BY CK Lam
*** Updated July 2013 – This Bak Moi stall has since shifted into Hon Kei Food Corner, located a few shops down the road
Ho Ping in Penang is arguably a good place to head for hawker food. This double-storey coffee shop located at the junction of Penang Road and Kampung Malabar is popular with the locals and also tourists staying at the nearby hotels.
The coffee shop has rented the space to several hawkers. One popular stall is the bak moi stall serving warming, comforting bak moi (pork porridge). There is no signboard to indicate the stall which is run by Y.C. Lai, owner of this third generation hawker food business.
The owner busy preparing the bak moi
Lai in his trademark white T-shirt takes over the family business and uses the same recipe conceived by his grandfather. The bak moi still has the good old taste, done without monosodium glutamate (MSG). The broth base, cooked slowly for hours in the early afternoon is an all- natural pork broth. To get a clear stock, the pig bones are first blanched with hot water to remove the residue trapped in the marrow.
The noodle comes with a variety of ingredients. Minced pork is the most common, while offal includes liver, kidney, intestines, tongue, brain and heart. Pig brain is not as popular due to health reasons but for some customers, this ingredient with delicious porky flavour and smooth texture is a treat.
A bowl full of pork goodness
Customers can order porridge or vermicelli (thick or thin). Many customers go for the grainy soft porridge while some opt for the smooth thin vermicelli with an optional raw egg cracked into the bubbling hot soup. Despite the many different preferences from the customers, all orders are done with accuracy.
For a finishing touch, spring onions and tang chai is sprinkled on top of the noodles. The tang chai is preserved Tianjin vegetable with light brown colour and it’s intensely saltiness flavour makes a world of difference to this humble noodle. During the early years the empty tang chai container is kept and used as the take away container for the bak moi.
Garnishing of tang chai and spring onions & condiments of chili padi with soy sauce
Lai has since trained two assistants to help out in the cooking, as waiting time is nothing short of an hour. The bak moi stall opens daily except Thursdays with business hours from 6pm till late in the night. Click here for the google Map Location.
Ho Ping Coffeeshop
Kampung Malabar (Off Penang Road)
* This is a reproduction of my article published in Makansutra