Ah Beng Rojak

Special thanks to Ah Beng Rojak for extending this food review invitation.

Kim Kim Food Corner (金金美食坊) was formerly known as Restoran Satu Sembilan Sembilan Lapan (1998美食中心). What remains unchanged over the years is the Ah Beng Rojak stall. The proprietor also operates a daytime stall at Bishop Street (Lebuh Bishop) in George Town. This explains why this nighttime stall only opens around 9:30pm.
Ah Beng Rojak sells one and only one dish: Rojak, or Fruit Rojak to be more precise. Serving sizes are available at prices of RM3.00, RM4.00, RM5.00, RM6.00 or any customized portion. One of the reasons why this stall remains wildly popular is because the pricing remains unchanged throughout the years despite increasing cost of ingredients.
The most important aspect of Fruit Rojak is the rojak sauce. The black, viscous sauce is prepared from scratch at home. Using premium grade belacan (shrimp paste, 虾膏), the sauce also contains tamarind (asam) juice and sugar.
With a consistency even thicker than honey, the dressing has a lovely combination of savory, sweet and tangy flavors. A unique aspect of Ah Beng Rojak's recipe is that the sauce does not disintegrate into its constituents even after several hours. Customers may also buy the rojak sauce in bulk. Preordering is recommended because it takes several hours to prepare the sauce.

The Fruit Rojak contains various cut fruits including mango, pineapple, guava, rose apple (jambu air), jicama (sengkuang), ambarella (kedondong) and cucumber. Boiled cuttlefish is also thrown into the mix.
The rojak dressing includes a spicy blend of chili pepper cultivars: ghost chili (印度灯笼椒), Vietnamese chili (越南青椒), bird's eye chili (小辣椒) and dried chili (辣椒干). Belacan powder is also added for enhanced savoriness. Also included to improve mouthfeel are fried youtiao (油条), ground peanuts and shrimps crumbs (虾米碎).
Ah Beng Rojak enjoys nearly nonstop orders from the moment it opens around 9:30pm. The stall's customers have been known to travel from as far as Batu Ferringhi and Seberang Perai. Be advised that Ah Beng Rojak may close earlier as soon as its ingredients are sold out. The stall may also be closed if it rains.

Name: Ah Beng Rojak
Address: 288, Jalan Thean Teik, 11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-477-2705
Business hours: 9:30pm-12:00am, closed on Tuesdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/ahbengrojak
Coordinates: 5.39788 N, 100.28830 E
Directions: Kim Kim Food Corner (金金美食坊) is located at the commercial square near Sunshine Farlim. The hawker center faces the main road, Jalan Thean Teik. Ah Beng Rojak is one of the stalls inside. There are parking spaces surrounding the commercial square.

Little Village

Special thanks to Little Village Penang Hill for extending this attraction invitation.

