Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak

Special thanks to Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak for extending this food review invitation.

The row of shops directly opposite Air Itam's Public Bank has many hawker-style eateries. One of the intermediate shops is Kafe Sin Teong Nam (新中南茶室).
The most prominent stall in this shop is Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak (垄尾三轮车 Nasi Lemak). This family business has been operating at Sin Ming Huat Coffee Shop (新明发茶室) in Paya Terubong for more than 3 decades. This Air Itam stall is now run by the second generation, who intends to keep the family heritage alive.
As the name implies, Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak is renowned for its Nasi Lemak (椰浆饭). In addition, there several chicken dishes which are wildly popular among locals. Compared to the Paya Terubong stall, this Air Itam outlet has more dishes since it is open during dinner.
The Chinese name of the stall (三轮车) means "trishaw". This refers to the fact that the first stall at Paya Terubong (垄尾) is mounted on an actual trishaw. The original stall is open from 4:00am, therefore it is popular among factory workers who are on the way or back from work. On a good day, the stall can sell around 800 packets of Nasi Lemak (椰浆饭). Due to non-stop business, it is not uncommon for the food at Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak to be sold out by 10:00am.
According to the proprietors, the most important aspect of its food is the sambal. The chili sauce is loaded with plenty of dried shrimps and chili peppers, making it inexplicably addictive. Unlike some stalls which uses extremely spicy chili sauce, Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak's Sambal has a nice balance of spicy, salty and tangy flavors. No doubt, the recipe is a well-kept trade secret.
Anchovies (江鱼仔) can be added to Sambal beforehand, or served separately to maintain their crispiness. Anchovies are sourced locally because they are not as tough as their Thai counterparts.

For chicken, the most popular version is the fried chicken (炸鸡). Marinated with turmeric (黄姜) to give delectable taste and fragrant aroma, the chicken flesh underneath the skin is delightfully tender and succulent. Despite being deep-fried, the chicken does not appear to be too greasy.
Another popular choice of poultry is curry chicken (咖哩鸡). Ironically, this version is more suitable for people who prefer lighter taste. The curry is mildly spicy; the savoriness of coconut milk is more pronounced than the spices. An order of curry chicken includes some boiled potatoes.
Although not available at the morning stall, the Soy Sauce Chicken (豉油鸡) strikes a chord with my palate. The sweetness of the dark soy-based gravy makes it acceptable for most people particularly children. If I need to choose one type of chicken, I am torn between this and the fried chicken.
If you prefer to skip poultry (which I recommend against during your first visit), there is also sautéed shrimps in sweet tangy sauce.
Another non-chicken choice is deep-fried fish. The sardines are available in full-length or as slices. The latter is preferred as seasoning is more thorough. Although the taste of fish is acceptable, I think chicken dishes hold the edge in terms of overall appeal.
There are several packaged set meals available. For example, Set D (RM5.20) consists of a choice of chicken dish, a couple of shrimps, a piece of fish, boiled egg and anchovies. The pricing is quite reasonable, considering the quality and quantity offered.
Overall, Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak lives up to its name as an established long-timer stall. The food here is tasty and rather economical. Since the food is pork-free, it is no surprise that there are many Malay customers too. I recommend this stall if you are at Air Itam or Paya Terubong area.

Name: Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak (垄尾三轮车 Nasi Lemak)
Address: 10-D, Jalan Ayer Itam, 11500 Air Itam, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-829-1320
Business hours: 4:30pm-9:00pm, closed on Tuesdays
Coordinates: 5.40454 N, 100.28694 E
Directions: Kafe Sin Teong Nam (新中南茶室) is located along Jalan Air Itam, directly opposite of Public Bank. Paya Terubong Nasi Lemak is the one of the stalls at the front of the shop. There are parking spaces at the alleys behind the shop.

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