Penang: From Sandy Beaches to Skyscraper Rooftops

We continue our gastronomic adventures in Penang – this time at the Hao You (Good Friend) Seafood restaurant at the coastal area of Teluk Kumbar.Located in a somewhat rickety wooden shack just at the edge of the beach, the place serves fresh catch straight from the sea and has gained popularity among locals and tourists alike after a famous food show host featured the stall.

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We arrived just as the sun was setting. Fishing boats docked at the water’s edge rocked gently back and forth with the waves, while the light of the dying sun cast long orange shadows across the water amidst a backdrop of dark forest-covered hills. Very picturesque.

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Place was packed to the brim with dinner crowd.

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While waiting for the food to be served, my brother and I stood at the beach to enjoy the sea breeze and the sand in our toes.

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For starters, we had grilled chicken satay from a small shop just outside the main restaurant. They still cook these skewered barbecue meat over a charcoal fire, giving it a slightly charred, smokey taste. It is special because Malaysian satay tends to come served with a side of peanut sauce, but the version here already has the peanut/marinade slathered OVER the meat before cooking. The result is a soft and tender texture with the juices all sealed on the inside. Definitely one of the best satays I’ve had! The spice level is quite high though, so cool off with chunks of accompanying cucumber.

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Steamed kerang (cockles) – fat, bloody and juicy. The shellfish was much fatter than the small, shriveled ones you get in your char kuey teow, so biting into the meaty portions were oh-so-satisfying. Eating cockles is supposed to be good for replenishing iron for anemics, but is also reported to have lots of bacteria. Once in awhile is okay I suppose.

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Very simply done steamed octopi. Some of my family members complained that it was too chewy, but I like chewy stuff so this tasted just fine. It was rather bland  – could have done with a dash of chopped garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce to bring out the octopi’s freshness.

We also had stir-fried vegetables, pork trotters with mushrooms in a dark soy sauce, steamed fish and oyster omelette (oh chien).. while decent, nothing to shout about.

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The real star of the night was the mud crabs cooked in kam heong style. The spicy sauce oozing over the crab shell and in between the fresh, juicy sweet meat is made from garlic (prevalent in Chinese cooking), curry leaves, bird’s eye chilli and other herbs/spices. The resulting concoction is a savoury hot sauce that can help you mop up a couple of bowls of rice in one go.

The crabs were just the right size – not to small or large – and had a bunch of sweet flesh on the inside. Cracking the shells was a pain though.

Hao You Seafood restaurant,

84, Mukim 9
Teluk Kumbar
11920 Penang, Malaysia

Operating hours:  daily except Tuesday (5.30pm till 10pm)

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We were really tired out after a long day out, but still managed to drop by our hotel’s rooftop Skybar for a quick drink. Dubbed THREE-SIXTY@Bayview Hotel, it also has a revolving restaurant next to the open-air rooftop area where a small bar laid out with tall stools gives visitors a panoramic view of the Penang skyline at night. All around the patio are smaller wooden tables and chairs in booth-like settings, comfy and quiet for those wanting a more private chat. The lighting is low, colourful and intimate.

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Since I don’t drink alcohol, I had a Sweet Eighteen mocktail of fruit (strawberry, lychee, pineapple.. and I forgot what else). It was very sweet, but pretty good.

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Three Sixty Sky Bar
Bayview Hotel Georgetown
25-A Lebuh Farquhar
George Town, Penang
Malaysia
+604 263 3161 ext. 226
Open daily 4pm-1am, 3am on weekends.

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