In Penang, you don’t have to worry about food. There is no chance that you will go hungry! Plenty of food stalls/hawkers centres are scattered around the island. Some are even opened 24 hours. Everywhere you go, you will see people eating if not smelling food! I think, we Malaysians are really lucky when comes to food as we are always spoilt for choices.
In Asia, one has to really explore the food scenes. Good places to eat most of the time do not have online presences, unlike in the West. To get to know good places to eat are usually through word of mouth. For tourists that visit Malaysia, apart from getting some tips from the guide book, (which is usually not 100% correct and up to individual’s liking), the other option available in getting to know where to get good food is probably to chat with the locals.
Even though my hometown is near to Penang, I do not know a lot of places to eat. Luckily, my cousin, a Penangite, was my guide (for food especially) during my recent stay there. Through her, I got to know a gem on the island! Those from Penang would probably know.
Not far from her place, a restaurant/café, named Joo Leong Café has been serving its patrons for nearly 40 years, passing down from one generation to other. Handed down from Lau Joo Leong, to his son, who took over the business in 1995, now owns and runs the business, which is well-known for its delicious breakfast – toasted bread with butter along with half-boiled eggs need no further introduction – this is their specialty until today! Early in the morning before 6am, workers at the nearby factories and companies queue up, awaiting for their important meal of the day before work.
There is no doubt for such loyalty to this simple yet delicious breakfast – the toasts, slightly crispy at the edges give crunch to the first bite; followed by the moist and buttery taste on the second bite. Happy taste buds send messages to the olfactory bulbs at the based of the brains and various other parts of the brain to interpret slightly salty of the butter, then, sweetness of the sprinkled sugar on top of the toasts. Every bite was happy and enjoyable, the taste receptor was eager for more!
Well, apart from its all day breakfast (which is also served during dinner time from 6pm to 11pm), another specialty of Joo Leong Café is the seafood porridge and noodles (egg and rice noodles). For those seafood lovers, look no further, you have to come and taste the best ever seafood noodles and porridge! Those prawns, crabs, cuttlefish, fish balls and pomfrets are so fresh! I was told that the owner himself, wakes up very early everyday to source the freshest seafood! Apart from seafood, there are other ingredients like frogs, quill eggs, and fish maw.
You choose what you want in your noodles and porridge, so, depending on what ingredients you choose for your noodles and porridge, the price for each serving varies. Minimum price of a bowl of porridge or noodles costs RM 4.00, with just fish balls. Slices of fish and 2 medium size prawns will cost around RM 12.
Apart from seafood noodles and porridge, if you fancy toasts and half boiled eggs, they do serving during dinner hours too. There are also cuttlefish salad (Ju Hu Eng Chai/Sotong Kangkung) and satay stalls at the restaurant to choose from.
So, when I was there, I tried both seafood noodles and porridge. As a porridge person, I really enjoyed what was served. The sweetness of the broth is just unbeatable! Just image seafood broth, bite upon bite on the bouncy prawns, fish balls and the delicate and smooth texture of Pomfret too! That sent me to heaven!
What I really like also is the addition of Tong Choi/Tang Chai (preserved vegetables) and chopped coriander that add more even more flavours to the whole dish. The thought of having a bowl of seafood porridge made me drool big time; I am too far away!! Those of you, who are near enough and have never tried, you will understand what I mean after your visit. And those that have tried, I am sure you share the same opinion on the freshness and deliciousness of the seafood porridge and noodles! Of course, not forgetting about the famous toasts with half-boiled eggs 😉
Address: 179-H, Sungei Tiram, Bayan Lepas, 11900 Penang, Malaysia.
Business hours: Breakfast: 6.30am till 11am. Dinner: 6 pm till 11pm.