30 years. It has been 30 years since Penang Hawker Fare started at York Hotel. What an amazing history; from a humble and small set up, to today’s restaurant packed full of diners and hawkers – 12 hawker stalls, to be exact, flown straight from Penang to you. Each hawker stall sends two representatives to York Hotel thrice a year (March, September and December), each time spending a two-week period away from home to cook up their specialty for hungry Singaporeans. This year is no different, except for an additional lucky dip, where each patron will stand a chance to win a trip to Penang in February 2017!
Some of the featured handpicked hawker stalls include crowd favourites like Oyster Omelette, Penang Laksa, Penang Prawn Mee and Kway Teow (Soup/Dry). My favourites of the lot have to be the Prawn Mee, where the rich and comforting broth is the result of simmering prawn heads, shells and pork ribs for hours, and the Oyster Omelette, which was not too starchy.
Roti Babi makes its debut appearance at York Hotel’s Penang Hawker Fare this year. Sandwiched between the deep-fried bread is a mixture of minced pork, chopped onions, carrot, turnip and mushrooms. An endangered snack, this gives a light, crisp and non-greasy bite and is served with Worcestershire sauce and sliced green chillies. It is another of those simple but homely creations.
I quite like the Char Kway Teow fired up here. This is one of two stalls that constantly has queue at the buffet line (find out what the other is below). The high heat promises to impart wok hei to the thinner-than-usual kway teow. The thinness makes the plate of char kway teow less cloying, less starchy and more flavourful as a whole. I had the opportunity to try this while it’s piping hot and while it’s cooled. I must say, the difference is drastic; do eat it as soon as you have picked it up!
Another dish worth your calories (but who am I kidding, who cares about calories in a buffet) is the Nasi Lemak with Nonya Chicken Kapitan. While I did not think the chicken kapitan was any memorable, the fundamentals like fragrant coconut rice and homemade sambal chilli were executed with flair. Other dishes include Penang Rojak made up of diced cucumber, jambu, green mango, turnip and pineapple, Cuttlefish Kang Kong and Lor Bak, what is commonly known as ngoh-hiang here in Singapore.
The Bang Chang Kueh is the other stall that perpetually has a line. Skillfully made by the hawkers, every batch turns out to be a beautiful and consistent thin and crisp golden brown pancake, with a generous amount of ground peanut, sugar, and a magical squirt of margarine that makes each bite a savoury-sweet indulgence. It is no wonder a hit amongst the diners all around. It is so good I had a round of everything above, plus a whooping and greedy FIVE Bang Chang Kueh to round off. Other desserts available are Ice Kachang, Chendol, and the traditional Ice Ball.
I like that there are clear signs stating each person is only allowed two plates/portions each time. This gives everyone a fair chance at the food, and cuts down on the queuing time. I also like that the buffet is affordably priced. I think it is worth it despite the fact that the buffet is lined up with street food. Just a portion from each of the 12 stalls will fill you up just about right – to break it down, it is about $3/stall/portion. Worth it. But I heard the queue for the buffet may go crazy even on weekdays, so GO EARLY (since no reservations are allowed).
$29++/adult, $20++/child below 12
$33/adult, $23/child below 12
Penang Addresses of the Featured Stalls
Char Kway Teow – Sin Lee Hin Kopi Shop, Tanjung Bungah New Bus Stop (morning only)
Lor Bak – No fixed stall
Penang Laksa – Boon Wah Cafe, Komtar, 2nd Floor, 29 Penang Road
Penang Prawn Mee – Lai Kang Cafe, Chee Seng Road, 11200 Tanjung Bungah
Cuttlefish Kang Kong – Good All Cafe, 10470 Jalan Tanjung Takong
Nasi Lemak – Good All Cafe, 10470 Jalan Tanjung Takong
Roti Babi – Good All Cafe, 10470 Jalan Tanjung Takong
Oyster Omelette – Northam Beach Cafe, 58 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Georgetown
Kway Teow Soup – New World Park, 29 & 31 Swatow Lane, Georgetown
Penang Rojak – New World Park, 29 & 31 Swatow Lane, Georgetown
Ban Chang Kueh – New World Park, 29 & 31 Swatow Lane, Georgetown
Ice Kachang/Chendol – New World Park, 29 & 31 Swatow Lane, Georgetown
Photos by Kathleen.
Address: 21 Mount Elizabeth, York Hotel, Ground Floor, Singapore 228516
Telephone: 6737 0511 (no reservations)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10pm (daily until September 18 2016)
This was a media session.