October 9, 2014

The Ramen Rater’s Trip To Malaysia: Day 3 – Prawn-slaught!

Day 1 * Day 2Day 3 * Day 4 * Day 5 * Day 6

Feasting on Penang’s succulent culinary treasures continues, with a lot of prawn-tasticness! Here is the United States, we often call them shrimp, but looks like everywhere else, they’re prawns. Did you know that the translation of the Chinese word for lobster is ‘dragon prawn?’ Well, now you do. I for one will be calling them prawns from now on. Let’s check out day three!

We started the day with a few interviews in the lounge at the Eastin Penang with a few newspapers. Pictured are the folks from The Star, Malaysia’s most-read English newspaper. I also interviewed with Guang Ming Daily, Kwong Wah News and Sinchew. Those links go to the  stories they published.

Today was about our little friend the prawn. Our first stop was at a little restaurant.

Well-worn floors: the battle scars of well fed diners.

The first bowl of Hokkien Prawn Mee for the day.

Note two two types of noodles – regular gauge and bihun. It’s been hard; since we go to so many places, I can’t eat the whole bowl! Nice prawn broth with pork highlights.

We cut through a side alley to our next destination. I’ve always really liked alleys; they’re always overlooked. Businesses spend so much time on their fronts, but the alleys show the wear of time so beautifully.

Thomas leads us to our next destination – more mee!

After last night’s festivities, I have to admit a bit of a hangover. Penang’s heat and humidity cut a little by these oscillating fans.

Thomas returning after ordering our next bowl of Hokkien Prawn Mee to sample.

This was my favorite bowl of Hokkien Prawn Mee of the whole trip – just wonderful stuff.

These big propane tanks are the lifeblood of the hawker. See the one on the far right? Basically, they’re lit and that cylinder on top is where you would set your wok. Amazing how these simple contraptions are the source of heat for so many of the amazing delicacies of Penang.

This is a banana pancake – fluffy and full of bananas. What’s nice is that it wasn’t as sweet as I would have expected. Thomas informed me that extremely sugary isn’t the way over here.

Back through the alley to the van to go to our next stop.

There’s a morning market we drove by which was very busy.

Cooking is going on 24/7 in Penang. Everywhere.

The last Hokkien Prawn Mee of the day.

Another really neat looking floor.

One of my favorite things about Hokkien Prawn Mee are the fried shallots that garnish the bowl.

You know what this is? Here we have pork rinds which are fried pork skin. They go a bit further here – this is fried pork belly – I would say those who love bacon really need to take note of this!

Stone Pot White Curry Mee!

Next we went to the mall and peeked around a bit. Then we went out for dim sum at Canton-I. We started with some boiled peanuts.

During my trip to Penang, I’ve really wanted to try everything I can – especially things I normally might not. This congee is supplemented with these little crunchy bits on the lower left: fried pork intestine. How are they? Well, they’re crunchy and reminiscent of pork rinds. They went really well with the congee, which is kind of like a porridge.

The little char siu buns were so good! The filling wasn’t dry like the ones I’ve had so many times in the United States, but very moist and featured an almost gravy like sauce.

Had to try these little piggy buns! But what’s inside them?

The paste inside is a mix of peanut butter and other things. The other bun had a red bean paste.

This roast duck was very moist – liked it quite a bit. Really nice to have tried duck a couple ways – I really hadn’t tried it before this trip.

One of my wife’s faves is this stuffed wide noodle. We also had the standards – pork bun, prawn ball and shumai.

These little buns were filled with a runny egg mix which was sweet.

Here’s another great change from Chinese food in the states. You know the appetizer with cold pork, sesame seeds, hot mustard and ketchup? Here’s what is SHOULD look like! That pork was just perfect. At the center is an aged salted duck egg.

An iced sweet melon dessert with honeydew balls.

Now this one is a mango dessert, but the little balls aren’t mango. For ages, I’ve seen these ‘glutinous rice balls’ at the Asia grocery stores around me in the US and never knew what they were. Well, that’s what these are. They’re chewy and were pretty good in this. Imagine taffy consistency marshmallow and you’re pretty close to what this was like.

All done. On the way to our next to-do, I took this shot of the KFC in the mall. KFC, McDonald’s Burger King, Subway and Pizza Hut are all over the place here. Difference is that here you can get tom yum pizza at Pizza Hut.

Next stop was a ferry to Butterworth. Lots of motorbikes loading on!

Why this commercial? Living in Anacortes, Washington growing up, we were so close to Canada that we got Canadian TV commercials. This was one I thought was fascinating. Malacca. Sounds really cool. One of those words that just stuck in my head and just seemed cool. What is Malacca?

The Strait of Malacca. Riding the ferry across was a really great moment of this trip for me. Penang is an island, connected to the minland by a bridge. It also has ferry service. Fishing is an important industry. These are all parallels to where I grew up. Anacortes is on fidalgo Island, next to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Fishing is a big deal too. It’s connected to the mainland by a bridge (much shorter than the 7km Penang Bridge) and ferries can be taken to the islands. We’ve experienced so many things that are so different from where I consider home, but this seemed to me like a moment where everything came together in a really personal way for me that is hard to describe.

Here we are at the front of the ferry.

A ferry returning to the side we started off on.

Okay dude who requested pics of noodle aisles in Malaysia – here you go! This is the Econsave supermarket at Chain Ferry, Butterworth.

Lots of instant noodles! We ended up finding about 30 different varieties to bring back. One thing I really wanted to do is get a ton of Malaysian instant noodles so in the near future, I can do a The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Malaysian Instant Noodles Of All Time list. I’ve reviewed 44 varieties and would like to have reviewed about 70 before doing a top ten.

Finally, it’s time for dinner – and this place was probably one of the most unique places I’ve dined in my life. It’s called Floating Seafood Paradise.

Why is this place so unique? Well, there are big fishtanks and big holding ponds where fresh seafood are raised. You want fresh seafood? It does not get any fresher than this. Not only that, everything is connected together – you dine while floating on the water.

These large shelled snail-like sea creature were really big and interesting – I don’t remember what they’re called, but delicious would be a description.

These are Mantis Prawns. They’re absolutely enormous! I have checked them out on YouTube in the past. They eat clams and other shellfish. They have the ability to flick their flicking thing at the speed of a bullet and smash the shell of their prey open!

This guy looks like a small shark!

The meal starts with a little appetizer of chickpeas.

Thirsty? Coconut milk – straight out of a coconut.

Cockles.

Can’t remember what kind of fish this was but it was delightful – crunchy fins were really nice.

Breaded clams. Starting to think now that maybe clams are called cockles here.

Fresh cooked Mantis Prawn. Seriously – that’ a lot of prawn meat! We also had some fresh crab. Thomas said I should try the crab roe – of everything I tried on the trip, I would say that was the one thing I wasn’t really keen on; very ‘of the sea’ kind of taste. The crabs came with wooden clubs to crack open the shells. The claw meat was especially succulent.

I’m pretty sure this is the sea cucumber and duck. The sea cucumber reminded me of what Jell-o gelatin would be like if it was overdone – yeah, like ultra-dense Jell-o. Wasn’t keen on it alone, but along with a bite of the duck and the sauce it was out of this world.

Finally, a bana leaf with a lovely offering of Chilli Crab. It has such a sweet and spicy kind of flavor that was just plain nice. Another great day of trying the food of Malaysia. I must say that I’m finding the fact that pretty much everything is served family style really lends itself to a communal meal setting. Nobody hovering over their food here – everyone shares their opinions of it and it’s a great experience. More on the trip tomorrow with day four!

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.

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