Saturday 13 January 2018

Penang Food Galore: 4. Penang's Famous Nasi Kandar Restaurants And Best Mee Goreng Mamak

Nasi Kandar -A Little History
Do you know that 'Nasi Kandar', a mamak food specialty in Malaysia actually originated from Penang? History has it that during the colonial days while much of the populace were still living a meagre lifestyle, the Indian-Muslim food vendors would street-peddle their food (rice and assorted curries) hung from two ends of a pole that is put across the shoulder. This rice meal came to be known as 'nasi kandar' from the word 'kandar' which in Malay means to carry things in such a manner. As the society progresses peddling their food this way became no longer practical and permanent stalls and restaurants were set up in place. Though the style of selling may have changed, the term 'nasi kandar' remains till this day. 

What Is Nasi Kandar?
While food terms like nasi beriani, nasi lemak or nasi dagang are easily perceived, what exactly constitute 'nasi kandar'?  'Nasi kandar is basically a meal of plain or flavored rice doused with assorted curries (nasi means rice). Extras dishes like chicken, beef, mutton, fish, squids or prawns, either in curry or fried are optional parts of the meal.

My encounter with nasi kandar started as early as my childhood days (5-13 years old). I often looked forward to a meal of nasi kandar whenever I followed my late uncle to Penang and whenever we eat nasi kandar it would be at his favorite nasi kandar restaurant,' Restoran A.Dawood' . Though I was too young to know much about food or food review then, the fragrance of the delectable curries in our nasi kandar meal remains vivid till this day.

Penang being the birth place of this mamak specialty is now home to many good and famous nasi kandar stalls and restaurants. I patronized one called 'Nasi Kandar Beratur' in 2012 and it turned out to be quite an amusing experience. You can read about it in a previous article I posted many years back. Click to read [Food Oh Glorious Food Of Penang]  

This time around, we decided to seek out other famous restaurants to savour this dish!

1.Hameediyah Restaurant
Hameediyah Restaurant which dated back to 1907 is one of the oldest nasi kandar restaurants in Georgetown. It is also among the top rated eateries where you can find good nasi kandar and murtabak. It occupies a premise at 164A Lebuh Campbell but has expanded to occupy another shop lot a few doors away. The first premise is where all the food are prepared and displayed while the dining place is located at the second.
Hameediyah offers an assortment of curries, a number of fried stuffs and side dishes to go with white or biryani rice. A typical plate of nasi kandar will normally have a few types of curries doused over it but we decided not to flood our rice with the curries to avoid taking in too much oil. 
We opted instead for its signature 'Chicken Kapitan', some cabbage and the onion pickles.
The curry was unbelievably good. The chicken was exquisitely seasoned and the simple nasi kandar meal we had was so satisfying, we were glad we chose to dine here.
The meal went well with mango lassi and the price was very reasonable.
We visited Hameediyah a second time just to try its murtabak and this too didn't disappoint.

Hameediyah Restaurant
164 Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown
Open Everyday except Fridays
Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm 

Line Clear Restaurant
Line Clear is a 24 hour Nasi Kandar Restaurant located along Penang Road. This restaurant is equally popular and I used to see a long queue spilling to the road. We missed it during our previous trips and decided to prioritize dining here this time. 
There was a fair crowd but we didn't need to queue when we were there. All the curries looked tempting but we decided to keep our lunch simple as we have been eating too much over the days.
We went for its biryani rice and curry chicken. It was an awesome meal and we could see why it is so popular in Penang. If you are here to dine, the 'teh tarik' (milk tea) is highly recommended as Line Clear makes one of the best 'teh tarik' I have ever tasted.

Line Clear
177, Jalan Penang, 
George Town
Open:  24 hours, every day


Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng Mamak
Another all time Malaysian favorite food is the 'Mee Goreng Mamak'. Most food reviewers unanimously agree that the best plate of Mee Goreng Mamak or Indian Muslim fried yellow noodles is from the 'Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng' stall. This stall operates from Seng Lee Coffee Shop along Burmah Road next to the junction into Bangkok Lane. The stall also sells 'Mee Rebus' and Indian Rojak but the one most raved about is the Mee Goreng. 
The Mee Goreng here is fiery red and orange in colour and has a strong aroma of cuttlefish. A plate with 'extra' cuttlefish costs only RM7 which I opine is cheap considering the fact that cuttlefish is very expensive and you get a big helping of it. More importantly it gives you that 'oomph' that will make you leave the place feeling satisfied!

Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng
Seng Lee Coffee Shop, 
270, Jalan Burmah, Georgetown
Open: Every day except Sunday

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