BY CK Lam
The day started with a “yum cha” session at the old eatery, Aik Hoe Restaurant located in Carnavon Street Penang. This restaurant which occupied two shop houses still managed to retain its old nostalgic charm after fifty over years.
The fixtures of old ceiling fans with flooring of small squares of blue and white tiles still remain there after all these years, making this place a real heritage in its own way.
Nothing much have changed and the restaurant still has the very ‘Chinese old school look’, even still with its signature metal chairs. The shop’s name has been embedded into the metal chair itself; a real rare find nowadays.
Teapots waiting in a row to be fill with Hot Chinese tea which is a must have to go with the dim sum as it helps in lightening the richness of the food. There are many varieties of tea leaves, from the more common tai yip to the fragrant ti kuan yin.
No push carts were seen here but instead you will be served by waiters walking around carrying the bamboo basket filled with dim sum. Customers just choose the items from the baskets. We selected a few items. One of the signature items was the lor mai gai ( glutinous rice) with pieces of chicken and mushroom. The texture of the rice is well done; the grain is QQ enough and not mushy soft.
The rolls of Fun Cheong Kuen have a very translucent layer of skin as compared to those sold elsewhere. A cut piece of it reveals the luscious filling of pork, shrimp, black fungus and Chinese water chestnut. This roll is subtly flavored with the additional grounded ginger.
One of the must-have is the prawn dumpling, more commonly known as the Har Kow. This steam dumpling shape of a shell has the succulent taste of prawns and lean meat.
The next item was the old-time favorite, Bau! From the steaming basket of Bau, we ended up picking the Char Siew Bau and Pork Bau. The texture of the Bau itself is firmer as compare to the HK version which tends to be lumpy when you bite it. The Char Siew is also marinated very well.
The sweet juicy filling of barbeque Char Siew
Pork bau with robust taste
Next on the menu is the ‘must have’ in this restaurant, mainly because these two authentic dim sum are rarely seen in other shops around Malaysia. The first one is the Gai Chat (steam chicken on Chinese cabbage). It is described as a food item that can induce the old nostalgic feeling that is derived from the good old times.
The second item is the Yoke Aun Kuen (pork roll). It is basically a piece of thin lean meat wrapping up a piece of fat, liver and Chinese water chestnut. The soup/gravy tasted just like home cooked steamed meat…very tasty.
Yoke Aun Kuen
There will always be times that you may be craving for some specific dim sums that are already sold out. In the case, customers can request for it and if the ingredients are available they will prepare it fresh on the spot for you.
Requested items prepared on the spot
Another item that we ate was the fried turnip squares. There are also many more other flaky pastry items, char siew sou, lin yung sou and the wu gok (taro dumpling).
This dessert with filling of corn is personally too sweet for me
Thanks to Lee Choo, the feature writer from Guang Ming for introducing this restaurant and also organizing this yum cha session. Her write up article was published in Guang Ming Daily on 29th March 2009, with the online version available here.
Lee Choo & myself
I would recommend you to try out the dim sum. It’s worth a visit for the few ‘must have specialty’ items. Parking can be a bit difficult as it is located right in front of the morning market. Click here for the Map Location. It is a few houses away from the busy Chulia Street.
These specialty dim sums are getting rarer nowadays, with many outlets preferring more commercial and basic ingredients, instead of those that need extra long preparation and effort. Does anyone know any more of these “old school look” eating outlets and anything along those lines to recommend?
Aik Hoe Restaurant
No.6 & 8 Lebuh Carnavon
Tel no : 016 472 0971
Business Hours : 5am – 2pm
Closed on Monday
GPS Coordinates : N05 2502.8 E100 2009.8