At 833 meters above sea level, Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) is the tallest point on Penang Island. Accessible by the Penang Hill Railway, this place is one of Penang's most popular recreational attractions. Standing at the summit, one is rewarded with mesmerizing views of Penang Island, Penang Bridge and Seberang Perai at the horizon.
Penang Hill Railway is a funicular railway between Air Itam and the summit of Penang Hill. A one-way ride takes approximately 7 minutes provided that the carriage does not stop at any intermediate stations. Be advised that the queuing time can be substantial during school holidays. Therefore, it is advisable to arrive earlier or to get premium tickets for priority boarding.
Little Village Penang Hill is an attraction near the upper station. Shaped like a telephone booth, the ticket counter is right next to Strawberry Hill. For Malaysians, admission tickets cost RM8.00 for adults and RM5.00 for children. Meanwhile, foreigners are charged RM15.00 and RM10.00 respectively.
At the entrance of Little Village is the magnificent Love Arch. This love-shaped structure is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Malaysia. Little Village's mascots - a honey bee and a monkey - greet incoming visitors and offer to pose for group photos. Visitors have the option to have their photos printed at the gift shop later.
The arch also offers lovebirds the opportunity to declare their lasting love for each other in the form of love locks. These customized love locks can be purchased at the ticketing counter. Little Village has thousands of love locks so far, but there is always room for more.
The Love Arch is followed by Love Stroll, a scenic walkway which is covered with artificial turf. The path takes visitors through 5 smaller love-shaped arches. Visitors are welcome to take group photos and selfies here.
A short spur leads to the Valentine Pavilion. This viewpoint offers a different perspective of George Town's cityscape. The gazebo is somewhat more secluded from the rest of the attraction, giving visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the cool, perpetually-blowing breeze. Since the opening of Little Village, many lovebirds have been engaged here.
The next section is the Dwarf Village. There are seven miniature houses along the hilly slopes. Inspired by the fairy tale, each house represents one of the seven dwarfs in Disney's Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. The Dwarf Village attempts to convey the spirit of love and harmony within the family.
Further down the path is the Rabbit Garden, a petting zoo where children can play with a herd of rabbits. These docile creatures provide an avenue for children to interact with animals. There are not many such opportunities in today's urban setting.
At the Bee Garden, there are several beehives that take advantage of the abundance of flowers around Penang Hill. The bees that reside in these beehives are harmless. Respect these hardworking creatures by leaving them unharmed.
Scattered on both sides of the walkway are colorful patches of lavender and sunflower. Flowering plants and bees form a symbiotic relationship: plants provide bees with nectar as sustenance, while bees help to pollinate flowers. Refrain from touching the flowers as they are very delicate.
During construction of Little Village, the forest's natural state is kept untouched as much as practically possible. As evidence, several pairs of dusky leaf monkeys (Trachypithecus obscurus) have made their home at Penang Hill. Their agile limbs allow them to swing gracefully from tree to tree. Although these primates are largely harmless, it is advisable to keep a safe distance from them.
Queen Bee Palace is the sheltered section of the attraction. This is where the gift shop and indoor exhibits are located. The polyhedron structure at the entrance will eventually be covered with foliage, forming a shady canopy as one enters the "palace".
Little Village is operated by the same company as Bee Gallery Penang. This explains why the gift shop is stocked with a variety of honey products and bee-related souvenirs. Visitors can also have their photos developed here.
The indoor exhibits cover numerous aspects of honey and beekeeping. For example, explore a way to determine the genuineness of honey using electricity. Also, discover different bee species that are commercially raised to produce honey. If you are planning a field trip, Little Village is an excellent choice as this attraction provides educational values. Students in school uniforms also enjoy discounted admission tickets.
Visiting Little Village during nighttime and daytime is as different as... well, night and day. After sunset, the love-shaped arches are illuminated by colorful LED lighting. Transformed into a magical wonderland, Little Village is a romantic place for couples to spend quality time together.
For casual visitors, the suggested duration to spend at Little Village is 30 minutes to 1 hour. Little Village can also help to accommodate special requests such as birthday surprises, marriage proposals and wedding photography. For larger groups, the management is happy to arrange guided tours and advance booking of train tickets.
Little Village can be reached by phone (016-441-9270 or 012-317-9640) or by email. Also, get informed on the latest happenings at Little Village by following its Facebook page.

Name: Little Village Penang Hill
Address: Bukit Bendera, 11300 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-441-9270, 012-317-9640
Business hours: 9:30am-9:00pm
Website: Click here
Coordinates: 5.42401 N, 100.26998 E
Directions: Take the Penang Hill Railway to the summit of Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera). At the summit, follow the signs to Little Village. There is a multi-storey car park next to the lower station.

Dessert Old Time Delight Shop

Special thanks to Dessert Old Time Delight Shop for extending this food review invitation.

