Pearl of the Orient

This blog is inspired by the rich cluture and food found in Penang, an island in Malaysia known as the Pearl of the Orient. The author of this blog is Japanese influenced and she enjoys travelling, cooking and ofcourse, eating.

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Location: Penang, Malaysia

I'm a little plump rabbit who lives in Penang. I hop around with a camera round my neck snapping photos of Penang and foodstuffs. If you meet a rabbit like that in Penang, that should be me ; )

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dimsum vs Sushi. Ready? Fight!

Have it ever cross your mind that both sushi and dimsum somehow similar yet totally different?

Dimsum called ‘tenshiin’ in Japanese, kind of reminds me of sushi. Allow me to make a comparison ; ). Both are small and dainty foods served in little plates and both are pretty pricey $$. Very much like sushi, dimsums are charged according to plate types too for example RM 2 per plate for common ones and RM4 for special ones (price vary from restaurant to restaurants). Fried and baked dimsums are usually the dearer ones.

But, unlike sushi which can be eaten at anytime of the day, dimsum are usually taken for breakfast. Sushi is commonly served on a ‘kaiten’ (conveyor belt) whereas dimsum in a little cart pushed from table to table.

Another difference is that dimsum are way unhealthy for the health (this is sad ain’t it? Makes me feel like crying when I say it out) as compared to sushi which is suppose to be healthy lifestyle food. Why?! Reports say dimsum is high in fat and cholesterol due to it’s oily ingredients such as lard. Sushi on the other hand, is low in fat, rich in omega3 fatty acid (found in fishes) and nori seaweed is rich with vitamins and minerals like calcium, zink and iodine.

I think I might as well draw out a table to make the comparison clearer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yam-cha at Maxim in Sungai Dua…

We went for ‘yam-cha’ at Maxim in Sungai Dua area this morning. Yam-cha the Cantonese word for drinking Chinese tea actually means more than that. It describes the whole event of having dimsum and drinking tea (including reading newspapers or bringing along your pet birdie in a cage) for breakfast at the dimsum restaurant. The newspaper and pet birdie scene is pretty common in Hong Kong flicks.

Dimsum are dainty pieces of food served in small dishes. Dimsum originated from China and made was popular by Hong Kong. I think that’s why most of the dimsum names are in Cantonese (Chinese dialect spoken in Hong Kong)…

There are various types of dimsum and the variety is endless as chefs keep coming up with new recipes. Each restaurant may have their own specialties, but you can find the standard ones like ‘shu-mai’ (steamed pork dumplings), ‘har-kow’ (steamed prawn dumplings), ‘char-siew bao’ (steamed bbq pork buns), ‘lobak kow’ (fried carrot cake), ‘loh-mai kai’ (glutionous rice with chicken) and ‘tan tat’ (egg tart) in almost all dimsum restaurants.

Apart from dimsum, restaurants may also serve other dishes like noodles and porridge. Truly a heavy breakfast indeedy…

Monday, August 08, 2005

Golden brown and crispy Lor-bak

Mom cooked some ‘lor-bak’ for dinner. It's a typical Nonya dish.
It is made of strips of pork (or minced pork), seasoned with five spice powder, sesame oil, soy sauce, some mince garlic and onions, rolled up in beancurd skins. The best part is - it is deep fried till golden brown and crispy.
It's served with dipping sauce too. That's where it got it's name 'lor' which means sauce and 'bak' means meat. By the way, lor-bak is a Hokkien word.
Lor-bak stalls are everywhere in Penang. Should try it next time when you visit Penang. Believe me, it’s good stuff.

So, just now, mom helped me to garnish the lor-bak all pretty so that I can snap a photo of it and put it on my blog. I guess she must be feeling really proud now cos her lor-bak got on the Internet…

Little huts by the beach...

I took a real nice photo at the beach today. It was outside a Malay food shop. These little huts are where you’re suppose to enjoy your meal of rice and curry. It’s what you would call ‘kampung’ style. Kampung means rural village in Malay. Maybe it's a trend or something, I notice many Malay eating places in Penang are having these kind of huts. Looks real cozy, don't you think so?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Full moon celebration?! Is this stuff for werewolves or what?...

Werewolves? Well, actually not! This afternoon, our neighbour passed us a nice looking box with cake, pink colored eggs and 'angku' (a type dessert made of glutinous rice flour with white bean paste filling – by the way, angku means red tortoise) inside.

Full moon or 'mua gueh' (in Hokkien) is an celebrated by Chinese families when a newborn has safely reaches one month of age. Traditionally, 'nasi kunyit' (yellow glutinous rice with chicken curry), pink eggs and angku were passed around to relatives, neighbours and friends.

Nowadays, the full moon celebration is getting more commercialized. Passing vouchers of Kentucky fried chicken, Mac Donalds or other fastfood establishment is getting more popular due to convenience sake.

Pssst, don’t tell my neighbour about this but I really wished she had given us a fastfood voucher instead ; p…

One ton me? Help! I'm obese!

"One ton me" sounds like I'm being overweight, but it actually how you pronounce the Chinese noodle dish in Hokkien dailect. Wonton noodles or 'wantan mi' is also known to some as 'tok tok mi' or 'kon lo mi', is a very common hawker fare. You can find it at amost everywhere in Penang. It cost around RM 2.50 per plate.


The dish consist of noodles served with wonton (pork dumplings), slices of ‘char siew’ (barbecued pork), boiled spinach and pickled green chillies. The noodles are seasoned with dark soy sauce and sesame oil.

There is also a soup type of wonton noodles whereby the noodles are served in clear chicken broth.

But I don't quite like it that way, I like my noodles dry and dark with extra fried wonton and char siew. By the way, I had some for breakfast this morning. Yummies! I think I can have another one for dinner!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I'm having satay for dinner today...

Satay is a very popular Malay dish in Penang and throughout Malaysia. It is basically grilled chunks of meat (often chicken or beef) on bamboo skewers. You may think this is similar to shish kebab or the japanese dish called yakitori but the taste is totally different! This is because satay marinade consist mainly of tumeric and other local spices.

Satay is grilled over charcoal fire and served together with spicy peanut sauce, slices of fresh cucumbers, onions and sometimes ketupat (boiled rice cut into cubes). In Penang, you can usually get satay in the evening at Malay stalls, at the pasar malam (night market), hawker centers or at certain coastal seafood restaurants (like the ones in Batu Maung area).The price varies from 40 cents to 60 cents per stick.

I personally think the type sold at seafood restaurants (grilled together with peanut sauce) taste yummier although the price couldbe higher there.

When I was a kid, we used to make our own satay during family barbecues. My mother would prepare a whole bucket of satay meat and all of us would sit on the floor to skewer the meat onto bamboo skewers. I remembered after finishing the chore our fingers had all turned yellow because to the tumeric powder in the satay marinade. My fingers even smelled like satay for a day or two! Then my father would set up the barbecue pit outside our house and would grill the satay equipped with a fan like a professional satay seller. We really enjoyed the barbecue!

Welcome to Glutton Island!

A description about Penang by Lonely Planet:

The 285 sq km (177 sq mi) island of Penang, off Peninsula Malaysia's northwestern coast, is the oldest British settlement in Malaysia and one of the country's premier resort areas. The island's beaches are touted as the major drawcard but they're somewhat overrated.What makes Penang Island really tick is the vibrant city of Georgetown on the island's northeastern coast. This city has more Chinese flavour than either Singapore or Hong Kong, and in its older neighbourhoods you could be forgiven for thinking that the clock stopped at least 50 years ago.