A food court at every junction

By Looi Sue-Chern

The crowd thronging the stalls selling a variety of food during the Bon Odori Festival at the Esplanade in Padang Kota, Penang, recently. — NST picture by G.S. Narinder Singh

GEORGE TOWN: By the time you pick up this newspaper, chances are you would have already commented about food.

There is a “foodie” inside every Malaysian, even those who do not blog or write about food.

We all just love to eat, sometimes even too much for our own good. For Malaysians, eating to live is not quite the situation we are in.

If you live in Penang, you cannot escape from food.

People here are surrounded by all kinds of food because there is one restaurant, food court, coffee shop or hawker stall at almost every junction.

Food is also available every second of the day, thanks to the many fast food chains and nasi kandar outlets that operate round the clock like Pelita at Jalan Macalister, and Line Clear nasi kandar at Jalan Penang.

Upper Penang Road is also a food haven for local dishes like sup tulang and sup ekor, and international cuisine at nearby restaurants.

Who can resist the famous Nasi Kandar Beratur at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling?

It is a living heritage, like the George Town world heritage site where it is located.

It opens only at night until the next morning and yet, people still line up for hours.

Another outlet with a legendary reputation is the Hameediyah Restaurant at Lebuh Campbell, which is one of Penang’s oldest restaurants with a history that spans more than 100 years.

The restaurant is always packed and sometimes, patrons have to elbow their way into the restaurant just to order take-out.

Malaysians really do eat like there is no tomorrow.

In Penang, they would even challenge the law for a nice meal.

Food in Penang, including the famed tau sar pheah (Tambun biscuit) in a box, can literally stop traffic, as anyone who drives along Jalan Burma would know.

For a plate of their favourite char koay teow or a bowl of the now world-renowned asam laksa and a full meal of nasi kandar, Penangites would do anything, including flouting more than one traffic regulation.

The double yellow lines and law enforcement is of little concern compared with whether the waiter will remember to get the orders right and put in extra chillies.

Another concern that is temporarily, if not completely, forgotten is one’s health.

But as they say, if you are going to eat in Penang, just bring along your cholesterol pill.

The same can also be said about most other states, including even the remotest parts of the country.

So, to call for a limit to the number of eateries, or even placing restrictions on their operating hours just to check our eating habits is definitely one area that only the very brave would dare venture.

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Category: Food @ George Town