The hawker center at Kimberley Street (Lebuh Kimberley, 汕头街) is one of George Town's most popular dining destinations for local street food. The place is actually a collection of several individual desserts/drinks shops and dozens of food stalls on both sides of the road.
Among the many stalls here, the most popular ones are collectively known as the Four Kings (四大天王). In no particular order, the Four Kings are duck koay chiap (鸭粥粿汁), chicken feet koay teow soup (鸡脚粿条汤), char koay teow (炒粿条) and dessert soup (四果汤). Today, I am covering the Dessert Old Time Delight Shop (汕头街养生糖水铺).
The signature item here, Traditional Beancurd Barley (腐竹薏米, RM2.50), is a hot dessert that is made from barley, tofu skin (腐竹), eggs, ginkgo seeds (白果) and rock sugar. I like the sweet sensation that the milky liquid gives as it trickles down my throat.
Black Sticky Rice Dessert (黑糯米, RM2.50), also known as "bee koh moy", is another hot soupy dessert. Black glutinous rice is the reason why this dessert is quite filling to the stomach. Coconut milk is added to make the soup creamy and richer in taste.
See Guo Tng (四果汤, RM3.50) is a type of "ching bo leung" (清补凉). This cold dessert is an excellent way to refresh the body after a scorching afternoon. The syrup contains snow fungus (雪耳), longan (龙眼), sweet potato (番薯), ginkgo seeds (白果), nipa palm fruit (attap chee, 亚答子), sago pearls (西米) and rose-flavored jelly.
Overall, the desserts here are quite authentic as the ingredients are kept faithful to traditional recipes. Despite being located in a popular hawker center, the pricing of desserts is surprisingly affordable. The shop allows customers to order food from any hawker stall even if it comes from other shops. Understandably, no outside desserts and drinks are allowed into the shop.
Name: Dessert Old Time Delight Shop (汕头街养生糖水铺)
Address: 78, Lebuh Kimberley, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-466-6657
Business hours: 5:00pm-11:30pm, closed on alternate Wednesdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/dessertoldtimedelightshop
Coordinates: 5.41632 N, 100.33302 E
Directions: Driving along the one-way Kimberley Street (Lebuh Kimberley), Dessert Old Time Delight Shop is located on the right. The shop is halfway between Rope Walk (Jalan Pintal Tali) and Cintra Street (Lebuh Cintra). Street parking is available along Kimberley Street, Rope Walk and Cintra Streets.

Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken

Special thanks to Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken for extending this food review invitation.

At the intersection of Kimberley Street (Lebuh Kimberley) and Rope Walk (Jalan Pintal Tali) is Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken (月萍豆芽鸡). This modest-looking eatery spans two shops that are connected in between. Similar to stereotypical coffee shops in old town districts, this open-air eatery is furnished with marble tables and chairs.
Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken traces its roots to a humble stall in Air Itam. Back then, the stall was known as Ipoh Hor-Fan Bean Sprout Chicken (正宗怡保河粉芽菜鸡). Since 1987, the stall was renowned for its Ipoh-style "ngah choi kai" (豆芽鸡).
Although the former stall enjoyed considerable fame, it underwent a hiatus for many years. There is a genuine concern that its recipe will be lost forever. Fortunately last year, this shop at Kimberley Street resumed the legacy. The new shop is named after the matriarch who still oversees food preparation every day.

Not surprisingly, Steamed Chicken (白斩鸡) remains the signature item here. Although the chicken appears similar to the Ipoh version, the recipe has been modified substantially to adapt to the local palate. By default, chicken is deboned before being served.
Shown here are individual portions of Steamed Chicken Thigh (白斩鸡尾肉, RM4.50) and Steamed Chicken Drumstick (白斩鸡腿肉, RM4.50). Under the springy yellow skin is tender white flesh that is delightfully succulent. Savory flavors penetrate the chicken in its entirety. As per tradition, the chicken is served in light soy sauce for added flavor. Cucumber and leek are used as garnish.

Braised Chicken Drumstick & Thigh (卤汁大鸡腿, RM10.00) are recently added to the menu. The chicken is cooked in dark sauce, resulting in brownish hue on its skin. Compared to steamed chicken, the braised version is arguably stronger in flavor but is firmer in texture. Meanwhile, garlic cloves impart a strong degree of pungency.
Braised Chicken Feet (卤汁凤爪, RM6.00 for medium portion) are best consumed while they are hot. Otherwise, the skin contracts as it cools, causing it to appear rubbery and not as soft as intended. As the chicken feet are seasoned with bird's eye chili (小辣椒), this dish may be too spicy for some people.
Customers who love offal can order some Braised Chicken Gizzard (卤鸡胗, RM2.50 for small portion). With a leathery texture, the gizzard provides interesting mouthfeel to those who fancy this exquisite delicacy.
Meanwhile, Braised Egg (卤蛋, RM1.20 each) is better aligned to mainstream customers. The egg is quite flavorful because it is stewed for hours in thick herbal soup. The soup is infused with a variety of herbs such as star anise (八角).

