Pulau Tikus Market-Peranakan-Nyonya characteristics @Penang
Whenever I visit a country, I would love to visit their market if I have the chance. Because that is the place where you can truly see how people live. Especially in Penang, a colourful town with so much street food, visiting their wet market is one of my top lists. I admire hawkers who stay true to their trade for so many years. They still cook the same way they used to 20 years ago, with no changes. It is the kind of “古早味” that I hope to get from this trip.
I travelled to Penang with Rae, my good buddy since JC. Her dad is from Penang and she travels to this lovely town once in a while when she was younger. One of the mornings, we visited Pulau Tikus Market. Pulau Tikus or ‘Rat Island’ is said to be named after an actual Pulau Tikus isle – a small rocky island shaped like a mouse, located about 2km away from the north-eastern coast of Penang island. It is interesting to visit this market because of its unique Peranakan-Nyonya characteristics, which reflected the demographics of Pulau Tikus, a largely middle to upper-middle class cluster of suburbs with a large concentration of Peranakan people.
Because of its Peranakan-Nyonya characteristics, Pulau Tikus market sells lots of nonya kuehs and nonya curries. Right at the end of the market, there is this aunty selling a selection of nonya kuehs and the stall is very crowded. There’s Pulut Tai Tai (blue glutinous rice which come from a flower name Bunga Telang or Blue Pea Flower usually serve with kaya), Kueh Talam (a two-layered steamed cake with coconut milk on top, and pandan rice flour at the bottom) and many many more!
Near to the nonya kueh stall, there is an Indian couple who sells putu mayam in a white van. Seriously, I have never see this kind of mobile hawker for the longest time. In fact, I think when I was born, mobile hawkers no longer exist already. So anyway, the wife makes the putu mayam on the spot while the husband does the selling. And their putu mayam IS SO GOOD. Their Putu Mayam is steamed on top of rattan baskets then served with fresh grated coconut and ground palm sugar. It was sooooooo soft and fluffy. The couple even let us try to make our own putu mayam too! They also sell Putu Piring, which is the Malay version of Kueh Tutu.
At the Pulau Tikus hawker, Rae was telling me a list of food she wanted to try and was very happy when she saw char kway kak and curry mee with pig’s blood! She can never get tired of curry mee. Pig’s blood! We used to have this when I was still a kid…I kinda miss this (but not too much la)!
Another popular breakfast snack is Pisang Goreng which literally means fried banana fritters. Banana is battered and then deep fried in hot oil.. It reveals a crunchy skin with a sweet banana fruit inside.
Not forgetting the Ban Chang Kuih seller who was so busy making fresh ban chang kuih to meet the needs of the long hungry queue. But he was very friendly when we tried to talk to him. Guess how many ban chang kuih he makes from 7am to 11am? 350 BAN CHANG KUIHS! I am shocked. 350 ban chang kuihs in 4 hours! But his ban chang kuih is really nice. We ordered the one with banana and corn.
Have you heard of Char Koay Kak? In Singapore, it’s counterpart is chai tow kway aka fried carrot cake. I love our chai tow kway with an overload of dark sweet sauce – the blacker, the better. When we saw char kway kak at the market, I told her to order the one with seafood.
She gave me a disapproved look and told me she didn’t have any seafood when she ate char kway kak in the past. Then it struck me how globalization has taken over the world. It has changed the identity of many local dishes and I blamed myself for being an advocate of glabalization. Rae has reminded me this is how traditional penang food should be. Very simple fare and does not come with all the fancy add ons like big prawns or sotong.
It was an interesting trip to Pulau Tikus Market. I hope to be able to try more food the next time I am here!
#MYEatPlayShop Instagram Contest
Do you travel to Malaysia frequently? Or do you have something interesting to share about your trip to Malaysia? From September 16 to October 13, share what you love about Malaysia through the Instagram lens – be they your favourite place to eat, to play, to shop, or something close to your heart.
How to join:
1. Follow @MYEatPlayShop on Instagram.
2. Share your photos/videos on Instgram and hashtag #MYEatPlayShop and mention @MYEatPlayShop (Remember to set your Instagram to public!)
– 6 most creative and engaging Instagram entries will enjoy 3D/2N Deluxe Room Stays
– 1 instagram video will win 1 week suite stay
at participating Shangri-La and Traders Hotels & Resorts in Malaysia
View website: http://eatplayshop.my
Contest ends on TONIGHT Sunday 13 October 2013, 23:59. Good luck!