Finally it's time for us to try one of the best Nasi Kandar in Penang. Yes we ate Subaidah but that was not at the original Butterworth branch but we were dying to try the most infamous Nasi Kandar brands which are not available in Kuala Lumpur. As for Original Kayu Nasi Kandar was very famous in Penang but since they made themselves available in KL & Selangor they had to close shop in Penang since tourists no longer look forward to eating their Nasi Kandar once they are in Penang, but I still bet they make a fortune in other states. So perhaps some labels especially food just need to be stationary at their original premise so people would always come back to them.
We always hear when we go to Penang we must eat either Nasi Kandar Line Clear or Nasi Kandar Beratur although I always hear Nasi Kandar Line Clear more often. Nevertheless, we went to Nasi Kandar Line Clear which is located at a narrow street space, but when Ummi saw it operates 24 hours and the premise was not very clean we know that it would be a no for us. Ummi always reminds us to try our best not to eat at 24 hours food joints because she always says "When do they clean their premises if they are opened 24/7?" and so when we saw Line Clear was pretty dirty we did not eat there.
We were lucky because Nasi Kandar Beratur (or in English it means Queueing Kandar Rice) joint is located just next to Masjid Kapitan Keling. As stated on the signboard here, the brand was established since 1943 and the original recipe will only be sold from 10 pm onwards. So the one selling during the day might be their competitor with not the so original recipe or might be their family members I am not sure but we were famished we would try them anyway. Another fact about my Mum, she dislikes eating too late at night and then she would start her lecture about how the European countries would already be with their families sleeping at 10 while us South East Asians would still be consuming calories and cholesterol when we should sleep. =D
We were lucky because although it's around noon not so many customers were occupying the premise so it was easy for us to get seats.
|Yup just located on the right hand side of the Masjid's entrance, so easy to find.|
While waiting, let me explain some facts about Nasi Kandar especially to you non-Malaysians. Nasi Kandar is the original 'fast food' from Penang which harks back to the British colonial period. Rice and an accompaniment of curry dishes were originally sold by travelling Indian-Muslim vendors which balanced two heavy containers laden with food on each end of a yoke (or pole) on their shoulders. These food containers were conveyed to the jetties to satisfy hungry immigrant workers at the port looking for a quick, affordable, hunger sating meal.
Today Nasi Kandar, which literally means 'rice carried on a shoulder with stick' is only found in Indian-Muslim restaurants or stalls and is a national favourite of Malaysians. You will be able to find popular Nasi Kandar chain restaurants across Malaysia, but the most authentic experience is to savour this dish in its birthplace, Penang. To partake in Nasi Kandar is an event. Firstly you queue by the counter to make your individual choice of dishes. Everything starts with the rice, of which a generous mountain of fragrant white rice is heaped onto a plate.
|This is the guy who will attend your orders. Quiet but all smiles and work fast. =)|
You will proceed to point out your selection of curried dishes which will be ladled on top of the plate of rice. The choices will depend on the restaurant but some common selections will be Sambal Udang (giant tiger prawns soaked in an array of spices), Daging Kicap (beef simmered in thick soy sauce), Burung Puyuh (tasty marinated quail), Ketam Masala (stewed crab with spicy masala curry), Kari Kepala Ikan (fish head curry), Gulai Sotong (squid curry), Kari Kurma (a mild, non-spicy curry which can be of chicken or lamb) and Ayam Kampung Goreng (deep fried free range chicken which is coated in aromatic spices). Vegetable or non-meat dishes are generally considered side orders, but will nevertheless be heaped onto the same plate as well. This selection includes Kacang Bendi (curried okra or lady's fingers), Kacang Panjang (stir-fried long beans), Sayur Kobis (cabbage stir-fried inturmeric which both of my parents hate, they said Mamak's vegetable are meant to feed goats but me on the other hand love them haha!) and Telur Dadar (vegetable omelette).
After your selection of dishes, you will then be asked which Kuah (gravy) you would like on your rice. If does not really matter if the rice is now buried under the selection of meats and vegetables, you will still be given the option of gravy. If you would like to experience the dish in a truly authentic manner with the richness and flavours of all the spices used, you can reply 'banjir' (which means to flood the plate with an assortment of curries, as for me I like Kuah Campur (Mixed) with Kuah Kurma lebih (extra Kurma gravy!) ). Alternatively, for the timid of heart, you can point to the curry of your desire and say 'kuah sikit' (a little gravy). When you think that the plate can hold no more, it will be crowned with few pieces of crunchy Pappadom.
|At Nasi Kandaq Beratoq you must pay first before you eat.|
A note of caution, the prices of your meal will depend on the choice of your selection. A simple selection of chicken drumstick with curry and one vegetable side dish with white rice should average around RM 5. This may rise dramatically if a giant tiger prawn (averages around RM 9 per prawn, and it has occurred to me at Nasi Kandar restaurants sometimes may charge up to RM 18 per piece, so always ask the price before you decide to have it, otherwise you will have a heart attack at the counter and it's not because of the cholesterol) is selected or if Nasi Briyani (long grain briyani rice cooked with herbs and spices, around RM 6 per serving) takes your fancy over white rice!
For the truly adventurous, Nasi Kandar is best eaten with your fingers! Do it the Malaysian-way using your right hand only by using your fingers to form a mix of rice, curry and a small piece of meat into a mound. This is then balanced on your index, middle and ring fingers as a scoop and your thumb to push the mound of food into your mouth politely. A tip is to start with a small mound if you are worried about making a mess. (Source Penang Street Food iphone App).
Oh yes people, I am sorry because I totally lost the note of prices I made during this trip. I can't recall the prices of food here but trust me, we were surprised with how much cheaper the prices here compared to the prices in KL for Nasi Kandar and just check out what we had.
|Teh O Ais Limau (Iced Lemon Tea) |
RM 1 plus.
|Plain Rice, Curry Fish, some Curry Mutton, Cabbage & half of Salted Duck Egg.|
|Plain Rice, Fried Chicken, Fried Egg, Sambal Udang (Tiger Prawn) and cabbage. Best of all they have caramelized onions to top the rice which made the whole taste explode in your mouth. Awesome.|
|The huge size of the Tiger Prawn.|
Oh yes, after we had stuffed our faces, we dropped by at a nearby Original Gems Stones named Nafil Gems.
|Lots of choices of colourful gem stones.|
One thing we did not like about this shop was when Ummi asked for prices, he straight away answered "The cheap ones are over there." Wrong answer. Underestimating the customers will never gain you business, so toodles.
Ok darlings, thanks for reading anyways. =)