Bean Sprouts (芽菜, RM4.00 for medium portion) serve as counterbalance to today's meat-centric meal. To retain their juiciness, the bean sprouts are blanched very briefly. As bean sprouts are rather bland on their own, they are served with light soy sauce, red chili pepper and scallion.
Chicken rice is often served with Rapeseed (油菜, RM6.00 for medium portion), which is known for its soft leaves and juicy stems. A generous amount of fried garlic (油葱) imparts appealing aroma.
Koay Diao Dry (干捞粿条, RM1.80) has been on the former stall's menu since the beginning, so it is no surprise that it is still wildly popular today. Indeed, I love the springiness of the flat rice noodle. With fried garlic, chopped scallion and sweet-savory seasoning, the noodle is delectable right from the first mouth.
Rice (油饭, RM1.30 for large bowl) is also an essential component of a hearty chicken rice meal. Cooked with chicken fat, pandan leaves and garlic, the oily rice enjoys flavorful aroma that complements well with other dishes. Unlike most chicken rice shops, the rice here is cooked without the pungency of ginger.
Finally, the chili sauce consists of a combination of spicy and sour flavors. This condiment serves to enhance the enjoyment of chicken, but not to steal the limelight away.

As for drinks, Nutmeg Juice (豆蔻水, RM2.50) is a good way to cleanse the palate after a rewarding meal. White nutmeg carries pleasant tanginess which is ideal for quenching thirst.
The food at Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken is very affordable and resonates well with mainstream customers. Indeed, the shop enjoys frequent patronage from Chinese tourists. It is nice that its decades-old family recipes are kept alive and are passed to the younger generations.

Name: Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken (月萍豆芽鸡)
Address: 66 & 68, Lebuh Kimberley, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 016-454-5434
Business hours: 11:00am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm, closed on Thursdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/taogehkeh
Coordinates: 5.41614 N, 100.33333 E
Directions: Driving along the one-way Kimberley Street (Lebuh Kimberley), Air Itam Famous Bean Sprout Chicken is located on the right. The shop faces the intersection of Kimberley Street and Rope Walk (Jalan Pintal Tali). Street parking is available along Kimberley Street and Rope Walk.

Kota

Special thanks to Kota Dine & Coffee for extending this food review invitation.

Fort Cornwallis (Kota Cornwallis) is among the oldest remnants of British presence in Malaysia. As the first British outpost in modern-day Malaysia, Prince of Wales Island (the colonial name for Penang Island) was an important entrepôt of the lucrative spice trade. Fort Cornwallis was constructed in 1786 to defend this British settlement against other colonial powers.
Near the east gate and behind the amphitheater is Kota Dine & Coffee. This air-conditioned restaurant specializes in modernist Nyonya (Peranakan) cuisine. The food menu modifies traditional Nyonya recipes to be presented in truly unconventional forms. As Kota has recently obtained halal certification, its doors are open to a wider range of customers.
Customers are greeted with a statue of Captain Francis Light (1740-1794) at the entrance of the restaurant. A historical flashback: Francis Light founded Penang in 1786 after being granted permission by the Kedah Sultanate, in exchange for British military protection against the Kingdom of Siam - a promise which he later renegaded when the Siamese army did invade Kedah in 1821.
For appetizer, the Jumbo Platter (RM38.00) is the best choice as it is a combination of other appetizer dishes. Pie tee (小金杯) consists of crispy edible cups that are filled with julienned jicama (sengkuang) and carrots. In an interesting twist, Japanese-style shrimp roe (えびこ) is also used.
Meanwhile, the crispy yam puff (芋角) contains stewed chicken fillings. Other delicacies include turmeric chicken, tandoori chicken, kerabu, Chinese bun (馒头) and sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste).

