Monday, July 12, 2010

The Well Tempered Wok: Foong Wei Heong in Penang

I am starting a new series of blog articles...titled The Well Tempered Wok...it will feature special restaurants and eating places which I have eaten which features the traditional Cze Char style of cooking. Some of my earlier blogs may qualify, but I will not return to re-tag them, until subsequent revisits qualify them again for the Well Tempered Tag.

The first honour for this new title goes to an old family favourite, from Penang. Situated in downtown Georgetown, our family...introduced by my brother in law to the eatery...started eating there (um...for me, whenever I am in Penang...which is not at all frequent), on a fairly regular basis for perhaps a decade.

I had the opportunity to return to Penang once again for our school cohort's 30th anniversary...Penang Free Schoon Class of 1978/80. And went back to resample this little restaurant...to my surprise it is no longer little...now spanning some 4 shophouse lots.



We settled down, and ordered our favourites. First off, a speciality of the restaurant...spring rolls (choon piah) and spring rolls with koo chye



This was my late father's favourite dishes...but he being the foodie he was, had many...though choon piah...the deep fried spring rolls stuffed with vegetables and crab meat, prawns was one of his top ten. He would have been pleased with these choon piahs. Crispy...no extremely crispy crust of the rolls protect its valuable contents from the scalding heat of the oil...and renders them perfectly cooked...just right...not a tad over (this is what results from a well tempered wok...the chef controls the fire so perfectly, his mastery shows in the food...parts slightly charred with wok hei, others just right, and yet others barely cooked all in one dish at one go!). Everything comes together with this choon piah. Traditionally eaten with Ang Mo Tau Yew (white man's soy sauce...actually Worchestershire sauce) with cut red chilli...this is perfect. The koo chye was less spectacular, but the same super crispy skin protects the prawn rolls with koo chye.

We also had seafood in a claypot



This was a treasurepot. I don't know how many ingredients were inside this boiling cauldron of a claypot. The sauce was well balanced...salty but not at all too much, and very sweet with the flavours of the sea...if this was an Italian dish...it would truly deserve the accolade frutti de mare (fruits of the sea). Spiky sea cucumber, clams, prawns, with bamboo shoots, garlic, and a whole lot of other ingredients make this special.

We tried a new vegetable dish...sambal snow peas



Snow peas in their pod, with the ends sliced off...quickly stir fried in the super hot wok, with a delectable sambal sauce with dried prawns. Excellent.

And my mom's favourite...steamed slices of deep sea giant garoupa:



Deep sea garoupa is a special dish...I wrote about this fish in my report on Yuan Wei. But the way Foong Wei Heong does this was way superior...again demonstrating the well tempered chef's control of the fire...the fish was steamed till perfectly cooked...the meat was soft, tender, smooth...creamy almost, despite the deep sea giant garoupa's tendendcy to be firm, this was very tender...melt in your mouth. Spiced with only soy sauce, some ginger slices and coriander...this was superb.

Definitely a recommended restaurant for cze char restaurant style cooking for those visiting Penang.


Foong Wei Heong Restaurant. 23 & 25, Jalan Sri Bahari, 10050 Penang. Tel: 04-2611918. Fax: 04-2626918



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