The lights of this night street food market shine into the sky like a golden halo, offering a beacon of brilliant food. On the approach to the market I can see the traffic slowing, the road clogged by cars stopping to collect their dinner from their favourite stalls. This market was one of the best I have seen, the stainless steel cart trolleys are surrounded by crowds of happy diners seated both inside and out on plastic chairs, enjoying some of the superb food options available. The distinctive smell of charcoal fuelled fires fill the night sky with such heady, delectable aromas and ultimately sorrow for me. Knowing full well that with my limited time here and my limited number of appetites, there will be many delicious dishes here I will never get to try it.
Penang speciality: Char Koay Teoy – This wok fried rice noodle dish is awesome! With the noodles obtaining a charred flavour that can only come from high heat wok cookery. As the cook stirs the wok, the clang and scrape of the wok tool as it tossed the contents of the wok seems to release more fragrance from the red hot wok, the sizzling noodles, prawns, cockles picking up a hint of flavour from the pan. As the heat is turned down the noodles are laced with soy and a little chilli before the Chinese sausage and beansprouts are added, all combining to make one of the most satisfying noodle dishes ever.
Penang speciality: Poh Piah – It’s not the best smelling stall to be fair, with the steamed turnip delivering a slightly fousty odour, yet as a Penang speciality I’m eager to try it. I can only describe the Poh Piah as a crepe filled like an enormous spring roll, the curious filling of steamed turnip, peanut, egg, sprouts and lettuce deliver an interesting mouthful, hints of shrimp paste and hoisin join in the flavour palate with each bite. The sweet tamarind dipping sauce had hints of chilli if you are skilled enough with chop sticks to dunk the roll in it, I invariably had to slowly pick out the filling from the sauce with said chopsticks.
BBQ Satay – With a charcoal brazier sending plumes of fragrant smoke into the night air, these satay where always going to be hard to ignore, the small yet laden skewers resting over top of the glowing coals, their orange splendour sizzling with each drip of the skewers marinade. Cooked to order, I wait impatiently as my order for half pork, half beef is cooked, the stall holder fans the flames, with each wave of her bamboo fan I get another waft of fragrant warmth across my face. I’m not sure which I need more, these soon to be sauce laden sticks, or an ice cold beer. Slightly sweet, delightfully salty and with an excellent char flavour these little sticks really have me buzzing with enthusiasm.
Char coal fired chicken wings – I am such a sucker for charcoal cooked foods, with all the unique and interesting foods for sale here, I go for perhaps the simplest. These blackened, smoky, sticky and juicy chicken wings where amazing, so simple with their sweet soy and rice vinegar glaze catching the smoke flavour. Served with a simple lime dipping sauce, sharp and tangy to complete a complex taste in the mouth. These simple items where so well executed I never regretted passing up any of the more complex items.