Ayu Mee Udang
936B Lengkok Kampung Masjid Satu, Teluk Kumbar (04 649 3881).
Only slightly akin to the Chinese version of prawn noodles, Ayu’s mee udang is a bowl of yellow noodles with a starchy, red, tomato-based soup, rich with the smell of prawn shells. Ayu uses the succulent, fleshy sort of prawns rather than the usual small-sized ones, so it’s no surprise that the price of Ayu’s prawn noodles is almost triple the price of a standard bowl found elsewhere (the small bowl with three prawns costs RM15 and the bigger bowl with six prawns costs RM22). Given the size of the prawns (and how clean the place is), the price seems pretty reasonable.
Daily, 1pm–11pm. $
BTB & Restaurant 153 & 155 Lebuh Pantai (04 263 7299/www.chinahouse.com.my).
A visit to Penang has long been an exercise in sampling as much of the island’s most iconic hawker food as you can manage, but in recent times, another facet of the dining scene of Penang has been blossoming. Settled comfortably in China House (a heritage building that houses performance theatres, galleries, cafés and restaurants), BTB & Restaurant appeals to those who’d like a glimpse at the other side of Penang’s ravenous food culture: indoor dining! BTB & Restaurant serves Western dishes with local twists, and its quiet, relaxed ambience is unmistakably Penang.
Daily, 6.30pm–10.30pm. $$$$
D’Dapor Express 7 Lebuh Union (04 262 9323).
The interior of D’Dapor Express displays a strong penchant for the rather charmingly incongruous mixing of tastefulness, as characterised by the minimal decorations and the clean lines of the tables, with the garishness of its green, white and yellow walls. While it focuses mainly on being an upscale restaurant serving Malay cuisine, it boasts a few additional selections of Thai and Chinese-inspired dishes. It occasionally has various lunch and dinner deals, so be on the lookout for those.
Daily, 12noon–3pm, 6pm–10pm. $$$
Restoran 77 77-D Persiaran Gurney.
If there is one thing that needs to be said about Restoran 77, it has already been said on its own signboard – ‘Famous Curry Fish Head’. The renowned fresh and fleshy fish head is drenched in a fragrant curry, cooked with spices, onions and okra, and topped with a garnish of mint leaves. The fish head curry may well be the focus of the meal, but to serve as an accompaniment, one can also order from an assortment of the conventional Chinese dishes – eggs, vegetables, tofu, meat and others.
Pork-free. Child friendly. Disabled friendly. Free parking. Daily, 11am– 10pm. $$
Nyonya Mama’s Nyonya Food 31-D Lorong Abu Siti (04 229 1318).
Mama may have passed on the legacy to her daughter, but the restaurant
has lost none of its original vigour. This place has been patronised by many celebrities, like renowned shoedesigner Datuk Jimmy Choo, Hong Kong director Ang Lee and squash superstar Datuk Nicol David, so it’s a good idea to visit, if not just to check out what the hype is all about. The final bill may not be cheap but if you’re dropping by, try Nyonya classics such as tau eu bak, purut ikan, Nyonya fish head curry and otak-otak.
Child friendly. Kids’ menu. Disabled friendly. Tue–Sun, 11.30am–2.30pm, 6pm–9.30pm. $$$
Nyonya Breeze 50 Lorong Abu Siti (019 443 7104/ www.nyonyabreeze.oomph.com.my).
Nyonya food is some of the hardest to prepare, given the amount of time needed to grind, blend, pound and marinate the ingredients, so the meticulousness of the process demands high levels of skill and mastery to prepare the perfect Nyonya meal. Nyonya Breeze may not be the best there is, but the general consensus is that it serves as a decent outlet for your regular Nyonya fix. Expect to find the usual Nyonya fare, such as the curry kapitan (chicken curry), the inche kabin (fried chicken) and the ju hu char (stir-fried shredded sengkuang, carrots, dried cuttlefish and mushrooms).
Mon, 11.30am–2.30pm, 6.30pm– 10pm; Wed–Sun, 11.30am–2.30pm, 6.30pm–10pm. $$
Perut Rumah Nyonya Café 17 Jalan Kelawei (04 227 9917).
Once a bungalow, this heritage house has been transformed into Perut Rumah, a restaurant and café serving a variety of Nyonya mains and desserts. The restaurant recreates the aesthetics of the colonial era – the walls are adorned with nostalgic photographs and tables with old artefacts. While the Nyonya curries are perfectly satisfactory, we were really impressed with the pork slices cooked in a cincalok sauce along with sweet potato leaves blanched in creamy, coconut-based masak lemak gravy. The pork dish is both light and delicately salty from the cincalok of fermented prawn sauce and makes a perfect duet with white rice and a dash of fiery sambal belacan. Another dish we’d recommend is the somewhat spicy stir-fried aubergine in prawn sambal. Dishes here are not terribly spicy but the heat of the chillies and spices are definitely present. To amp up the spiciness, you can either request for sliced cili padi or a little extra sambal belacan. End on a sweet note with desserts such as bubur chacha.
Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Free parking. Daily, 11am–3pm, 6pm–10pm. $$