Balik Pulau Lodge

Founded in 2012, Balik Pulau Lodge (客家山寨) is a hill resort at the southwestern corner of Penang Island. The nature retreat is operated by Maggie Fong (范盈), who is also our hostess today.
Balik Pulau Lodge can only be reached via a winding dirt road from Kampung Pulau Betong. Visitors can either hike the 2 kilometer trail or arrange for transportation with the resort. For safety reasons, private vehicles are not allowed to enter.
The summit affords scenic views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, one can even see the actual Pulau Betong off the coast of Penang Island.
There are plenty of outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and cycling. For overnight guests, Balik Pulau Lodge provides accommodation in the form of attap-thatched huts.
Balik Pulau Lodge has a dining outlet that specializes in traditional Hakka cuisine (客家菜). This reflects the fact that most Balik Pulau residents are of Hakka descent. The open-air eatery takes advantage of cooling breeze at the hilltop.
The restaurant features a dozen home-cooked Hakka dishes. There is no fixed menu; all available dishes are served and customers are charged on per person basis.
Yong Tau Foo (酿豆腐) is one of the best known Hakka dishes. The traditional variant is fried tofu stuffed with minced pork.
The next dish is Meicai Pork (梅菜猪肉). The key ingredient is pickled Chinese mustard (梅菜), a specialty of Hakka people from Huizhou (惠州). The sweet and tasty taste of pickled Chinese mustard delights the palate
Moving on to Pork Belly With Taro (芋头扣肉), the dish has alternating slices of pork belly and taro. Such arrangement allows the pork's savoriness to enhance the lighter taste of taro.
Braised Pork With Wood Ear Fungus (木耳焖猪肉) is another classic Hakka dish. The pork is fried before being braised. The meat is reddish due to the presence of fermented bean curd (南乳).
Hakka Braised Pork (客家焖肉) is similar to the previous dish except that pork is not fried beforehand. The dish also contains tofu skin (腐竹) and wood ear fungus (木耳).
Braised Pork Trotter (焖猪手) is prized for its delectable texture. The savory taste of pork is complemented by sweetness of daikon and carrots.
The next dish, Braised Chicken With Bitter Gourd (苦瓜焖鸡), uses free-range chicken. The presence of douchi (豆豉) adds another dimension to the overall taste.
Preserved Radish Omelette (菜脯蛋) is an egg dish where pickled daikon is fried with beaten eggs. Despite its simplicity, this dish is a crowd favorite.
Last but not least, Pickled Vegetable Soup (酸菜汤) contains pork and pickled cabbage. The presence of pickled cabbage neutralizes the greasy feeling of meat.
The Hakka dishes at Balik Pulau Lodge are quite authentic. I certainly appreciate the homely taste of these home-cooked dishes. Today's meal costs RM30.00 per person. The price includes free flow of rice, Chinese tea and nutmeg juice.
Address: Jalan Kampung Dato' Lim Chong Kooi, 11020 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-282-9666
Business hours: 11:30am-3:30pm

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