The Hokkien prawn mee — or Hokkien hae mee, as it is known in Penang — should be on your food-hunting list if you ever set foot on the Pearl of the Orient. This dish, commonly referred to as "Hokkien mee" among the locals, would greatly appeal to prawn lovers.
This is because the broth is rich with everything prawn as it is boiled for hours with prawn shells and prawn heads in it. The broth, which is a delightful shade of orange, is then poured into a bowl of yellow noodles and rice vermicelli complete with bean sprouts, water spinach, peeled prawns and topped with fried shallots. A tablespoon of chilli paste is served alongside it.
Here are eight stalls to look out for to kick-start your search for prawn mee on the island. (The restaurants are listed in no particular order. Some of the establishments below are not halal.)
1. 888 Hokkien Prawn Mee @ Lebuh Presgrave
This is one of the popular places recommended for a decent bowl of prawn mee. You have several options of add-on ingredients such as fish balls, chitterlings, pork ribs, pork leg and pork belly. The dish includes a slice of hard-boiled egg and slices of pork in the thick, rich-flavoured broth. A small bowl costs RM3.50 and extra charges for more ingredients.
Opening hours: 5:30 to 11:45 p.m., daily (closed Thursdays)
2. Hokkien Mee @ Seng Lee Coffee Shop
The prawn mee cook here has newspaper cuttings about press coverage of his award-winning dish proudly displayed on the front of his stall. He certainly has reason to do so as his prawn mee is a crowd-favourite. A bowl here consists of the usual ingredients as well as water spinach, prawns and pork slices. The dish is sold at prices of RM4 and RM4.50.
Opening hours: 7:30 a.m. to noon, daily (closed Mondays)
3. Hokkien Mee @ Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze
To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive early to be able to enjoy the fast-selling prawn mee at this stall at the Star Hotel Coffee Shop at the junction of Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze and Lebuh Carnarvon. The right amount of broth is served, that it does not overwhelm the ingredients in the bowl. The cook has been selling the dish for over 50 years. The dish is sold at prices of RM3.50 and RM5.50.
Opening hours: 6:30 to 9:30 a.m., daily (closed Sundays)
4. Hokkien Mee @ Jalan Sungai Ara 1
The prawn mee is sold from a pushcart stall here opposite the Double Happy Cafe in Sungai Ara. A bowl of prawn mee here contains slices of hard-boiled egg, pork slices, cubes of pig's blood and water spinach. It is also a pleasant eating area where patrons sit at tables placed beneath parasols and shady trees.
Opening hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily
5. Cifu Omar @ Kafe Goodall (halal)
For pork-free prawn mee, Cifu Omar at Kafe Goodall beside the Petronas petrol station in Jalan Tanjung Tokong is a great place to go. The cook, known as Sifu Omar, has been whipping out bowls of delicious, halal hokkien mee for a good number of years. At RM3.70 a bowl, you get the noodles and rice vermicelli with prawns, hard-boiled egg, crabmeat, shredded chicken and chicken gizzards.
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., daily (closed weekends)
6. Kedai Kopi Ban Leong Ean @ Lebuh Armenian
Begin your heritage journey with a wholesome bowl of prawn mee at this coffee shop located at the crossroads of Lebuh Armenian and Lebuh Cannon. It is a calming place for breakfast in a pre-war coffee shop setting with marble top tables and Chinese oldies music playing in the background. A bowl costs RM3.50 here.
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., daily
7. Hokkien Mee @ Pasar Lebuh Cecil
A bowl of prawn mee at the stall in this market is simple and yet fulfilling at the same time. Being neither too mild nor too spicy, the prawn mee here would suit most taste buds. This stall is located near the food court entrance facing Lebuh McNair. The dish is sold at prices of RM3 and RM3.50.
Opening hours: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily
8. Hokkien Mee @ Sin Hup Aun Cafe
Besides the famous Western food sold here, a number of people would also opt for the prawn mee at this coffee shop near the Pulau Tikus market. At RM3.50 a bowl, you get one that is packed with ingredients and an amount of sambal chilli to spice up your palate.
Opening hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily (closed Tuesdays)
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