Kota Asam Pedas (RM32.00) features a bowl of seafood curry with fried rice on the side. Apart from saltiness of dried shrimps, the rice has milder flavor in order not to steal the limelight from the bowl of curry.
The curry is rather milky in consistency due to a copious amount of coconut milk. Besides being spicy, the curry also carries appetizing sourness thanks to the presence of tamarind (asam) juice. Also included in the curry are salmon, shrimps and pineapples.
My favorite dish today is the Satay (RM25.00), which is inspired by the titular street food but is presented in a peculiar manner. Like its traditional counterpart, chicken is sweetened and marinated in a turmeric-centric spice mix, and then grilled over flame.
But instead of being served on skewers, the grilled chicken is rolled with nasi impit (pressed rice). The roulade is then covered with signature peanut sauce. Cucumber, onion and coriander are used as garnish. Overall, I feel that all ingredients assimilate well with one another.

The next dish, Nyonya (RM25.00), is inspired by Peranakan-style nasi lemak. Otak-otak serves as the base. The next layer is steamed rice that is infused with coconut milk and is colored by butterfly-pea flower. Rendang chicken and acar serve as primary components of this dish, while fried leek is just icing on the cake.
At Kota, Nyonya nasi lemak is also the source of inspiration of an unorthodox dessert. Instead of being a breakfast dish, Nasi Lemak Cake (RM19.00) uses the nasi lemak's typical ingredients to create a sweet-savory treat. The cake is very soft when cut, yet it is firm enough to retain its form without crumbling.
At the base of the cake is a layer of biscuit that is flavored with sambal (spicy chili paste). This is followed by cooked rice dyed with butterfly-pea flower essence. Moving upwards, the next layers are sponge cake, coconut milk cream and cucumber-flavored jelly. At the side are caramelized anchovies and peanuts.

The Cream Brulee (RM19.00) assimilates the French custard dessert with ingredients from the East. The top surface of this rich custard is flambéed to produce a layer of caramel. There are 3 types of crème brûlée here - each is flavored with pandan, black glutinous rice or gula melaka (palm sugar). I feel that the gula melaka variant is particularly enjoyable due to its distinctive sugary aroma.
As for drinks, Kota Flavor is a new series of carbonated drinks. For example, the refreshing glass of Signature (RM16.00) is made from sweetened soda water with lemongrass juice, lime wedges, mint leaves and ginger flower. Interestingly, red chili pepper is added to impart some fiery sensation.
Sunrise (RM16.00) is another fizzy drink which uses orange juice as the base. Lime and mango provide a secondary line of tanginess, while mint leaves produce cooling sensation as the drink trickles down the throat.
Finally, the pink-colored Sunset (RM16.00) contains actual watermelon pieces, lending a rejuvenating sense of freshness. Also included in this fruity drink are lime and mint leaves.
Overall, Kota's menu presents an interesting array of Nyonya delicacies with creative twists of modernity. Similar to traditional Nyonya cuisine, the food here takes a liberal approach in using local spices for seasoning. Kota also places strong emphasis on food presentation. Indeed, most dishes are elegantly plated on decorative porcelain plates.
Next to the common dining section is a private room which accommodates up to 20 people. Usage of this room is subjected to minimum spending of RM1,500.00. Although customers are charged an admission fee at the entrance of Fort Cornwallis, RM10.00 (per person) is deducted from the restaurant's bill as long as there is minimum spending of RM20.00 per person.

Name: Kota Dine & Coffee
Address: Kota Cornwallis, Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-371-4929
Business hours: 10:30am-10:30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/KotaDineAndCoffee
Coordinates: 5.42068 N, 100.34418 E
Directions: Fort Cornwallis (Kota Cornwallis) is located opposite the Penang State Assembly Building (Bangunan Dewan Undangan Negeri) on Light Street (Lebuh Light). There are two entrances to the fort: at the east and west walls. Street parking is available around the esplanade at Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah and Jalan Padang Kota Lama. Kota Dine & Coffee is located near the east gate and behind the amphitheater.