Friday, August 22, 2008

Penang Day 2: Dinner

I've still got some pictures from my Penang trip so hang in there. You'd have noticed that I'm posting everyday this week. That's because I have a large backlog of posts that I want to put up before I go to Hong Kong next Tuesday. Blogger is great isn't it--I can schedule my posts for publishing.

So, there we were in Queensbay Mall, Penang's newest and biggest mall. The Mall is 1/2 hour by taxi from the city, and situated by the sea. Very beautiful surroundings. While Ming disappeared into the mall, Mom rested (poor girl had been out with us since lunchtime) while I spent an hour at Borders. Have you ever seen a magazine called Cooks Illustrated? I love it! I didn't want to go back to the town for dinner so we opted for whatever was available in the Mall. Ming found his favorite Nando's (which we don't get in KK) and had his dinner while mom and I watched and sometimes picked some of it.

Nando's grilled chicken was really quite good.

Better than greasy soggy KFC anytime. And to think I wrote home and raved about KFC's meal when I first ate it in Toronto.

Steamboat at Johnny's.

I thought mom would like something familiar so we had steamboat. Johnny's is a Thai steamboat restaurant but surprisingly, only the dip is Thai. For RM29.90/US$9.30, you can have upto 10 types of meat, veg, noodles and eggs. The soup was very savory sweet so I think Johnny must've been heavy-handed with his msg. But it was a satisfying meal and the service was marvellous. The waiters (all Indians or Thai) were very friendly, quick to serve and extremely courteous. We were very impressed. Johnny must be treating his staff well.

As it was our last night in Penang, Ming and I didn't want to miss the last chance to eat as much as we could, even though we weren't hungry. After sending mom back to the hotel, Ming and I walked along Gurney Drive and found Bali Hai, a seafood restaurant a reader had recommended. We decided that since we were still full, we'd just try some clams and shells.


Have you ever seen such weird-looking crustaceans? Are they some kind of Moreton Bugs?There's no meat on them so their shells are used for baking.


I thought those spiny spiky shells (middle of pic) are only useful for my bathroom decor. Wonder how they taste.

Balitong whelks in a yummy but salty sauce, RM12/US$3.80.

These whelks called balitong are Penang's signature shells and all tourists should try them, according to the waitress.


I tried and tried and tried but couldn't suck the fella out of its shell. After 8 whelks, this finally came out. Teeny weeny bit of chewy meat that by itself was quite tasteless but eaten with the yummy sauce they were quite addictive and fun yet frustrating to eat because most times I couldn't get them out of their homes. What I didn't like was that the sauce was super salty and also these little guys had some kind of thin 'covering' at their mouths which when you suck them out, they sometimes fly to the roof of your mouth and stick there. I had to use my finger to dislodge them a couple of times. Many times I was afraid that the meat will fly into my throat and choke me. Half an hour after the meal, Ming felt one 'covering' still on the roof of his mouth. Tricky things to eat.

Clams with ginger and spring onions. RM12/US$3.80. Yum sauce but the clams were kinda flat. I think they were starved.

Sweet and sour crab, one for RM34/US$10.60, served with dry factory-bakery-made man taos.

Ming loves crabs and there are lots of crabs in KK but he wants crabs in Penang. I gave in to him and ordered ONE med-sized female crab. "Nobody complained so far about lack of roe!" said the waitress. At RM65/US$20/kg, this one crab was RM38/US$12. Not only was there hardly any roe, the meat was not thick and plump and the sweet sour sauce was not tasty. I made a mistake asking that it be cooked sweet & sour because the tomato ketchup masked the color and taste of any roe. When I insisted that they not charge me for a female crab that had no roe, the waitress offered to reduce the price to RM34 for that one crab. In KK, female crabs are only about RM28/US$9/kg. Grrr.

Flat & meatless claw.

This meal convinced me that the best place for seafood is still Sabah.


Precious Pea said...

Ah-ha! I guessed correctly! You indeed dieting for your HK trip! Can't wait to see what you will be feasting on in HK.

The spiky shell fish not too bad. Had it kung po style before. Tastewise almost like balitong. I never like balitong as it is so difficult to suck them out, believe it or not, i always ended up with headache.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pea: now u know my trick!(but i just ate one cheese sausage with 1/2 slice bread, 1 bowl nangka & guava, 1 bowl noodles n tt carrot cake in d fridge is still calling my name--i must move out of this hse!) haha, good to know i'm not the only bad sucker.

Johnathan said...

Errmm... Balitong... I love these morsels! Bad experience when I first tried it when lm just a 13y/o boy then. Choke on one of it. But with mistakes, one can becomes a master, which I am glad to say, I did! Crabs... come to think of it, you didn't tried any crabs in Singapore rite? You should've! Ming should've!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

johnathan:ha, u did choke on them! see, they really are dangerous. n a few of them were GREEN inside. was it algae?? disgusting! yes, i can't believe we didn't eat crabs in sg when we passed by Jumbo seafood everyday. whatde.

jC said...

oh actually i just realised there are two hands holding the food, so might not be your hand hahaha... Unless someone else is taking the photo..haha, okay lah you are right i shouldnt be so mean.. i bring back baby lotion from australia for you. :D

Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

hA! U always that good life ah! next is HK
arrr, I want to see pics on HK dessert, kitchenware on streets , what else?

Linda said...

That weird looking crab, I had that in Sydney. I forgot what is it called, i've been googling but still can't find the name.

Linda said...

Hi Terri, I found it. It's called Spanner crab. Their habitat is on Australia East and West Coast. The texture is firmer than any other crab and it has sweet flavor. It's nice, try it if you visit Australia. In Sydney, you can easily find it in Fish Market. It is normally available in chinese Seafood restaurant too. In Modern Australian restaurant, they serve it in salad or ravioli filling.

I always had Spanner Crabs in chinese restaurant with ginger and spring onions, it was great!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

jc: if u mean the thumbs on this post, yes, those r my big fat wrinkled thumbs. baby lotion won't do--i need granny lotion :(

denise: tell me what else. how about edison lookalikes?

linda: spanner crabs, wow, never knew can be eaten. i googled it, n also found coconut crabs, those scary spider like crabs tt in one pic was nearly as big as the trash can. i dunno if tt's a fake pic. thnx for telling me, now i know :)

Anonymous said...

do you know what balitong means in hokkien?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

danny: it's hokkien? i thought it's thai or smthing. so what does it mean?

Anonymous said...

well i'm not sure if the name of the food has a hokkien origin but the name has a meaning in hokkien.

as to what it means, its a bit rude so i'll let u ask your hokkien friends next time :)

Greg Wee said...

I don't know about balitong, & I on't know what that means, but we call it choot choot in Kuching. Sort of like a reference to the sucking when you suck the little inhabitants out of their homes like alien abductions.

The trick to eating this is to suck the smaller end first to make them go towards that end, then that position will give it enough momentum & suction power when you suck from the bigger end.

They're my absolute favourite especially when they're cooked spicy.

Hungry Hamster said...

That claw looks horrible!! I think the best crab I've had in Penang is the one that my uncle cooks. He buys the best crab from the market and cooks it himself so you get very firm -flesh crab.

I'm currently in Penang for a few days and my relatives are stuffing me with food again as usual. I'm sorry to hear about your 'food bummer day', hope you'll get try more food the next time you visit Penang!

Smart Payment Plan said...

too bad the crab was not good, but they really cant control if the crab has roes or not! The crab comes from nature haha

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