18 July 2004

Penang Foodie 4

Dinner time and we're off to Batu Maung in Penang for some seafood.

It's quiet tricky getting to this place, more so at night. It's in a somewhat isolated part of the island. This wooden shack on stilts sits by the bank of the waters. You can watch the jetties nearby as you sit back, take in some evening sea breeze before you chow down.

It's always crowded here, and just like most other places in Penang, you'll need to fight for your table.

We start off with a plate of "satay". OK. This isn't exactly seafood. Satay is grilled chicken fillet on skewers. The diced and deboned chicken is marinated for many hours with lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, shallots, garlic, coriander and other spices, salt and sugar.

Satay is one of the pillars of Malay food, and a must-try if you're ever in Malaysia. Satay can also be found in various parts of this region, including Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia - each claiming to have the best.

The satay served here takes a somewhat different spin, in that it comes without the spicy peanut sauce. Instead, the sauce is smothered onto the meat as it is grilled. Very aromatic and well marinated, it's one of the house specialities. Very nice.

Next up is stir-fried fresh prawns with garlic. The prawns are net-scooped from the large glass "aquariums" when your orders are placed. The prawns are cooked with only very light seasoning to allow the natural sweetness of the prawns to shine through. Good but a little oily.

This is the steamed "siakap" (seabass) fish in soya sauce. Another live catch straight from the aquarium. The flesh is sweet and firm and goes so well with the light soya sauce. Very nice.

Next up is spicy fried "lala", a local variety of clam. This came up short. It was too dry, the sauce was neither spicy nor flavourful and looked like a rush job. Total disappointment.

Rounding off dinner is a plate of fried "beehoon" Hokkien-style. That means fried vermicelli in dark soya sauce with prawns, pork and veges. I hate it when they use those crappy mass-produced fried shallots (which are coated with flour to retain longer). The noodles itself was so so.

Overall, stick to the fresh seafood and you'll do OK. I didn't go for the crabs, another of their specialities, as I was too lazy to work the fingers. Total cost of the dinner was approximately RM55.00 (USD14.50).

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