sotong goreng (crispy fried squid) and telur bistik (Malay omelette) in this post. Maybe next time…
How much did the food cost? Well… what you see in the pictures above, plus two fruit juices, fresh fruit juices, came to RM 25. I don’t remember the prices of the individual dishes. For the tourists, that’s US$ 6. Yes, six dollars for a decent meal for two. If you have the same food in those touristy spots in Gurney Drive or Batu Ferringhi, it would probably cost three of four times more.
I’ll share a map with you. I don’t know if it will make sense to you anyway. Oh right, as of now, Uber is still available in Penang, so you can always use that. Just remember: Pak Hussin Tomyam.