BY CK Lam
Loke Thye Kee building is the place you find yourself passing by every time you drive down Burma Road from Penang Road. A distinctive landmark, this building with a cafe, restaurant and bar has ceased operations for a few months. It has since re-opened under new management – by the people that runs Blue Reef Fish & Chips.
I had the opportunity to savor a meal with Christopher Tan who has implemented some key changes to the outlets.
This time around, Penang Heritage Food is the best way to describe the culinary approach. Christopher has fleshed an updated menu which is a sort of crossroads where Hainanese and Nyonya cooking styles met. “The dishes are pork-free,” he said.
The kitchen serves up a line-up of appetisers which are ideal for all day dining. Christopher recommends the pai tee, lor bak combo and choon pneah. The latter with popiah skin filled with a blend of yam bean, carrot, spring onion is deep-fried till golden brown and served complemented with Worcestershire sauce and chillies.
As customary for a Nyonya meal, there is a wide variety of kerabu. The menu includes options such as kerabu kacang botol, kerabu seafood and kerabu chicken bok nee. You will definitely want to try the kerabu kacang botol (four-angled bean). This salad highlighted with shallots, sambal belacan, lime, bunga kantan (torch ginger flower) and kerisik (toasted grated coconut) made it an appetising side dish.
A notable pickled vegetable dish is the acar awak, prepared with appealing texture and crispness. Fresh vegetables blanched in water and vinegar are cooked with nice blend of rempah. The topping of sesame seeds and crushed peanuts provides nutty flavor and extra crunchiness to complement the flavors of the dish.
Loke Thye Kee is also serving its own version of Hainanese Chicken Chop, a staple of Hainanese cuisine. The dish of battered deep-fried chicken and sides of potato wedges and coleslaw is rounded up with bright gravy- quite the opposite to the commonly seen brownish potato gravy version. “Each household has its own recipe for this dish and this version is what I grew up eating at home,” said Christopher.
Other house specialties to try are the Hainanese Chicken Rice and the Hainanese Chicken Pie. Selling at RM8 each, the savory chicken pie harbouring a creamy filling of carrot, chicken, peas and hard-boiled egg are fresh from the oven daily.
Robust mains include Braised Soya Sauce Chicken, Assam Prawns, Jiu Hu Char, Kapitan Curry Chicken, Fish Curry, Braised Duck and Yam, Inche Kabin and Fish Head Curry. The Braised Duck and Yam prepared with brown beans is a richly sauced dish and is best appreciated with a plate of white rice.
The Fish Head Curry is cooked with ladies fingers, tomatoes, creamy coconut milk and finely ground spices (fennel seeds, turmeric, chillies, shallots), in a lightly spicy velvety curry. The dish comes with choices of snapper or threadfin.
Fish curry gulai tumis style is also found on the menu, with threadfin prepared with fragrance of daun kesum, bunga kantan and sourness of tamarind.
Diners can savor desserts of Cendol and Ice Kacang. Priced at RM4 and RM6 respectively, the desserts are worth a try. The Ice Kacang is quite a delight, with shaved ice, red beans, corn, jelly and nutmeg strips topped with milk and roasted peanuts.
Delightfully, Loke Thye Kee not only offers lunch and dinner but also the All Day Toasts & Eggs. Pick a type of bread (white bread, benggali roti or bun) and paired with a spread (butter, kaya or half-boiled eggs).
The list of beverages is relatively complete, with local coffee and tea besides homemade drinks, floats, fresh juices, carbonated drinks and bottled beers (Budweiser, Erdinger Weissbier, Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc & Hoegaarden White).
Loke Thye Kee
2 Jalan Burma
Tel: 04- 2641919
Business Hour: 10am – 10pm (Daily)
* Many thanks to Loke Thye Kee Restaurant for extending this invitation.