Tambun Kochabi

Special thanks to Tambun Kochabi for extending this food review invitation.

Like many small towns in Seberang Perai, Bukit Tambun still retains its countryside charm. Many eateries here have been operating for several decades, including Kedai Kopi Swee Leong (瑞隆茶室).
Located near the old town district of Bukit Tambun, this family-run eatery has been around for over 3 decades. For many years, local fishermen frequent here to have twilight breakfast before setting off to the sea. Due to high caloric requirements, the curry rice (咖哩饭) here is hugely popular among this fishing community.
For the rest of daytime, this coffee shop operates a chicken rice stall to cater for factory workers and highway travelers. This stall is called Tambun Kochabi (淡汶古早味美食坊) because its recipe retains traditional elements of the countryside.
Unlike chicken rice stalls in urban areas, Tambun Kochabi roasts its own chicken and pork. Due to limited capacity and in effort to retain freshness, only a limited amount of food is prepared every day.
We started with Roasted Chicken (烧鸡), which is the signature dish here. The chicken's flesh remains tender and is reasonably succulent. The waxy skin provides interesting mouthfeel especially when enjoyed with lean meat underneath.
Also prepared in-house, Barbecued Pork (叉烧) uses selected cutting of pork belly (五花肉) to produce the texture that most people find appealing.
Meanwhile, Roasted Duck (烧鸭) and Chinese Sausage (烧肠) are sourced from a nearby home-based supplier.
While it is possible to order individual portions, it is often more economical to order a large plate. This way, everyone is able to sample a small amount of every item.
Another important aspect of chicken rice is the rice itself. Oily rice (油饭) is prepared using chicken stock. Using the right technique, the rice attains lovely aroma and flavor.
While enjoying chicken rice, the use of chili sauce is a matter of personal preference. If the sauce is prepared well, I use chili sauce quite liberally. Tambun Kochabi prepares its own chili sauce every few days. Although the sauce is moderately spicy, I think it deserves some improvement in terms of fragrance and flavor depth.
We are also fortunate to sample several curry rice (咖哩饭) dishes. These dishes are specially prepared; otherwise they are only available between 5:00am and 7:30am.
Curry Ray Fish (咖哩魔鬼鱼) is a popular choice among fishermen as the fish used to be a cheap source of protein. Besides ray, this curry dish is prepared with okra (lady's fingers), braised in red curry of mild spiciness and a hint of sourness.
Curry Prawns (咖哩虾) is cooked with long beans, bean curd puff (豆腐卜) and potatoes. The curry is quite creamy and can be enjoyed with rice.
Meanwhile, Stewed Pork (焖猪肉) is prepared in a huge pot of broth based on soy sauce. Hours of heating allows the savory stew to permeate the pork thoroughly.
There are also bean curd (豆腐) and soy eggs (卤蛋). The former is particularly effective in absorbing meaty essence from the broth.
Meanwhile for drinks, classical choices like Kopi O and Teh C are available, just like any traditional coffee shop. Our choice today is Pat Poh Leong Fun (八宝凉粉), which turns out to be a good thirst quencher in a hot Saturday afternoon.
Tambun Kochabi closes at 2:30pm or earlier if food is sold out. The proprietor is planning to introduce Wan Tan Mee (云吞面) in the evenings soon. The barbecued pork for noodles will also be prepared in-house, but will use a leaner cutting which works better with Wan Tan Mee.

Name: Tambun Kochabi (淡汶古早味美食坊)
Address: 1616, Jalan Bukit Tambun, 14110 Bukit Tambun, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 017-407-2199
Business hours: 7:30am-2:30pm, closed on Sundays
Website: https://www.facebook.com/TamBunKoChaBi
Coordinates: 5.27273 N, 100.44987 E
Directions: Traveling southbound along North-South Expressway (Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan), take exit 158 towards Bukit Tambun. After the toll plaza, turn right and drive for approximately 1 kilometer. Tambun Kochabi is located on the left. Parking is available directly across the road, in front of a row of new shops.