Koh Char Bi Moi

Special thanks to Koh Char Bi Moi for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Koh Char Bi Moi (古早味粥) opened less than 2 weeks ago, but has been seeing a healthy wave of customers despite its secluded location. This restaurant in Raja Uda specializes in Teochew-style porridge (潮州粥), making it one of the only two such shops in Seberang Jaya.
For Teochew-style porridge, the most distinguishing aspect is usually not the porridge itself, but rather the wide variety of side dishes that go with it. Koh Char Bi Moi offers over 30 different types of side dishes, around 12 of which are prepared each day.
Many dishes at Koh Char Bi Moi are inspired by traditional home recipes inherited from the proprietor's maternal grandmother. In addition, additional dishes are incorporated into the menu based on her own experience while visiting the Teochew community in Bangkok, Thailand.
Regardless what side dishes are available, an order of Porridge (清粥, RM1.00) is inevitable. Koh Char Bi Moi does not provide steamed rice for now, in order to differentiate itself from economy rice stalls.
Teochew-style porridge is basically made from plain white rice without any flavoring or seasoning. Unlike the Cantonese version, Teochew-style porridge has the rice grains still intact.
Meanwhile, side dishes are ordered separately in individual bowls and are charged accordingly. A typical meal costs around RM5.00 per person. However, the actual amount largely depends on the number and types of dishes ordered.
The first side dish is Fried Bitter Gourd With Dace And Douchi (豆豉鲮鱼炒苦瓜). I particularly like the juicy bitter gourd slices; I wonder why many people dislike them? Meanwhile, dace fish is laced with douchi (fermented black soy beans) to give some salty appeal.
Next, we have a serving of Stewed Chicken Feet (卤凤爪). To prepare this dish, chicken feet is fried first, then stewed with pork trotter (猪脚) and red dates (红枣). The thick stew is very flavorful and ideal to be consumed with plain porridge.
Meanwhile, the Fried Roasted Pork (炒烧肉) has been wok-fried with bird's eye chili (cili padi) and sugar. The result is very similar in taste and appearance as barbecued pork (叉烧肉). Even I was mistaken initially! In terms of taste, it is quite savory overall.
One of my favorite side dishes today is Radish Omelette (菜脯蛋). Eggs are fried with delectable chunks of pickled radish to give excellent mouthfeel. This is certainly a nice delicacy to go with the porridge!
As for the Braised Okra (炒羊角豆), chopped okra (lady's fingers) is braised with small shrimps (虾米) and pickled onion (腌洋葱) for a sweet-tangy experience. This is one of the side dishes that can be eaten directly without any porridge!
The succulent Stewed Pork Belly (焖三层肉) is a guilty pleasure, though a pleasure nevertheless. Lovely chunks of fatty pork are stewed with soy egg (卤蛋) and firm bean curd (豆干). These goodies make this dish a satisfying one indeed.
Moving on to Stir-Fried Eggplant (炒茄子), this side dish is made by frying eggplant (brinjal or aubergine) with small shrimps (虾米) and doubanjiang (豆瓣酱). In particular, I enjoy the soggy texture of eggplant and its ideal role to absorb savory flavors of doubanjiang!
Cai Wei (菜尾) is traditionally made from excess vegetable and meat from the previous meal. However, this leftover dish has become a delicacy itself recently. This particular serving is made from Chinese mustard (芥菜) and pork chunks. The taste is not as sour as I expected. It turns out that Teochew cuisine is typically lighter in terms of flavor than other regional Chinese cuisine.
Subsequently, the side dish Mei Cai With Pork (梅菜扣肉) which features preserved Chinese mustard (芥菜) stewed with scrumptious pork chops.
My personal favorite side dish today is Steamed Salted Fish & Pork Belly (蒸咸鱼三层肉). Succulent chunks of pork belly are steamed with salted fish so that saltiness permeates all layers of the meat. I encounter difficulty in stopping the moment I pop a piece of delightful pork into my mouth!
One special side dish today is Steamed Mackerel (蒸鲭鱼). The fish is lightly steamed and served with soy sauce before serving. Apart from being bony, I find the mackerel quite enjoyable.
Last but not least, Braised Mackerel (炒鲭鱼) is braised with pickled onion and chopped red chili, then served with sweet and tangy sauce. I love the crunchy mouthfeel of pickled onion.
Despite being hidden from vehicular traffic, Koh Char Bi Moi is quite popular among locals. As a result, several side dishes may be sold out before closing time. Go earlier to avoid disappointment.
Koh Char Bi Moi is at the back row of shops where Paprika is located. A useful landmark to find this eatery is a wall mural by Martin Ron. Koh Char Bi Moi is located at the opposite block of shops.
Name: Koh Char Bi Moi (古早味粥)
Address: 57, Jalan Pusat Perniagaan Raja Uda 4, 12300 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 017-478-5133
Business hours: 11:00am-8:00pm, closed on Tuesdays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/kohcharbimoii
Coordinates: 5.42028 N, 100.38154 E
Directions: From Jalan Permatang Pauh, turn right into Jalan Raja Uda. Drive northbound for approximately 1 kilometer. Koh Char Bi Moi is located at the back row of commercial blocks opposite of Petronas gas station. There is plenty of car park spaces around the restaurant.

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