I cannot believe this is going on record, but I am actually missing some Penang food!
Although many swear by its fare, I have long maintained that Penang food is overrated. Many trips to the island and two food poisoning incidents never changed my mind, until last weekend. More on that later.
Four of us – the home minister, my daughter, an ex-colleague and I – were in George Town for the Heritage Run, on Oct 29.
There was supposed to be a fifth member, but journalist Dawn Chan fell sick on the eve of the trip and pulled out.
Getting to George Town was a chore, as it took my family more than seven hours due to the heavy rain and traffic.
We arrived at our homestay, a huge shophouse on Love Lane, at 10.40pm on Saturday, a day before the race, tired but not hungry, as we had packed lots of food.
Former colleague Sujartha Kumar, who arrived late afternoon, helped collect our race kits and scouted some must-visit ‘makan shops’. She highly recommended the almond coffee at the famous Toh Soon Cafe.
The fun run on Sunday was a delight. Sujartha called it the “most charming run route through historical and cultural landmarks”. It was also a relatively flat course, which made covering the mere 7km, a breeze.
Over 3,500 people showed up to the 3km and 7km fun runs that title sponsor Alliance Bank promised would showcase its commitment to ‘Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, and serve as a platform for community engagement, and support for local businesses’.
The medals were made of recyclable wood, the PET lanyards of plastic, and the T-shirts of fabric that came from used plastic bottles, packed in reusable canvas bags.
The race venue, Padang Kota Lama, was filled with a myriad of booths selling handicrafts, food and beverages – the pani puri was awesome – and souvenirs.
There were also telematch competitions and other games to keep the whole family occupied.
After the race came the serious part of eating, and we headed to Nasi Kandar Imigresen, less than 400m from our ‘home’ and much closer than a more famous eatery – which many locals told us to stay clear of.
To be honest, while tasty and surprisingly cheaper than expected, it did not really hit the spot.
I would rather have Nasi Kalut Jitra Mai in Shah Alam, Selangor.
From there, a resident and fellow Liverpool fan, Boo Soon Yew, was kind enough to drive us to Lebuh Keng Kwee for cendol.
Here, there are two stalls, one with a long queue and the other with hardly any customers. We tried both, and they tasted similar.
We headed home just before the sky opened and ruined our plans to go jalan-jalan – everything was within walking distance.
Later that night, after a good rest, we headed to the hawker stalls 250m away, where we had one of the best wan tan mee ever at ‘Wan Than Mee Stall’ – thanks for the recommendation, Boo.
On Monday morning, we headed to Toh Soon Cafe, where the almond coffee lived up to its hype, while the iced nutmeg and lemon drink was very refreshing.
The home minister had her usual cuppa – she reckons Penang has the best teh tarik. The toasted bread, roti goyang and curry puffs were satisfactory.
Lunch was at Hussain Pasembur – another place the home minister insisted we tried. It was certainly different from what we get in the Klang Valley.
After we finished our meal, we kept the leftover gravy as a dipping sauce for some nuggets!
All in, it was too short a trip – partly because we arrived so late on Saturday, and the heavy rain on Sunday meant we could not explore the city.
But the two nights we spent there changed my mind about Penang food. While it still will not make my top three – Seremban, Ipoh, and Melaka are my favourites – it has moved up my ranking.
Perhaps another road trip will help its cause. I can certainly have another plate of wan tan mee, washed down with almond coffee.
Pertubuhan Seni Nusantara and Crisscut Design present an evening of poetry and theatre at AP Art Gallery at Jalan Negara, Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur, today from 8pm.
The 30-minute show will present some of the late Datuk Usman Awang’s works. Before that, five poets – Ladin Nuawi, UGI Usman Gumanti Ibrahim, Rahman Bakri, Hariry Jalil, and Fazreen Mohd – will recite some poetry.
Entrance is free. For more information, contact the producer, Mariana Samsudin, at 017-3167995.
Jazz Orchestra of Kuala Lumpur, an 18-piece band, presents two shows dedicated to Frank Sinatra’s music, but with a twist.
It will feature golden jazz classics by Sinatra, Big Band swing and America’s greatest tunes.
The show will be at Absolute Music Performing Art Centre on Nov 18 (8pm) and Nov 19 (3pm).
Tickets are selling fast.
DOUBLE QUANTUM LEAP JOY
Astro’s Hits channel is re-running the sci-fi show ‘Quantum Leap’, that ran for five seasons, starting in 1989.
For those too young to know, the show was about “a physicist (Dr Sam Beckett), who involuntarily leaps through space-time during experiments in time travel, by temporarily taking the place of other people to correct what he consistently discovers were historical mistakes”.
The show ended on a sad note in 1993, as Dr Beckett never made it home as the producers were hoping for a sixth season.
Well, there is a new version of ‘Quantum Leap’ – also available on Astro’s Ultrabox – and there are new characters as the series takes place in the present day.
There is some connection to the original. I am hoping the new ‘leaper’ will bring Dr Beckett home.
MIRI COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Miri will host its annual Country Music Festival on Dec 1 and 2.
The festival has acts from the United States, Indonesia, Germany, and Malaysia. Get your tickets now.
SUBANG JAYA’S HARI TANPA KENDERAAN
Calling all Subangites, the city’s car-free day returns on Nov 5 with over 20 leisure and sporting activities, plus a free medical check-up, cooking demo, and much more.
All this is happening at Jalan Persiaran Kemajuan Subang Jaya, from 7am-11am.
NO-WATER BATH CHEESECAKE
If you are like me, cheesecakes are high on the list of desserts. Here is a recipe for a no-water bath cheesecake.
I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU
The phone vibrated non-stop early Sunday morning as many shared the news that Matthew Perry had died. The actor was 54. He was famous for playing Chandler Bing on the hit sitcom ‘Friends’.
Although I was not a fan of the show during its initial run on television, I have come to appreciate it a bit more, although it still falls short of the standards set by ‘Frasier’ and a few others.
However, many friends were stunned and heartbroken by Perry’s death, more so as he was just a few years older than most of those in my circle of friends.
His death made us think about our mortality and how much longer we have on this planet.
To end this week’s Diary, here is the theme song from ‘Friends’.
Goodnight, Matthew Perry.