By B.L. Khoo
As is my usual habit, when I’ve some leisure time, I will roam the streets to check out some of my favourite hawker food haunts. From my rounds, I noticed that the familiar faces that used to operate the stalls are no longer around.
Every time I enquired, I get the same reply that either they have retired or passed on. I did notice young, new faces taking over but regrettably many of them don’t seem to have picked up the skills and knowledge of serving good quality food and the way to keep the standard.
I recently visited the hugely popular hawker area at Kimberley Street; where many foreign and local tourists will look for the famous four Heavenly Kings (hawker stalls); Char Koay Teow, Koay Teow Th’ng & Chicken Feet, Duck Koay Chiap & Porridge and Chinese Desserts (Almond Soup).
As usual, these four stalls are always heavily patronized daily and the brisk business has encouraged the opening of many new stalls selling various popular Penang hawker food. Hokkien Prawn Mee is always on top of my list so when I noticed a new stall located just behind the Koay Teow Th’ng stall, I did not hesitate to give it a try.
At first, I was a bit apprehensive when I saw two young men handling the stall and at that point even doubted about the quality of the soup. A good soup base for Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee has to be aromatic, rich and flavourful, with a hint of sweetness as well as spiciness. The essential ingredients should be prawns, pork varieties, noodles, bean sprouts, kangkung and half-boiled egg.
These two young men really proved me wrong. The portioning of a basic bowl that cost RM 5.00 was pretty good. What really amazes me was the soup! It was everything that it should be and what is expected of a real good Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee.
I spoke to one of them and he gave me a card with two names on it; John Lim and Yong. John, whom I spoke to, told me that the recipe of the soup was handed down to Yong by the latter’s father. It seems that Yong’s father did not want him to follow his footsteps but nevertheless did passed on the recipe and skills on making this dish. Yong’s father started his stall somewhere around Green Lane Heights. The father has since passed away. Yong quit his job and team up with John to open this stall.
This is kind of an exceptional story to tell as many young people are very unlikely to take up such trade nowadays.
Well, I’m really glad that Yong made the decision to carry on with his father’s legacy of making a good bowl of Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee! It’s definitely my choice now and if you are craving for a good bowl in the evening, I am sure it will be Your Best Choice too!